November 18, 2017

In 33rd CT Senate District, Incumbent Linares, Challenger Needleman State Their Respective Cases

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

In a recent fund raising e-mail message, State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) stated his case for re-election  for a third term in this November’s general election. The 33rd Senate District includes the town of Lyme.

He said, “Over the past two years, we have taken on the big spenders, as well as those who believe that temporary cuts are the way to deal with the budget up in Hartford. I stood up and voted against a budget that called for quick one time solutions, which would continue to be a burden on the citizens of our state.”

Linares continued, “I will not stop making the argument that in order to solve our fiscal problems, we need a real structural change to how we spend our tax payer dollars. We also need to put forth policies that promote a business friendly environment, so that those who create jobs have an opportunity to do so.”

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

When asked to comment on his qualifications as a State Senator, Norman Needleman, the Democratic candidate opposing Senator Linares, wrote, “As a local business owner for over 30 years and a first selectman for almost five years, I know how we can get Hartford to work better for our businesses and towns. I’m running for state Senate to change how state government budgets and operates. I will be a Senator who finds real solutions to Connecticut’s fiscal problems.”

Apart from Lyme, the extensive 33rd State Senate district for which Linares and Needleman are competing, includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland, Westbrook and portions of Old Saybrook.

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Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna Chastises Both Parties for Current Budget Mess 

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

In an exclusive interview with Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr., on May 2, Fortuna, a Republican, castigated the leadership of both parties for putting the state of Connecticut, “into a budgetary mess.” Fortuna expressed particular alarm that the state’s budgetary shortfall will be over $1.5 billion, “and that’s for this year alone,” he stressed.

“That is $1.5 million,” Fortuna repeated.
Furthermore, Fortuna said that in the next two years, the state’s budgetary shortfall would reach over $4 billion. He commented that a contributing factor to the state budget’s shortfall is, “Retired civil servants are living longer and longer.”
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Essex’s Medical Center Closed Almost Two Years Ago, Plans for Empty Building Not Yet Determined

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since.

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

It has now been almost two years, April 28, 2014 to be exact, since Middlesex Hospital closed its medical center in Essex. For the present, however, according to Middlesex Hospital’s Director of Public Relations, Peg Arico, there are “no plans” by the hospital regarding the future of the shuttered facility.

Signs threatening prosecution for trespassers stand on the grounds of Middlesex Hospital's former medical center in Essex.

Signs threatening prosecution for trespassers stand on the grounds of Middlesex Hospital’s former medical center in Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in a separate interview that he had learned that Middlesex Hospital had retained an “outside consultant” to explore options for its unused hospital facility in Essex. Currently only “No Trespassing” signs mark the site.

Some Essex residents have expressed the hope that Middlesex Hospital will soon decide what to do with the unused and, generally considered, unattractive property in Essex. There is a feeling that the “No Trespassing” signs on Westbrook Rd. are not an especially pleasant way to welcome visitors entering historic Essex.

At the same time, Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center patient care facilities in Westbrook, which replaced the Essex clinic, have been very well received by Essex residents in general.

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CT Legislators Support Study to Preserve Plum Island From Commercial Development

Aerial voew of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

Aerial view of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

Last Thursday, March 24, at a press conference in Old Saybrook, a triumvirate of Congressional legislators from Connecticut, State Senator Richard Blumenthal and US Representatives  Joe Courtney (D-2nd District) and Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) confirmed their support for a study to determine the future of Plum Island located in Long Island Sound.

Members of the Plum Island Coalition — which has some 65 member organizations all dedicated to preserving the island —  were in attendance to hear the good news.

The island still houses a high-security, federal animal disease research facility, but the decision has already been taken to move the facility to a new location in Kansas with an opening slated for 2022. The current facility takes up only a small percentage of the land on the island and significantly for environmentalists, the remainder of the island has for years been left to nature in the wild.

In supporting a federal study on the future of Plum Island, Sen. Blumenthal said, “This study is a step towards saving a precious, irreplaceable national treasure from developers and polluters. It will provide the science and fact-based evidence to make our case for stopping the current Congressional plan to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder.”

He continued, “The stark truth is the sale of Plum Island is no longer necessary to build a new bioresearch facility because Congress has fully appropriated the funds. There is no need for this sale – and in fact, Congress needs to rescind the sale.” 

Congress, however, still has a law on the books that authorizes the sale of Plum Island land to the highest bidder. Therefore, opponents of the sale will have the burden of convincing Congress to change a law that is currently in place.

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Local Essex Realtor’s 2015 Sales – Including in Lyme, Old Lyme – Total $24.8 Million

Award-winning Essex realtor Colette Harron stands outside the Sotheby's International office on Main Street in Essex.

Award-winning Essex realtor Colette Harron stands outside the Sotheby’s International office on Main Street in Essex.

ESSEX — Essex resident Colette Harron of Sotheby’s International Realty sold an unprecedented $24.8 million of real estate in the 2015 calendar year. This record-breaking amount not only placed Harron in the “Top 15 Company Wide Dollar Volume” in sales among Sotheby’s 1,500 realtors but also put in the “Top Producer’s Dollar Volume” in the Sotheby’s sales office in Essex.

The properties that Harron sold last year were located in the towns of Essex, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Deep River and Chester. As for the keys to her success, Harron said in a recent interview, “I work very hard, and even more importantly I always make myself available for my clients.” She also noted, “I know the area very well.”

In addition, Harron has Joanne Tyrol as a full time assistant, who Harron described as, “Just Perfect.”

Harron also noted, “I’m well established in the community, and have been doing this work for the last 15 years,” adding, “I’m always working, and I am always available.” In addition to English, Harron is also in fluent in Spanish and French. Another secret of her exceptional performance is, in Harron’s words, “I try not to remember the bad times, and just remember the good.” She concluded, “It is a tough business, and the challenges are high,” … but there is no question that she has made the very best of both.

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Essex Resident Recalls When Donald Trump Was His Legal Client in New York City

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump on the 2016 campaign trail.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump on the 2016 campaign trail..

