December 19, 2014

State Senator Art Linares Voted “No” on New “Gun Violence Prevention” Legislation

State Senator Art Linares voted “no” on the recently enacted, new Connecticut state law, entitled, “An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.” Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed the bill into law on April 4.

In explaining his “no” vote the Senator said in a written statement, “Having witnessed the emotional accounts of parents, teachers and citizens after the Newtown tragedy, I am more committed than ever to help create a safer Connecticut.”

He continued, “After much consideration and talking with many residents of the 33rd district, I decided to vote no on the bill. While I support some of the individual elements such as criminal background checks and discontinuing the early release program for violent felons, I concluded that [the bill] did not correctly address the most important issues of safe neighborhoods, school security, and most importantly, mental health.”

Following three more paragraphs of explaining the reasons for his “no” vote, the Senator concluded, “Now that [the bill] has passed, I will continue moving forward, working with our school superintendents to address school safety issues, with our mental health experts to get access to needed resources, and with gun owners to help them understand the new regulations.”

Sen. Linares represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

New Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook To Replace Essex’s Medical Center in April 2014

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

A new $28 million Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center, which is presently under construction in Westbrook, is slated to replace the hospital’s present Shoreline Medical Center in Essex as early as next April. According to Middlesex Hospital’s Harry Evert, Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Operations, the new Westbrook Shoreline Medical Center, “will double the number of rooms and bring a higher level of efficiency,” than is currently offered at the present Essex facility.

Billboards Promise New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook next year

Billboards Promise New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook next year

The hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will be located on Flat Rock Place, just off Exit 65 of Interstate I-95. The Center will be just down the road from the Tanger Outlet shopping mall. The frame of the new two story medical center is in the process of construction at the Westbrook location.

Construction workers busy at Flat Rock Place site, near Exit 65 of I-95

Construction workers busy at Flat Rock Place site, near Exit 65 of I-95

Essex’s “Shoreline Clinic” Served Area for 40 Years

The existing Shoreline Medical Center in Essex will be closed down as soon as the new Westbrook center is ready to accept patients. The Essex Shoreline Medical Center has provided emergency medical services to shoreline residents for the past 40 years, according to Middlesex Hospital materials.

What will happen to the Essex shoreline center, once it is phased out, however, has yet to be decided, according to Evert.

Some Essex residents are deeply concerned about closing of the present Shoreline medical center in their town. At the same time they can be look forward to using a new larger and better equipped medical facility, when it comes on line neighboring Westbrook.

Essex Shoreline Center Was First of Its Kind  

According to a Middlesex Hospital sources, the shoreline facility in Essex was, “the first freestanding hospital-based emergency center in the country, and it became a model for other hospitals to follow.” In building a new medical center in Westbrook, the hospital notes, “We are moving three miles down the road from the current facility on Route 153 in Essex to Westbrook.” An advantage of the Westbrook location is that it “will provide easy access from I-95 as well as local roads.”

Middlesex Hospital’s Senior Vice President Evert also pointed out that the new Westbrook facility would be able to serve, more easily, the emergency medical needs of a number of towns along the I-95 corridor. For example, persons living in towns to the west of the new facility on I-95, such as Madison and Clinton, would have direct access to the new Westbrook center.

Also, towns to the east on the I-95 corridor, such as Old Saybrook, Old Lyme and Lyme, could be served by the new Westbrook center as well. The new Westbrook center could also serve the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester, as well as Haddam and Killingworth without difficulty. In addition, accident victims on I-95 could be treated more easily from the Westbrook center.

Middlesex Hospital’s Evert estimated that the increase in the number of patients at the new Westbrook facility over those at the Essex facility would be in the ten to fifteen percent range. However, when pressed he said that this might be a “low ball” figure, and that he “just wanted to be conservative.”

New Westbrook Center Twice the Size of Essex’s   

The new 40,000 square foot emergency and outpatient facility in Westbrook will be double the size of the present Essex medical center. Furthermore, according to Middlesex Hospital materials, “Should we need even more space we have the option to add a second level, which would increase the Shoreline Medical Center space to 60,000 square feet.”

Until the use of this additional 20,000 square feet becomes necessary, it will remain undeveloped on the second floor of the new medical center building.

A two story frame is in place for the new emergency medical center in Westbrook

A two story frame is in place for the new emergency medical center in Westbrook

The new 40,000 square foot facility, presently being built, on the first floor will have, “an expanded emergency center with an express care area for minor illnesses and injuries.” Also, the new 40,000 square feet facility will allow, “a separate ambulance entrance,” as well as a “covered drop-off area, and improved patient privacy.”

Outpatients at the new Westbrook emergency center will also have their own entrance, and at the center there will be, “a whole host of diagnostic and treatment services.” In addition at the new center, “Radiology services will expand to include a new MRI testing area, and designated women imaging area.” In addition, “Other offerings would include lab services, pre-surgical testing and chronic care management.”

