February 26, 2020

Hear Cappella Cantorum Sing Handel’s ‘Messiah’ This Weekend; Old Lyme Church Choir to Accompany Chorus

Come and celebrate the beginning of the Holiday Season with the Cappella Cantorum MasterWorks Chorus performing Handel’s Messiah (Christmas Section), Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m. at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, 170 Rope Ferry Rd., Waterford CT 06385. The concert will be repeated Sunday, Dec. 4, 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Road, Deep River 06417. 

The chorus will be joined by members of the choir of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme and will be accompanied by a professional orchestra. Simon Holt will conduct at the Waterford concert, and Barry Asch will direct at the Deep River performance.

Messiah is one of the most popular choral works and is a joyous start to the season. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at the door or at 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.

For more information, call Barry Asch at 860-388-2871.


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.”


Cappella Cantorum Celebrates Mozart in Concert This Afternoon in Deep River

Daniel Juarez

Daniel Juarez

Listen to the magic of Mozart when Cappella Cantorum MasterWorks Chorus presents a Mozart Celebration on Sunday, April 10, at 3 p.m., in John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River.

Mozart’s Requiem, Regina Coeli and Ave Verum are the featured choral works.

Featured soloists singing with the professional Cappella Cantorum Chamber Orchestra will be: Patricia Schuman, soprano; Heather Petrie, contralto; Daniel Juárez, tenor; and Christopher Grundy, baritone.

Internationally acclaimed Patricia Schuman, soprano, has performed with Cappella Cantorum MasterWorks Chorus, most recently with the production of Fauré Requiem and Schubert Mass in G.

Heather Petrie

Heather Petrie

Hailed as a true contralto, Heather Petrie is becoming a familiar voice throughout the Northeast. She has performed with Cappella Cantorum MasterWorks Chorus, most recently with the production of Bach Magnificat and Vivaldi Gloria.

Praised as a rising star who brings eloquence and musicality to a performance, Christopher Grundy, baritone, has given frequent recitals across the United States of repertoire spanning seven centuries.

A leading resident tenor of the CT Lyric Opera, Daniel Juárez’s operatic credits include Erik in Wagner’s Der Fligende Hollander, Don José in Bizet’s Carmen and other leading tenor roles in many opera programs.

Tickets are $30 (free for age 18 and under), from CappellaCantorum.org or by calling 860-388-2871. A reception follows the performance.


Essex Winter Series Continues with Jeff Barnhart And His Hot Rhythm, Feb. 21

Jeff Barnhart

Jeff Barnhart

The 2016 Essex Winter Series (EWS) continues Sunday, Feb. 21, at Valley Regional High School at 3 p.m. with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring Jeff Barnhart and His Hot Rhythm.

The 2016 EWS season, which has been designed by Executive Director Mihae Lee for its quality and variety, promises to be an exciting one, with three very different programs all by world-class artists. Enjoy great chamber music, hot jazz, expressive vocal music, and the thrill of a full orchestra.

All of the concerts are on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. in Deep River. Concerts take place at Valley Regional High School, with the exception of the March 6 concert, which will be presented at John Winthrop Middle School. The schedule is as follows:

Feb. 21: Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert
Jeff Barnhart and His Hot Rhythm
Valley Regional High School

Jeff Barnhart, our jazz artistic advisor, has thrilled EWS audiences for years with his performances of hot jazz. The renowned pianist, vocalist, arranger, bandleader, re­cording artist, composer, educator, and entertainer will perform seminal jazz and pop standards from the first half of the 20th century with a top-notch band: Scott Philbrick on trumpet, banjo, and guitar; Joe Midiri on reeds; Paul Midiri on vibes and trombone; Anne Barnharton flute and vocals; Vince Giordano on bass, tuba, and bass sax; and Jim Lawlor on drums. Co-sponsored by The Clark Group and Tower Laboratories

March 6: Patricia Schuman, soprano
John Winthrop Middle School

We are delighted to welcome back to our stage the internationally-celebrated soprano Patricia Schuman. Her program, “Winter Romance,” will feature songs of love and loss as well as lighter fare from the great Amer­ican songbook and musical theater. She will be joined by harpist Megan Sesma, pianist Douglas Dickson, and a special surprise guest artist. Ms. Schuman has been engaged by the most distinguished opera houses throughout the world, and has collaborated with many of the foremost conductors and directors of our time. Co-sponsored by Essex Savings Bank and an anonymous foundation

April 3: Fenton Brown Emerging Artists Concert
New Haven Symphony Orchestra with violinist Tessa Lark
Valley Regional High School

Now in its 121st year of continuous operation, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra is one of the country’s finest regional orchestras. Returning to our series, the orchestra under music director William Boughton will perform Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, Haydn’s “London” Symphony, and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, featuring our 2016 Emerging Artist, Tessa Lark. Lark won the prestigious Naumburg International Violin Award in 2012, and is one of today’s most sought-after young violinists. Co-sponsored by Guilford Savings Bank and an anonymous foundation

All tickets to Essex Winter Series concerts are general admission. Individual tickets are $35; four-concert subscriptions are $120, which represents a $20 saving over the single-ticket price for four concerts. Tickets may be purchased on the EWS website, www.essexwinterseries.com, or by calling 860-272-4572.

