July 7, 2022

Op-Ed: Are We a Civilized Country?

Lest we forget … then Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal  led a group of local citizens including former Old Lyme Selectman, the late Mervin Roberts (in foreground) to Newtown, Conn. to offer Old Lyme’s sympathies in respect of the 26 teachers and students killed Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. File photo published Dec. 2012.

Editor’s Note: Tom Soboleski of Ivoryton, Conn., submitted a powerful op-ed to LymeLine.com after the Sandy Hook massacre. We published ‘Proposed Path to a Safer Society’ on Dec. 20, 2012. In light of yesterday’s tragic events in Uvalde, Texas, Soboleski contacted us yesterday to ask if we would consider re-publishing it and we immediately agreed. He has added a new introduction.

Are We a Civilized Country?

Eighteen school children murdered in Texas. What kind of society do we live in? What kind of society tolerates school children being slaughtered; not to forget the hundreds of others in Buffalo and numerous other cities? Clearly we are an uncivilized society; one that is disintegrating more by the day.

Ten years ago I wrote the following in reaction Connecticut’s own incomprehensible nightmare.

Nothing has changed. We’ve become numb and routinely tolerate the slaughter of innocents. I stand by every word.

Proposed Path to a Safer Society
(First published on LymeLine.com Dec. 20, 2012)

Sandy Hook School is an earthquake that shakes the soul of human decency. My response:
I acknowledge the right to have a hunting rifle and a pistol for self-defense. The right to self-defense is a root of liberty. Equally important is a coincident right of people who choose not to own a gun: the right to live in a safe and secure society.
This right is an indisputable expectation.
While I realize this is an ideal that will be difficult to fulfill, we must, for the sake of human decency, respect, and compassion, strive to create such a society. To not strive for this goal is disrespectful and inconsiderate to all people who want to live in peace.
My proposal to create an environment that begins to lead our society down this path is as follows:
1. A gun is not sporting equipment. To equate a gun to sports is akin to saying it is no different than a tennis racquet or basketball. This is an insult to humanity. There is no comparison because their designed purposes are so different – fun and games versus a killing implement.
2. Any weapon that is capable of firing multiple rounds in rapid succession should be outlawed to anyone other than military, law enforcement or security personnel. No one in a civil society should have such a weapon, for its sole designed purpose is to kill. For hunting and self-defense, there should be no need for anything more than a single-shot pistol or rifle.
3. Any weapon that uses multiple round magazines or any type of device that loads more than six bullets at a time should be outlawed. Reasons stated in item 2.
4. Anyone caught in possession or ownership of these outlawed weapons and ammunition would be in violation of the law and should be punished with extensive community service or imprisonment.
5. Anyone who currently owns such weapons described in item 2 should be paid to turn them in. They should not be grandfathered.
6. Extensive background checks should apply to 100% of sales in any form for the purchase of legal pistols and rifles.
7. A permit is required to fish. A permit should be required to purchase ammunition.
8. Internet sale of any weapon and ammunition should be illegal.
I urge everyone with a strong opinion on this subject to voice their opinion to their representatives and senators. Time is of the essence. Do not let this moment and these memories fade.

Needleman Unanimously Endorsed to Run for Third Term Representing State Senate 33rd District, Includes Lyme

State Senator Norm Needleman

ESSEX/LYME — State Senator Norm Needleman this week received unanimous support for re-election to a third term in the Connecticut State Senate, representing the 33rd District, which includes Lyme, Conn.

Sen. Needleman was originally elected to the State Senate in 2018 and won re-election in 2020.

As Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, Sen. Needleman led the “Take Back Our Grid Act,” which requires the companies to provide reimbursements and credits for extended power outages after serious weather events.

In that same role, he also led passage of legislation adding hours of wind power and battery storage along with an increase to the amount of solar resources authorized to be built in the state, bringing Connecticut closer to generating all electricity from renewable resources.

Additionally, Sen. Needleman helped pass a bipartisan two-year budget investing in education, municipal aid and focusing on Connecticut’s future, and an adjustment to that budget supplying the state with $600 million in tax cuts.

He also supported workforce pipeline training to promote regional manufacturing job growth, and voted to expand recycling programs and ban use of PFAS “forever chemicals” in several industries.

In addition to his work as State Senator, Sen. Needleman also serves as First Selectman of Essex, currently in his sixth term in the role, and is founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories in Essex, the largest producer of effervescent products in the United States.

“Star of Freedom” Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse

This lively scene from ‘Star of Freedom’ features (from left to right) actors Danny Adams, Ayla Stackhouse, Richard E. Waits, and Ben Hope. Photographs courtesy of Jonathan Steele.

IVORYTON — Last Thursday, April 7, a new musical written by Connecticut writers took the stage in Ivoryton, sparking laughter, cheers and a standing ovation.

Star of Freedom, with music and lyrics by Jeff Blaney and book by Lawrence Thelen, opened the Playhouse’s 2022 Season.

Based on Blaney’s concept album Exodus, Star of Freedom takes the audience on a journey with Sean and Chloe as they search for the meaning of home in 1860s America.

The two come from completely different worlds – one an Irish immigrant, the other an African-American slave – but when the Civil War forces their lives to intersect, they demonstrate what it means to be American during the 19th century.

At a time when America is struggling with its identity, it is worth looking back to another difficult time in history that ultimately led to a stronger and more unified nation. Though today, the flaws and scars that this history left behind are still visible, Star of Freedom offers a ray of hope through the lives of these two very different characters.

Star of Freedom is at times funny and whimsical, while at other times painfully sad, yet it never loses its focus as a love story in a time of strife.

Blaney’s intimate and refreshing score (played by the actors on stage) is steeped in Irish and Southern traditions, making it both contemporary and nostalgic at the same time; while Thelen’s book is timely and theatrical.

Conceived and directed by the Playhouse’s own Artistic Director, Jacqueline Hubbard, this world premiere musical features a strong line-up of actor/musicians, including Danny Adams as Sean, and Ayla Stackhouse as Chloe.

The nearly 30 other characters in the story are handled by Brian Michael Carey*, Luke Darnell*, Richard E. Waits * and Ben Hope,* who also musical directs. Karilyn Ashley Surratt joins the creative team as choreographer.

The show has sets and lights designed by Marcus Abbott; costumes by Elizabeth Saylor; and sound by Adam Jackson.

Star of Freedom runs through Sunday, May 1, 2022. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm; evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

There will be one Thursday matinee on April 7 at 2 p.m. and one Saturday matinee on April 9 at 2 p.m.

This season, the Playhouse is back to full capacity for the first time in two years, yet audience safety remains the primary concern. Masks are no longer required, though recommended, and patrons must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result for admittance. Knowing all audience members are COVID-free will provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $25 for students. Tickets go on sale beginning March 1 and are available online at ivorytonplayhouse.org or by calling the box office at 860.767.7318.

For information on group rates, call the box office.

For more information on the entire 2022 season, visit ivorytonplayhouse.org. The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*Denotes a member of Actors Equity.

State Rep. Carney Announces Re-Election Bid for 23rd District That Includes Lyme, Old Lyme

Incumbent State Rep. Devin Carney (R) has announced he is seeking a fifth term in the 23rd District, which includes both Lyme and Old Lyme. Photo submitted.

LYME/OLD LYME — State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) has announced that he is running for re-election as State Representative for the 23rd District, which includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. This is his fourth re-election bid, and if elected, it will be his fifth consecutive term in office.

Rep. Carney was first elected in 2014 and currently serves as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and  Ranking Member of the Transportation Bonding Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Education Committee, Finance, Revenue, & Bonding Committee, and the House Republican Screening Committee.

In addition, he serves as co-chair of the bipartisan Future Caucus and Clean Energy Caucus and is an Assistant Republican Leader.

During his tenure, Rep. Carney has maintained a strong attendance record at the Capitol and has continued to be active in community events in all four towns of the 23rd District.

