April 28, 2017

Impact of Sea Level Rise Locally is First Topic in Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Spring Lecture Series, Tuesday

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC) Spring 2017 Lecture Series presents three powerful lectures during early May:

Tuesday, May 2, 5 p.m. Old Lyme Town Hall:
David Kozak, Senior Coastal Planner from CT DEEP, will address the impact of sea level rise, specifically on the Connecticut River Estuary and Tidal Wetlands.  Kozak is the project manager for applying the Sea Level Affecting Marsh Migration (SLAMM) model to Connecticut’s shoreline to evaluate the potential response of our coast’s natural and built environments to sea level rise.  He will address the origins of our coastal marshes, the physical and biological processes that sustain them, how they contribute to the health of the estuary, how they defend against rising sea levels, and how we can breach their migration barriers.  His work also incorporates the latest sea level rise forecasts, which project sea level rise to be accelerating and to rise higher than previously thought.

Piping Plover by John J. Audubon.

Tuesday, May 9, 4 p.m. Essex Meadows: 

Kimberly Damon-Randal, for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, will discuss the rediscovery of the Atlantic sturgeon in the Connecticut River Estuary and NOAA’s designation of the Connecticut River as a critical habitat for the threatened and endangered Atlantic sturgeon.

Tuesday, May 16, 5 p.m., Lyme Art Association:
Dr. Gregory Nobles is a historian and author of the new biography, John Jay Audubon, The Nature of the American Woodsman . This lecture discusses J.J. Audubon, the naturalist and painter, as well as the rise of citizen science.

These lectures continue RTPEC’s tradition of  attracting leading scientists, artists and authors to lecture on interesting vital topics and critical issues on the Connecticut River Estuary and its watershed. Members of RTPEC are also working with Kimberly Damon-Randall to have a “Meet a Scientist event at the Lyme Consolidated School with the 5th grade class.

The RTPEC also plans to meet the explosive demand for their Science in Nature Education Programs in Middlesex County (Essex Elementary School) and New London County (Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, New London Harbor Elementary School, and East Lyme Elementary School). These are provided with the assistance of numerous private donors, the Kitchings Family Fund at The Community Foundation for Middlesex County, The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut,, and the Rockfall Foundation.

To date, the” outdoor classrooms” have included Hammonasset State Park, Old Lyme Land Trust’s Mile Creek Preserve and Lyme Land Conservation Trust’s Jewett and Pleasant Valley Preserve. In the Spring, RTPEC will also access natural areas of the City of New London.

This  Spring, RTPEC thanks the following partners for their support:
(a) Connecticut River Museum

(b) Town of Old Lyme

(c) Essex Meadows

(d) Lyme Art Association

(e) National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration

(f) Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

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Find Foxtrots, Friendship, Florida Sunsets in ‘Biloxi Blues’ at Ivoryton Playhouse, on Stage Thru May 14

Cast members of Biloxi Blues in rehearsal: Zal Owen, Conor Hamill, Ethan Kirschbaum, George Mayer, Alec Silberblatt, Chandler Smith, and Mike Mihm.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is leaving behind the music of Ol’ Blue Eyes and heading south to the steamy bayou country of Biloxi, Miss., with the opening of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues on Wednesday, April 26. This semi-autobiographical play details his experiences as a young man in boot camp before he was shipped off to serve in the Second World War.

Biloxi Blues is the second chapter in what is known as his Eugene trilogy, following Brighton Beach Memoirs and preceding Broadway Bound, and is the only one in which Eugene is not the central character. Biloxi Blues won the Tony Award when it opened on Broadway in 1985 and ran 524 performances.

Simon’s hit play follows the adventures of Eugene Morris Jerome and his fellow Army inductees as they struggle through basic training near Biloxi, Miss. in 1943. An aspiring writer who sees himself as an outsider observing the craziness around him, Eugene hopes to somehow remain “neutral … like Switzerland,” but finds himself having to make tough choices.

Biloxi Blues is a comedy with real depth about young men growing up, learning about life and how to live together and finally, going off to war. These men are universal soldiers – facing the same fears, anxieties, and loneliness that grip all young recruits about to encounter the ultimate test of combat. Simon brings his great sense of humor and humanity to every word of this play.

A film was also made of the play starring Matthew Broderick and directed by Mike Nichols with screenplay by Neil Simon.

Biloxi Blues is directed by Sasha Bratt and features Zal Owen* as Eugene, Alec Silberblatt* as Arnold and Mike Mihm* as Sergeant Toomey. Cast also includes Andee Buccheri, Conor M. Hamill*, Ethan Kirschbaum, George Mayer, Moira O’Sullivan and Chandler Smith. Set design is by Glenn Bassett, lighting design by Tate R. Burmeister and costume design by Lisa Bebey.