More program information, artist biographies and photos, and much more is available on the Essex Winter Series web site, www.essexwinterseries.com.


Cappella Cantorum Presents a Holiday Festival with Chorus & Brass Today

Christmas-musicCome and celebrate the holidays at Cappella Cantorum’s Holiday Festival concert with chorus and brass, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River.

The concert will feature John Rutter’s ‘Gloria,’ Daniel Pinkham’s ‘Christmas Cantata,’ Hanukah songs, selections for brass and a carol sing.

Barry B. Asch is the Music Director and Conductor, Deborah Lyon is Assistant Music Director and Accompanist and Patricia Hurley serves as Cappella Cantorum Festival Brass Manager.

Tickets purchased in advance are $30 and are available at CappellaCantorum.org or by calling (860) 577-2950. Tickets at the door are $30, students $5 (cash or check only).


Acclaimed Nature Photographer Slonina to Speak at CT Valley Camera Club Tonight

A stunning vista of the Grand Tetons by John Slonina.

A stunning vista of the Grand Tetons by John Slonina.

John Slonina, an award-winning professional nature photographer, tour leader and writer devoted to the conservation of wild places and wild things, will be the guest speaker at the Connecticut Valley Camera Club’s monthly meeting on Monday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. All are welcome at the meeting, which will be held in the lower level of the Deep River Library, 150 Main St., Deep River.

Slonina’s goal is to use his photographs and writings to educate and inform as many people as possible about nature and environmental issues. He hopes to introduce others to places and animals that they may never have the opportunity to see. His photographs are held in private collections and galleries throughout the world.

Bear cub by John Slonina.

Bear cub by John Slonina.

As a leader of photo tours to some of North America’s most beautiful and wild places, Slonina teaches participants how to create award winning images and shoot like a professional. He also hosts workshops and presentations.

For further information, visit his website at www.sphotography.com

The Connecticut Valley Camera Club meets on the last Monday of every month at 7 p.m. (except December and July) in the lower level of the Deep River Library, 150 Main St., Deep River. Meetings are open to the public.

For more information about the Connecticut Valley Camera Club, visit their website.


See ‘The Story of My Life’ at Deep River Town Hall This Weekend

star in 'The Story of My Life'

John Costa and Michael P. Cartwright star in “The Story of My Life”, presented by MiLo Productions. Photo by Robert Hughes.

MiLo Productions has announced that the intimate musical comedy The Story of My Life, by Drama Desk Award-nominees Neil Bartram and Brian Hill, will be their first stage production, running August 21-23, at Deep River Town Hall Auditorium.

Do you remember the day you met your best friend? The Story of My Life tells the story of two childhood friends and how their friendship profoundly defined their lives. Thomas Weaver is a best-selling, award-winning author. Alvin Kelby was his best friend for 30 years. But time can test the bonds of friendship, and when it does, Thomas calls on the only resource he has — his stories of Alvin — to learn where things went wrong.

A richly melodic musical, The Story of My Life is a soaring tribute to the power of friendship and the people who change our lives forever. BroadwayWorld said “See if you don’t find yourself moved to Google the name of some long-lost friend with whom you simply lost touch. The Story of My Life inspires us to reconnect with those who were part of the earliest chapters of our own life stories.”

Guilford resident Michael P. Cartwright will play Thomas. Cartwright is familiar to local audiences through his appearances at several area theatres. He portrayed the green-tinged title character in Warner Theatre’s Shrek. At West Hartford Community Theatre, he has appeared as Max Bialystock in The Producers and Javert in Les Misérables. He has been seen at Goodspeed Musicals in 1776, and in productions with Summer Theatre of New Canaan, River Rep, Ivoryton Playhouse, and Newington Mainstage, as well as Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia and Delaware Theatre Company.

The mental health issues addressed in The Story of My Life resonate closely for Cartwright, a clinical social worker for over 25 years, who currently works at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

The role of Alvin will be played by John Costa of New Bedford, Mass. Costa comes to Connecticut directly from the Festival Theatre production of Mary Poppins, where he was featured as Admiral Boom. His regional credits include Goodspeed Musicals (1776), The Huntington Theatre (Pirates!), American Repertory Theatre, NewRep (Ragtime), Lyric Stage Co. of Boston (1776, Big River), and The SpeakEasy Stage Co. (Carrie the musical).