Rep. Carney has been commended for his accessibility, bipartisanship, and work ethic during his tenure as State Representative. In late 2021, he was one of only two legislators, nationally, to receive the Millennial Action Project’s Rising Star Award for his work trying to bridge political gaps and for his advocacy on issues important to younger generations.

“I’ve always worked hard to put the people of the 23rd District first – above special interests and party interests,” said Carney.

He continued, “To me, this is my responsibility as Representative. I am always honored to go to Hartford to be the voice of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook; and I take that job extremely seriously, especially at a time of uncertainty and concern in government.” 

Rep. Carney’s committee assignments have put him at the center of many important policy debates at the Capitol.

On the Transportation Committee, he has been integral in working to reduce the Connecticut gas tax, improve state bridges and roads, and to improve operations at the DMV.

On the Education Committee, Rep. Carney has fought forced regionalization and worked to ensure communities have local control over educational decisions. 

“Our local public schools are a source of pride for our communities and the state should not be able to dictate what we teach or how we teach it,” said Carney. “As long as I am State Representative, I will fight government overreach, forced regionalization, or any measures that will weaken the quality of our local schools.”

Serving on the Finance, Revenue, & Bonding Committee, Rep. Carney has focused on growing our local economy and jobs, boosting business development, and stopping higher taxes.

“The COVID pandemic created so many issues for our local and state businesses and now it’s the time for the state to take a step back and allow them to grow,” Carney said.

He added, “We have to get people back to work and encouraged to train for jobs that are in-demand. In addition, Connecticut continues to remain unaffordable for many, and I will always oppose higher taxes on our seniors, families, and businesses. As Connecticut continues to come out of the fog of the pandemic, it is essential that government works to give people a break and not to expand its size and scope even further.”

In addition to his legislative work, Rep. Carney works locally in finance and volunteers for many local organizations. He serves on the board of trustees of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, and as board treasurer of Old Saybrook Senior Housing. 

He is a member of both the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce, and the Rotary Club of Old Saybrook, which serves all four towns of the 23rd District.

He is a lector at Grace Church in Old Saybrook and a member of the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee.

He was also recently named as a board member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators on the basis of his  environmental record.

He currently lives in Old Lyme but grew up in Old Saybrook, where he graduated from Old Saybrook Public Schools.

Rep. Carney has already qualified for Connecticut’s Citizen Election Program grant by collecting over 175 contributions and nearly $10,000. 

He commented, “I was thrilled to reach my fundraising goals quickly this campaign and am incredibly grateful to all of those who continue to have faith in me. As this session moves along, I will continue to be available to listen and to bring the people’s voice to Hartford.”

Rep. Carney concluded, “I look forward to visiting many constituents during my campaign to hear their needs and address their concerns. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve the people of the 23rd District.” 

Editor’s Notes: i) For further information on Rep. Carney’s campaign, visit facebook.com/devincarney2022.
ii) This article is based on a press release issued by Rep. Carney.

See Hartford-based Resurgam Quartet on Stage for Essex Winter Series, Sunday

The Resurgam Quartet features, from left to right, Harrison Kliewe (soprano saxophone), Colette Hall (alto saxophone), Michael Raposo (baritone saxophone), and Sean Tanguay (tenor saxophone.)

ESSEX/LYME/OLD LYME – On Sunday, March 20, Essex Winter Series (EWS) will bring the Resurgam Quartet to the stage for its third concert of the season, the annual Fenton Brown Emerging Artists Concert. These young, talented, Hartford-based musicians will offer an exciting repertoire of music by Borne, Piazzolla, Schumann and Schubert arranged for saxophone.

The concert is scheduled to take place at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Conn. 

The EWS 2022 season will conclude on Dec. 18 with January 2022’s rescheduled concert featuring the world-renowned Brentano String Quartet and Mihae Lee, piano. 

Concerts begin at 3 p.m. and are general admission. For tickets visit www.essexwinterseries.com or call 860-272-4572.

As a precaution for our audience, artists and staff, health guidelines will be followed and may include, among other safety measures, the presentation of vaccination proof and mask wearing.

The EWS 2022 season – its 45th – is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories Ltd., BrandTech Scientific, Inc., Masonicare at Chester Village and WSHU Radio. Funding also comes from the Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA), the Connecticut Office of the Humanities (CTH) and Community Foundation of Middlesex County.

Biega Builds as a Job, But Also as a Valued Volunteer on Numerous Old Lyme Projects

Project Construction Manager Ken Biega (left) stands with the Valley Shore-YMCA Director of Operations Tony Sharillo in the recently opened Brady Wellness Center in the ‘Y’ at Westbrook. Biega has served as a volunteer on numerous building committees in Old Lyme and consistently received high praise for his invaluable work on them. Photo submitted.

OLD LYME/WESTBROOK — You may not have heard the name Ken Biega, but metaphorically speaking, his fingerprints are all over numerous buildings in and around Old Lyme.

Soft-spoken and with a cheerful disposition, Biega has served as a volunteer on numerous building committees in Old Lyme including the construction of the Hains Park Boathouse at Rogers Lake and the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library renovation and expansion project.

He is currently a volunteer member of the Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee.

Meanwhile, in a professional capacity as both the co-owner of Noble Construction & Management in Essex and a building construction manager with more than 30 years of experience, he has for the past six months been spearheading the extensive construction project for the Brady Wellness Center at the Valley-Shore YMCA — commonly known as the ‘Y’ — in Westbrook, Conn.

Biega, who has lived in Old Lyme since 1990, graduated from Wentworth College with a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction and has been in the construction business ever since. He joined O & G Industries in Torrington more than  32 years ago as a junior project engineer and steadily advanced through its ranks, rising to a manager, and then a senior executive in the firm.

In May 2021, Biega took a giant leap towards becoming his own boss when he joined Noble Construction. The founder, Ed Noble, was looking to retire and seeking someone to take over the successful business he had created. Biega stepped into that role as co-owner and the two men worked out all the financial arrangements for Biega to take full ownership over an agreed period in a series of steps.

While working at O & G, Biega was involved in numerous local school building projects including East Lyme High and Middle Schools, and all the schools in both Waterford and Westbrook. Further afield, he has taken on projects at Yale University, Wyndham High School and the Gunn School at Litchfield, Conn.

His first encounter with his hometown was when O & G was awarded the Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) High School construction project that was ultimately built after the initial proposal had been defeated at referendum. Wearing his O & G hat, Biega became an ex officio member of the Region 18 Building Committee in 2009 and played a significant part in guiding its members through the complexities and controversies of the high school project, which lasted through 2012 .

The exterior of the Fred Emerson Boathouse at Hains Park on Rogers Lake. Ken Biega was a key member of the building committee that oversaw its construction.

Shortly after the conclusion of that project, the Town of Old Lyme’s plan to construct a new boathouse at Hains Park on Rogers Lake began to take shape. Recalling Biega’s calm expertise throughout the lengthy LOL High School project along with his careful eye on costs, Mary Jo Nosal, who was serving as an Old Lyme Selectwoman at the time, asked Biega if he would be willing to serve on the boathouse committee.

He agreed … and in many ways, the rest is history.

Asked how Biega contributed to the boathouse project, Nosal replied, “[He] is a dependable and modest community asset, who never fails to respond with a self-effacing “Sure,” when asked to volunteer. Ken is an effective collaborator, who shares his deep expertise to ensure that every aspect of the project is addressed in the most cost-effective manner.”

She added, “Ken’s nature makes him approachable and respectful of others’ questions and opinions. His record of volunteerism includes leadership roles on [numerous] projects. He has been instrumental in building these gems in our community.”

Katie Huffman, Director of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, welcomes guests to the inaugural event for the library’s new patio. Biega chaired the building committee for this project.

After the boathouse project, Biega became involved in the now-completed building and renovation project at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library in Old Lyme, which has totally transformed the facility. Library Director Katie Huffman explained his role saying, “Ken served as the Renewal Building Project Committee Chair from 2017 through 2021. Last fall, we retired the Renewal Building Project Committee and reinstated the Library Building Committee of which Ken is the chair.”

