January 21, 2020

CT River Museum Hosts Dinner Tonight With Guest Speaker Jeff Cooley; Benefits Curatorial Fund

Jeff Cooley will be the speaker at the Connecticut River Museum’s Brenda Milkofsky Curatorial Fund benefit event on April 18 at the Old Lyme Country Club.

AREAWIDE — Would you like to know more about the ins and outs of collecting in the contemporary art world? 

Join the board, administration and members of the Connecticut River Museum Thursday, April 18, at the Old Lyme Country Club when Jeffrey Whitman Cooley of The Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme presents “Outs & Ins: The Art in the Life of an Art Dealer.” The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and includes dinner.

Cooley, a Hartford native trained at Harvard, apprenticed in the American Painting Department of Christie’s Auction House and graduated to the American Paintings Department at the Wadsworth Athenaeum will share his stories.

In 1981, Cooley established The Cooley Gallery in a yellow storefront on Lyme Street. There he continues to identify, gather, exhibit and interpret American paintings and painters to numerous different audiences.

He serves as an enthusiastic and committed advisor to the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury and the former Lyme Academy College of Fine Art, where he was awarded an honorary degree. Cooley is a board member at the Florence Griswold Museum and an Elector at the Wadsworth Athenaeum. He has been an influential guide to young, talented artists helping many to emerge as professionals.

Proceeds from this evening support the Brenda Milkofsky Curatorial Fund. Organized in 2009 to recognize the work of the Connecticut River Museum’s Founding Director, the fund is restricted to the acquisition and conservation of objects and manuscripts that enhance the historical focus of the Connecticut River Museum’s collections.

Purchases from this fund have included the portrait of a Middletown merchant mariner; a landscape of the oft-painted view of the Ox Bow below Mount Holyoke; the stern board of a Portland-built stone schooner; an Old Lyme hunting scene, and a model of a Blue Line tug-boat.

For more information or to make a reservation, visit this link or call the Connecticut River Museum at 860-767-8269. Tickets are $100 per person.

The Connecticut River Museum is located in Essex, Conn., and is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special to ValleyNewsNow.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Five Days of Fun Continue at Connecticut River Museum

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

ESSEX — Staying in town for April Vacation?

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

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

Offerings this year are

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

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

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

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

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Alan James Holds Watercolor Workshop Tonight at Deep River Library

‘Wildflowers in the Meadow’ is a recent class demo painting by Alan James.

DEEP RIVER — Award winning watercolor artist Alan James, will hold a one-day workshop at Deep River Library, Monday, April 15, that is designed for those who want to learn the process of how to capture the essence of a scene.  The workshop will run from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m.

In this class, James will share all of the secrets of what he calls “Capturing the Essence,” which is the process of simplifying the subject by eliminating superficial details. Through step-by-step demonstrations and one-on-one guidance, he will show you how to take your initial inspiration through his process in creating an expressive painting that is strong in both composition and content.

Registration is required for this program. You may register on the website or find the link on our Facebook Events page. The class is free, but participants must provide their own art supplies. A list of materials needed are on Alan James’ website.

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

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Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’ to be Performed This Afternoon by Cappella Cantorum

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

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

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

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

A reception will follow the concert.

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

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

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

D.B. Rielly

Photo courtesy of D.B. Rielly

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

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

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

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

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

A $20 donation at the door is requested. Feel free to BYOB and picnic and enjoy the outdoor bistro style seating in the amphitheater (inside the gallery if inclement weather).Gates open a half hour before the show. First come, first seated, but no pets allowed.
For more information, call (860) 526-2077 or visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com. The studio is at 1 Spring St., in the heart of Chester Center.
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Rep. Carney, Local School Superintendents Host Forum Tomorrow on School Regionalization, Education

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

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

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

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

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See “near orbit: in state, on paper” at Melanie Carr Gallery Through April 28

This work by Jeff Ostergren titled, Molecular Violence, 2019, features Oxycontin, Luvox, Claritin, Sudafed, and acrylic on coated paper, (20 x 24 inches.)

ESSEX — The Melanie Carr Gallery presents “near orbit: in state, on paper,” an exhibition curated by Connecticut artist and curator Eric Litke. It showcases recent works in a dynamic range of content and material by nine artists who live and work primarily in Connecticut, with the addition of one historic work by the late Durham artist William Kent (1919-2012).