Other credits include Herr Schulz (Cabaret), Cogsworth (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), Max Detweiller (The Sound of Music), and Amos Hart (Chicago) with New Bedford Festival Theatre; as well as performances with Salem Summer Theatre, Star Players, Little Theatre of Fall River, Sweet Apple, and Big Star Productions.

The Story of My Life features music and lyrics by Neil Bartram and book by Brian Hill. It was produced at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn. before making the trip to Broadway in 2009, where it was nominated for four Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, and won a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Ensemble.

Bartram and Hill were commissioned to write The Theory of Relativity by Sheridan College in Toronto as a new show specifically for college-age students. It had its London, UK premiere in May of 2014 and its regional theatre premiere at The Norma Terris Theatre in 2015. Bartram and Hill’s musical Not Wanted On The Voyage received a developmental production at Northwestern University’s Barber Theatre as part of the American Music Theatre Project. The pair are currently developing musical adaptations of Disney’s famous Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Ray Bradbury’s cult classic Something Wicked This Way Comes for the stage.

Performances are Friday, Aug. 21 and Saturday, Aug. 22, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 23, at 2 p.m. at the Deep River Town Hall Auditorium, located at 174 Main Street. Tickets are $25 for general admission seating and are available at www.milo-productions.com.

The Story of My Life is produced by the Guilford-based MiLo Productions, which also produces the popular local Victorian holiday singing group Connecticut Yuletide Carolers and the Shoreline Cabaret Series.


Connecticut River Gateway Commission Donates $5,000 To “The Preserve” Fund

Connecticut River Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody presents a $5,000 contribution to The Preserve Fund to Kate Brown (center), Trust for Public Land Project Manager for “The Preserve” acquisition. On the far left is Commission Vice Chair Nancy Fischbach, and on the right are Commission Secretary Madge Fish & Treasurer Margaret (“Peggy”) Wilson.

Connecticut River Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody presents a $5,000 contribution to The Preserve Fund to Kate Brown (center), Trust for Public Land Project Manager for “The Preserve” acquisition. On the far left is Commission Vice Chair Nancy Fischbach, and on the right are Commission Secretary Madge Fish & Treasurer Margaret (“Peggy”) Wilson.

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission has contributed $5,000 to the Trust for Public Land Campaign to Preserve the 1,000 Acre Forest

The donation will help ensure that the parcel known as The Preserve in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, and Essex will be permanently protected as forestland and wildlife habitat.

The Gateway Commission was established in 1973 to administer the Connecticut River Gateway Conservation Zone.  Eight towns in the lower Connecticut Valley including Lyme and Old Lyme along with Chester, Deep River, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam and Old Saybrook joined together in a compact to create the Conservation Zone in order to protect the scenic, historic and environmental resources of the lower Connecticut River.

Although not within the Conservation Zone, The Preserve lies within the lower Connecticut River watershed.  It is the last thousandacre coastal forest between New York and Boston and includes the headwaters of streams that flow into the Connecticut.

The Commission believes that its protection is important to the ecological health of the watershed and the river.

According to Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody “The Gateway Commission is gratified to join in this vital preservation project.”

For more information about the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, visit  www.ctrivergateway.org or contact J. H. Torrance Downes at (860) 581-8554, or email him at tdownes@rivercog.org.


Wyman, Bjornberg, Stone Hold Press Conference Today to Discuss Women’s Rights

Emily Bjornberg (D)

Emily Bjornberg (D)

Later today, Thursday, Oct. 30, at 1 p.m., Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg will hold a press conference on the front steps of the Town Hall in Clinton, Conn., to discuss the importance of supporting candidates who will stand up for women’s rights in the upcoming Nov. 4 election.  Wyman and Bjornberg will be joined by State House Candidate Mary Stone of Old Lyme, and many other concerned women and local residents.

Bjornberg’s opponent was recently endorsed by a conservative organization that is trying to roll back a wide variety of rights for women in Connecticut.


Letter to the Editor: An Open Letter to Republican Women

To the Editor:

I am a fellow Republican woman who always wanted to be married, but I wanted a career instead of children. Thankfully, when I headed off to college in 1974, I had access to birth control and thanks to Roe v. Wade I also had access to what could be a very excruciating choice. [Thankfully I never had to make that choice.] So it was time travel for me to hear Art Linares’ answer to this question at the debate held on October 8 at the Valley Regional High School: “Where do you stand on the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision?” Linares only stated that “he was raised Catholic and isn’t up for appointment as a Supreme Court Justice.” In other words, he is againsta woman’s right to choose even birth control!

Haven’t we already dealt with this issue 40 years ago? This extremely right-wing view could have totally changed my life and taken my choice to have a career away from me. Also, I would note that extremist views such as Linares’ are not a fit with his own district’s constituency.

Birthing a child sometimes can be life-threatening. Linares doesn’t care: “No exceptions.” I have had a colleague who died from a brain hemorrhage while she was trying to have a child.

I may have wanted to hear more on Linares’ stances, but it seems he doesn’t like to show up to debates.

