February 17, 2020

Eversource Conducts Statewide Infrared Helicopter Inspections Through Feb. 28


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A View From My Porch: Remembering Connecticut Icon William Gillette

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

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

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

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

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

The Sherlockian Literature

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. See below for photo credit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Gillette. See below for photo credit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Key Elements of Gillette’s Sherlock

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

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

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

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

Some Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Gotowka

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

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

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Letter From Paris: France is Embroiled in Pension Reform Crisis, But Seems to be Doing Fine … or is it?

Nicole Prévost Logan

Reform of the retirement system was at the core of French President Emmanuel Macron’s 2016 campaign. He wanted to simplify the system and make it universal. The reform is so highly sensitive – one might even say explosive – that several prime ministers have fallen in similar attempts (1986, 1995, 2008.) Although close to 60 percent of public opinion is favorable to the reforms, the opposition is orchestrated into an angry movement by the unions and the Left.  

In a nutshell, the objective of the reform is two-fold: first, to prevent the system from being in the red in the 2020s and second to achieve social justice. This latter aim is being sought by suppressing the 42 régimes spéciaux (special systems), which grant privileges to certain groups of the population, such as civil servants, train workers (SNCF) bus and subway employees (RATP), personnel of the Paris Opera, members of the two legislative assemblies, etc. Some of these benefits include calculating the amount of retirement after the last six months of employment rather than the last 25 years.  And not surprisingly, these régimes spéciaux cost the French government billions every year.

The pension system in France is based on “repartition,” meaning that the active population pays for the retired one.  The problem is that in 1950, there were four working people for each retiree. Demography will soon reduce the ratio to 1 to 1.  In the US, the retirement system is based on “capitalization,” that is, individuals are free to invest their accumulated capital in a pension fund or other types of investment as they wish.  The Scandinavian countries use both systems – “capitalization” and “repartition”- simultaneously. 

For an American reader, it must be hard to comprehend the over-regulated retirement system in France, which applies not only to the 5.6 million civil servants  but also to the private sector.  A special dispensation is even required for retirees to be allowed to work.

The Macron plan is based on a points system.  Throughout one’s professional life, each hour’s work is translated into “points.” Variables – such as the political or economic environment – may impact the points’ value.  Employers and unions will determine together the value of each point.  Hence the anxiety of the people regarding this unfamiliar system.

France has the most generous retirement pension in Europe but it’s costing the country dearly. Photo by Hans Ripa on Unsplash.

France is the ‘Etat-providence’ (Welfare State) par excellence and the most generous in Europe.  The retirement age is 62 in France as compared to 65 in the UK.  It can be as low as 52 as in the case of train conductors.  More than 13 percent of the Gross Domestic Product is devoted to funding pensions.

The French government announced its plan to reform pensions on Dec. 5, 2019.  The reaction was immediate:- a general strike of all public transport. That meant no subway in Paris, except for two lines (which are automated), no buses, and very few trains.  That ordeal lasted for weeks without even a respite during the Christmas and New Year vacations.  Life for working people, who had to commute from the suburbs, became a pure nightmare.  Videos showed stampede scenes at stations.

On Jan. 28, 2020  the Gare de Lyon was packed as usual with passengers waiting for TGVs and suburban trains.  Suddenly a deafening sound resonated under the glass and steel structure.  Several explosions followed and pink smoke filled the station.  It turned out that dozens of the men getting off the train, wearing black parkas with yellow stripes, were firefighters on their way to join a demonstration at the Bastille. They were just getting warmed up, using their talents with pyrotechnics to blast powerful fire-crackers. 

After 50 days, the strikes had partially stopped.  The street demonstrations continued and have become a way of life in the city.  The left-wing unions and radical groups keep the momentum going and direct their actions to strategic areas such as blocking the main ports or shutting down oil refineries .

Tens of thousands people in black robes marched near the Bastille on Feb. 3.  They were some of France’s 70,000 lawyers, who have been on strike for five weeks – an absolute first.  The atmosphere was peaceful.  Not a single policeman in sight, no police vans nor water guns. 

I went down to take pictures.  ‘Why are you on strike?’  I asked a young lawyer. ‘We have our own retirement system,’ she answered, ‘which is autonomous and, furthermore, has a surplus.  Now the government has announced that the contributions toward the pension fund will double from 14 to 28 percent.’ Actually, what she said is not entirely accurate — the increase will be gradual: it will not start until the late 2020s and will not apply to all equally. 

French President Emmanuel Macron.

The launching of this crucial pension reform is like stepping into an anthill.  Wherever the government goes, it cuts into well-entrenched benefits, provoking an outpouring of protests.  Every time the government helps one group financially, this assistance has to be paid for by depriving another group.  This in turn feeds the popular mistrust for the government . 

After consultation with all the unions at the Hotel Matignon (seat of the Executive Power), an agreement was reached with the CFDT (Confederation Française Democratique du Travail), the most reformist of the unions.  For Laurent Berger, the CFDT leader,  the “age pivot” (retirement age) of 64 was a “red line” not to be crossed.  The Prime Minister agreed to pull back from it and replace it with a “cocktail of measures” to generate 12 billion Euros in order to balance the pension system. 

A parliamentary commission  of 80 deputies from all parties from the RN (Rassemblement National of Marine LePen) to LFI (La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Melanchon) was appointed.  The government’s proposal was met with a ridiculous number of 22,000 amendments, (19,000 by LFI alone.)  Their obvious strategy was total obstruction of the process.  A general debate in the Parliament will follow.  If time runs out because of the municipal elections in 36,000 towns on March 15, the Prime Minister may resort to Executive Orders. 

In this crisis, I believe both sides are to blame: the government’s project may not have been prepared well enough and appeared confusing.  The opposition consistently refuses to enter any dialogue.  It is a French cultural trait:- first you flex your muscles then – possibly – you may be willing to come to the negotiating table.  But keep in mind that compromise is a dirty word in France.

The proposed retirement reform has somehow triggered other requests.  Seeing an opportunity, demands for higher wages and benefits are snowballing.  Some teachers in public schools are striking for pay raises.  These school students take their cue from their teachers and march in the street, or block their classrooms to protect their future pension rights — an odd sight indeed for 12- or 13-year olds!

The unrest (accompanied by violence) is dragging on.  There does not seem to be an end to it.

France appears to be functioning on two different levels — on the one hand, there is a France of  angry people, who feel very sorry for themselves. On the other, there is a dynamic France doing rather well, which has become economically attractive to foreign investors thanks primarily to labor market reforms. 

At the same time, Macron has chosen to keep above the in-fighting and focus on his role as the president of the only nuclear power of Europe, strengthening its defense and security while seeking a more integrated European Union.

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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Tickets on Sale Now for Fourth Annual Festival of Women’s Plays at Ivoryton Playhouse, Feb. 22

Sharon Goulner’s play is Savior.

IVORYTON:  The Ivoryton Playhouse has announced the date of its Fourth Annual Women
Playwrights Initiative – 4 x 4 in 2020.

Over 170 plays from all over the country were submitted to the initiative and the four finalists will be traveling to Ivoryton from Washington State, California, Indiana and Maryland to have their work presented in a series of staged reading on Saturday, Feb. 22, with a snow date of Sunday, Feb. 23.

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 with a director and actors.

The plays are by and about women and the issues that shape their lives, and the workshop culminates in a festival of staged readings, which will take place at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton, CT 06422.

Crystal V. Rhodes’s play is 1200 miles to Jerome.

At 2 p.m., there will be two readings presented.  Savior by Sharon Goldner finds two modern moms at a yoga class dealing with an absurd yet very familiar situation – what do you do when your five-year-old tells you he is the messiah?

1200 miles to Jerome by Crystal V. Rhodes relates the daunting experience of the Franklin family, who are traveling through the Deep South with a fugitive in tow in the 1940s. It is a journey in which “driving while black” could mean the difference between life and death.

At 7 p.m., the festival will continue witha  performance of Court by Holly Arsenault, which takes an intimate look at divorce and custody battles from a child’s unique, funny and raw perspective.

Deanna and Paul by Dagney Kerr concludes the event. In this play, Deanna is a quirky waitress with a strict no tipping policy and Paul a surly customer with a tight lid on his heart. Their lonely worlds collide one day in a small-town diner, where one cup of coffee can change everything.