In summary Middlesex Hospital released this summary of services at the new Westbrook emergency center:

  • Emergency: 24/7 care, Helipad, Paramedic service
  • Other Services: Pre-surgical testing, chronic care management programs.
  • Outpatient Diagnostics: X-ray, MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Mammography, Laboratory services

As for the staff at the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook, it will consist of:

  • Physicians, board certified in Emergency Medicine, providing coverage 24/7,
  •  Magnet nurses with a reputation for the highest quality care,
  • Laboratory and radiology clinicians credentialed in their areas of specialty.

Middlesex Hospital summarized by noting that, “Hospital emergency departments are the healthcare safety net for all in the community, any hour, day or night, seven days a week. All patients who come to the facility, regardless of their ability to pay receive care.”

The hospital also noted, “Each year, more than 23,000 people rely on the Shoreline Medical Center for emergency care.”

Exchange Program Seeks Host Families for International Students

ASSE International Student Exchange Programs (ASSE) is seeking local host families for boys and girls from a variety of countries around the world. These students are 15 to 18 years of age, and are coming to this area for the upcoming high school year or semester.  These personable and academically select exchange students have good English, are bright, curious and anxious to learn about the USA by living as part of a family, attending high school and sharing their own culture and language.

The exchange students arrive from their home country shortly before school begins and return at the end of the school year or semester.  Each ASSE student is fully insured, brings his or her own personal spending money and expects to bear his or her share of household responsibilities, as well as being included in normal family activities and lifestyles.

The students are well screened and qualified by ASSE.  Families may select the youngster of their choice from extensive student applications, family photos and biographical essays.

To become a host family or find out more about ASSE and its programs, call Joyce 207-737-4666 or 1-800-677-2773 or visit www.asse.com.  There are many students from which to choose — Area Representatives also sought.

 Editor’s Note: ASSE International is a nonprofit 501.c.3 educational and cultural exchange organization headquartered in Laguna Beach, California.  ASSE promotes global learning and leadership by offering a unique, richly personal experience for students, volunteer families, host high schools and local communities. ASSE reaches across interpersonal and international borders, celebrating worldwide community through the spirit, character and promise of our youth.

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Helicopter Air Lifts Wounded Gunman from Emergency Clinic in Essex to Hartford Hospital After Gun Incident

A wounded State Trooper is put on board helicopter at emergency medical center in Essex

A wounded gunman is put on board helicopter at emergency medical center in Essex

A “Life Star” helicopter air lifted a wounded gunman at Middlesex Hospital’s Emergency Medical Center in Essex for a trip to Hartford Hospital around four o’clock Monday afternoon.

Reportedly, the gunman engaged in a gun battle with a state trooper after a car chase and car crash on Route 153 near the Westbrook Essex line. A state trooper was also wounded in the gun battle, but not seriously.  In addition, a second gunman was killed in the exchange of gun fire.

Another suspect in the incident was arrested after the crash in Old Saybrook.

After incident State Police troopers gather outside Middlesex Hospital's medical center in Essex

After incident State Police troopers gather outside Middlesex Hospital’s medical center in Essex

Parking Choices Vary at the Saybrook Station, From the Ordinary to the Bizarre

The Old Saybrook railroad station is one of the key transportation hubs in Eastern Connecticut. Last year  65,315 AMTRAK passengers got on and off their trains at the station. As for the Shore Line East trains, they had 225 daily passengers on their trains during weekdays.

At the station, AMTRAK has 40 parking spaces, and Shore Line East has 125 spaces. Parking in both of these designated spaces is free.

Finally, right up next to the new station building, there are two other parking lots. The one on the left charges $5.00 a day to park, and it has a respectable number of paying parking customers. The parking lot on the right is supposed to be limited to those eating at the Pizza Works restaurant next door.

By mid-afternoon this second lot is close to full with parked cars, but there is not a soul in the restaurant. That’s bizarre certainly.

Even more so is the fact, that there is also free parking next to the tomb stones of Upper Cemetery on North Main Street.

200 New Parking Spaces to Be Added at the Old Saybrook Railroad Station

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna has confirmed in a recent interview that the Connecticut Department of Transportation, working with the Town of Old Saybrook, will soon formally announce a plan to add 200 new parking spaces at the railroad station in Old Saybrook.

The new parking spaces will require the purchase by the state Department of Transportation of 3.6 acres of private property, and negotiations for this purchase are presently underway. The new parking spaces will be situated on a site off  North Main Street, across the street from the Upper Cemetery.  The Upper Cemetery was established in 1750, and it is one of Old Saybrook’s historic landmarks.

Monies to acquire the 200 new parking spaces will come exclusively from the state, said the state’s Project Manager Keith Hall in a recent interview. There will be no federal funds involved in the purchase whatsoever, he emphasized.

Because of the good faith that has been shown in negotiating the sale of the property, Project Manager Hall also said that acquiring the property by eminent domain would not be necessary. Hall emphasized that to date there had been “fruitful discussions” with the property owners involved, and he anticipates that the final sale of the property would be consummated this coming April, if not before.

In discussing the planned acquisition of the new parking spaces, First Selectman Fortuna observed that the present parking situation at the Old Saybrook railroad station was “not ideal.”