Biloxi Blues opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on April 26 and runs through May 14.  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 Street in Ivoryton.

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Middlesex Hospital to Create Office Building at Vacant Essex Site of Former Shoreline Medical Center

Middlesex Hospital has now announced plans for its medical facility in Essex, pictured above, which was closed on April 28, 2014, and has been vacant ever since. The proposal calls for renovating the property as a medical office building that will offer physical therapy and occupational medicine. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX—Middlesex Hospital will turn its vacant building on Westbrook Road into a medical office building that will offer physical therapy and occupational medicine. The building will house a third department to be named at a later date.

The building has been vacant since the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center moved to its new facility in Westbrook in 2014. Construction plans call for renovating the Essex facility to maximize service offerings, while also ensuring that each department located there has adequate space and the ability to grow.

The Hospital currently offers physical therapy and occupational medicine services at 192 Westbrook Road. Those departments will move into the new office building, and they have all been involved in the project’s planning process.

As part of the project, the medical office building will get a new roof and existing HVAC units will be replaced or rebuilt. Overgrown shrubbery will be removed, the exterior of the building will be painted, and the building will get new signs.

“We are excited to repurpose this building for the people of Essex and residents of surrounding shoreline communities,” said David Giuffrida, the Hospital’s vice president of operations. “This is an opportunity for the Hospital to further invest in its property and to offer several vital services at one location.”

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Letter to the Editor: Premise for Clergy’s Call for Compassion to Refugees Questioned

To the Editor:

Ever since I read the letter from the Valley Shore Clergy Association (published in the VNN in February) something has been niggling me. I just reread the letter. Although I agree with the Clergy’s call for compassion with regard to refugees and the undocumented living and working in America, I can’t help wondering why this group did not speak- out between 2009 and 2016 while Barak Obama deported more than two and one half million of the undocumented living in this country? Perhaps I missed their protest. If I did, I apologize.  If there were no protestations from this clergy group before now, I am led to the conclusion that the Genesis of their letter is partisan politics-not the WORD.

While I support a path to legalization for the undocumented living and working in America, I also understand why so many Americans, who have no hint of bias, want those who came here illegally, criminals or not, to be deported; laws are laws they say. It seems schizophrenic to me to kick people out of this country who came here during the Obama “catch and release” program. If I wanted to come into this country to seek a better life and I faced the prospect of waiting in line for years- versus facing a wink and a nod because of America’s border Gestalt, I think, if I had the grit, I would take my chances. It is a bit like a parent telling a child not to smoke pot and then leaving pot on the kitchen table in plain sight.

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols, M.Div.,
Essex.

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Sinatra Revue, ‘My Way,’ Opens 2017 Ivoryton Playhouse Season

Rick Faugno* plays Frank Sinatra in ‘My Way’ opening at the Ivoryton Playhouse, Mar. 22.

The Ivoryton Playhouse opens its 2017 season with a treasure-trove of hits by the Chairman of the Board himself – Frank Sinatra. The musical equivalent of a soothing hot toddy on a cold winter night, this trip down memory lane includes such Sinatra signatures as “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” and “Fly Me to the Moon”

Conceived by Todd Olson and David Grapes, this revue, performed by a cast of two men and two women, pays homage to America’s all-time coolest crooner by trotting out a few dozen of the more than 1,300 songs Ol’ Blue Eyes recorded in his unbelievably prolific career. This musical revue recalls the essence of the man through the glorious music he sang – a celebration of Sinatra’s mystique, and his myth, through the music he loved best ­- the American standard.

The show is co-directed and choreographed by husband and wife team Rick Faugno and Joyce Chittick. Playhouse audiences will remember their phenomenal performances in the 2014 production of Fingers and Toes. Their brilliant tap routines and heartfelt musical numbers endeared the pair to everyone that saw them.

Chittick is currently working on the Broadway musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, but she is joining her husband to help direct and choreograph.

Rick Faugno* was the original Frankie Valli in the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys for three and a half years, receiving multiple awards for his performance. Also in Las Vegas, he created and starred in three one-man shows, winning awards for Best Vegas Lounge Act. He recently won a Fred Astaire Award for his work in On the 20th Century on Broadway. Joining Faugno in this production are Lauren Gire*, Josh Powell* and Vanessa Sonon*

The production is co-directed by Joyce Chittick and Rick Faugno, musical directed by Andy Hudson, set design by William Russell Stark, lighting design by Christopher Hoyt and costumes by Elizabeth Cippolina.