Editor’s Note: As a result of his overwhelming victory in South Carolina, Donald Trump is again front and center in the news, so we’re pleased to run this timely story from our regular contributor, Jerome Wilson, of Jerry’s personal memories of a man with whom he disagreed passionately on the political front, but whom he found to be — many might say surprisingly — both friendly and gracious in their business dealings.

A couple of decades ago, the present leading Republican candidate for President, Donald Trump, was a legal client of mine when I was a lawyer at the law firm of Rogers & Well in New York City.

I shall never forget my first personal meeting with Trump. It took place in Trump’s office on the top floor of the Trump Towner on Fifth Avenue in New York City. After gesturing that I take a seat opposite him at his huge desk, Trump started the conversation by asking, “You’re Jewish, aren’t you, Jerry?” I replied that “No,” I was not Jewish.

After this personal exchange, Trump and I turned to discussing legal matters pertaining to the new apartment complex that he was then building on New York City’s west side.

"The Trump Bouquet"“The Trump Bouquet”

Following this first meeting, subsequently, on a number of occasions, Trump invited me to join him when he was addressing civic groups in New York City. When I went along, Trump would always very graciously introduce me to the audience. This meant, invariably, that after Trump had finished speaking, a crowd of people would come over to meet me, wanting to speak with someone who was with the famed Donald Trump.

Then, during that period, when I married my wife, Ulla, Trump sent over to us a huge bouquet of flowers, which Ulla immediately referred to as, “The Trump bouquet.”

Looking back as a life-time Democrat, who served as a Democratic state senator in New York at one time, it is exceeding doubtful that I would ever vote for Trump for President, especially since he has now become a Republican.

However, I do recall from those days of long ago that Trump was always a pleasure to work with, and, in fact, if he were now running as a Democrat for President, I could well see why people would support him.

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Linares Supporting Rubio for President, Hosting $2,700 per Person Event in Stamford  

Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

State Senator Art Linares is supporting U.S. Senator Marco Rubio for President of the United States. Linares made his presidential choice known by inviting contributors to attend a $2,700 a person fundraiser for Rubio on Thursday, June 4, from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Hilton Stamford Hotel at 1 First Stamford Place in Stamford.

“Marco Rubio, A New American Century” is the theme of the event, which will feature, “A roundtable discussion with U.S. Senator Rubio” by those attending. Linares is co-hosting the Rubio event with Republican State Chairman Jerry Labriola and Chris Meek.

Tickets to the Rubio event can be obtained by contacting Anne Rogers at arogers@marcorubio.com, or by calling 662-315-4775. Those persons who wish to purchase a ticket to the event, or to make a contribution to the Marco Rubio for President campaign, can do so provided they fill out a form giving their payment method, name, occupation, phone number, email address, mailing address, and spouse’s name, occupation of spouse if it is a joint contribution, among other personal information.

Also noted is that, “Contributions to Marco Rubio for President are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.” Similarly noted is, “Individuals may contribute up to $2,700 for the Primary Election,” and the statement that, “Contributions from corporations, labor union, foreign nationals [as specified] and federal government contractors are not permitted.”

Editor’s Note: The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Town of Lyme.

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Former Governor Lowell Weicker Lauds President Obama’s New Openness to Cuba      

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Lowell Weicker, a former Governor and Senator of Connecticut, has expressed his support for the Obama’s administration new policy of normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. In taking this position, Weicker noted in an interview at his home in Old Lyme with ValleyNewsNow yesterday that current polls show that 60 percent of Americans support diplomatic recognition of Cuba.

In adopting a new U.S. relationship with Cuba, Weicker said, “Finally, we are catching up with the times.” He continued, “The U.S. embargo has lasted for 50 years, yet country after country has recognized Cuba with only the United States in not doing so.” Weicker also expressed criticism of those who oppose the Obama Administration new policy of recognizing Cuba, such as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Positive Aspects of Today’s Cuba

According to Weicker, “The most positive aspects of the present Castro regime in Cuba are in the areas of health care and good public education. Ninety nine percent of Cubans have free health care and good public education, a complete turnaround from the days of Battista.” At the same time, Weicker faulted the present Cuban government, “for its lack of human rights and democratic elections.”

As for his personal relationship with Cuba, the former Connecticut Governor said, “My family owned a large business in Cuba, which was expropriated by the Castro government, after Battista fled the island. No one, especially myself, is going to extol Castro’s confiscation of private property.”

Weicker also noted his, “deep personal distaste for the dictatorship of Flugencio Battista, who preceded Fidel Castro. Early on,” he said, “most of the Cuban immigrants to the United States were allied with Battista. Indeed in my losing the 1988 Senate campaign, the Florida Cuban community poured late money into Senator Joe Lieberman’s campaign.”

Weicker’s Two Trips to Castro’s Cuba

Photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Weicker also stated, “When I was a U.S. Senator, I made two trips to Cuba in the early 1980s. The first was to organize a joint American-Cuban marine science mission. The second was to secure the release of six American women imprisoned in Cuba.” According to Weicker, he, “convinced Castro, personally, to release the women who were in jail on drug charges. Two of the six were from Connecticut.”

Weicker described how, while in Cuba, he and Castro went diving together and spent many hours discussing Cuban-American relations. When Castro inquired whether there was anything he could do for Weicker, the Senator jokingly responded by requesting the Major League Baseball franchise for Havana. Castro’s response was, ‘No, we keep that.’”

In Weicker’s account, “When I announced to the Senate that I was to go to Cuba to retrieve the six women, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina tried to block the trip.” Failing that endeavor, Helms asked Weicker, confidentially, if he could bring back some cigars for him.

Weicker also makes the point that the wrapper leaf for Cuban cigars are traditionally grown in Connecticut, so Connecticut would directly benefit from the lifting of U.S. restrictions on the importation of Cuban cigars.

In conclusion, Weicker said, “Cuban dictator Battista was bad news, and I agree that the Castro brothers have had their own failings.” However, Weicker does not want the U.S. to live in the past as regards Cuba. He states, “It is only a question of time … Cuba will become more and more democratic. It is a new world, and one that should see two old friends reconcile.”

