March 23, 2019

Ivoryton Library Hosts WhatTrivia! Night Fundraiser Tomorrow

Do you think you “Know Stuff”?

Then come to a WhatTrivia! Night fundraiser to benefit Ivoryton Library, which is being held this Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Meeting House.

Contestants will test their knowledge of nonsensical information for fun and prizes, and would love to have you there …

Don’t think you Know Stuff? Then come for the silent auction and cash bar!

For more information, contact Ivoryton Library at 860-767-1252 or staff@ivorytonlibrary.org, or visit www.ivorytonlibrary.org

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Five Days of Fun at Connecticut River Museum During April Vacation Week

Come to the Connecticut River Museum during April School Vacation for a week of creativity and discovery. Join for one session or the whole week!

ESSEX — Staying in town for April Vacation?

Connecticut River Museum (CRM) has five days of cool things to do for your child or children, April 15 -19. Whether you are looking for one day or all five, there is something fun and exciting waiting for you at the Museum.

Bring your imagination and come prepared to create and experiment as we explore the River and its history. This year the Museum expanded our April Vacation day offerings to full days of fun. Workshops are designed for ages 6 – 12. 

Offerings this year are

  • Poetry and Art
  • Maritime Madness
  • Create a Museum
  • Mud and Dirt
  • Spring is in the Air

Explore the museum, go outdoors, create projects, do arts and crafts. Get more information about each day’s activities and register at www.ctrivermuseum.org.

Programs run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are $45/day, $205/week for CRM members and $50/Day, $230/week for nonmembers. Advance registration is required and space is limited.

Email sburns@ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269 x113 with questions. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street.

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

Governor Ned Lamont (D)

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

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

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

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

The revised language in governor’s proposal:

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

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

**DownloadProposed revised language to SB 874

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‘Burt & Me,’ Featuring Love, Laughter & Great Music, Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse; Runs Through April 7

Josh Powell, Andy Christopher and Nathan Richardson appear in ‘Burt & Me’ at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

IVORYTON – The Ivoryton Playhouse opens its 2019 season tonight with a dazzling parade of hits by the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David in the musical comedy Burt & Me by Larry McKenna.

This coming-of-age story is narrated by Joe, who tells the story of his obsession with the music of Burt Bacharach alongside his high school romance with Lacey. The old story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again, develops a new life in this nostalgic paean to the music and culture of America in the 70s.

When Burt Bacharach and Hal David met in the New York City offices of Famous Music in 1957, they had no idea that their collaboration would have such an impact on the world of pop music. In their years of writing together, they produced almost 150 songs. Sometimes the words came first, sometimes the music, sometimes both at once.

One Iyric (“Alfie”) took three days; another (“What The World Needs Now Is Love”), three years. This nostalgic juke box musical contains many of their greatest hits including, “What the World Needs Now,” “Walk On By,” “I Say A Little Prayer” and “This Guy’s in Love with You”.

Andy Christopher and Lauren Gire sing a duet in ‘Burt & Me’

The cast includes Playhouse favorites Adrianne Hick* (South Pacific), Lauren Gire* (My Way: the Frank Sinatra Story )  Neal Mayer*, (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Oliver!) and Josh Powell* (My Way: the Frank Sinatra Story and Love Quest).

Making their Playhouse debut are Andy Christopher* as our protagonist, Joe, Katie Luke and Nathan Richardson. The show is directed and choreographed by Brian Feehan, musical directed by Michael Morris, set design by Emily Nichols, lighting and sound design by Tate Burmeister and costumes by Lisa Bebey.

This may well be an evening of pure nostalgia but it also serves to remind us of Bacharach’s genius for melody, the complexity of his arrangements and David’s keen sense of human motivation. These are the songs that form the soundtrack of our youth and even their sad songs make you feel good.

Burt & Me runs through April 7. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. There will be one Thursday matinee on March 21.

Tickets are $55 adult / $50 senior / $25 student / $20 children 12 and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates and subscriptions are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Needleman Proposes New School Regionalization Plan, Public Hearing Today on Another Proposal on Same Subject

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Town of Lyme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’ to be Performed by Cappella Cantorum, April 14

The conductor for Cappella Cantorum’s April concert will be Simon Holt.

DEEP RIVER — This spring brings a treat to area concert-goers: Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” Sunday, April 14, 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River.

Simon Holt of the Salt Marsh Opera will direct the chorus and professional soloists and orchestra.

Audiences will enjoy Mendelssohn’s lyricism and use of orchestral color in this Romantic oratorio that depicts the events in the life of the prophet Elijah. Chorus selections include the well-known anthems, “Lift Thine Eyes to the Mountains” and “He, Watching Over Israel.”

A reception will follow the concert.

Tickets are $30 purchased in advance, $35 at the door. They may be purchased from chorus members or on-line at www.CappellaCantorum.org.

For more information, visit the website or call 860-941-8243.

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Centerbrook Architects Garner Award for Mystic Seaport Design

The award-winning Centerbrook Architects & Planners-designed Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum. Photo by Derek Hayn/Centerbrook Architects.

CENTERBROOK – The Centerbrook Architects & Planners-designed Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum has been recognized with a national award by WoodWorks – Wood Products Council.

The Thompson Exhibition Building was recognized in the “Commercial Wood Design – Low-Rise” category – one of nine national awards bestowed by WoodWorks. The Wood Design Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in wood building design across the country.

This is the fourth recognition for the Thompson Exhibition Building since it opened to the public in the fall of 2016 in Mystic, Connecticut. The design previously garnered the Honor Award-With Distinction by the AIA QUAD Awards, and was named by the CT CREW Blue Ribbon Awards as the Best Specialty Project. In 2018, ArchDaily – the world’s most-visited architecture website – named the Thompson Exhibition Building one of the 100 Best Wood Architecture Projects in the U.S.

The Centerbrook design team, led by Principal Chad Floyd, FAIA and Senior Director Charles Mueller, AIA, chose wood as the predominant building material for its form, function and aesthetic capabilities. The Thompson Building’s more prominent wood features include Douglas fir glulam beams spanning the entire width that give the building its unique curvilinear shape, and arresting western red cedar exterior cladding.

With its 5,000-square-foot exhibition gallery, the Thompson Building is the centerpiece of Mystic Seaport Museum’s reimagined mission that brings a new focus to exhibitions. With its functional flexibility, the Thompson Building has strengthened the museum as a year-around tourist destination.

Centerbrook Architects & Planners is a firm conceived in 1975 as a community of architects working together to advance place-making and the craft of building. A collaborative firm with an exceptional history of building, Centerbrook is known for inventive design solutions that are emblematic of its clients. Centerbrook’s designs have won more than 380 awards, including the Architecture Firm Award, a distinction held by only 40 active firms nationwide. Centerbrook was named a 2018 Top Workplace in the Greater Hartford Area by the Hartford Courant.

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Letter From Paris: Will Europe Fight Back in Face of World, Local Challenges?

Nicole Prévost Logan

The European Union (EU) is under attack from all sides.

Will the EU strike back?

The most serious threat against Europe is the dislocation of the world system of security and defense, which Europe relies on as a protection.  During the past two years, an avalanche of steps taken by the US is unraveling the Atlantic-dominated framework with a possible US pull-back from NATO;  a hasty and sloppy departure of US troops from Syria in December 2018 putting the European allies in front of the fait accompli; breaking away from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in February 2019 (immediately followed by Russia doing the same thing the next day.)

The noxious transatlantic relations came to light during the Munich Security Conference (MSC), February 15-17, an annual event, since 1963, attended by the decision-makers of the world.  Angela Merkel was the voice of many worried Europeans. The contrast between her speech and US vice president Mike Pence’s was striking. 

Without a script, the German chancellor made a passionate plea for multilateralism, clearly pointing at the US, Russia and China to save the world order which she sees in danger of decline and destruction. 

She received a standing ovation.

After her spirited performance, the US Vice President’s words sounded leaden.  “He admonished Europeans the way Brejhnev did the Iron Curtain countries back in the USSR days,” commented a French analyst.  Pence’s speech was met with an icy reception.  There was an incredible moment when he brought Donald Trump’s greetings. 

An interminable and deafening silence followed.  He clearly was expecting applause from the audience. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed to prolong the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction) Treaty after 2021. This treaty – limiting the number of long-range nuclear missile s- is one of the last remaining from the cold war era.   

Sylvie Kauffman, editorial writer for Le Monde, commented, “The Europeans feel left out in the cold, tetanized by the major powers working out a system above their heads.”  Sigmar Gabriel, former German minister of foreign affairs, wrote, “In a world of carnivorous geopolitics, the Europeans are the last vegetarians.  After the departure of the UK, we will become vegans, then prey.”

One way to attack and therefore weaken Europe is to capitalize on the fact that it is divided.  Some foreign powers have become quite adept at using the “Trojan horse” strategy.

On Feb. 13-14, the US and Israel chose Poland as the location of a conference on the Middle East. In Warsaw they were able to meet with the other members of the Visegrad group (V4) —  Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic. These four countries are run by populist and authoritarian governments and clear in their intention to unravel the EU as it exists today.  There was little media coverage here about the conference, which was by-passing Brussels.  Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, was not even present.

Steve Bannon, former advisor of Donald Trump is busy traveling all over Europe, giving his support to populist countries like Italy and Hungary.  He proclaims that Brexit is a great thing and advocates the creation of a possible axis through Rome/Budapest/Warsaw to counter the Franco-German “couple”.  He has purchased a monastery near Rome and turned it into a training center for “sovereignists.”

Europe represents a juicy market of over 700 millions inhabitants.  It is particularly vulnerable because it continues to respect some rules, which are disregarded elsewhere.  The most striking illustration of unfair competition is the recent failure of the fusion of the two European railroad  magnates Alstom and Siemens.  The EU Commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, stopped the process lest it violates the antitrust rule, a rather outdated notion when one considers the size of the giant telecommunications companies in the US.  The danger for Europe is that this decision in Brussels leaves the way wide open for China.

China is by far the main predator trying to wedge its way into Europe, hiding under a charming euphemism of “silk road” (the Chinese call it also the “Belt and Road Initiative.”)  The investments of Xi Jinping’s government have increased in leaps and bonds to reach a peak in 2016, particularly in the infrastructure of smaller and poorer Eastern European countries, where they are financing bridges, tunnels, or taking over commercial harbors, airports.  Even in Western Europe, they are rescuing failing companies or acquiring new ones — China has already taken over the electricity grids of Greece, Italy and Portugal.

How can the EU strike back?

Nathalie Loiseau, French Minister of European Affairs, 55, an extremely intelligent woman and a candidate to watch for in the May 26 European elections, wants to be positive and stresses what has been accomplished, “We have gained more in 18 months than in decade on the subject of defense … Germany has joined us on the idea of a common budget for the Euro zone … Poland agrees with France on the PAC  (Common Agricultural Policy) … There is no cohesion among the nationalist governments … Austria and Hungary disagree on many topics.”

