February 1, 2023

Ed Munster Endorses Art Linares for State Senate

Art Linares running for the 33rd district State Senate

The last Republican Senator to serve the people of the 33rd district, Ed Munster has announced his support for Art Linares of Westbrook CT for the position he once held. Calling Linares the future of the Republican Party, Munster called upon his former constituents to join the campaign and donate to Linares who is in the process of raising money for his campaign in November.

Munster, a former Congressional candidate, who came very close to winning the election in 1994, made his opinion known in a letter to the Linares campaign earlier this week. He called upon all Republicans to rally behind Linares who is seeking the Senate office for the first time.  Linares is a confident, intelligent and dynamic candidate who can think outside the box and bring a different way of thinking to Hartford. He is a strong and hardworking candidate who has the best chance of winning the Senate seat for the first time in a long time, according to Munster.  Linares in a phone conversation thanked Munster for his support and asked Munster for continued  advice going into November.

Linares is the founder of Green Skies energy in Middletown and is a former aide to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, working in his Washington DC office until this past December.

For more information Contact: Ben Mitchell Presssecretary@artlinares.com

Young’s Printing to Donate $1 to United Way for Every “Like” on Facebook

Now through June 30, 2012 Young’s Printing of Middletown will donate $1 to Middlesex United Way for every new “like” on the organization’s Facebook page. To like Middlesex United Way, go to www.facebook.com/middlesexunitedway.

Dan Litwin, President of Young’s Printing says he had several reasons for liking the “like” cause-marketing program. “For one,” he notes, “We felt that, simple as it sounds, a “like” can transform someone into a more engaged supporter. So we liked being behind a high return on investment initiative.

“Second, we felt there was a positive brand spin for our business, as we are perceived as a more traditional company, and Facebook is still considered a forward-looking vehicle. We were able to piggy-back the United Way requests to “like” them on our existing email blasts, and will do so on print pieces as well very cost-effectively. Finally,” Litwin continues, “United Way’s brand is strong, and association with it is always good business as far as we are concerned.”

Cause-marketing programs such as this provide businesses the opportunity to align with United Way and make a contribution while increasing their own goodwill and visibility. The company and United Way work jointly to develop a marketing plan and to promote the program.

Middlesex United Way is advancing the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Our focus is on education, income, health and housing – the building blocks for a good quality of life. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise, and resources needed to get things done. You are invited to be part of the change by giving, advocating and volunteering. That’s what it means to Live United.

Middlesex United Way is a locally-based organization serving the towns of Chester, Clinton, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Middlefield, Middletown, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Gallery One Announces Group Exhibition Opening June 19

Old Saybrook, CT– Gallery One, located at 665 Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook, will present a Group Exhibition, on view from June 19 through August 12, with a reception to meet the artists on Friday, June 29 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Featured artists include Elizabeth Boyd, Denise Gaffney Hartz, Margaret Kangley, Diana Rogers and guest artists Corina Alvarezdelugo and Hillary Seltzer.

Although Elizabeth Boyd is supremely adept in both representational and abstract work, she is exhibiting acrylic, watercolor and pastel still lifes. She finds that working literally and abstractly reinforces each discipline and benefits the viewer’s experience. She has had work in exhibitions throughout Connecticut, such as the Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme and the Wadsworth Atheneum. Boyd has received numerous awards including several Best in Show and Purchase Prizes.

Denise Gaffney Hartz, who has been an artist for 37 years, creates atmospheric mindscapes inhabited by basic and essential elements.  Her abstractions of the last 20 years have been in exhibitions around New England including group shows in college and university galleries and museums such as the New Britain Museum, Slater Memorial Museum and Lyman Allyn Museum.

Margaret Kangley’s oil paintings are symbolic still lifes on a wide range of themes, often involving a dramatic change in scale. Alongside Kangley’s dedication to her painting, she has pursued an award-winning career in art education, teaching high school art and as an adjunct professor at Wesleyan University.

Diana Rogers’ pastel landscapes arise from a deep respect for nature and concern for the rapid loss of pristine environs. The colorful bounty of nature is reflected in her choice of medium–the pure intense pigments available in pastels. She has exhibited in regional, national and international exhibitions and received awards in several of them, including Best Pastel from the Mystic Art Center. Rogers is also on the board of the Connecticut Pastel Society.

Venezuela-born Branford resident sculptor and mixed media painter, Corina Alvarezdelugo, is a Guest Artist in this exhibition. In her minimalist works, she focuses on the essence of an object, mood, feeling, person or place using the circle and the sphere. Alvarezdelugo has shown her work in Venezuela, the Caribbean, and the United States, specifically Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York City, Massachusetts and Connecticut, receiving a number of awards.

Hillary Seltzer, also a Guest Artist, paints intuitively, exploring the familiar–still life, landscape, the figure and memory–in her layered works on paper incorporating collage and photo transfer. Formal training in both graphic and textile design influence her work. As well as being a fine artist herself, with work in private collections and group exhibitions in Connecticut and Rhode Island, she has been a strong supporter of local and regional artists as the founder and former owner of Central Gallery in Old Saybrook.

Gallery One’s Group Exhibition opens Tuesday, June 19th and runs through August 12th. There will be a reception on Friday, June 29th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday, noon to 5:00 pm. Please call (860) 388-0907 or visit www.galleryonect.com for additional information.

Gallery One, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, is a co-operative gallery showing the work of mid-career artists working in a wide variety of media and styles from representational to abstract in photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture and ceramics.  Gallery One was founded in 2003 and currently shares space with the Clayhouse, Old Saybrook Shopping Center, 665 Boston Post Road at Elm Street.

Penny Lane Pub to Host Party for Middlesex Hospital Fundraiser June 20

Old Saybrook, Ct. — The Penny Lane Pub on Main Street in Old Saybrook will be hosting a special party as part of the Middlesex Hospital’s “Appetite for Life,” program, on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and include one beer or wine drink and appetizers.

This is the second year for the Hospital’s Appetite for Life dining program during the month of June, which raises funds for the Center for Survivorship and Integrative Medicine (CSIM) at the Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center. Restaurants throughout Middlesex County choose a day during the month to donate a portion of their proceeds from a meal or special event to the CSIM. The CSIM offers services to cancer patients such as Reiki, reflexology, massage, acupuncture, etc., along with survivorship programs.

Tickets to the Penny Lane Pub event can be purchased online at www.middlesexhospital.org/AFL. A complete list of all Appetite for Life participating restaurants can also be found there.

Appetite for Life is sponsored in part by Middletown-ct.patch.com.

Shore Music Presents a Summer Singing Workshop for Teens Starts July 2

Shore Music in Old Saybrook presents a Summer Singing Workshop for Teens & Tweens on Mondays and Wednesdays in July

The classes featuring Broadway show tunes and top ‘pop’ selections will offer vocal coaching, solo and group singing, simple choreography and other performance skills.   Learning these skills will in turn result in increased self confidence, experience of teamwork and collaboration, and the opportunity to make new friends and have fun.

There will be a performance in costume following the final class.

The class, which will be taught by Linda Towne Clifford, will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays,  July 2 -30  from  1:30 to  4 p.m.    The cost is $230 including music and CDs.

Space is limited so prompt registration at 860-767-3240 or shoremusic@att.net is recommended.

Talking Transportation: Is This Any Way to Run The State?

Usually, I have a lot of respect for our elected officials in Hartford. But what happened in the final hours of the legislative session in recent weeks is just shocking.  You probably didn’t hear about it because there are no reporters left covering the state house for what passes for newspapers and TV news in our state, but that’s another story.

Lawmakers know they aren’t being watched and are, therefore, not accountable.  (I do commend veteran reporter Ken Dixon’s blog for the gory details of what they pulled off.)

Working late into the night, in their final hours in session, our elected officials wheeled and dealed on dozens of bills, painstakingly crafted and considered in recent months.  By 3 am they were voting on bundles of bills they had not read, some introduced at the last minute, acting like bleary-eyed college students pulling an all-nighter.  This is the government we deserve?

Amidst this annual frenzy, the Malloy administration was also trying to plug a $200 million gap in the current budget.  Unwilling to raise taxes any further, they turned to rail commuters and motorists and picked our pockets instead.  But the session had started on a better note.

Thanks to State Rep Kim Fawcett (D-Fairfield), a previously announced 4% rail fare hike to take effect 1/1/13 had gone away during the writing of the new budget.  But at the 11th hour, Malloy’s budget team put it back… not to raise money to fix our trains, but to raise funds to close the deficit.  This was less a fare increase than a tax on commuters.  And it was Governor Malloy’s idea, rubber stamped by the Democratic majority.

But worse yet, lawmakers stole $70 million from the Special Transportation Fund, also to plug that deficit hole.  That takes money raised by gasoline taxes, which was supposed to be used to fix highways and bridges, and uses it to pay for everything but those efforts.

As I have written before, the Special Transportation Fund (STF) is less a “lock box” than a slush-fund, dipped into regularly by Democrats and Republicans looking for money but reticent to raise taxes.

When he was running for office, candidate Dannel Malloy decried such moves.  He said he would call for a constitutional amendment to safeguard the STF from such pilfering.  Not only did he not introduce such an amendment, he did the same as past governors, raiding the STP and making commuters pay for his budgeting mistakes.  In my book, that makes him a hypocrite.

Months earlier, we discovered that this past January’s 4% fare increase wasn’t going to be spent on the trains, but was going into the STF.  When State Rep Gal Lavielle (R – Wilton) tried, along with 20+ lawmakers, to get introduce a bill requiring fare hikes to be spent on mass transit, she couldn’t even get it out of committee.

Commuters:  the fix is in.  Your fares (the highest of any commuter railroad in the US) are going higher.  But the money won’t be spent on improving rail service.  Those millions will just go into the STF slush-fund.  And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Of course, this is an election year.  So you might ask those running for State Representative and State Senator who want to represent you, why they allow rail fares to be used as yet another tax on commuters.

JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 21 years.  He is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, and a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct .  For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, see www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily Announces Retirement

Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook

AREAWIDE–  Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook announced Tuesday that she will not seek a new term in the Nov. 6 election, throwing open the race in the 12-town district Daily has represented for ten terms.

Daily’s decision to retire, which comes after she had formed a 2012 candidate committee earlier this year, was confirmed only one week before the Democrats district nominating convention on Monday in Essex. A former first selectwoman of Westbrook, Daily has represented the large district since 1992, defeating a series of Republican challengers by wide margins in each legislative election.

The district currently includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook. During portions of Daily’s tenure, Durham, Killingworth and Marlborough were also in the district.

Lon Seidman, an Essex resident who serves as a Democratic State Central Committee representative for the 33rd  District, said more than one prospective candidate is likely at the nominating convention where he is expected to serve as convention chairman. “We want to make sure it’s a fair and open process,” he said. Seidman, who serves on the Essex Board of Education, said he would not be a candidate for the senate seat.

One likely candidate is 36th District State Representative Phil Miller of Essex. A former first selectman of Essex, Miller won the seat representing Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam, in a February 2011 special election. A longer serving legislator in the district is State Representative Linda Orange of Colchester, who has represented Colchester and abutting towns, including East Haddam, since 1997.

District Republicans have set up a likely Aug. 14 primary contest for the party nomination after Neil Nichols of Essex, the unsuccessful GOP challenger to Daily in 2010, edged 23-year-old newcomer Art Linares of Westbrook on a 24-22 delegate vote at the party nominating convention Monday.  Nichols Tuesday wished Daily well, recalling that he and Daily had each run positive campaigns in their 2010 contest that Daily won by 3,818 votes. “I respected her enough that I concentrated on the issues,” Nichols said.

There will also be a Green Party candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot. Melissa Schlag of Haddam, an opponent of the controversial but now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that Daily supported last year. Schlag has the Green Party ballot line and is currently collecting petition signatures in an effort to qualify for public financing for her third party campaign.

See related Press Release:  Sen. Daily to Retire from Legislature upon Completion of Current Term


Sen. Daily to Retire from Legislature upon Completion of Current Term

Hartford – State Senator Eileen M. Daily (D-Westbrook) today announced her intention to retire from the General Assembly upon completion of her current term. Senator Daily has prepared a letter for political allies, supporters, and delegates to next week’s 33 rd Senatorial District nominating convention explaining she will not stand for re-election this year.

Senator Daily has represented the towns and residents of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook in the state Senate since 1993. Senator Daily is a former First Selectman of Westbrook and prior to that served on its Board of Education.

“Replacement and renewal are integral to the revitalization of any institution,” Senator Daily said. “In the past year holding office has become more physically demanding for me and it would be difficult to initiate a re-election campaign. I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, endured chemotherapy and associated treatment, and am presently recuperating from a broken ankle.”

“During the last weeks of this session I was challenged to maintain the pace required at the Capitol. As I review my 20-year tenure and consider the future I’ve settled on this plan with complete confidence that it’s time for another voice to speak for this district,” Senator Daily said. “I am also literally blessed with a loving husband and family – Jim and I eagerly look forward to spending more time with our children and grandchildren.”

While in office Senator Daily co-authored breakthrough legislation creating the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP), through which grants are available for large-scale public works projects that might be otherwise unaffordable for small towns. Senator Daily also co-authored legislation creating a fund for open space acquisition statewide, and was instrumental in preserving many acres of open space in her district.

Senator Daily identified completion of several short and long-term projects among the many gratifying instances of bringing state resources to bear in her district:

  • Sediment detention and ice control in a federal/state Salmon River Flood Control Project.
  • Inclusion of the beautiful Eight Mile River Watershed within the national Wild and Scenic River program.
  • A comprehensive, federal/state dredging project for the Westbrook harbor, announced earlier this spring, to begin next fall.
  • Acquisition of property in Haddam for new athletic and recreational fields.
  • Grants to 33rd District towns through STEAP for infrastructure improvement.

“Connecticut’s 33rd Senatorial District is home to some of the most beautiful natural treasures our state has to share and its voters have repeatedly given me the distinction and decidedly good fortune to advocate for this area all this time,” Senator Daily said. “Nevertheless the day-to-day opportunity I’ve had to serve and help constituents overshadows successful completion of these public works projects and policy initiatives.”

Senator Daily said her office remains open and available, as always, to help municipal government officials and constituents.

Free Train Rides this weekend, May 12, 13

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat is delighted to kick off its season with Neighbor Appreciation Weekend, May 12 & 13, 2012.

Neighbor Appreciation weekend includes free TRAIN and BOAT rides for residents in 5 towns along the Valley Railroad’s operating line – – Essex, Deep River, Chester, Haddam, and Old Saybrook.

  • Passengers may elect a 1-hour train ride or 2 1/2-hour train and boat ride at 11:00am12:30pm2:00pm, or a 1-hour train ride at 3:30pm.

Hop aboard this springtime adventure bursting with flora and fauna! The magnificent Connecticut River Valley that’s our own backyard, will be on full display from the multiple decks of the Becky Thatcher riverboat. Enjoy close up views of the wildlife’s natural habitat as the train traverses the tidal wetlands of Pratt Cove and Chester Creek. Treasure the historic sites including East Haddam Swing Bridge, Goodspeed Opera House, and Gillette Castle.


Diabetes Care Program Available on the Shoreline

Essex, Ct. — Local shoreline residents can take advantage of diabetes care services offered by Middlesex Hospital, at a new location at the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center, 260 Westbrook Road, Route 153, in Essex.

The Middlesex Hospital Diabetes Care Program is designed to help all people with diabetes better manage their disease, one such way is through the use creation of the list of the best CBD oil for diabetes. Services include individual counseling by a registered dietitian/certified diabetes educator about healthy eating for weight management and blood sugar control; insulin administration; taking medications; being active and managing risks and problem-solving related to diabetes.

The program is based on the national standards for diabetes self-management education programs and is recognized by the American Diabetes Association and is accredited by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA). There is a fee for the services, but Medicare and most insurances cover services for diabetes education with the customary copay.

For more information about the Middlesex Hospital Diabetes Care Program in Essex, call (860) 358-3003.