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Local Legislators Applaud $2 Million Bond Issue to Help Purchase The Preserve

From left to right, Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, Essex resident Suellen McCuin, Chris Cryder of Save the Sound, Kate Brown of The Trust for Public Land, Sen. Paul Formica, Rep. Phil Miller, Sen. Art Linares, Rep. Devin Carney,  Rep. Terrie Wood, Jim Millard of The Trust for Public Land and Lori Fernand of The Trust for Public Land.

From left to right, Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, Essex resident Suellen McCuin, Chris Cryder of Save the Sound, Kate Brown of The Trust for Public Land, Sen. Paul Formica, Rep. Phil Miller, Sen. Art Linares, Rep. Devin Carney, Rep. Terrie Wood, Jim Millard of The Trust for Public Land and Lori Fernand of The Trust for Public Land.

Five state legislators, State Senators Art Linares and Paul Formica, and State Representatives Phillip Miller, Devin Carney and Jesse MacLachan have applauded the Jan. 12, approval of a $2 million state bond issue to assist in the acquisition of the Preserve. The Preserve property consists of 1,000 acres along the shore of Long Island Sound that is presently open space.

“This is terrific news,” said Sen. Art Linares, who represents Essex, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. “Permanently protecting this forest and wetland is critical, not only for the animal and plant species whose survival greatly depends upon it, but also for the local communities whose water supplies and recreational enjoyment of Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River could be irreparably damaged if development were to occur.  This news is the result of the determination of the many environmental champions in our region, like Rep. Phil Miller and former Rep. Marilyn Giuliano.  We also thank Gov. Malloy for his commitment to this effort.”

“I am delighted to see this vast expanse of land will be protected for future generations. Residents in southeastern Connecticut care deeply for the environment and enjoy hiking and bird watching in The Preserve, among other recreational activities.  This wise purchase by the state will ensure that future generations will be able to continue the stewardship of this land,” said Sen. Paul Formica, who represents Old Saybrook and is a member of the Energy and Technology Committee.  “I thank Rep. Phil Miller, former Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, The Trust for Public Land and the many environmental advocates from our region who have worked so hard for this funding.”

“The approval today by the Bond Commission of $2 million in funding to ensure the purchase of The Preserve shoreline property represents an important landmark decision that is certainly welcomed.” said Rep. Philip Miller (D – Essex/Chester/ Deep River/Haddam). “This will enable us to protect and preserve open space property that will benefit not only people who live in the region, but all of Connecticut’s citizens, for generations to come.”

“The funding for the Preserve will allow generations to come the opportunity to enjoy some breathtaking landscape in its unencumbered state, right here in Connecticut” said Rep. Devin Carney (R), representing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. “Many people in Old Saybrook and along the shoreline will be thrilled by the finalization of these funds. For many, it has been a long time coming – I am happy to see that all of their passion and hard work has paid off.”

“The citizens of Connecticut value the abundance of beauty within our state and want it to be protected in perpetuity,” said Rep. Jesse MacLachlan (R), representing Clinton, Westbrook and Killingworth.  “It’s wonderful to see that we
are making it a top priority to preserve the natural beauty and rural character of towns along the shoreline. Only through initiatives like these can our state’s rural areas obtain the true protection they need for years to come. I’d also like to express my sincere gratitude to all parties involved in seeing this come to fruition.”

Other Facts about The Preserve

Voters in Old Saybrook authorized the town to provide $3 million in funding to purchase a portion of The Preserve located in Old Saybrook and a small piece in Westbrook. The Trust for Public has also raised an estimated $1.2 million to cover the final portion of funding for the purchase, and the Essex Land Trust has agreed to purchase 70 acres of land in Essex that is a portion of The Preserve with the help of a $471,250 open space grant from DEEP.

One of the numerous  vernal pools found on The Preserve.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

One of the numerous vernal pools found on The Preserve. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

The Preserve consists of approximately 1,000 acres of land along Long Island Sound in three towns: 926 acres in Old Saybrook; 71 acres in Essex; and four acres in Westbrook. The Preserve includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, more than 3,100 linear feet of watercourses, high quality coastal forest, and an Atlantic White Cedar swamp.

The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a critical refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. In all, more than 100 species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds thrive on this property, some of which are state-listed species of special concern and others of which are declining in other areas of the state.

In addition to its recreational and habitat resources, The Preserve provides important water quality benefits to residents.  Surface waters on the property drain to three different watersheds: the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, as they make their way to Long Island Sound.  The protection of The Preserve will ensure that storm water on the site is recharged to local aquifers.  An aquifer protection area is located just east of the Preserve and supplies an average of 200,000 gallons per day of drinking water to Old Saybrook and surrounding communities.

The Preserve also offers benefits for coastal resiliency in the face of climate change, and conservation of it will ensure lessened storm water impacts from hurricanes and other intense storms. The Preserve acts act as a sponge for storm water, releasing it slowly into the tributaries and rivers that lead to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, protecting downstream property owners from flooding.

Editor’s Note: This article was prepared directly from a press release issued by the House Republican Office.

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Linares Denies Rumors of Challenge to Courtney in Next Election

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

“I have heard the rumors,” State Representative Phil Miller told ValleyNewsNow.com in a recent interview regarding State Senator Art Linares considering a challenge to Congressman Joe Courtney in the 2016 elections. Miller noted that the 2014 elections were tough for Democrats, citing the loss of 14 State Representative seats in the statehouse. Miller also commented that he, himself, had an uphill battle to survive the Republican sweep.

Linares’ spokesman, Adam Liegeot, said, “No,” however, when asked if Linares might challenge Courtney in the next Congressional race.

Linares’ numbers in the last election were impressive. He beat his Democratic challenger, Emily Bjornberg, 22,335 to 17,046, out of a total 39,932 votes cast. The percentages were: 56 percent for Linares and 43 percent for Bjornberg. Most impressive about Republican Linares’ victory was that he won what was once considered a safe Democratic district.