The Present Parking Spaces at the Old Saybrook Station

The 200 new parking spaces at the station will add, substantially, to the number of parking spaces presently available at the station. One of the more informal of the existing parking lots at the station is the one that has a single string of parked cars running down North Main Street.

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

This ad hoc parking lot extends from next to the Upper Cemetery all the way down to the railroad tracks. During work days this informal “free” parking area is completely full.

Another significant parking area that also offers free parking is the Shore Line East, Old Saybrook, Commuter Parking lot.  This large lot has 137 parking spaces, with a few designated for handicap parking.

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Although the Shore Line East parking lot is not directly beside the railroad station, it is still within easy walking distance of the trains. During work days the Shore Line East parking lot is frequently full.

AMTRAK Passenger Parking

In addition to these parking areas there are designated parking spaces for Amtrak passengers at the Old Saybrook railroad station. These Amtrak spaces are free, and they are indicated by painted yellow lines along their borders.

The Amtrak spaces are located just down from the Route 154 entrance to the railroad station property. This means that they are the furthest distance from where passengers get on and off their trains. Also, there are no designated parking spaces for handicapped Amtrak passengers, as there are in the Shore Line East Commuter Parking area.

Furthermore, the number of free-of-charge Amtrak parking spaces appears to be diminishing at the station.  Quite recently a number of Amtrak parking spaces were re-designated to be for the exclusive use of patients of a dermatologist with offices at the station. In the process Amtrak’s yellow boarders on these spaces have been painted over.

The considerable distance from the remaining Amtrak spaces to the train station can mean that a baggage-laden passenger, traveling on Amtrak, has further to walk to the train than any other passengers parking at the station.

One Hour Parking Spaces at the Station

Finally, there is another parking area that has at least a semblance of free parking. These are the spaces which are designated as offering just one hour of free parking, and no more. This means that if parkers decide to eat at Zhang’s Chinese Restaurant at the station, they better eat their shrimp chow mien with fried rice for lunch within an hour’s time.

However, it has to be said that this one hour limit does not appear to be strictly enforced by the private developer that owns much of the property around the railroad station.

Finally, it should be noted that the Old Saybrook railroad train station is in a unique category from among shoreline stations. This is because it serves both Shore Line East and Amtrak passengers. “It is not like the Guilford station that only serves Shore Line East passengers,” said DOT’s Project Manager Hall, when discussing the importance of the Old Saybrook railroad station. Of course it must also be sadly noted that Amtrak’s luxury train, the Acela, does not a stop at Old Saybrook. Rather, it insultingly barrels through the station at 80 or more miles an hour. Maybe it will stop for us someday.

Parking Fees Could Increase from $5 to $10 a Day

Railroad Parking Area sign

Railroad Parking Area sign

The daily parking fee on the privately owned parking lot, which is closest to the tracks at the Old Saybrook railroad station, could increase in the near future. The present parking fee, which is $5 a day, could rise to $10 a day, according to Sebastian Lobo, the privately employed, parking attendant at the lot.

Lobo said that even with the increase, the cost for parking at Old Saybrook station would be far less than the amount charged at the New Haven railroad station.

However, a parking fee increase at one of the lots at the station would have no effect on the free-of-charge parking lots at the station, including, the Shore Line East Old Saybrook Commuter parking lot and the AMTRAK parking spaces at the station. Nor would it affect the informal, free parking lot that extends along North Main Street from the Upper Cemetery almost all the way down to the tracks.

As for the 200 new parking spaces, which the state Department of Transportation plans to add at Old Saybrook rail station, it remains undecided as to whether there will be a parking fee or not for these spaces.

The Lot Where They Charge a Parking Fee

The parking lot, where there is presently a $5.00 a day parking fee, is located right next to the relatively new, over the tracks terminal at the station. For train passengers, it is clearly the most convenient place to park at the station.

These parking spaces are owned by Saybrook Realty Partners, whose address is 455 Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook, according to the collection envelopes put under the windshields of the cars parking there.

Collection envelopes can pile up under windshields

Collection envelopes can pile up under windshields

The border lines around the spaces owned by this group are white in color, and, generally, they are far from full. Obviously, this is because most people parking at the station have found free spaces at other areas of the station.

Empty parking spaces at the pay for parking area

Empty parking spaces at the pay for parking area

The Collection Method of Paying for Parking

For those who pay for their parking at the station, there is a unique system of collecting parking fees. First, parking attendant Lobo in his red car scoots around the lot, placing collection envelopes behind the windshields of the cars that are parked there.

Parking Attendant Lobo puts in place a collection envelope

Parking Attendant Lobo puts in place a collection envelope

These addressed envelopes instruct parkers to do three things: (1) put a $5 per day parking fee in the envelope, (2) place a stamp on the envelope, and (3) mail it.