To purchase tickets for the Women Playwrights Festival, call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Holly Arsenault’s play is Court.

Tickets are priced as follows: $20 — adult; $15 — senior; $10 — student for one performance.

Buy tickets for both performances at these special prices: $30 — adult; $25 — senior; $10 — student. Call the box office at 860.767.7318 to book two-performance packages.

Check the Playhouse website for additional workshops and special festival deals with local restaurants.

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

Dagney Kerr’s play is Deanna and Paul.

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

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Essex Library Hosts Jeff Croyle to Introduce Essex Land Trust, Feb. 29

A free, illustrated talk on the Essex Land Trust properties will be presented by Jeff Croyle at 4 p.m., Feb. 29, at the Essex Library. Croyle will focus on the Essex Land Trust’s mission and accomplishments and highlighting its properties.

ESSEX — Essex Land Trust Board member and Steward of Windswept Ridge, Jeff Croyle, will present an illustrated introduction to the Essex Land Trust, its mission and accomplishments, highlighting its properties with a focus on its larger preserves on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 4 p.m. at the Essex Library. Jeff Croyle is Chair of the Essex Land Trust Nominating Committee.

This talk is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, call the library at 860-767-1560.

The Essex Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex.

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

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

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Want to Know More About Mosquitoes? Potapaug Hosts Presentation Thursday, All Welcome

TRI-TOWN/OLD LYME — Worried about mosquitoes?

Potapaug Audubon hosts a presentation on Mosquitoes of Connecticut and the Viruses they may Transmit given by John Shepard from the Department of Environmental Sciences Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. at Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall, 52 Lyme St., Old Lyme.

Shepard has expertise in the identification of larval and adult mosquitoes in the northeastern U.S., mosquito biology, and the ecology/epidemiology of arboviruses in the northeastern U.S., particularly West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Come early for cheese and crackers and cider and catch-up conversations. All are welcome.

Visit the Potapaug Audubon website for more information.

For more about
Shepard, visit this link. 

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Letter From Paris: Brexit Has Happened – An Historic Day Which Sparked Joy, Tears, and Innumerable Challenges

Editor’s Note: The United Kingdom finally left the European Union (EU) at 11 p.m. on Jan 31, 2020, after being a member of the EU for 47 years. Despite a referendum passing in 2016 by a very slim margin that requested the extraction of the UK from the EU, it has been a long three years of butter argument to reach this point. Even now, it is estimated that roughly half of the population are delighted with Brexit and the other half are devastated.  But what are thinking on the other side of the English Channel?  Nicole Prévost Logan is back to give her thoughts from Paris on how the French see the whole business and where we all go from here.

Nicole Prévost Logan

The historic day has finally come … applauded by some and mourned by others.

The United Kingdom has left the European Union (EU).  With emotional tears the deputies of the European Parliament sang Auld Lang Syne – a 1788 Scottish song with a traditional folk tune – and hugged each other.

Now the real work is starting.  The UK has only an 11-month transition period (starting Feb. 1) to negotiate the terms of Brexit.

The extent of the long, drawn-out discussions has been covered many times in the past four years (see my previous article in Letter from Paris dated 12/9/14;  3/2/164/6/1712/29/18;  4/12/19)

On both sides of the English Channel there is, at least for now, a feeling of relief that a decision has been reached.

An image of 10 Downing Street — the UK British Prime Minister’s official residence – taken from a BBC broadcast moments after the 11 p.m. deadline on Jan. 31, 2020 when the UK left the EU.

How did Boris Johnson win

The French have been very impressed by the dexterity with which Boris Johnson (BJ) was able out to turn around the majority in the House of Commons: the Tories won 364 seats, an increase of 48 seats while the Labour party took 262, representing a loss of 60.   “Salut l’Artiste” (congratulations to the artist), wrote Françoise Fressoz, Le Monde editorialist  on Jan. 8.  On a radio talk show, a commentator said that BJ has become a model for the French Right: a conservative with social projects. The French feel that BJ, because of his super majority, is going to negotiate from a position  of strength.

A brillant strategist, he put his focus on the less wealthy population of the North of England and the Midlands, who supported Brexit. He undercut the Labour party by proposing a number of social measures such as raising the minimum wage, encouraging apprenticeships, building 40 hospitals and schools, and investing in railroad tracks at the cost of 100s of billions pounds sterling.  How will these projects be carried out?  How they will be paid for?  Not a mention of that in his campaign.

The other part of his strategy was to put pressure on the EU.  It is not clear how he did this, possibly in making concessions.  In a populist fashion, he probably told the Europeans what they wanted to hear.  A French journalist-columnist for The Daily Telegraph said BJ bluffed his way through. His optimism is more appealing that May’s stubbornness.  The French like another trait of his: his culture.  On our TV screens here, we saw him recite The Iliad poem for two and a half hours in classical Greek.

With Brexit both sides will lose, but many feel the UK will lose more.  The UK exports 47 percent of its products to Europe whereas the EU exports only 20 percent.  Some have compared Donald Trump’s attitude toward the EU to Boris Johnson’s.  There is one big difference though: BJ is not trying to destroy Europe.

Immigration has been at the core of Brexit since the beginning.  In this area, there is an inner contradiction.  Although the UK was never part of the Schengen Area (which guarantees freedom of circulation of the people), it still took advantage of the accession of eight new states to the EU in 2004, and 2007, to welcome these new labor forces – particularly from Poland.  It is unknown at this point how this situation will be resolved under Brexit.

The transition period

What’s going to happen during the transition?  Concretely, very little except that the Union Jack will not fly any more at the entrance of the EU HQ.

In the immediate term, ferry boats will continue crossing The Channel and Eurostar will continue to carry passengers and goods.  There will be no custom duties, no tariffs, and no visas required.

However, some changes are going to be immediately painful for the UK. The 73 British deputies at the European Parliament packed their bags on Jan. 31.  The British Commissioners have been gone for a while.  This means that the UK will not participate in the decision-making process, while it will still have to contribute to the EU budget and abide by the decisions of the European Court of Justice.

Michel Barnier from France has been appointed again as chief negotiator.  This is good news for everybody because he is a consensus-making personality.  He will work with a group of deputies from the European Parliament in Strasbourg,  Barnier has always stressed that the EU is not out to punish the UK.  Its only objective is to protect the EU’s interests.  Barnier feels sorry for the British population that was misinformed prior to the 2016 referendum.

The task ahead

In the simplest of terms, it is Herculean.

The UK is party to more than 600 international agreements with around 100 other countries through its EU membership.  As it leaves the EU , the UK will be cut off from these agreements.  However, it can retain its place whenever the UK signed an agreement in its own right.  The undoing of all these agreements is called (delightfully) “detricotage” in French (tricoter is to knit.)

The country has already taken steps to secure continuity in its relationships with other countries.  Examples include a treaty maintaining the UK’s civil nuclear trade; bilateral aviation agreements with the US and Canada; citizens rights agreements with Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland; protection for Scotch and Irish Whiskey exports.

The Lancaster House Bilateral Treaty of 2010 between the UK and France is a good example. It was signed between then French President Sarkozy and then UK Prime Minister Cameron and concerns Defense and Security Cooperation. Nathalie Loiseau, former French minister for European Affairs is the president of  the Commission on Security and Defense of the European Parliament.

One of the greatest fears in Europe is the prospect of a “Singapore-on-Thames.”  This would mean a country disrespectful of social and environmental norms and regulations.  Fiscal dumping will not be tolerated, says Brussels.  “There will not be quotas nor tariff if the UK forgets about dumping” writes the newspaper La Croix.

The first issue to be tackled will be fishing.  The negotiators will sit down around the negotiating table as early as Feb. 3, 2020.  The French fishermen have for years been fishing in 60 percent of the time in British waters.  The problem is that the British fisherman need the huge Single Market of 500 million people to sell their catch … and they already complain about quotas, which are imposed in order to avoid the depletion of fish!

France is one of the closest commercial partners of the UK (its foreign trade with that country has a trade surplus  of 12 billion Euros), which mean that it is particularly exposed to the consequences of the Brexit.  The manufacturing sector, such as the automobile industry, is fully integrated with Europe and relies on spare parts coming from the continent.  Every day 1,100 trucks transport parts back and forth through the Channel.  Aeronautics is facing a huge logistics problems since Air Bus employs 13,500 people in Great Britain.

