February 19, 2017

Essex Winter Series Presents Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band Today

Essex Winter Series Artistic Director Mihae Lee.

ESSEX — Known for its unique concerts of world-class talent and diversity, Essex Winter Series plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary year with a robust schedule for the winter months. The season-opener on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School in Deep River is a musical tour de force led by Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee.

Lee has carefully curated a program featuring breathtaking music that spans over 600 years. She will be joined by audience favorites William Purvis, Patricia Schuman, Randall Hodgkinson, the Attacca Quartet, as well as emerging young artists.

The concert begins with a celebratory fanfare of Copland, then a high spirited string quartet by Haydn, wonderful cabaret songs and jazz ballads. The first half ends with the ultimate crowd-pleaser, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue arranged for piano four-hands and performed by Ms. Lee and Mr. Hodgkinson.

The second half begins with beautiful Renaissance music for brass, then an aria from the opera Carmen and the finale movement of Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, both in a passionate gypsy style. The concert will end with a bang with hot jazz performed by Jeff Barnhart, Vince Giordano, Paul Midiri, Joe Midiri, and Jim Lawlor.

The season continues on Feb. 19 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band performing a centennial celebration of recorded New Orleans Jazz. On March 5, it’s Garrison Keillor and “Stories in Mind, Poems by Heart.” The beloved raconteur, author, and entertainer will share his unique brand of wisdom and humor in what is sure to be an unforgettable afternoon.

Chanticleer, an orchestra of voices, returns to the series on April 2 to perform the program “My Secret Heart” which includes a world premiere by Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Cole Porter and Noel Coward standards, and the return of Augusta Read Thomas’ “Love Songs” to the repertoire.

All performances take place on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. with the Jan. 8 and Feb. 19 concerts at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, and March 5 and April 2 concerts at Old Saybrook High School. Individual tickets are $35 and $5 for full-time students with savings offered for subscriptions to all four performances. Seating is general admission. To purchase tickets or learn more, visit www.essexwinterseries.com or call 860-272-4572.

The 2017 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Guilford Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, and Tower Laboratories. Outreach activities are supported by Community Music School and donors to the Fenton Brown Circle.

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Hear ‘A Conversation About Opera’ with Three Area Opera Directors Tonight; All Welcome, Free

Salt Marsh Opera Executive Director Simon Holt is a participant in the discussion ‘A Conversation About Opera,’ Feb. 16, at the Community Music School.

“A Conversation About Opera” with Alan Mann, artistic director of the Opera Theater of Connecticut, Simon Holt, artistic director of the Salt Marsh Opera, and Adrian Sylveen, artistic director of the Connecticut Lyric-Opera / Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra will be held Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m., at the Community Music School in Centerbrook,

The Greater Middletown Concert Association is hosting the panel discussion and Barbara Waterman Arafeh, the Association’s president, will be moderator for the panel’s discussion.

All these three leading Connecticut professional opera companies present fully-staged productions that take place in venues located in one of the state’s newly-designated Arts Regions. This region is one of nine in the state and is overseen for the Connecticut Office of the Arts in Hartford by the Shoreline Arts Alliance, which has headquarters in Guilford.

Towns and cities in this Arts Region are Lyme and Old Lyme along with Branford, Chester, Clinton, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, East Haven, East Lyme, Essex, Guilford, Haddam, Killingworth, Madison, Middlefield, Middletown, North Branford, Old Saybrook, Portland, Salem and Westbrook.

There is no admission charge for this Feb. 16, program, but those wishing to attend should call 860 343-7555 to reserve seating. Space is limited.

The Community Music School is located at 90 Main St., Centerbrook.

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Community Music School Hosts Open House

The Community Music School’s Jazz Ensemble gives regular concerts throughout the local area.

Community Music School (CMS), located in the Spencer’s Corner professional complex at 90 Main St. in Centerbrook, welcomes the general public to visit during Open House Week Jan. 30 to Feb. 3. Children and adults can tour the School’s studios, meet teachers and staff, enjoy a free preview lesson, and learn about a vast array of programs for all ages including private and group lessons, guitar, jazz and string ensembles, music therapy services, Kindermusik, and more.

Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Those interested in a 15-minute preview lesson are requested to call 860-767-0026 for scheduling.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30-year-tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. The School’s programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so that they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org or call 860-767-0026.

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Ivoryton Playhouse Hosts Open Auditions Today for Women Playwrights Staged Reading

On Saturday, Jan. 14, the Ivoryton Playhouse will be holding auditions for local actors to participate in its First Women Playwrights Initiative.

Beginning on Monday, Feb. 27, actors will have the rare opportunity to work with a director and writer on a new play in a workshop setting and on March 3 and 4 perform a staged reading for the public. This is an exciting project and there are a limited number of roles available. The Playhouse is looking for women and men aged 16-80, all ethnicities.

Bring a picture, resume and a short monologue. Sides will be available.

Open call – no appointment necessary.

Auditions will be held at the Ivoryton Playhouse Administrative Offices, 22 Main Street, Centerbrook, CT on Saturday, Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, email info@ivorytonplayhouse.org

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Essex Winter Series Opens 40th Season Sunday with Musical ‘Tour de Force’

Essex Winter Series Artistic Director Mihae Lee.