The formal printed instructions on these envelopes read as follows:

$5.00 Daily Parking fee

Please mail the $5.00 a day parking fee in this envelope. This parking lot is PRIVATE AND NO LONGER FREE. Amtrak travelers may park in the yellow lined designated area or pay the fee to park at will. Parking fees not paid within 14 days will be assessed an additional late fee of $10.00 per day. YOUR LICENSE PLATE HAS BEEN NOTED Violators subject to tow at owner’s expense. For further information email parking@saybrookrealtypartners.com.

Plate Number _______________________________________________

Date _______________________________________________________

Enforcement Signs Threaten a $150 Fine

Signs around this Railroad Parking Area, as it is called, threaten significant consequences if parking fees are not paid. “Violators Will Be Towed” and a “$150 Fine” will be imposed the signs say around the parking lot.

In an effort to obtain further information about this pay for parking organization, who declined an interview, we posed by email the following questions to Saybrook Realty Partners:

1) How many $150 fines have you imposed on persons who park on your spaces at the Old Saybrook railroad station?

2) How many $150 fines have you collected since you inaugurated a payment for parking scheme at the station?

3) How many cars have you towed for non-payment of parking fees?

4) How successful, generally, has been your return envelope payment system?

Statement by Owner of Saybrook Realty Partners

Mr. David M. Adams, owner of Saybrook Realty Partners, which owns and manages Saybrook Junction, provided the following response, “The [Saybrook Realty Partners’ parking] system has been very effective in preserving the integrity of the parking at Saybrook Junction for our 16 tenants. Saybrook Junction is a private business and has an obligation to provide parking for its business tenants and their customers, while also supporting Amtrak and overflow parking for Shoreline East commuters. We continue to make progress to alleviate some of the parking concerns voiced by our tenants as well as commuters.”

A final article on the parking situation at the Old Saybrook railroad station will discuss the parking spaces that are controlled by the award-winning Pizza Works restaurant at the station. The restaurant has 38 reserved parking spaces close to the tracks.

Only If You Are Eating at Pizza Works, Can You Park in the Restaurant’s Parking Lot

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

That’s right, if you want to park at one of the best parking spaces at the Old Saybrook railroad station, one that snuggles right up to the terminal entrance, you are supposed to be eating at the Pizza Works restaurant while you park there. Otherwise, parking is not allowed at one of the 38, green bordered parking spaces, reserved, exclusively, for those who are dining at Pizza Works.

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant

 

The general public is not welcome to park in these spaces!

However, to the chagrin of the owner of Pizza Works, this strict no public parking rule is frequently ignored. In fact, more and more, it appears that the parking spaces, which are supposed to be reserved exclusively for Pizza Works customers, have turned into an unsanctioned public parking space at the station.

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Other Parking Spaces at Station Are Well Organized

In contrast to the confused situation of Pizza Works parking, the other parking spaces at the station are well organized. For example, free parking is available, at the Shore Line East Commuter parking lot, as it is at the forty AMTRAK parking spaces at the station.

Also, there is free parking along the Upper Cemetery on North Main Street, and a  $5.00 a day parking system in a large lot at the left of the terminal building. In addition, there is a one hour parking rule in front of the businesses at the station, which seems to be generally accepted.

Pizza Works Parking Rules Widely Ignored

But that is not the case with the 38 green bordered parking spaces next to the Pizza Works restaurant. Here confusion reigns, and there appears to be little that Pizza Works owner Bob Kekayias can do about it.

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Even though he has posted signs, saying that unless you are actually eating at the restaurant that your car can be towed, and/or subject to a $150 fine, many parkers pay little attention. This makes the restaurant owner both resigned and angry.

Kekayias, who declined to be photographed, says grimly, that persons parking on the spaces reserved for restaurant patrons, “do not have a right to park there under the law.” But then he notes, ruefully, that these days, he “can’t tow,” meaning that he cannot tow away cars that are not suppose to be parking in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Remembering for the Days When He Could Tow

“We used to be able to do so,” he says, “but no more.” “It is frustrating,” he says.  “Perhaps if I asked the police chief in town, I could tow,” he ruminates, but he does not sound very hopeful that he could get permission.

He also says that his restaurant can seat 50 people, and that these customers are entitled to the parking spaces closest to the restaurant.  But to him the situation appears to be pretty hopeless. He says, “I am just co-existing … [with the unauthorized parkers].”

As an example of the seriousness of the problem, he said that once even he could not find a parking spot next to his restaurant, because all of the spots were full. He also makes the point again and again, he pays to rent the parking spaces next to his restaurant.

There appears to be no practical solution as to how Pizza Works can limit its parking spaces, exclusively, to the restaurant’s customers. The yawning empty spaces, throughout much of the day are simply too tempting for non-dining  parkers to make use of.

Of course Kehayias could hire a parking attendant to keep non-restaurant customers from parking in the reserved restaurant parking spots. But, evidently, at this point, it is doubtful that the expense would make it worth it.

Chester-Hadlyme Ferry Resumes Operations for 244th Year

John Marshall, captain of the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, shows off one of two new John Deere 205-HP engines installed in the 60-year-old Selden III ferry over the winter by CT Department of Transportation.