Please, if you value your choices as a woman, do not vote for Art Linares.


Sue Huybensz,
Deep River


State House Candidates Stone, Carney Debate Tonight in Old Lyme, 7pm; Also, State Senate Candidates Linares, Bjornberg at 8pm

Challenger Emily Bjornberg (D)

Challenger Emily Bjornberg (D)

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R)

Republic State Senators Art Linares and Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg have agreed to at least three public debates for their election contest in the 12-town 33rd Senate district, though Bjornberg is calling for at least one more face-off to be held in one of the northern towns of the district.

In a separate campaign development, Colin Bennett of Westbrook has been endorsed the receive the Green Party line on the Nov. 4 ballot. Bennett has run for the seat several times as the Green Party nominee in past elections where former Democratic State Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook faced Republican challengers.

The Green Party has secured a ballot line in the district with past campaigns by Bennett, and particularly with the 2012 contest after Daily’s retirement where Melissa Schlag of Haddam won nearly ten percent of the vote as the Green Party candidate in the contest with Linares and Democratic nominee Jim Crawford of Westbrook. Schlag was elected last year as the Democratic first selectwoman of Haddam, and is supporting Bjornberg in this year’s election.

Bennett is not believed to be waging an active campaign for the Nov. 4 vote, but he has been included in at least one of the Linares-Bjornberg debates. Bennett has been invited to participate in a Sept. 23 debate at Valley Regional High School in Deep River that is sponsored by the Essex Library. The debate begins at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium, with written questions from the audience that will be screened by the debate moderator, Essex Librarian Richard Conroy.

Devin Carney (R)

Devin Carney (R)

Mary Stone (D)

Mary Stone (D)

The first campaign face off between the one-term Republican incumbent and Bjornberg, of Lyme, will be held Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School in Old Lyme. The session, sponsored by the New London Day and the Eastern Chamber of Commerce, begins at 8 p.m.  The evening starts at 7 p.m. with a debate between the candidates for the 23rd House seat currently held by Marilyn Giuliano.  Democrat Mary Stone of Old Lyme will face off against Republican Devin Carney of Old Saybrook.  The 23rd seat covers Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and the southern section (south of I 95) of Westbrook.

Old Lyme is part of the 20th Senate District, but Lyme, its northern neighbor, is in the 33rd District. The district also includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and parts of Old Saybrook.

The candidates will also appear at a debate sponsored by the Westbrook Council of Beaches in early October, and at a forum, not a debate, sponsored by the Chester-Deep River-Essex chapter of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce on the morning of Oct. 3 at the Chester Meeting House.

Bjornberg this week urged Linares to agree to hold one additional public debate in one of the five northern towns of the district, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, or Portland. Bjornberg said she would keep her schedule open for a northern town debate


Late Registration for Cappella’s ‘Magnificat,’ ‘Gloria,’ Sept. 15

Cappella Cantorum MasterWorks Chorus late registration/rehearsal for Bach’s Magnificat and Vivaldi’s Gloria is Mon., Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River, 06417.

Registration is $40, Vivaldi’s Gloria $12, Bach’s Magnificat $6.

Rehearsals are Monday nights. Use the rear entrance.

The Gloria, Vivaldi’s best known sacred work, is a joyful hymn of praise and worship.

Cappella is a non-auditioned Chorus.  Tenor and bass soloists will be auditioned from the membership, on Sept. 22, 7 p.m.


Adios Dear Deep River!

John Guy Laplante

John Guy LaPlante

Well, Friends, it’s time for me to say goodbye to the town I love. I never thought this day would come. Never wanted it to come. I have been happy here. Fifteen years ago I chose Deep River as my retirement community– chose it deliberately, mind you.

It’s a strange story: I had my whole career in Massachusetts. Just retired, I came here to Connecticut for a one-week program at what is now Incarnation Center in Ivoryton. Well, one thing led to another and I became the director of its big and fine Elderhostel Program. Spent eight good years there. And that’s how I got to discover Deep River. I caught the town at the cusp, it seems. It was just coming out of a prolonged sleepy period. My instinct told me it was about to flower. How right I was. What I longed for was real, genuine small town life.

Within a few days I bought a condo at Piano Works—yes, the one I am living in. It turned out to be perfect for my needs. Then right away I applied to join the town Rotary Club. Rotary had long appealed to me but I was always too busy. That was another smart decision. It was a happy day when the Rotarians swore me in. I made friends in the club and in town. I became involved in remarkable programs—Rotary always commits to serving its community however it can.

A big project was the creation of Keyboard Park with its pretty Gazebo and Fountain. Another very meaningful one was our annual Patriotic Fourth celebration on Independence Day right there at Keyboard Park. Another was the purchase of what is now the Town’s iconic Elephant Statue in front of Town Hall. That was a big expense for our club but we considered it important.