State Police Arrest Two Westbrook Men in December Killing of Alpacas at Ivoryton Farm

ESSEX— State police have arrested two Westbrook men in the December stabbing and killing of four alpacas at the Applesauce Acres Farm on Bushy Hill Road in the Ivoryton section.

Police said Kyle Rossetti, 21, of 114 Meetinghouse Road, and Shawn Malcarne, 23, of 216 East Pond Meadow Road, turned themselves in late Tuesday at the Troop F barracks in Westbrook after learning police held warrants for their arrest. Police had been investigating since the alpacas were discovered dead in a pasture area of the 99 Bushy Hill Road farm on the morning of December 23.

Rossetti was arrested and charged with third degree burglary, conspiracy to commit third degree burglary, fifth degree larceny, conspiracy to commit fifth degree larceny, animal cruelty, first degree criminal trespass, and first degree criminal mischief. Malcarne was arrested and charged with third degree burglary, conspiracy to commit third degree burglary, fifth degree larceny, conspiracy to commit fifth degree larceny, conspiracy to commit animal cruelty, and conspiracy to commit first degree criminal mischief.

Both men were held overnight at the Westbrook barracks, Rossetti on a $75,000 bond and Malcarne on a $50,000 bond. After they were presented at Middlesex Superior Court Wednesday, Judge Lisa Morgan released Malcarne on a written promise to appear at a May 18 court date. Rossetti was ordered held on a $75,000 bond for a May 8 appearance at Middlesex Superior Court.

Police said the incident remains under investigation by Essex Resident State Trooper Kerry Taylor, and Detective Scott Wisner and Sgt. Joseph Quilty of the Central District Major Crimes Unit, “with the possibility of more arrests.”

The Ivoryton farm is owned by George MacLaughlin and his daughter, Sara. The MacLaughlins, who at times have had more than a dozen alpacas at the farm, had offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for killing the animals.

Courtney Supports Effort to Dredge Westbrook Harbor with a $500,000 Federal “Earmark”

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop (on left) with Cong. Joe Courtney and State Senator Eileen Daily celebrating new harbor dredging dollars

“This earmark had wings,” called out an excited Rives Potts at the ceremony to celebrate Congressman Courtney’s $500,000 federal earmark to dredge Westbrook Harbor. The recent ceremony was held at Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook. Potts, the Vice President and General Manager of the marina, will directly benefit from the new dredging of Westbrook harbor.

The Pilots Point Marina has a public, gas dock right in the harbor, and the deeper the harbor is dredged, the greater the number of deep draft vessels can be served by the marina’s gas dock.

Pilots Point Manager Rives Potts gives thumbs up to new federal earmark

In addition to helping a local marina, Town of Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop, who chaired the Courtney gathering, saw many other economic development benefits to the Town of Westbrook, when it has a deeper harbor.  The money spent by boat-arriving visitors will help the town “in many, many ways,” Bishop said. He mentioned specifically restaurants, food markets and other local businesses.

An interesting sidelight to the earmark that Courtney ultimately directed to Westbrook is that originally these earmark monies had been directed to new projects in neighboring Old Saybrook. However, with the agreement of Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, who attend the Courtney event, the monies were “reprogrammed,” so that they could be spent on dredging Westbrook’s Harbor instead.

With Senator Daily in center, and sporting a broken ankle, are supporters of the $500,000 federal earmark

Many Old Saybrook boat owners moor their vessels in Westbrook Harbor, so the argument can easily be made that dredging Westbrook Harbor means helping Old Saybrook boaters as well as those of Westbrook.

As for the timetable of dredging Westbrook Harbor, dredging will not actually begin until October of this year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have overall supervision of the project, and the Corps’ dredger boat, “Currituck,” will be used.  The performance of the actual work will be done by a local Westbrook contractor, Patchogue River Dredging.

According to a number of persons at the ceremony, Westbrook Harbor was last dredged in the early nineties.

$1.1 in state grants for dredging from State Senator Daley 

Although the recent celebration of the Courtney- sponsored $500,000 federal earmark was certainly appropriate, Westbrook State Senator Eileen Daily has already arranged a total of $1,100,000 in Connecticut state funds for dredging Westbrook Harbor.

These state funds were appropriated in two separate implements by the Senator, one for $350,000, and the second for $750,000. Considering the magnitude of these amounts, the Senator must be considered the leader in getting the monies necessary for dredging Westbrook Harbor.

In the Connecticut state legislature Daily holds the powerful position of Chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. From this position, especially in the finance area, she can wield considerable power in the choice of funding state projects, as she certain has appeared to have done in the case of dredging Westbrook Harbor.

On hand to celebrate are Westbrook's Noel Bishops, State Rep. Jim Crawford, Cong. Courtney and Pilots Point's Rives Potts

As for the Courtney earmark Daily said, “Congressman Courtney’s federal grant will serve a very useful purpose in the Westbrook Harbor dredging project.” However, when the history of dredging of Westbrook Harbor is written, most likely Daily’s name will be mentioned as the project’s leading fund raiser.

Getting a federal earmark entails a lot of effort

In his remarks at the ceremony Congressman Courtney noted that the official name of the federal earmark program is the “Restore America’s Prominence Act,” and its grants are called “RAPA grants.” Courtney confirmed that getting these grants is an extremely competitive process among the nation’s Members of Congress.

Ed O’Donnell, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s representative at the event said, “Without the dogged help of Congressman Courtney, this money would have gone elsewhere.” A number of others at the Courtney event characterized the Congressman as being. “a dogged sponsor, absolutely unrelenting” in his efforts to obtain the earmark grant.

First Crossing Party of Chester-Ha​dlyme Ferry

Conn DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker hosted a “First Crossing” party on the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry Saturday afternoon for local residents who helped raise public support for the ferry last summer when the ferry service was slated to be closed as part of the state’s austerity program.

After the state decided to fund continued ferry service for two more years, Commissioner Redeker formed a joint state-local task force to work on ways to reduce the ferry’s operating deficit by increasing ridership and increasing revenues.

Standing with Commissioner Redeker are Hadlyme members of the task force: left to right – Susannah Griffin, Wendy Dow Miller, Curtis Michael, and Dr. Matthew Elgart.

Despite temperatures hovering in the low 40s and a damp wind gusting up the Connecticut River, more than 70 local residents from both sides of the river turned out to ride the on the Selden III  and celebrate the start of another year of ferry service between Chester and Hadlyme. Daily ferry service officially started on Sunday April 1, continuing 243 years of ferry service first started by Jonathan Warner in 1769.

Chester Airport, the Shoreline’s Gateway to the Sky

The Chester Airport is thriving on a hilltop

Chester Airport in a sense is already up in the sky. The airport is located at the top of a 415 foot prominence, towering over the surrounding landscape below.  The airport’s street address is 59 Winthrop Road in Chester, and it is located a few miles west of Exit 6, off Route 9.

Chester Airport of course provides routine aviation services for the takeoffs and landings of general aviation aircraft. The airport has a single 2700 foot long runway and has personnel on duty to greet incoming aircraft during normal daylight business hours.

Chester-based pilot Bruno Kitka takes off in his Piper Seneca bound for Schenectady

Also, like many general aviation airports, Chester Airport offers air taxi service for traveling business persons and vacationers. Frequent destinations are to New York and Boston, and to vacation spots such as Nantucket, Bar Harbor, and even the Caribbean.

These chartered, general aviation flights are provided by Chester Charter, Inc., which can be reached at 860-526-4321, or at www.chester-charter.com.  Still handling these routine airport services is only one of the services that Chester Airport provides to the area’s aviation community.

The “Discovery flights” at Chester Airport

The airport is also the jumping off place for aerial sightseeing tours of the beautiful Connecticut River valley, courtesy of Chester Charter. To get you started in the air, the company offers a ½ hour “Discovery flight.” The cost of this introductory flight is about what you would pay for a dinner for two at a local Chester restaurant.

Chester Charter also offers more extensive air passenger rides for one to four passengers. Cessna aircraft are used for these flights, and the cost comes to about $150 per passenger on a four passenger flight.  The taking of aerial photography is a favorite on these flights.

Then, if you want to bring out the Red Baron in you,* there is the unique option of flying in the open cockpit of a Boeing  Stearman, a vintage, 1941 biplane.  This exhilarating flying experience is priced accordingly, and we shall leave it at that.  The “de rigueur” outfit for a flight in the Stearman are goggles and a leather hat that covers the ears.

Taking up water-filled balloons to drop on the ground below, from the open cockpit of the Stearman, is not allowed, as tempting as that may be.

Learn to fly at Chester Charter flight school

Beyond the thrills of airplane rides and aerial sightseeing, Chester Airport also offers serious flight training courses at the Chester Charter Flight School.  Chester Charter partner, Jean Dow, is at the airport to help would-be pilots started in learning to fly.

Chester Charter partner Jean Dow says, "Learn to fly here"

Flight training at the flight school includes a ground school with eleven hours of instruction. Chester Carter uses Jappesen products for its ground school, and miscellaneous materials, such as charts and directories are provided to flight school students as well.

Chester Charter flight school is also a Cessna flight training center, and it uses Cessna 152’s and Cessna 172’s aircraft.

The amount of instructional flying time in the air, required to become an FAA certified pilot, varies immensely. Although the minimum air time required by the FAA is as low as 40 hours (20 in flight hours with an instructor and 20 in flight hours solo), this is the bare minimum required. Also, it is rarely appropriate for student flyers.

In fact, the national average for the completion of FAA flight training is 72.8 hours in the air, well above the 40 hour FAA minimum.

As for the cost of tuition at the flight school it is more affordable than some might think.  By the time you are certified as a pilot, it is certainly much, much less than a single year of college tuition costs these days. And you have learned to fly!

Maintaining your aircraft at Chester Airport

In addition to teaching students to fly at the Chester Airport, there is an extensive aircraft maintenance facility at the airport called the Chester Charter Airplane Factory. The Factory is essentially an aircraft maintenance and service facility, which is accessible both to aircraft permanently based at the Chester Airport, as well as transient aircraft.

The Factory also hosts Stellar Aironics, which services and repairs aircraft radar and ground positioning systems.

Renting hangar space for aircraft

The Chester Airport also rents hangar space on a long term basis, as well as short term space for transient aircraft. There is interior space in the long line of hangars down the airport’s single runway, as well as “tie down” spaces in the open air on the tarmac.  The average in-hangar rental for a two-seated aircraft is $250 a month, according to James A. Olson, the Airport Manager.

Indoor storage of aircraft at Chester Airport

Olson also holds the title of Corporate Vice President of Aviation of Whelen Engineering Company, Inc. He says that, “Since the airport’s rejuvenation, after the Whelen family bought the airport 20 years ago, the place has been thriving.” “Presently, 100 plus airplanes are based here,” he notes, adding that “there is a long waiting list for an open spot in one of the airport’s hangars.”

As for the size of aircraft that can land and take off at Chester Airport, the airport’s helicopter pad is big enough to accommodate large helicopters. Also, it can handle the take offs and landings of large, multi-engine aircraft as well. However, Chester Airport, obviously, cannot accommodate modern day, jumbo jets.

The typical pilots who fly the planes at Chester Airport

Airport Manager Olson has some unique insights into the pilots who fly out of Chester Airport. “Generally, they fly smaller planes,” he says, “predominately on weekends.” Also, favored destinations of the weekend flyers are smaller airports that have a good restaurant nearby.

Chester-based pilot Bruno Kitka with his Piper Seneca

“They know where the good restaurants are,” Olson says in admiration.   Once they have landed and eaten at their restaurants of choice, the pilots fly back home to Chester. Computing the cost of this one day flight plan can be as much as $200, or more, mainly because of the high cost of aviation fuel to make the trip. The lunch itself is a minor expense.

Just come out and watch the planes

Airport Manager Olson without reservation says, “Visitors are always welcome at the airport.” “It is good to see people satisfying their aviation curiosity,” he says with a smile. As for his own flying experience Olson says, “I started flying, when I was 13 years old.”

Airport Manager Jim Olson, started flying at age 13

Chester Airport is indeed a wonderful place to visit on a clear, clear sunny day, even if you have absolutely no intention of flying anywhere. Just go out and lean on the sparkling white fence, next to the runway, and watch the aircraft take off and land.

People frequently speak of “the wonder of flight.” Evidence of that wonder is in our midst at Chester Airport.


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­*The “Red Baron” was the German ace, Manfred von Richthofen, who had 80 confirmed kills in World War 1. The Red Baron himself was killed near the end of the war.

Con Brio will “Make a Joyful Noise” April 29

On April 29, 2012, Con Brio, the Connecticut shoreline’s renowned all-auditioned chorus, will “make a joyful noise,” as Leonard Bernstein quotes the psalmist in his 1965 Chichester Psalms, the concert’s feature work.  Under the direction of Dr. Stephen Bruce, accompanied by Assistant Director Susan Saltus and full orchestra, Con Brio will make a “joyful noise” as it celebrates its fifteenth anniversary as a chorus.  The program is rounded out with other “B’s,” Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and the Beatles, festive pieces by Vivaldi and Handel, and a number of lighter pieces the chorus will also be performing in its upcoming concert tour to southern Spain.

Bernstein’s popular work, which the chorus will sing in its original Hebrew, was commissioned by the Cathedral at Chichester, England but first performed in New York. Described as “affirmative and at times serene,” the work is comprised of three entire psalms and portions of three others. The music moves through a range of emotions: joy, plaintive anguish and at times anger, unsettledness, and, finally, hope.

The first movement, because of its complex rhythms and repeated use of the dissonant parallel seventh (the seventh interval having numerological importance in the Judeo-Christian tradition), is noted for its musical difficulty, especially for tenors.

Twelve-year-old Erik Olsen, student at the Middle School in Old Saybrook, will be the featured soloist

The second movement, based on Psalms 2 and 23, was written as if to be the young voice of David. Twelve-year-old Erik Olsen, student at the Middle School in Old Saybrook and alto in the boys’ choir of Trinity Church in New Haven, will be the featured soloist, accompanied by harp.  Both of Erik’s parents, Jennifer and David Olsen, have sung with Con Brio as chorus members and soloists. The men’s theme in this second section was adapted from material that Bernstein cut from West Side Story.

After a complex and unsettled instrumental prelude, the third movement resolves into a gentle chorale.  The last words of the piece serenely proclaim: “Together in Unity.”

This is only the beginning of the concert!  Bach’s unfinished Cantata 50, “Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft,” jubilantly proclaims “now come the power that heals us”; Beethoven’s “Hallelujah,” the final movement from Christ on the Mount of Olives, his only oratorio, is a favorite of audiences everywhere; and Brahms’ Motet on Psalm 51 is a sublime example of beautiful choral writing.

Vivaldi’s “Domine ad adjuvandum me festina,” buoyantly asks, “Lord, make haste to help me.” Handel’s “Zadok the Priest”, one of his most popular and majestic of anthems, is based upon the biblical text of the anointing of Solomon as king.  This anthem, composed for the coronation of George II in 1727, has been performed at every British coronation since.

Looking forward to Con Brio’s upcoming concert tour this spring in southern Spain is “Amor Que Une Con El Amor Grandisimo” (“Love that Unites Me with the Greatest Love).”

On the lighter side is a collection of pieces that Con Brio will also share with its Spanish audiences: a “Swingle Singers’” version of a Bach fugue; “Gabriel,” a rousing gospel tune;  John Rutter’s rollicking “When the Saints Go Marching In;” and a rendition of the Beatles’ hit, “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

Don’t miss this one.  Tell your friends.  Bring your friends.  Celebrate with joyful noise!

Tickets:  $25, available through www.conbrio.org, by calling 860 526 5399 or from any Con Brio member.

Location:  Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme, Ct., 4PM

Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law Elects Eric W. Callahan as Director

Eric W. Callahan

Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law recently announced that Eric W. Callahan has been elected as a Director of the firm.  Attorney Callahan concentrates in the areas of business law, municipal law, commercial transactions and real estate law. He also practices appellate law, and has successfully briefed and argued appeals before the Connecticut Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme Court. Attorney Callahan has been admitted to practice as an attorney in the States of Connecticut and New York, as well as in the United States District Court – District of Connecticut.