John Marshall, captain of the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, shows off one of two new John Deere 205-HP engines installed in the 60-year-old Selden III ferry over the winter by CT Department of Transportation.

The historic Chester-Hadlyme Ferry resumed service Monday for its 244th year with a “First Sailing” party organized by the Hadlyme Public Hall Association, which spearheaded a campaign two years ago to save the ferry service from state budget cuts.

A number of Department of Transport officials from Hartford attended the event to help celebrate the installation of the engines.

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Only If You Are Eating at Pizza Works, Can You Park in the Restaurant’s Parking Lot Next Door

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

That’s right, if you want to park at one of the best parking spaces at the Old Saybrook railroad station, one that snuggles right up to the terminal entrance, you are supposed to be eating at the Pizza Works restaurant while you park there. Otherwise, parking is not allowed at one of the 38, green bordered parking spaces, reserved, exclusively, for those who are dining at Pizza Works.

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant

The general public is not welcome to park in these spaces!

However, to the chagrin of the owner of Pizza Works, this strict no public parking rule is frequently ignored. In fact, more and more, it appears that the parking spaces, which are supposed to be reserved exclusively for Pizza Works customers, have turned into an unsanctioned public parking space at the station.

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Other Parking Spaces at Station Are Well Organized

In contrast to the confused situation of Pizza Works parking, the other parking spaces at the station are well organized. For example, free parking is available, at the Shore Line East Commuter parking lot, as it is at the forty AMTRAK parking spaces at the station.

Also, there is free parking along the Upper Cemetery on North Main Street, and a  $5.00 a day parking system in a large lot at the left of the terminal building. In addition, there is a one hour parking rule in front of the businesses at the station, which seems to be generally accepted.

Pizza Works Parking Rules Widely Ignored

But that is not the case with the 38 green bordered parking spaces next to the Pizza Works restaurant. Here confusion reigns, and there appears to be little that Pizza Works owner Bob Kekayias can do about it.

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Even though he has posted signs, saying that unless you are actually eating at the restaurant that your car can be towed, and/or subject to a $150 fine, many parkers pay little attention. This makes the restaurant owner both resigned and angry.

Kekayias, who declined to be photographed, says grimly, that persons parking on the spaces reserved for restaurant patrons, “do not have a right to park there under the law.” But then he notes, ruefully, that these days, he “can’t tow,” meaning that he cannot tow away cars that are not suppose to be parking in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Remembering for the Days When He Could Tow

“We used to be able to do so,” he says, “but no more.” “It is frustrating,” he says.  “Perhaps if I asked the police chief in town, I could tow,” he ruminates, but he does not sound very hopeful that he could get permission.

He also says that his restaurant can seat 50 people, and that these customers are entitled to the parking spaces closest to the restaurant.  But to him the situation appears to be pretty hopeless. He says, “I am just co-existing … [with the unauthorized parkers].”

As an example of the seriousness of the problem, he said that once even he could not find a parking spot next to his restaurant, because all of the spots were full. He also makes the point again and again, he pays to rent the parking spaces next to his restaurant.

There appears to be no practical solution as to how Pizza Works can limit its parking spaces, exclusively, to the restaurant’s customers. The yawning empty spaces, throughout much of the day are simply too tempting for non-dining  parkers to make use of.

Of course Kehayias could hire a parking attendant to keep non-restaurant customers from parking in the reserved restaurant parking spots. But, evidently, at this point, it is doubtful that the expense would make it worth it.

Read related stories in the series by Jerome Wilson:

Old Saybrook Railroad Station Parking Fees Could Increase from $5 to $10 a Day

200 New Parking Spaces to Be Added at the Old Saybrook Railroad Station

Old Saybrook Railroad Station Parking Fees Could Increase from $5 to $10 a Day

Railroad Parking Area sign

Railroad Parking Area sign

The daily parking fee on the privately owned parking lot, which is closest to the tracks at the Old Saybrook railroad station, could increase in the near future.  The present parking fee, which is $5 a day, could rise to $10 a day, according to Sebastian Lobo, the privately employed, parking attendant at the lot.

Lobo said that even with the increase, the cost for parking at Old Saybrook station would be far less than the amount charged at the New Haven railroad station.

However, a parking fee increase at one of the lots at the station would have no effect on the free-of-charge parking lots at the station, including, the Shore Line East Old Saybrook Commuter parking lot and the AMTRAK parking spaces at the station.  Nor would it affect the informal, free parking lot that extends along North Main Street from the Upper Cemetery almost all the way down to the tracks.

As for the 200 new parking spaces, which the state Department of Transportation plans to add at Old Saybrook rail station, it remains undecided as to whether there will be a parking fee or not for these spaces.

The Lot Where They Charge a Parking Fee  

The parking lot, where there is presently a $5.00 a day parking fee, is located right next to the relatively new, over the tracks terminal at the station.  For train passengers, it is clearly the most convenient place to park at the station.

These parking spaces are owned by Saybrook Realty Partners, whose address is 455 Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook, according to the collection envelopes put under the windshields of the cars parking there.