Describing how the project progressed, she said, “Working with Ken has been fabulous. He brings so much knowledge about the construction process to the table. I’m confident that his expertise has saved the library both time and money, and it’s freed up my time to focus more on library services.”

In further recognition of his service to the library, Biega was elected Vice-President of the Library Board for the current financial year.

The Lymes’ Senior Center on Town Woods Rd. in Old Lyme is the focus of an ongoing building committee, which is determining the future renovation design and possible expansion of the Center. Biega serves as volunteer on the committee and is an ‘incredible asset’ according to its chair, Jeri Baker.

The library project was hardly finished when Biega was asked to join the Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee,  which had the charge to research the optimum way to renovate and possibly expand the Center. Jeri Baker of Old Lyme is both the chair of the Lymes’ Senior Center Board of Trustees and also head of its building committee. The project may still be in its infancy, but Baker already has a clear impression of the skills Biega is contributing to the project as a volunteer committee member.

She commented, “Ken is an incredible asset to the Senior Center Building Committee. His depth of knowledge and expert skill set makes him a valuable member of yet another effort to improve the lives of both the communities of Lyme and Old Lyme.”

Baker concluded succinctly — and with a chuckle, “He is such a team player on the committee … and also has a great sense of humor!”

The front entrance of the Valley Shore-YMCA in Westbrook. Photo by T. Sharillo.

As mentioned above, Biega’s most recent project in a professional capacity has been the construction of the Brady Wellness Center at the Westbrook ‘Y.’ This came about after the Prymus Pool suffered a catastrophic failure in 2015 that ultimately caused the permanent closure of the pool.

Immediately following the closure, the ‘Y’ conducted a community-wide needs assessment study to determine how it could best serve the community. Based on the survey data collected, the ‘Y’s’ Board of Directors decided to renovate the damaged pool area and transform the space into a state-of-the-art wellness center for community members of all ages to utilize.

Tony Sharillo, Director of Operations at the ‘Y’, explains the board’s vision was, “To create a Wellness Center that generated excitement and which the community could be proud of — the ‘Crown Jewel of the Shoreline’ in terms of wellness centers — with the immediate intention of enticing people to get back to being fit and healthy after all the challenges of the pandemic.”

Another view of the Brady Wellness center at the Y in Westbrook. Photo courtesy of the Valley Shore-YMCA.

To fund the renovations, the ‘Y’ set a capital campaign goal of $5.5 million, and despite the unexpected and severe impact of COVID-19, a remarkable $4.2 million has already been raised. This has been possible in part because, after its humble opening in 1974, the ‘Y’ has undergone four facility expansions and now serves more than 10,000 members each year, who make over 10 million visits.

The fundraising was kicked off by Robert “Bob” Brady, after whom the Center is named, with a major gift of $1.5 million from the Brady Family Foundation. Brady is the founder and former CEO of BLR® – Business & Legal Resources of Old Saybrook, and, according to Sharillo, “… believes in the Y and its impact on the community. Having experienced the importance of fitness in his own life, he wanted to share that belief with the community at large.”

The ‘Y’ set a challenging construction schedule back in July 2021 when Noble Construction was selected as the contractor, but, thanks in many ways to Biega’s guiding hand, the new Brady Wellness Center opened on both time and budget a few weeks ago.

There is no shortage of exercise machines on offer. Photo by K. Biega.

The Center offers a complete line of new cardiovascular equipment, free weights, selectorized equipment, a functional training area, and a sophisticated circuit training system, called MX4.

Asked how the project has progressed under Biega’s watchful eye, Sharillo replied, “ We’re very fortunate to have Ken as part of the team. He has been wonderful. We had a really aggressive timeline and he did everything he could to ensure that high quality was maintained… costs were managed effectively and all the sub-contractors held up their ends [in terms of their commitments.]”

In summary, Sharillo said of Biega, “I couldn’t have asked for a better contractor to work with. He really cared about the project. He was so hard working and incredibly generous with his time.”

The Center opened Feb. 21 this year, but an official ribbon-cutting is planned in a few months when all the final punch-list items have been completed. Sharillo noted that all donors to the Capital Campaign will be invited to the ceremony.

He also stresses that there is no additional charge to members of the ‘Y’ to use the new Brady Wellness Center, noting, “It’s all part of the package.”

The Brady Wellness Center offers a wide range of exercise equipment. Photo courtesy of the Valley Shore-YMCA.

The Center is now open for business and Biega will soon be working on another project. But he will doubtless continue his volunteer activities in Old Lyme, especially as the Lymes’ Senior Center project is in its very early stages.

Asked why he carries on with his significant volunteer work when he is not only about to become the sole owner of a thriving business but also has a wife and three children to consider, he says simply, “It makes me a part of the community and allows me to give back.”

Nosal puts it another way saying Biega has become such an asset to the Old Lyme community that, “Suffice to say, for any building project in Old Lyme, the common thinking is, ‘What would Ken do?'”

Editor’s Notes: i) For more information about the Brady Wellness Center, visit this link.
ii) For more information about Noble Construction & Management of Essex, visit this link.
iii) For more information about the Valley Shore-YMCA, visit this link.

This Afternoon, Essex Winter Series Presents Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks

Vince Giordano (left) and The Nighthawks at Sofia’s in New York City. Photo credit: EWS.

ESSEX, CT The 2022 Essex Winter Series (EWS) season continues this coming Sunday, Feb. 20, with a toe-tapping, hand-clapping, feel-like-dancing concert featuring Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks, fresh from New York to the stage at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Conn.

The program for this event the annual Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert will explore the music of Benny Goodman in the 1920s and 1930s. 

On March 20, Essex Winter Series will bring the Resurgam Quartet to the stage for its third concert of the season, offering a wonderful repertoire of music by Borne, Piazzolla, Schumann and Schubert arranged for saxophone.

The season concludes on Dec. 18 with January 2022’s rescheduled concert featuring the world-renowned Brentano String Quartet and Mihae Lee on piano. 

Concerts begin at 3 p.m. and are general admission. For tickets visit www.essexwinterseries.com or call 860-272-4572. As a precaution for our audience, artists and staff, health guidelines will be followed and may include, among other safety measures, the presentation of vaccination proof and mask wearing.

The EWS 2022 season – our 45th – is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories, BrandTech Scientific, and Masonicare at Chester

Essex Winter Series Concert Featuring Soprano Patricia Schuman, Pianist Bradley Moore Rescheduled to Sunday

Soprano Patricia Schuman will headline the Jan. 30 Essex Winter Series concert

ESSEX — The Essex Winter Series (EWS) concert originally scheduled for last Sunday, Jan.30, has now been rescheduled for next Sunday, Feb. 6, at Valley Regional High School in Deep River. The concert begins at 3 p.m. and doors will open at 2 p.m.

The concert will feature soprano Patricia Schuman and Bradley Moore on piano.

It will include a wide-ranging vocal recital of songs and arias from Handel, Mozart, Schumann, Gustavino, Ginastera and Mompou.

As a precautionary measure to protect all who attend EWS concerts, attendees must follow the COVID Safety Policy established. Click here to view.

For more information and tickets, visit this link.

Essex Winter Series Celebrates 250th Anniversary of Beethoven’s Birth with ‘BeethovenFest,’ This Afternoon

Pictured from left to right: Ida Kavafian, Steven Tenenbom, Peter Wiley, Timothy Cobb, David Shifrin, Frank Morelli, and William Purvis.

ESSEX, CT Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Essex Winter Series (EWS) hosts the rescheduled presentation of BeethovenFest on Sunday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, Deep River. The program was originally part of the organization’s 43rd season in 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

BeethovenFest, a special tribute to the master composer, brings together seven world-renowned artists – David Shifrin, clarinet; William Purvis, horn; Frank Morelli, bassoon; Ida Kavafian, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; and Timothy Cobb, double bass – for a memorable performance of Serenade for Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 8, and Septet in E-flat, Op. 20.