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

As for Courtney in the last election, he won his fifth term in office with landslide numbers against New London real estate agent Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh. Many considered the Congressman’s challenger weak, however, and state Republicans did not appear to mount a major effort to defeat Courtney.

The Republicans already control the House of Representatives, 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats. Some might argue that if Linares were to become a member of the House Majority, he would be in a better position to help his constituents than Minority member Courtney.

In the same interview, State Representative Phil Miller also commented on what he considered the negativity of candidate Bjornberg’s recent campaign against Linares. “People around here don’t like that,” Miller said. In contrast, however, it might be noted that the winning candidate for Governor, Dan Malloy, ran highly negative TV ads charging that his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, paid no taxes, and yet Malloy went on to win in what was, unquestionably, a tough year for the Democrats.

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Re-Run of Race for Judge of Probate in Old Saybrook District

Voters of nine towns, including Lyme, in central Connecticut will decide on Nov. 4 whether to re-elect Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme of Essex for a second, four-year term or to replace him with Attorney Anselmo Delia of Clinton. The two ran against each other four years ago in 2010 when Lomme won by 419 votes. In the 2010 race, Lomme carried the town of Lyme, along with Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme and Old Saybrook while Delia carried Clinton, Haddam, Killingworth and Westbrook.

When Lomme ran against Delia in 2010, he committed that, if elected, he would become a full time Judge of Probate. However, after his election Lomme changed his position and in a recent interview he explained, “I thought the job would require a full time judge. However, once we merged the courts, I realized that it was not necessary to be on the job every minute, when the court is open.” The merger to which Lomme is referring was when the probate courts in nine towns were merged into a single court in Old Saybrook.

In the 2014 campaign, Lomme has been nominated unanimously for re-election for a second term by the Democratic Nominating Convention. The convention cited Lomme’s “invaluable experience” in urging his re-election. The convention also noted Judge Lomme’s pivotal role, “for implementing, successfully, the merger of the nine former town probate courts into a single Saybrook Court District.”

Lomme’s Record as a Judge

Discussing his work over the past four years as a Judge of Probate, Lomme said in a recent interview that he had held over 3,500 hearings since becoming a judge. He also observed  that most Judges of Probate in the State of Connecticut maintain private law practices. As for his current campaign for re-election, Lomme charged that his Republican opponent did not have the necessary experience to do the job. Lomme said that Attorney Delia has had only four cases before the probate court over the past four years.

In addition to serving as a Judge of Probate, Lomme in his capacity as a private attorney has represented a major New York City developer before regulatory bodies of the Town of Essex, including five public hearings before the Essex Planning Commission and another before the Essex Zoning Commission.

The Republican Challenger

Delia, Lomme’s Republican challenger, notes that he has been an attorney for 34 years and has represented legal clients in every federal and state court in Connecticut. Delia cites that he has chaired many important public bodies in his hometown of Clinton, including the planning and zoning commission, the board of education and the Youth and Family Service Bureau.

With regard to being a Judge of Probate, Delia comments, “Four years ago … I promised, as I do now, that if elected I would terminate my private practice and serve as a full time Judge of Probate. My opponent has opted to continue his private practice during his term in office. I believed then, as I believe now, that the office warrants the level of attention and avoidance of conflict of interest afforded by a full commitment.” Delia said, “I am ready to do the job from day one,” adding though, “It may take as much as six months to wind up matters with present clients.”

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Old Saybrook Couple, Old Lyme Church Sponsor Trip to NYC to Join Climate March, Sept. 21

Rally-Washington-1-580x357

Editor’s Note 9/14:  Bus is now full.
A committed Old Saybrook couple, Dave and Mariette Brown, have teamed up with the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme to arrange for a bus of local residents to go to New York City on Sunday, Sept. 21.  The purpose of the trip is to attend, “The world’s largest rally in history to support meaningful action to combat the scourge of climate change,” according to the rally’s sponsors.

The New York City rally will coincide with a meeting of international leaders at the United Nations, focusing on stemming changes in the world’s climate conditions.  Over 850 groups from across the country are slated to come to the ‘Big Apple’ for a massive outpouring of support to deal with climate change.

So far, according to the Browns, half of the seats on the rented, 54-passenger bus have been reserved with some 20 seats still available.  To reserve a seat on the bus, call 860-388-9194 or e-mail dmbrown@snet.net 

The New York round trip on the chartered bus costs $35.  Also, persons who are unable to take the trip to New York, but who wish to buy someone else a bus ticket, should contact the Browns.

Although the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is co-sponsoring the trip to New York City, the Browns are responsible for handling the sale of the bus tickets.

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Essex Island Marina Sells for $3,465,000, More Than Some Expected

marina-1-580x435

The welcoming building at the Essex Island Marina.

One of the prospective bidders said before the auction took place that he had decided not to bid, “because of possible environmental problems that a purchaser might have to address.” Also, this naysayer said that there was a rumor that Jack Brewer tried to buy the property before the auction took place, but that his offer had not been not accepted by the owner.

Typical luxury yacht found at Essex Island Marina

One of the many luxury yachts found at Essex Island Marina.

Since there was no mutually agreed upon sale of the property before the auction date of August 5, the formal Absolute Auction of the Essex Island Marina was ready to go. The auction began shortly after eleven o’clock on Tuesday, August 5, and there was an interested crowd of some 100 people in attendance, all seated under a large tent on the grounds of the Essex Island Marina. Most of those in attendance were interested spectators, but at least 20 in the crowd were serious bidders, who came prepared with $75,000 deposit in-hand.

A sizable crowd attended the JJManning’s “Absolute Auction” of the Essex Island Marina

The interest in the property by these serious bidders was understandable, since what was being auctioned off was one of the premium marinas along the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

The auction itself was conducted by Justin J. Manning, who is the President and CEO of JJManning Auctioneers, which is headquartered in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts. Manning began the auction with the friendly query, “Did anyone come by boat today?” However, it turned out that no one had, so he got down to the business at hand.