Business leaders of the MEDEF (Movement of French enterprises) met in February to reassert their economic sovereignty against malicious cyber attacks and industrial espionage, “Being liberal, they say, does not mean being naive.”

On March 4, the French president Emmanuel Macron published a “Letter to the Citizens of the 28 EU countries.”  His vision for the “renaissance of the construction of Europe” is consistent with the seminal speech on foreign policy that he gave at the Sorbonne on Sept. 26, 2017, and also with the Aix-la-Chapelle Treaty of Jan. 22, 2019, between France and Germany.  Macron advocates a protective Europe with external  borders guaranteeing free “Schengen Space,” a strong defense and security treaty, the harmonization of salaries, and protection against cyber attacks during elections.  

The reactions of the 28 EU members were favorable, although several of them said that trust is more important than the creation of new institutions. 

The attitude of all the member countries of the EU to Brexit has proved that those 27 countries do not, in fact, want to leave Europe.  Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has so far accomplished the almost impossible in keeping his troops together. 

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the end, Forced Regionalization equals Forced Equalization equals Forced Marginalization. The sum is Disaster to our communities.
The word needs to get out to our communities, so at the very least they are educated on the subject and not blind-sided when they learn of the fate of their children’s education or are shocked when they see their future tax bills.
How can we make this happen? How can we get the word out? We have very little time.
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Region 4 Board of Education Presents Capital Plan, Draft Budget for Public Comment, Wednesday

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

A diplomatic crisis is going on between France and Italy.   Salvoes of insults proffered by deputy prime ministers Matteo Salvini (extreme right) and Luigi Di Maio (anti-establishment) are flying  across the Alps.  A red line was crossed when Di Maio went to France and met with the most radical gilets jaunes who openly demand the resignation of the French president and the overturn of all political institutions.

This constituted a provocation and a never-seen before interference by one member of the European Union (EU)  into another’s internal affairs.  While on an official visit to Cairo, French President Emmanuel Macron disregarded these heinous remarks with total indifference. Paris recalled its ambassador to Italy – the first time since June 10, 1940 when André François Poncet left Rome following the declaration of war by Mussolini to defeat France. (The French ambassador is already back in Rome)

Tension is high. It is part of the long history of a difficult relationship between the two countries. During the unification of Risorgimento (1848 -1861), France often came to the rescue. At the famous battle of Solferino (1859), a Franco-Sardinian army led by Napoleon III and Victor Emmanuel II  defeated the Austrians under Emperor Franz Joseph I.  In contrast, the annexation of the county of Nice and the Savoie region to France, decided by the Treaty of Turin, was deeply resented by Italy, as was the loss of 550 sq. kms. including the mountain passes of Tende and La Brigue in February 1947.

The second cause of friction between the two countries stems from remnants of a colonial past. Italy often challenged France’s intrusion into what it considered its zone of influence. It never really accepted the Bardo Treaty of 1881, which created  France’s protectorate over Tunisia. In 1911, Italy had colonized Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, which were to become Libya.  So, when the French and British conducted air strikes over Libya with UN support  in 2011, Italy complained of having been kept out of the loop.

Economic and commercial dissensions between the two countries are not unusual. Some might recall that Italy refused to participate in the World Fair of 1889 in Paris.  Today the STX shipyard of St Nazaire may pass under the control of the Italian company Fincantieri in spite of France’e efforts to retain a majority vote. At stake in this confrontation is construction of the largest cruise ships in the world, such as “Harmony of the Seas,” which has become the latest vessel to join the Royal Caribbean fleet.

While Italy and France often behave like quarrelsome siblings, they are more than close culturally: they are complementary. Take art for instance.  At the turn of the 20th century, France may have been the center of the art world with Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Gauguin and others, but at the same time, a new school of painting called “Futurism” was growing in Italy with artists like Marinetti, Boccioni, Cora, Bala, and Severini.  The lattet were champions of the fast pace of the city, depicting cars, planes and all forms of modernity as well as being pioneers in the expression of movement and speed.

On a lighter side, a Franco-Italian film currently showing on French screens, is the perfect illustration of the closeness of those two “cousins.” The plot of the Estivants (the vacationers), directed by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi – sister of Carla Bruni, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife – is  set in a beautiful residence on the Cöte d’Azur.  A well-off and rather dysfunctional Franco-Italian family spends long hours on the terrace overlooking  the Mediterranean framed by cypress trees. Mixing the two languages, the guests discuss every subject under the sun, including societal conflicts evoked by the servants. Well-known actor Pierre Arditi is perfectly odious in the way he makes disparaging remarks about the lower classes while he older mother is at the grand piano playing the background score created by a talented Italian composer.

The present crisis between France and Italy is linked to the flow of migrants since 2015. Due to the “Dublin rule” making the European country of entry responsible for the refugee status and because only 200 kilometers separate Italy from the African shores, Italy has been on the front line in facing the surge.  Salvini accused other EU members, particularly France, of not sharing the burden of welcoming refugee seekers.  

The Italian government worked with the Libyan authorities to block the departure of migrants from Africa and prevented humanitarian ships from entering Italian ports. The “Aquarius” had to remain on the high seas for two weeks with dozen of migrants on board. it is worth noting that both France and Italy have about the same percentage  (10 percent) of immigrants.  Also, more than two-thirds of the sub-Saharan migrants come from former Italian colonies.

Di Maio is erroneously accusing France of investing the “Franc CFA ” (African Financial Community currency) in its own economy. The fact is that eight African countries asked Paris to put the money in the Banque de France‘s  vaults for safe-keeping.

For Salvini and Di Maio, Macron is the prime target.  For them, the French president crystallizes the policies rejected by their populist government:  a progressive, multilateralist program with an integrated Europe.  Their plan is to create an axis through Italy, Poland and Hungary of authoritarian and non-liberal states capable of countering the actions of the Franco-Germanic “couple” – an ominous trend for Europe.

The Italian economy is sitting on a time bomb.  Its public debt is 133 percent of the GDP, only second to Greece’s. It ranks at the bottom in Europe for GDP growth. The populist program of increasing minimum wages, lowering retirement age and other social measures, is bound to increase the deficit.  Scolded by Brussels. the Italian government had to revise its budget. Of course, the fact that Pierre Moscovici, the Commissioner for Financial Economic Affairs in Brussels, is French, contributes  to the sour relations.

What does this crisis hold for the future?  Seen from here, the histrionics of the Italians are not always taken seriously. Paolo Levi, Paris correspondent of La Stompa recently commented that Salvini was able to intercept a malaise and his political movement might not last.

How sad that both France and Italy were founding members of the EU that was created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 …

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Third Annual Festival of Women’s Plays Continues at Ivoryton Playhouse, Today

Waltrudis Buck’s play, ‘Water Without Berries’ iwill be read on the opening night, March 1, of the Third Annual Women Playwrights Initiative at Ivoryton Playhouse.

ESSEX — Tickets are on on sale now for the Ivoryton Playhouse’s Third Annual Women Playwrights Initiative – Passion, Power and Prose 2019.

Tori Keenan-Zelt

The Initiative includes the Ellie Award and a $500 stipend for each of the four women playwrights chosen and provides a safe, nurturing environment for the development of new, one-act plays by and about women and the issues that shape their live, including a week of intensive rehearsal with the playwrights, directors, and actors.

The weeklong workshop culminates in two evenings of staged readings which will take place on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT, followed by discussions with playwrights, actors and directors.

Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m., there will be two readings presented.  

  • How to Be A Widow by Tori Keenan-Zelt and directed by Susan Einhorm.  In this wickedly funny play, two young women grapple with the freedom and power of their new widowhood.
  • Water Without Berries by Waltrudis Buck and directed by Todd Underwood. Two brothers—a school teacher and Shakespearean actor—return to Harlem to persuade their infirm grandma to leave the tenement where they grew up. In this bittersweet drama, yearning, art, rivalry, and hope struggle against the relentless forces of reality.

Kathleen Cahill

Saturday, March 2, at 7 p.m. there will be two readings presented.  

  • Partner of – by Rachael Carnes and directed by Leslie Snow. What can her grandmother and mother teach young Sally about agency, expectation, and the roles society permit women? Through the lens of three enslaved women, the property of Thomas Jefferson, we face what it means to be the “partner of –”
  • The Robertassey by Kathleen Cahill and directed by Hannah Simms. Roberta’s trip to Ireland becomes a surreal odyssey when the airlines lose her suitcase containing her father’s ashes. The dialogue is sharp, and the tone is magical, in a comedy that explores the universe’s indifference, filial obligation, forgiveness, and the power of love.

Rachael Carnes

To purchase tickets for the Friday, March 1, or Saturday, March 2, readings – each start at 7 p.m. – call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Tickets are $20 for an adult each night; $15 for a senior each night; $10 for a student.  Buy tickets for Friday and Saturday night performances for $30 adult; $25 senior; $10 student – call the box office 860.767.7318 to book a two-day package.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT  06442.

For more information about the Women Playwrights Initiative and to read bios of the playwrights, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

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Centerbrook Architects Present Talk Tonight on Food, Farming Projects; All Welcome

ESSEX — The Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series welcomes architect Caitlin Taylor, Design Director at MASS Design Group to The Cube tonight, Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m.

Our collective human need to produce, process, transport, prepare, and eat food has a powerful transformative effect on our world – ecologically, economically, culturally, epidemiologically, historically, food shapes the world we live in. Food is inextricably linked to housing, education, health, environmental change, local economies, global industry, and to racial and social injustice.

Today we operate within a food system that is designed to exclude and oppress. Food access is spatial and temporal, and agricultural production colonizes vast swaths of our landscape. 

As an architect with a background in organic agriculture, Taylor brings to MASS Design Group an interdisciplinary focus on food justice, agriculture, and food systems. She is currently directing projects that focus on rural infrastructures of regenerative food production, equitable food access, and cultivation of food culture in disinvested cities.

Taylor will present some of the ongoing food and farming projects on the boards at MASS including the Good Shepherd Conservancy in Kansas, a new national network for school kitchen design, a community-run food hall as catalyst for urban redevelopment in Poughkeepsie, New York, and an industrial scale grain mill in Senegal.

Prior to joining MASS, Taylor worked at Centerbrook and directed an independent practice focused on water infrastructure. She lives with her family in East Haddam, Conn., where they own and operate an organic vegetable and cut flower farm. She has taught advanced architecture studios at the Yale School of Architecture and Columbia Graduate School for Architecture, Planning & Preservation.

This talk is free and open to the public.