Season Includes Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band, Garrison Keillor, Chanticleer

Known for its unique concerts of world-class talent and diversity, Essex Winter Series plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary year with a robust schedule for the winter months. The season-opener on Jan. 8 at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School in Deep River is a musical tour de force led by Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee.

Lee has carefully curated a program featuring breathtaking music that spans over 600 years. She will be joined by audience favorites William Purvis, Patricia Schuman, Randall Hodgkinson, the Attacca Quartet, as well as emerging young artists.

The concert begins with a celebratory fanfare of Copland, then a high spirited string quartet by Haydn, wonderful cabaret songs and jazz ballads. The first half ends with the ultimate crowd-pleaser, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue arranged for piano four-hands and performed by Ms. Lee and Mr. Hodgkinson.

The second half begins with beautiful Renaissance music for brass, then an aria from the opera Carmen and the finale movement of Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, both in a passionate gypsy style. The concert will end with a bang with hot jazz performed by Jeff Barnhart, Vince Giordano, Paul Midiri, Joe Midiri, and Jim Lawlor.

The season continues on Feb. 19 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band performing a centennial celebration of recorded New Orleans Jazz. On March 5, it’s Garrison Keillor and “Stories in Mind, Poems by Heart.” The beloved raconteur, author, and entertainer will share his unique brand of wisdom and humor in what is sure to be an unforgettable afternoon.

Chanticleer, an orchestra of voices, returns to the series on April 2 to perform the program “My Secret Heart” which includes a world premiere by Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Cole Porter and Noel Coward standards, and the return of Augusta Read Thomas’ “Love Songs” to the repertoire.

All performances take place on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. with the Jan. 8 and Feb. 19 concerts at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, and March 5 and April 2 concerts at Old Saybrook High School. Individual tickets are $35 and $5 for full-time students with savings offered for subscriptions to all four performances. Seating is general admission. To purchase tickets or learn more, visit www.essexwinterseries.com or call 860-272-4572.

The 2017 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Guilford Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, and Tower Laboratories. Outreach activities are supported by Community Music School and donors to the Fenton Brown Circle.

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11th Annual Land Trusts’ Photo Contest Deadline is Jan. 31, 2017

Bopha Smith was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Landscape category of the 2016 Contest.

Bopha Smith was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Landscape category of the 2016 Contest.

AREAWIDE — Five local land trusts invite amateur photographers of all ages to enter their favorite photographs of scenes in the towns of Essex, East Haddam, Salem, Lyme and Old Lyme in the Land Trusts Photo Contest. Children are especially encouraged to submit photos. Participants need not live in the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Essex, Salem, and East Haddam, but photos must be of scenes in one of these five towns. Land Trusts in these towns sponsor this photo contest.

Submissions will be accepted from the Jan. 1, 2017 to Jan. 31, 2017. Contest rules are available online at lymelandtrust.org. The link is http://www.lymelandtrust.org/news/photo-contest/.  Entry forms for the contest are available at photocontest2017@lymelandtrust.org.

Contest awards are being funded with the generous support of our commercial sponsors: RiverQuest /Connecticut River Expeditions, Ballek’s Garden Center in East Haddam, Essex Savings Bank, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Lorensen Auto Group, the Oakley Wing Group at Morgan Stanley, and Alison Mitchell in memory of her husband John G. Mitchell. John G. Mitchell was a life-long environmentalist and former photo contest judge.

A three-judge panel will select the winning photos. New as a contest judge this year is Joe Standart, an award-winning photographer, director and internationally known artist who loves photographing the natural world. Returning judges include Amy Kurtz Lansing, an accomplished art historian and curator at the Florence Griswold Museum; and Skip Broom, a respected award-winning local photographer and antique house restoration housewright.

$100, $75, $50 and $25 cash prizes will be awarded in each of five categories. The categories are Landscape/Waterscape, Plants, Wildlife, and Cultural/Historic (human interaction with nature, including domestic animals and buildings), for participants 15 years of age or older. Photographers 14 years old or younger may enter photos on any of these subjects in the Youth Category.

All entered photographs will be displayed and winners will be announced at a public reception Friday, March 10, 2017.

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Essex Garden Club Decorates Essex for the Holidays

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ESSEX — In preparation for the holidays, the Essex Garden club members decorated merchant window boxes, the “silent Policeman” and  tubs of the villages of Essex .  Using a variety of evergreen cuttings from members and other generous donors from the community, the Garden Club helped the town put on a festive face for the “Trees in the Rigging” held Nov. 27,  and the Holiday Stroll, Dec. 9 and  10.

Thanks to both Liz Fowler and Suzanne Tweed for their efforts in coordinating the day of decorating.

Finally, The Essex Garden Club would like to thank the Essex community for its continued support, especially during our spring May Market and extends best wishes to all the resident of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton for a Healthy and Happy New Year.

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Community Music School Present Faculty Concert Today in Centerbrook

Community Music School faculty will present a concert, Nov. 12.

Community Music School faculty will present a concert on Nov. 13.

Celebrating Erick's award are, from left to right, Bob Morin, member of the Lyme Fire Company and fiance of Robin Courtney, Erick's host mother; Jamie Leatherbee, 1st Assistant Chief of Hamburg; Erick Saenz; Tom Brown, Fire Chief; and Austin Courtney, member of the Lyme Fire Company and Erick's host brother.