The pharmaceutical industry, such as Sanofi, prepared for the Brexit by accumulating huge quantities of drugs.  The Total energy company is relocating its treasury department from London to Paris.

The traders of BNP Paribas Paris – the largest European bank in the UK – will have to leave the City of London whenever dealing with European clients. HSBC – the largest bank in the EU – is relocating many of its units to Paris.  One thousand personnel have already moved. Bank of America is now located on Rue de la Boetie in Paris.  J.P. Morgan has also relocated here.

The complicated problem of the border  between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland seems to have been defused.  One hears now that, in the long term, the two Irelands may be reunited.  The border would then go under the Irish Channel and the North Sea.  The idea of a “backstop,” which we heard so much about under Theresa May’s watch, seems to have vanished today.

In a recent debate, Pascal Lamy, Honorary Director of the Jacques Delors Institute (Delors was one of the founding fathers of the EU. He created the Single Market in 1993) made a few remarks about

Prognosis for the future

The more the UK diverges from the EU’s norms, the thicker the wall between them will grow.  The 27 members of the EU are extremely attached to the Single Market, the largest in the world.  It seems likely that BJ will in the end up aligned with Europe.  If BJ carries out his proposed social policy, the public deficit risks will be enormous.  Will there be “Boris Bonds” ?

Recently the populist governments in Denmark and Italy have collapsed.  Johnson’s electoral base is a mismatch between the less wealthy Brexiteers of the North and the rich ones from London. Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland and Arlene Foster in Northern Ireland will have an important role to play in whether there is going to be a break-up of the United Kingdom or not.  The UK will likely remain closer to the EU than the US.

On Dec. 13, 2019, some European leaders stated their position toward Brexit in carefully selected words:

Charles Michel, president of the European Council said, “We are ready.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted, “This will be a challenge.”

French President Emanuel Macron stated: “We welcome a new partner who should be a fair competitor.”

And in a Jan. 30, 2020 interview on French radio, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to France, Baron Llewellyn of Steep, said in the most British of ways,”Let’s have a cup of tea and go to work!”

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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Hear ‘Trout Quintet,’ Bluegrass-, Jazz-Inspired Duos at Musical Masterworks Concerts This Weekend

Doublis bassist Michael Thurber males his debut at Musical Masterworks, Feb. 8-9. Photo by Lauren Desberg.

TRI-TOWN/OLD LYME — Join Musical Masterworks at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. for a program celebrating the return of perennial favorite musicians, violinist Tessa Lark and pianist Jeewon Park, along with an encore appearance by violist Ettore Causa, and the much-anticipated Musical Masterworks debut of double bassist Michael Thurber.

Performing with artistic director and cellist Edward Arron, they will play Schubert’s beloved “Trout” Quintet.

Concert attendees will also hear a collection of original bluegrass- and jazz-inspired duos for violin and bass, composed and performed by Tessa Lark and Michael Thurber. The program also includes the Piano Quartet in A minor by the Spanish composer Joaquin Turina, and an arrangement for violin, cello and bass of the Viola da Gamba Sonata in G minor by J.S. Bach.

Join Edward Arron for an in depth pre-concert talk about the program at 4 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Musical Masterworks’ 29th season runs through May 2020 and includes a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th Anniversary on March 13, 14 and 15, and on May 1, 2 and 3, 2020, when concert-goers will have the remarkable opportunity to hear the complete cycle of Beethoven’s String Quartets.

To purchase a mini subscription ($100 each), a subscription to the Beethoven concerts or individual tickets ($40 adult; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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

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

Today, Jan. 31, 2020, marks the 14th anniversary of EITC Awareness Day, a nationwide effort to increase awareness about EITC and free tax preparation sites. This year, IRS is promoting EITC and providing information on other refundable tax credits for which you may be eligible. This includes the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), the Credit for Other Dependents (ODC) and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Essex Savings Bank Donates Over 700lbs of Food to Shoreline Soup Kitchen

Pictured in the photo (from left to right) are Greg Cassells, VP and Community Reinvestment Officer, Greg Shook, Essex Savings Bank President & CEO, and Diane Arnold, SVP and Chief Lending Officer.

ESSEX Each year all six branches and corporate office departments within Essex Savings Bank held a holiday contest designed to help those less fortunate in the local communities. After several years of helping other organizations, the Bank returned this year to support the Shoreline Soup Kitchen as well as the Chester and Madison food pantries.

This year’s goal was to collect non-perishable food from employees and donate to the three organizations while creating a display that invoked the spirit and joy of watching holiday movies. Although this contest adds to the fun of the season, the deeper goal for all of the Bank employees is to help those in need as that is the true spirit of the season.
All donations were at the employees’ expense and generated by their goodwill. As a result of everyone’s efforts, on Friday, December 20th, Essex Savings Bank employees delivered over 700 pounds of food to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and several box loads to the Madison and Chester food pantries.
Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking.
Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Division, Essex Trust and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.
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Essex Library Offers Program This Morning on ‘How to Recognize, Avoid Scams’

ESSEX — Consumers are faced with increasingly complex scams and schemes used to defraud millions of people each year. How do you know if an email is real or a fraud? What do you do if someone calls and asks for your personal information?

This illustrated talk at the Essex Library on Friday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m. will show you some common scams and share tips for spotting them. Connecticut Consumer Protection Department’s Catherine Blinder is the presenter. 

This program is free and open to the public.

For more information or to register, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Needleman Appointed Senate Vice Chair of Planning & Development Committee

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Essex Land Trust Hosts ‘Bears Revisited,’ Feb. 4

ESSE
ESSEX —
The Essex Land Trust has announced that Master Wildlife Conservationist Felicia Ortner will give a presentation titled, ‘Bears Revisited,’ Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. at Essex Town Hall, 29 West Ave. All are welcome.

She will offer an update on the resurgence of bears in our area, their numbers and their habitats as well as discuss how we can co-exist with them. Through her program, “The Bear Reality,” Ortner will dispel some of the myths associated with black bears and encourage the audience to be more Bear Aware.

Ortner has been studying bears for over 30 years. In the mid 1990s, she turned her passion for learning about bears into a passion for teaching about them. In 2008 Ortner developed a presentation for bear education programs that she gives on a volunteer basis. Her audiences include libraries, nature centers, conservation groups, scouts and more. Since then, Ortner has provided presentations reaching over 8,000 people at programs in CT, NY, MA, NH and, VT.

Ortner believes outreach and education is key in having a better understanding about the life and behavior of bears. She hopes this will lead to a higher tolerance, which is instrumental in creating a strategy of coexistence between humans and bears.

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Remembering the Haiti Earthquake: Join an Interfaith Service This Afternoon, All Welcome

ESSEX — Sister Cities Essex Haiti presents an Interfaith Service, Remembering the Haiti Earthquake 10 Years Later, this Sunday, Jan. 12, at 4 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3 Cross St., Essex. This service will celebrate the generous heartedness and hopefulness of all in Haiti and here in the US who have supported Sister Cities Essex Haiti since its founding in 2010.

All are welcome to join members of the organization in this remembrance of having hearts and hope for Haiti through prayers, readings, and song.

Places of worship are invited to ring their bells at 4:53 p.m. in observance of the quake’s occurrence.

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2020 Essex Winter Series Season Offers a Plethora of Sounds

Essex Winter Series Artistic Director Mihae Lee.

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

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

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

The final concert of the season is BeethovenFest, a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary on March 29 at Valley Regional High School with seven world-renowned artists. Performing Serenade for String Trio in D Major and Septet in E-Flat Major are David Shiffrin, clarinet; William Purvis, horn; Marc Goldberg, bassoon; Ida Kavafian, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; and Timothy Cobb, double bass.

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

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

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Essex Winter Series Presents Classical Guitar Duo LINÜ, March 8

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

The final concert of the season is BeethovenFest, a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary on March 29 at Valley Regional High School with seven world-renowned artists. Performing Serenade for String Trio in D Major and Septet in E-Flat Major are David Shiffrin, clarinet; William Purvis, horn; Marc Goldberg, bassoon; Ida Kavafian, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; and Timothy Cobb, double bass.

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

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

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Cellist Ribchinsky Discusses Influence of Bach, Plays His Music, Today at Essex Library

A free lecture and concert on Bach’s Solo Suites and other compositions will be presented by cellist and Music Professor Julie Ribchinsky at 3 p.m. Jan 11 at the Essex Library.