For more information or to register, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. The Cube is located in the offices of Centerbrook Architects at 67 Main Street in Centerbrook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘The Kate’ Hosts Dazzling Oscar Night Party Tonight

OLD SAYBROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (the Kate) transforms into a glittering, Hollywood-esque venue for its Oscar Night Party on Sunday, Feb. 24, beginning at 7 p.m. at the center located at 300 Main St., Old Saybrook. This annual red-carpet fund raising event honors the Kate’s 12-time Oscar Nominated, 4-time-winning namesake and makes for an entertaining evening.  Proceeds support quality performing arts and cultural presentations at the Kate throughout the year.

“We always look forward to this event to celebrate Katharine Hepburn’s achievements,” said Brett Elliott, Executive Director. “This year is extra special as we’ll be rooting for our friend and 2017 Spirit of Katharine Hepburn Award recipient, Glenn Close, who is nominated for Best Actress for ‘The Wife’.”

Delicious hearty hors d’oeuvres and desserts are provided by Fresh Salt and a cash bar is available throughout the evening as the 91st Academy Awards ceremony airs live in surround sound on the Kate’s big screen. Guests will walk the red carpet, pose for photos, and have the chance to hold a real Oscar, thanks to Devin Carney, state representative and grandson of the late award-winning actor Art Carney. Carney is emcee for the event and a member of the Kate’s board of trustees.

An auction and raffle add to the fun of the evening, as well as Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook’s “Mystery Red Box” activity. Sixty jewelry boxes wrapped in vibrant red paper and white bows are available for purchase with each box containing a Becker’s gift certificate and one grand prize box holding a beautiful piece of jewelry.

The Oscar Night Party is sponsored by H&R Block of Old Saybrook, Secor Volvo, Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook, Comcast, Gulick & Co., Pough Interiors, and Saybrook Point Inn Marina & Spa.

For information and tickets for all shows at the Kate, visit www.thekate.org or call 860-510-0453.

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center is a non-profit performing arts organization located in an historic theatre/town hall on Main Street in Old Saybrook. Originally opened in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Center has been renovated with public funds from the Town of Old Saybrook and donations raised by the Trustees of the Center.

It includes a 250-seat theatre and a small museum honoring Katharine Hepburn, Old Saybrook’s most celebrated resident. As befits an organization born of such a public/private partnership, programming is eclectic, offering something for all ages and income levels on the Connecticut shore and in the lower river valley.

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Don’t Miss a Swashbuckling Party Tonight at the Connecticut River Museum

The Privateer Crew is ready for your arrival on Saturday. Photo Credit: CRM

ESSEX —Arr” you in?

Come down and show your swagger on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Grab your sword, hoist your sails and get to the Privateers’ Bash, presented by Gosling’s Rum, at the Connecticut River Museum. Come in costume (or not!) and let off a bit of winter steam. Relive riverfront history at the 13th annual Privateer Bash; a playful nod to the privateers who made their wealth by plundering foreign ships of their valuable cargo.

Grog, grub, music, and dancing will fill the floors of our exhibit galleries while Brad and Brian will help create a tropical mood with the sound of the Islands. Savory bites will be provided in-part by Gourmet Galley, Coffee’s Country Market, Catering by Selene, Da Vinci Pizza and David Allen Catering. Treasure can be found with great prizes up for raffle, plus booty awarded for best costumes.

You can’t help but have a good time at the Privateer Bash! Photo Credit: CRM

A $50 Privateer ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, grog, and one complimentary drink. Or take advantage of a two-ticket purchase deal and buy two Privateer tickets for just $85. A $75 Commodore ticket includes hors d’oeuvres and grog plus an open bar. Tickets may be purchased by calling 860-767-8269, online at www.ctrivermuseum.org, or at the door on the evening of the event.

All proceeds benefit the Connecticut River Museum. Support for the Privateers Bash is provided in part by Bogaert Construction, Reynolds’ Garage & Marine, Sapia Builders Corp., All Pro Automotive, Essex Law Group, Marwin Mechanical Services, Kleinschmidt Associates, Brown & Brown/McCutcheon Burr & Sons, Essex Steam Train & RiverBoat, Pages, Inc., Shore Discount Liquor, CCA Services and Young’s Printing. In-Kind support provided by McChesney Design and Connecticut Rental Center. 

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. The Museum is dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. For a full listing of Museum programs, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

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Courtney to be Keynote Speaker at Middlesex Chamber’s Member Breakfast Tomorrow

Manufacturing Talent Pipeline Workshop to Held After Breakfast

Representative Joe Courtney

MIDDLETOWN — Chairman Jay Polke of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce announced that United States Congressman Joe Courtney will serve as guest speaker at the chamber’s Member Breakfast Meeting on Friday, Feb. 22.

Congressman Joe Courtney was elected in 2006 to represent the Second Congressional District of Connecticut in the House of Representatives. He serves on the Armed Services, and Education and Workforce Committees. Congressman Courtney is Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

“We look forward to welcoming Congressman Joe Courtney as keynote speaker at this event which is sponsored by The Mohegan Tribe. Congressman Courtney’s district includes many county towns within the chamber’s service area. His remarks will touch on the many important issues that he is working on including a manufacturing workforce pipeline as he represents his constituents in Washington D.C,” said President of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Larry McHugh.

The Member Breakfast Meeting will be held at the Red Lion Hotel Cromwell, 100 Berlin Road, Cromwell, with networking beginning at 7:00 a.m., breakfast buffet opens at 7:15 a.m., and the meeting program, 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

The event is sponsored by The Mohegan Tribe. Cost is $22 for members of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and $32 for non-members. Advance registration required, please register on line: www.middlesexchamber.com.

Immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting with the Congressman, the chamber will host an Informational Forum for Employers, Educators and Parents focusing on Developing the Manufacturing Pipeline in Middlesex County.

The forum will include an employer perspective and information on the Connecticut Manufacturers Collaborative by Eric J. Brown, Vice President-Manufacturing Policy and Outreach at CBIA; information on Skill Up for Manufacturing and other workforce initiatives By Bill Villano, President of  Workforce Alliance.

Additional speakers include Steven Minkler, Ed.D. Campus CEO & Dean of Academic Affairs at Middlesex Community College, Jeffrey Wihbey, Superintendent at CT Technical Education and Career System, Javette Allen, Principal, at Vinal Technical High School and Michael Hood, Department Head, Precision Machining, at Vinal Technical High School. Dr. Ruth Levy, Superintendent at Regional School District 4 will round out the panel to provide best practices for the comprehensive high schools. A question and answer session will follow the speaking portion of the forum.

For more information on Middlesex Chamber programs and events, visit middlesexchamber.com

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Region 4 Cancels all After-School Activities, Includes Budget Workshop

AREAWIDE — Region 4 has cancelled all after-school activities today due to the anticipated weather, which includes the scheduled Region 4 Budget Workshop with special presentations and public comment time.
A make-up date has not yet been determined.
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SECWAC Hosts NYT Columnist Carl Zimmer This Evening to Speak on ‘Deep History of Global Affairs’

NYT columnist Carl Zimmer will speak on “The Deep History of Global Affairs,” Wednesday evening.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts Carl Zimmer to speak on “The Deep History of Global Affairs” at 6 p.m. tomorrow evening, Wednesday, Feb. 20, at Crozier Williams Student Center Building, Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT 06320. (Map here)  Members and guests are encouraged to RSVP via online registration, but walk-ins will be accepted.

Zimmer is a columnist for the New York Times and the author of 13 books about science. His newest book is She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Power, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity (signed copies of which will be available for sale after the presentation).

Today, global affairs are profoundly influenced by mass migrations, conflicts between ethnic populations, and upheavals brought about by trade and technology. To understand the origins of these forces, scholars usually look back to recent history—a few decades back, perhaps, or a few centuries at most. But new advances in sciences are now allowing researchers to unveil the history of global affairs reaching back tens of thousands of years.

Ancient human remains are yielding entire genomes, making it possible to track the rise of our species from a small band of bipedal apes. Researchers are rewriting the deep history of humanity’s spread across the planet, discovering previously unknown collisions between ancient peoples, and the ways in which new ideas have spread around the world.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the main event beginning at 6:00 p.m. The presentation is a part of the SECWAC 2018-2019 Speaker Series.

For non-members, tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door; ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership. Attendance is free for SECWAC members (and their guests). Pro-rated half-year membership is introduced in February; half-year membership February through June 2019 is $37.50; $12.50 for young professionals under 35; free for area college and high school students.

Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC meeting attendees have the option for $35 to attend a dinner with the speaker at Connecticut College. Dinner reservations are required via pre-registration and making a payment securely online, calling 860-912-5718, or emailing info@secwac.org (vegetarian option available if reserved in advance).

Zimmer earned a B.A. in English from Yale and worked at Discover, where he served for five years as a senior editor. Since then he has written hundreds of articles for magazines including National Geographic, Scientific American, and The Atlantic. Zimmer’s writing has earned a number of awards from organizations including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 2016 he won the 2016 Stephen Jay Gould Prize, awarded by the Society for the Study of Evolution to recognize individuals whose sustained efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science. She Has Her Mother’s Laugh was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book ReviewThe Guardian named it the best science book of 2018. Zimmer is professor adjunct in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, where he teaches writing.

SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange 8-10 Speaker Series meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings range in foreign affairs topics, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.

SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policymakers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at http://secwac.org.

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RiverQuest’s ‘Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruise’ Offers Remarkable Insight, Views of CT River

This juvenile bald eagle flew alongside the RiverQuest during our recent afternoon cruise. Photo by Michael Pressman.

ESSEX — Oh, what a trip!

The RiverQuest at the Connecticut River Museum dock

RiverQuest hosted several members of the Fourth Estate recently on a wonderful Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruise. Temperatures were distinctly chilly last Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 13), but the heated cabin stayed warm while the boat gently sailed upstream from the Connecticut River Museum.

View from on board the RiverQuest.

The views were stunning throughout the trip and, despite the frigid temperatures, the majority of the 30 or so on board stayed outside most of the time to enjoy the whole experience to the full.

Look hard and you’ll see the mast (slightly right of center) of the sunken luxury yacht in Hamburg Cove.

As we sailed north, apart from all the wildlife on the water and in the sky, we saw the mast of the luxury yacht that has sunk in Hamburg Cove and the always delightful view of Gillette Castle high atop its East Haddam perch overlooking the Connecticut River.

Gillette Castle commands a stunning of the river.

Naturalist and lecturer Bill Yule shared a vast amount of fascinating facts, figures, history, happenings, and anecdotes about the river and its inhabitants, ably accompanied by naturalist and crew member Cathy Malin.

Naturalist Bill Yule shared a great deal of interesting information with the passengers.

Both were on board for the duration of the trip and, while not busy disseminating information in a lively and engaging manner, they were actively spotting and identifying wildlife of all shapes and sizes on, above and alongside the river and its banks.  They also took great care to ensure the  passengers were at all times warm, comfortable … and supplied with plenty of hot coffee!

Cathy Malin kept her eyes on the prize and was rewarded with sightings of 13 bald eagles on this trip..