This exhibition will be on view through April 28.

Artists included in this exhibition are as follows: William DeLottie, Jacquelyn Gleisner, William Kent, Glenn LaVertu, David Livingston, Jeff Ostergren, Jason Silva, Jessica Smolinski, Joseph Smolinski, and Peter Waite.

The Melanie Carr Gallery is located at 1 North Main St., Essex, CT 06426.

For further information, call 860.830.6949 or email melaniecarrgallery@gmail.com

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Letter From Paris: And So It Goes On … Brexit, That Is

Nicole Prévost Logan

“Order, Order!” barked John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons before announcing the results of the third-time-around vote on Theresa May’s Brexit “deal” .  “The ayes to the right 286, the noes to the left 344,  the left have it.”

It was that fateful day, March 29 – chosen by the Prime Minister as the deadline to decide on the “divorce” of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU).  The masterful and funny Speaker was able to control his troops and even to provoke laughter, telling one Member of Parliament (MP), “Get a grip, man, do yoga, it will be beneficial to you.”

In retrospect, not much progress had been made to resolve the Brexit issue on the British side since the June 23, 2016 referendum. It seemed that the government was taking its time and fantasizing about the legal elbow room it actually had to make decisions. (See my previous articles published on 3/5/2016; 4/6/2017 and 12/29/18)

Action in the House of Commons started really in earnest on Nov. 15, 2018 when Theresa May’s original deal was voted down. A second vote on the same motion, and a third with almost identical text were also rejected by the MPs. By drawing red lines, the tenacious but inflexible Prime Minister made it hard for herself to negotiate.

During the winter months, the parliament at Westminster offered the world a spectacle of one “decisive week” after another with votes ending in an inability to reach a majority. By March 14, Theresa May had lost her voice and the headlines in the press read “Game over.”

On the eve of the March 29 deadline, the situation turned surrealistic with two superimposed pictures (to use the words of Le Monde special envoy to London) of a vote on May’s deal and eight others on alternative proposals the MPs had organized on their own.  In a dramatic gesture, Theresa May used her last joker – stepping down from office – in case her deal was supported.   

The Prime Minister described the situation as “the end of a process” with the MPs having said no to everything : to the deal, to the absence of a deal, to Brexit, to Article 50 itself, to the eight separate proposals. In the face of this total collapse of a possible way out of this impasse, Donald Tusk, European Council President announced an extraordinary summit in Brussels on April 10.

A surprising amount of information and live coverage is now appearing on the French media,  shedding a new light on Brexit.

One report showed to what extent the public opinion was in fact manipulated.  More than 80 percent of the British press was hostile to Europe and contained “fake news” items.  The “Brexiteers” promised that the Commonwealth would save the UK. The famous red bus of Boris Johnson traveled throughout the country, displaying the number of 350 million pounds sterling ($455 million) in giant letters . That is the amount “BoJo” (Boris Johnson’s nickname) claimed that the UK is sending the EU every week instead of using it to fund the National Health Service (NHS). 

A Canada-based web site called AggregateiQ, created by Dominic Cummings, utilized private data collected from social networks and used it to “microtarget” individuals with “dark ads.” The “Vote Leave” site used a strategy comparable to that used by Cambridge Analytica, a company heavily implicated in the 2016 US election manipulation.

Other reports helped better understand why re-establishing a border between the two Irelands was a visceral impossibility. The Good Friday agreement in 1998 brought peace back but the catholic and protestant communities in Belfast, are still separated.

In this fragile context, the Irish people fear that a 300-mile external border with the EU would jeopardize the hard-won peace agreement. Trying to solve the problem of a border is an attempt at squaring a circle. The only solution might be a border at the bottom of the Irish Sea.  The backstop which allows the border to remain open until a final treaty is signed, is only a temporary solution.

It was not until the 11th hour – or less than one week before the March 29 deadline – that a significant turn occurred in London.  Prime Minister May entered into talks with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, in spite of their sharp disagreements.  It was such a breakthrough that the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond declared on April 5, “the threat of the UK crashing out of the Union is heavily diminished.”  The Conservative party began to lean toward a “soft Brexit” and the possibility of the UK remaining in the Custom Union.