Celebrating Erick’s award are, from left to right, Bob Morin, member of the Lyme Fire Company and fiance of Robin Courtney, Erick’s host mother; Jamie Leatherbee, 1st Assistant Chief of Hamburg; Erick Saenz; Tom Brown, Fire Chief; and Austin Courtney, member of the Lyme Fire Company and Erick’s host brother.

sCommunity Music School faculty

CENTERBROOK — On Sunday, Nov. 13, members of the Community Music School (CMS) faculty come together to perform an array of chamber music and other works at 3 p.m. at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main St., Centerbrook. This annual event offers the community a unique glimpse into the wealth of talent and experience of the Music School’s faculty as they collaborate on a wide variety of selections. The concert is free and open to the public and a meet-and-greet reception immediately follows. At-will donations are gratefully accepted.

Among the works to be performed are Sicilienne by Faure, Dances from Terpsichore by Praetorius, Tone Poem for Devin by Becker, I’ve Got a Crush on You by Gershwin, Slovanic Dance by Dvorak, Romanza by Poulenc, I Remember You by Schertzinger-Mercer, Trockne Blumen and Die Schone Mullerin by Schubert, Snare Drum Duets no.17 & 19 by Briggs, and Apres un Reve and Elegie by Faure.

Performers include Andrew Sherwood on clarinet, Tom Briggs on piano and snare drum, Bruce Larkin on recorder, John Birt on guitar, Kevin O’Neil on guitar, Russ Becker on clarinet and bass clarinet, Audrey Estelle on piano, Marilyn Lazare on piano, Greta Moorhead on vocals, Martin Wirt on snare drum, and Christine Coyle on cello.  The concert will feature several original works by Community Music School faculty, some for the first time.

This concert will be the first performance played on CMS’s newly acquired Steinway grand piano.  This incredible instrument was recently donated to the School by generous supporter Gregg Cook.  Over 100-years-old, the piano is in impeccable condition and features a rich, full sound, perfect for the acoustics of the Centerbrook Meetinghouse.  Come listen to some top-notch musicians perform on an amazing instrument.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30-year-tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. The school’s programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

Learn more at www.community-music-school.org or call (860)767-0026.

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Full Steam Ahead! Cappella Cantorum Hosts Wine & Beer Tasting Fundraiser Tonight

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-11-19-30-pmAREAWIDE — Help Cappella Cantorum propel into 50 years of tradition with this new, exciting fundraiser slated for Saturday, Oct. 29, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Enjoy tastes of wines and beers from local and regional sources, as well as delicious hors d’oeuvres and a pasta station, while you peruse lots of great silent auction items, including artwork, many gift certificates to local merchants and some surprise items! 

Live entertainment will also be provided by Cappella’s own Hilltop Four Barber Shop Quartet.

The event is in the River Valley Junction building at the Essex Steam Train, where you will be enveloped by the delightfully preserved, historical space.

Tickets are $40 per person and can be purchased at the door the night of the event. Tell your friends and family.

All proceeds benefit Cappella Cantorum, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that is celebrating its 47th year of tradition in the upcoming 2016-2017 concert season, Moving Full Steam Ahead! Into Our Next Half Century of Cappella Cantorum.

For questions and more information, call 860-526-1038 and visit www.cappellacantorum.org.

Cappella Cantorum is the lower Connecticut River Valley and Shoreline’s premiere non-auditioned community choral organization whose primary purpose is to learn, perform and enjoy great choral music while striving for excellence and the enrichment of its singers and audience.

Cappella Cantorum continues because of the support of area businesses and professional people through program advertising; by generous sponsors, our concert audiences, members through dues and hard work, and through the dedication of Music Director Barry Asch, Assistant Music Director Deborah Lyon, and the efforts of the volunteer Board of Directors.

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See CT Premier of ‘Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical’ at Ivoryton

Michael Marotta and Kim Rachelle Harris in 'Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical,' which opens Wednesday at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

Michael Marotta as the Doctor and Kim Rachelle Harris as the title role in ‘Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical,’ which opens Wednesday at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

IVORYTON – Based on the life of Rosemary Clooney, American’s favorite girl singer comes to life on stage in this exhilarating and inspiring musical biography.

Kim Rachelle Harris makes her debut as Rosemary Clooney.

Kim Rachelle Harris makes her debut as Rosemary Clooney.

Tenderly is not a typical “juke-box musical.” It offers a fresh, remarkably personal, and poignant picture of the woman whose unparalleled talent and unbridled personality made her a legend. With her signature songs woven in and out, we learn both the story of her successes on film, radio, and TV, as well as the struggles in her personal life.

“I’d call myself a sweet singer with a big band sensibility,” Rosemary once wrote. She  came to prominence in the early 1950s with the novelty hit “Come On-a My House”, which was followed by other pop numbers such as “Mambo Italiano”, “Tenderly”, “Half as Much”, “Hey There” and “This Ole House.”

Clooney’s career languished in the 1960s, partly due to problems related to depression and drug addiction, but revived in 1977, when her “White Christmas” co-star Bing Crosby asked her to appear with him at a show marking his 50th anniversary in show business. She continued recording until her death in 2002.