Although named an ‘Eagle Cruise,’ the sighting of an eagle cannot, of course, be guaranteed, but we were fortunate to see 13 bald eagles on our trip, one flying immediately alongside the RiverQuest, and also enjoyed numerous sightings of cormorants, black-backed gulls, and common merganser ducks.

An adult bald eagle spotted during our cruise keeps a close watch on everything happening on the river beneath him. Photo by Michael Pressman.

The bald-headed eagle — the national emblem of the United States of America — reaches maturity at around age four when it acquires its signature white head and maximum wingspan of approximately six feet.

All eyes — and binoculars– were on the sky … and water.

Declared an endangered species in 1973 with the passage of the federal Endangered Species Act, bald eagle populations slowly began to recover following the ban on DDT, and by 2007, populations had recovered to such an extent that the species has now been removed from the endangered species list.

There were a number of professional photographers on board sporting rather larger lenses than our cell phone!

The magnificent raptors are, however, still protected on the federal level by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Spotting eagles was the job of everyone on board.

Every winter a number of bald eagles migrate south looking for open water on which to feed as the lakes and rivers in Canada and northern New England  freeze. Many of these magnificent birds stop in Connecticut and winter along major rivers and large reservoirs, where they can also be seen feeding and sometimes nesting on the banks of the Connecticut River.

A record of all the birds seen during each trip is kept in the Connecticut River Museum.

Counts taken in 2018 indicated there were 80 pairs of nesting bald eagles in Connecticut, which produced a record 68 chicks.

The Connecticut River Museum was the start and end-point of our trip.

The Connecticut River Museum is currently hosting a “Big Birds of Winter” exhibit, which offers an excellent overview of all the birds that might be seen on the river.

This mock-up of an eagle’s nest and the raptor silhouettes are part of the Connecticut River Museum’s “Big Birds of Winter”exhibition.

Your $42 ticket not only gives you two hours on the river aboard the RiverQuest, but also admission to all the exhibits at the Museum.

Our unequivocal opinion of this wonderful trip is simply, “Take it … it deserves two big thumbs up!”

Editor’s Note: For more information on Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises, visit this link. For more information on RiverQuest and all the trips they offer, visit this link.  For more information on the Connecticut River Museum, visit this link.

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Essex Winter Series Presents the Midiri Brothers Sextet This Afternoon

Paul Midiri who will play in the Midiri Brothers Sextet on Sunday, Feb. 17. File photo courtesy of Essex Winter Series by Tom Salvas.

ESSEX – Essex Winter Series’ presents its Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring the Midiri Brothers Sextet with special guest Jeff Barnhart on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River.

The incomparable Midiri Brothers Sextet performs a phenomenal jazz program celebrating the great reedmen, including Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Jimmy Noone and many othersJoseph Midiri is considered a virtuoso of clarinet and saxophone, and Paul Midiri’s wide-ranging talents include vibraphone, drums, and trombone. The added bonus will be Essex Winter Series’ Jazz Advisor and pianist Jeff Barnhart, who will join the group with his dynamic energy.

“I am thrilled to have multi-instrumental virtuosi Joe and Paul Midiri return for a concert, this time with their jazz ensemble, the Midiri Brothers Sextet,” said Barnhart. “The Sextet has been a mainstay of the CT Jazz scene throughout the Great CT Traditional Jazz Festival and the Hot Steamed Jazz Festival, and their legions of fans will be out in force to see their new show celebrating music of the great jazz reedmen. Don’t miss it!”

The lineup includes Joseph Midiri, co-leader, reeds; Paul Midiri, co-leader, vibraphone; Danny Tobias, jazz cornet, trumpet; Pat Mercuri, guitar, banjo; Jack Hegyi, bass; Jim Lawlor, drums; Jeff Barnhart, piano.

Essex Winter Series’ 42nd season continues on March 17 with violinist Tai Murray (the 2019 Fenton Brown Emerging Artist) joining the New Haven Symphony Orchestra under the direction of William Boughton for a program featuring Mozart, Prokofiev, Barber, and Hadyn.

The final concert of the series is Chanticleer, known around the world as “an orchestra of voices,” celebrating their 40th year with a program of favorites composers, from Palestrina and Victoria to Mason Bates and Steven Stucky, as well as audience favorite arrangements by Jennings, Shaw and others.  The concert will take place on April 7.

All performances take place on Sundays at 3 p.m. with the February jazz concert at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 John Winthrop Middle School Road, Deep River; the March concert at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Road, Deep River; and the April concert at Old Saybrook Senior High School, 1111 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook. Seating is general admission and tickets may be purchased by calling 860-272-4572 or visiting www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2019 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Masonicare at Chester Village, Tower Laboratories, Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.

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Key Healthcare Bills Introduced by Needleman, Move Forward

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) has endorsed the advancement of two bills he introduced to the General Assembly this week. On Feb. 13, the Public Health Committee voted to draft two healthcare bills, Senate Bill No. 4, “An Act Concerning the Affordability and Accessibility of Prescription Drugs,” and Senate Bill No. 394, “An Act Concerning Quality Health Care for Women.”

“I’m encouraged to see these bills moving forward,” said Sen. Needleman. “Everyone deserves the same level of healthcare, no matter your gender, your race, your income. These bills help bring us closer to that reality.”

Senate Bill No. 4 is intended to make prescription medications more affordable for Connecticut consumers. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which focuses on fiscal and economic challenges in the United States, prescription drug spending has grown from $12 billion and 5 percent of total healthcare costs in 1980 to $330 billion and 10 percent of healthcare costs by 2016, and that amount is expected to nearly double in the next decade.

“The ever-rising increase in prescription drug costs hurts everyone, creating a financial drain that negatively impacts the young and old alike,” said Sen. Needleman. “We need to push for a solution to this problem, and this legislation will be the first step toward that. By making prescription medication more affordable for everyone, we can preserve not only our physical health, but our economic health as well.”

Senate Bill No. 394 is designed to give women additional protections against unfair health and wellness mandates. Harvard Medical School said in 2017 that many health and wellness mandates are still lacking for women compared to men, with examples including that 70 percent of chronic pain patients are women, yet 80 percent of pain studies are conducted on men, and that women are seven times more likely than men to be misdiagnosed and discharged in the event they have a heart attack.

“If we believe in fairness, we believe in equal treatment, and yet all too often women don’t receive the same treatment,” said Sen. Needleman. “With this legislation, we counteract these flaws and move closer toward the equality we deserve.”

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

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Sen. Chris Murphy to Hold Open Town Hall in Essex, Sunday

ESSEX — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) will hold an open town hall meeting at Essex Town Hall on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. Murphy will provide an update on his work in Congress and take questions from those in attendance. Members of the public are invited to attend and are encouraged to arrive early.

Essex Town Hall is located at 29 West Ave., Essex, CT.

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CT Valley Camera Club Hosts Presentation on Equine Photography This Evening

The portfolio of Sarah Mote, who will speak tonight at the CT Valley Camera Club, includes this photo.

AREAWIDE — The Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will host a presentation on Equine Photography by Sarah Grote on Monday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme. The public is welcomed to attend.

Sarah Grote is a lifestyle and nature photographer specializing in projects, equine, and event photography. After 20 years in corporate and nonprofit companies in various operational, development, and managerial roles, she decided to follow her artistic dreams and visions based on her Mom’s inspirational quote, “celebrate everything”.

Since 2014, Grote has been the photographer for the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum and the Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue (CDHR).  Her photos and paintings were selected for CDHR’s juried art show “Save a Horse – Buy Art!” in 2015 and 2017.

Her photography was used for the “Demolish or Preserve:  The 1960’s at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion” exhibit, which won the most prestigious award given by the American Association of State and Local History.

In 2018, Grote’s photos were selected for three juried shows at the Mystic Museum of Art, the Essex Art Association Gallery, and The Voice of Art Gallery. She has been a board member of the Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue organization since 2015.

The CVCC, which was founded in 2002, has a simple mission — to give its members the opportunity to become better photographers.  The ways that the club achieves this objective include offering a variety of presentations and workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills.  During these popular events, members explore such areas as photographic techniques, computer processing, artistic interpretation and commercial applications, often under the tutelage of a professional photographer.

The CVCC welcomes new members at any time. Meetings are generally held on the first Monday of the month at the Lymes’ Senior Center in Old Lyme.

For more information about the CVCC, visit the club’s website at ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com.  Meeting dates, speakers and their topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at ww.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Winter Birding Field Trip Today


ESSEX —
Ducks, Eagles, Hawks, and Owls: join an outing this Saturday in search of all kinds of wintering birds in our region. Several types of raptors may be seen, among many other winter residents. Novice and advanced birdwatchers are welcome. 

This trip will be led by Essex Land Trust’s Jim Denham and Andrew Griswold of CT Audubon.

Bring a bag lunch, binoculars, boots and warm clothes. Two vans are available to seat the first 14 people who sign up. The event is free.

Meet at 12 pm in the Essex Town Hall Parking Lot, 29 West Ave.

To reserve, call Jim Denham at 860-876-0360 or email at info@essexlandtrust.org. Inclement weather cancels.

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Needleman Announces Bill To Hold Utilities Accountable

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) announced that he has submitted a bill that would hold utility companies accountable to better serve their customers, requiring them to improve their response times after power outages and increase vital staffing.

“An Act Concerning Utility Response Times For Restoration of Electric Service and Utility Minimum Staffing Levels,” Senate Bill No. 469, would require companies to restore electric service on an improved schedule after power outages, also requiring them to establish minimum staffing levels for line crews.

“In the last several years, response times to perform repair work after storms and outages by utility companies like Eversource have grown precipitously, causing significant delays in restoring power to Connecticut residents and businesses relying on it,” Sen. Needleman said. “It’s no coincidence, I believe, this comes as Eversource continues to reduce its repair staff and equipment, instead increasingly relying on private contractors from outside of their system. Without adequate staff, in the event of severe weather, Eversource will waste time and inconvenience customers.”

The bill’s announcement comes as Eversource is requesting a rate increase from the Public Utilities Regulation Authority, according to the Hartford Courant, citing the increased costs of repairing systems after severe storms. If that rate increase passes, the average customer could see their bill jump $1.85 per month or more than $20 annually as soon as this year.

“Why should Eversource receive a rate increase for this work when it drags its heels doing it in the first place? Connecticut taxpayers and businesses were already inconvenienced when their power remained off for days during these storms, and they shouldn’t be punished twice,” Sen. Needleman said. “If Eversource had invested in effective weather responses in the past, instead of reducing staff and equipment to save money, they wouldn’t need to ask for $150 million in repairs.”

“Businesses lose money every second their power remains out,” Sen. Needleman said. “As a business owner myself, I know these problems first-hand. My manufacturing plant in Michigan has lost power one time in 14 years, while my manufacturing plant in Centerbrook sometimes loses power for no reason at all. Connecticut needs to attract businesses, and unstable electrical systems will only drive them away.”