Here’s a nice memory. On one Deep River Family Day we inflated balloons through the elephant’s trunk! Honest! Handed them to delighted kids. I admit we had a second motive. We wanted to prove to everybody that that statue is really a fantastic water fountain. Water shoots out the elephant’s trunk! I still don’t understand why water hasn’t been connected to it permanently.

Another project was the re-dedication of the Observation Deck at the bottom of Kirtland Street that overlooks the Connecticut. It’s Rotary that made that deck possible years ago. We had a beautiful ceremony with speeches, a fife and drum corps, the whole works. (But know what? Some vandal has destroyed our beautiful brand-new plaque for it! I’d like to shoot him. Or her.)

I’m happy to tell you that those projects were always accomplished with the full cooperation of the Town and the help of First Selectman Dick Smith.

Yes, Deep River Rotary was wonderful. I’ve lived in numerous places, but emotionally I’ve considered Deep River home. In fact I’ve loved the whole area, including the delightful neighboring towns and villages on both sides of the Connecticut Estuary.

Oh, I had been a journalist on a big newspaper. Here from Deep River I found fresh outlets for that passion of my younger days. And I’m still enjoying creating articles and now blogs … though momentarily I’m slowed down by all the work of selling out and moving to California.

The reason I’m leaving is simple. I’m old and feel it and show it. My dear daughter Monique out there in Morro Bay wants me under her wing.

Know what? Many times over the years, I’ve heard the call, “Go West, Young Man!” Well, after all these years, and now far from young, I’m saying yes to that call.

But for sure there will be tears in my eyes when I do go to Bradley to fly off for that big and ultimate chapter in my life. Living at Piano Works in this gorgeous corner of the world has been great. Thank goodness I’ll have wonderful memories to sustain me. And I hope to come back and visit.


Passion At The Bee: Big Book Getaway Summer Series Kicks Off With Romance, Erotica Novelists, Today

Bestselling Authors L. Marie Adeline, Charles Dubow and Lauren Willig to discuss their work with Moderator, Nick Hahn, at the historic Bee & Thistle Inn

Summer is right around the corner, and with warm weather comes fun and relaxing days spent at the beach … but, no beach day is complete without a good book.  And, warmer weather isn’t the only thing to look forward to this summer: The Big Book Getaway Blockbuster Summer Reading Series opens on June 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the historic Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme, CT.

The new summer series will feature themed events from June through September, sponsored by The Day.  The first event, titled ‘Passion at the Bee,’ will feature bestselling authors Lauren Willig, Charles Dubow, and L. Marie Adeline, moderated by Nick Hahn.  The beautiful Bee & Thistle Inn provides the perfect setting, and will serve a full luncheon and dessert for all attendees, prepared by Chef Kristofer Rowe.

Lauren Willig.

Lauren Willig.

An expert at keeping her readers riveted, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig uses elements of mystery and romance to immerse readers from around the world in her stories.  With translations into more than a dozen languages, Willig’s books have received the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards.

Her works have also been selected for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction.  Willig is the author of the “Pink Carnation” series, based in Napoleonic times, and her latest work, “That Summer,” will be released on June 3.

Charles Dubow’s life experiences have taken him to many different places, and now he finds himself making a strong debut in the literary world with “Indiscretion,” a moving and multifaceted tale. Before his move into literature, Dubow was Founding Editor at Forbes.com and later became an editor at Businessweek.com.

“Indiscretion” is an irresistibly sexy and sleek story of love, lust, and betrayal retold through the eyes of a close confidant and observer.   This remarkable debut is an exciting, textured novel that smartly explores the boundaries of marriage, friendship, and fidelity, and reminds us that sometimes perspective is everything.  “Indiscretion” is a summer read that is impossible to put down, and you are unlikely to forget.  Intriguing, seductive, alluring—this is a book to take to the beach and devour before sunset.

Lisa Gabriele

Lisa Gabriele

The S.E.C.R.E.T. erotica trilogy is published in more than 30 countries, and is a bestseller in many of them.  They’re written by L. Marie Adeline, a pseudonym for Lisa Gabriele, who has also written Tempting Faith DiNapoli and the Almost Archer Sisters, both bestsellers.  She also writes and produces for television and radio, and was the show runner on the Gemini and Screen award-winning CBC reality program, Dragons’ Den.

Her essays and articles have appeared in several anthologies and in the New York Times Magazine, New York magazine, the Washington Post, Salon, Nerve, Glamour, Flare, Elle and Chatelaine.  She was the original Dear Diary columnist for Vice Magazine. Adeline’s articles on feminism and erotica have been read widely; her most recent piece on the relationship between the two subjects is “Is Feminism Un-erotic?” for XO Jane and for Salon.com.

Nick Hahn.

Nick Hahn.