The “Manning” Style of Running an Auction

Manning’s style in conducting the auction of the Essex Island Marina was to engage in a continuous line of chatter. He would only pause to accept a bid of a certain amount. Then, immediately after accepting this bid, he would ask for a higher one. Generally, the higher amount that he called for, was in the $50,000 range.

Justin Manning, who conducted the recent "Absolute Auction" at the Essex Island Marina

Justin Manning, who conducted the recent “Absolute Auction” at the Essex Island Marina.

The only time Manning paused in his continuous line of chatter of accepting and asking for new higher bids, was to permit a bidder to stop the auction for 30 seconds, so that the he or she could speak with an attorney or money source on the telephone. Once the thirty seconds was up, Manning immediately continued his auction patter.

In his introduction before the formal bidding began, Manning noted that his family has been in the auctioning business since 1976. As for the mindset of the present owner of the Essex Island Marina, Manning said, “He’s done, he wants to retire, and get out of the marina business.”

Also, before the auction began Manning read out loud a detailed description of the property being auctioned. He also said that prospective bidders had been given confidential information about the property that was not available to the general public.

Manning explained that the winner of the auction would have to pay a 10% Buyer’s Premium on top of the highest bid, to arrive at the total purchase price, and the final closing of the sale would take place on or before September 18.

In his remarks before the auction began, Manning stressed that the property was being sold “as is,” In addition, he said the boats presently with slips at the marina for the season would not have their leases cancelled. Manning also noted before the auction that there were 35 slip owners, presently at the marina, who wanted to turn the marina into a private yacht club condominium. However, this prospect faded quickly, when the actual bidding began.

The sale at auction included all the real estate of the marina, Manning said, and the equipment listed in the P&S.

The “Absolute Auction” Begins

At the auction itself, Manning first asked for a bid of $5 million for the property. No one responded, so he slipped down to asking for $2.5 million. There was still no response. Finally, the bidding opened at $400,000, then $1.2 million, $2 million, $2.3 million, $2.4 million, $2.5 million, $2.6 million, $2.65 million, and then before you knew it the bidding had climbed to well above $3 million, until it reached the final auction price. Manning exhorted the bidding to continue, but to no avail. After a further pause, he proclaimed the winner of the auction, who was none other than Jack Brewer.

The actual bidding in the auction took no more than forty minutes. Also, worth noting was that the auctioneer Justin Manning wore a stylish, dark blue suit, with a tastefully appropriate shirt and tie. Clearly, this was no “blue collar “country auction, where the auctioneer pauses from time, to time to spit from the tobacco he has been chewing.

When it was all over a number of guests at that auction stayed around to compare notes. It was a general consensus that Jack Brewer could have paid less for the marina, if he had been able to strike a deal with the marina owner before the actual auction took place. JJ Manning proved to be a master in running up the price to over $3 million.

Jack Brewer Now Owns 29 Marinas

Nevertheless, even though Brewer may have paid somewhat more than what was anticipated, in the view of one the visitors at the auction, he has purchased a property that will be the flagship of what is now his 29 Brewer marinas. Also, since he already owns two marinas in Essex Harbor he has a clear monopoly on rental slips there.

The former owner of the Essex Island Marina, Wally Schieferdecker said, when the auction was all over, “I’m not happy, I’m not sad, and I am glad it is over.” The Schieferdecker family had owned and operated the marina for 56 years.

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Blumenthal Urges “Yes” Vote by Old Saybrook to Grant $3 Million Towards Purchase of ‘The Preserve’

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at July 7 rally for a “yes vote” at July 8 referendum

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at July 7 rally for a “Yes” vote at July 8 referendum

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal came to the Old Saybrook Green on Monday, July 7, to urge Old Saybrook voters to vote “Yes” in a referendum to grant $3 million of town monies to help purchase 930 undeveloped acres in the open land known as The Preserve. The referendum for Old Saybrook voters will be held on Tuesday, July 8, at the Old Saybrook High School gymnasium, and the polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Other public officials urging a “Yes” vote on the July 8 town referendum were: Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, State Representative Phil Miller; and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna said in his prepared remarks, “This property has been at the center of attention, good and bad, for 20 years. It is now time for resolution. We are optimistic that enough private and public funds can be raised to purchase the property and preserve The Preserve in its natural state. The Town will work cooperatively with all parties in this effort, including DEEP. Most importantly, I will work for and listen to Old Saybrook’s residents as they decide the future of this parcel.”

State Representative Miller said in his prepared remarks, “We’re grateful to the citizens of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, and our allies, the Trust for Public Land, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Governor Malloy, Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Congressman Courtney, First Selectmen Fortuna and Needleman and the Connecticut legislature. A thousand acres forever preserved. What a rightful thing.”

Essex First Selectman Urges “Yes Vote”

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in his prepared remarks, “Over in Essex, we’re excited about the proposition for acquiring this majestic property. Essex will hold a public hearing and town meeting to approve a $200,000 appropriation for the purchase on July 16 and look forward to joining our neighbors in Old Saybrook in support of this wonderful project.”

The Essex town meeting to consider approval of the town’s $200,000 appropriation to The Preserve’s acquisition will be held at 6:45 p.m. on July 16 at Essex Town Hall.

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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal with State Senate candidate Emily Bjornberg at the July 7 rally for a “Yes” vote.

Other Supporters of Acquisition

Other remarks for the occasion were offered by Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who said, “Coming off July Fourth weekend, this is an exciting time for Old Saybrook to exercise their patriotic rights and vote to protect this important piece of land here in town.”

Also, Alicia Sullivan, Connecticut State Director of the Trust for Public Land said, “We commend Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for the state’s early funding commitment to this significant landscape. Also, we are grateful to Senator Blumenthal and our congressional delegation for supporting federal conservation programs that the state will use for this acquisition.”

An audience of some 30 to 40 persons attended the pre-vote July 7 rally.

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Incumbent State Senator Linares Faces Strong Challenge from Democrat Bjornberg

Bjornberg flanked by State Representative Phil Miller and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Bjornberg flanked by State Representative Phil Miller and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Determined to recapture the state senate seat in the 33rd District, which Democrats held for many years, a united Democratic Party has now fielded Emily Bjornberg, as the party’s candidate. Bjornberg, 32-years-old, is a resident of Lyme, the wife of an Iraq War veteran and the mother of two children, ages 4 and 7.