According to the Energy Information Agency, Connecticut residents are already charged the third-highest rates for electricity in the country in both price and expenditure.

“Eversource should provide the services it already pledges to its customers, not be rewarded for failing to implement adequate weather-related response and repair strategies,” Sen. Needleman said. “When Connecticut taxpayers are already charged one of the highest prices in the country for electricity, they should feel confident their service will remain stable, not prepare for days of outages whenever severe storms rear their head. S.B. 469 will hold Eversource and other utility providers accountable for the services their customers deserve.”

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

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Letter From Paris: It’s Been a Rocky Ride, But Will Macron Still Make It?

Nicole Prévost Logan

France always seems to stand out by doing the best or the worst through social and political upheavals.  The movement of the gilets jaunes has been like an earthquake shaking the system to its foundations.    It has created the most serious political crisis the Fifth Republic has known since its creation by General de Gaulle in 1958. 

It is a pivotal moment for France and many other Western democracies when the mechanism of political institutions does not seem to work any more. 

The gilets jaunes are the voice of a rural population never heard before and which feels abandoned.  It is a lower middle class of workers and retirees, who can’t make it to the end of the month and feel squeezed between the very poor — benefiting from social relief — and the more affluent middle class. 

At first overwhelmingly supported by the public opinion, their number –occupying roundabouts and tolls — has reduced from over 280,000 on Nov. 17, to about 84.000 today. Public opinion is becoming weary of the continuous violence.

“Act XI” is taking place as this article is being written. 

French President Emmanuel Macron.

A spectacular fist fight on the footbridge linking the Quai d’Orsay and the Tuileries garden marked the month of January.  Over time a hard core of  gilets jaunes has become more radical, asking for the dissolution of Parliament, the suppression of the Senate, and basically total destruction of the system in place.  It refuses dialogue while chanting “Macron. Demission” (Macron. Resign.)  

The Rassemblement National (RN) extreme right party of Marine Le Pen and the communist party or France Insoumise (LFI) are riding the wave. They help circulate false news to discredit Macron and his government.  The terrorist attack in Strasbourg in early December or the recent deadly explosion due to a gas leak in the center of Paris were just diversion tactics by the Executive, they say. 

On Jan. 23,  France and Germany signed the treaty of Aix La Chapelle to reinforce cooperation between the two countries and facilitate trans-border relations.  The treaty was followed by the announcement of outrageously distorted news on social networks that Alsace-Lorraine was being returned to Germany. 

Eighteen months into his mandate, Macron started  to suffer a catastrophic collapse in the polls. It was not a first for a French president:  Sarkozy and Hollande before him suffered the same disaffection soon after their election. For Macron though, the intensity of the fall was all the more spectacular as his victory had created a surge of hope.

Today he is trying to turn the tide around and pull the country out of its crisis.  And his method? A “Great Debate” throughout the country lasting until March 15.

On Jan. 13, the president posted a “Lettre aux Français” suggesting four themes open to discussion: taxes, public services, energetic transition, and political institutions, including immigration.  France is being turned into a laboratory to experiment with new forms of government – representative, participative or direct (with frequent referendums).

The hard core of gilets jaunes declined to participate.

Macron’s initial step was to face some of the 35.000 mayors of France.  First 700 of them in Normandy, then two days later 700 in the Lot department (Occitanie region.)  It was an impressive show of participative government in action.  Selected mayors presented their grievances related to very concrete and local problems: closing schools, disappearance of public services, medical “desertification,” lack of accessible transports, inadequate internet and phone access, hurtful impact of giant shopping malls on small business, and the demise of downtown areas of small town and villages.

Each speaker was polite, direct and, at times, quite tough. Macron’s performance was phenomenal.  As each speaker took the microphone, the president was taking notes furiously.  For close to seven hours, he absorbed the remarks then answered each one, recalling the interlocutor’s name.  His language was familiar, bringing smiles to the faces in the audience and devoid of any demagoguery. 

For instance, he expressed his opinion on how dangerous popular referenda can be, especially when based on false information — citing the UK’s Brexit vote as an example. Overall it was refreshing to witness courteous and constructive exchanges, far from the heinous invectives to which the president has been submitted lately. 

The “Great Debate” is a courageous, but risky exercise.  Talking to the mayors was the easy part. It will be harder for him to convince broader public opinion — including the moderate gilets jaunes — how to make a synthesis from all the wide array of  grievances and turn them into immediate and concrete measures?

Macron must meet some, if not all, of the demands being made by the gilets jaunes without appearing to be weak and submissive. In spite of the popular pressure for lower taxes and more benefits, he cannot afford to lose his objective, which is to reform France and make it economically competitive. Finally, time is short since there will only be two months left after the debate before the European elections are held. 

Violence hit cities throughout France causing widespread damage.

The violence brought on by the weekly street warfare in Paris, Bordeaux and many other cities has tarnished the image of France abroad.  The damage caused  to the urban landscape, small businesses and whole sectors of the economy can be numbered in millions of Euros. The loss of one point of France’s GDP has even become worrisome for the IMF. 

On Jan. 22, Macron invited 125 of the most important world CEOs, who were on their way to the Davos Economic Forum, to  a lavish lunch at the Chateau de Versailles, in order to reassure them of his country’s viability and stability prior to a possible Brexit.

The polls have risen slightly in favor of Macron but the president still faces an uphill battle. France is fortunate to have a young president full of energy … but the jury is still out on his future.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Become a Middlesex Health Hospice Volunteer

MIDDLETOWN—Middlesex Health’s Hospice Program is looking for volunteers.

Hospice volunteers are an integral part of the Middlesex Health team, and they work with patients and families as they cope with the challenges of terminal illness.

All aspiring volunteers must submit a volunteer application and complete 12 hours of training and a mentorship before they can begin their work. The next training sessions will be held on April 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and April 13, from 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Both sessions are mandatory for new volunteers and will be held in the Randy Goodwin, MD Conference Center.

For more information and to request an application, contact a Middlesex Health volunteer coordinator at 860-358-5700. 

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Essex Garden Club Donates Food to Shoreline Soup Kitchens

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club (EGC) members collected nonperishable food items for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries (SSKP) at the club’s annual Festivities.  The EGC festivities were held at the Essex Yacht Club.

Individual members donated $1,305.00 and the Essex Garden Club donated $500 for a total of $1,805.00. 

Pictured above packing the food for delivery are, from left to right, Phyllis Graf, Sue Baker and Barbara Campbell.

The Gowrie Group Match Challenge was $1,805.00   

The total weight of the food donation was 302 pounds.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Talk Tonight on Amphibian Habitat in CT

ESSEX — The Essex Land Trust hosts Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, (pictured left) an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at UCONN, Thursday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m. at Essex Town Hall, 29 West Ave. The title of her talk will be, ‘Amphibian habitat in CT: Is there enough for populations to persist?’

She will define amphibian habitat and discuss whether or not there is enough habitat in Connecticut to maintain amphibian population for future generations. Learn about amphibian habitat and improve your understanding of habitat in general.

Rittenhouse has a BS from University of Wisconsin-Madison and MS and PhD from University of Missouri-Columbia. She studies where wild animals live and how they travel through habitats. The snow date for this event is Jan. 29.

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Letter from Paris: Picasso’s Early Years on View in Blue … and Pink

Nicole Prévost Logan

In October 1900, Picasso – at age 19 – arrived at the Gare d’Orsay in Paris from Barcelona. So, it is appropriate that the Orsay Museum would host an exhibition about the young Spanish artist.

The blockbuster, which opened in the autumn of 2018, was called “Picasso. Bleu, Rose” and refers to the 1900-1906 years. It is a long overdue theme, never before treated in France.

For several reasons, this period is unique among Picasso’s long career. It reveals the precocious virtuosity of such a young person as a draughtsman;
never again will he express such intense emotions; Harlequin — a main character from the Commedia del’arte — is introduced for the first time and will remain his double throughout his life’s work. The image at right shows “Arlequin with an acrobat” (1905) portrayed as a young and emaciated boy.

Between 1900 and 1904, Picasso made several trips between Spain and Paris, until he settled permanently in the French capital where he rented a studio, along with other artists, in a dilapidated building baptized the Bateau-Lavoir (washhouse.)

He liked to hang around at the tavern of Els Quatre Gats (Four Cats) in Barcelona where he met Catalan friends – such as Santiago Rusinol or Ramon Casos. The exhibit shows hundreds of the small portraits and sketches, sometimes humorous, that he created at full speed.

With a voracious curiosity, he would watch the colorful, loud crowds at cabarets, bordellos, night clubs or caf’concs (cafés with a music hall performance) of Montmartre.

Toulouse Lautrec was his idol.

Like him, Picasso depicted the dejected night-life customers stunned under the effect of absinthe. “Arlequin and his companion” (1901, Pushkin museum, Moscow) shown at left represents a couple totally alienated from each other, sitting at a bistro table, with vacuous expressions on their faces.

The man is Harlequin, dressed in his usual costume with lozenges.

The “Portrait of Gustave Coquiot” (1901, Musee d’art moderne, Paris) at right is emblematic of this garish night life. The collector and art critic is depicted as a well-fed individual, with half naked girls dancing in the background, his mouth snarled in a lecherous grimace, under an insolent mustache.

But those years were lean years for Picasso. Both in Barcelona and in Paris Picasso lived in utter poverty.

This was the height of his “Blue Period” — the color of the bottom of the abyss. Beggars, orphans, the poor — Picasso showed his empathy for all of them.

He would take for models the former prostitutes incarcerated at the Saint Lazare prison in Barcelona, where many were dying of venereal diseases .

One usually links the Blue Period with the death of his close friend Casagemas in 1901 The painting at left of the young Catalan artist on his death bed, (1901, Musee Picasso, Paris) is realistic and shows the bullet wound on his temple after he committed suicide. The feverish multicolor strokes around the candle are reminiscent of van Gogh’s technique.

Abject poverty did not prevent Picasso from leading a lively, bohemian life among artists, poets, writers in the Montmartre district of the French capital, which was the center of the artistic world at that time.

The German art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler immediately discovered the genius of Picasso. Things started looking up when art merchant Ambroise Vollard bought several of his paintings. His melancholy disappeared when he fell passionately in love with Fernande Olivier, one of his many companions whose body and face he kept deconstructing.

The distinction between Blue and Pink Periods is rather artificial. Sadness lingered on through both periods.

Pink became predominant when the artist became interested in the circus world. Several times a week he would go to the cirque Medrano. But unlike other artists like Seurat, Rouault or Matisse, he was not interested in the spectacles per se but rather in what happened backstage and in the miserable existence of the acrobats.

In “Acrobate a la boule” (at right), a frail adolescent is trying to keep his (her) balance on a round ball watched by a heavy set acrobat sitting on a massive cube. Art historians give a deep meaning to the scene, to the contrast between the spiritual world, taking risks, being continually in motion with the stability of life grounded in the earth.