Nick Hahn’s writing career started during his days as a student at the University of Notre Dame.  He later became President and CEO of Cotton Inc., and eventually went on to form Hahn International, LTD, an agribusiness consulting group primarily focused on third world countries.  Hahn has spent 14 years living abroad working amongst indigenous people from Africa to Latin America, writing down observations of social and political unrest in travel journals.

Hahn’s 14 years abroad inspired his first novel, “Under the Skin.”  In addition to writing his novel, Hahn also writes and narrates audiobooks.  Nick Hahn previously appeared at the Big Book Getaway at Mohegan Sun in February 2014 on the International Thrillers panel.  Hahn also moderated the Avon Romance panel at the same event.

Tickets to “Passion at The Bee” are $55 each, which includes a full luncheon, dessert, author presentations and book signing session.  Visit www.thebigbookclub.org for more information or to purchase tickets.

Tickets are also available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/684004 .

The June 7 event will be the first of four events to be held this summer and fall.  The Day Publishing Company is the title sponsor for the series; The Day is an award-winning multi-media company and daily newspaper that covers a 20 town region in eastern Connecticut.  LymLine.com and ValleyNewsNow.com are also media partners.

The historic Bee and Thistle Innis an important stop within Old Lyme, Connecticut’s art colony, arguably one of the most famous Impressionist-oriented art communities in America.   While retaining the integrity of the historic landmark built in 1756, the transformed Bee and Thistle Inn provides a link to the past while nurturing artists of the present.  Innkeepers Linnea and David Rufo are building an inspirational environment which serves as a gathering place for artists and authors to collaborate, display and sell their work.  Visit the Inn’s website at www.beeandthistleinn.com.

The official bookseller for the event is Bank Square Books of Mystic.  Locally owned and independently operated, Bank Square Books has been a staple of the downtown Mystic community for 25 years.


State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg Addresses Nominating Convention of Rep. Joe Courtney

From left: Emily Bjornberg, Rep. Joe Courtney, State Rep. Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) at Courtney's nominating convention earlier this week.

From left: Emily Bjornberg, Rep. Joe Courtney and State Rep. Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) at Courtney’s nominating convention earlier this week.

Emily Bjornberg of Lyme, Democratic candidate for the State Senate in the 33rd District, addressed the nominating convention of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-2nd) on Wednesday evening at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield.

The 33rd District includes Lyme and also covers Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

“Joe Courtney has amassed a stellar record of fighting hard for education, defense, agriculture and small business.  He holds true to the values that matter most to Eastern Connecticut, and we are proud to call him our representative,” said Bjornberg.

Courtney is seeking a fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of the second district of Connecticut for more than seven years, and I am looking forward to running again.  I am grateful for the strong support displayed at our convention, which demonstrates the importance of the work we will continue to do in Connecticut and in Washington,” said Courtney in a prepared statement.


Chester Historical Society Hosts Silent Auction Event, Saturday

F:DPFMonday NewsStorrs Convention of Characters #     February  24 2013  Al Malpa

Photo by Al Malpa
David Rau, Director of Education and Outreach at the Florence Griswold Museum, created “As Seen From Above” for the Chester Historical Society’s Unearthed in Chester Challenge & Reception. Using the rusted Es found buried in an early Chester property, David says his answer to the challenge is “a bird’s-eye view of the earth from above. As soon as I saw the shapes, I saw the openings as small doors. You can imagine the scene as a setting for an interesting archaeological dig, which might unearth more Es.” David is known far and wide for his fairy house creations for the museum.

Dipping back into Chester’s roots as a manufacturing town, the Chester Historical Society has created its fourth challenge for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, and all others with a creative mind.

This spring’s creative challenge is named “Unearthed in Chester,” because it is based on flat, rusted iron pieces found buried in an early Chester Center property – one of the oldest houses in Chester.  These rusty pieces measure 1 ¼ by 2 inches and look like the capital letter E.

The finished pieces of art, jewelry, sculptures, photographs, etc. will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Unearthed in Chester Reception on Saturday, March 22, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the historic Chester Meeting House.

“The Society has staged similar challenges over the past ten years.  In 2004 we started with Brooks for Hooks, which used hooks and screw eyes manufactured by M.S. Brooks & Sons,” said Skip Hubbard, Historical Society president. “Our last two challenges utilized 2-inch-square knitting gauges made by C. J. Bates & Son and bone handles from Bishop & Watrous.”

There is still time for artists and other creatively minded people to get involved in this year’s Unearthed Challenge. Call Sosse Baker at the Chester Gallery, 860-526-9822, for details.

To attend the reception, which will feature hearty hors d’oeuvres and white wine, tickets are $30 and can be purchased at Chester Gallery and Ceramica, both in the center of Chester, or by calling Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery.

All the proceeds from the event will benefit the Chester Historical Society and its programs, including Chester Museum at The Mill.  Information is available on the Society website, www.chesterhistoricalsociety.org or at Facebook.com/chestercthistoricalsociety.