ESSEX — The most studied and performed works for the cello, the Solo Suites of J.S. Bach are a masterful unit remaining timeless since the early 18th century.

On Saturday, Jan. 11, at 3 p.m., at the Essex Library, Julie Ribchinsky, cellist and Professor of Music at Central Connecticut State University, will present a lecture, discussing the influence of the great master on the technique and musical soul of the cello and a concert, incorporating one of Bach’s six Suites as well as modern works that have been influenced by the Suites.

Included in the performance are new compositions by Charles Menoche and June Violet Aino, and works of Britten, Golijov, Crumb, Cassadó and others. 

This event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is appreciated.

For more information or to register, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Death Announced of Barbara Woodman Wyden

Barbara Woodman Wyden

Barbara Woodman Wyden, born July 1, 1922 passed away on January 4, 2020, at Davis Nursing Home, Wilmington, N.C.

Barbara graduated from Radcliff in 1941. She worked for Newsweek Magazine as editor of International News. Other newspapers that she worked for were the Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles times and then settling down to the New York Times as editor of the women’s section. Barbara was a ghost writer as well; writing all of Joyce Brothers books as well as many others. Barbara befriended Kaye Summersby, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s driver during World War II, and wrote “Past Forgetting” using much of the information from Eisenhower’s diaries. Kaye died before the book was published, so Barbara left the dairies to her brother, Richard Woodman, who contacted the Eisenhower Library and donated those pages of the diaries that she had. They are now in a section of the Library dedicated to his wartime efforts.

Barbara was preceded in death by her father, Clarence Woodman, her mother Katherine Woodman and her sister, Virginia Woodman Cordes.

No services are planned at this time.

Arrangements are being handled by Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington NC 28403.

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Essex Library Presents an ‘Introduction to Mah Jong,’ Jan. 9

ESSEX — Mah Jong is a fascinating game that originated in China and was adopted by Americans in the 1920s. It is a game for four people played with beautifully carved Chinese tiles.

Allison Friday has taught American and Chinese Mah Jong for about 15 years. Always intrigued by small pieces in boxes, she fell in love with and purchased a Mah Jong set at an antique store before she even knew what it was. 

Friday will present an illustrated introduction to the game Thursday, Jan. 9, at 5 p.m. at the Essex Library. A snow date on Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. has been reserved.

This talk is free and open to the public. Advance registration is appreciated.

For more information or to register, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Celebrate the Season with ‘An Actor’s Carol,’ a Delightful Twist on ‘A Christmas Carol,’ at Ivoryton Through Sunday

Michael Iannucci

IVORYTON – The Ivoryton Playhouse provides a fresh take on Dickens’s timeless A Christmas Carol with their production of Charles Evered’s An Actor’s Carol, which is on stage currently through Sunday,  Dec. 22.

It tells the tale of Hugh Pendleton, an actor drained of artistic passion after having played the character of Scrooge one too many times, which leads to Pendleton encountering three ghosts of his own. A cast of four actors plays 17 different characters in this hilarious new look at a classic that reminds us that the most jaded among us can find magic in the holiday season – and in the theater as well.

An Actor’s Carol made its premiere in 2015 in Palm Springs in a production starring Hal Linden, the Tony- and Emmy-winning actor, best known for starring on the 1970s sitcom “Barney Miller.” The play won the Outstanding Original Writing Award in the staged reading category of the Desert Theatre League Awards.

The playwright, Charles Evered, an award-winning playwright and filmmaker, is a graduate of Yale School of Drama and a former naval officer. He has written screenplays for major studios and directed two features of his own. Evered also wrote for the hit TV shows Monk, starring Tony Shalhoub. Currently, he is Professor of Playwriting at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) where he served as the department’s first artistic director.

Evered says, “An Actor’s Carol is a comedy, but unlike other spoofs and satires of A Christmas Carol, it has heart and truth, particularly about theater.”

This production is directed by Sasha Bratt with set design by Dan Nischan, costumes by Lisa, and lighting by Marcus Abbott.

Michael Iannucci* will be returning to the Ivoryton Playhouse where he previously appeared in The Games Afoot and Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, to take on the role of Hugh Pendleton/Scrooge. He will be joined by Lev Harvey, who was recently seen in Shear Madness, Alec Silberblatt* who was here for Biloxi Blues and Moira O’Sullivan who has appeared in Ivoryton in  Biloxi Blues, Coney Island Christmas, and It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.

Performance times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.

Tickets are $35 adult / $32 senior / $20 student / $15 children under 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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Bursting with Bubbles! Centerbrook Business Launches New Product Line, Includes Jewelry Cleaner, Shower Aromatherapy, Calcium Supplement

The full range of FizzBenefitz products shown in this photo includes a jewelry cleaner and shower aromatherapy.

ESSEX — Centerbrook-based manufacturer Tower Laboratories Ltd., has launched a diverse line of effervescent health and personal care products. The line, called FizzBenefitz, includes

  • Shine Better Jewelry Cleaner
  • Shower Better Aromatherapy
  • Well Better Vitamin C and Calcium Supplements
  • Hydrate Better Kids Hydration

Tower Laboratories has been in the business of effervescent product manufacturing for almost 40 years. The company produces denture cleaners, antacids and other over-the-counter tablets under various store brands. With FizzBenefitz, Tower Laboratories is hoping to develop its own brand recognition.

“We are excited to launch our own unique line of effervescent products and we think consumers will find a lot to like about FizzBenefitz,” said Matt Needleman of Tower Laboratories. “Effervescence gives people a multi-sensory experience that you don’t find in other types of products. For our health supplements, it has the added benefit of eliminating the stress of taking pills. Our products are always made with convenience for the consumer in mind.”

The full FizzBenefitz line is available for purchase online at fizzbenefitz.shop

Editor’s Note: Tower Laboratories, Ltd. is a privately held company founded in 1979 and the country’s leading supplier of store brand effervescent products. Tower Laboratories, Ltd. also produces a number of effervescent products for contract customers consisting of prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs, dietary supplements, medical devices, personal care products and specialty applications. The company is headquartered in Centerbrook, CT, with manufacturing facilities in Clinton, CT and Montague, MI.

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Celebrate 10th Annual Ivoryton Illuminations , Saturday


IVORYTON —
Looking for a different way to celebrate Christmas?

Head down to Ivoryton for the 10th Annual Ivoryton Illuminations on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. The entire village of Ivoryton will be participating in this Holiday Extravaganza with carol singing, Santa’s Grotto, a Holiday Bazaar, culminating with the arrival of Santa – who flies in to the festivities! – and the lighting of one of the states’ largest living Christmas Trees at 6 p.m.  Ivoryton will be lighting up the holiday with over 500,000 lights throughout the village.

Family activities from 5 p.m. include writing letters to Santa and cards to our soldiers; visits with Santa in the Ivoryton Playhouse (bring your camera if you want a picture!); a Holiday Bazaar featuring community and local church groups in the Fire House; an Elf Scavenger Hunt, cookie decorating, a Petting Zoo provided by Circle K Farm.

There will also be special events at The Ivoryton Tavern and Café and the Blue Hound Cookery and Taproom. Music will be provided by local musicians.  In addition, there will be Stuff a Cruiser to support Shoreline Soup Kitchens.

Free parking will be available with a shuttle bus service to the village.  Look for signs directing cars to designated parking lots. The Illuminations will shine brightly through Jan. 5 and visitors can tune their car radios to 101.5FM and watch as the lights dance to the music.

This event is organized entirely by volunteers.  Major sponsors are Christmas Décor, Essex Lions Club, Essex Rotary, Essex Saving Bank, Essex Steam Train, Hocon Gas, LC Doane, Riggio & Sons, Inc. and Saybrook Ford.

Other supporters include Essex Police Union, Gowrie Group, Robinson and Wright and Westbrook Elks.

If you want to experience some real Christmas cheer, then come and join the party in Ivoryton, the brightest village in Connecticut.

For more information, visit www.ivorytonalliance.org

Photos courtesy of Ivoryton Village Alliance

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Join Essex Land Trust on Inaugural Hike of Woodja Hill Preserve, Dec. 14

Hike Woodja Hill Preserve with Essex Land Trust on Saturday!