In 2022, EWS will again offer a season of in-person concerts:

  • Jan. 9 – Brentano String Quartet with Mihae Lee, piano;
  • Jan. 30 – Patricia Schuman, soprano, with Bradley Moore, piano;
  • Feb. 20 – Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks; 
  • March 20 – Resurgam (saxophone) Quartet. 

Concerts begin at 3 p.m. and are general admission.

For tickets visit www.essexwinterseries.com or call 860-272-4572. As a precaution for our audience, artists and staff, health guidelines will be followed and may include, among other safety measures, the presentation of vaccination proof and mask wearing.

BeethovenFest and the 2022 season are generously sponsored by Masonicare at Chester Village, The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories, BrandTech Scientific, Guilford Savings, WSHU Radio, The Connecticut Office of the Arts and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County.

Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club Welcomes New, Current Members at Meeting Tonight

LYME/OLD LYME The Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club (LOLJWC), which has a pending name change to Valley Shore Women’s Club, has been meeting to schedule both fundraising and community service activities.

This Thursday, Sept. 23, the club is holding a General Meeting at High Nine Brewing in Deep River. All members and potential members are welcome.

Founded as a 501(c)3 in 1965, the LOLJWC is open to all women over the age of 18 in Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester and Ivoryton.

The primary mission of the club is to offer community service to each town as well as fundraise to provide scholarships for high school students. The club is always seeking additional ways to make a positive difference in its respective communities. 

Seeking Members

The club is seeking new members. Participation can be flexible based upon individual availability. General members meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month. For more information on how to join, visit the LOLJWC website.

Upcoming events – “in the works”

LOLJWC is planning a number of events which are listed below. For up-to-date information, follow LOLJWC on Facebook at this link.

September:

  • 23, at 7 p.m. General Meeting, 
  • 26, at 1 p.m. Road Side Trash Pick-up meet at Quality Inn, Old Saybrook

October:

  • 21, at 7 p.m. General Meeting
  • 30 or 31– Community Pumpkin carving – to be determined
  • Enter a Scarecrow in Essex Annual Scarecrow Contest

November:

  • 14, – Participant at High Hopes Craft Fair Old Lyme
  • 18 at 7 p.m. General meeting create holiday cards for the elderly  
  • 26, – Green Friday, planting bulbs at Cross Lane Playground

Death of Carl Wohlmuth, 56, Announced; Communicant of Christ The King in Old Lyme

IVORYTON — Carl Wohlmuth, 56, of Ivoryton, returned to the Lord early Saturday morning, Aug. 14, 2021, in the loving care of his family …

Carl is survived by his wife, Rosa Wohlmuth of Ivoryton; son Daniel Wohlmuth and wife Carol of Middletown; sons, David and Steven Wohlmuth; daughter, Susan Wohlmuth …

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, at Christ the King Church, Old Lyme. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any charitable donations be made to Christ the King in Carl’s name.

Visit this link to read the full obituary published Aug. 18, in ‘The Day.

‘Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years’ Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse

‘Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years’ is currently being performed at The Ivoryton Playhouse.

IVORYTON – The extraordinary and life-affirming play Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years by Emily Mann (adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth) opened Aug. 12, at The Ivoryton Playhouse.

Based on the New York Times bestselling novel, Having Our Say takes us into the trail-blazing worlds of Sadie and Bessie Delany, two real-life, civil rights pioneers. Their warm, funny, and intelligent tale is a remarkable and moving portrait of two groundbreaking women, who continue to laugh, love, and embrace life after over 100 years living side-by-side.

This Tony-nominated play begins as sisters, Sadie and Bessie (103- and 101-years-old, respectively), welcome us into their Mount Vernon home while they prepare a celebratory dinner in remembrance of their father’s birthday. Along the way they take us on a remarkable journey through the last 100 years of our nation’s history.

From post-Civil War Reconstruction through the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, their sharp memories recapture the worlds of Booker T. Washington, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Robeson.

A scene from ‘Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years.’

Throughout their respective life journeys, Sadie and Bessie broke barriers of color and race becoming a respected dentist and a New York City schoolteacher at a time when America held high the potential for change and growth. Their extraordinary and inspiring lives are examples in courage and love that stand as monumental contributions to our nation’s heritage.

This poignant and touching family drama stars Catherine Williams* as Sadie and Hope Harley* as Bessie. And the Delany Sisters’ influence is not lost on them, evidenced by Harley commenting, “Much like their contemporary, Anna James, of the James Pharmacy here in Connecticut, they serve as role models even today.” Or as Williams states simply, “I am very humbled to play the role.”

The play is directed by Ivoryton Playhouse’s Associate Artistic Director Todd Underwood with set design by Martin Marchitto; costumes by Elizabeth Saylor; lighting by Marcus Abbott; and sound by Tate R. Burmeister.

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years runs through Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021. 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.

The safety of its audience is the theater’s primary concern. Its capacity has been socially-distanced so that there are now only 140 seats in the theatre for the audience’s comfort and protection.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, $25 for students and avalable by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318. Tickets are not available online.

Visit the Playhouse’s website for more information. (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

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

*Denotes member of Actors Equity

Greg Shook, Essex Savings Bank President & CEO, to Retire July 31 After 47-Year-Career

Gregory R. Shook, who is retiring as President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, after 22 years  at the helm.

OLD LYME/ESSEX — Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, will retire after 22 years at the helm and a career spanning 47 years in banking. He is the longest serving president and CEO in Connecticut and will retire on July 31.

A Westport, Conn., native and  Madison resident, Shook began his career as a management trainee in 1974 in a  subsidiary of Philadelphia National Corporation, Signal Finance and Mortgage, Fairfax,  Va. He managed their Cleveland office and then became a Vice President at State Home Savings in Bowling Green, Ohio.

In December 1984, he joined First Federal Savings of Madison, Conn. In 1987, he joined Branford Savings Bank where he rose to  Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary and was named Interim President and CEO where he found a right’s offering used for manufacturing companies to successfully raise capital to support the bank’s continued existence via a 1991 stock offering.

Highlights of his career include being elected by his peers and serving five years as a Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, a $62 billion bank, from  2015 – 2019. He was also appointed to serve on the first two years of the Federal Reserve of Boston Community Depository Institution Advisory Committee (CDIAC)  mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act to provide input from Banks under $10 billion to the Federal Reserve system.  

Professional associations have included the Connecticut Bankers Association, legislative committee, executive committee and the American Bankers Association Mutual Institutions Advisory Committee. He serves on the Board of Essex Savings Bank and Essex Financial Services. Following his retirement, he will continue to serve on the  Essex Savings Bank Board of Directors.

He is a corporator of the Middlesex Health  Care System (parent of Middlesex Hospital). He is also on the advisory committees of  the Community Music School and the leadership counsel of the Middlesex Coalition on  Housing and Homelessness.  

In 2011 Shook received the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Distinguished  Citizen Award and was elected Chairman in 2016 and continues to serve on its Executive Committee and its Board of Directors.

He has been recognized by numerous organizations for his dedication to community service and has served on non-profit boards and advisory committees. He was a finalist in the New England Division of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program in 2009. He has been a featured speaker for a variety of seminars and radio shows.  

During his tenure, Essex Savings Bank grew its assets from $110 million to over $525  million, expanded its physical footprint from four to six branches, participated in the  growth of assets under management or administration of Essex Financial Services from $700 million to $3.2 billion and Essex Trust from a de novo to $871 million and has  rolled out new technology and capabilities leading the Bank through the pandemic.

He  is the 17th President since 1851. The Bank is currently celebrating 170 years of service and trust to the community.  

Shook commented, “The best part of Banking is building long term relationships and I am so appreciative of  everyone’s support and trust over the years. I am extremely proud of what we’ve been  able to accomplish together for both our customers and the communities in which we serve. It has been both my great privilege and honor to work with so many dedicated  and talented people – the absolute best.”