The basic theme of Bjornberg’s campaign is that the incumbent Republican State Senator Art Linares, although he may be a personable young man, is ideologically out of sync with the residents of the Senate district. That district encompasses 12 Connecticut River towns including Lyme, as well as Essex, Deep River, Chester, Old Saybrook and Westbrook, along with six other neighboring towns as well.

Specifically, Bjornberg faults Linares for: voting twice against raising the state’s minimum wage; being against a reduction in income tax credits for state residents; voting against public school funding; and having the third worst record in the State Senate in supporting environmental legislation.

Democratic Senate candidate Emily Bjornberg in Ivoryton

Democratic Senate candidate Emily Bjornberg in Ivoryton.

Positions that the Democratic candidate mentions in her campaign literature are her support for: increasing state assistance for small businesses; responsible management of state finances; holding the line on local property taxes; standing up for all women and their right to make their own health care decisions; helping every veteran to find work and end veteran homelessness; and, finally, she would, “Protect the environment of our beautiful and unique Connecticut River Valley.”

Tough Race Anticipated

Bjornberg said at a recent campaign event on the Ivoryton Green, “It is going to be a tough race.” Although differing with the incumbent on many issues, she acknowledges that he, “Is marvelous in following up on citizens’ complaints.” However, ideologically, she stresses that she strongly disagrees with many of his Linares’ legislative positions.

As for endorsements of her candidacy, Bjornberg said that former State Senator Eileen Daily, who held the post for over 20 years, has endorsed her, as has incumbent State Representative Phil Miller. Miller said at the recent Ivoryton function that Senator Linares is, “A nice young person, who has no clue as to what is going on.”

Miller also expressed the fear that Republicans would spend enormous amounts of out-of-state money to keep Linares in office in Connecticut. In addition to Miller, attending the Ivoryton event was: Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme, who is running for re-election; Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman and Essex Selectman Stacy Libby.

In her remarks in Ivoryton, Bjornberg noted that her family (the Reynolds family of Lyme) had lived in the region for seven generations and presently runs a local car dealership.

At the Ivoryton event, every seat was taken in the building on the Green and some supporters estimated that as many as 40 people were present to hear what the candidate had to say.

If elected, Bjornberg would become one of 36 members of the Connecticut State Senate. Representative Phil Miller characterizes the 33rd District as, “A grand, sprawling district. “

Also at the event, a supporter mentioned that if she were elected, Bjornberg would be entitled to a low numbered license plate for her car. In response, the Democratic candidate said firmly, “I would never run for office for a license plate.”

A smiling supporter with Democratic Senate candidate Bjornberg

A smiling supporter with Democratic Senate candidate Bjornberg.

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What is a Conservator? When Should One be Appointed? Probate Judge Lomme Explains

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme.

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme.

Let’s take an all too common case along the shoreline.  Grandmother has been a widow for several years now, and gradually, gradually, the ordinary chores of keeping a banking account, paying bills, and having her finances in order, have become too much for her.

In such a case, grandma herself can go before a local Probate Judge and request the appointment of a Conservator to keep her books and pay her expenses.  The person to be appointed could be a relative, or a trusted friend of the person seeking the court’s appointment of a Conservator.

It is not necessary to go to the expense of hiring a lawyer in a case such as this.  Rather, if the person needing help has a person that they want to handle their affairs, they simply have to go before the Probate Judge and obtain the judge’s approval for the appointment.

Old Saybrook District Probate Court

The Probate Judge for the Town of Lyme is Terrance Lomme, and he is based in Old Saybrook.  His probate district also includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

Lomme’s offices are on the second floor of the Old Saybrook Town Hall, and the Court’s telephone number is 860-510-5028.

There are, of course, other cases, which are far more complicated, and they may require a private attorney’s services.

Different Kinds of Conservators

The simple case mentioned above involves a “Voluntary Conservator” appointment.  There are also “Involuntary Conservator” appointments, which require, among other things, a doctor’s report stating that the appointment of a Conservator is a medical necessity.

“Involuntary Conservator” appointments are the most common kind of Conservator arrangement and, before they are approved, there must be a formal hearing before the Probate Judge.  Also, this kind of Conservatorship will only be granted, if there is clear and convincing evidence presented at a hearing that a Conservator’s involvement is necessary.  There is also a statutory appeals procedure for Involuntary Conservator appointments.

Another type of appointment of a Conservator is one just for a limited period of time, such as 30 days.  When the temporary appointment time limit expires, the affected person resumes making his or her own decisions.

Making things even more complicated, a Conservator can also be appointed for the Conservatorship of an “estate,” meaning essentially, control over tangible assets, and not over a person.  Banks can be appointed as a Conservator for an estate, but not for a person.  Also, hospitals and nursing homes are not allowed to be appointed either for a person or for an estate.

Periodic accountings are also required of a Conservator of Estate, and the posting of a bond is customary.  As for Conservators concerning persons, they must obtain court approval before placing the subject person in a long term care institution; or approving a change of residence, the selling of household furnishings, the sale or transfer of real estate, investing the subject person’s funds or placing the person in psychiatric care.

A Conservator of Estate can be terminated if the funds therein are below $1,600.  It can also be terminated if the person under a Conservator arrangement becomes capable of managing his or her own affairs.  A conserved person has a right to request restoration, and a court must hear this request within 30 days.  Furthermore, if a conserved person cannot obtain an attorney, one will be appointed for him or her in these situations.

Conservatorships Program at Essex Library

A program is scheduled this coming Tuesday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Essex Library, which is the second in a series on what you need to know about probate.  It will focus on the law and procedures of Conservators as part of ageing and estate planning and will be hosted by Probate Judge Terrance Lomme.  The public is invited to attend and ask questions.

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Middlesex Hospital Hosts “Open House” at New Medical Center in Westbrook

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in to land.

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in to land.