ESSEX — Join the Essex Land Trust in its inaugural hike of the Woodja Hill Preserve on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 10 a.m. The 18.5 acres of ridge property was purchased in 2018 with financial support from the Town of Essex and the State of Connecticut and connects with three other properties: Doanes’ Woods, James Glenn and Lyon’s Meadow (Deep River Land Trust) for a total of 50-acre green way.

Property Steward Dirk Samuelson will be leading the hike which will include not only Woodja Hill but also the abutting land trust preserves of Doanes’ Woods and James Glen. The hike will last approximately for one hour and be of moderate difficulty.

The property’s habitat includes open field, upland forest, forested wetland and a beaver pond. Woodja Hill has been used as pasture land and has many stonewalls and several large rock outcroppings. It is home to beavers, ducks, herons, owls and even flying squirrels. The trees are mostly hardwoods.

Entrances to the property is from the parking lot at the end of Oxbow Ln. in Essex, which is reached off of Meadow Woods.

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Shop & Stroll at 15th Biennial Holiday House Tour in Historic Essex, Saturday; Benefits Child & Family Agency

File photo of a beautifully decorated home from the 2015 tour.

ESSEX — The town of Essex opens their homes this December to support Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT. On Saturday, Dec. 7, the Essex River Valley Auxiliary of the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT presents a self-guided walking tour through six distinctive houses, beautifully decorated for the holidays in downtown Essex.

Visitors can also get a jump start on their holiday shopping by visiting the Holiday Boutique, featuring hand-crafted clothing, bespoke jewelry, unique home décor, festive holiday floral arrangements and more. The Holiday Boutique opens at 9:30 a.m. and is located at Essex Town Hall at 29 West Avenue.   Santa’s Café located in the boutique will offer snacks and refreshments.

Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT is the area’s oldest children’s non-profit organization in Southeastern CT, a cornerstone Agency helping children and families since 1809.  With over 10,535 children and families served each year, the Agency aims to provide high- quality and holistic mental health treatment to all members of the community. The Essex location offers a variety of programs, services, and therapeutic models with the goal of not only nurturing children and families but the entire community.

The Essex Auxiliary has proudly devoted itself to supporting the Agency for over 25 years, providing over half a million dollars in unrestricted funds.  Most recently, the Auxiliary raised funds to create an outdoor therapeutic area at the Essex Child Guidance office. All proceeds from the holiday house tour benefit the programs and services provided by the Agency.

This is the 15th-holiday house tour presented in Essex, and a wonderful opportunity to see some of Essex’s historic homes that showcase elegant, architectural features in their original settings. Tickets are available for purchase online at https://www.childandfamilyagency.org/for $30 in advance or $40 on the day of the event at the Essex Town Hall at 29 West Avenue, Essex, CT.

Editor’s Note: In 1944, a group of 12 women organized to aid the Agency and its work, creating the Child & Family Agency Auxiliaries.  Nearly 600 men and women from five auxiliaries give generously of their time and talent through caring for children, fundraising events, and educational services. Through multiple events each year, the dedicated volunteer members of the Essex River Valley Auxiliary take pride in funding programs that improve the lives of children and their families.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sponsored post on behalf of Suisman Shapiro.

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

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

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

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

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Safety Improvements in Deep River, Essex to Impact December Traffic

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

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

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

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Death of VNN Contributor, Former NY State Senator Jerome ‘Jerry’ Wilson Announced

The late Jerome (Jerry) L. Wilson.

ESSEX — It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our beloved contributor, Jerome ‘Jerry’ L. Wilson. Mr. Wilson, 88, passed away Friday, Nov. 1, in Essex. We have not yet heard the details of services for Mr. Wilson but will publish them as soon as we receive them.

Mr. Wilson was a great supporter of our online news ventures and contributed more article and photos to ValleyNewsNow.com and LymeLine.com than we can count. Coincidentally, Mr. Wilson was room-mates at Colgate University with John ‘Jack’ Turner, who was the founder of LymeLine.com in 2003. Most of Mr. Wilson’s articles were published on ValleyNewsNow.com, which was founded by Lon Seidman in 2009. Both sites are now owned by Shoreline Web News LLC.

Mr. Wilson was passionate about the importance of local news and determined to keep it very much on the front burner.  He would pursue stories with the grit of a rookie journalist, never giving up until he had answers or comments from everyone he believed should be involved. A character in every way imaginable, Mr. Wilson had a heart of gold and we will miss him dearly.

He led a storied career as a Democratic State Senator from Manhattan, an on-air political correspondent and editor for WCBS-TV, and a lawyer. He was perhaps best known for his determined and ultimately successful efforts to change the New York state law, which required a spouse to prove adultery as the sole way to gain a divorce. New York was the only remaining state in the country with this provision when then Senator Wilson took up the issue. By the time the new law was passed in September 1967 with Sen. Wilson leading the state judicial committee that had proposed it, four additional grounds for divorce had been added.

This past Tuesday, Nov. 5, the New York Times published an article about Mr. Wilson at this link by NYT Obituaries Reporter Sam Roberts.

We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Ulla, his four daughters, two stepsons, six grandchildren, and four step-grandchildren.

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Needleman Easily Wins Another Term as Essex First Selectman, No Changes on Board of Selectmen

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) has been re-elected to the position of Essex First Selectman.

ESSEX — Incumbent First Selectman Norman Needleman (D) cruised to victory in Tuesday’s election with more than twice the number of votes of his opponent, Matthew Fleming (R).  Needleman also serves as the State Senator for the 33rd CT District. His running mate,  incumbent selectman Stacia Rice-Libby, also won easily to retain her seat on the board of selectmen.

The third seat on the board will be taken by Bruce Glowac (R), who like Rice-Libby is also an incumbent, thus keeping board members exactly the same as prior to the election.

The full results in Essex were:

First Selectman
Norman Needleman (D)
1667

Matthew R. Fleming (R)
621

Selectman
Stacia Rice-Libby (D)
1333

Bruce M. Glowac (R)
951

Board of Finance
W. Campbell Hudson (D)
1439

Carolyn E. Field (R)
820

Mary-Louise Polo (D)
1412

Philip J. Beckman (R)
847

Board of Education
Cassandra S. Sweet (D)
1689

Board of Assessment Appeals
George B. Wendell (D)
1354

Coral L. Rawn (R)
902

Regional Board of Education
D.G. Fitton (D)
1369

D.G. Fitton (R)
790

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Essex Elementary School Foundation Grants Over $40,000 to Essex Elementary School for the 2019-2020 School Year

Students designing 3D sculptures during the afterschool Makerspace program thanks to a grant by the foundation. The program is run by EES Media Specialist, Mrs. Renee Mitchill, Art teacher, Mr. Gary Stevens and Network Technician, Chris Hutchins.

ESSEX — The Essex Elementary School Foundation (EESF), supported by the residents and community of Essex, has  announced a commitment to funding over $40,000 slated for enrichment programs at Essex Elementary School (EES) for the 2019-2020 school year.  These programs offered at EES would otherwise not be available through traditional funding by the school system and budget.

The funding includes annual programs such as:  World Culture Days (Haiti, China and India) for the second grade, Scientist in Residence for Grades K-6 teachers and students, all transportation for High Hopes therapeutic riding classes, and The Makerspace program using 3D printers funded by EESF.  Over the last two years, the foundation was able to offer a Science and Technology Grant that was used by EES to help offset the costs to send two state Invention Convention winners to the national competition.

“The foundation is pleased to once again be able to make a contribution to several different enrichment programs at the school,” says Bill Jacaruso, President of EESF.  “We wouldn’t be able to carry on this work without the generous support of so many members of our community.  Thank you to everyone who contributes to the foundation each year.”

New this school year, EESF will be funding an Artist/Historian in Residence program for the fifth-grade team.  Teaching artist, Doug Day will work with the EES team to research, write, and perform a musical based and focused on the rich history of Essex, Ivoryton, and Centerbrook.  Doug will spend two weeks at EES working with our 5th graders on this experience culminating in a musical to be performed for the school community.

Another new program funded under this year’s grant cycle will be for the introduction of LumoPlay.  This software is designed to create interactive virtual reality experiences in order to practice math fluency and other key math skills. LumoPlay, under the guidance of Shannon Vandermale, EES Math Specialist, will allow for a multisensory approach to learning a variety of math concepts and skills.  Engaging in multisensory learning has been proven beneficial to students of all learning styles.   The annual appeal for EESF begins in mid-November.