Looking to the future, Shook said, “I am confident that Essex Savings Bank will continue to garner new relationships and remain an outstanding business serving the  personal and business banking, trust and investment needs of the community. On Aug. 1, I am pleased to turn the business over to Diane Arnold, formerly our Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer as she will be our 18th President and CEO,  who is poised to lead this business to new heights.”

During the month of July, Shook will be looking forward to wishing many of his customers, friends and colleagues a fond farewell as he embarks on his next voyage.  

Editor’s Notes: i) This article was prepared from a press release issued by Essex Savings Bank.

ii) Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with  six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Division, Essex Trust and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc.

‘Murder For Two’ Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse, Masks No Longer Required

Joe Kinosian as The Suspects and Ian Lowe at piano and as Detective Marcus. Photo by Joan Marcus.

IVORYTON — The Ivoryton Playhouse has reopened its doors for a five-play season. The previously announced mask mandate has been removed as per new Actors Equity Association Union recommendations.

The opening production, Murder For Two by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian, is a blend of music, mayhem and murder! In this hilarious 90-minute show, two performers play 13 roles—not to mention the piano—in a witty and winking homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries.

Murder For Two was developed at the Adirondack Theatre Festival and 42nd Street Moon. Chicago Shakespeare Theater presented the World Premiere Production in May, 2011, which was extended four times and ran for more than six months. Kinosian and Blair were recognized with a 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical.

Everyone is a suspect in Murder For Two – Ian Lowe*, who was last seen in Ivoryton in The Woman in Black — plays the detective, and Joe Kinosian* plays all 13 suspects and they both play the piano.

A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this 90-minute whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with laughs.

The show is directed and choreographed by Wendy Seyb, the set is designed by Martin Marchitto, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Saylor.

Murder For Two runs through Aug. 1. 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. There will now be an additional performance on Saturday, July 24, at 2 p.m.

Regarding COVID-19 safety, Playhouse Operations Manager and Covid-19 Safety Manager, Steve Phelan, says “We know that our audiences will be relieved that the mask mandate has been lifted but we want to assure everyone that we will still be following stringent safety protocols including socially distanced seating, and no concessions will be sold, except water, for this first production. Audience safety, as well as their enjoyment of the show, is still our primary concern. We are hoping to be able to welcome more audience members safely in the months ahead”

The health and safety of our actors, patrons and staff remains the top priority at the Playhouse. Many improvements have been made to the Ivoryton Playhouse for audience protection including socially distanced seating, increasing the flow of outside air to 40 percent, installation of air purification units, contactless ticketing, increased cleaning, hand sanitization stations and more.

The second show in the 2021 Summer Season will be:

HAVING OUR SAY:  THE DELANY SISTERS FIRST 100 YEARS
by Emily Mann, adapted from the book “Having Our Say”
Aug. 12 – Sept. 5
A beautiful, funny and heartfelt family drama based on the bestselling memoir of Bessie and Sadie Delany – trailblazers, activists and best friends.

More shows will be announced soon.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, $25 for students and are available on June 14 by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318. Tickets are not available online.

Visit the website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org for more information. (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

Ivoryton Playhouse Reopens its Doors with ‘Murder for Two,’ July 8

IVORYTON — The Ivoryton Playhouse will open its doors for a five-play season on July 8.

Murder For Two by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian is a blend of music, mayhem and murder! In this hilarious 90-minute show, two performers play 13 roles—not to mention the piano—in a witty and winking homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries.

The New York Times calls it “Ingenious! A snazzy double-act that spins out a comic mystery animated by funny, deftly turned songs.”

Murder For Two was developed at the Adirondack Theatre Festival and 42nd Street Moon. Chicago Shakespeare Theater presented the World Premiere Production in May, 2011, which was extended four times and ran for more than six months. Kinosian and Blair were recognized with a 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical.

Everyone is a suspect in Murder For Two – Ian Lowe*, who was last seen in Ivoryton in The Woman in Black — plays the detective, and Joe Kinosian* plays all 13 suspects and they both play the piano.

A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this 90-minute whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with laughs.

The show is directed and choreographed by Wendy Seyb, the set is designed by Martin Marchitto, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Saylor.

Murder For Two opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse July 8 and runs through Aug. 1, 2021. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. There will be one Thursday matinee on July 8.

The safety of the audience is the primary concern. Face masks are required at all times in the theatre. There is no intermission and no concessions will be sold. Eating and drinking are not allowed in the theatre. Socially-distanced  seats mean there are only 96 seats in the theatre for your comfort and protection.  To view the socially-distanced seating plan, follow this link.

The second show in the 2021 Summer Season will be:

HAVING OUR SAY:  THE DELANY SISTERS FIRST 100 YEARS
by Emily Mann, adapted from the book “Having Our Say”
Aug. 12 – Sept. 5
A beautiful, funny and heartfelt family drama based on the bestselling memoir of Bessie and Sadie Delany – trailblazers, activists and best friends.

More shows will be announced soon.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, $25 for students and are available on June 14 by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318. Tickets are not available online. Visit the website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org for more information. (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

 

 

See a Bounty of Boats, Coastal Exhibitors at CT Spring In-Water Boat Show in Essex This Weekend

ESSEX — The 5th Connecticut Spring Boat Show will take place April 30, May 1-2, at Safe Harbor Essex Island, located in Essex, CT.  The in-water boat show will raise funds for Sails Up 4 Cancer (SU4C), a non-profit organization supporting cancer care, education, prevention and research.  Sails Up 4 Cancer will benefit from 50% of ticket sales proceeds.

This boat show brings together members of the boating industry to share some of the latest innovations in boating while supporting a great cause.  Show attendees will have an ideal opportunity to compare different boats, dealers and options in one beautiful location.

A unique feature of the in-water show offers interested boat buyers select opportunities for sea trials throughout the weekend; thus, giving prospective buyers a unique ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience. The show will follow all state and local guidelines to ensure a safe experience when visiting the show, rain or shine.

Visitors will enjoy seeing a wide range of new and brokerage, power and sail models of all sizes, 20ft to larger than 65ft from Azimut, Brig, Burger, Chris Craft, Destino, Duffy Snug Harbor, Eastern, Everglades, Excess Catamarans, Grand Banks, Hinckley, Island Packet, Jenneau, Jupiter, Limestone, Nordstar, Oceanis, Ocean Master, Sea Hunt, Southport, USMI 11 Meter Naval Special Warfare RIB, Viking, and many other leading boat brands!

In addition to boats on the docks, the show will have yacht brokers, gear, artists, accessories, and service companies on the lawn.

Exhibitors include: Boatique USA, Brewer Yacht Sales, Candock Modular Docks/Suzuki Marine, Captain Morgan’s Boat Training and Charters, LLC, Caryn B Davis Photography Connecticut Waters, Conversations with Classic Boats, Chester Point Marina, Chestnut Health Navigation, Current Boating Education, Eastern Yacht Sales, Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, Hook’d Fishing Gear Co., Hydrangea Blue Design, InnSeason Resorts, Ipswich River Craft, McMichael Yacht Brokers, Ltd., Ram Jack, Renewal by Andersen of Southern New England, Sails Up 4 Cancer, Windcheck Magazine, Yelena Talamekki Designs and more.

Safe Harbor Essex Island Marina is located on a 13-acre private island, accessed by a complementary ferry service, and offers 125 slips accommodating vessels up to 200’. The resort marina is family friendly and offers food and beverages, along with live music throughout the weekend.

Historical Downtown Essex is located on the Connecticut River, a few short miles from Long Island Sound. The small waterfront town is a boating, sailing and tourist destination featuring quaint shops, markets, and restaurants. Bring your family and friends out to enjoy this sea-side boat show.

The show is a production of WindCheck Magazine and hosted by Essex Island Safe Harbor Marina.  Show sponsors include BMW, Essex Boat Works, Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, Gowrie Group, Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA).  Visit www.ctspringboatshow.com for specific event details. Contact Ben Cesare of WindCheck Magazine at ben@windcheckmagazine.com for dealer and vendor application information.