Michael Marotta revisits the role of the Doctor in the Ivoryton Playhouse production.

Michael Marotta revisits the role of the Doctor in the Ivoryton Playhouse production.

This production was developed and premiered by The Human Race Theatre Company and produced at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Michael Marotta* will be revisiting the role of the Doctor that he helped develop and Kim Rachelle Harris* will be making her debut as Rosemary Clooney. The production is directed by Brian Feehan, musical directed by Dan Brandl, set design by William Stark, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Rebecca Welles.

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Oct. 26 and runs through Nov. 13. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main St. in Ivoryton.

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Letter From Paris – No, Now It’s Essex!  A Brave, New Museum Opens in DC

Nicole Prevost Logan

Nicole Prevost Logan

Editor’s Note:  Our popular writer from Paris, Nicole Prevost Logan, is back in Essex, CT, for the winter.  She does not normally write for us from Essex, but this year, she is making an exception and will be continuing to contribute articles to ValleyNewsNow.com and LymeLine.com during the winter months.  Here is her inaugural column from Essex about the opening of  a very special museum in Washington DC.

The Grand Opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will take place in Washington DC this coming Saturday, Sept. 24.  The NMAAHC, the 19th and newest of the Smithsonian museums, was established by a bi-partisan Act of Congress in 2003.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo by Michael Barnes from http://newsdesk.si.edu/photos)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo by Michael Barnes / Smithsonian Institution.)

The massive structure occupies a prime location next to the Washington Monument and contrasts with the 555 ft. slender obelisk.  The dark bronze-colored metal lattice that covers the ‘Corona” also stands out from the white marble classical architecture of most of the other museums standing on the National Mall.

It has been a long struggle for the supporters, such as Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia), to make the project a reality.  They needed to overcome the resistance from several senators who advocated another location. The final approval  was more than a triumph — it might be considered a miracle.  It succeeded in making a strong statement as to the importance of Black history and culture in the American nation.

The lead designer was David Adjaye, son of a Ghanaian diplomat and the lead architect Philip Freehon, who died in 2009.  Founding Director Lonnie B. Bunch III is the visionary and driving force of the project.  During some of the many interviews he gave to the press and to a variety of audiences, including select ones like the Aspen institute, he explains the building process and his objective with a very contagious enthusiasm.

The NMAAHC is not intended to be a Holocaust museum, he explains . Its mission is to show the pain but also the joy and the creativity of African-Americans.  A daunting fund-raising goal of 450,000 million dollars had to be reached.

The three-tier effect of the construction incorporates elements from African culture, such as the Yoruban crowns from Nigeria.  Inside the building, high tech designs and the enormity of the space will make it possible to be versatile in organizing several exhibits simultaneously.

The collections had to be created from zero.  It required a treasure hunt into the attics, trunks and basements of the population.  To date 35,000 artifacts have been collected.  A segregated train from outside Chattanooga (TN) was lowered by crane and the museum built around it.  All traffic stopped on Constitution Ave. when an oversized truck delivered the control tower from a federal prison.

Artifacts showing the terrible fate of the slaves are very moving.  Such is an amulet created by the Lombi tribe in the form of a shackle.  More tragic still were the shackles for children.

But fun and the world of entertainment are also present in the displays , such as Louis Armstrong and his trumpet, Lena Horne or Marianne Andersen . The film archives will be essential to build up history, from Harriet Tubman to the human rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s.

According to Washington insiders , the opening of the new museum is the hottest event in a decade.  More than 150,000 special tickets have been distributed to dignitaries while long lines of visitors gather at the entrances of the building to purchase tickets for general admission after the opening.

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Webster Bank Selected as NEDA’s Business of the Year

Webster Bank has announced it has been chosen as the Business of Year by the Northeastern Economic Developers Association (NEDA). The award was presented Sept. 12 during NEDA’s annual conference in New Haven, Connecticut.

John Guy, executive vice president and director of business banking, accepted the award on Webster’s behalf and spoke at the conference. “Over the years, our vision has grown, our mission has evolved, but our core values have remained the same – helping businesses and consumers achieve their financial goals,” said Guy. “This is about making communities where we live and work safer, stronger, and more vibrant through strong business relationships; and as they prosper, so will we.”

The award is given each year to a regional for-profit company that has shown outstanding and continued commitment to the economic well-being of the communities it serves. It also recognizes initiatives related to labor/workforce development, entrepreneurship, and overall understanding and support of local economic development issues.

Based in Liverpool, New York, NEDA was founded in 1956 as the Northeastern Industrial Developers Association. As a professional resource for economic developers, it has promoted professional economic and industrial development throughout the Northeast and has championed effective, innovative economic development practices for the past 60 years.

Webster Bank is a leading regional bank serving businesses and consumers in the northeast and celebrating its 80th anniversary.

Webster Financial Corporation is the holding company for Webster Bank, National Association. With $25.1 billion in assets, Webster provides business and consumer banking, mortgage, financial planning, trust, and investment services through 176 banking centers and 347 ATMs. Webster also provides telephone banking, mobile banking, and Internet banking.