Essex Savings Bank Reflects on Successful Year at Annual Meeting

Essex Savings Bank held its semi-annual Trustees’ Meeting Monday, Jan. 27,  at the Bank’s Plains Road corporate office in Essex.  Bank Chairman Douglas Paul welcomed the attendees and stated that he was proud to preside at the completion of the Bank’s 162nd year.

Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO, reported on the Bank’s performance for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013 by stating, “I am pleased to report that the Bank posted a net profit of $1.7 million. Bank assets grew by $6.7 million to $331.5 million. While core deposits rose by $12 million, credit quality remained strong with zero foreclosed properties and capital increased by $1.8 million to $40.4 million – far exceeding regulatory requirements.”

He continued, ” Our branches continue to attract new relationships and our newest branches in Madison and Chester are operating ahead of our projections.  During the year, the Bank generated over $76 million in loans which were comprised of both residential and business loans. We are also proud to report that our Trust Department, led by professionals, Granville Morris and Moira Martin, has brought assets under management to over $300 million. ”

Shook added, ”  As part of our Bank’s success, we will again be distributing 10% of our after-tax net income or $224,000 to non-profits in our market area.  By year end, we will have contributed back to the community in excess of $3.9 million over the past 18 years that the Community Investment Program has been in existence.”

Charles Cumello, President & CEO of Essex Financial Services Inc., reported that gross revenue for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013 was $18.7 million, which is up 12 percent.  “This year’s performance is one of the firm’s best, and marks the fourth year in a row with record revenue growth.”

Cumello informed the trustees of  the  many improvements and investments in technology and infrastructure currently underway that will increase the excellence of the firm’s client service as the firm continues to grow.  He stated that these investments in infrastructure are critical as the addition of new clients to the firm has been very robust and inquiries from potential clients continue to rise.

Editor’s Note: Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Connecticut RiverValley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook.  Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc, Member FINRA, SIPC.

Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value and are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.


36th Essex Winter Series Concert Season Promises World-Class Performers

Mihae Lee and Randall Hodgkinson

Mihae Lee and Randall Hodgkinson

Essex Winter Series (EWS) will present five unusually diverse and exciting concerts in 2014, ranging from Bach to red-hot jazz, and from solo guitar to full orchestra.  Programmed by EWS artistic director Mihae Lee and newly-appointed Jazz Impresario Jeff Barnhart, these concerts offer world-class performing artists and a dazzling array of styles and genres.

The 36th season of Essex Winter Series is dedicated to Fenton Brown, co-founder, former artistic director, and trustee emeritus, who passed away in September.  “Fenton changed our community through the joy of music,” says Ms. Lee.  “We will never forget his incredible contribution to the cultural life of our community, and we will celebrate his legacy with five really wonderful concerts.”

All of the concerts are on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. in Deep River.  Concerts take place at Valley Regional High School, with the exception of the March 2 jazz concert, which will be presented at John Winthrop Middle School.

Jan. 12: Mihae Lee/Randall Hodgkinson Duo.  The piano four-hands duo of Mihae Lee and her renowned colleague Randall Hodgkinson will perform Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring on the 100th anniversary of this revolutionary work, along with two other ground-breaking masterpieces: Debussy’s La Mer and Gershwin’s most popular large-scale piece, Rhapsody in Blue.  Sponsored by Essex Meadows

Feb. 9: Jason Vieaux, guitar. Hailed by Gramophone magazine as “among the elite of today’s classical guitarists,” the renowned American virtuoso will perform works from Bach to Pat Metheny, including music by 19th century masters such as Mauro Giuliani and Isaac Albéniz and modern classical and popular composers such as José Luis Merlín and Antonio Carlos Jobim.  Sponsored by Essex Savings Bank

March 2: Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert.  “Celebrating Fats Waller: The Songs and Story of America’s Greatest Musical Entertainer” will feature many of the greatest songs by the legendary and influential pianist, whose best-known compositions include, “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and “Honeysuckle Rose,” performed by the charismatic Jeff Barnhart and his Hot Rhythm.  Co-Sponsored by The Clark Group and Tower Laboratories

March 30: Fenton Brown Emerging Artists Concert.  2014 Emerging Artist, hornist Leelanee Sterrett, will perform the Strauss Horn Concerto No. 2 with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, which returns to EWS under the direction of William Boughton.  Also on the program are Richard Wagner’s moving Siegfried Idyll and Beethoven’s delightful Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale.”  Co-sponsored by Guilford Savings Bank and Nancy Newcomb & John Hargraves

April 13: Palm Sunday All-Bach Concert.  The program features some of Bach’s most beautiful soprano arias, The Musical Offering, and the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.  The distinguished performers include soprano Lisa Saffer, flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, violinist Ani Kavafian, and harpsichordist Linda Skernick.  Sponsored by the Edgard and Geraldine Feder Foundation

All tickets to Essex Winter Series concerts are general admission.  Individual tickets are $30; five-concert subscriptions are $125, which represents a $25 saving over the single-ticket price for five concerts.  Tickets may be purchased on the EWS website or by calling 860-272-4572.