Three-day tickets will be offered at $20 per adult and free for children 13 and under, granting access to the show all weekend long.  Fifty percent of the proceeds will benefit Sails Up 4 Cancer, a non-profit organization and local charity who distributes funds to families impacted by cancer.  Advance tickets can be purchased by visiting:  https://www.windcheckmagazine.com/shop/.

Free parking is available.

Sails Up 4 Cancer (SU4C) is a non-profit organization based in Mystic, Connecticut. SU4C has been dedicated to supporting cancer care, education, prevention and research along the Shoreline and Southeastern regions of Connecticut. To learn more, go to SU4C.org.

Letter From Paris: Restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral Symbolizes Hope for Both France, the World

Nicole Prévost Logan

April 15, 2021 was the second anniversary of the fire, which ravaged Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, and also the day when France reached 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. President Emmanuel Macron of France stressed that the reconstruction of the cathedral will be the symbol his country’s rebound from the pandemic.

Before giving the latest update of the most recent restoration process, here is a recap of what has been achieved over the past two years. The scope of the work is enormous.

For a long time, whenever I used to walk around the church prior to the 2019 fire, I had noticed that there was always scaffolding somewhere on  the church. It was a reminder for visitors that the cathedral was very old and fragile.

Throughout the centuries, it had suffered many fires and disasters. But the 2019 fire was the most catastrophic of all. It was a miracle that the cathedral survived that last tragedy.

After the fire, with hardly a square inch of the stone building still visible under so much scaffolding, wooden frames, plastic wrapping, tarp covers, and other protective contraptions, it was almost no longer recognizable. It ended up looking like a sick old bird.

View of the cathedral showing some of the extensive scaffolding. Photo by Nicole Prévost Logan.

The gables and pinnacles at the end of the north and south transepts were in danger of toppling over with the force of the wind. Workers, dangling in the air like alpinists were doing their perilous job of wrapping the carved stones. Hovering over the cathedral cranes and other heavy machinery made the church look as if it was under perfusion.

The stained-glass windows were taken down and replaced by what looked like giant French doors. The collapse of the 19th century spire over the nave had left an enormous gaping hole at the crossing of the transept. Water – regardless of whether it is rain or the power spray used by firefighters – can cause lots of damage. It penetrates the stones, destroying the mortar between them .

The fire obliterated the roof. The lead dripped, spread and left a thick layer of toxic dust everywhere. For months, no one could go inside the cathedral because of the danger from the lead dust and also from the debris falling from the broken vault. A lonely robot, directed by remote control, was able to clear up the charred remains.

The organ and the three rose windows were thankfully preserved, but they will, however, require  lengthy restoration. The 7,800 pipes of the largest organ in the word have been pulled apart and so have been all the stained-glass pieces.

The stunning South Rose window in the cathedral. Photo by Nicole Prévost Logan.

It is particularly comforting to know that the Rose Window at the south end of the transept is intact. Given the light of the sun throughout the day, it is the Rose Window, which gives the cathedral its beautiful warm glow. Notre Dame would not be the same without the scenes of the triumphant Christ depicted through that magnificent window. In 1250, Louis IX, or Saint Louis, donated it after the end of the second crusade.

The April 15, 2019 fire left the cathedral in danger of collapse — in fact, it was a touch-and-go situation. The most urgent step was to consolidate the structure

A gothic cathedral is like a house of cards:- if one side weakens, the whole thing collapses. Because of its daring height and the fact that the outside walls are weakened by several tiers of windows, the structure is fragile.

The medieval master carpenters were real geniuses when they designed the 28 flying buttresses to reinforce the strength of the walls. An arch or beam extends from the walls of the church to a pier against the lateral forces arising from the roof and pushes the walls outwards.

Ken Follett in his 2002 book, The Pillars of the Earth, wrote a gripping story of the 12th century monks attempting to do something never done before, failing many times and starting all over again.

The earliest buttresses of Notre Dame date from the 12th century. They are massive and fairly close to the main structure. Later, during the flamboyant gothic period in the 14th century, the spans of the flying buttresses are longer and more decorated.

The first phase of the restoration — preservation and protection — lasted 15 months. President Macron appointed General Jean Louis Georgelin, former chief of staff under President Sarkozy, to supervise the work.

This photo shows the cathedral’s 14th  century flying buttresses prior to the fire. File used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The 28 damaged buttresses were reinforced by fitting custom-made wooden “centering frames” under each one of them. Each one of the buttresses had different dimensions, hence the fitting required utmost precision.

Then started the most difficult and dangerous operation: dismantling the scaffolding, which had been erected in May 2018 to repair the crumbling spire created by 19th century architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

That scaffolding had melted, creating an ugly- and mean-looking black mass of 40,000 metal pieces glued together. Rope access workers (called cordists in French) had to pick the pieces by hand one by one, hanging from ropes high in the air. Sensors were placed under that unstable mass.

At one point the alarm sounded. Everybody fled. To disentangle that mass was like playing a giant pick-up sticks game, which involves removing sticks without disturbing the rest of the pile.

Twice the restoration work on the cathedral was interrupted: first when the scare caused by the lead contamination forced all activities to stop. Workers had to wear white haz-mat suits with masks connected to supplies of filtered air. They looked as clumsy as moon walkers.

Subsequently, the lock-down caused by the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 shut down operations for three months.

Five days before the fire, as a result of a near-miracle, the 10 ft. tall copper statues of the apostles and evangelists, climbing up the bases of the spire were air-lifted for restoration. Parisians enjoyed watching the ballet in the sky.

The statues are being restored in two workshops located near Perigueux. It takes four month to restore one statue. Pending the completion of the cathedral, all these art works will be exhibited  at the museum of architecture on Place du Trocadero.

This rooster was on top of the spire. It is now exhibited in the Museum of Archaeology. Photo by Nicole Prévost Logan.

The rooster, pictured left, which used to sit at the top of the spire, will remain in the museum.  A replica will replace it.

Late in June 2020, chief architect Philippe Villeneuve climbed on an inspection tour of the cathedral. He was able to access the top of the vaults, which by then had been cleared of most of the debris.

Villeneuve was pleased to see that the limestone of the vault had resisted the damage caused by the fire itself as well as the water to extinguish the fire. For him, it was a milestone and he declared that the structure was now safe.

The first phase of conservation was over and one could look forward to the restoration to be launched at a later date.

In July 2020 came the decision everybody was waiting for. After months of deliberation and heated discussions between architects, historians and restoration professionals across the globe about how the future Notre Dame would look, a consensus was reached.

Based on a 300-page paper presented by Villeneuve and with the support of the public opinion, it was decided that the cathedral would be returned to its original appearance:- a spire identical to 1859 Viollet-le-Duc’s creation; a lead roof; and a wooden framework to support the roof.

A large part of the restoration work will be carried out using the methods of 13th century builders. Fortunately this type of savoir faire is kept alive in France thanks to a guild of crafted artisans, who are trained as Compagnons du Devoir.

All restoration will be done respecting the safeguards established by ICOMOS (the International Council for Monuments and Sites) founded by the Venice Charter of 1964 to protect historic monuments.

In 1991, UNESCO placed Notre Dame and the banks of the Seine within the area considered as part of the world heritage.

Within 24 hours of the fire, pledges to pay for the restoration poured in and reached close to one billion Euros. The two richest men in France raced to be the highest bidder. François Pinault pledged 100 million and refused to accept tax deductions. Bernard Arnault beat him with a sum of 200 million.

Arnault is the head of the LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) luxury goods and champagne empire. The readers of this area might be interested to know that Antoine, one of the Arnault’s five children, is building a “cottage” in the Fenwick peninsula in Old Saybrook. He is married to Russian super-model Tatyana.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris prior to the fire. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

At the two year mark since the fire, it is fitting to give the most recent update on the restoration process of Notre Dame. The task concerns the strengthening of the cathedral’s vault and the preparation of the future wooden framework, which will support the roof.

The scope of this phase to secure the building should be completed by next summer. It is just gigantic.