Attorney Callahan received his B.S. in Finance from the University of Connecticut and his J.D., cum laude, from Western New England College School of Law. During law school, Attorney Callahan performed a judicial externship at the Connecticut Appellate Court for the Honorable Barry R. Schaller, and was also a note editor for the Western New England Law Review. He is a member of the American, Connecticut and New London County Bar Associations.

Attorney Callahan resides in Essex, Connecticut, with his wife, Brooke, and daughter, Grace.  He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, and is also a member of the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce.

Suisman Shapiro is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut, serving the community for over 70 years with a wide range of legal services.

Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law is located at 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591, New London CT 06320
Phone: (860) 442-4416

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme, Busy With Probate Cases, and Non-Probate Matters as Well

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme has immense responsibilities, as a sitting judge of probate for nine towns in eastern Connecticut. Not only is he the judicial officer who determines the validity of Wills for probate in these towns, he also has many other judicial tasks that are unrelated to probating Wills.

The responsibilities of Judge Lomme not related to Wills include: 1) appointing guardians for persons with intellectual disabilities, 2) approving sterilization and placement of persons with intellectual disabilities, and 3) appointing conservators for persons found incapable of caring for themselves.

Also, Judge Lomme has the power to: 1) remove unfit parents as guardians of their children, 2) hear claims of paternity of unwed fathers, 3) terminate the parental rights of parents, who cannot fulfill their parental responsibilities, and 4) grant adoptions.

In addition, Judge Lomme is empowered to: 1) grant changes of name, 2) approve or disapprove the marriage of persons under the age of 16, and 3) assist persons in obtaining passports, which he usually refers to U.S. Post Office down the street.

Also, in cases of deceased persons, who died without a Will, Judge Lomme is charged with the responsibility of apportioning the assets of the deceased in accordance with statutory requirements.

The nine towns in Judge Lomme’s judicial district

The nine towns in Judge Lomme’s judicial district are: Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook, and his suite of offices are located on the second floor of the Town Hall of Old Saybrook.

To assist him in exercising his judicial responsibilities, Judge Lomme has a staff of nine, lead by his Chief Clerk, Valerie Shickel. To adjudicate the matters under his jurisdiction, Judge Lomme says that he holds on average from 15 to 20 hearings a week. Hearings are held in a room across the hall from his main suite of offices, and they are open to the public. In conducting the hearings Judge Lomme wears a suit and not a judge’s robe.

Judge of Probate offices in Old Saybrook Town Hall

In many cases there are fees involved, when a party appears before Judge Lomme, most especially in probate matters. In some cases these fees can run into thousands of dollars. These fees are paid with the application regardless of whether there is a hearing. Usually the fees in matters involving Wills are covered by taking the money from the estate of the deceased. Also, the monies collected, obviously, go to the state and not to the judge.

The annual salary of Judge Lomme as a Judge of Probate is $110,000 a year.

The qualifications of Judge of Probate Lomme

Judge Lomme brings an extensive background to the position of Judge of Probate. Elected in 2010, Judge Lomme has over thirty years of experience in practicing law. He also holds a Juris Doctor degree from Quinnipiac University, and he is a graduate of Eastern Connecticut College.

When characterizing his present position as a Judge of Probate over nine towns in Connecticut, Judge Lomme says, “I have a pretty full plate.”

Even though judges of the Superior Court, the Appellate Courts and the Supreme Court of the state are prohibited from practicing law for private clients, this is not the case for the state’s Judges of Probate.

Because of his very full plate as a Judge of Probate, even though he knew that he could continue to practice law, Judge Loome has radically reduced his private law practice. He has resigned as a partner of his law firm and now holds the less demanding position as Of Counsel. Also, he has reduced the number of clients that he has at his firm, from 150 to 10, according to the judge. However, many of the best probate attorneys tampa want to help you with will related issues. There are loads of probate lawyers though, so don’t worry if you feel that the location of these lawyers are too far away. If you are in need of a probate lawyer then you’ll easily be able to find them, for one, you can just go on google to help you find one. So for example, if you live in New York you would just put something like New york probate lawyer and you would easily be able to find someone who could help you.

Representing a “high profile” client in Essex

Judge Lomme is presently representing a “high profile” private client in the Town of Essex. The client, a New York City developer, is seeking to develop 11 acres of land on Foxboro Point. Foxboro Point is considered one of the most beautiful areas in Essex, and the Judge’s client is seeking to build seven new homes on a parcel, which is located directly on North Cove of the Connecticut River.

Judge Lomme representing Foxboro Point developer at hearing

In his capacity as a private lawyer representing the developer, Judge Lomme to date has appeared at public hearings of both the Essex Inland Waterways and Watercourses Commission and the Essex Planning Commission.

The Inland Waterways Commission held that the developer’s plans were outside its jurisdiction. However, there could be opposition to the Foxboro Point development at the Planning Commission hearing, coming up on March 8. Should this opposition occur, most likely, Judge Lomme as private counsel would seek to refute it.

Judge Lomme will also accompany the developer’s Civil Engineer, Joe Wren, as he conducts a “site walk” for the members of the Planning Commission on March 3, as Wren did previously for the members of the Inland Wetlands Commission.

Judge Lomme characterizes his assignment for the private developer at Foxboro Point as “zoning work.” As such he deems it totally appropriate for a Judge of Probate to assume a private counsel’s role. Also he says that this kind of work “works out well, because I can do it nights and weekends.”

Stating that he has “a heightened sensitivity to conflicts,” Judge Lomme says that he would recuse himself, if a member of the Essex Planning Commission came before his court during the Foxboro Point development’s approval process. He also says he would expect a member of the Planning Commission to do the same, and not vote on the Foxboro Point project, if they had a case before his court.

Some observers feel that it is only a question of time before Judges of Probate will no longer be permitted to practice in law for private clients, in addition to their official judicial duties. However, for the present it is permissible under the law. In fact, Judge Lomme estimates that as many as 80% of the Judges of Probate in the state represent private clients in addition to their judicial duties.

Middlesex Hospital Moves Ahead with Plans to Move Essex’s Shoreline Clinic to Westbrook

New Westbrook location of Clinic will be on road to Tanger Outlet Center

Middlesex Hospital is moving, full speed ahead, to move the present Shoreline Emergency Clinic in Essex to a new location just off I-95 in Westbrook. The move could take place as early as October 2013, according to the hospital’s Senior Vice President, Henry Evert.

Evert said of the present Essex facility, “We are totally out of space.” The new Westbrook location will be on Flat Rock Place, just down from the Tanger Outlets. It will be on the left hand side of the road, when approaching the shopping mall.  Presently, the site is just woods.

According to Evert a “purchase and sales” agreement has already been signed for the new 40,000 square foot site, which is double the size of the present Essex facility. The hospital’ senior vice president also said that Westbrook town authorities view the new development “very favorably,” and that there will be a meeting about the project at a Westbrook Planning and Zoning Commission on February 28.

Evert has also spoken before the Westbrook Chamber of Commerce about the new medical facility coming to Westbrook. He declined to say what the hospital paid for its new property, other than to say it was “a lot of money.”

The Shoreline Medical Center leaving Essex in 2013

Evert said that the new emergency clinic, off I-95 at Exit 65, “would provide better access to medical care for the shoreline communities.” He said that a picture of the new facility is not yet available. “We are still working on it,” he said.

He added that “as the population has grown in surrounding towns over the last 40 years, it made more sense to relocate the facility off I-95 to improve access to healthcare services for a rapidly increasing number of people in the shoreline area.”

Marshview Gallery Artist of the Month, Mimi Chiang

Mimi Chiang has been selected as the Estuary Council of Seniors March Artist of the Month.  The walls of our Marshview Gallery will be brightened with Mimi’s watercolor paintings.  Her love for art bloomed later in life, though her study began in high school with her art teacher and future husband, Chien Fei Chiang.  Over the years, as she watched and admired her husband’s art evolve, her own interest grew.  Mimi earned a 2011 first prize award from the Essex Art Association.

Chiang resides in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.  It is with great pride that she exhibits her art locally, trusting that her husband and long time instructor continues to observe in spirit.

A reception to honor Mimi and feature her work will be held on Friday, March 9, from 5-7:00 pm.  Everyone is welcome.

North Cove Outfitters Going “Out of Business” After Almost a Quarter Century in Old Saybrook

No secret, North Cove Outfitters going out of business

North Cove Outfitters in Old Saybrook has been a landmark store on Main Street for hunters, fisherman and campers for nearly a quarter century. Now, it is closing its doors with one big final sale.

“I’m very sad, I will miss a lot of my friends,” said Kathy Fowler, who has worked at the store for 23 years. Closing the store she said “will be a big loss for the town, especially Main Street.”

However, in its final “going out of business” sale, the store is not exactly giving things away. In fact, on a recent visit it appeared that most items were a modest 10% off, or at most 30% off.  As one bargain hunter who was looking around noted, “Ten percent is nothing.”

"Ten percent is nothing," said one shopper

Store owner Norman Cavallaro, who owns the store with his partner, Edward Carney, was asked about the prevalence of sale items that were only 10% off. In response he promised that as the “going out business” sale progresses, prices will get lower and lower, “even as low as 50%.”

Sweaters for 30% to 50% off

Cavallaro said that one alternative to the extended “going out of business” sale, which could last as long as six to eight weeks, could have been to close the doors immediately, and sell all of the store’s merchandize “to a jobber.”

“But we did not want to go away in the middle of the night,” he said, “That is not the legacy that we want to leave. We did not want to do that,” Cavallaro said. We wanted “to try to keep employees on the store’s payroll as long as possible.”“It is not about me,” he said.

Lots of people looking for bargains

When asked which were the most popular items being sold at the “going out of business” sale, Cavallaro mentioned clothing and even some canoes. Also, the store has “always been selling a lot of firearms,” he said. The store’s extensive inventory includes, “guns, rifles, shot guns and pistols, and it has always been a strong line,” he noted.

North Cove Outfitters received many awards

Cavallaro also mentioned with pride the many awards that North Cove Outfitters had received over the years. He said the store was judged as the “Best Outdoor Store in the Country” by Backpacker Magazine. Also, it was considered the “Best Retailer of the Year” by Canoe & Kayak Magazine. In addition, the store received a “Recognition” plaque from the Old Saybrook Land Trust.

The store owner then brought up again the store’s employees, some forty of them in all, who will be losing their jobs because of the store’s closing. “I love their professionalism,” he said, noting the number of employees who have worked for many years at North Cove Outfitters, which is still located for awhile longer at 75 Main Street in Old Saybrook.

As for what has been the store’s secret of success over the years, Cavallaro had this to say, “As an owner you yourself don’t have to be smart, you just have to hire smart people.”

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna had this to say about the closing of North Cove Outfitters, “The residents of Old Saybrook are truly sorry to see North Cove Outfitters close its doors. The store has made a wonderfully iconic contribution to our community over more than two decades. Our town is now going to strive very hard to find a replace of equal quality.”

Eagles put on a Show at the River Museum’s “Eagle Watch Boat Tour” on the Connecticut River

Boat tour vessel, the 65 foot "Project Oceanology"

The eagles must have known we were coming! Soaring in the sky high above the decks of Project Oceanology’s 65 foot research vessel, was a solitary bald eagle, circling slowly, already in view. So began, on a recent Friday afternoon, another Connecticut River Museum “Eagle Watch Boat Tour,” pulling away from the museum’s Essex docks on the Connecticut River.

Soon after departure the passengers on board began to spot even more eagles. Some were in pairs and others were single eagles drifting lazily in the sky above. Later in the tour, there would be a final triumphal sighting on Nott Island of a female bald eagle, peeking out of her nest, patiently waiting for her eggs to hatch into baby eaglets.

This afternoon was made for eagle watching, with an unclouded sky, and unseasonably warm temperatures. However, once the vessel got underway, and out into the middle of the river, it was pretty chilly, notwithstanding the warmth on the land.

Passage ways are safe for passengers

39 paying passengers were on board for the tour, designed to spend an hour and a half in search of bald eagles. Even at a ticket cost of forty dollars per person, all those on board truly got their monies worth.

At the microphone the museum’s Naturalist and Educator Bill Yule was at first apologetic that there might be too few eagles to see during the tour. It had been such a warm winter, so perhaps the eagles might not have needed to fly south to find ice free, fishing waters. However, he had no need to apologize. There were plenty of bald eagles to be seen in the sky on this bright, bright day.

Bill Yule, master spotter of the eagles               

Bill Yule is the “Eagle Watch Boat Tour,” Master of Ceremonies. At times he is assisted by Project Oceanology’s Chris Dodge and Allyce Irwin, but Yule handles most of the speaking chores himself.

Boat Tour Moderator Bill Yule at the mike

Early on in the trip, Yule set out an eagle spotting system to help the passengers on board find the eagles in the sky. If an eagle were spotted dead ahead, off the bow of the boat, Yule would call this location “twelve o’clock.” If an eagle was spotted dead astern, it would be “six o’clock.”

Similarly, if an eagle was spotted mid ships at the right side of the vessel, it would be “three o’clock,” and mid ships on the left side of the ship, it would be “nine o’clock.” It was a simple system, but throughout the voyage, it helped guide the on-board eagle watchers to find their visual prey.

Although a few of the passengers needed only the naked eye to enjoy the sight of the eagles, most of the passengers made use of long range cameras, or powerful binoculars, to see the birds. Binoculars, incidentally, were provided at no extra charge to passengers.

DDT and the survival of the eagles

At about midpoint of the boat tour, Yule became very serious. He said that not too many years ago, “the eagles were almost gone from the river.” The reason was that that back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, DDT was widely used as a pesticide, and this pesticide in turn made its way into the waters of the Connecticut River.

The DDT was then ingested by the fish in the river, the very fish that was the staple of the eagle’s diet. DDT’s effect on the eagles turned out to be severe. It made the shells of the eggs of the female eagles too brittle to sheath properly embryonic baby eaglets. Unable to reproduce live birds, the eagle population declined rapidly, even to the point where eagles were put on the nation’s endangered species list.

However, in 1972 DDT was banned, and as a result no longer was DDT in the diet of the fish that the eagles consumed in the river. Able to reproduce again, the eagle population increased along the river; the shells of the mothers now strong enough to hold baby eaglets until their normal birth.

Ultimately, it reached the point where Bill Yule could say the other day, “The eagles have now come back to the river in abundance.”

“It is truly an environmental success story,” he said with a tone of triumph in his voice.

Also a bit of sightseeing on the boat tour

Yule occasionally diverted his attention from eagle spotting to becoming a Connecticut River tour guide.  “We are now passing Selden Island,” he said at one point. “It is the largest island in the State of Connecticut. There are four campsites on the island, and there is an old forge there as well.” He also told the stories of Joshua Rock, the Mount St. John School for Boys and the Gillette Castle.

While the eagle spotting by the passengers was still in full force, Yule mentioned a few eagle statistics. For one, they can fly as high as 12,000 feet in the sky. To reach these heights they take advantage of rising, warm air currents from the land. Also, according to Yule, eagles can fly at up to 50 miles an hour.

Continuing, Yule said that it is only after it reaches the age of four that an eagle’s tail turns white. Also, eagles are not particularly friendly to other birds, and they have been known to take fish out of the mouths of sea gulls.

In addition, eagles mate for life, although if one of the pair dies they quickly find a replacement. Also, a mother eagle sits on her eggs for 35 days before the eggs hatch, and while she is nesting, her mate brings fish for her to eat.

After they are born, the eagle mother will feed her young for several months, and ten weeks after birth the young eagles will learn to fly.  However, eagles are not genetically born to know how to fish, Yule said. It is a skill that they must learn on their own during their first year of life.

Since many young eagles cannot learn to fend for themselves, as many as 50 percent die in their first year of their lives, according to Yule.

The egg-laying season for eagles in the Essex area, this year is from February 2 to 23, Yule said. By June all of the eagles will be gone from our part of the river, having left for cooler waters up north.