My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on March 22and runs through April 9, 2017. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., along with 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 our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Celebrating her 99th, Mary Vidbergs is Justifiably ‘Queen for a Day’

Happy 99th birthday, Mary !

It may have been one of the coldest days of the year last Sunday, March 12, but nothing was going to stop Mary Vidbergs’ family — one branch of whom lives in Old Lyme , namely the Pfeiffers — from celebrating the long-time Essex resident’s 99th birthday in style.

Mary arrived around 11 a.m. at the top of Main Street and was promptly presented with a large bouquet and ‘crowned’ with a tiara.

The family — some of whom braved the bone-chilling temperatures in lederhosen — had planned a surprise for Mary, which involved driving her from the top of Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage down to the Griswold Inn.

Dr. John Pfeiffer of Old Lyme (third from right, front row, in the photo above), who is Mary’s son-in-law as well as Old Lyme’s Town Historian, is well-known for his penchant for wearing shorts in all weathers around town!

She may be 99, but Mary was determined to enjoy the view from her carriage!

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, Mary smiled continuously through the whole adventure and insisted at the end of her ride on thanking the horses for their labors.

An ever-cheerful Mary waved goodbye to the crowd before entering the Griswold Inn where all her family joined her for what we’re sure was a wonderful family party.

Happy 99th, Mary, from all your friends at ValleyNewsNow.com — we’re looking forward to your 100th already!

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‘Essex Meadows’ Named One of Best Retirement Homes in Nation by US News & World Report

ESSEX – Essex Meadows Health Center, part of the continuum of Essex Meadows Life Care Community, is celebrating an 8th consecutive year of being rated as one of the top health services and skilled nursing providers in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Essex Meadows Health Center scored a 5-Star rating on all points of the survey, one of the most trusted in the country. Based on the scoring criteria, the center rated in the top 13 percent of skilled nursing and senior health care providers across the nation.

“We’re extremely humbled and honored by this distinction,” said associate executive director Kathleen Dess. “Our residents can go on knowing they live in one of the best retirement environments nationwide, and our team members can enjoy some well-deserved recognition for the work they do each day.”

The work Dess refers to has included Essex Meadows Health Center leading the way on an innovative program known as Reading 2 Connect, which has shown proven results in the area of helping those with various forms of dementia continue to enjoy a passion for reading.

Additionally, the community has been involved in programs like the Audubon’s Bird Tales, allowing them to make use of the nearly 1,000-acre preserve located nearby, and the Music and Memory program for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“The 5-Star rating is really about getting things right for our residents in every aspect of quality living,” said Dess. “From providing unparalleled food quality in our dining room to the short-term rehab we offer, our team members are truly among the best in the field of senior living.”

The U.S. News and World Report ratings are based on information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Editor’s Note: Since 1988, Essex Meadows has provided a lifestyle of dignity, freedom, independence and security to older adults from Connecticut and beyond. A community offering full life care, Essex Meadows, located conveniently on the Connecticut River near the mouth of Long Island Sound, prides itself on a financially responsible and caring atmosphere. Essex Meadows is managed by Life Care Services®™, a leading provider in life care, retirement living. For more information on Essex Meadows, visit the community’s website or call 860-767-7201.

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Letter From Paris: Another Presidential Race, But French-Style This Time, Filled With Pride, Passion, Power, Intrigue

Nicole Prévost Logan

The presidential campaign in France is undergoing a series of twists and turns, often spectacular, sometimes violent.  Traditional politics are going through a crisis and may come out rejuvenated from the turmoil.  The rest of Europe is watching the developments with anxiety because its future is at stake.

By the end of February, five candidates were still in the race: François Fillon, winner of the right wing primary and candidate of Les Republicains or LR (The Republicans), Benoit Hamon, who won the Socialist primary, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, gauche de la gauche (far left), Marine Le Pen, president of the ultra right wing Front National (National Front) and Emmanuel Macron, independent, and head of the party he named, En Marche! (Let’s go!)

And then there were five … from left to right, the candidates still running in the French Presidential election are Jean-Luc Melenchon, Benoît Hamon, Emmanuel Macron, François Fillon and Marine Le Pen.

“Penelopegate” has been covered with glee by the media around the world.  It all started with the suspicion that François Fillon had been paying his British wife Penelope for fictitious jobs as his ’employee’ for more than two decades.  Until the three independent investigating judges have determined whether she did work or not, Fillon is presumed innocent.  But whatever they find, the damage has been done to the candidate, who had run on the ticket of a man of integrity.