“I am so very grateful to the foundation for all they do to enrich the lives of our students in the past and yet again this year,” says Jennifer Tousignant, Principal at Essex Elementary School.   “Their generosity makes high quality programming outside the traditional classroom setting possible.  The board members are truly a great pleasure to collaborate with and our students are very fortunate for the generosity of the EESF!”

Since its inception in 1996, the Essex Elementary School Foundation’s primary goal has been to create a significant endowment that can support the school’s strategic vision to engage all students in a rigorous and collaborative educational program.  Each year, at least five percent of the EESF endowment is allocated for supplemental enrichment programs and projects proposed by the Essex Elementary School administration that would otherwise not be available through traditional funding by the school system and budget.

Programs funded include the Justus W. Paul World Culture Program, literacy support materials, equipment for musical and physical education, playground improvements, logical thinking games, audio/visual equipment, 3D printer, an iPad lab, and an Engineering with Legos program.

For more information, visit www.essexesf.org.

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Ivoryton’s Eberle, Who Helped Save Man From Burning Car, Presented with Carnegie Medal in Essex Presentation

Stephen Anthony Eberle of Ivoryton, Conn., will be awarded the Carnegie Medal on Oct. 25 by Congressman Joe Courtney.

ESSEX — Carnegie Hero Stephen Anthony Eberle of Ivoryton, Conn., was presented with the Carnegie Medal at a ceremony held Oct. 25, at the Essex Town Hall conference room. U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, who represents Connecticut’s 2nd District, presented the award.

Eberle, with another man, saved a 38-year-old man from a burning vehicle July 16, 2017, after a nighttime accident in Middletown, Conn. Passing motorists Eberle and a 65-year-old teacher’s aide responded to the car, which had caught fire on the highway with the unconscious driver inside.

Using a tire iron, Eberle broke out the rear, driver’s-side window, opened the rear door, and entered the backseat, where he attempted to release the driver’s seat belt. Unsuccessful, he moved to the driver’s door and broke that window. The teacher’s aide then forced the door open, and held it open as Eberle twice attempted to enter the car there and release Smith’s seat belt.

Each attempt was thwarted by heat and fire.

The teacher’s aide then used a pocketknife to cut the seat belt, and together they grasped the driver and tugging hard, removed him from the vehicle and dragged him away. The car was shortly engulfed in flames. The driver was treated for minor crash injuries, but was not burned.

Eberle was the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund’s 10,094th hero. The Hero Fund, established by Andrew Carnegie in 1904, has awarded the Carnegie Medal to 10,117 individuals in recognition of their outstanding heroism, defined by the Commission as acts of lifesaving done at extraordinary risk to the rescuer. Grants totaling more than $41 million have been given to the awardees or their survivors and include scholarship aid, continuing assistance, and death benefits.

For more information about the Carnegie Hero Fund, contact Jewels Phraner, outreach coordinator for the fund, at 1-800-447-8900.

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See America’s Favorite Comedy Whodunnit, ‘Shear Madness,’ at Ivoryton Playhouse Through Oct. 6

Patrick Noonan (left) and Jordan Ahnquist play the lead male characters in ‘Shear Madness’ opening at the Ivoryton Playhouse, Sept. 18. Photo courtesy of Shear Madness.

IVORYTON – Shear Madness, one of the most popular comedy productions in the world, is opening in Ivoryton on Sept. 18. This iconic production was first produced in Boston in 1980 and has been delighting audiences ever since with its unique blend of madcap improvisation and spine-tickling mystery.

This unique comedy-whodunit takes place today in the Shear Madness hairstyling salon and is chock full of up-to-the-minute spontaneous humor. During the course of the action, a murder is committed and the audience gets to spot the clues, question the suspects, and solve the funniest mystery in the annals of crime. The outcome is never the same, which is why many audience members return again and again to the scene of the mayhem.

Voted “Best Comedy of the Year” seven times by the Boston Globe and recipient of the title “Best Play of the Year” by both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Philadelphia Enquirer, Shear Madness has also received the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America and has been inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame, the first play ever to receive that accolade.

Shear Madness is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running play in the history of the USA. The flagship Boston company has given birth to 50 productions in the U.S. and Shear Madness has been translated into 23 foreign languages, playing worldwide in a host of cities including Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Paris, Rejkavik, Rome, Tel Aviv, Melbourne, Johannesburg and Seoul. Over 12.5 million people worldwide have joined in the fun.

The production features veteran performers Jordan Ahnquist*, Patrick Noonan*, and Lisa McMillan* who have performed these roles many times – most recently in the off-Broadway production. They will be joined by Ivoryton Playhouse alum Bill Mootus* and Siobhan Fitzgerald* and Lev Harvey will be making his Playhouse debut.

The production is directed by Robert Lohrmann with set design by Daniel Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Liz Saylor.

Shear Madness opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Sept. 18  and runs through Oct. 6. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $55 for adults; $50 for seniors; $25 for students and $20 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org 

 (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information. Discounted tickets after 6pm on Thursday evenings – get half price adult ticket (subject to availability). Six-Tix are only available at the Playhouse Box Office window and do not apply to special events.  Limit 4 Six Tix per person.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Town of Essex Hosts Community Day, Sunday; All Welcome

The photo shows Essex Fire Headquarters, where the second Annual Community Day will be held. Photo submitted.

ESSEX — The Town of Essex hosts its  2nd Annual Community Day in Essex on Sunday, Sept. 29, from 12 to 3 p.m. at the Essex Fire Headquarters, 11 Saybrook Road, Essex.

Community Day is an important day to come together and celebrate our First Responders and to promote volunteerism and positive activities.

Stop by for a free hotdog and chips, observe some fascinating smoke and fire demonstrations, get a face-painting, and buy a raffle ticket for a change to win a ride on an Essex Fire Engine with Santa in December. You can also look inside a rescue helicopter, a fire engine and ambulance while learning about life saving techniques used by our Fire and Ambulance crews.

“Our volunteer first responders are essential to the fabric of our community. We thank each and every one of them for their hard work and dedication, but they need our help. The current group of volunteers is thinning, and we are asking for your participation. We need your help. Please come, have fun and volunteer!” said Norman Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

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Essex Land Trust Earns National Recognition for Strong Commitment to Public Trust, Conservation Excellence

Essex Land Trust owns 650 acres of open space within the borders of the town including this 49-acre jewel of fields and forest in Ivoryton at Johnson Farm.

ESSEX – One thing that unites the country as a nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1968 the Essex Land Trust has been doing just that for the people of Essex.

Now the Essex Land Trust has announced it has achieved national recognition – joining a network of over 400 accredited land trusts across the nation that have demonstrated their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work.

“Accreditation gives the Essex Land Trust the opportunity to commit itself to the highest standards of conservation excellence while it pursues its mission of protecting the environment and the small-town character of the Town’s three villages, Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton,” said Nancy Rambeau, the land trust’s President. “The rigorous accreditation process ensures that the land trust’s effort to preserve our community’s open space and natural resources will benefit both current and future generations.”

The Essex Land Trust provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that Essex Land Trust’s lands will be protected forever. Accredited land trusts steward almost 20 million acres of land – the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

Essex’s privileged location in the lower Connecticut River Valley gives it a responsibility in providing long-term stewardship for its portion of what The Nature Conservancy has identified as “One of the Last Great Places in the Western Hemisphere.” Owning a total of 650 acres, the land trust has pursued a strategy of acquiring open space that expands habitat corridors, thereby enhancing the potential for plant and wildlife diversity.

“It is exciting to recognize the Essex Land Trust with this national mark of distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

Essex Land Trust is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census. A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

The Essex Land Trust is an independent nonprofit organization supported by generous donations and managed by a dedicated group of volunteers. Its Vision is to preserve our community’s open space and natural resources for the benefit of future generations.

To this end, its Mission is to acquire open space by gift or purchase and to protect the environment and the small-town character of the three villages, Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton, which comprise the town of Essex and to provide the community with passive recreational and educational opportunities. To fulfill these objectives the Land Trust conserves wildlife habitats, forests, fields, rivers, wetlands and scenic views by maintaining properties in a natural state.

For more information, visit www.essexlandtrust.org.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts.

For more information, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents 1,000-member land trusts supported by more than 200,000 volunteers and 4.6 million members nationwide.