                    Eagle watchers were well pleased with the tour

Among the passengers on this “Eagle Watch Boat Tour,” not a single one said they were disappointed with the tour.

Lee Bradley of Newington said, “I thoroughly enjoyed it,” and “the narration was very, very good.” For her part Sandy Clark of Manchester found the trip, “very interesting,” and “it was very good at showing us everything.” Lorraine Trinks of East Hartford simply called the boat tour, “fabulous.”

Close up of a Bald Eagle watcher

The Eagle Watch Boat Tours, sail only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and they began the 2012 season on February 3. The Friday boat tours will continue sailing until March 9, and the Saturday and Sunday boat tours, will continue sailing until March 10 and 11, respectively.

As for departure times, the Friday boat tours cast off from the museum’s docks at 1:00 p.m., and the Saturday and Sunday boat tours depart on both days at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

We shall give Bill Yule the final word on the Eagle Watch Boat Tour. As he puts it, “It is better than any other method to get up close and personal with our national symbol, the Bald Eagle.”

Bill Yule enjoying the ride home

Talking Transportation: Next Stop Penn Station?

There’s discussion again about bringing some Metro-North trains directly from Connecticut into New York City’s Penn Station.  But will it happen?

As with many good ideas that seem so easy, this one also has been studied thoroughly and found to be problematic in a number of respects.  Governor Rell floated the idea in 2007 but it went nowhere, aside from an experiment by NJ Transit to run trains from New Haven to the Meadowlands.

Here are the reasons that daily commuter service isn’t yet possible:

INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT:  As any commuter on Metro-North can tell you, we don’t have enough seats for existing service to Grand Central let alone expansion to new stations.  It’s standing room only in rush hour and on weekends.

ELECTRICITY:  Our existing fleet of MU cars cannot take a left turn at New Rochelle and head over the Hells Gate Bridge onto Long Island, then hang a right, in through the tunnels into Penn Station.  The old cars’ overhead power catenary system operates under a different voltage than Amtrak.  And in third rail territory on Long Island, even our new M8 cars use a different kind of shoe to contact the third-rail power source.  The 2009 experimental direct train from Connecticut to Giants Stadium in New Jersey was actually run with New Jersey transit railroad equipment which was only available because it was on weekends.

CAPACITY:  Even if we had the cars with the right electrical equipment to make it over the Hells Gate Bridge and through the tunnels to Penn Station, there’s no room in the station… that the station is full-up serving Amtrak, the Long Island Railroad and NJ transit.  If and when the $6.3 billion East Side Access project bringing some Long Island Railroad trains into Grand Central is completed (many years from now), says the MTA, there might be room for Metro-North trains to access Penn Station.

CUT LIRR SERVICE?        Recently the MTA has hinted they might run some Metro-North trains into Penn Station, but it would have to cut Long Island RR service.  You can imagine the push-back that got, pitting one set of commuters against another.  (See more on our Facebook page).

Whatever the decision, it won’t be made by us here in Connecticut.  Once again, Connecticut is being told by the New York MTA what our transportation future will be.  Connecticut still has no say in the matter… not even a voting seat at the table, either on the MTA or the Metro-North boards.

Connecticut may be the MTA’s largest customer, hired by CDOT to operate Metro-North trains in our state, but when it comes to important decisions, like expanding rail service to Penn Station, the MTA is clearly in control.

Years ago Governor Rell acknowledged the inequity in this position, and promised to fight for a seat on the MTA board.  But nothing happened.  Nor has Governor Malloy said anything about this unfairness.

So, just why is a New York agency still in charge of Connecticut’s transportation future?

JIM CAMERON has been a Darien resident for 21 years.  He is Chairman of the Metro-North Commuter Council, a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM, but the opinions expressed here are only his own.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct

Obituary: Kim Lanice Beard 02/02/12 Service 02/17/12

Kim Lanice Beard, 54, a resident of Essex, Conn., passed away peacefully in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 surrounded by the love of family, friends, and compassionate caregivers.

Kim fought a courageous 14-month battle with cancer that never touched her amazing spirit.  Born on Dec. 21, 1957 in Odessa, Texas, her early years were spent in Crane, Andrews, and Odessa, Texas, where she was an award-winning twirler, middle school majorette and early high school cheerleader.  She graduated from Odessa High School, class of ’76, where she also enjoyed cheerleading.

Post graduation, Kim traveled around the world before living most of her life in Texas spending many years in Odessa and Sonora where she was a devoted wife and mother.  She later moved to the Dallas area before relocating to Connecticut in 2003.

Professionally, Kim enjoyed careers as a travel agent, an international flight attendant, and in residential real estate, and the mortgage industry.  She most recently worked as part of a wealth management team, The Oakley-Wing Group, at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.  On weekends, she enjoyed helping out at Essex Coffee & Tea.

Kim achieved a level of fulfillment that most only aspire to.  Living among beloved friends and colleagues in picturesque historic New England, she likened it to being on a never-ending vacation.  She cherished spending as much time as possible with family, particularly her son, who was especially dear to her heart.

Kim was a supportive volunteer with the Child and Family Agency and was a dedicated and faithful member of First Church of Christ (Congregational) in Old Saybrook, Conn., where she was a Deacon-elect.  An avid sports fan, Kim also actively enjoyed the outdoors, loving  golf, tennis, fly fishing, kayaking, and most of all, her true a passion for sailing.

Kim was known for her Southern hospitality, always exuding a bright smile and perpetual friendliness that warmed the workplace and lit up the room wherever she went.  Her sweet spirit and easy-going nature truly touched the hearts of everyone who knew her.  Her strength, perseverance, and grace will continue to be an inspiration to all who knew and loved her.
Special thanks to the nurses and staff at Signature Pointe in Dallas, Texas, Odyssey Hospice, and Siobhan Kehoe M.D.  for compassionate care above and beyond, and dear friends, colleagues, and family from Connecticut to Texas for remarkable and unwavering support.

Preceded in death by her step-father, Robert Ward of Argyle, Texas, she is survived by her son Ronnie Hooper of Odessa, Texas, mother Joyce Ward of Argyle, Texas, father Bonnie Beard and wife Tinne of Gun Barrel City, Texas, sister Revis Allcorn and husband Steve of Highland Village, Texas, sister Jennifer Lewis and  husband Kevin of Flower Mound, Texas, brother Robert Ward II and wife Jennifer of McKinney, Texas, and  nieces and nephews Brittany Allcorn of Addison, Texas, Chris Allcorn of Austin, Texas, Lauren, Luke, and Landon Lewis of Flower Mound, Texas, and Lilly, Camille, and Anabelle Ward of McKinney, Texas.

A memorial service was held Monday, Feb. 6, at First Baptist Church of Argyle, Texas.  Arrangements are being handled by Dalton & Son’s Flower Mound Family Funeral Home.  Online condolences may be made at www.daltonandsonfuneralhome.com.
An additional memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at First Church of Christ (Congregational) in Old Saybrook, Conn.

Memorials may be made to American Cancer Society, Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut  www.cfapress.org or to a charity of your choice.

Winter Frolic at the Lyme Art Association

In the tradition of their founding members, the lively Lyme Impressionists, The Lyme Art Association is once again inviting you to a magical Winter Frolic Saturday, February 4 from 8:00 p.m. to  midnight.  This year the historic gallery will transport you to a Tyrolean winter wonderland – a scene straight from the Alps!  Once again, the galleries have been transformed under the design direction of artist Camomile Hixon – a scene sure to delight.  Join the fun for an unforgettable evening of dancing and merriment, featuring the sound of  String Theory.

Come inside to warm up against the chill and enjoy an array of delectable hors d’oeuvres, desserts and drinks, all with a European flair. Special thanks to our in-kind sponsors: Dagmar’s Desserts, Fromage Fine Foods, Restaurant L&E and French 75 Bar, and The Chocolate Shell.

A stunning selection of paintings by our very own Elected Artists will be available for bid during the evening’s Silent Auction.  Catch a sneak preview of Auction items on our website, beginning January 25th.

The Winter Frolic is a benefit for the Charles A. Platt Restoration Fund, established in 2008 to repair and refurbish our historic building.

Friends tickets are $75 per person in advance; $95 at the door.  Patrons tickets are $250, which includes two tickets and a listing on the Charles A. Platt Restoration Fund plaque.

The suggested attire is après-ski chic.

About the Lyme Art Association

The Lyme Art Association is a vibrant art center with a gallery where professional as well as developing artists mount major exhibitions throughout the year.

They also have a busy schedule of affordable art classes and workshops.  Visit the historic Lyme Art Association on your next visit to Old Lyme CT where art lives!

Chaos Reigns, and the Ladies Love it, at Deep River Store on Main Street

The grand view of Chaos

Joann Hourigan refers to her store, Chaos, as “my therapy,” when she is talking about her truly unique enterprise at 114 Main Street in Deep River. Then, when asked why she named her store “Chaos,” she says, “Because that’s my life.”

In addition to owning Chaos, in real life so to speak, Hourigan is also Executive Director of the Deep River Housing Authority, where she has worked for 19 years. The Authority operates Kirtland Commons, which is a home for 31 elderly and disabled residents. “I love my residents and their families,” she says.  One of the residents is 102 years old.

Chaos owner Joanne Hourigan in mirror

“It’s social work,” is what she calls her work at the Commons, and it   gives her a lot of satisfaction to help people in need. At Chaos on the other hand it’s “another story.” “There, I have a chance to create, and that is what I really enjoy.”

Because of her schedule at the Commons, Hourigan frequently leaves running Chaos to Caroline Lemley, a 19 year old U-Conn sophomore. Hourigan calls Lemley, “My main girl.  She runs the place. People love her, and she is awesome at picking things out for customers.”

Chaos staffer Caroline Lemley

Regardless of who is in charge at a particular time, don’t think for a minute that the operation of Chaos is in any way “chaotic.” In fact, it is a tightly run and very successful enterprise, one that by offering an apparent jumble of goods, arouses a customer’s curiosity to find just the right thing; and then once found the customer buys it, even though they didn’t know they wanted it in the first place.

The floor space at Chaos is 300 square feet, allowing only a fifteen by twenty foot sales area. If the clutter of items was spread out in a normal manner, the floor space would have to be twice the size.

Above all, Hourigan wants Chaos to be “a fun place to come into.” “There are treasurers everywhere,” she says, “even stuff in birdcages.” “I love it that it is so packed in here,” she continues, “That is part of its charm.”

Looking about carefully cluttered Chaos, one sees practically every kind of feminine accessory known to man. “We are selling scarves, handbags and jewelry, and a lot of custom jewelry,” Hourigan says.

Crowded table top at Chaos

Also, partially open draws at Chaos bulge with cascades of objects, and every open space on tables are piled high with a profusion of necklaces, clasps, pins, bracelets and many other ornaments that intrigue and enhance the feminine taste.

Turnover is very quickly,” says Hourigan. Quick turnover means that even if a customer was in the store just a few days before, when she returns to the store a few days later, she can find new things to buy on her return visit.

The recent Christmas holiday was a boom at Chaos. “Christmas was fabulous,” says Hourigan. Racks of women’s clothing were sold, “and we even ran out of boots,” she says.

Chaos’ reasonable prices also encourage a quick turnover of goods for sale. At Chaos earrings cost $18, necklaces $20, and dresses and tops $28. Some of the necklaces sold at Chaos can be mistaken for heirlooms, according to at least one regular shopper at the store.

Bottle caps from Chaos

Also, when it’s warm enough, Chaos offers a running sequence of appealing sidewalk sales. One item of particular popularity is the “buck bowl.” Everything in the bowl costs a buck, i.e. a dollar, no matter what its original price.

When asked, how she selects the items that go into the “buck bowl,” Hourigan says, “I throw in things that I am tired of, or have only one left.” Fishing in the “buck bowl” is a very popular pastime for shopping anglers.

Store hours at Chaos are: Wednesday thru Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are some stores in our area, when at times you cannot find what you are looking for. However, most of the time at Chaos, you’ll find it.

Connecticut River Museum has Spent $500,000 to Restore Historic Landmark After Fire

Destroyed East face, roof and decking of CT River Museum after August 2010 fire

The Connecticut River Museum, located at 67 Main Street in downtown Essex, had two choices in the wake of the devastating fire that took place on August 11, 2010, a fire which caused enormous damage to the Museum’s building, as well as to its decking.

One approach would have been to repair the damage, essentially, to the extent that the insurance money would cover the costs, and then hope for the best that other repairs, some very necessary, could be deferred until another day.

The second approach would address every single item that needed to be repaired, and in the process restore the museum not only to the condition of what it was before the fire, but perhaps even improve it from what it was. This full restoration plus choice, obviously, would cost a lot more money than the first, bare bones scenario.

The Board of Trustees of the Connecticut River Museum never blinked. They whole heartedly adopted the second alternative of fully repairing and restoring the Museum. In doing so, the Board chose to address every single item that required repair and the full restoration of the Museum.

Executive Director Jerry Roberts pridefully shows off restored Connectiuc River Museum

Furthermore, in adopting the full restoration plan the Board implicitly accepted the responsibility to raise the necessary money.

Board of Directors Chairman Maureen Wiltsie-O’Grady in a recent interview said, “The Museum had to be restored, because of the love that the community has for the Museum.” She added, “It is just a jewel. The fire made people think what Essex would be like without the Museum.”

Board Chairman Maureen Wilsie-O'Grady points to announcements at new Museum portal

These observations by the Chairman underscored the fact that the increased public attention and sympathy that was generated by the fire could be converted into a unique fundraising opportunity to pay for the level of restoration needed to ensure that the Museum would withstand the next 100 years.

With the stars thus aligned, the Museum Board, led by former Chairman Timothy Boyd, and the staff, led by the energetic Executive Director Jerry Roberts, went ahead and successfully raised the funds needed to repair the fire damage, and enhance generally the Museum’s building and grounds.

The fundraising steps included the establishment of the CMT Fire Fund for donations from Museum trustees, members and the public at large, as well as a successful effort to attract new government grants for the Museum’s restoration. Both these steps were in addition to achieving the Museum’s already established fundraising goals for the Annual Fund Appeal, Fall Ball, RIVERFARE and Privateers’ Bash.

These aggressive, and breathtakingly successful, fundraising steps has allowed the Museum, to date, to expend over a half million dollars, $565,500 to be exact, to repair and restore the Museum to a point where it is in even better condition than it was before the fire.

For example, with the funds raised the entire east face of the Museum building, which was destroyed by the fire, has been fully repaired and restored.

Similarly, large portions of the roof and the decking, which were destroyed by the fire, have been restored, as has the third floor gallery, which suffered water damage, and the Museum building, which experienced smoke damage.

Also included in this roster of fully paid for items was the installation of 29 new, energy efficient, museum-quality windows, as well as the installation of 70 new pilings under the decking of the Museum.

A further breakdown of the fully paid for repairs and restoration in the wake of the fire are as follows:

Building restoration and repair

This $300,000 item paid for by insurance monies and private donations, included a smoke and water clean-up; roof and siding repairs; window replacement of four fire destroyed windows and the upgrade of 25 other gallery windows; replacement of the building sign; repair of indoor mural; removal of carpets and restoration of the original wood flooring on the second and third floors.

Decking replacement and repair

This $185,000 item, which was funded from grants, donations and insurance, as well as funds from the Museum’s own historic building maintenance fund, provided money to replace the substructure pilings and decking surrounding the Museum building.

Grant funds for this project included $73,955 from the Connecticut Commission on Cultural and Tourism’s Historic Preservation Office.

Perimeter and Security/Grounds

In this category, $80,000 of private donations funded a new Museum perimeter security project, coupled with a grounds’ renovation plan. This initiative included new lights, a new portal at the entrance of the property, new walkways and the refurbishment of plantings. This project is now in its final stage of completion.

As for the new portal, according to Roberts, it will serve two purposes: 1) to establish a demarcation line between town property and Museum property, so that Museum property can be gated after hours, or whenever necessary, and 2) to provide information about Museum exhibits, programs and events.

The items regarding the perimeter and the security of the Museum property, obviously, go beyond simply repairing the Museum’s fire damages. Also, one of the items in this initiative has been objected to by a few Essex residents.