In the summer of 1906, Picasso’s life took a new turn. Being with Fernande on the hillside village of Gozolf, he seemed totally happy, enjoying the sun and inspired by the pink and ochre color of the clay. He discovered the Iberian sculptures of the fifth and sixth centuries BC influenced by Phoenician and Greek cultures as well as 12th century medieval sculptures.

His art seems to be changing course. In “Deux Nus” (1906, MOMA), shown at left, the bodies of the naked women, are deformed, with disproportionate legs and heavy torso. Picasso was ready for another discovery … African art.

Matisse showed him an African statuette in the apartment of Gertrude and Leo Stein. Picasso was stunned.

As a result, after numerous sketches, (the Steins bought most of them when Picasso was still unknown), Picasso produced the ‘Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (1907, MOMA), which remains probably the most important painting of the 20th century.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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State Rep. Palm Plans to Host “Listening Sessions” Monthly

State Representative-Elect (D-36th) Christine Palm.

AREAWIDE — Christine Palm, State Representative-for the 36th District (covering the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam), took the Oath of Office Wed., Jan. 9, at the State Capitol. Palm is one of 151 members of the House (the lower chamber of the General Assembly), each of whom represents approximately 23,000 people.

Palm ran as a progressive Democrat who was cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party, and stood for economic security for all workers, affordable healthcare, school excellence, gun safety, enhanced women’s rights and environmental protections. 

Palm has now started meeting with constituents in various locations in her district. She intends to hold these “listening sessions” in coffee shops in each of the four towns in the 36th District during the month of January.

After that, she will hold at least one meeting per month, rotating times and locations throughout the district, including libraries, assisted living facilities and town halls. Residents of any town are always welcome to attend a meeting in another town.

For the month of January meetings are as follows:

Friday, Jan. 11: The Villager, Downtown Chester, 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. https://www.thevillagerchester.com/

Tuesday, Jan. 15: The Nook, 1610 Saybrook Rd., Tylerville (Haddam), 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 22, Savour, Spencer’s Corners, Centerbrook (Essex), 10:00-11:00 a.m. http://www.thesavourcafe.com/

Wednesday, Jan. 23, Whistle Stop Café, Main Street, Deep River, noon to 1:00 p.m. https://www.facebook.com/whistlestopcafect/

“It’s very important to me to hear from the residents – both those who voted for me and those who did not,” Palm said. “Too many people feel government is out of touch with them – that it’s an inaccessible monolith.

She continued, “That’s not the kind of government I want to serve in and I intend to be as responsive as possible. Not only do our residents deserve a State Representative willing to hear their concerns, I need them, too; talking with folks is a great source of inspiration for me. Through casual conversations, I’ve already gotten some ideas for changes we need to make so that government better represents the people. So, I am grateful to all those willing to meet and share their ideas, concerns and experiences with me.”

Once Palm is sworn in, her official State of Connecticut email, phone number, website and Facebook page will go live and she will make them public. For now, residents of any of the towns she serves are welcome to call her on her cell phone at 860-836-2145.

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Letter from Paris: Picasso’s Early Years on View in Blue … and Pink

Nicole Prévost Logan

In October 1900, Picasso – at age 19 – arrived at the Gare d’Orsay in Paris from Barcelona. So, it is appropriate that the Orsay Museum would host an exhibition about the young Spanish artist.

The blockbuster, which opened in the autumn of 2018, was called “Picasso. Bleu, Rose” and refers to the 1900-1906 years. It is a long overdue theme, never before treated in France.

For several reasons, this period is unique among Picasso’s long career. It reveals the precocious virtuosity of such a young person as a draughtsman;
never again will he express such intense emotions; Harlequin — a main character from the Commedia del’arte — is introduced for the first time and will remain his double throughout his life’s work. The image at right shows “Arlequin with an acrobat” (1905) portrayed as a young and emaciated boy.

Between 1900 and 1904, Picasso made several trips between Spain and Paris, until he settled permanently in the French capital where he rented a studio, along with other artists, in a dilapidated building baptized the Bateau-Lavoir (washhouse.)

He liked to hang around at the tavern of Els Quatre Gats (Four Cats) in Barcelona where he met Catalan friends – such as Santiago Rusinol or Ramon Casos. The exhibit shows hundreds of the small portraits and sketches, sometimes humorous, that he created at full speed.

With a voracious curiosity, he would watch the colorful, loud crowds at cabarets, bordellos, night clubs or caf’concs (cafés with a music hall performance) of Montmartre.

Toulouse Lautrec was his idol.

Like him, Picasso depicted the dejected night-life customers stunned under the effect of absinthe. “Arlequin and his companion” (1901, Pushkin museum, Moscow) shown at left represents a couple totally alienated from each other, sitting at a bistro table, with vacuous expressions on their faces.

The man is Harlequin, dressed in his usual costume with lozenges.

The “Portrait of Gustave Coquiot” (1901, Musee d’art moderne, Paris) at right is emblematic of this garish night life. The collector and art critic is depicted as a well-fed individual, with half naked girls dancing in the background, his mouth snarled in a lecherous grimace, under an insolent mustache.

But those years were lean years for Picasso. Both in Barcelona and in Paris Picasso lived in utter poverty.

This was the height of his “Blue Period” — the color of the bottom of the abyss. Beggars, orphans, the poor — Picasso showed his empathy for all of them.

He would take for models the former prostitutes incarcerated at the Saint Lazare prison in Barcelona, where many were dying of venereal diseases .

One usually links the Blue Period with the death of his close friend Casagemas in 1901 The painting at left of the young Catalan artist on his death bed, (1901, Musee Picasso, Paris) is realistic and shows the bullet wound on his temple after he committed suicide. The feverish multicolor strokes around the candle are reminiscent of van Gogh’s technique.

Abject poverty did not prevent Picasso from leading a lively, bohemian life among artists, poets, writers in the Montmartre district of the French capital, which was the center of the artistic world at that time.

The German art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler immediately discovered the genius of Picasso. Things started looking up when art merchant Ambroise Vollard bought several of his paintings. His melancholy disappeared when he fell passionately in love with Fernande Olivier, one of his many companions whose body and face he kept deconstructing.

The distinction between Blue and Pink Periods is rather artificial. Sadness lingered on through both periods.

Pink became predominant when the artist became interested in the circus world. Several times a week he would go to the cirque Medrano. But unlike other artists like Seurat, Rouault or Matisse, he was not interested in the spectacles per se but rather in what happened backstage and in the miserable existence of the acrobats.

In “Acrobate a la boule,” a frail adolescent is trying to keep his (her) balance on a round ball watched by a heavy set acrobat sitting on a massive cube. Art historians give a deep meaning to the scene, to the contrast between the spiritual world, taking risks, being continually in motion with the stability of life grounded in the earth.

In the summer of 1906, Picasso’s life took a new turn. Being with Fernande on the hillside village of Gozolf, he seemed totally happy, enjoying the sun and inspired by the pink and ochre color of the clay. He discovered the Iberian sculptures of the fifth and sixth centuries BC influenced by Phoenician and Greek cultures as well as 12th century medieval sculptures.

His art seems to be changing course. In “Deux Nus” (1906, MOMA), shown at right, the bodies of the naked women, are deformed, with disproportionate legs and heavy torso. Picasso was ready for another discovery … African art.

Matisse showed him an African statuette in the apartment of Gertrude and Leo Stein. Picasso was stunned.

As a result, after numerous sketches, (the Steins bought most of them when Picasso was still unknown), Picasso produced the ‘Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (1907, MOMA), which remains probably the most important painting of the 20th century.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Late Registration Tonight to Sing Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’ with Cappella Cantorum in April 14 Concert

Cappella Cantorum logo

AREAWIDE — Join the Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus for registration and its first rehearsal of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” on Monday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m., at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River (use rear entrance).

The lyricism and use of orchestral and choral color in “Elijah” reflect Mendelssohn’s genius as an early Romantic composer.This inspiring work will be performed in concert Sunday, April 14, at John Winthrop with professional orchestra and soloists.

Simon Holt of the Salt Marsh Opera will direct. All singers and high school students are welcome; auditions are not required.

Registration is $50 plus cost of music. Late registration is the following Monday, Jan. 14, same time and place. Singers may register on-line or in person at John Winthrop.

For more information, visit www.CappellaCantorum.org or call 860-526-1038.

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Public Hearing to be Held Tomorrow for 9 Town Transit’s Proposed New Service for Disabled

AREAWIDE — 9 Town Transit (9TT) is planning to begin offering ADA paratransit service along the 641 route in February of 2019. This new service will be offered to individuals who have a disability that prevents them from using the fixed route.

ADA paratransit is a reservation-based origin-to-destination service similar to our Dial-A-Ride program. It must be booked at least one day in advance and has a 30-minute pick-up window. The cost is twice that of the equivalent fixed-route fare, currently $3.50 each way.

Unlike 9TT’s Dial-A-Ride, which is open to the general public, ADA Paratransit is only available to people with a disability that have gone through an application process.

ADA Paratransit offers the same hours as Route 641, making it available Monday through Friday 6:20 a.m. until 7:50 p.m. and Saturday 7:20 a.m. until 6 p.m., which is beyond that of Dial-A-Ride.

ADA Paratransit is only available within 3/4 mile of Route 641. This includes the section of 641 serving Madison. Any trip with an origin or a destination beyond this area would remain a Dial-A-Ride trip.

There will be a public hearing on Jan. 15, 2019 at 3 p.m. at 17 Industrial Park Rd, Suite 6, Centerbrook, CT, 06409. 9TT will hear comments and answer questions about their proposed ADA plan and paratransit.

Comments may also be submitted in writing by Jan. 25, 2019 by email to info@estuarytransit.org or mail to address above.

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New York Philharmonic String Quartet and Mihae Lee Open Essex Winter Series 42nd Season This Afternoon

New York Philharmonic Pricipal String Quartet, 11/26/16. Photo by Chris Lee

ESSEX – Essex Winter Series’ 42nd season begins with a stunning program of Haydn, Dvorak, and Schumann performed by the New York Philharmonic String Quartet and Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Rd., Deep River.

The New York Philharmonic String Quartet comprises four Principal musicians from the Orchestra, including Concertmaster Frank Huang; Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples; Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps; and Principal Cello Carter Brey. The group formed in January 2017, during the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season, and made its debut as the solo ensemble in John Adams’s Absolute Jest in March 2017.

The Quartet will start the program with the delightful Haydn Quartet Op. 72, No. 2 and end the first half with the iconic Dvorak’s “American” Quartet. Mihae Lee will join them for the brilliant Schumann Piano Quintet in the second half. 

Essex Winter Series’ season continues on Feb. 17 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring the Midiri Brothers Sextet with special guest Jeff Barnhart performing the music of reeds giants Benny Goodman, Jimmy Noone, Artie Shaw and more.