Webster Bank owns the asset-based lending firm Webster Business Credit Corporation; the equipment finance firm Webster Capital Finance Corporation; and HSA Bank, a division of Webster Bank, which provides health savings account trustee and administrative services. Webster Bank is a member of the FDIC and an equal housing lender. For more information abou

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CT Port Authority Chair Tells Lower CT River Local Officials, “We’re All on One Team”

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River but still deep in discussion are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) Board Member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River, but still finding time for discussions, are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) board member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

There was an overarching message both throughout the Connecticut Port Authority’s (CPA) meeting in Old Lyme’s Town Hall Thursday afternoon and during a subsequent boat ride on the MV ‘Victoria’ for members and local officials on the Connecticut River.  It was, in the words of CPA Chairman Scott Bates, that, “We’re absolutely committed to river communities.”

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town's needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town’s needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

In addition, while sailing from Essex down to Old Saybrook and then back up to Hamburg Cove on a perfect afternoon, Bates stressed, “Part of our mission is protecting these beautiful waters … and the quality of life we have here while preserving access to the river.”

View of the Connecticut River from the "Victoria."

View of the Connecticut River from the “Victoria.”

Bates noted that to have “five local officials (Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, all of whom were on board, and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, who was unable to join the trip) “involved” was a really positive sign in terms of  “building a coalition.”  This, Bates explained, was key to the development of a strategic plan for the CPA—something the Authority has been charged with preparing with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2017.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The  CPA is a relatively new quasi-public agency created in 2014 with board appointments made in 2016.  Bates said the agency was responsible for 35 coastal communities and with this trip, he would now personally have visited 28 of them. Since the CPA has not created a strategic plan previously, Bates said he is determined, “to include everyone,” in the process, adding that he regards part of the Authority’s mission to be “getting small town and big cities together.” and, in turn, “to make great things happen for our state.”

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the 'Victoria.'

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the ‘Victoria.’

Apart from Bates and the four local First Selectmen and Selectwomen, also on board were Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) Executive Director Sam Gold, River COG Deputy Director and Principal Planner J.H. Torrance Downes, CPA Board of Directors member John Johnson and Joe Salvatore from the CPA.  Reemsnyder is also a board member of the CPA.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder and Johnson.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder, Bates and Johnson.

At the earlier meeting in Old Lyme, Downes had given a presentation to CPA members to introduce them to the Lower Connecticut River during which he had described the geography of the estuary, noting it had, “very little industry and very little commercial development.”  He described it as a “really prime area for bird migration” and highlighted numerous points of scenic beauty.

J.H. Torrance Downe, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

J.H. Torrance Downes, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

Bates noted one of the CPA’s responsibilities is to pursue state and federal funds for dredging and, while sailing under the Baldwin Bridge towards the Connecticut River’s mouth where several tributaries join the main river, Reemsnyder commented that Old Lyme had been a beneficiary of a $1.6 million state grant for dredging two of those tributaries — the Black Hall and Four Mile Rivers.  She noted that it had been a successful exercise thanks in part to Salvatore, who had, “held our hand through the whole project.”

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the 'Victoria.'

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the ‘Victoria.’ Joe Salvatore stands at rear.

Johnson, whose life and business career according to the CPA website, have “a common underlying element: the coastal waters,” also confirmed the benefits of a dredging program, saying, “There is a need for depth of water — both elements, marine and maritime, need depth of water.”  Still on the dredging issue, Bates said he had met separately with Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna and told him that he could have “whatever he needs to keep the mouth of the Connecticut River open.”

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

Reemsnyder took a minute to commend Bates for his leadership of the CPA, saying, “Scott has given focus to coastal communities,”  while Johnson added, “We are blessed with our new chairman.”

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

Glancing around at the numerous boats docked both in marinas and on the river itself,  Reemsnyder remarked, “Add up the money in these boats … [they represent] lots of economic drivers.”  On the same theme, Bates noted that the state is marketing its ports for the first time using “national expertise” in some cases with the aim of moving “more people and goods in and out of Connecticut.”  He added, “We have some great assets [in terms of ports in the state] but we could do more.”

Eyes on the Cove -- guests on the 'Victoria' gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

Eyes on the Cove — guests on the ‘Victoria’ gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

As the “Victoria’ pulled gently back into dock at Essex Yacht Club, Bates summarized the benefits of the boat trip saying that by spending time with these local leaders, he had been able to “see their waterfronts, assess their needs,“ and gain an “appreciation of the vitality of the Lower Connecticut River basin,” emphasizing one more time, “This is really about pulling together as a state … we’re all on one team.”

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Old Lyme Town Band Gives Free Concert — with Ice Cream — This Afternoon

The Old Lyme Town Band

The Old Lyme Town Band will give a free concert on Sunday.

On Sunday, July 17, at 4 p.m., the Old Lyme Town Band will present a free concert on the South Town Green in front of Christ the King Catholic Church Rectory.  Co-sponsored by the Old Lyme Historical Society, the Florence Griswold Museum, the Old Lyme Historic District Commission and the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce, this concert has become a eagerly awaited summer tradition.

Bring a chair, sit down and listen to the music!

Free ice cream from the Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe will be served at intermission, courtesy of the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce.

This year the Band marks its 41st anniversary. Concert-goers will be treated to selections from Harry James, Dixieland Front and Center, I Dreamed a Dream, Classical Rondo, and other arrangements.