During all these months, the Europeans showed a consensual unity.  Their only caveat being that another delay would have to be justified by a clear plan such as general elections or a second referendum.  Their patience though began to wear out by early April as some divergences of opinion emerged. 

The priority for Angela Merkel is to avoid a no deal Brexit and she will bend over backwards to make that happen.   Although sharing many views with the UK in economy or trade, Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, confirmed his alignment with the collective position. 

The “flextension” of one year suggested by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, might not appeal to everybody. President Macron and EU Commissioner Juncker sound tougher on more delays. However, Macron reaffirmed on April 1, that he will stand by the decision made by Brussels and will not use his veto.   

The repeated postponements requested by Prime Minister May (April 12, May 23, June 30) forced the MPs to cancel their Easter recess. Much more serious, is the imbroglio caused by the colliding of the Brexit discussions with the European elections scheduled to take place May 26.

This long saga turned rather nasty when Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, ultra Brexiteer, tweeted on April 5, “Let us stay [in Europe] and this way we will be able to damage the Union from the inside and oppose our veto on any Brussels decision”.

And so, the suspense goes on.  During these final hours, the two Houses of Parliament are scrambling to find a solution and seem to agree that a no-deal Brexit is unacceptable.  The Europeans do not want to push the UK out of the Union.

Chances are that the outcome will be Britain remaining in the Custom union, an à la carte solution, which was almost obvious from the beginning.  The British should take heart.  It only took 22 years for Norway to establish relations with the EU through the European Economic Area (EEA), and 29 years for Canada to negotiate with Europe through the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)!

Since all the thorny issues – the City, fishing , citizens’ rights, Gibraltar, etc – are included in the 27 pages of the non legally-binding Political Declarations, a  second part of Article 50 (in other words, swept under the rug ) will have to be negotiated later . Brexit will continue to haunt both the divided British opinion and also Europe .

Some may think it is the UK’s vocation is to be independent from Europe and turned toward the rest of the world.  It certainly seems British people consider EU membership a straight-jacket. Interestingly, these are the same reasons General Charles de Gaulle gave persistently more than 50 years ago as to why he was against the original entry of Britain into the European Economic Community (EEC).

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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Chester Garden Club Presents Talk on Hydrangeas Tonight; All Welcome

Photo by Tomoko Uji on Unsplash.

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

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

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

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Last Chance to See ‘Burt & Me’ This Afternoon at Ivoryton Playhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Essex Winter Series’ Presents ‘Chanticleer’ This Afternoon in Old Saybrook

The final concert in this season’s Essex Winter Series will feature ‘Chaticleer.’

Essex Winter Series’ presents Chanticleer, the Grammy Award-Winning ensemble dubbed an orchestra of voices, on Sunday, April 7, at 3 p.m. at Old Saybrook High School, 1111 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook.

They are celebrating the ensemble’s 40th anniversary with the program, Then and There Here and Now, which contains music by some of Chanticleer’s favorite composers. From Palestrina and Victoria to Mason Bates and Steven Stucky, with lustrous examples of the South American baroque, as well as audience favorite arrangements by Jennings, Shaw and others. This program reflects the expansive aesthetic and seamless virtuosity in ensemble singing which have been Chanticleer’s hallmark for four decades.

Essex Winter Series is honored to be part of Chanticleer’s anniversary year and concludes its season with this fabulous program.

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

The 2019 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Masonicare at Chester Village, Tower Laboratories, Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.
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Spring is in the Air and on the Street for ‘First Friday’ in Chester, Tonight

Photo courtesy of The Perfect Pear,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sen. Needleman Welcomes State Bonding for Old Saybrook Police Camera Reimbursements

OLD SAYBROOK — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) announced yesterday that the State Bond Commission is expected to approve a significant reimbursement to the Old Saybrook Police Department for its purchase and implementation of police body cameras and video storage devices today.

The State Bond Commission will issue a total of $2.63 million to seven municipalities’ police departments in return for their investments in body cameras and video storage devices. Of that bonding, $56,639 in reimbursements is allocated for the Old Saybrook Police Department.

“Our police departments are making steps toward transparency, allowing for a better relationship with the public, and it’s great to see Old Saybrook’s first responders will receive a reimbursement on their investment,” said Sen. Needleman.