Collection envelopes can pile up under windshields

Collection envelopes can pile up under windshields

The border lines around the spaces owned by this group are white in color, and, generally, they are far from full.  Obviously, this is because most people parking at the station have found free spaces at other areas of the station.

Empty parking spaces at the pay for parking area

Empty parking spaces at the pay for parking area

The Collection Method of Paying for Parking

For those who pay for their parking at the station, there is a unique system of collecting parking fees.  First, parking attendant Lobo in his red car scoots around the lot, placing collection envelopes behind the windshields of the cars that are parked there.

Parking Attendant Lobo puts in place a collection envelope

Parking Attendant Lobo puts in place a collection envelope

These addressed envelopes instruct parkers to do three things: (1) put a $5 per day parking fee in the envelope, (2) place a stamp on the envelope, and (3) mail it.

The formal printed instructions on these envelopes read as follows:

$5.00 Daily Parking fee     

Please mail the $5.00 a day parking fee in this envelope. This parking lot is PRIVATE AND NO LONGER FREE. Amtrak travelers may park in the yellow lined designated area or pay the fee to park at will. Parking fees not paid within 14 days will be assessed an additional late fee of $10.00 per day.  YOUR LICENSE PLATE HAS BEEN NOTED Violators subject to tow at owner’s expense. For further information email parking@saybrookrealtypartners.com.

Plate Number _______________________________________________

Date _______________________________________________________

Enforcement Signs Threaten a $150 Fine

Signs around this Railroad Parking Area, as it is called, threaten significant consequences if parking fees are not paid.  “Violators Will Be Towed” and a “$150 Fine” will be imposed the signs say around the parking lot.

In an effort to obtain further information about this pay for parking organization, who declined an interview, we posed by email the following questions to Saybrook Realty Partners:

1) How many $150 fines have you imposed on persons who park on your spaces at the Old Saybrook railroad station?

2) How many $150 fines have you collected since you inaugurated a payment for parking scheme at the station?

3) How many cars have you towed for non-payment of parking fees?

4) How successful, generally, has been your return envelope payment system?

 Statement by Owner of Saybrook Realty Partners

Mr. David M. Adams, owner of Saybrook Realty Partners, which owns and manages Saybrook Junction, provided the following response, “The [Saybrook Realty  Partners’ parking] system has been very effective in preserving the integrity of the parking at Saybrook Junction for our 16 tenants. Saybrook Junction is a private business and has an obligation to provide parking for its business tenants and their customers, while also supporting Amtrak and overflow parking for Shoreline East commuters.  We continue to make progress to alleviate some of the parking concerns voiced by our tenants as well as commuters.”

A final article on the parking situation at the Old Saybrook railroad station will discuss the parking spaces that are controlled by the award-winning Pizza Works restaurant at the station. The restaurant has 38 reserved parking spaces close to the tracks.

Talking Transportation: Gov Malloy Seeks To Kill the Commuter Council

Jim CameronShortly after he came to office, I wrote something critical of newly elected Governor Malloy.  Nothing new there.  I’d certainly questioned Republican governors in years past, usually to little response.  But this time the reaction was different.

A Malloy confidant, a senior State Senator from Fairfield County, took me aside and threatened me.  Not physically, but legislatively.  “You know, we could eliminate the Commuter Rail Council if you keep this up,” he said in Machiavellian tones.  “Bring it on,” I said, half-shocked at this political threat.

Well, it took a couple of years (and more criticism), but the threat has come true.  The Governor has submitted a bill (HB 6363) that would wipe out the existing Metro-North Commuter Rail Council and its 15 members.  In its place, a new Council would be appointed and the Governor, not the members of the Council, would choose its Chairman.

Further, the new Commuter Council’s mandate would turn from investigation and advocacy on behalf of fellow commuters to a PR advisor to the CDOT.  While the current Council has the power to request information and is required to receive cooperation from any state or local agency, that power would be eliminated under Malloy’s bill.

The Commuter Council isn’t the only pro-transportation group affected by the bill.  The CT Public Transportation Commission would also be eliminated along with the last vestiges of the Transportation Strategy Board (killed off by Malloy last year), the TIA’s, or “Transportation Investment Areas”.

This obvious power-grab by the Governor has so far gone unchallenged in the legislature, buried in a 66-page Christmas tree of a bill.  If it becomes law, my 15+ years as a member of the Commuter Council (the last four as its Chairman) will be history.

But why is the Metro-North Commuter Council singled out for such harsh treatment?

It’s not that the Commuter Council has been wasting state money.  We operate on a budget of zero dollars, even dipping into our own pockets to pay for design of a logo and pay for postage.  And I don’t think it can be argued that we haven’t been doing our jobs… meeting monthly with Metro-North and the CDOT to address commuter complaints and push for ever better service.

No, I think the real problem is that we’ve done our job too well, calling out CDOT, the legislature and yes, even the Governor, when they did things that we felt screwed commuters.  That’s our mandate.