In case of rain, the concert will be held in the Christ the King Parish Hall. Parking is available in the Church parking lot.

Come enjoy a Sunday afternoon musical event guaranteed to appeal to all ages.

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Essex Shad Bake on Saturday Serves up Connecticut History

Connecticut River shad baking in front of fire on oak planks.

Connecticut River shad baking in front of fire on oak planks.

Fifty-eight years ago, the Rotary Club of Essex introduced the quintessential New England shoreline tradition; a dining experience Yankee Magazine has called one of the “Top 20 Summer Events” – the Essex Annual Shad Bake.

The Shad Bake returns on Saturday, June 4, to the Connecticut River Museum (CRM), from 3 to 6:30 p.m. It is made possible by the support of lead sponsors The Gowrie Group, Guilford Savings Bank and AJ Shea Construction.

CRM’s executive director, Christopher Dobbs, said “We are once again pleased to partner with the Rotary Club of Essex on this iconic event that celebrates the river’s heritage and supports the many worthwhile projects of the Rotary.” This volunteer-run event has been organized by the Rotary Club of Essex and is now coordinated by Bake Master Joseph Shea. Shea said, “We offer a unique New England culinary tradition; at one of the most historic sites along the river. . . It is a winning combination!” Visitors might find a local doctor or lawyer at the de-nailing table where they take the shad off the oak planks or a local banker shucking fresh clams.

For shad lovers, the lure is the secret ingredients and the authentic method of preparation and cooking handed down from Connecticut natives. Done in front of the fire, the fish picks up the smoky flavor of the fire with the seasoned oak boards that it is cooked on. Add homemade potato salad, tossed green salad and scrumptious pies from Lyman Orchards and you have yourself a gourmet meal! Don’t care for shad? The event offers BBQ chicken and hot dogs.

In addition to the food, participants will enjoy live music and touring the museum, which will be open until 6 p.m. The atmosphere is vibrant with picnickers, music by the Corinthian Jazz Band and the delicious smell of shad roasting around the open fire.

This year marks an important milestone for Connecticut shad. Back in 1866, the Connecticut State Legislature created the Fisheries Commission as a way to restore, manage and conserve the State’s natural resources. One of the key concerns at the time was the shad fishery and the need to protect the species from unsustainable practices. Since the Commission’s founding, it has developed into the DEEP Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. To commemorate the 150th anniversary, the DEEP will be present with a display. The Shad Museum in Haddam, the Connecticut River Museum and the Connecticut Watershed Council will also offer programs during the day on the history and traditions of the shad fishery.

Buy your tickets today to the Shad Bake. The $30 adult and $10 child (10 and under) ticket includes the full meal and admission to the museum. A five dollar fee will be added to walk-ins. Beverages (soda, water, beer and wine) will be available at an additional price. No carry-in alcohol will be permitted. To purchase tickets go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or buy them in person at the Centerbrook Package Store or the Connecticut River Museum.

Onsite and street parking at the Connecticut River Museum is limited. On the day of the event, an Essex Meadows shuttle will be running between the museum and several key parking locations that include the Essex Town Hall parking lot and Pratt House field (29 West Ave.). The free shuttle service will start at 3 p.m. and run until 7:30 p.m., with pick-ups and drop-offs every 15 minutes.

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street. For more information about the Shad Bake and Rotary Club visit www.rotaryclubofessex.com.

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Over 70 Boats, Yachts Navigate Into Essex for Spring Boat Show, May 13-15

The first CT Spring Boat Show in Essex features some of the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, sport and sail boats.

The first CT Spring Boat Show in Essex features some of the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, sport and sail boats.

The Connecticut Spring Boat Show, sponsored by the Yacht Brokers Association of America, is expecting over 70 boats to journey from as far away as Maine to attend the first annual 2016 Spring Boat Show. The exhibition is set for May 13-15, at Brewer Essex Island Marina in Essex, and is attracting interested boat buyers from Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and beyond.

“Brewer Essex Island Marina could possibly be the most intimate place in Connecticut to have a boat show,” says Tom Pilkington of Prestige Yacht Sales. “Where else can show-goers look at their favorite boats in the water, visit land exhibits, and explore the town of Essex, which is filled with its own maritime heritage? With boats ranging in size from 20 to 75 feet, sail, power, new and used, there will be a boat for every taste and budget.”

Visitors attending the free show will enjoy seeing a wide range of new and brokerage, power and sail models. Boating gear, accessories and service companies will also be on site.

Sails Up 4 Cancer, a non-profit organization based in Connecticut, will be at the show, raising money through food and beverage sales to benefit their organization. SU4C has been dedicated to supporting cancer care, education, prevention and research along the Connecticut Shoreline.

Also featured the same weekend in the historical town of Essex will be the annual Burning of the Ships parade. This nautical-themed event commemorates the worst day in Essex’s history with the famous ‘Loser’s Day Parade’. Sailing Masters will be joined by other regional fife and drums corps for the parade.

The parade and boat show offer individuals and families an opportunity to experience local sailing history and the flipside of today’s latest and greatest technology in the boating industry.

The free show is open to the public on Friday, May 13, from noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit www.ctspringboatshow.com for specific event details and parking info.