“The State’s fiscal assistance with offsetting some of Old Saybrook’s body and cruiser camera costs is welcomed,” said Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, “especially during a time when communities both large and small seek to have their Law Enforcement Agencies utilize technology to both enhance their operations, add efficiencies, and build trust with the citizens they are sworn to protect through transparency and accountability.”

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Musical Masterworks Presents Classical Guitarist Colin Davin, Music by Bach, de Falla, Piazzolla and More, This Weekend

Violinist Tessa Lark will perform in this weekend’s Musical Masterworks concerts.

AREAWIDE — Musical Masterworks will feature the beautiful sounds of the classical guitar in the acoustically perfect First Congregational Church of Old Lyme with the Old Lyme debut of guitarist Colin Davin, in collaboration with perennial Musical Masterworks favorite, violinist Tessa Lark, on Saturday, March 30, at 5 p.m. and on Sunday, March 31, at 3 p.m.

Davin, hailed for his “virtuoso’s technique [and] deeply expressive musicianship,” to quote the American Record Guide, has emerged as one of today’s most dynamic young artists. Join him, along with Lark and Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Edward Arron on cello, in a program that explores the breadth of the guitar-violin-cello repertoire from Bach to the 20th century works of Spanish and South American composers.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs through May 2019.  Tickets are $40 for adults and $5 for students.

Visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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Letter From Paris: Present Pace of European Politics is Dizzying

Nicole Prévost Logan

The unity of Europe is being put to the test now more than ever: the deadline of the Brexit pushed back from March 29 to April 12 is heightening the uncertainty to an almost unbearable level, the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Italy, Monaco and France is preoccupying several members of the European Union (EU), and the populist votes in recent European elections are gaining strength.   

On March 22, British Prime Minister Theresa May was in Brussels, waiting for a decision by the European Council gathered at an extraordinary Summit. She obtained a short “technical” extension of the Brexit deadline until May 24 in the event the House of Commons reaches an agreement.  In spite of their weariness, the 27 EU members wanted to show some benevolence by granting a few more days.  Another reason was that they did not want to be the ones to lower the hatchet on the UK.

Xi Jinping and his wife, a former opera singer and general, Peng Liyuan, landed in Rome on March 21.  The president of China has found in Italy a major beachhead for its Silk Roads initiative in Europe.  Italy, which fell into recession at the end of 2018, needs money to invest into its infrastructure. Presidents Giuseppe Conte and Xi Jinping signed contracts for billions of  Euros, including some earmarked for the development of  Trieste and Genoa commercial harbors. It is extremely worrisome that one of the G7 countries would grant access to Schengen Space to a foreign power.

French President Emmanuel Macron planned the official visit of the Chinese couple in grand style with a program loaded with symbols … an overnight in the famous Negresco Hotel in Nice; watching the sunset over the sea from the museum-villa Kerylos (a replica of an Athenian residence) in Beaulieu and thus alluding to Ancient Greece as the cradle of European culture; dinner at the Elysée palace for 200 guests, including – at the request of Xi Jinping –  a French actress from the most popular TV series in China.  The top pastry chef, cheese expert and wine sommelier of France were collectively watching over the dinner, the menu of which remained a secret.  Last time Paris went all out for a Chinese president was in 2004, when the Eiffel Tower was turned red to mark the visit of Hu Jintao. 

But the crucial message of the visit came out loud and clear when Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU  Commission, together greeted the president of China.  The message was to present a joint European front.  In his address, Macron formulated the general guidelines of future relations between China and Europe avoiding no confrontation, a partnership based on reciprocity while not appearing to be naïve.

In recent years, the Chinese have invested more than 140 billion Euros in Europe.  Since 2014, they have organized “16+1” summits attended every year by 11 Eastern European and five Balkan countries to expand economic cooperation.  In announcing his vision for “renovated multilateralism,” Macron hopes to hamper China’s strategy, which has been until now to pressure individual countries with its power and capitalize on their vulnerability.  Finally, Macron stressed that European countries must preserve their sovereignty and stop the take-over of strategic installations by foreign countries. 

Although Europe appeared united as a bloc in the face of Brexit, recent developments in The Netherlands , Hungary and Poland are emblematic of changes taking place in the political landscape.