The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices. The Alliance’s leadership serves the entire land trust community—our work in the nation’s capital represents the policy priorities of land conservationists from every state; our education programs improve and empower land trusts from Maine to Alaska; and our comprehensive vision for the future of land conservation includes new partners, new programs and new priorities.

For more information, visit www.landtrustalliance.org.

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Ivoryton Lighting Manufacturer L.C. Doane Powers Facility with Sunlight

Longtime U.S. Military supplier in Ivoryton sees environmental, financial benefits of going solar

IVORYTON — The Connecticut Green Bank and the L.C. Doane Company have announced the closing of a financing agreement that will help the company expand existing solar systems on their roof. Verogy, a Hartford-based solar developer, will complete the installation.

For over 70 years the L.C. Doane company, located at 110 Pond Meadow Road in Ivoryton, Conn., has served the United States Navy and Coast Guard supplying commissioned fleets with tough, reliable MIL-Spec Shipboard lighting. Since October 2008, L.C. Doane has used solar photovoltaics on their roof to supply electricity to their 150,000 square foot factory.

Now, thanks in part to the recent closing of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing through the Connecticut Green Bank, L.C. Doane is expanding their solar system to generate more energy to power their machinery. When completed, the new solar systems will add more than 200 kW of capacity.

“As a government subcontractor in the defense industry, it is essential to keep our own lights on,” said Bill Psillos, Vice President. “While manufacturing occurs under our roof, the power source is created from above. Our solar panels provide us with clean energy right on-site. Another level of U.S.-made, environmentally conscience manufacturing. As we continue to expand so does our roof!”

In addition to adding to the existing solar array and installing a larger one, L.C. Doane is also replacing roofing beneath the original panels. The total project costs are $1.46 million with the C-PACE financing covering over $1.06 million. Through C-PACE financing, the project is paid off over 10 years through a voluntary benefit assessment lien to be repaid along with their property taxes.

L.C. Doane worked with Verogy and the Connecticut Green Bank to arrange the multi-faceted project. “C-PACE allows companies the flexibility they need to solve their unique energy needs,” said William Herchel, CEO of Verogy. “We’re glad we were able to help L.C. Doane navigate the options, and find the best possible outcome.”

Project costs are being offset by a $40,000 Energy on the Line Grant, a program funded through the Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Manufacturing Innovation Fund to help manufacturers lower their energy costs.

“It’s great to see a long-time Connecticut manufacturer like the L.C. Doane Company expanding their commitment to generating clean energy,” said Mackey Dykes, Vice President of Commercial and Institutional Programs at the Connecticut Green Bank. “C-PACE financing is designed to make projects like this feasible, so companies can benefit from their upgrades immediately and continue to focus on their core business.”

In addition to their subcontracting work with the U.S. military, L.C. Doane’s trusted quality is designed to meet commercial lighting applications including healthcare, industrial, correctional, and institutional industries. All L.C. Doane products are designed and manufactured in the U.S.

“L.C. Doane is setting a great example for other businesses in the region, demonstrating how a commitment to sustainability can also allow building owners to reduce energy costs and remain competitive” said Jeff Pugliese, Vice President, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber has been an advocate for making energy efficiency and renewable energy programs more accessible to businesses in the region, and we are excited to see member businesses taking advantage of solar energy and the Green Bank’s C-PACE program.”

The Connecticut Green Bank was established by the Connecticut General Assembly on July 1, 2011 as a part of Public Act 11-80. As the nation’s first full-scale green bank, it is leading the clean energy finance movement by leveraging public and private funds to scale-up renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency projects across Connecticut. The Green Bank’s success in accelerating private investment in clean energy is helping Connecticut create jobs, increase economic prosperity, promote energy security and address climate change.

For more information about the Connecticut Green Bank, visit www.ctgreenbank.com. For information on C-PACE, please visit www.cpace.com.

Lighting by the L.C. Doane Company has withstood the worst environments and toughest abuse onboard U.S. naval vessels since 1947. Utilizing our experience with shipboard lighting we have been building tough, reliable lights for other demanding environments including industrial, correctional, institutional, and commercial marine – setting new records in durability and performance.

For more information about the L.C. Doane company, visit www.lcdoane.com or contact Joe Thomas (joet@lcdoane.com).

Verogy originates and develops renewable energy projects across the United States to provide savings and long-term value for its clients. Verogy manages all aspects of each project to ensure optimal production and financial performance.

For more information on Verogy, visit www.verogy.com.

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

Saybrook Probate Judge Jeannine Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Essex Republican Town Committee Announces Candidates for Town Office; Fleming, Glowac to Run For BOS

The Essex Republican Town Committee has endorsed Matt Fleming (right) and Bruce Glowac to run for the board of selectmen on the November ballot.

ESSEX — The Essex Republican Town Committee has fielded a slate of candidates who bring a variety of experience to the offices they seek. Their candidates pledge to listen to the residents of all three villages and provide services to them equally.

Matt Fleming will bring his life experience to the office of First Selectman. He attended Roger Williams College and left to serve his country in the Navy. He worked in the Mechanical Engineering field, then started Fleming Construction, LLC. Presently he works in design engineering for Electric Boat. He served his community as a volunteer fireman. Presently he lives in Ivoryton with his wife, Yvette and their bulldog, Charlotte.

Bruce Glowac, our candidate for Selectman has more than 30 years of dedicated service to our town. He served as Essex First Selectman from 1991- 1995. During his term, Essex was named “Best Small Town in America”. Bruce Glowac served on the Firehouse Building Committee, School Building Committee, and Regional Board of Education and many more. He was Facilities Director for Region #4 Schools. He has been a dedicated Selectman in 1989-1991 and present. P

Bruce is a lifelong area resident. He and his wife, Taffy raised four boys in Essex.

Carolyn Field is our candidate for Board of Finance. She and her family have lived in Essex a total of 21 years, and her daughter Elly Field is a graduate of Valley Regional High School. She is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University. She worked for 14 years at the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency. She brings a wealth of information on budgeting and municipal issues. She has eight years of management experience.

Phil Beckman is a 24-year veteran of the US Navy and a graduate of the US Naval Academy. He holds a BS in Math, MS in Operations Research and Masters in Engineering Management. He is a Principal Engineer at EB. He and his wife Susie have lived in Ivoryton for 22 years and have two children.                                                

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New Book Club Slated to Start at Ivoryton Library, Sept. 17

IVORYTON — The Facts & Fibs Book Club will meet on the third Tuesday of every month beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Ivoryton Library at 106 Main St. in Ivoryton.

The discussions will last an hour and continue monthly through December. Each member will be responsible for obtaining the group books, and a different volunteer facilitator will lead the discussion each month.

For more information, call the library at 860-767-1252, or contact Mary Ann at contezsa@gmail.com.

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Death of Milton Allen of Essex Announced; Memorial Service Held in Old Lyme, Aug. 24

Milton Nicholas Allen
4-15-1927 – 5-29-2019
 

Milton Nicholas Allen

Milton Nicholas Allen, born in New York City on April 15, 1927, died in Essex, Connecticut on May 29, 2019. He and his wife, to whom he was married for 35 years, had moved to Essex in 2016. They had previously lived in Old Lyme, Connecticut from 1988.

Milton attended Princeton University at the age of 17 where he was elected President of the Class of ‘48. He took a wartime leave of absence from Princeton the next year when he became old enough to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1949 with Distinction. Upon graduation he was selected to represent the United States Navy and became a Rhodes Scholar Finalist. Milton then served in active duty for the Navy as a Lieutenant and Submarine Commander until 1954 when he retired to pursue a career in business.

His civilian life began as Assistant to the President of Connecticut General Life Insurance Company in Hartford, prior to the same role for The Sherwin-Williams Company in Cleveland. He was also a Partner at Robert Heller & Associates (Management Consultants). In 1969 he started his own computer service, software and consulting business, which he led as CEO and Chairman until its sale in 1990. Manufacturing Decision Support Systems (MDSS Inc.) was the first online management information systems and services company. It served manufacturing, distribution, insurance and transportation companies across the US.

Milton was a Director of Progressive Corporation for over 20 years, as well as a Director of Day- Glo Color Corp., DeSantis Coatings Inc., Premier Electric Company, Lighting International Corp., AGA Burdox Gas Inc., Daro Industries, Actron Corp., Mueller Electric Company, and the Women’s Federal Savings Bank.