On March 17, violinist Tai Murray (the 2019 Fenton Brown Emerging Artist) joins the New Haven Symphony Orchestra under the direction of William Boughton for a program featuring Mozart, Prokofiev, Barber, and Hadyn.

The final concert of the series is Chanticleer, known around the world as “an orchestra of voices,” celebrating their 40th year with a program of favorites composers, from Palestrina and Victoria to Mason Bates and Steven Stucky, as well as audience favorite arrangements by Jennings, Shaw and others on April 7.

All performances take place on Sundays at 3 p.m. with the January and March concerts at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Rd., Deep River; the February jazz concert at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 John Winthrop Middle School Road, Deep River; and the April concert at Old Saybrook Senior High School, 1111 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook.

Seating is general admission and tickets may be purchased by calling 860-272-4572 or visiting www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2019 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Masonicare at Chester Village, Tower Laboratories, Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.

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SE CT Legislators Including Sen.-Elect Needleman, Submit Bill To Allow Online, In-Person Betting at CT Casinos

Press Release) State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and members of the Southeastern Connecticut legislative delegation have submitted a bipartisan bill for the 2019 legislative session that would amend Connecticut’s existing state laws to allow for online and in-person sports betting at Connecticut casinos.

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman

The proposed law would include age and location verification requirements designed to block online access to persons under the age of 21 from betting on sports.

Since last May, when the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law banning sports wagering, eight states now offer legalized sports betting, including nearby Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. New York has passed enabling legislation but has not yet instituted sports betting, and several other U.S. states – including Connecticut – are now considering it.

Rhode Island – which just launched sports betting in November – estimates it will collect $11.5 million in new state revenue in its first seven months of operation.

“Connecticut needs to play catch-up with surrounding states if we’re serious about modernizing our existing gaming industry. Fortunately, we can do that with a relatively simple regulatory fix,” said Sen. Osten, who represents Ledyard and a portion of Montville, home to Connecticut’s two Native American tribes that already operate gaming casinos.

She continued, “The U.S. Supreme Court decision last year paved the way for the expansion of private-sector sports betting, and I think Connecticut is in a good position to take advantage of that. We have the infrastructure with the tribal casinos, we can use the new revenue, and we’ve got bipartisan support. This should be an early session success story.”

“Neighboring states are already ahead of Connecticut on sports betting, but I think it’s an issue we can quickly catch up on that will have positive employment, economic and revenue impacts on Connecticut, “ said Sen.-elect Norm Needleman (D-Essex). 

He noted, “Two of Connecticut’s top-10 largest employers will benefit from this bill. The U.S. Supreme Court has already cleared the way legally, so I believe it’s incumbent on us as state policymakers to do what’s necessary to remain relevant and profitable in a rapidly expanding new national industry.”

The bill, with the current working number of LCO 578, is co-sponsored by Sens. Osten, Steve Cassano, Paul Formica, Heather Somers, and Sen.-elect Needleman, and by state Reps. Ryan, Christine Conley, Emmett Riley, Joe de la Cruz, Susan Johnson, Doug Dubitsky, Mike France and Holly Cheeseman.

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Professional Nature Photographer to Speak Tonight at CT Valley Camera Club Meeting

The guest speaker at the Monday, Jan.7, 2019 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be professional nature photographer Michael Milicia. He will give a presentation titled, “Focus on Sharpness”.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. All are welcome. There is no admission charge.

Capturing fine detail is often a critical element of a successful image. This presentation will explore a variety of tools and techniques which help to maximize image sharpness.  Milicia will take an in depth look at the many features and tuning options of today’s autofocus (AF) systems and how to best take advantage of them.

Other topics to be covered will include live view AF, mirrorless AF, back button focus, tripods and heads, long lens technique, handholding, and microfocus adjustment.

Milicia’s love of the outdoors is rooted in his time growing up in the rolling hills of rural Western Pennsylvania. After earning a Computer Science degree at Carnegie-Mellon University, he embarked on a 27-year-career as a Software Engineer which included stints at IBM, Digital Equipment Corporation, and Hewlett-Packard, as well as graduate studies at Syracuse University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

In 2005, he left the software industry to pursue a second career as a Nature Photographer specializing in birds and wildlife.

He strives to create images that include an artistic element and have an aesthetic appeal that transcends their role as natural history documentation.  Motivated by a love of nature, Milicia has a fascination with wildlife, and the never-ending challenge of finding that perfect combination of good light, cooperative subject, attractive setting, and beautiful background that allows him to create an artistically pleasing image. 

His passion for photography is rivaled only by his passion for teaching photography. During his years as a Software Engineer, he was continually faced with the need to analyze complex subjects and break them down in a well organized, step-by-step manner that made them easier to understand and communicate.

He finds that this approach also works quite well when teaching the technical aspects of photography. He enjoys teaching at all levels, whether it is helping beginners get acquainted with the world of digital photography or helping more experienced photographers take their images to the next level.

The CVCC is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers. The group offers a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills. Photographers of all levels of experience are welcomed. 

The club draws members from up and down the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook; from East Hampton to Old Lyme; and along the shoreline from Guilford to Mystic.

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

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Sign up for Spanish! Classes Held Thursdays at Ivoryton Library

IVORYTON — Sign up for weekly beginning Spanish classes starting at 4 p.m. on Thursdays at. Ivoryton Library, 106 Main St., in Ivoryton.

The teacher is Sara Bendetto, and the cost is $10 a class.

Register by calling the library at 860-767-1252.

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Kyle Zrenda Joins Suisman Shapiro as Firm’s Newest Associate

AREAWIDE — Kyle J. Zrenda has joined Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law as an associate on the firm’s civil litigation team, practicing in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and insurance health care law.

Attorney Kyle J. Zrenda

Prior to joining Suisman Shapiro, Attorney Zrenda was an associate at Vigorito, Barker, Patterson, Nichols and Porter, LLP in New York where he focused his practice on construction site accidents, premises liability, motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and health care law. Attorney Zrenda represented physicians, nurses, medical groups, hospitals, property owners, general contractors, and subcontractors throughout New York and Connecticut.

“We are pleased to welcome Kyle Zrenda to Suisman Shapiro,” said Managing Director John A. Collins, III. “Kyle just obtained an outstanding result in Bridgeport Superior Court and we know that his trial experience will further enhance our litigation team’s approach to aggressively representing our clients.”

Zrenda is Connecticut native who graduated from East Lyme High School. He received his B.A. from Boston College in 2010 and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2013, where he was an Associate Editor of the Quinnipiac Law Review.

Attorney Zrenda was admitted to the New York Bar in 2013, the Connecticut Bar in 2014, and is also admitted to practice in the Federal District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, and Northern Districts of New York. In 2017 and 2018, Attorney Zrenda was listed by Super Lawyers as a New York Metro “Rising Star” in the area of personal injury.

Suisman Shapiro is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut, serving the community for over 75 years with a wide range of legal services.

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Needleman Appointed to Leadership Roles on Two Key State Senate Committees

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman (D-Essex) today announced in a press release that he has been appointed Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, and Senate Vice Chair of the Banking Committee. 

“The towns in our district have gained a leadership presence in policy development for finance, technology, and energy infrastructure,” said Needleman. “My experience in government and business financial management, and my years of working with major utilities and energy providers directly applies to the work of both committees. I look forward to bringing common sense ideas to these important issues.”

The Energy and Technology Committee formulates policies relating to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, energy-related planning, and technology issues. The committee works closely with energy and technology services and utilities, which include electric utilities and cable TV service.

The Banking Committee develops policies relating to consumer credit and lending, business finance, the Department of Banking, all banks, credit unions, securities sales, fraternal benefit societies and secured and unsecured lending.

Needleman expects additional committee assignments to be announced in the near future. He officially begins his State Senate term on Jan. 9 of the coming year. 

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With Approach of Brexit Deadline, a New Conundrum Emerges as UK Grows More Divided, EU More United

Nicole Prévost Logan

It was a close call for Theresa May and probably the most difficult time of the 900-odd days of the Brexit negotiations. 

On Monday, Dec. 10, her proposed “deal” faced opposition from all sides. Several of her ministers had already resigned: Boris Johnson,  Dominic Raab and David Davis, successive Secretaries of State for Brexit. Even her own Tory party was divided. 

Europhile Jo Johnson, brother of Boris, refused the terms of her “deal.” On the left, the Labor Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, wanted to remain in Europe, but within a large customs union, to maintain trade relations and be in control of immigration. Both Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP), on whom May’s Conservatives rely for a majority in parliament, preferred  a “Norway plus” formula. 

A coup de theatre occurred in the House of Commons on Dec. 12: the leader of the conservative Brexiters, Jacob Rees-Mogg, led a motion of no confidence against the prime minister. She won by 200 votes to 117. This vote meant  a reprieve for May until Jan. 21, 2019 to make a final decision on the “deal.”  She cannot drag out the timetable indefinitely, however, since the process has to be completed before the European elections on May 26.  

During that fateful week, in a desperate effort to save her plan, the British Prime Minister raced from the House of Commons to make hasty visits to the European countries most sympathetic to her ideas such as The Netherlands or Germany.  She returned to London and made a statement in front of 10 Downing Street on a cold winter night, cheered a little by a Christmas tree standing nearby. On Dec. 13, she was back on the continent to attend a meeting of the European Council hoping to wrench out a few more concessions from the weary Europeans.

She returned to the UK empty-handed.

May warns that “no deal” would be catastrophic for the UK.  She says that only by achieving a deal can the UK hope to preserve its independence and remain in control of its economy and borders. The Brexiters’ argument is that during the transition period, which starts on March 29, 2019, the UK will remain within the EU Custom Union, unable to sign bilateral cooperation agreements with other countries and forced to make financial contributions, while having no say in the decision-making process.

The 27 EU members ratified the hefty 600-page withdrawal document of the UK after smoothing out a few thorny issues. One is the administration of the Gibraltar enclave.  Spain had to be satisfied lest it used its veto. The other one dealt with the demands by fishermen from France,  Denmark and a few other countries to retain access to the waters — rich in fish — around the British Isles.  Until today, they have been allowed to do so as per the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

But by far the most crucial point is the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  Both the UK and the EU want a “backstop” — a device designed to maintain the UK with the EU Customs Union until a trade agreement is signed — but for different reasons. For Brussels, it is a non- negotiable red line, a temporary measure, like an insurance to be applied during the transition period scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2020. Ireland does not want to see the re-emergence of the bloody conflict, which finally ended on Good Friday 1998.  

Theresa May wants a legally-binding text agreement that proposes a backstop to prevent the return of a physical border. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his team are ready to make adjustments to create a “backstop” more palatable to the British, saying, “Let us be imaginative and creative.”  He now offers other solutions such as setting up control points about 10 miles from the border in industrial buildings .  