In The Netherlands, elections took place on March 20, the day after the terrorist attack on the tramway in Utrecht.  A new party, “Forum for democracy (FvD), headed by jurist and historian Thierry Baudet, age 36. caught up in the polls with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the “Popular and Democratic” party (VVD).  Baudet is a right-wing Eurosceptic, anti-migrants, and a supporter of Donald Trump.  He is for a “tolerant and inclusive nationalism.”  He denounces political “élites”and a multicultural society.

On March 16, Zuzana Caputova, a lawyer, divorced and pro-choice, won the presidential elections in Slovakia, a very catholic country of close to six  million people.  She won in the second round of the ballot against Maros Sfcovic of the leftist populist party.  Having worked before for an ONG defending human rights, she holds liberal views on the economy.  The elections were influenced by the murder, one year ago, of a journalist and his fiancée — the journalist was investigating the links between the Italian Mafia and the Slovakian Central Executive.  The protest demonstrations in Bratislava that followed the murder were the largest since the independence of Slovakia in 1993.

On March 4, Gdansk again showed its importance as a center of the opposition in Poland.  After the murder of  Pawel Adamovicz, the city’s mayor, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, the mayor’s deputy, won the mayoral election with a landslide.  She may become a strong adversary to the government.

In another development, Robert Biedron, head of the party Wiosna (spring), 42, and Poland’s first openly gay politician, wants to end the monopoly of two parties in power since 2005, namely, PO –  a civic platform, conservative but liberal economically — and PiS or “law and order,” the ultra-conservative ruling party.  Although far behind the two major parties, this new candidate, who is anti-church, pro-women’s rights, and an ecologist, is a sign of change in Polish politics.

Hungary is the country making the most waves.  On March 20, ultra-right prime minister Viktor Orban’s party Fidesz was reprimanded for putting up anti-Brussels posters, and for his repressive policy.  The European parliament decided to take action and suspended  Fidesz from the Parti Populaire Europeen (PPE) with an overwhelming majority of 190 to. 4. 

Many are sickened by Orban’s provocations.  He appears obsessed with George Soros, the American  billionaire of Hungarian origin.  The European Parliament in Strasbourg voted to maintain Soros’ Central Europe University. “We put Orban in the freezer and Van Rompoy* holds the door”(*Herman Van Rompoy, a Belgian, is former president of the European Council) commented a Belgian Euro-deputy.

The suspension will at least prevent Orban from joining hands with Matteo Salvini of the Far Right League in Italy and the Law and Justice party in Poland.

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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Essex Land Trust Hosts ‘Collectible Creatures’ Walk For All Ages, Saturday

ESSEX — Celebrate the arrival of spring next Saturday, March 30, at 10 a.m. by taking the whole family on this unique nature walk in search of collectible art stones hidden along the trail. Each stone portrays a creature who lives in the Canfield-Meadow Woods area. The back of each stone provides a link to the Essex Land Trust website where you can discover more about the animals, birds and insects that live in this preserve.

Young children and those who are young at heart will enjoy finding one or more of the 100 stones and taking them home to learn more about the creature on the stone!  The walk will start at 10 a.m. at the Canfield Meadow Woods Preserve entrance located on Book Hill Woods Road.

This walk will be led and created by Essex Land Trust volunteers Stephanie Gatto and Susan Scott.

Rain/snow date: March 30.

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

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

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

To become an Eagle Scout, Douglas earned 36 merit badges and advanced through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community. 

One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in the scout’s community, school, or religious institution and and complete a service project that benefits that same broad community.  While a Scout in Troop 13, Douglas attended National Youth Leadership Training and served as the Senior Patrol Leader for Troop 13.

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

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

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young people develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these youth to develop into strong, healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scouts of America methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun. 

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

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Ivoryton Library Hosts WhatTrivia! Night Fundraiser Tonight

Do you think you “Know Stuff”?

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Ned Lamont (D)

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

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

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

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

The revised language in governor’s proposal:

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

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

**DownloadProposed revised language to SB 874

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Needleman Proposes New School Regionalization Plan

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Town of Lyme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Centerbrook Architects Garner Award for Mystic Seaport Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

Will the EU strike back?

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

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

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

She received a standing ovation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can the EU strike back?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tori Keenan-Zelt

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

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

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

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

Kathleen Cahill

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

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

Rachael Carnes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This talk is free and open to the public.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Public Hearing on Chester Plan of Conservation and Development to be Held Tonight

The 2019 Chester Plan of Conservation and Development Public Hearing will be held this evening, Monday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House. This plan outlines the future of Chester for the next 10 years.

ll residents are invited to attend this meeting and give their input.