Contributing to the communities in which he lived was very important to him. In addition to his quiet philanthropy and mentoring of leaders, in Cleveland he was a Director of Laurel School, The Cleveland Playhouse, The Cleveland Institute of Music, the Center for Venture Development and Case Western Reserve University School of Management. He was also Chairman of the Goodrich-Gannett Neighborhood Center, Chairman of the Cleveland Council for Independent Schools and Chairman of the Switzer Foundation.

After moving back east, Milton was a Director and then Chairman of The Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut, The Putney School and Yellow Barn music school in Vermont, and Chairman of Hubbard Brook Environmental Research. He also served as a Director of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library in Old Lyme.

In addition to his business, and various commercial and not for profit roles, for which he was known for his integrity, insight and calm leadership, Milton was committed to his family, his friends and his lifetime love of music and the water.

Milton is predeceased by his wife, Liesa Bing Allen, his older brother, Homer Nicholas Allen and his twin brother, Winston Nicholas Allen. He is survived by his younger brother Gordon Nicholas Allen of Madison, Florida, his three children from a previous marriage, Peter Milton Allen of Palo Alto, California, Thomas Hughes Allen of New York City and Jane Scarlett Allen of Sydney, Australia, as well as five grandchildren, Alexandra Elizabeth Scarlett Allen, Jonathan Thomas Allen, Olivia Sophie Allen, George Dexter Allen and Eloise Scarlett Allen-Bowton.

A Memorial Service to honor his life will be held August 24, 2019 at 2pm at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 2 Ferry Road, Old Lyme, CT. All are welcome.

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Death of Suzanne Brown of Essex Announced; Memorial Service Held in Old Lyme, Aug. 25

Suzanne Brown

ESSEX — Suzanne “Suzie” Brown, our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend, passed away Aug. 5, 2019, from complications after a fall in her home. She joins her beloved husband, Templeton “Temp” Brown of 58 years. We will celebrate them both by living their example of truth, love, and commitment.

Suzie celebrated beauty in life by picnicking in the countryside, arranging flowers from her garden, traveling the world, and savoring languages, cuisine, literature, colors, and the natural world. She cherished her family. We all have cultivated deep artistic roots because she showed us how to appreciate beauty in everything around us, every day of her life.

Suzie lived in Winnetka, Ill. for over three decades, and then returned to her childhood state of Connecticut to begin a new adventure with our dad, Temp, in Lyme. She had a wonderful group of friends, old and new, first from her many years in Illinois, and then more recently centered in Lyme and at the Essex Meadows Senior Retirement Community, in Essex. Suzie loved and appreciated the connections she made in Essex Meadows with her neighbors, staff, care-team, and her dear friend, Len Lonnegren.

Suzie will be remembered forever by her family, daughter Lisa Brown and her husband Mark Lellman; grandson Matt Lellman; and granddaughters, Leah Lellman (husband Josh Hisley) and Heidi Lellman (husband Jake Bonnerup); and great-grandson, Theo Bonnerup; daughter Suzanne Butz and her husband Ted Butz; grandsons Teddy Butz and Robert Butz (wife Jen Butz); and great-granddaughter, Hayden Butz; and daughter Maren Brown and her wife Patricia Morrison.

A Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Lyme Land Trust, which was dear to both mom and dad’s deep appreciation of preserving nature for future generations to enjoy.

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

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘Cabaret’ Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse, Runs Through Sept. 1

Katie mack stars in ‘cabaret’ at the Ivoryton Playhouse as Sally Bowles.

IVORYTON – “There was a cabaret and there was a master of ceremonies and there was a city called Berlin in a country called Germany. It was the end of the world … and I was dancing with Sally Bowles and we were both fast asleep.” So begins the international classic musical and winner of eight Tony awards –  Cabaretwhich opened last night in Ivoryton to rave reviews. The show runs through Sept. 1.

Join other members of the audience at the Kit Kat Club as the Emcee takes us back to those tumultuous times with unforgettable musical numbers including,  “Wilkommen,” “Cabaret,” and “Maybe This Time.”

This Broadway classic is set in 1931 Berlin as the Nazis are rising to power. Cabaret focuses on the nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, and revolves around American writer Cliff Bradshaw and his relationship with English cabaret performer, Sally Bowles, as the world spins out of control.

The original 1966 Broadway production became an instant hit, winning eight Tony Awards in 1967 and four in 1998.  The show has inspired numerous subsequent productions in London and New York, as well as the 1972 film of the same name.

Cabaret is an unusual musical that has changed many times over the past 50 years to reflect the changes in the world, but the musical’s implicit warning about the temptations of fascism, nationalism and prejudice — the way they can sneak up on you when you’re having fun — has never seemed dated or irrelevant.

“It’s such an important piece of theatre, in what it says about the world and how quickly things can change,” says Playhouse Artistic Director, Jacqui Hubbard. “I think it is even more relevant today than when it was first performed over 50 years ago. Underneath the humor, the sex and the fabulous music is a constant alarm sounding, telling us to pay attention.”

Sam Given takes the lead male role in ‘Cabaret.’

The production stars Sam Given* as the Master of Ceremonies. Sam has appeared in Ivoryton in Godspell, A Chorus Line, I Hate Musicals: The Musical and in his own one-person show with his alter ego, Millie Grams. He has recently been seen as Ziggy Stardust inRebel Rebel: The Many Lives of David Bowie. 

Katie Mack* as Sally Bowles and Andy Tighe* as Cliff will be making their Ivoryton debuts. The cast also includes Will Clark, Carlyn Connolly*, Corrie Farbstein, Taavon Gamble*, Jade Genga, Aliah James, John Little*, Amanda Luppachino, Amani Pope, Carolyn Popp*, Renee Sutherland, Emerson Valentina, Max Weinstein and Jayke Workman. 

The production is directed and choreographed by Todd Underwood and musical directed by Michael Morris with set design by Daniel Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Katie Bunce.

Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Additional matinee performances are on Saturday, Aug. 17, and Aug. 31, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $55 for adults; $50 for seniors; $25 for students and $20 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org 

(Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Pictures courtesy of Ivoryton Playhouse

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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

Teryy Cowgill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manero continues, “

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media

Jim Cameron

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

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

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Needleman, Libby Endorsed for Reelection by Essex DTC; Full Slate of Candidates Announced for November Election

Essex DTC has nominated incumbents First Selectman Norman Needleman and Selectwoman Stacia Libby for reelection in November.  (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX — The Essex Democratic Town Committee met on Wednesday, July 17, to nominate candidates for the November 2019 municipal election. Norm Needleman was unanimously nominated as the candidate for First Selectman. Needleman is currently serving his fourth term as Essex First Selectman. The Democratic Town Committee also unanimously nominated Stacia Libby as their candidate for Selectman. Libby is currently serving her fourth term on the Board Of Selectman.

In accepting the nomination, Needleman said: “I am deeply grateful to the Democratic Town Committee for giving me the opportunity to continue to help make our beautiful town an even better place to live. We are fortunate that all three members of our Board of Selectmen share a commitment to a key objective: find ways to improve services while bringing professional management skills to town finances. Our track record speaks for itself. Essex is a financially stable town, services have improved, and we’ve lowered the mil rate in two consecutive years. But there’s more work to do, and I’m looking forward to discussing our ideas in the course of the coming campaign.”

Brian Cournoyer, Chairman of The Essex Democratic Town Committee, said: “The reasons we unanimously nominated Norm and Stacia are clear. During their time in office, Essex finances and service delivery have become models among towns in our state. Our mil rate remains among the lowest in the state, and other towns acknowledge our leadership in delivering vital services. Re-electing Norm and Stacia will keep our town moving forward.”

Cournoyer continued: ”As importantly, we are fortunate to be able to nominate experienced candidates for every elected office on the ballot in November. Our nominees have all played key roles in managing and delivering town services. Each of them has the skills, experience, and commitment to continue building on the success we have achieved in Essex town government.”

Democratic Nominees for Municipal Offices in Essex are:

First Selectman: Norm Needleman
Selectwoman: Stacia Libby
Essex Board of Education: Cassandra Sweet
Region 4 Board of Education: D. G. Fitton
Board of Finance: Campbell Hudson and Mary Louise Polo
Board of Assessment Appeals: George Wendell

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