Middlesex Hospital held a very successful preview of its new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook on Saturday, April 19.  The new center is located off I-95 at Exit 65 and has a street address of 250 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook. The four-hour preview event, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., attracted a flood of visitors to the new 44,000 square foot medical facility.

The new medical center will open its doors for patients on Monday, April 28.  Until then, Middlesex Hospital will continue to provide medical services at its present medical center in Essex.  Once the new center opens in Westbrook, the Essex center will be closed down permanently.  It should be noted that Middlesex Hospital has been providing emergency medical services at various locations in Essex since the 1970s.

Middlesex Hospital’s new facility on Flat Rock Place in Westbrook is housed in a single long building, which is divided into two discrete sections.  The section on the right, when facing the building coming off Flat Rock Road, houses the Emergency Center.  The section on the left houses the Outpatient Center.  There is a single walk-in entrance to the Emergency Center.  There are two entrances to the Outpatient Center, one facing Flat Rock Place, and the other at the left side of the building.

The Emergency Center

The Emergency Department, named the “Whelen Emergency Pavilion,” offers emergency medical treatment, for things such as a heart attack, or a crushed limb.  Also, located at the Emergency Center is an “Express Care” treatment center, which offers treatment for injuries of a non-emergency nature, such as a sprained ankle, or for a minor cut.

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist.

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist.

There is also a separate ambulance entrance to the Whelen Emergency Pavilion, with a helipad located just beyond the ambulance area.  To give visitors a little extra excitement during the recent open house, the LifeStar helicopter made a special landing on the helipad and allowed visitors to explore it.

The Outpatient Center

The Outpatient Center is the section of the Medical Center, which is to the left of the Emergency Center when entering from Flat Rock Place.  The Outpatient Center has two separate entrances, one at the front of the building and another on the left side of the building.  The services offered at the Outpatient Center are extensive.  They include: a Radiology Department, which offers state-of-the-art imaging services, including the latest generation MRI, CT scanning, X-ray, digital fluoroscopy, among other services.

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center.

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center.

A Women’s Imaging Center is also located in the Outpatient Center.  It includes private spaces for digital mammography, ultrasound and bone density examinations.  Also in the Outpatient Center has a new MRI unit, which features the most advanced imaging with a wider and shorter opening aperture.

In addition, this is the location of the Medical Center’s laboratory, which is accessible to outpatients and for emergency services.  Finally, in the Outpatient Center there is an infusion section with a private area for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids.

On an artistic note there is also a Community Gallery featuring rotating works of art by professional, amateur and student artists.  There is also an open area stone garden off the left end of the building.

Entertainments for the Day

At the recent Saturday Open House, in addition to tours of the Emergency and Outpatient Centers, there were vehicles on display from the Westbrook and Essex Ambulance Associations, the Middlesex Hospital Paramedic service and neighboring commercial car dealers.  Also, there were free blood pressure screenings offered to visitors, and a roving magician to entertain the young.  Connecticut State Police officers distributed child fingerprint ID’s, among other amusements for the young and old.

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Middlesex Hospital on Target to Open New Westbrook Medical Center in April

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook is on schedule to open in April

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook is on schedule to open in April

Middlesex Hospital is on track to open a new emergency and outpatient medical center off Exit 65 of I-95 in Westbrook this coming April.  The new 44,000 square foot medical center is located at 250 Flat Rock Road, which is on the road that leads up to the Tanger Outlet Mall.

As soon as the new Westbrook Medical Center is completed, Middlesex Hospital will make the transition from its existing Shoreline Medical Center in Essex.  The new Westbrook location will be double the size of the Essex facility.  In addition, it will have the capacity to expand up to 60,000 square feet, if there is a need to do so.

Middlesex Hospital’s new Westbrook facility will have many improvements over the present Essex facility.  These include an expanded emergency center with 24 beds, as well as an urgent care area for non-emergency patients.  Patient privacy will be also be improved at the new center and there will be a separate outside entrance to the adjoining outpatient area.

In addition, the new facility will have a full service laboratory, an infusion therapy suite, expanded radiology services and a designated women’s imaging area.

Chester Company Donates $1 Million to New Center

Whelen Engineering, Inc., which is headquartered in Chester, is donating $1 million towards the building of the new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook.  The new Emergency Department in Westbrook will be aptly named the “Whelen Emergency Center.”

Whelen Engineering previously donated $1 million towards to the construction of a new Emergency Department in Middletown, which the hospital named the “Whelen Emergency Pavilion.”

Middlesex Hospital’s History of Medical Care on the Shoreline

Middlesex Hospital has a history, beginning in 1970, of providing medical care to the shoreline residents of Middlesex County.  The hospital first rented a space in Centerbrook, where it set up a full-service, satellite Emergency Department.

From its first day of operation, this Shoreline Medical Center in Centerbrook experienced phenomenal growth.  In fact, it soon became impossible for the medical center to remain at its Centerbrook location and properly serve an overrun of patients for the size of the facility.

Two Essex residents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred P. Knapp, came to the rescue by donating to Middlesex Hospital 10.4 acres of land on which to build a new, permanent Shoreline Medical Center in Essex. Today, the facility serves on average 2,000 to 2,500 patients a month in its Emergency Department alone.  In addition, the Medical Center’s Emergency Department has received a number of prestigious awards for its excellence in patient satisfaction.

The Shoreline Medical Clinic in Essex will close this coming April when the Westbrook Medical Center opens.

The Shoreline Medical Clinic in Essex will close this coming April when the Westbrook Medical Center opens.

Middlesex Hospital to date has not announced its plans for the building in Essex, once it has been closed and replaced by the new Westbrook facility.

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New $28 Million Medical Center in Westbrook on Track to Open in April 2014

The new Westbrook Medical Center under construction.

The new Westbrook Medical Center under construction.

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook is scheduled to open its doors to receive patients, as early as April 2014.

The Whiting-Turner Construction Company of New Haven is in charge of constructing the new Medical Center in Westbrook.  The company estimates that the new facility will be finished by March 2014. Then, it will take much of April 2014 for Middlesex Hospital to furnish the new Center and install medical equipment.