I guess Governor Malloy didn’t like it when we pointed out that as a gubernatorial candidate he promised to never raid the Special Transportation Fund to balance the state’s budget, but then did just that when he took office.  And I guess he wasn’t happy when I noted that his budget took new fare increases from Metro-North riders but didn’t spend the money on trains, in effect making the fare hike a “commuter tax”.

And I’d imagine the Commissioner of the CDOT… the fifth Commissioner in my 15+ years on the Council… would be happy to see the current Council gone, critical as we have been about their Stamford Garage project which we see as selling out the interests of commuters to private developers.

It’s sad that the Governor feels the way to answer legitimate criticism is to eviscerate those who question him.  But I can promise you that his proposed elimination of the Metro-North Commuter Council won’t silence me.  Bring it on, Governor.

JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 22 years.  He is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, and a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct .  For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, see www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

Local Swimmers Give Stellar Performances in State Championships

Valley Shore YMCA Age Group Qualifiers include Liam Leavy, Jessica Lee, Peter Fuchs, Nick Husted in the back row, and Anna Lang, Maddy Henderson, Kayla Mendonca, Kyle Wisialowski and Kaeleigh O’Donnell in the front row.

Valley Shore YMCA Age Group Qualifiers include Liam Leavy, Jessica Lee, Peter Fuchs, Nick Husted in the back row, and Anna Lang, Maddy Henderson, Kayla Mendonca, Kyle Wisialowski and Kaeleigh O’Donnell in the front row.

Throughout the weekend of March 8-10, 11 athletes training at Valley Shore YMCA (VSYMCA) in Westbrook competed at Connecticut Swimming’s Age Group Championships.  This event is the state championship for age group swimming.

In the 10 and under age group, four girls (Kaeleigh O’Donnell of Essex, Kayla Mendonca, Anna Lang and Maddy Henderson- all from Madison) competed in individual events as well as teaming up for the medley relay where they finished fifth.  Kayla Mendonca of Madison set two team records in distance freestyle events; the 200 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle.  Kayla also reset her own team record in the 100 butterfly.

In the highest finish of the meet, Kayla finished 3rd in the 500 freestyle, qualifying her to continue on to represent her state in Eastern Zone competition.  In her first year on the swim team, Anna Lang was proud to qualify for this prestigious event and swam the 50 free.  Kaeleigh O’Donnell swam the 100 yard breast stroke finishing 30th.  Maddy Henderson qualified in two backstroke events (50 yard and 100 yard) finishing 11th and 23rd.  Maddy also swam the 50 butterfly finishing 23rd.

The 10 and under girls were joined by two 10 and under boys, Daniel Chen of Madison and Kyle Wisialowski of Old Saybrook.  Dan, not having chosen his favorite stroke yet,  competed in every stroke excluding freestyle, and also both the 100 and 200 medley.  Dan’s 7th place finish in the 50 backstroke was among the best finishes on the team.  This was Kyle’s first appearance at Age Group Championships (in the 50 yard butterfly) after a winning performance at Regional Championships.

In the 12 and under age group, Liam Leavy (Ivoryton) was the only VSYMCA swimmer, but proud to boast his first age group qualification in the 50 backstroke.

The under 14 age group category boasted Mike Healey (Madison).  Mike swam the signature sprint event in swimming; the 50 freestyle as well as the 50 backstroke.  Mike also excels at the individual medley and swam both the 200 medley, and the 400 medley, widely thought to be swimming’s most grueling event.

In the 15 and up age group, the team fielded three senior members; freestylers Nick Husted (Westbrook) and Jessica Lee, as well as breaststroker Peter Fuchs both of Old Lyme.  Jessica had a top finish in the 50 freestyle, finishing in fifth place. Jessica also made the evening final in the 100 yard freestyle, finishing in 15th place.  This bodes well for Jessica’s next competition at the Y National Championships on April 3 in Greensboro, N.C.  Peter Fuchs set the team record in the 200 yard breaststroke.

Those interested in joining the swim team are encouraged to obtain more information about the Long Course season by visiting www.vsymarlins.org or calling the Valley Shore YMCA at 860 399-9622. Tryouts will be held in mid-April for the season which runs through to Long Course Age Group Championships in late July.

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Sen. Art Linares Honors Shoreline Student Artists at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts

from left to right:  Sen. Art Linares, Future Choices Co-Chair Kathleen Bidney-Singewald, Future Choices Co-Chair Ruth Baxter, student award winner Dai Yongzheng of Westbrook-based Oxford Academy, and Shoreline Arts Alliance Executive Director/CEO Eric Dillner.

From left to right: Sen. Art Linares, Future Choices Co-Chair Kathleen Bidney-Singewald, Future Choices Co-Chair Ruth Baxter, student award winner Dai Yongzheng of Westbrook-based Oxford Academy, and Shoreline Arts Alliance Executive Director/CEO Eric Dillner.

Sen. Art Linares presented official State of Connecticut citations to outstanding high school art students from the shoreline region during the Shoreline Arts Alliance’s Future Choices awards reception March 10 at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts’ Sill House Gallery. The art exhibition offers students the experience of being juried by experts in the arts and exhibiting in a professional gallery setting.