Specifically, the new portal structure, a few residents charge, takes away from the sense of openness of the Museum’s grounds that existed previously. Museum officials acknowledge that there have been a few objections to the portal structure; however, they assert that the objections are far from general, and that the upsides of the portal far outweigh the downsides, particularly from the standpoint of the Museum’s security.

Also, this very minor ruffle should in no way take away from the monumental achievement of the Museum’s Board and staff, who on their watch brilliantly restored the Connecticut River Museum to a condition that is even better than it was before the fire. In so doing they have preserved this historic asset for the edification and enjoyment of generations to come.

Essex Savings Bank to Contribute $255,700 to Charity

Essex Savings Bank President & CEO Gregory R. Shook

Essex, CT, January 17, 2012 – Gregory R. Shook, President & Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank announced today, “We are extremely proud to report available contributions of $255,700 from our Community Investment Program in our 161st year.”  The Bank annually commits 10% of its after tax net income to qualifying organizations within the immediate market area consisting of  Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.  This program provides financial support to over 200 non-profit organizations who offer outstanding services to the ever-increasing needs of our communities.  By year end, a total of $3,416,700 will have been distributed since inception in 1996.  Essex Savings Bank customers determine 30% of the fund allocations each year by voting directly for three of their favorite causes, charities or organizations who have submitted applications to participate.  Ballots will be available at all Essex Savings Bank Offices between February 1 and March 15 to determine an allocation of $76,710.  The Bank’s Directors, Senior Officers and Branch Managers distribute the remaining 70%, or $178,990.

Organizations (94) qualifying to appear on the 2012 ballot include:

Act II Thrift Shop, Inc. ▪ Adams World Foundation for Dyslexic Children ▪ Brazilian and American Youth Cultural Exchange (BRAYCE) ▪ Bushy Hill Nature Center ▪ Call to Care Uganda, Inc. ▪ Camp Hazen YMCA ▪ Center School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) ▪ Chester Historical Society ▪ Chester Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc. ▪ Community Music School ▪ The Company of Fifers and Drummers ▪ Con Brio Choral Society, Inc. ▪ Connecticut Audubon Society Eco Travel ▪ The Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock ▪ The Country School, Inc. ▪ Deacon John-Grave Foundation, Inc. ▪ Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc. ▪ The Deep River Ancient Muster Scholarship Trust ▪ Deep River Fire Department ▪ Deep River Historical Society, Inc. ▪ Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Inc. ▪ Deep River Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc. ▪ Essex Ambulance Association, Inc. ▪ Essex Community Fund, Inc. ▪ Essex Elementary School Foundation, Inc. ▪ Essex Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, Inc. ▪ Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1 ▪ Essex Garden Club, Inc. ▪ Essex Historical Society, Inc. ▪ Essex Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Essex Library Association ▪ Essex Winter Series, Inc. ▪ Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Meals on Wheels ▪ Florence Griswold Museum ▪ Forgotten Felines, Inc. ▪ Friends of Hammonasset, Inc. ▪ Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) ▪ Friends of the Acton Public Library ▪ Graduation Night, Inc. – Old Saybrook ▪ High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. ▪ Hope Partnership, Inc. ▪ Ivoryton Library Association ▪ Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc. ▪ The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Inc. ▪ Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc. ▪ Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts ▪ Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc. ▪ Lyme Art Association, Inc. ▪ Lyme Consolidated School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) ▪ The Lyme Fire Company, Inc. ▪ Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. ▪ Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation ▪ Lyme-Old Lyme Safe Graduation Party, Inc. ▪ Lyme Public Hall Association, Inc. ▪ Lyme Public Library, Inc. ▪ Lymes’ Elderly Housing, Inc. (Lymewood) ▪ Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau ▪ Madison Ambulance Association, Inc. ▪ Madison Community Services, Inc. ▪ The Madison Foundation, Inc. ▪ Madison Historical Society, Inc. ▪ Madison Land Conservation, Inc. ▪ Maritime Education Network, Inc. ▪ Musical Masterworks, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association ▪ Old Lyme Rowing Association, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association, Inc. ▪ Old Saybrook Education Foundation ▪ Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc. ▪ Old Saybrook Historical Society ▪ Old Saybrook Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services Foundation, Inc. ▪ The Region 4 Education Foundation, Inc. (R4EF) ▪ Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation ▪ Ryerson School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) ▪ Scranton Library, Madison (E.C. Scranton Memorial Library) ▪ The Shoreline Soup Kitchens ▪ Strong Center at the Surf Club, Inc. ▪ Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) ▪ The Touchdown Club, Inc. (Valley Regional High School/Old Lyme Football) ▪ Tracy Art Center, Inc. ▪ Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. ▪ Valley Shore Animal Welfare League ▪ Valley-Shore YMCA ▪ Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, Inc. (VNLV) ▪ Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc. ▪ Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc. ▪ The Woman’s Exchange of Old Lyme, Inc.

 Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Lower Connecticut River Valley with five offices in Essex (2), Madison, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme.  Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.  Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value, are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

Lyme Art Association Presents Two New Exhibitions: “20th Annual Associate Artist Exhibition” and “A Contemporary Look”

The Anniversary, 48 x 60” oil on canvas by invited artist Jaclyn Conley

Lyme Art Association’s 20th Annual Associate Artist Exhibition of landscape, portrait and still life paintings by Associate Artist members will be on view in the Association’s Cooper/Ferry, South and Cole galleries from January 13 – February 25, 2012.  “Associate Artist members make up the core community of the Lyme Art Association, and we are proud to highlight their work in this special exhibition each winter,” states Susan Ballek, the LAA’s Executive Director.In addition, the Association is pleased to present the 3rd Annual “A Contemporary Look,” a special invitation-only exhibition of progressive representational artwork by regional artists.  This exhibition will be on view in the Goodman Gallery from January 20 – February 25.  This year’s featured artists include painters Jaclyn Conley, Karen Sorenson, and Deirdre Kline.  Equestrian sculpture fabricated in steel by Marcia Spivak will also be displayed.

The opening reception for both exhibitions is free to the public, and will be held on Friday, January 20, from 5pm to 7pm at the LAA, 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Connecticut.

About the Lyme Art Association    

The Lyme Art Association was founded in 1914 by the American Impressionists and continues the tradition of exhibiting and selling representational artwork by its members and invited artists, as well as offering art instruction and lectures to the community. The Lyme Art Association is located at 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, in a building designed by Charles Adams Platt and located within an historic district. Admission is free with contributions appreciated. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm, Sunday 1 to 5pm. For more information on exhibitions, purchase of art, art classes, or becoming a member, call 860-434-7802.

Talking Transportation – Congress Tells Commuters…“Drop Dead”

Jim Cameron - Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council

Back in 1975 when New York City was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, then- President Ford declined to offer help and the NY Daily News’ headlinescreamed “Ford to City: Drop Dead”.

Well, last month the US Congress said about the same thing to us users of mass transit.  In their quagmire of inaction, bickering and partisanship, they let expire an important tax benefit to commuters:  whether you drove or took mass transit, you used to be able to spend up to $230 a month in pre-tax dollars to fund your commute.  But by not acting to extend the law, that benefit dropped to $125 a month for riders of mass transit but increased to $240 a month for drivers’ parking expenses.

What?  Commuters who ride the train / bus /subway get screwed but drivers get a benefits hike?  Yes, friends, it’s all true and you have Congress to thank.

This isn’t a red-state / blue-state issue.  I see it as a “gray state” victory, the gray states being those paved with asphalt that have scorned mass transit.  Meanwhile, big city riders of the rails get penalized.

There’s something egalitarian about mass transit… millionaires riding in the same smelly Metro-North cars as blue collar workers.  People of color actually mingling with white folks!  It’s like we’re all in this together, sharing space, giving up our individual liberties (smoking, singing, traveling exactly when we want) for the greater good (less highway congestion, air pollution, saving money).

People in the gray states don’t understand that.  Theirs is a culture of selfishness:  my car, my space, my right to travel where I want and when, to heck with you.  Oh yeah, and the right to have free parking (or at least subsidized, as under this bill).

Connecticut commuters welcomed the New Year with a 5.25% fare hike on Metro-North (with similar fare hikes to come the next two years), thanks to the Malloy administration seeing rail riders as an easy target for “revenue enhancement”.  So losing this federal tax benefit is just adding insult to injury.

The Federal government doesn’t do much in terms of our commuter rail.  They didn’t pay a penny for the new M8 cars.  They don’t set the fares, determine the station parking rules or set the timetable.  All of those are state functions.

Sure, the feds did kick some Tiger III grant money to Stamford for station work, but aside from that, nada.

That’s why Senators Blumenthal and Lieberman are trying to restore this federal tax benefit, the one thing they can do to help us commuters.  They’ve been flooded with angry letters.  Their bill (S-1034) has 10 co-sponsors but so far hasn’t won support from their colleagues who matter, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).  Not a lot of commuter rail in Montana and Utah, eh?

Time will tell if Congress can fix this mess.  I’m not optimistic, despite the best efforts of our Connecticut delegation.


JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 21 years.  He is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, and a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM.  You can reach him at Cameron06820@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct

Maple and Main Gallery Winter Show

CHESTER – Maple and Main Gallery is planting “Summer Dreams” in its downstairs gallery during the new Winter Show, opening  Wednesday, February 1.

Visitors can shake off the winter doldrums in the lower gallery where all the art will be devoted to the theme of flowers, gardens and bright, beautiful summertime.

Over 200 paintings, in a variety of mediums and all new to the gallery, will be on display during the Winter Show. Please come to the opening party Friday, Feb. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. when food and drink will be offered and the artists will be on hand.

Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is located at the corner of Maple and Main streets in Chester. The web site is mapleandmaingallery.com. and the phone number is 860-526-6065.

CMS To Present Cabaret Singers with Karli Gilbertson in Chester

Karli Gilbertson

CHESTER – Join Community Music School for an entertaining performance by members of Cabaret Singers On Thursday, January 26 at 7:45 p.m. at Chester Village West, 317 West Main Street, Chester.

Under the direction of Karli Gilbertson and accompanied by Sue Sweeney, the group of ten adult students will perform favorite ballads, Broadway hits and toe-tapping pop rock standards of the 1950’s. A selection of titles to be performed include: Standing on the Corner, Baby It’s Cold Outside, I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, Hymn L’amour, Bella Notte, There’s No You, Secret Love, Lipstick on Your Collar, Sixteen Candles, and Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.

Karli Gilbertson, CMS Artist-in-Residence,  is a graduate in vocal performance of the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Minnesota. Her esteemed vocal teachers have included Doris Yarick-Cross, Susan Fischer-Clickner, and Donna Pegors. Ms. Gilbertson was previously a Resident Artist with the Connecticut Opera Company.

The concert is free and open to the public. Please call 860-767-0026 or visit www.community-music-school.org for additional information.

Betsy Johnson, Artist of the Month – Reception January 13

Betsy Doolittle Johnson has been selected as the Estuary Council of Seniors January Artist of the Month.  A love of travel, nature and color is the driving force in Ms. Johnson’s art work.  Subject matter for her painting and photography tends to be a distillation of observations of nature or landscapes.

Originally from Hamden, Connecticut, Johnson trained in art history, architecture and painting at Vassar College.   The January exhibit at ECSI Marshview Gallery, 220 Main Street in Old Saybrook will include paintings and photographs form the Wallingford, Madison and Old Saybrook area. A reception to honor Betsy and feature her work will be held on Friday, January 13 from 5-7:00 pm.  Everyone is welcome.

Singer-Songwriter Freedy Johnston to Present Jan 14 Show at Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center

Singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston will perform on Saturday Jan. 14 at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center

OLD SAYBROOK— Singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston will perform on Saturday Jan. 14 at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. The solo acoustic show begins at 8 p.m. with tickets priced at $20.

A Kansas native, the 50-year-old Johnston alternates between an apartment in New York City and Madison Wisconsin, where his girlfriend owns a bar. Johnston described the Midwest-Big Apple split as “the best of both worlds.” Johnston attended the University of Kansas, participating on the local music scene, before moving to New York City in 1985.

By 1990, he had recorded and released his first CD,”Trouble Tree” on the New Jersey-based Bar None label. A second CD, “Can You Fly” in 1992, generated a strong positive response in Rolling Stone magazine and other music publications. This led to a major label deal with Elektra Records, and the release of “This Perfect World,” in 1994.”This Perfect World included one of Johnston’s most popular songs, the single “Bad Reputation” which reached Number 54 on the Billboard top-100 chart.

Three CDs followed on Elektra, “Never Home” in 1997, “Blue Days Black Nights” in 1999, and “Right Between The Promises” in 2001. His most recent CD is “Rain In The City,” released in January 2010 on the Bar None label.

In an interview via email, Johnston said he expects to play songs from all of his CDs at the Old Saybrook show, including a personal favorite, “The Farthest Lights” from the “Blue Days Black Nights” CD. Johnston said he will also be doing some cover songs, including numbers by two songwriters who have done shows at the Kate, Jimmy Webb and Marshall Crenshaw. The writer of many of Glen Campbell’s hits, Webb played a solo show at the Kate in October 2010.

Johnston said the January solo tour is a short one, including dates in Madison, Wisc., Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Johnston said he will have a new CD in 2012 titled “Neon Repairman”. He is also working on a side project, a band called the Hobart Brothers with guitarist Jon Dee Graham and Susan Cowsill, a member of the early-1970s family band.

The strangest New Year’s Day I’ve ever had…and I never expect another like it

John Guy LaPlante

All my life, like you probably, I have celebrated New Year’s Day in winter—most often in a cold, icy, snowy winter. Not a Florida winter.

Winter arrives on Dec. 21, of course, and New Year’s Day 11 days later, on Jan. 1. My saying this seems silly, I know, but I say it for a reason.

My seeing the New Year in, as for you, has often meant stepping outside into freezing  cold air that takes my breath away and then suffering in my frigid car until the engine begins to blow in wonderful hot air.

For many decades this was always the way  I experienced New Year’s Day. With just one exception!

That exception came eight years ago when I traveled around the world for five months. Yes, nearly all of it alone—147 days, 20 countries, 36,750 miles by plane, train, and for only $83 per day, with everything included, right down to every snack and phone call and all the visas required.  That trip was my present to myself for my then approaching 75th birthday.

It was a grand adventure. More than that, an odyssey. It led to my book, “Around the World at 75. Alone, Dammit!” It’s a book still selling, and in fact, one that got to be published in China in Chinese—well, Mandarin, which is the principal language.

As New Year’s Day approached, I arrived in Durban, South Africa. That’s nearly as far south in Africa as you can go, and I had come a long way, all the way from Cairo near the Mediterranean in the far north.

I arrived on Dec. 28, I think it was, just seven days after the start of winter and three days before the new year dawned. However, I had crossed the Equator to get here and in fact was far south of it.

But the seasons are opposite on the other side of the Equator. Yes, it was December, but it was not winter. Summer had just started here and it was summertime, with long daylight, short nights, shirtsleeve temperatures, even bathing suit temperatures. How remarkable. How wonderful.

Durban is a big city. An impressive city. And I was here to enjoy it. I was lucky. I was staying in a nice hostel right downtown, the Banana Backpackers. Not hotel. Hostel. I was using hostels because they were cheaper (hotels for five months can get expensive) and I got an experience more true to my purpose.

Don’t ask me why that name. I never found out. And I was making friends. And I was making the most of the city, taking in everything I could—its bustling downtown,  its historic and tourist attractions, its museums.  It’s all in my book.

New Year’s Day was a great celebration here, too. It’s a big day all over the world.  I  read everything I could in the big Durban daily about activities coming up. English is the official language. There would be all the usual merry-making.  I was looking forward to it. Planned to enjoy it as much as I could.

New Year’s Day rose, bright and sunny and warm and beautiful. But none of my senses told me that this was New Year’s Day. This was so dramatically different. But my brain did.

Durban is right on the Indian Ocean, just north of where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans merge  below Capetown.  Durban has great beaches. I had not glimpsed them yet, but I knew they were gorgeous. I intended to get to them today. They were not far,  at the end of a broad avenue that nosed right into them. A cinch! I could get to them in just a few blocks.