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Last Chance to See Musical About John Denver at Ivoryton Playhouse This Weekend

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David Lutken

IVORYTON – A captivating celebration of the life and music of folk musician John Denver will open at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Wednesday, April 6.

This Connecticut premiere features versatile musicians David Lutken (Ring of Fire) and Katie Deal, who have been with the show since its original production at Milwaukee Rep. They present an unvarnished rendition of Denver’s music with gorgeous harmonies, solid musicianship and honest to goodness talent.

Back Home Again: On the Road with John Denver includes hits like “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High” and “Leaving On a Jet Plane.”

John Denver was about more than country music. He had enormous international appeal, and was equally popular with country and pop audiences. In addition to music, he was an activist and humanitarian whose biggest causes were land conservation and environmental awareness. He supported space exploration and was vocal about his stance in music censorship. He left behind a musical legacy that still resonates with audiences today.

Created and directed by collaborators Randal Myler ( a two-time Tony Award nominee) and Dan Wheetman, this production does not offer a standard biography of Denver. Instead, Wheetman presents his own story, as a musician who’d known Denver as an Aspen neighbor before touring with him for eight years. As embodied by Lutken, Wheetman’s story sheds light on Denver’s own, with parallels including a love for Colorado, the hardships of life on the road and the consequent toll on marriages. But as Denver once sang, in another song included in this show, it’s his guitar that gave him his life, his living, and “all the things you know I love to do.” Focused on that guitar, Back Home Again movingly captures what those things were and why Denver’s music still matters.

Back Home Again: On the Road with John Denver opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on April 6 and runs through April 24. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $44 for adults, $39 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children, and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at (860) 767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

David Lutken

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Philip Scheffler, “60 Minutes” Executive Editor, Former Essex Resident, Died April 7

Philip Scheffler

Philip Scheffler

Philip Scheffler, CBS News’ first television street reporter, a documentary producer and the executive editor at 60 Minutes for many years, died April 7, 2016, in New York Presbyterian – Cornell Weill Medical Center. He was 85 and lived in Manhattan. Until recently he also spent much of his time in Essex, Conn., where he had a home for 40 years.

Scheffler retired from 60 Minutes in June of 2003 and had served as a consultant to CBS News up until a few years ago. He was a friend and mentor to Jeff Fager, executive producer of 60 Minutes. “Phil was a guiding force behind the success of 60 Minutes for more than two decades,” said Fager. “Don Hewitt often said he couldn’t have done it without him. He was a first-class journalist, an admirable human being, and a great friend to many of us. We will miss him very much.”

Scheffler was a reporter and producer for CBS News for the first half of his five-decade career. He became the senior producer at 60 Minutes in 1980, handling the day-to-day responsibilities – essentially the right hand of the broadcast’s executive producer Don Hewitt. Hewitt named him executive editor later. In this capacity, Scheffler had a direct hand in producing every 60 Minutes report broadcast from 1980 to 2003 – a period during which 60 Minutes was the number-one program in America five times.

Scheffler oversaw the reporting from the field and handled most of the producers’ journalistic issues, enabling Hewitt to focus almost exclusively on shaping the newsmagazine’s stories. When tempers flared in the screening room between Hewitt and one of his correspondents, such as Mike Wallace or Morley Safer, it was the professorial Scheffler, sporting a bow tie and close-cropped beard, who played referee.

Before his senior positions, Scheffler produced 60 Minutes stories over nine seasons for Wallace, Safer, Harry Reasoner and Dan Rather. His first story with Safer was “After Attica,” a look inside a maximum security prison in Colorado broadcast after the horrible riots in the New York prison in 1971.

Hewitt hired him in March of 1951 as a copy boy for “Douglas Edwards with the News,” which Hewitt directed and produced. Debuting in May 1948, that broadcast was the first network television news program, and in 1951, Scheffler became its first street reporter.

His first field assignment was to ask people whether they thought Gen. Dwight Eisenhower should enter politics and run for the Republican presidential nomination. But reporting was only one of the hats worn by early television news people like Scheffler. Out of necessity, he also invented a makeshift news teleprompter.

Hewitt wanted his anchor, Edwards, to look at the camera instead of his script when reading the news, so he had Scheffler make cue cards. “My first job at CBS Television News,” recalls Scheffler, “was to hand print Douglas Edwards’ copy on two-by-three-foot cue cards. Then, when we were on the air, I would hold them up next to the camera lens and move them up a line at a time for Doug to read. My arms were always tired and sore, so I asked Don if the camera could move in closer. He put on a wide-angle lens and moved the camera to within 10 feet of Doug, and I started typing the copy using wide adding-machine paper and a huge-type typewriter. It was the first crude teleprompter, but I didn’t have the wit to develop it!” said Scheffler in 2001.

In 1953, Scheffler was drafted into the Army and served his two years. During this period, he convinced his superior officer that he could put the Army on television — as long as he could get a few weekends off to film the piece! The result was a feature series in weekly installments he helped produce and write for CBS in which a Korean War recruit was followed through basic training at New Jersey’s Fort Dix. Scheffler returned to CBS and continued working as writer, reporter and producer for the nightly network news and other regularly scheduled CBS News programs through the 1950s.