Most of the cathedral’s interior is now encased in metal scaffolding. An umbrella-like tarp has been installed above the gaping hole, where the spire once stood, for protection against the rain.

The vaults connecting the crossing of the transept were covered with platforms to enable rope-access workers to complete their job of removing the last fallen debris. This operation is still ongoing.

Most of those debris — stone, metal, glass — have been cleared up, analyzed, and used toward the creation of a 3D model, which is a replica of the original architecture and guiding the restorers in their mission.

Wooden scaffolding is being installed to stabilize the fragile areas of the cathedral’s vault, particularly the vaults adjacent to the crossing of the transept. Stonemasons apply plaster to the gaps and the exposed ends of the stones. They reinforce the most damaged areas with fiberglass.

The next step will be the insertion “of half-hangers” (also called “centring frames”)  under the six-rib vaults in the choir, the north transept and the nave. Note that the spire  crashed toward the West, onto the nave.

Above the vault and under the roof, other major work is in progress. The reconstruction of the 12-14th century wooden framework, called “the forest” is being prepared. Made-to-measure “half-hangers” and large-size triangular frames are being wedged under the roof to support it.

One thousand of the best oak trees have already been picked out in several French forests. A CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) study of the use of timber led to surprising conclusions. Those conclusions differ from what one often reads in non-scientific publications.

The 13th century trees were much younger and smaller than often stated:  60 years, 39 ft. in height, and 12 ins. in diameter. Furthermore, the trees were not left to dry for 18 months but were used while still green, after being felled.

From the top of the cathedral, President Macron, accompanied by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot expressed huge thanks to the hundreds of people involved in the restoration: carpenters, scaffolders, rope access technicians, crane operators, master glassmakers, restorers, stonemasons, archaeologists, researchers and donors.

Macron reiterated his vision of the cathedral reopening to worship by 2024 in time for the Olympic games, while acknowledging the fact that the complete restoration will probably take several years longer.

A glimmer of hope is much needed for the weary French population. The latest curfew at 6 p.m., which applied to the whole country, should be lifted in early May, with café and restaurant terraces reopening by mid-May — that should really boost morale!

Letter From Paris: After 47 Years, UK Leaves EU with ‘Thin’ Post-Brexit Deal

Nicole Prévost Logan

After 47 years of co-habitation, the UK has left the European Union (EU) with a “thin” post-Brexit deal.

An end-of-year need for holiday food delicacies, such as caviar, lobster or foie gras, panic about running short of fresh produce — such as lettuce, combined with the Covid-19 procedure slowing down the traffic, caused spectacular chaos with thousands of trucks lining up on highways or parked in Kent’s makeshift areas.

It was a sort of a preview of what a no-deal Brexit would bring.

The atmosphere in the country was unreal.

On Christmas Eve at four in the afternoon, the news broke: The UK and the European Union (EU) have reached an agreement on a narrow trade deal.  There will not be a “hard Brexit” as everybody had feared, with a brutal departure of the British Isles from the continent.  The two sides will remain friends and look forward to building up a commercial partnership and intensifying cooperation in transport, security, police, nuclear power, research and many other areas.

An 11th hour agreement

Reaching an agreement was quite an accomplishment. As late as Dec. 20, the mood was grim on both sides of the English Channel. On that date I wrote an article, entitled: “Betting on a “thin” Brexit deal”.

As follows, is part of my article:

Time is running out.  The transition period, which followed the departure of the UK from the EU on Jan. 31, 2020, is ending on Dec. 31.  If the two sides – UK and EU – do not reach an agreement by then, the “hard Brexit” will feel like falling off a cliff. The alternative is a “soft” Brexit.

On Dec. 13, 2019 , UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson led a successful campaign, the problem is that he based that campaign on three fateful words: “Get Brexit done”  He locked himself in an impasse,  making it hard for him to negotiate further.  He is under pressure from all sides to satisfy the hard-Brexiter Tories, the business circles rejecting Brexit for fear of a tariff war and  public opinion increasingly against a departure from the EU.   

The impossibility to bridge the positions from both sides of the Channel is clear:  the differences are more than deep. They are existential.  

For the British, sovereignty is paramount and the constraints of the Single Market unacceptable. The EU lies on the principles of the “Schengen Space”, consisting of free movement of people, capital, goods and services. Those principles constitute the main asset of the Single Market and are sacred, declared Christine Okrent, a French seasoned journalist and an authority on foreign affairs.

One should not forget that the UK has never been part of the Schengen “Space” nor of the Eurozone.

“Zanny” Minton  Beddoes, editor-in-chief of the Economist describes the negotiators as “playing on their voters’ audiences”.  It may be true in England, but definitely not in the EU. The EU is not budging from its core proposals, and its 27 members remain totally united. It would be miscalculation on Johnson’s part to count on the EU backing down.  

A hard Brexit would be a lose-lose proposition, but the UK would be more affected. Half its trading activities are with Europe, its economy is intertwined with Europe’s, as Beddoes pointed out. In contrast, Brexit has ceased to be a priority for the EU, commented Christine Okrent

In an interview, Michel Barnier, chief negotiator of the EU, declared that a nine month transition was too short. Most trading agreements take at least five years. He said: “Two prerequisites are needed: a free and fair competition (no “Singapore on the Thames”) and a reciprocal access to markets and waters.” 

I predict – and am going out on a limb now – that enough concessions will take place on both sides to reach a “thin” deal (to use Beddoes’ words ) allowing  the negotiations to continue after Dec. 31.  More time is needed to create a tailor-made arrangement to satisfy the UK and help it access the Customs Union or the European Economic Area (EEA), like Norway.  

Those were my predictions on Dec. 20.

The British Union Jack flag flies alongside the EU flag … but not for much longer. Photo by Rocco Dipoppa on Unsplash.

Back to Dec. 24, when the post-Brexit “deal'” was reached. What was fascinating on that historical day, was to hear, in real time, the comments coming from all sides of the political spectrum as well as reactions from the general public.

Johnson was exultant, raising his arms in a victory gesture. The trilingual Ursula von der Leyen , president of the European Commission was the one to announce (in excellent French) that, “a good, fair, and well balanced” deal has been reached.  Towering over her Michel  Barnier added his voice to the official announcement.  It was thanks to his fairness and persistence, that he made the deal happen.

Declaring, “We have kept our promise,” Johnson continued, “We have taken back the control of our economy. Freed from the EU Single Market bureaucracy, we can act very fast. The rapid vaccination program is an illustration of this. Our relationship with the EU will be comparable to the one between Canada and the EU (CETA).”

This is not exactly accurate however because CETA makes it easier to export both and goods and services, whereas the post-Brexit deal does not include the suppression of tariffs on services. The most important thing for Johnson was to say, “I have done it”.  He did succeed unlike other prime ministers – Thatcher, Major, Cameron and May – who failed in their attempts.

Denis MacShane, a Member of Parliament (MP), Minister of State for Europe under Tony Blair, and formerly a member of the Labor party said the population had had enough and wanted to turn the page of the Brexit.

A professor of the French School of Political Sciences was lukewarm about the deal.  The accord does not warrant taking the champagne out to celebrate, he said.  To lose one member of the EU is a loss, a form of “disintegration”

Reuters press agency announced that the British Parliament was expected to approve the deal. Both Houses will be recalled to vote on the decision on Dec. 30.  Johnson has a comfortable majority of 364 out of 650 in the House of Commons.  Many of the 200 Labor MPs will vote in favor of the agreement since they supported the post-Brexit trade deal from the beginning.

The European Parliament will make its decision known in 2021. The agreement text will have to be translated into 23 languages before being approved by the 27 EU member states.

As a 1,246-page agreement, it will take a while to fully comprehend the complex and lengthy text.

Professor Anand Menon, director of “The UK in a Changing World” Think Tank, commented that the lifting of tariffs and quotas will favor the EU since it is where it has a surplus. France has a surplus of 12 billion in her trade balance with the UK. The biggest amount is food products. 150,00 French companies export them to the UK.  Furthermore 80 percent of food and wine transit through France to reach Great Britain.