But imagine my surprise. My stupefaction.  Thousands of people were planning to do the same thing. I noticed that the minute I stepped out of Banana Backpackers. People jammed the street, walking in from various directions.

So many! Amazing. The boulevard was closed to vehicles for the day. People were heading south on it in a broad torrent. They took up the whole width of the street. All going the same way, toward the salt water. Some on bikes but most hoofing it. Carrying all the usual stuff—towels, picnic baskets, folding chairs, parasols, toys. Many with children in hand.

Instantly I saw they were all black. Durban is a typical South African city. It has the usual mix of blacks and whites, but the blacks were there first and predominate. In fact, apartheid had been the law of the land until quite recently. Apartheid mandated the enforced separation of the races, the same as in many places  in our U.S.A. when I was young, but even more severely, I’ve read.

Right away I saw this was a black crowd. I could not see any whites. Of course, white people like nice, warm, sunny, summer beaches, too. Why this river of people was all black, I don’t know. And I didn’t find out. I still don’t know. But right away I decided, This is just too much! No way can I walk with them!

I gulped hard. I was so disappointed. But then I braced up. A main reason for this big and crazy adventure of mine–I knew some thought this–was to visit other countries, and the more different the better. I wanted to see what they were really like.   I was deliberately staying clear of the heavy tourist areas. I wanted to see the real people in their real everyday  life. So how could I chicken out now?

Uptight I was, but I stepped forward and slipped in among them.  I saw dark eyes studying me but I looked straight ahead and walked on.  I was uncomfortable. Nervous. Apprehensive. I admit it and am embarrassed to say so.  I was tempted to drop out and head back to Banana Backpackers.  What I was experiencing, of course, was plain, classic culture shock.

My head was battling with my emotions.  My head was telling me that 99 percent of these people were good, fine, no-problem people.  I knew that this was true of people all over the world. Yellow, brown, red, black, white, mixed. In every country the bad ones—the malicious ones—are a tiny minority. True, too, in  our U.S.A.

The only thing these folks had in mind was getting to the beach for a fine New Year’s outing.

My heart made me fearful, insecure, borderline panicky.  But I walked on.  I was feeling this way because they were so many and they were all black and I wasn’t used to this and there was no other white person around.  But on I went.

I wasn’t going to the beach to sun myself or swim.  I did like these things back home.  I was going because I wanted to see the Indian Ocean and smell the sea air and be part of the festivities and observe everything going on and get some exercise and see what a New Year’s Day was like in this country and how folks enjoyed it.

We got to the beach.  A great big, broad stretch of sand. The Indian Ocean stretched out ahead, clear to the horizon, with not even a tiny island in between.  A few pleasure boats, yes.

But know what?  The Indian Ocean didn’t look a bit different than many other stretches of salt water I have gotten to see.  The only reason I knew that this was the Indian Ocean was because I was told it was, period.

What I noticed was the great numbers of people.  Right away I thought of Coney Island. Who isn’t familiar with Coney Island?  I’ve never been to Coney Island.  But I’ve seen the photos of the  packed crowds on the Fourth of July.

For sure this huge turn-out would rival Coney Island in the Guinness Book of World Records. And of course all these people were black. But they were behaving just like white people would.

I became more relaxed.  I began walking around.  I roamed the beach.  I made my way between all these people.  Families in tight clusters. Kids frolicking and romping and tossing balls. Couples making out. People reading, snacking, applying suntan lotion, snoozing.

Not easy to walk in that loose sand. I made my way down close to the beach and walked along the shore on the packed sand, moist from the outgoing tide. Some people were in the water, swimming, splashing, floating, but quite few. Which is typical on any beach anywhere.

I walked a long way to the left, then a long way back and to the right.  Some people looked at me and followed me with their eyes.  Most people were too busy.  I had my camera and I began sneaking pictures.  I learned long ago it was not smart at times to face whoever I wanted to photograph and snap a picture.

I had developed a different way.  I would spot someone I wanted to focus on.  Then I would turn 90 degrees and face in this new direction.  But slowly I would turn my camera back 90 degrees. Very stealthily, all while gazing straight ahead. And click the shutter. Sometimes I missed the shot.  But often I got the good candid shot I hoped for.  Rarely did anybody catch on.

Now I got bolder. I even walked up to some people. Made sure I smiled. And asked if I could take their picture.  Nobody said no.

It was all pleasant. I was happy to be part of this. But this was a film camera.  And of course my roll of film got used up.

In all this, I did not come upon another white person. How come?  Maybe this was a traditionally black beach. Maybe there was a traditional white beach elsewhere.  But I thought of this much later.

Satisfied and content, I walked back to the Banana Backpackers.  I quit long before the others did.  There were just a few of us heading back. I was happy I had not caved in to my apprehensions and had had what turned out to be a most pleasant experience.

Back at the hostel, I found practically nobody around. That evening I ran into a couple of people and mentioned what I had done.  But they were foreign tourists, too. They were interested. But they had nothing to say that enlightened me.

Later I had another thought.  It was about black people in the U.S.A.  Men and women of all ages born there and grown up there. Like me. Just as much an American citizen as I.

And I thought of the many times when for sure they must find themselves alone among whites.  At times they must feel as alone and isolated and apprehensive as I on this New Year’s Day.  This is probably a common experience for them in our section of Connecticut where blacks are still a small minority,  although the situation is changing a bit. And surely they get used to it, adapt to it, and develop a certain comfort.

I felt these disturbing emotions just for a few hours on just one day.  I’m sure some of our blacks back home must feel it frequently, on and on, all their lives.

That New Year’s Day in Durban made me more understanding. More sympathetic.  I learned a powerful lesson. And the lesson has stuck. We’re all much alike. Little reason to be nervous among strangers.

I’d like to include some of the photos I took that day but they’re not at hand. Sorry.

Happy New Year to you, one and all!

Meet the Dogans – Proud New Americans To-Be

Izzet (left) and his wife Nuray have packed their store inside and outside

Izzet and Nuray Dogan, man and wife, left beautiful Istanbul, Turkey, to start a new life here. That was a few years ago. I know that sounds vague and there’s a reason. Now they live in Westbrook and work in Old Saybrook. Not an unfamiliar story so far.

But their details are interesting. Amazing. They were good citizens and not fleeing for political reasons. Educated, middle-class, and successful. Not desperate for the next dollar. Close to middle-aged with three children. Not young and unschooled and not sneaking into the U.S.

For 21 months, since March 22, 2010, they have been nurturing a small business right across from Johnny Ad’s Drive-in on Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook. Truly a Mom and Pop business. People drop in also from  neighboring towns…Deep River, Old Lyme, Essex.

They both work at it seven days a week, from 9 to 6. They thought it had a name until I pointed out that it really wasn’t a name. All it says out front basically is Thrift Shop. They’re trying hard but their English is still less than fluent.

They sell all kinds of stuff. Clothes and shoes. Housewares. Books. Furniture. Pictures and decorative items. Jewelry and watches. Tools.  They take in some stuff on consignment. Whatever is sell-able. In a sense, it’s a small, private Goodwill, but operated for profit. Their way of making a living in a strange new land.

In fact, they have two signs up on the front window saying “We Buy Gold.” That takes a bit of expertise, it seems to me.

They arrived with two common problems.  Scant English.  And they knew hardly a soul.

Their store is jammed with thousands of offerings. But the remarkable thing is that everything is so well organized. So clean and tidy. You get the impression every item has been washed, cleaned, dusted. This is not a dump. Lots of heavy labor going on here.

These are hard times, as we all know, and they are struggling. Fewer people are out buying, even for used stuff priced to sell.  But they are catching attention. They caught mine.  Especially because I kept noticing all the odds and ends they put out in front outside, in the fresh air, every day. Dozens of things. Furniture. Clothes. Knickknacks. This attracts quite a few.


They do everything that needs doing. They’re a team

I’ve gotten to know them. The mom, Nuray Dogan, is 47. Attractive. Outgoing. Energetic. Smart. She flew over on July 17,  2000. She came alone with their three children. Just for a two-week vacation.

How come? Her daughter, Damla, now 27, was a student at the prestigious. English School in Istanbul. So was her older son, Cemre, 21. Damla kept begging, “Mama, let’s go to America!” Mama gave in. Younger son San was only two and a half back then.

They flew to a friend’s in Brooklyn. Somehow Nuray became dazzled by America. She made phone calls back to Izzet. She—they—made the huge decision. They would both start anew, together, in America. They had much to settle, at both ends. They would work out the many details and unanswered questions later.

Meanwhile, husband Izzet, who is 50 now, stayed home working.  As a young salesmanselling textiles, he had started a factory making children’s clothes. He was 26 then. It had prospered. He took in his two older brothers. They had 200 employees. He was plenty busy.

She went to the Turkish consulate for advice. They told her: “New York City is not a good choice. Go to a nice small community somewhere.” She knew another friend, in Westbrook.

She says that in one week she found an apartment, got a driver’s license (the fact that she had an international license made it easier), enrolled the children in school, and found the best stores for food and other necessities. She started the immigration process. And before long she was a full-time student at Middlesex Community College.  She wanted to learn English. Learn other things, too.

She says, “At the supermarket at first it was so hard. Even to find bread.”

How to make a living? She wanted to be her own boss. Her difficulty with English was a problem. She had discovered something: yard sales. She began buying stuff at yard sales and holding her own. She discovered the Westbrook Flea Market. Began buying and even selling stuff there.

She got the idea of her own shop someday. She began buying stuff with that in mind– cleaning and washing it, putting it away for the day when.

She got the children started in school. Daughter Damla and older son Cemre graduated from Westbrook High School. Son San is a freshman there.  Daughter Damla went on to get a bachelor’s in psychology from Southern Connecticut State University. Cemre is finishing at Middlesex Community College. He is passionate about music, plays drums and piano, and is finding gigs here and there.

Meanwhile husband Izzet carried on in Istanbul. Things there had become difficult.  The big recession hit. Business fell off.  He had friction with the two brothers he had invited in.

All along, Nuray and Izzet looked at their separation as temporary.  She would fly back regularly for a visit. He would fly here for a visit. Then they decided: he would settle things in Istanbul and fly here, too. Permanently. They would make a new life together and strive to become Americans!

I stop in now and then for a little chat. Have gotten to know them. Have seen how they have been struggling and slowly succeeding.

One day last summer near their shop, I spotted a huge yard sale in an empty lot.  Izzet and his son Cemre were presiding there. The yard sale was Izzet’s idea of a way to expand the business. They were toying with the idea.

The  strip block they’re in has several little businesses. They are at one end. One day, I noticed a new used furniture store near the opposite end.  I went in. Loaded with beds and bureaus and chairs and tables.  Cemre was manning the place. Another try. Not successful. They shut it down.

Today Izzet and Nuray are a true team. They roll up their sleeves and do whatever has to be done.

Both Nuray and Izzet learned a few words of English in school back home. Nuray has made great gains and is doing her best to get better.  Izzet is trying, too, but she got a six-year jump on him here. He throws in some good words now and then.

I stopped in at 4 p.m. a couple of days ago with this interview in mind. They were eager to tell me their story. I sat with them in their neat office at the back. Nuray was at her desk with her computer on.

There was a video of a pretty young woman on. She was playing with her tiny son.  This was not a video. It was her daughter in Istanbul. And her new grandson Toprak. Mother and daughter were on Skype and carrying on a conversation. Daughter could see Mama on her own computer monitor.

I chatted with Damla 5,000 miles away. She speaks beautiful English, so it was a pleasure. She operates an English school for pre-schoolers.  Her husband is in sales and marketing.  He came to the United States to study and that’s how they met. They met and married and Istanbul is now home. She explained her husband has a good career started there.

A happy, free-wheeling conversation like this takes place every day.

A  Turkish friend of theirs stopped in. He sat with us in the office. He was Ihsan (Ben) Akin of Old Saybrook. A few years older perhaps. Excellent English—he eased our conversation. Came to the U.S. 40 years ago, after mandatory service as a young officer in the Turkish army and university studies to become an architect. He is now the staff architect at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

Husband Izzet was participating in our talk also. But before long he walked away. Later I saw why. He was outside, moving in all the stuff that was weather-vulnerable for the night. Not a small job. He puts it out every morning, takes it in every evening.

Christmas will be here soon. The Christmas sales have been okay, but not as good as hoped.  Both are philosophical. They are learning every day. The recession will end. The children are doing fine. They are all together. They are enjoying their own home, a split-level ranch, in Westbrook.

Nuray has only one course left at Middlesex for her associate’s degree—an English conversation course! They are making more and more friends. Slowly the two of them are proceeding toward  citizenship in the great United States of America. Surprising how much they have accomplished.

And I have suggested a name for the store. “Treasures and Surprises.”

Courtney Claims New Federal Prescription Drug Plan Helps Eastern Connecticut Seniors

Congressman Joe Courtney

Eastern Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney, citing new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), said in a recent press release from Washington, that eastern Connecticut seniors saved $3.388 million on prescription drugs from January through October of this year. These savings were as a result of new improvements in the federal Affordable Care Act. These improvements meant that Medicare beneficiaries now automatically receive a 50-percent discount on covered brand-name drugs in the Part D coverage gap, or “donut hole.” “The amount of this discount will continue to grow until the Part D donut hole is completely phased out in 2020,” the Courtney said.

“This newest data confirms that the Affordable Care Act is making a significant positive difference in people’s lives across our country,” he continued. “Not only are seniors taking advantage of no-cost wellness screenings, but they are getting critical assistance in paying for life-saving prescription drugs. Fewer young people are uninsured today thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and, as more people take advantage of preventive care services and the annual wellness benefit, medical problems will be discovered and treated earlier, improving the chance of recovery and reducing overall treatment costs.”

According to the Congressman, CMS data shows that approximately 5,560 eastern Connecticut beneficiaries received prescription drug assistance between January 1st and October 31st this year. According to their statistics, the three towns with the most beneficiaries that received Part D assistance are Enfield (405 beneficiaries), Vernon Rockville (279 beneficiaries), and Madison (219 beneficiaries). “These numbers, as well those in other Eastern Connecticut towns will continue to increase as the calendar year ends and two additional months of assistance reach other seniors as they hit their deductible,” the Congressman said.

Essex Winter Series Begins with Frederica von Stade with pianist Laurana Mitchelmore

Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano

The Essex Winter Series 2012 will be holding their first concert of the year on January 8 at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, when they will present mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade with pianist Laurana Mitchelmore.

Recognized as one of today’s most beloved musical figures, Frederica von Stade has enriched the classical music world for three decades with appearances in opera, concert and recital, and on PBS specials and Live from Lincoln telecasts. Her achievements include more than 60 recordings, six Grammy nominations, two Grand Prix du Disc awards, theDeutsche Schallplattenpreis, Italy’s Premio della Critica Discografica, “Best of Year” citations by Stereo Review and Opera News, appointment to France’s L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and an award from President Reagan and the White House for her significant contribution to the arts.

World-class pianist and long-time collaborator Laurana Mitchelmore will accompany Miss von Stade, who has described this moving concert as a “musical autobiography.”

All concerts are at Valley Regional High School in Deep River Ct. and begin at 3 p.m.

Ticket information is available at www.essexwinterseries.com

Essex Savings Bank Joins Team to Help Madison Town Field and Coach Ciotti

Left to Right: Standing – Allen Jackson, Robert Paolucci Essex Financial Services, financial advisor, Duo Dickinson Architect, Ed Cull Essex Savings Bank Vice President and commercial loan officer, Jonathan Mayhew. Sitting – Rose McLaughlin, Essex Savings Bank, Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager, Greg Shook, Essex Savings Bank, President & CEO, Chairman Larry Ciotti.