The news program, “Eyewitness,” was Scheffler’s next stop, where he served as associate producer and on-air reporter for the half-hour weekly from 1960 to 1963. He briefly served as an associate producer on “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite,” where he covered the Kennedy assassination, before joining the documentary unit in 1964. There, Scheffler became a producer of documentary and special news broadcasts, including “CBS Special Reports” and “CBS Reports.” He produced more than 100 of them, including: “After 10 Years: The Court and the Schools” (1964), on school integration; “CBS REPORTS: Robert F. Kennedy” (1967), on Sen. Kennedy and his political ambitions; and “The Cities” (1968), about the nation’s urban crisis.

Scheffler’s assignments took him to 47 states and to 50 foreign countries, including Vietnam. He traveled there for six assignments during the war; his output included three two-hour specials on American policy in Southeast Asia, “Where We Stand in Vietnam” (1967), “Where We Stand in Indochina” (1970), and “The Changing War in Indochina” (1971).

CBS News broadcasts that Scheffler worked on, especially 60 Minutes, have received the industry’s highest recognition, including the Peabody, DuPont and Emmy awards. In 1981, he received the Alumni Award for distinguished contributions to journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, from which he received a master’s degree. As an adjunct professor, he once taught classes there as well.

Scheffler was born Sept. 16, 1930 in New York City and was graduated from the City College of New York. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Linda Weingarten Scheffler, a clinical psychologist, author and retired professor at Hunter College in New York City; his daughter, Ramsay Klaff, of Massachusetts; and a son, Adam, of Chicago.

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Essex Zoning Commission Continues Hearings on Cumberland Farms Rebuild, Plains Rd. Apartments to April 18

ESSEX — The zoning commission has continued to April 18 the public hearings on separate applications for a rebuild and expansion of the Cumberland Farms store at 82 Main St. in the Centerbrook section, and a 52-unit apartment complex with an affordable housing component on Plains Rd.

Both applicants agreed at public hearings Monday to extend the legal deadline for closure of the public hearings on the two applications. Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the extensions will require the commission to vote on April 18 on the site plan review application from Signature Contracting Group LLC of Westport for the apartments, while the panel will have until June to act on the Cumberland Farms application.

The Cumberland Farms application includes a demolition, rebuild, and expansion of the existing store to include three gasoline pumping stations under an canopy. The new 4,250-square-foot store would include a public restroom, a new septic system, and lighting. The size of the canopy, along with the need for a third pumping station, generated the most discussion, and some objections, Monday.

Nearby residents Robert and Laurie Hernandez objected to the size of the canopy, which would be about 80-feet long, and the third pumping station. Laurie Hernandez said the applicants were ‘trying to jam and prototype onto a very small lot,” to build “something that would be at an I-95 off ramp.”

Joel Marzi, the town clerk who is an abutting property owner at 21 Westbrook Rd., said he has concerns about the size of the canopy, but would also appreciate an upgrade of the site.

Joan Wallace, who lives on the opposite side of Westbrook Rd., said she has concerns about the canopy, lighting, and also traffic flow, contending there are already traffic backups for vehicles heading north to the Centerbrook traffic light. Wallace asked if Cumberland Farms would be willing to proceed with an expansion and upgrade of the store without a third fuel pumping station.

Joseph Williams, an attorney for Cumberland Farms with the firm of Shipman & Goodwin, said an additional fueling station was key to the company’s plan to pursue an estimated $3 million expansion and upgrade of the store. Two residents, Kenneth Bombaci and Strickland Hyde, spoke in support of the project.

With several issues still under discussion, and approval of the new septic system still pending from the town health department, Williams agreed to continue the hearing to April 18.

The site plan for the apartment complex on a 3.7-acre parcel that would combine parcels at 21, 27, and 29 Plains Rd., including the long vacant Iron Chef restaurant property, has been filed under state statute 8-30g, which is intended to encourage additional affordable housing in Connecticut. The proposed 52 units in three separate buildings would include 16 units designated as moderate income housing. Each building would have a septic system, which requires approval from the state Department of Public Health.

One new development Monday came when lawyer John Bennet announced that he has been designated an intervener in the application process for Northbound 9 LLC, which owns the commercial building on the opposite side of Plains Rd. The building contains the office of Bennet’s law firm, and a local construction company.

Bennet said the objections to the project focus on the potential for “environmental damage.” Under the 8-30g law, the commission could reject the application only for public health and safety reasons.

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AAUW Presents Program on ‘Empowering Afghan Women and Girls’ at Essex Library Tomorrow

UNAMA School in Afghanistan

UNAMA School in Afghanistan

There are contingents of Afghan women who, with incredible courage and determination, are making a difference in this war-weary country. They are desperate for an education, to have a salaried job, to have influence in their family, to have a say in government and at peace tables, and to hold up at least some of the Afghan sky. They seek to bring peace and stability to their homeland.

On Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m., Hally Siddons will present an illustrated talk at the Essex Library on how members of the Canadian Federation of University Women have worked to understand the plight of these women, to advocate for them, and to provide support in Afghanistan and in Ottawa.

Hally Siddons, the past president of the Canadian Federation of University Women, Ottawa, is instrumental in developing a project to support education and a school for women in Afghanistan. She is coming to Essex after attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, where she has also presented.

This program, sponsored by the AAUW Lower Connecticut Valley, is free and open to the public. Please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 to register or for more information. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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