Quotas and tariffs will not be imposed on products. However, custom and various administrative formalities and procedures at the borders might become cumbersome for both sides. Times will be difficult in the short term for British companies and a cost of 4 percent of the GDP  is expected.

However, from now on the UK will be free to reach bilateral agreements with outside countries, such as New Zealand for the import of meat.

Tariffs will remain on the services . With the post-Brexit deal, the UK becomes a third country in regards to the EU,  80 percent of its economy is immaterial and tied to services and therefore not part of this post-Brexit deal. In order to exercise its financial activities  and access to the Single Market or the Customs Union, the  “passporting” (meaning selling financial services freely) will no longer be an option unless the UK joins the EEA, as Norway has done.

The main sticky point will be to preserve the level playing field and guarantee fair competition on both sides of the Channel.. This will be resolved by the principle of “managed divergence” the parties reserving the right to retaliate.  In other words any hope of creating a “Singapore on Tames “will be under strict scrutiny by the EU.

Dominic Raab, acabinet minister and conservative MP declared that the provisions included in the agreement  are not the end of the story. The “deal” is a living document that will need to be revisited in the future. The rules will  evolve.

As an example, a system has been put in place to settle litigations and will be re-examined in four years. Next February there will be more rules. Raab added that for the next five or six years, the UK will be working on re-establishing new ties with Europe.

On a positive note for Johnson: the UK will not be bound by judgments made by the European Court of Justice

The Irish border

The Irish premier Micheal Martin approved the fact that a hard border between the two Irelands was avoided ; The Common Travel Area with Great Britain will be maintained ; the deal preserves Ireland’s position in the Single Market, he said, it will avoid quotas and tariffs imposed on farmers, businesses and exporters.

Varadkar, another Irish politician seems also satisfied with the deal. Northern Ireland will remain effectively in the EU Single Market. Custom checks will take place in the Irish Sea instead of on land. Sea.

Still unknown but likely to emerge soon  is the question of Scotland. First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon lashed out at the agreement within minutes.  In 2016, 62 percent of Scottish people voted to remain in Europe.  The Flag of Scotland still flew above the Parliament.  Scotland will probably not wait for the spring to organize another referendum.

Fishing rights

A commercial fishing boat comes into port. Photo by Thomas Millot on Unsplash

Johnson declared, “We have regained the control of our waters.  Although it represents a minute part of the GDP of both sides , this issue occupied a major place in the negotiations because it is essentially the symbol of the British sovereignty.  Barnier knows a lot of about fishing rights.  He was minister of Agriculture and Fishing from 2007 to 2009.

There will be “fishing committees” enforcing control. Johnson demanded that 80 percent of the proceeds from the fishing industry be returned to the UK. He achieved 25 percent, during a transition period of five and a half years.  He will grant 100 millions of UK pounds sterling to help the fishermen.

The fish catch by the Europeans last year was worth 650 million Euros last year. The British waters are richer in fish population than the European waters. The Brits don’t eat much fish. They sell back most of their catch to the EU. During his speech Johnson was wearing a tie covered with fish.

The devil is in the details and annoying changes are going to take place. There will be no more mutual recognition of professional qualifications. British doctors, architects, veterinarians, engineers will have to seek new certification.

Freedom of movement will disappear, and a visa will have to be obtained for a stay longer than 90 days. An EU pet passport will cease to be valid.

The Erasmus student exchange program will not include the UK any more. Instead of a fee of 170 Euros paid to  European universities, foreign students studying in the UK will be charged tens of thousands pounds. To work in England, a permit will be required. In other words a post-Brexit deal will not be “business as usual.”  There will be many changes.

On the last day of 2020, Sky News announced that Johnson’s father, Stanley Johnson, was asking for French nationality.  He is French on his wife’s side and very much a Europhile. In a book coming out later in January, author Christian de Bourbon-Parme has written a biography of Boris Johnson.

Surprisingly, we learn that his name was not Boris but Alexander, that he lived in Belgium when his father was working for the European Commission in 1973. In the book, Johnson is depicted as a person full of humanity. He always loved Europe and was very attached to it — but not the EU.

In spite of of the enthusiastic attitude of the British Prime Minister, the mood was rather somber on both sides of the Channel.

Michel Barnier commented ” There was no winner in this deal. We all lost,” while Ursula von der Leyen added a lyrical note, saying, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

About 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.

Region 4 Asks Valley-Old Lyme Co-op Football Coach to Resign

Action from a Warriors game against Old Saybrook played on the Lyme-Old Lyme Varsity Field in 2016. File photo,

AREAWIDE — The press and social media are currently swirling with articles*, opinion pieces* and comments relating to the requested resignation of the extremely popular Valley Regional High School (VRHS) football coach and gym teacher Tim King by the Region #4 Superintendent Brian White.

Region 4 comprises the middle and high school-age students of Chester, Deep River and Essex; each of the three towns operates their own elementary schools.

Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) students play football on the VRHS ‘Warriors’ team in a formalized co-operative arrangement, which has been in place for some 10 years. Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained, however, that the co-op arrangement does not mean LOL Schools had any involvement in the recent actions of the Region #4 Superintendent.

Neiaser said by email, “In our current cooperative football agreement with Valley Regional, Region #4 employs the head coach. Therefore, any action or proposed action is independent of the Region #18 [Lyme-Old Lyme Schools] Board of Education.”

According to news reports, the issue that prompted White to ask for King’s resignation was King’s presence at an Independent Football League practice held in Lyme, which included players from both VRHS and LOLHS. The League was formed in response to the cancellation of the high school football season by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

Since he is the VRHS/LOLHS football coach, King was not permitted by Region #4 to coach in the Independent Football League. According to numerous reports, King submits he complied with that ruling and many witnesses have substantiated that statement.

Neviaser noted in his email, “Region #18 has no involvement in any independent sports programs that are not a part of our annual budget.”

The captain of the VRHS/LOLHS co-op football team Jack Cox started a petition on change.org, requesting that Tim King should retain his positions at Valley Regional High School. As at 12 a.m., Nov. 23, more than 2,760 people had signed the petition.

Editor’s Note: *Articles and opinions referenced for this article include:
Three local teams to compete in 11-on-11 Independent Football League by Ned Griffen, published Oct. 23, by The Day.

Players, parents upset that Valley/Old Lyme coach King being forced to resign by Ned Griffen, published Nov. 21, by The Day.

Coach asked to resign for involvement in independent football league by Sean Patrick Bowley, published Nov. 21, in the New Haven Register.

Tim King has the community — and the truth — on his side by Mike DiMauro, published Nov. 23, by The Day.

Valley Regional high school coach asked to resign by school district for involvement in independent football league formed during the pandemic in The Courant.

Letter to the Editor: Saunders in 33rd Embodies ‘Compassion, Wisdom, and Joy’

To the Editor:

Abraham Lincoln said, “before the age of forty, God is responsible for our face, and after the age of forty, we are responsible for our face.” Just looking at Brendan Saunders’ face, the gentleman running for senate in the 33rd district, you will understand what Lincoln meant. Saunders’ face radiates compassion, wisdom, and Joy.

Saunders’ wisdom presents itself with his laser focus and deep understanding of the difficulties of balancing one’s budget in the over-taxed, Democrat-run State of Connecticut. He has pledged to work diligently to cut wasteful spending and cutting Connecticut’s obscene taxes. Deep reforms of energy companies are high on his” fix-the problems” agenda.

Probably the most crucial issue is his devotion to our First Responders. He has pledged to oppose any policies aimed at defunding the police. It takes wisdom to think beyond the emotional and understand the dire ramifications of any such short-sighted legislation or tyrannical edict by a Governor.

Joy. Unlike so many “seasoned elected officials,” Saunders is a joyful human being. What could be better for the 33rd district than a happy warrior fighting for us while armed with acute wisdom and deep compassion? Same old, same old endorsement of the policies that have driven Connecticut into a fiscal mess makes no sense.

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols, M.Div.,
Essex.