On the whole, the 27 European Union (EU) members are displaying an exceptional show of unity, which may come as a surprise for outside observers.  One would  expect the EU to be tough with the UK to prevent a possible ‘domino effect’ inspiring others to leave a continent already torn between populism and nationalism. 

In fact, the exact opposite is happening. and none of the 27 seem willing to leave Europe. In France, Marine Le Pen changed her mind quickly about keeping the Euro.  In Greece, Prime Minister Tsipras and his Syriza party are not in conflict with Brussels any longer.  The Italian government has agreed to reduce its deficit in accordance with the EU rules.  Eastern Europeans appreciate greatly the assistance they receive from Brussels and also the protection the latter gives them against their Russian neighbor They do not show any intention of leaving the EU.. 

The scenario of a new referendum is gaining ground.  Since the European Court of Justice has just declared that a EU member state can unilaterally withdraw its intention to leave the Union, the task of the “Remainers” would be simplified. If they win the referendum, it will be back to square one — an outcome generally favored by the Europeans. 

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Season’s Greetings

Christmas-Bow-Picture_512x384We wish all our readers and advertisers a wonderful, peaceful and enjoyable holiday season.

Thank you for all your support this past year and we look forward to serving you with even stronger coverage of the towns of Chester, Essex and Deep River next year.

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Letter to the Editor: Needleman’s 2019 Resolution is to be 33rd District’s ‘Common Sense Advocate’

To the Editor:

The holiday season is a time when we enjoy good cheer and look forward to the promise of a bright new year. It is a time when we resolve to do the things that didn’t get done in the old year, and fix the things that need fixing.  

For me, the coming year will be both demanding and promising. On January 9, I will be sworn in to represent the 33rd district in the State Senate, a responsibility that brings with it significant challenges and exciting new opportunities. That’s why my only resolution this year is to be the common sense advocate the towns in our district need and deserve. As your voice in the state senate, I will keep you posted on progress in addressing the issues that concern all of us.

Meanwhile, I hope we can all enjoy the festive spirit and good will that make the holiday season so enjoyable. I wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year. 

Sincerely,

Norm Needleman,
Essex

Editor’s Note: The author is the State Senator Elect for the 33rd District.

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Holiday Boutique Today Benefits Tri-Town Youth Services, Other Local Youth Organizations

Wrap up your gift shopping at the Holiday Boutique on Wednesday! Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

AREAWIDE — A Holiday Boutique will be held  Wednesday, Dec. 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Old Lyme Country Club, 40 McCurdy Rd., Old Lyme.  It is is open and free to all community members.

The event will benefit Tri-Town Youth Service Bureau, Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, and Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services.

The Holiday Boutique features 18 vendors from Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Florida, and has something for everyone on your list. Items for sale will include jewelry, gifts, hand bags, scarves, soaps, ties, florals and so much more.

The high-end vendors include:

  • CatchAll from Westport
  • Pinky’s from Greenwich
  • The Calvert Collection
  • Nat Fry Woodworking from Haverford, PA
  • Old Lyme’s Allie Fiscus
  • Three Islands from Westerly
  • Lowebows Bowties
  • Patrice Collection from Darien
  • Stix & Stones from Hartford
  • Carlisle clothing and Mali jewelry from New York
  • The Patrice Collection from Darien
  • Katherine Clarkson Studio
  • Tucci Designs from Stonington
  • Savor and Cortland Park from Essex
  • Maggie Lee Designs from Lancaster, PA
  • Cynthia Slack Designs from Bonita Springs, FL
  • Farm to Bath from Thompson
  • Alka’s Indian gifts
  • Make-up demonstrations by Clippers of Guilford.

A luncheon buffet will be available $18.

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SECWAC Hosts Local Independent Expert Tonight, Presents “Cuba, the Conflicted Isle”

Rob Hernandez will give a presentation on Cuba at the next SECWAC meeting.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts Rob Hernandez to speak on ‘Cuba, the Conflicted Isle: can it reconcile its past while creating a new future?’ at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Old Lyme Country Club, 40 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme, CT.

Hernandez, an international business consultant and lecturer on global issues for the National Geographic, universities and corporations, will discuss the current status of Cuba in the context of its historical relationship with the United States. Specifically, he will recount the long and often tortured history of U.S.-Cuba relations, describe the reality on the ground today, and discuss possible solutions to the five decades of seemingly irreconcilable differences between the two neighbors.

Born in the U.S. but raised in Spain and Cuba—and Essex, Hernandez has worked extensively around the world for more than 40 years. An ecologist by education, he spent his early career doing field research and documenting through film and photography many of the world’s more remote places, work that has appeared in many leading global publications.

As part of those endeavors, he spent a year in Africa filming a television special on lions and, in his early twenties, spent two years circumnavigating the Pacific and Indian Oceans in a 29 ft. sailboat.  Since then he has continued to lead numerous expeditions to Africa, the Arctic and Antarctic, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and South America, among others.

This led to a 30-year career at the National Geographic Society (NGS) where he served in numerous capacities, including senior editor of the National Geographic magazine, head of Strategic Planning, and later as Senior Vice President, founder and head of the Society’s International Publishing Division.  In that role, he established NGS offices in more than 35 countries and published books, magazines, maps, DVDs, websites and a broad range of other digital media in over 40 languages.  Totally committed to NGS’s non-profit missions, he was also heavily involved in the scientific, educational, and conservation initiatives of the organization.

Most recently, he completed his career at the Walt Disney Co. where he ran Disney’s Magazine Publishing Worldwide Co. producing more than 400 local-language magazine titles and other publications for sale throughout the globe.

Now semi-retired, he lives in Essex and works as an international business consultant and lecturer on global issues for the National Geographic, universities, and corporations. He has traveled to Cuba often in the last three decades and looks forward to sharing with his insights about this enigmatic island.

Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC meeting attendees have the option for $35 to attend a dinner with the speaker at the Old Lyme Country Club. Dinner reservations are required by Thursday, Dec. 6, at 860-912-5718.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the main event beginning at 6 p.m. The presentation is a part of the SECWAC 2018-2019 Speaker Series. For non-members, tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door; ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership. Attendance is free for SECWAC members (and their guests). Membership September 2018 through June 2019 is $75; $25 for young professionals under 35; free for area college and high school students.

SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange eight to 10 Speaker Series meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings range in foreign affairs topics, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.

SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policy makers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at http://secwac.org.

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Essex Garden Club Recognized for Civic Work

Essex Garden Club (EGC) Civic Committee Chairs (past and present) pose holding their civic awards with EGC President Augie Pampel.  From left to right are Janice Strait, Suzanne Tweed, Pampel, Barbara Powers and Liz Fowler.

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club (EGC) was recently recognized by the Federated Garden Clubs Of Connecticut for its civic work maintaining parks, traffic islands and especially the fundraising used for the planting of trees, shrubs and perennials.

This is part of the ongoing effort of the EGC Civic Team that helps support the mission to create civic beautification in our community and promote educational opportunities for our members and the general public.  

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‘Con Brio’ Presents Second Holiday Concert This Afternoon

AREAWIDE — How do you get into the holiday spirit? Why not ease into the season by experiencing the joy of uplifting seasonal music at a Con Brio Choral Society December concert. The second will be on Sun., Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme. You’ll hear glorious choral music, trumpet fanfares, and even get the chance to sing your favorite carols along with the singers at the concert’s end.

Danielle Munsell Howard, soprano.

Three professional soloists – Danielle Munsell Howard, soprano; Louise Fauteux, soprano; and Allison Messier, mezzo-soprano – will join the 66 voices of Con Brio and the Con Brio Festival Orchestra under the baton of Dr. Stephen Bruce. To open the concert – and herald the holiday season – four trumpets will perform Jan Zelenka’s Fanfares for four trumpets and timpani.

The choral program that follows will feature two baroque pieces performed with soloists and orchestra. The first piece, one new to most, is Czech composer Jan Zelenka’s Te Deum for double chorus. A new edition of this long-lost Baroque masterwork prompted Con Brio to program it. Zelenka knew J.S. Bach and at least once, stayed at Bach’s house in Leipzig, and also knew Telemann and other famous musicians of the time.

The other baroque piece is likely more familiar, the first movement of J.S. Bach’s Cantata 63, Christen ätzet diesen Tag, composed for the First Day of Christmas, 1713.

Soloist Danielle Munsell Howard, soprano, has been praised by Opera News Online for her “bright, pretty timbre and remarkable facility.” She has performed as soloist with the American Bach Soloists, Amherst Early Music Festival, Boulder Bach Festival, the Yale Collegium Soloists, Princeton Pro Musica and a number of contemporary choral and chamber ensembles. Her New York debut singing Melagro in Gluck’s La Corona at Merkin Hall was enthusiastically received, critically acclaimed in the New York Times and recorded live for Albany Records.

Louise Fauteux, soprano

Soloist Louise Fauteux enjoys a diverse career in the arts devoted to education and performance. Her versatility as a soprano includes a performance of Peer Gynt with the New York Philharmonic and actor John De Lancie and a tour of Venice with DiCapo Opera and the Fairfield Chorale. She has also performed as soloist with New Haven Chorale, Concora, the Farmington Valley Chorale, the Connecticut Master Chorale and the Connecticut Chamber Chorus.

Soloist Allison Messier, mezzo-soprano, has performed as an oratorio soloist in numerous major works including the Mozart Requiem with the Clearlakes Chorale in the New Hampshire Lakes Region, the Rachmaninov Vespers with the Boston Russian Choir; Dvorak’s Mass in D and Mass in Time of War with the Bermuda Chamber Choir. Her opera credits include Dido in Dido and Aeneas and La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica with Piccola Opera NH, as well as other works.

As in past years, Con Brio will sing two pieces in the round while the singers are arrayed around the Sanctuary. The first piece is Quem Vidistis Pastores by Richard Dering and the second, Hodie Christus Natus Est by Giovanni Gabrieli. For many regulars, the eight-part early music pieces sung in the round are a highlight of each Con Brio concert.

Allison Messier, mezzo-soprano

Also on the program is Ola Gjeilo’s Serenity (O Magnum Mysterium) and Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, both written for eight parts, Mary Had a Baby, arranged by Craig Courtney, I Saw Three Ships arranged by Mack Wilberg, and Sir Christémas, arranged by William Mathias.

The concerts are on Friday evening, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday afternoon, at 3 p.m. at Christ the King Church at 1 McCurdy Lane, Old Lyme, CT. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased in advance at www.conbrio.org or by calling 860-526-5399.

Con Brio Choral Society is a classical, all-auditioned chorus drawing its 66 singers from 15 towns extending along the Connecticut River from Old Saybrook to Deep River and East Haddam and along the shoreline from Guilford to Mystic.

The group performs with the Con Brio Festival Orchestra and professional soloists under conductor Dr. Stephen Bruce.

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