The Strong Center Field at the Surf ClubCommittee, Madison,  is planning a mailing to communicate their plans to get even stronger with the help of  Essex Savings Bank.  “We noticed the groundswell of this nonprofit group of local residents who started an initiative to overhaul and renovate the field, the structures and the entrance to the area. It is our pleasure to join in and help promote and underwrite a portion of the costs to deliver information, raise funds and requests for assistance for the town treasure known to us as the ‘Surf Club’,” noted Greg Shook, President and CEO of the Bank. Customers of the Bank will be able to vote to direct funds to the surf club in the annual community investment program from February to March.

The field is used by boys and girls soccer, football and lacrosse teams, in addition to recreational teams, such as the adult softball league.

“The town is in no position to put a great deal of money into the field in terms of renovating and beautifying it,” said Ciotti.

“We have made excellent progress so far, but we need to solicit more private donors and look into other areas of fund-raising,” said Ciotti.

The group has $1 million so far, one third of what they hope to have by the end of the fundraising initiative. The project will cost about $3.2 million, and the group is aiming for completion by Sept. 1, 2012.

For questions or for an opportunity to help with the project, call Ciotti at 203-671-9805.  http://www.strongcentersurfclub.org/vision.html

Since 1851, Essex Savings Bank has been a “safe financial harbor” for individuals, families, and businesses along the Connecticut shoreline. Today, the bank provides checking, savings, loans, trust and wealth management services, along with a full range of investment services through it’s subsidiary Essex Financial Services, Inc.  Its five branches are located in Essex, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

There’s no Place Like…Home for the Holidays – At The Ivoryton Playhouse

Carson Waldron, Addison Marchese, Kearney Capuano, Kaitlyn Vitelli, Carolina Read and Michael McDermott* (Photo courtesy of Anne Hudson).

Ivoryton:  Why not stay close to home this holiday season? If you are looking for festive entertainment that won’t blow your budget and has something for the whole family, then head on down to Ivoryton. Home for the Holidays, written and directed by Playhouse Executive/Artistic Director is a new old fashioned Christmas story with the music and songs you love to hear.

Take an unexpected blizzard, add a sprinkling of the Nutcracker, a pinch of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, stir in a little romance and festive song, top it all off with holiday magic and you get a new family tradition called Home for the Holidays premiering at the Ivoryton Playhouse on December 8. “This has been such an important year for the Ivoryton Playhouse,’ says Hubbard.  “Not only did we reach our 100th birthday but we weathered a hurricane that tore down our beautiful spruce and narrowly missed the building. I feel as though something was watching over us on that day and that was the inspiration for this story.”

This heart warming family story is filled with carols, new and old, and many faces familiar to Playhouse audiences. Cast includes Playhouse favorites –  Beverley Taylor, Norm Rutty, Michael McDermott*, John DeNicola, Maggie McGlone Jennings, Celeste Cumming, Caroline Read, Alanna Burke, Gayle LaBrec, Jason Naylor, Brandon Clark and Addison Marchese. And some new local talent will be making their Playhouse debut in this show – Erica LuBonta, Liz Pester, Will Schneider, Kaitlyn Vitelli, Kearney Capuano and Carson Waldron. The set for this production is designed by Jo Nazro and lights by Doug Harry.

Come and experience the true magic of the season with this original Connecticut Christmas story – for two weeks only.

Home for the Holidays opens on Thursday, December 8 and runs thru December 18 for 2 weeks. Performance times are Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm.  Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*member of Actors Equity

Estuary Council of Seniors Open House Dec. 9

The Estuary Council of Seniors Cordially Invites You to Our OPEN HOUSE on Friday, December 9, 2011from 2:30 – 4:00 pm. Come to the Tom Farrell Game Room in the M. Monica Eggert Senior Center 220 Main Street Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Please join us as we celebrate the reopening of the lower level of our building. Tour our renovated Tom Farrell Game Room, our new exercise room, and our expanded Thrift Shop. The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. is a nine-town community resource providing services, programs, education, and advocacy while promoting independent living for seniors.  Refreshments will be served.

Stone Deaf, But Still They Manage a Fine Conversation

Who knows what each day will bring?

I was returning from New London. It was 4 p.m. and I needed my coffee pick-up. I swung into a Burger King, bought a cup, sat down and opened a Newsweek I had brought in.

Quiet in there.  Just two men in a booth a dozen feet away. About 35. Engaged in a very lively conversation. But I couldn’t make out a word. There were no words! No sounds! They were talking in sign language. Were deaf. Not a problem.

They were enjoying their “talk.” Their “words” were flying back and forth. They were talking by making signs. Using their hands. Their fingers. Their arms. Amazing. And facial expressions. Frowning. Smiling. Raising their eyebrows. Expressing surprise. So many emotions. I kept glancing at them. Couldn’t stop watching. They didn’t seem handicapped.

One noticed me. It didn’t bother him. He kept right on with his buddy. He was used to curious people like me.

They left. They were still signing as they walked away. I left, too, my Newsweek unread. What I had just observed was more fascinating than anything I could have found in the magazine.

Now flash forward a few days. I’m at the Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook. I love libraries, stop in one wherever I am. Spend half an hour, more often an hour. Always a delight. I measure a community by its library.

This was my big find. An eye-opener

On the way out, I pause by the front door. There’s a bookcase there. It’s loaded with books the library no longer wants. Perhaps donations from somebody. Take one. Take two. They’re free. I always look. Often take one. Sometimes I read it, maybe just bits of it, then take it back for somebody else. Books have a long and strange life. Some I keep.

I spot a big thick one. “The American Sign Language Dictionary.” What an amazing coincidence!

I had no idea such a dictionary existed.

The cover shows four close-up photos of a woman. She’s signing, just like the men I had watched. I thumb through. 512 pages!  Loaded with words and definitions. Even synonyms and references to other words. From “abandon” all the way to “zipper.” Incredible.

But each word also has a small drawing of a man. Just the outline of a man. He’s making a sign for that word. For “devil.” Or “important.” Or “revenge.” Very clear, very explicit. Little arrows show the direction of his moves, even how he repeats the moves. Even what expression he uses with this sign or that one. Fascinating.

The cover claims the book has more than 4,400 signs and 6,60 illustrations! Imagine that! Featuring 1,100 new signs and 1,750 illustrations. And this is an “abridged edition”! “From “the most comprehensive and clearly written dictionary of sign language ever published,” according to a cover blurb by the Los Angeles Times.

I check. It was published in 1994 by Harper Perennial. A fine outfit. Written by one Martin L.A. Sternberg. A blurb identifies him as a professor at Hofstra University and Adelphi University, with a doctorate in education.

Martin L. Sternberg Sign Language became his life’s work.

The blurb says, “Deaf since the age of seven. Dr. Sternberg has spent most of his career working with deaf people.” Impressive. So, for six years he could hear—I suspect that’s harder to take than coming into the world deaf.

The price back then was $18, $25 in Canada. (Those poor Canadians!) It looks hardly used. I take it home. It’s mine for the taking. Who disposed of this—it was not a library discard. No idea.

Why do I want it? Well, a simple answer. I love dictionaries. I have a number of them. Conventional dictionaries. Pictorial dictionaries. Dictionaries of slang and idioms. Even a “thematic” dictionary, which lists words by subject, such as “medicine.”  In English and French and Spanish and Russian. Which may seem strange to you. Even a Latin dictionary that I used every day eons ago. As a kid I never thought I would develop such an interest. I look forward to poking into this one.

Long ago, I wrote a magazine article about a dictionary. In fact, exactly 50 years ago. A wonderful experience for me.

It was Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language. Completely new. Commonly known as the Merriam-Webster Third. Published by G.&C. Merriam. That’s a very fine name. That was back in 1961—yes, just half a century ago.

That dictionary made big headlines. It was a historic event. It was the first American dictionary that did not tell people whether a word was good or less good. It simply reported the various definitions a word could have. Sometimes they were many. A huge dictionary—three hefty volumes.

Merriam  achieved this by building a huge, amazing file of how words were actually being used.  M-W had a big staff of lexicographers and editors. They read an enormous variety of things and saved what they called “citations” from books and newspapers and other publications showing a word used this way or that way. And they paid experts out in the field to send in unusual examples. Words are like people. They change as they grow older.

Thousands of signs. All carefully illustrated.

A few minutes ago I went online to wikipedia.org and this is what I found. I include it because it’s so interesting.

After about a decade of preparation, G. & C. Merriam issued the entirely new Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language in 1961. Unabridged  It was edited by Philip Babcock Gove and a team of lexicographers who spent 757 editor-years and $3.5 million.

It contained more than 450,000 entries, including over 100,000 new entries and as many new senses for entries carried over from previous editions.

The final definitio, “zyzzogeton,” was written on October 17, 1960; the final etymology was recorded on October 26; and the final pronunciation was transcribed on November 9. The final copy went to the typesetters, R.R. Donnelley, on December 2. The book was printed by the Riverdale Press in Cambridge, Mass.

The first edition had 2,726 pages (measuring 9 in wide by 13 in  tall by 3 in , weighed 13½ lbs and originally sold for $47.50 (about $350 in 2010 dollars). The changes were the most radical in the history of the Unabridged.

Although it was an unprecedented masterwork of scholarship, it was met with considerable criticism for its descriptive (rather than prescriptive) approach. It told how the language was used, not how it ought to be used.

It was big news. Newspapers everywhere carried at least a few words about it. I was excited to read all this. I admit I had a personal interest. In September, 1943, on my first day as a fresham at Assumption Prep in Worcester, at age 13, I walked with my new classmates to the school bookstore. We were handed our books for the year. My stack included The Merriam-Webster Abridged Dictionary—Webster’s Collegiate. I used it for eight years (I moved on to Assumption College from Assumption Prep). I still have it. More than a thousand pages, and well-thumbed.

Right away I pitched writing a piece about the Webster’s Third New to my editor as a full feature piece and he gave me a “Go!”

Merriam’s office was in nearby Springfield. Still is.  I drove there and met Dr. Gove. Philip Babcock Gove was a distinguished-looking man in a double-breasted suit with a fine necktie. He spent a lot of time showing me around and explaining their procedures and introducing me to two or three of his many experts.   Later I returned with a photographer. This was a standard procedure on our magazine. He would take shots to illustrate my article. I would take along a draft I had written and  would double-check this or that.

(An interesting aside. On my first trip to any assignment, I would always be paid my expenses. On the second trip, the photographer always got the check.)

I uncovered something extraordinaty about the scholarly Dr. Gove. He had a small farm in nearby Ware. And he kept half a dozen cows and milked them morning and night.

We had to show that! He smiled and agreed. We met him there out in the country in his farmhouse. But now he had his bib overalls on and was out in the smelly barn sitting on a stool by one of his cows. This lexicographer with a famous reputation!

“My hobby!” he told me. He’d feed them their hay, clean out the muck, do it all. It turned out to be a great article. People can be so fascinating.

But back to my sign-language dictionary. Extraordinary, as I said. It was put together with the help of a dozen specialists in various fields. Some gathering business signs, some children’s signs, some Catholic or Jewish, on and on.

It turns out there is a specific finger sign for every letter of our alphabet. D, K, P, V. So you use these signs to spell out a word.

Then there are signs for a whole word—a whole concept. “Carrot,” say, or “rash” or “secret.”  Wonderful to see the imagination that inspired each and every one of these signs.

I thought to myself, “Who used this sign or that one for the very first time? Surely different signs came up for the same word or thought. Which ones fell into use along the way?”

Many words have sharply different meanings. “Opportunity,” for instance. The book shows four meanings, each with its own sign.

I checked for certain words, as I thought of them. Bankrupt. God. Idiom. Mail. Pollute. Round. Urinate. I found them all.

I looked for others but did not find them. But the book was published in 1994, and some of those words did not exist.

I also found phrases. A sign for “Go to bed.” Another for “Go off the track.” Another for “Go as a group.” Another for “Go by car” or “Go by train.”  But I did not find one for “Go by plane,” which I found strange. I’ll bet it’s in a newer edition.

I also checked for some sex words.  I remember doing that with my new dictionary when I was 13. In this one I found “intercourse” and “lesbian” and “masturbate’ and I am sure there were others.

Also naughty words, “four-letter” words, as I did back then. (Didn’t you?) None in this dictionary.

But remember, this sign dicitionary I had picked up was also an abbreviated edition. And it was the first one in the Computer Age. Dr. Sternberg explained this at the very front.

How were all these drawings created? What an enormous effort. Well,  the latest technology was used—a first. Here’s how Dr. Sternberg explained it:

“It involved making videotapes of the signs using different models and then time-freezing appropriate poses. These poses in turn produced computer-generated drawings—rapidly and accurately.”

Oh, I just stumbled on this: A CD-ROM edition of this book was also created. Not included in my book.

This specialized work became Dr. Sternberg’s career, it seems. The original Unabridged Edition took him 19 years to produce! Between that one and this one he produced two other editions. He had a career that was as daunting and meaningful as Dr. Gove’s.

I wondered about some things.  Deafness is a world-wide affliction, of course. So, such dictionaries must exist in other advanced countries. France, let’s  say. Germany. Russia. China. Well, I found out this dictionary is for American Sign Language.

I  think a scholar would have a ball checking the signs for words in those languages.  “Baby,” for instance. Or “Wheel.” Wouldn’t it be interesting to check for similarities and differences in signs in these different languages and cultures? Do deaf Chinese use the same sign for baby as Americans do? Do Russians use the same sign for wheel that we do?

I’m sure that originally each sign was the spontaneous creation of a deaf person who had an inspiration…an insight…a flash of imagination. As a person got older, he would use more and more signs of his own devise. As well as signs picked up from other deaf persons. Deaf persons must pass on signs to one another and the best signs survive.  I’m speculating, of course.

I think of a scenario: suddenly a family with normal hearing has a baby that is deaf. They are alone in their situtation; they don’t know any other family with a deaf child.  As the child grows, the family develops signs for  this and for that. So does the child. These signs do the job of communicating between them. These signs are unique to them.  So, there must be thousands and thousands of such unique signs out there. Think of the task of collecting them all and standardizing them.

This was the job that Dr. Sternberg took on. To me, his achievement is as monumental as Dr.Gove’s. Think of how meaningful it must be to anyone who is deaf.

I kept poking into the book, finding all kinds of interesting tidbits. On the back cover I found a local angle. Some glowing testimonials are printed there. One is from David Hays. Right from our own Chester. He opened the National Theatre for the Deaf there in 1983. Now it’s in West Hartford.

He wrote, “Four thumbs up. Martin Sternberg’s intelligence and passion for his subject gleams in this monumental work.”

Martin Sternberg was a giant, without a doubt. He did for the deaf what Louis Braille did for the blind. He was the blind French church organist who in 1825 devised the raised system of  dots permitting them to read and write.

I feel lucky indeed that I don’t need Dr. Sternberg’s precious book. But countless people do. And how lucky they are indeed to have it.

I’m so curious: did those two men who were “talking” so fluently back at Burger King pick up some of their marvelous signs from this dictionary?

And did the person who gave up my copy ever have to use it?

Connecticut River Museum to Host Post Roads & Iron Horses

Essex,CT – On Thursday, December 8 at 5:30 p.m., the Connecticut River Museum’s Boathouse Gallery and Education Center will be the setting for the fascinating history of  the turnpikes, steamboats, canals, railroads and trolleys that helped define Connecticut and shape New England.  Advances in transportation technology during the nineteenth century transformed the Constitution State from a rough network of colonial towns to an industrial powerhouse of the Gilded Age.  Drawing from his recently published book, historian and transportation engineer Richard DeLuca will provide engaging stories and trace the significant themes that emerged as American innovators and financiers, lawyers and legislators, struggled to control the movement of passengers and goods in southern New England.

The program will be followed by a light reception and book signing by Mr. DeLuca.  Admission is $5 for the general public and free for Connecticut River Museum members.   Reservations are requested and can be made by calling 860-767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street.

About Richard DeLuca

Mr. DeLuca has worked as a transportation planner in Connecticut for ten years and written on regional transportation for Connecticut History and the Encyclopedia of Connecticut History Online.  He is the author of We, the People! Bay Area Activism in the 1960s.