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‘The Kate’ Hosts Dazzling Oscar Night Party Tonight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ESSEX —Arr” you in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunken Luxury Yacht in Hamburg Cove Raised Wednesday, Whole Operation Recorded by DiNardi on Video

After extended and carefully managed efforts by Sea-Tow divers, the Mazu finally floats atop the waters of Hamburg Cove rather than under them. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

The luxury yacht, which sank in Hamburg Cove in January, was raised Wednesday (Feb. 20) by Sea Tow of Old Saybrook.

A Sea-Tow diver works to raise the Mazu from the floor of Hamburg Cove in Lyme. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

Frank DiNardi of East Haddam, who had previously filmed the yacht prior to its sinking and then after it had occurred (see our article at this link), documented the whole episode of re-floating the yacht, which was subsequently towed to a dock in Chester.

Sea-Tow divers and operatives at work alongside the Mazu. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

View DiNardi’s striking photographs on his Facebook page at this link.

11:07 a.m. UPDATE: DiNardi’s excellent video of the whole process is now available for viewing on YouTube at this link.

Prior to the re-float operation, this was the submerged boat in Hamburg Cove. Photo by Frank Dinardi and used with his permission.

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

Manufacturing Talent Pipeline Workshop to Held After Breakfast

Representative Joe Courtney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ESSEX — Oh, what a trip!

The RiverQuest at the Connecticut River Museum dock

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

View from on board the RiverQuest.

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

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

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

Gillette Castle commands a stunning of the river.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spotting eagles was the job of everyone on board.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Essex Winter Series Presents the Midiri Brothers Sextet This Afternoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Key Healthcare Bills Introduced by Needleman, Move Forward

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Musical Masterworks Presents Barrière, Schoenberg, Brahms in Concerts This Weekend

AREAWIDE –– Musical Masterworks welcomes back several internationally acclaimed artists, along with a handful of exciting Old Lyme debuts on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 3:00 pm. 

Violist Ettore Causa

This concert represents the Musical Masterworks debut of violist Ettore Causa, who will perform alongside veteran Masterworks violinists Jesse Mills and Jennifer Frautschi, violist Nicholas Cords, and cellist Wilhelmina Smith.

This program features two masterpieces for a string sextet: Arnold Schoenberg’s romantic Transfigured Night, based on the poignant poem bearing that title by Richard Dehmel; and Johannes Brahms’s exquisite G Major Sextet.

The concert will begin with a charming duo for two cellos by the French Baroque-era composer, Jean-Baptiste Barrière. 

Violinist Jennifer Frautschi

Join Artistic Director, Edward Arron, one hour before each concert for a pre-concert talk about the lives of these composers.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs through May 2019.  Mini subscriptions include three concerts and are available for $100 each or individual tickets are $40 for adults and $5 for students.

Visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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CT Valley Camera Club Hosts Presentation on Equine Photography This Evening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Mystery of the Sinking Sailboat … in Hamburg Cove, DiNardi’s ‘Before & After’ Video Goes Viral

The submerged boat in Hamburg Cove. Photo by Frank Dinardi.

LYME — Frank DiNardi of East Haddam has become an overnight social media sensation with an extraordinary video that he captured of a boat initially at its mooring in Hamburg Cove,Lyme, and then subsequently after it had sunk last week.  His video has now been viewed over 150,000 times and he also has taken numerous photos that are posted on his Facebook page of various stages of the whole sad episode.

He told LymeLine.com via an e-message, “I work for a local landscaping company and we do a lot on Hamburg Cove. I’ve been watching the boat all year along with the neighbors on the cove wondering what it’s doing in the water and why it hasn’t been taken out?” adding, “It’s a boat that often catches my eye in the summertime as I think it is beautiful and I’ve photographed it with my drone in the summer too.”

Dinardi continues, “When I saw the ice building up around it I had to go back and grab some photos of it and decided to take some video. On the evenings and weekends I operate a growing photography and videography business called Frank’s Sky Sights. So I had gathered some video a couple weeks ago and then last weekend somebody had wrote me telling me that the boat sank and I should go check it out.”

He concludes, “So I went down there and flew around the boat again with my drone and was able to get the footage of the boat underwater. I went home and put that video together and it instantly became a hit on social media.”