More program information, artist biographies and photos, and much more is available on the Essex Winter Series web site, www.essexwinterseries.com.


Lose Those Extra Pounds With The River Valley Slimdown


The New Year is just around the corner and Donna Scott of Old Lyme is ready to help you with that  (possibly long-standing) resolution to lose weight.

Scott is the owner of IFoundFitness in Deep River and has just announced her 7th annual River Valley Slimdown.  While participants will compete to lose the most weight over 12 weeks, they will also be raising funds for charity.  Those who take the challenge will be dropping the holiday pounds for the good of both their health and their community.

The next River Valley Slimdown begins on Jan. 11, 2014 and runs through April 5.  Over the past six challenges, Scott and her team at IFoundFitness have helped over 120 participants shed over 860 pounds.  They have also raised over $1,100 for multiple organizations, including Shoreline Soup Kitchens, and Tri-Town Youth Services, to name just a few.  The Winter 2014 River Valley Slimdown will donate 20% of the challenge jackpot to a charity decided upon by the participants.

The jackpot itself is determined by those who take the weight loss plunge.  Participants agree to pony up $65 to participate in the challenge, which includes a weekly weigh-in.  Any weight gain results in a penalty fee.  All penalties plus the original registration fees go towards the final jackpot, which is then divided between the contest winners and the charity of choice.

“People love that extra motivation,” notes Donna, continuing,  “While, of course, we tend to over-indulge during the holidays, it’s also a time to give back to others.  My clients are amazing.  Their dedication to their health is only matched by the dedication they have to helping these charities.”

The Fall 2013 River Valley Slimdown resulted in a jackpot of over $2,300.  Both the first and second place winners dropped over 10 pounds each.

For the upcoming challenge, Scott will again be working with Penny Smyth, CHHC, AADP Certified Health Coach, to provide nutritional and weight management seminars to the challenge-takers throughout the challenge.  RVSD will also be offering a Brand New On-Line Meal Planning Program through which participants can choose from over 450 menu choices, including vegan and gluten-free diets.

And there’s still one more reason to become involved.  Sign up before Jan. 1, to receive a free pass card to five fitness classes at IFoundFitness (new members only).

Registration is currently open for the Winter 2014 River Valley Slimdown.  Email Scott at donna@ifoundfitness.com for complete rules and registration forms.

For more information on the River Valley Slimdown, visit http://ifoundfitness.com/rv-slim-down/


No More Silence: Local Moms to Honor Newtown Anniversary in Hartford This Afternoon

12/14 Update — Event Cancelled Due to Storm:  On Saturday, Dec. 14, moms and others who support the same goals will gather at over 50 events in more than 35 states to honor the victims of the tragedy in Newtown and the thousands of Americans lost to gun violence every year.  All events will include a communal bell-ringing to remember the victims and to show resolve to never again be silent about gun violence.

These events are co-sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America .

In Hartford at the event starting at 2 p.m. at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, 814 Asylum Ave., attendees will hear from Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Senator Beth Bye, Kara Nelson Baekey, Rev. Henry Brown, Mrs. Henrietta Beckman, and Iran Nazario about the need to reduce gun violence.

Local sponsors, with whom a common goal of gun violence prevention is shared, include Step Up, Step Out at Asylum Hill Congregational Church and Mothers United Against Violence.

Bells will be rung loudly, honoring the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy with a promise to continue making noise on gun reform until change comes.

For more information, visit http://momsdemandaction.org/no-more-silence/

Speakers will include:

  • Kara Nelson Baekey, Chapter Leader, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
  • Rev. Matthew Laney, Asylum Hill Congregational Church
  • U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal
  • U.S. Senator Chris Murphy
  • State Senator Beth Bye
  • Rev. Henry Brown, President, Mothers United Against Violence
  • Mrs. Henrietta Beckman, Director, Mothers United Against Violence
  • Iran Nazario, Director of Peacebuilders and Community Relations, COMPASS Youth Collaborative, Inc.

Much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving was created to change laws regarding drunk driving, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to build support for common-sense gun reforms. The nonpartisan grassroots movement of American mothers is demanding new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our children and families.

In nearly one year, the organization has more than 127,000 members with a chapter in every state in the country.

For more information or to get involved, visit www.momsdemandaction.org.  Follow the organization on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MomsDemandAction or on Twitter @MomsDemand.

Since its creation in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 members to more than 1,000 mayors from across the country. The organization has more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making it the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country.

The bipartisan coalition, co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, has united the nation’s mayors around these common goals:

  • protecting communities by holding gun offenders accountable
  • demanding access to crime gun trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking
  • working with legislators to fix weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to get guns.

Learn more at www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org