Fiddling Poet Comes to the Kate for Holiday Show with Ace Accompanists

When Ken Waldman, Alaska’s Fiddling Poet, comes to the Kate, he’ll have five stellar musicians joining him. His Friday, December 16, 8 p.m. show is titled From the Kate to Kodiak, and Waldman will host an evening of holiday variety that will transport the audience to the grandeur of Alaska. He’ll be joined by Massachusetts banjo player, guitarist, and flute player, Mark Roberts, by Massachusetts banjo player and flute player, Andrea Cooper, and by three New York City singers, Rosalind Gnatt, Dayle Vander Sande, and Anthony Bellov. Tickets are $25. The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center is at 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook. 860/510-0473 for information. Or www.thekate.org.

Waldman combines old-time Appalachian-style fiddling, original poetry, and Alaska-set storytelling for a performance uniquely his own. The show marks his first Connecticut appearance in almost three years.

Mark Roberts and Andrea Cooper are a Massachusetts-based couple who’ve previously played and recorded with Waldman. Roberts has played internationally for thirty years and was a founding member of the acclaimed Irish band, Touchstone. Cooper often joins him onstage, and they’ve combined banjos, flutes, and pennywhistles from Vancouver to Boston, and beyond.

Rosalind Gnatt, Dayle Vander Sande, and Anthony Bellov are members of the Bond Street Euterpean Singing Society, house artists for the Merchant’s House Museum in Manhattan’s East Village. Their repertoire includes spirited carols.

Ken Waldman, who has eight books and nine CDs, promises a coastal Connecticut music party complete with favorite seasonal songs, rare gems, and special guests. A 25-year Alaska resident, Waldman’s live performance has been described by Austin Chronicle writer, Ric Williams, “Feels like a Ken Burns movie. . . . Always recommended.” Shepherd Express Weekly in Milwaukee termed Waldman, “A one-man Prairie Home Companion.”  More recently, the Denver Post praised Waldman’s mix of music and words, calling it “Renegade Americana.” The holiday-themed evening will appeal to anyone who enjoys traditional music, exquisite singing, smart poetry, acclaimed storytelling, or Alaska. Begin the evening at the Katharine Hepburn
Cultural Center, then journey to Kodiak and back.

More?  www.kenwaldman.com. Or call Ken Waldman at 337/258-5994.

Breast Cancer Survivors Invited to Participate in Exercise Study at Yale

The Hormones and Physical Exercise (HOPE) Study, a Yale School of Public Health study, funded by the National Institutes of Health is expanding and women living on the shoreline are being invited to participate.

Women who have been treated for breast cancer and who are taking an aromatase inhibitor (Femara, Aromasin, Arimidex or a generic version) are being invited to participate in this important study.  Aromatase inhibitors are taken by many post-menopausal women who have had breast cancer.

This research study will examine if a program of strength training combined with moderate intensity aerobic exercise improves the side effects from aromatase inhibitors, such as joint pain and bone loss.

Half the women in the study will be chosen at random to start a 12-month exercise program.  The other half will participate in a health education program for 12 months.

The exercise program will be individually tailored to your needs and will include two supervised strength training sessions per week at the Westbrook YMCA and 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking.  A 12-month membership to the YMCA will be provided to those in the exercise group.

The health education program will involve a health counselor telephoning you once a month to discuss topics of interest for women who have had breast cancer.  Upon completion of the 12-month program, an exercise trainer will also develop a personalized exercise program for you.

All costs related to the study will be paid by the HOPE study.  Office visits will be reimbursed with a $20 gas card and payment of all parking charges. If the 12-month study is completed (including attendance at the 6-month office visit), the participant will receive a $50 gift card to Wal-Mart

If you are interested in learning more about the HOPE Study by phone or email, call 203-764-8427 or email the Principal Investigator, Dr Melinda Irwin at melinda.irwin@yale.edu

Click here for more details

Laura Levine Artist of the Month – Reception December 9

Laura Levine at work on "Saybrook Lights"

 Laura Levine has been selected as the Estuary Council of Seniors December Artist of the Month.  Old Saybrook scenes have been the inspiration for the majority of award winning Laura Levine oil paintings over the last two decades. Working on location, she has become part of the landscape as residents have observed her at work.

Originally from New York, Levine studied at SUNY Purchase and later at the New Brooklyn School for Life Drawing, Painting and Sculpture in New York City.  Her paintings have been featured in galleries and cultural center throughout New England and will be featured at ECSI Marshview Gallery, 220 Main Street in Old Saybrook from December 1 through December 30.  A reception to honor Laura and introduce her work will be held on Friday, December 9 from 5-7:00 pm.  Everyone is welcome.

Commuters Howl About Paying for Parking at the Old Saybrook Railroad Station

Sign for $5 a day parking fee

“I think it is lousy,” said a rushing commuter about the new system of having to pay for parking at the Old Saybrook railroad station. She herself was avoiding paying, by parking for free out on North Main Street.

Another rushing commuter was Nancy Johnson of Old Saybrook. “I am sad about it. It’s awful,” she said about paying for parking at the railroad station. “What’s going to happen, when it snows? It’s going to get worse. People are going to get killed. There are no lights in the parking lot,” she pointed out.

Carolann McNeish of Old Saybrook also protested the new $5 a day parking fee at the station. “We need to encourage people to take the train,” she said. “This discourages them.”

McNeish said that she had called to complain about the new $5 fee for parking at the station. However, she was doubtful that it would do any good. As for her using the free parking area set aside for Shoreline East commuters, she said, “It’s always full.”

Even one of the new parking attendants, hired to collect the $5 fees, said, “A lot of people are complaining.”

What’s going on here? Well, it all began when David M. Adams, a partner of Saybrook Realty Partners, decided that it was time to charge for parking on the private property that his firm owns next to the railroad station. This property, called, Saybrook Junction, encompasses both the parking spaces at the shopping plaza, as well as those next to the railroad station.

To put the new “pay for parking” scheme into effect, Adams hired a large professional firm called LAZ Parking, and LAZ in turn hired two parking attendants to collect $5 a day parking fees from frequently puzzled parkers.

One parking attendant is on duty from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and the second, works from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Since there is no on site booth for the attendants to sit in, they simply wander around the parking lot trying to get parkers to pay the $5 fee for parking, when appropriate. When the attendants get cold, they sit in their cars to warm up.

Not enough free parking spaces for commuters

In addition to putting into place a new “pay-to park” parking scheme, an attempt has also been made to provide free parking for train-bound passengers at two of the station’s “park-free” areas.

Shoreline East's free parking area

One is an enclosed lot set aside for Shoreline East passengers, which faces North Main Street. On this lot there are 160 free parking spaces. However, the problem is that this Shoreline East lot is frequently full.

Also, there is a parking area reserved for Amtrak passengers. This area has 41 free spaces, and on busy days it too can be full.

Both of these free parking areas for train riders are well in the back of the Shoreline Junction’s parking spaces, so it is always something of a walk for Shoreline East and Amtrak passengers to get to the station.

Furthermore, Shoreline East and Amtrak riders are exempt from paying for parking, only when they are parking in their designated areas. Even if a person has a train ticket in hand, and shows it to the attendant, that is not good enough. They have to pay for parking.

The parking spaces closest to the new $6 million railroad station building are those which are reserved exclusively for the patrons of the “Pizza Works, pies and suds” restaurant. These “Pizza Works” parking spaces generally remain empty throughout the day.

Saybrook Junction, the private owner of rail station parking

Bob Kehayias of Pizza Works, while intent on preserving his restaurant’s privileged parking spaces, said in a recent interview that the solution to the parking problem at the railroad station is to build a new, freestanding parking garage, which would provide free parking for all.

Also, Kehayias said that at one time Amtrak owned the parking area next to the railroad station, but then sold them to a private owner, which he felt was very shortsighted. As for the present parking situation at Sayrbook Junction, he says, “Some people are upset and confused.”

Parking for free, away from the station

Still, some commuters have taken the new parking charges in stride. “It was a nice perk, while it lasted,” said one, referring to the days when parking at the station was free. When Pat Thompson of Essex on her way to the train was asked, if she was angry about having to pay for parking, she replied, “Not a bit.”

To end some of the confusion here is a summary of when “to pay, or not to pay” for parking on Saybrook Junction’s property at the Old Saybrook railroad station.

  1. Any person who is doing business with one of Saybrook Junction’s tenants, or who is an employee of one of its tenants, can park for free.
  2. Any person parking in the special area reserved for Shoreline East commuter parking can park for free, if of course they can find a space.
  3. Any person parking in the special spaces reserved for Amtrak passengers, which are indicated by painted yellow stripes, can park for free, if they can find an empty space.
  4. Any person parking in the One Hour Parking row at Saybrook Junction can park for free for one hour.
  5. Any person parking outside the Saybrook Junction parking lot, such as along the side of North Main Street, can park for free.
  6. Any handicapped person can park for free in handicapped spaces at the Saybrook Junction parking lot at the station. However, the handicapped parking spaces in the Pizza Works restaurant area require eating at the restaurant at the time of their use.
  7. Any person that parks in Saybrook Junction’s  parking spaces, which do not fit one of the above “park free” categories, must pay $5 a day for parking. Furthermore, if a person, who is required to pay, wants to park for more than one day, they must pay in advance for the multiple days and display their daily receipts, so they can be seen by the attendants.
  8. As a general rule those persons parking in spaces that are bordered by white stripes are required to pay the $5 a day parking fee.

David Adams, the partner-owner of the Saybrook Junction, said in a recent interview that by instituting charges for parking on their parking lot, “We wanted to get the situation under control and to alleviate the pressure.” Asked about what he felt about those people who are not paying for parking, when they should be, he said, “If there is a ten percent slippage, so what.”

Even with the slippage it appears that charging for parking on   Saybrook Junction’s property at the railroad station is making money. “It’s profitable,” is the way Adams puts it.

Book Review: “27 Months In The Peace Corps. My Story, Unvarnished” by local author

John Guy LaPlante

The following book review will be of interest to local readers as it concerns a book written by one of our own, a man who has for years written a column for local print newspapers as well as for our three on-line news sources. I got to know him a few years ago when I emailed him about one of his columns and have ever since enjoyed corresponding with him and reading of his adventures.

John Guy LaPlante, an octogenarian who has adopted Connecticut as his home, has probably had more adventures since he retired than many people have in their lifetimes.

First there was his trip Around the World at 75, Alone! Dammit!  followed by his journey through Asia In 80 Days, Oops, 83! Dammit! Each of these odysseys was followed by a book, as titled above. Now he gives us his latest work 27 Months In The Peace Corps. My Story, Unvarnished.

His tale begins as he explains why he became interested in Peace Corps. Without giving away any details, it had something to do with a concert. He moves on through the application and vetting processes, both very detailed and sometimes grueling. His delight at being accepted is somewhat tempered when he learns that he will be sent, not to a Francophone country, as might befit his ability to speak French, but to Ukraine, as an English teacher.

Then come the challenges of getting ready for the trip: deciding what to take, how to deal with all the responsibilities that will remain in Connecticut. The story of getting to the train station  and why he had to leave a wastebasket on the train are clues that his experience and his ability to narrate it are going to be unique. A preliminary meeting in Philadelphia is followed by the flight to Ukraine. Here he discovers, as do all Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs), no doubt, a little bit about what he is in for. He will be posted to the city of Chernihiv.

Three months of training, including some less-than-successful language lessons and he is now a full-fledged volunteer, facing groups of college-age students in English language discussion groups.  As his tale progresses, we meet all sorts of fascinating people: his students, American and Ukrainian Peace Corps staff members, his three host families, American ex-pats living in Ukraine, European travelers, an Iranian family with whom he shares food on a bus and Joe Biden. That’s right, he crossed paths with the Vice-President.

Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to do more that just teach. In the course of his two-year service, John undertakes a few projects, with varying degrees of success: one is to develop a guide to using the city transit system which consists of three different modes: trolley buses, buses and marshrutkas (mini-vans), all very baffling and greatly in need of some sort of organized guide; his other project is to digitize the local library, an institution he comes to greatly appreciate. Add to this a French club and his desire to see and do as much as he can while there and it’s easy to see why the whole experience was such a great adventure.

A few common denominators are the fact that he misses his home and family although we never get the feeling that he is homesick. He misses many of the things that we take for granted (toast!) and he obviously misses the lady in his life, identified only as Milady Annabelle, with whom he is lucky to connect during his service.

However, this is not just a narrative or travelogue. This book would be invaluable for anyone, 18 or 80, contemplating service in  Peace Corps. The processes of both getting in and getting out are carefully detailed. The benefits are clearly laid out as are the drawbacks. Of particular interest are the suggestions, drawn from a lifetime of experience, that he makes for improving  Peace Corps and the experiences of those in it. Many of the chapters end with a “Did You Know” section in which he reminds readers of information about Peace Corps. He is not afraid to “tell it like it is”; we see Peace Corps, warts and all. But on balance, the reader will come away from the book feeling that John’s experience in Peace Corps was a positive one, one that makes it easy to understand why many Peace Corps volunteers “re-up” for another round of service.

John writes as he speaks and in so doing tells a captivating tale. This is a book which can be easily read on two levels: by an armchair traveler who will see the story of a bold retiree undertaking something normally appealing to younger folk (indeed. for a while, he was the oldest active PCV in the world) or by someone interested in joining Peace Corps. In either case, you are guaranteed an enjoyable “read.”

Capella Cantorum to Perform “Petite Messe Solennelle”

Music Director/Conductor and co-founder of Cappella Cantorum, Barry B. Asch

Cappella Cantorum, a 100 voice community chorus conducted by co-founder Barry Asch since 1970, will perform Rossini’s “Petite Messe Solennelle,” a work with a misleading title, on Saturday December 3 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 4 at 3:00 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Road , Deep River, Rt. 80 or Exit 5 off Rt. 9.

The “Petite Messe Solennelle was composed in 1863, and is scored for four soloists and chorus with harmonium and two piano accompaniment.  The works title is misleading since the “Petite Messe Solennelle” is neither petite nor particularly solemn. Despite the religious text, it is unmistakably operatic in style.  The music ranges from hushed intensity to boisterous high spirits, and abounds in the memorable tunes and rhythmic vitality for which Rossini became justly famous.

Tickets are $20 and available at Celebrations, Deep River; Homeworks, Old Saybrook; The Bowerbird, Old Lyme; and Stewart’s Music, Niantic or call 860-767-8452, children twelve and under are free.

Estuary Council of Seniors Receives $20,000 Grant for New Oven!

The Walmart Foundation – MOWAA (Meals on Wheels Assn. of America) Building the Future Grant has been awarded to The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. for $20,000 towards the purchase a new double stack Combi oven costing $41,000.

ECSI applied for this “Impact Grant” because they had a 20 year old oven that was often broken and not reliable to cook 100,000 meals per year.  The impact of having this new oven is enormous!  They are now much more efficient, saving money, reducing staff time and confident that all our Meals on Wheels meals are delivered hot and nutritious to the homebound seniors in the 10 towns they serve.

ECSI also received individual donations from our appeal letter, a $5,000 grant from the F. Curtis Thrall and Susan B. Thrall Foundation, and a $500 donation from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex.

New Childwatch program at Valley-Sho​re YMCA

Expanded babysitting service at the Valley-Shore YMCA makes it easier to find time to exercise.

In an effort to better serve the community and the needs of members, the Valley-Shore YMCA is offering a free hour of babysitting while you workout. This service, called Childwatch, is open to children from eight weeks to eight years old during mornings and evenings, including Saturdays.

“We have a wide array of members with varied schedules,” said Stacey McGee, Director of Healthy Living at Valley-Shore YMCA. “We saw the need for more Childwatch hours so they can take advantage of our facility.”

Members using of the service can expect their child to be taken care of by a mature, well-trained adult. Children are entertained with arts and craft projects, games and social activities with other children.

The Valley-Shore YMCA serves 8,000 children and adults along the shoreline area at our 40,000-square-foot facility. We have two, six-lane swimming pools and a full-sized gymnasium and fitness center. Established in 1975, the Valley-Shore Y is a non-profit organization focused on building strong kids, strong families and strong communities.

For more information, visit www.vsymca.org or call (860) 399-9622.