The link to Dinardi’s first video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yay0xDhZmO8

He has now prepared a follow-up video in which he answers many of the questions that have been raised from the first video.  The link to the second video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C244qqEIzi0&fbclid=IwAR1Gmutmin5w-u-Mjhdcx42IqpvGx7CWsE1lkQ46F9CAVeytSYQK6DMIyqw

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Winter Birding Field Trip Today


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

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

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

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

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

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Chester Synagogue Hosts Exhibition of New Work by Locally Based, Nationally Acclaimed Sculptor Gilbert Boro, Through April 30

CHESTER — When our souls become heavy with life’s burdens, art has the potential to soothe and solace.  Indeed, Pablo Picasso wrote, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” That theme will be explored in an exhibit of new works by nationally and internationally renowned sculptor Gilbert Boro at the Main Street Gallery of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester, Conn. Boro lives and works in Old Lyme. 

Coming Together, a show highlighting works born out of Mr. Boro’s loss of his wife, is a prequel to the unveiling of the synagogue’s planned “Meditation Garden,” anticipated to open in 2020.

The “Meditation Garden” will feature a large-scale sculpture loaned from Mr. Boro’s Studio 80 Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme, CT, a park-like setting developed in concert between Mr. Boro and his wife Emily. The original model of the loaned garden sculpture will be donated to CBSRZ.

The show has special significance for Mr. Boro because the synagogue is the repository of a Memorial Light celebrating the memory of his wife of 48 years, Emily Seward Boro. A period of sadness and depression that followed her passing in 2013 acted as a catalyst, Boro says, fueling new creativity culminating in his “Musical Master Works” and “What’s Knot to Like” series. Ten to 15 works of aluminum, steel, and copper from these series, plus a few larger pieces, will be on public display for the first time. 

The Master Works and Knot series are the latest incarnations of Boro’s visual acuity, with a touch of playfulness always present. The “Musical Master Works” series transpired after attending music performances, which fired his imagination to consider what forms and shapes the music might create. The “What’s Knot to Like” reflects the many years Boro was deeply committed to offshore racing and cruising with his wife and family.

Boro credits his interaction with CBSRZ’s designer, the celebrated artist Sol LeWitt, with firing his creative imagination at a young age. “I found LeWitt’s extensive range of artistic expression extremely stimulating,” Boro says. “He inspired me and challenged me to broaden my vision, which resulted in applying my art education to the creation of architecture. Having my sculptures exhibited here has special meaning for me.”

Photography by Christina Block Goldberg will also be part of the show. Goldberg’s captivating images give viewers a unique insight to Boro’s sculptures by zooming in for intimate inspection of the joints and details. They will be printed on thin sheets of aluminum using a dye sublimation process. 

“This exhibit is rather novel,” says the gallery’s curator, Linda Pinn, “in that to a large degree the works to be exhibited will be scale models of the work that he anticipates to place in the garden.”  The “Meditation Garden” is envisioned to draw on the therapeutic power of nature and inspiring capacity of art.  Gardens are a common respite for their calming effect. Art’s power to stimulate and transform our thoughts and beliefs make it a potential balm to sooth our minds and spirits.

Studies now conclude that exposure to creative works are an elixir for our emotions when struggling with anxiety, depression, loss, and pain. Despite this, there are new treatments available for anxiety and depression, one popular one being cannabidiol oil. You can find cannabidiol oil near me in CT. Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing, said that “variety of form and brilliancy of color in the objects presented to patients are an actual means of recovery.”  Combining the two in a meditation garden, says the synagogue’s art curator, Linda Pinn, is an idea that “goes beyond any specific artist or garden,” she says. “Bringing art and nature together to create a peaceful, contemplative environment where people can walk, relax, and be calm,” will be a respite to escape, recharge, and heal.

The Coming Together exhibit begins with an opening reception on Sunday, February 3, from 3-5 that is free and open to the public. It will be on display until April 30. 

The Main Street Gallery at CBSRZ focuses on art works with themes relating to issues of concern in our society and the world at large. It is always open to the public free of charge, Monday – Friday, 10 – 3, and on Sundays when Sunday school is in session. It is located just off Rte. 154 at 55 East Kings Hwy, Chester, CT. 

For more information visit www.cbsrz.org.

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