Construction continues daily.

Construction continues daily.

New Center Can Expand to 60,00 Square Feet

The new Medical Center in Westbrook will initially have 44,000 square feet of working space.  However, the Center can be expanded to 60,000 square feet, if it becomes necessary.  By contrast the Hospital’s present Medical Center in Essex is just over 20,000 square feet.  On an historical note, the Essex facility has provided emergency medical care for shoreline residents for over 40 years.

The new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center will be located on Flat Rock Place, which is just off Exit 65 of Interstate I-95.  Flat Rock Place is a four-lane access highway, which has the auto dealerships of Honda and Toyota at the bottom end and the Tanger Outlets shopping mall at the top.  The new Medical Center will be located half way up Flat Rock Place on the left hand side.

When complete, the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will have, “a whole host of diagnostic and treatment services,” according to hospital sources.  In addition, “radiological services will expand to include a new MRI testing area, and a designated woman’s imaging area.”  Also, the new Center in Westbrook will continue to provide 24/7 medical care, and it will have a helipad for emergency helicopter trips, as well as paramedic services.

The current Shoreline Medical Center on Westbrook Rd. in Essex.

The current Shoreline Medical Center on Westbrook Rd. in Essex.

Advantages of New Westbrook Location

In addition to a large roster of medical services at the new Westbrook facility, there are significant access advantages as well.  The new Westbrook center will be conveniently located, just off I-95 at Exit 65.

Also, the new Westport location will permit patients from towns, such as Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Clinton and Guilford, to have direct I-95 Interstate access to the new facility.  In addition, the residents of Deep River, Chester and Haddam, via Rte. 9, will have I-95 Interstate access to the new Center as well.

Although patients from Essex will no longer have their very own medical center right in town, it will be only be a few extra miles down Rte. 153 for Essex residents to reach the new Westbrook Center.

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New Executive Director Has Big Dreams, Plans for Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, the new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum.

Chris Dobbs, the new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum.

Imagine if you will, a vintage, side-wheeler steamboat tied up smartly at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum.  Imagine as well that, on given days, this old, classic steamboat carries modern day passengers up and down the Connecticut River on both educational and pleasure cruises.

This is just one of the ambitious dreams held by the Connecticut River Museum’s new Executive Director, Christopher I. Dobbs (he prefers to be called “Chris.”)  Dobbs recently replaced the museum’s former Executive Director, Jerry Roberts.

A resident of Deep River, the 42-year-old Dobbs comes to his new post at the Connecticut River Museum after a nine year stint as Executive Director of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford.  Prior to that, he was the Associate Director of Education at the Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea.  Dobbs has an M.A. in Museum Studies from the State University College of New York, Cooperstown, N.Y.

To help him secure the Connecticut River Museum’s top job, Dobbs submitted to the search committee an impressive, three-paged, single-spaced, small-type resume, setting forth his previous experience and multiple accomplishments in the museum field.  For example, his resume notes that as head of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, he “Developed and completed a $1.2 million capital campaign (raised 20% more than goal.)”

Also, noted is that in his previous position he, “Acted as the chief fundraiser by working with individual donors, foundations, city government, and State of Connecticut legislatures and agencies, and that he, “Increased endowment 45 per cent.”

“Conversational” billboard entrance to the Museum

It is highly likely that the new Executive Director’s fundraising skills did not go unnoticed by the Connecticut River Museum’s search committee for a new Executive Director.  Further evidence of Dobbs’s successful fund raising was that he managed and fundraised for a 250th Birthday celebration for his previous employer’s namesake, Noah Webster.

The Dream of a Steamboat Tied Up at Steamboat Dock

In a recent interview, Dobbs demonstrated that he is a person who can dream big.  For example, he suggested that, at some future date, the Connecticut River Museum might acquire a fully working, side-paddling steamboat.  With this historical coincidence in mind, the new steamboat would be docked at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum.  In the 19th century, the Steamboat Dock was a frequent stop for steamboats operating along the river.

As for the present availability of old steamboats, Dobbs said, “There are some of them still around for sale.”  Dobbs asks what could be more appropriate than to have a working steamboat tied up at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum.

This does not mean that the museum’s present sailboat, the “Mary E,” which seasonably carries paying passengers on short cruises up and down the Connecticut River, would be replaced immediately.  However, the new Executive Director feels that having a working steamboat at the Steamboat Dock would be uniquely consistent with the Connecticut River Museum’s mission and history.

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River MuseumThe unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum.

This talk of steamboats does not mean that Dobbs is not completely on board in commemorating next year’s 200th anniversary of the 2014 burning of the American ships in Essex by British forces during the war of 1812.  However, Dobbs clearly feels that this one-time historic event should not be the principal focus of the Connecticut River Museum.

Tying the Museum to the Entire Connecticut River

Rather, the central mission of the museum, in Dobbs’s view, is that it should focus on the full length of the Connecticut River.  As Dobbs puts it, “This is, after all, the Connecticut River Museum, and, therefore, the entire length of the river from the Canadian border down to the river’s mouth on Long Island Sound is what this museum should be all about.”  It should be noted that the Connecticut River is 407 miles long and begins just below the Canadian border and runs down to its mouth on Long Island Sound in Connecticut between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme.

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Activities that the museum might sponsor could be canoe excursions on the upper Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire.  In addition, the new Executive Director envisions joining the fight against pollution in the Connecticut River, as well as children’s programs about animal and aquatic life along the Connecticut River, including teaching young and old how “to hold a fish and touch a crab.”

Dodd also raptures that the Connecticut River is, “America’s First Blue Way.”  Also, like many environmentalists, he is grateful that the mouth of the Connecticut River between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme “has not been spoiled by development.”

In sum, Chris Dobbs, the new Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, takes a broad and exciting view of his new position.  He states conclusively, “We are the Connecticut River Museum, and that is the Connecticut River, and that is what we are about.”  He continues, “That means that the museum is entwined with the river, every single mile of it.”

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