Actually Fillon is not entirely to blame, he is just a product of the system. The main problem in France is the opaque system of generous perks granted the legislators.  A deputy receives about 13,000 euros monthly (base salary and allowances) and an “envlop”of 9,100 euros to pay for a maximum of five assistants parlementaires (parliamentary assistants).  The British receive twice as much and the Germans 130 percent more.  Members of the US Congress receive 10 times that amount and are allowed a staff of 18 people.  By hiring his wife and two children,  Fillon was using the privilege of nepotism to the hilt, which is increasingly unacceptable to public opinion.

He appeared even more blatantly as a member of a privileged caste when answering questions on the media. His defense strategy went through several stages.  At first he appeared arrogant, bristling at any questioning of his entitlement and of his wife’s right to work (with the tax-payer’s money).  Second stage: “I offer my apologies but I have done nothing wrong.” Third : “I am the victim of a conspiracy intended to destabilize my campaign ” . Fourth: “only Bercy (where the ministry of finances is located) can be the source of all the accusations.” His last resort was to ask his lawyers to discredit the financial prosecutor as not being competent to handle the case.

Marine Le Pen is in more trouble with justice than Fillon and has a number of pending lawsuits against her. She is clever enough to uses this situation to reinforce the admiration of her unshakable supporters.  She is being sued for using the European parliament’s budget to pay her assistants parlementaires who should be working in Strasbourg, not in Paris.   Her other cases include fraud linked to misappropriations of funds during electoral campaigns.

In a recent three-hour-long TV talk show, she displayed her skills as a sharp, articulate and smooth speaker.  Answering questions fired at her from all sides.  Winning arguments was no problem for her.  It is hard to understand how she manages to appeal so easily to people with her populist ideas while omitting to point out the financial and economic disastrous consequences her program would have for France.

The conditions were now favorable – the right and far right candidates being embroiled with justice, a divided socialist party not likely for the first time since 1974 to reach the final ballots – for Emmanuel Macron to continue his meteoric ascent.  And he is using that open road with passion.  On Feb. 22, he accepted with enthusiasm the offer of a coalition from the president of the centrist MoDem (democratic movement).  This was a perfect fit between François Bayrou, a politically-wise older man, and Macron, a 39-year-old, brilliant, highly educated, former minister of  finances and economy, although never elected.  Bayrou declared, “My priority will be to guarantee the moralization of French politics,” a promise which could not be more topical.

Macron’s style is very different from the  other French politicians.  He smiles a lot and is warm and friendly.  The project he just laid out is not harsh and does not sound like a punishment. For a man as young as he is, what he proposes is surprisingly down to earth and realistic.  His priority is to modernize the system, simplify the  regulations, and decentralize the decision process.  He introduces many innovating measures, which may go against the entrenched privileges of some French.

He is counting on the suppression of 120,000 posts of civil servants to reach his goal of a 60 billions economy.  Nothing like the choc therapy proposed by Fillon to eliminate 500,000 posts.

As a good economist, he has two sound proposals: one is to lower corporate taxes from 33.3 percent to 25 percent to be in sync  with the average European rates.  Another proposal  makes a great deal of sense: stop penalizing people for making investments.  By lowering high taxes on their capital, the French may stop hiding their savings under their mattresses.

To tackle the endemic French unemployment, he intends to make sure that the allowances are linked to the efforts demonstrated by job seekers to find a job. 

Macron unveiled his project to an audience of 400 journalists on March 2.  The other candidates were very quick to pull his project to shreds.  Vicious messages circulated in the social networks trying to demolish him, particularly for having worked for the Rothschild bank. No French president has ever been able to carry out even a small portion of Macron’s proposed  reforms.  The fight will be ruthless.

Fillon’s situation is becoming more unsustainable by the hour.  An indictment is probable. A growing number of his team have jumped ship.  He is determined not to quit the race.  The name of Alain Juppe, who came second in the primary, is being mentioned as a substitute.

Only 50 more days until the first round of elections on April 23, and still no way out of the crisis — probably one of the worst France has ever lived through.

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

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

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Festival of Women’s Plays Opens 2017 Season at Ivoryton Playhouse, Friday & Saturday

IVORYTON:  The Ivoryton Playhouse announces the 2017 inaugural festival of the Women Playwrights Initiative –  Four One Acts by Four Fabulous Women Playwrights. Two evenings of staged readings will take place on Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4, at The Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT, followed by discussions with playwrights, actors and directors.

Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m.,  there will be two readings presented. 

Guenevere by Susan Cinoman. Teenagers, Guenevere and Arthur, are best friends–a fierce competitor, she always bests him in sword fights. What will be the outcome when confronted with Excalibur in the stone?

Apple Season by Ellen Lewis. To make arrangements for her father’s funeral, Lissie returns to the family farm she and her brother fled 26 years before. Billy, a neighbor and school friend, comes by with an offer to buy the farm. As memories, needs, and passions are stirred, we learn what happened to the siblings as children, and of Lissie’s startling price for the farm.

Saturday, March 4, at 7 p.m., there will be a further two readings presented.

Buck Naked by Gloria Bond Clunie. Two daughters are thrown into a tizzy when they discover Lily, their 60-plus-year-old mother, has decided to spice up life by tending her back yard garden – “au naturel”!

Intake by Margo Lasher. An arrogant young psychiatrist meets an 80-year-old woman for what he assumes will be a routine examination. During the course of their relationship, he comes to realize how little he knows, and as she reveals her deep love and understanding of her two aging dogs, both doctor and patient learn about life, love, and hope.

Before the performance on Saturday at 5 p.m., the League of Professional Theatre Women will host a panel discussion with the playwrights, moderated by Shellen Lubin, followed by refreshments before the 7 p.m. readings.  If you would like to attend the pre-reading discussion, you must register by Feb. 26, at this link.

To purchase tickets for the Friday, March 3, or Saturday, March 4, readings – each starts at 7 p.m. – call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Tickets:  $20 adult each night; $15 senior each night; $10 student and LPTW members.

A special two-day pass (tickets for Friday and Saturday night performances for $30) is being offered.  Call the box office at 860.767.7318 to reserve your two-day pass.

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

For more information about the Women Playwrights Initiative, contact Laura Copland, Director of New Play Development, at laurac@ivorytonplayhouse.org.

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Earth2 Presents a WELLfed Event Tonight in Essex to Raise Funds to Build a Sustainable Well in Uganda

Villagers in Oculoi, Uganda, collect drinking water from an unsafe source. The WELLfed event being held Friday at Centerbrook Architects will change these people’s lives by funding a well to provide them for the first time with clean drinking water.

On Friday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Earth2 presents their fifth WELLfed fundraiser, at Centerbrook Architects & Planners at 67 Main St., Centerbrook, Conn. Guests will wander the tasting stations, learn about the nonprofit beneficiary and well-building partner, Call To Care Uganda, and add their artistic touch to a quilt gift that will travel to Africa.

In so doing, guests will let their kindness stretch across borders and fuel profound change, improve health and sanitation, inspire critical educational opportunities, and jumpstart the safety and empowerment of over 800 people of all ages in Oculoi Village in the Kaberamaido District in Uganda.

In-kind donors include venue sponsor Centerbrook Architects & Planners, A Thyme To Cook, Caseus, Black Hog Brewing Co., Coastal Cooking Co., Fresh Salt at The Saybrook Point Inn, RIPE Craft Bar Juices, Wright’s Steakhouse, J Cakes, La Cuisine Catering, Cafe SoL, rental sponsor Connecticut Rental Center, Earth2, Gourmet Galley, graphic designer Julie Clements-Reagan, La Belle Aurore, Savvy Tea, SKYY Vodka, Spice Catering Group, quilt sponsor The White Dress by the Shore, Zest Fresh Pastry, and more.

The brief program will include Centerbrook Architects partner Chad Floyd, Josh Chalmers (Earth2 CEO and WELLfed founder) and Martha Wells-Hoffman (Call To Care Uganda Executive Director and founder), who notes that “supplying a source of clean water to Oculoi gives the gift of life. The world doesn’t stand a chance without water. It is what is standing between a billion people and their health, safety and the opportunity to unlock their true potential!”

“Earth2’s mission statement is ‘Change the world before bedtime,’” says Chalmers, “and WELLfed brings that goal to life for our guests and empowers them to make an enormous change with a small-but-potent effort, all while eating, drinking and socializing with old and new friends. What we create in just two hours is immeasurable. Safe water means improved health, opportunities, and time for education – and the villages make a commitment to maintaining the wells for generations to come.”

Chalmers recently made a pledge to help build 100 wells by the end of 2020 and WELLfed is launching other fundraising challenges, including a WELLfed Fashion event in New York City, WELLfed WEDNESDAY restaurant day on March 22 in Boston in partnership with Summits Education to build a clean water system in Haiti, and other local and national initiatives and collaborations.

Event tickets are $75 per person, all-inclusive, with 100 percent of the ticket price going directly to the well build. Tickets and details are available at this link or by contacting Earth2 at Josh@earth2company.com.

If you cannot attend this event and want to support the dream, donation pledges can be arranged through the same contact email and fundraise.com link. You may also contact Chalmers with questions, for more information and photos, or to join the fun as a tasting station donor.

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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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