Students who reside or attend school in the shoreline region were eligible to submit works for the competition. Towns include: Branford, Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Haven, East Lyme, Essex, Guilford, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Middlefield, North Branford, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, Westbrook.

Shoreline Arts Alliance Executive Director/CEO Eric Dillner, Sen. Art Linares, and Lyme Academy of Fine Arts President Scott Colley chat prior to the awards ceremony.

Shoreline Arts Alliance Executive Director/CEO Eric Dillner, Sen. Art Linares, and Lyme Academy of Fine Arts President Scott Colley chat prior to the awards ceremony.

“These young artists have tremendous talents, and it was my pleasure to help honor them,” Sen. Linares said.  “The support and encouragement these students have received from our communities has allowed them to thrive.”

Sen. Art Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. He can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at (800) 842 1421.

200 New Parking Spaces to Be Added at the Old Saybrook Railroad Station

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna has confirmed in a recent interview that the Connecticut Department of Transportation, working with the Town of Old Saybrook, will soon formally announce a plan to add 200 new parking spaces at the railroad station in Old Saybrook.

The new parking spaces will require the purchase by the state Department of Transportation of 3.6 acres of private property, and negotiations for this purchase are presently underway. The new parking spaces will be situated on a site off  North Main Street, across the street from the Upper Cemetery.  The Upper Cemetery was established in 1750, and it is one of Old Saybrook’s historic landmarks.

Monies to acquire the 200 new parking spaces will come exclusively from the state, said the state’s Project Manager Keith Hall in a recent interview. There will be no federal funds involved in the purchase whatsoever, he emphasized.

Because of the good faith that has been shown in negotiating the sale of the property, Project Manager Hall also said that acquiring the property by eminent domain would not be necessary. Hall emphasized that to date there had been “fruitful discussions” with the property owners involved, and he anticipates that the final sale of the property would be consummated this coming April, if not before.

In discussing the planned acquisition of the new parking spaces, First Selectman Fortuna observed that the present parking situation at the Old Saybrook railroad station was “not ideal.”

The Present Parking Spaces at the Old Saybrook Station

The 200 new parking spaces at the station will add, substantially, to the number of parking spaces presently available at the station. One of the more informal of the existing parking lots at the station is the one that has a single string of parked cars running down North Main Street.

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

This ad hoc parking lot extends from next to the Upper Cemetery all the way down to the railroad tracks. During work days this informal “free” parking area is completely full.

Another significant parking area that also offers free parking is the Shore Line East, Old Saybrook, Commuter Parking lot.  This large lot has 137 parking spaces, with a few designated for handicap parking.

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Although the Shore Line East parking lot is not directly beside the railroad station, it is still within easy walking distance of the trains. During work days the Shore Line East parking lot is frequently full.

AMTRAK Passenger Parking

In addition to these parking areas there are designated parking spaces for Amtrak passengers at the Old Saybrook railroad station. These Amtrak spaces are free, and they are indicated by painted yellow lines along their borders.

The Amtrak spaces are located just down from the Route 154 entrance to the railroad station property. This means that they are the furthest distance from where passengers get on and off their trains. Also, there are no designated parking spaces for handicapped Amtrak passengers, as there are in the Shore Line East Commuter Parking area.

Furthermore, the number of free-of-charge Amtrak parking spaces appears to be diminishing at the station.  Quite recently a number of Amtrak parking spaces were re-designated to be for the exclusive use of patients of a dermatologist with offices at the station. In the process Amtrak’s yellow boarders on these spaces have been painted over.

The considerable distance from the remaining Amtrak spaces to the train station can mean that a baggage-laden passenger, traveling on Amtrak, has further to walk to the train than any other passengers parking at the station.

One Hour Parking Spaces at the Station

Finally, there is another parking area that has at least a semblance of free parking. These are the spaces which are designated as offering just one hour of free parking, and no more. This means that if parkers decide to eat at Zhang’s Chinese Restaurant at the station, they better eat their shrimp chow mien with fried rice for lunch within an hour’s time.

However, it has to be said that this one hour limit does not appear to be strictly enforced by the private developer that owns much of the property around the railroad station.

Finally, it should be noted that the Old Saybrook railroad train station is in a unique category from among shoreline stations. This is because it serves both Shore Line East and Amtrak passengers. “It is not like the Guilford station that only serves Shore Line East passengers,” said DOT’s Project Manager Hall, when discussing the importance of the Old Saybrook railroad station. Of course it must also be sadly noted that Amtrak’s luxury train, the Acela, does not a stop at Old Saybrook. Rather, it insultingly barrels through the station at 80 or more miles an hour. Maybe it will stop for us someday.

Local Land Conservation Trusts Announce Winners of Annual Photo Contest

The winner of the 2012 John G. Mitchell – Environmental Conservation Award is Mark Roger Bailey of California, formerly of Essex.

The winner of the 2012 John G. Mitchell – Environmental Conservation Award is Mark Roger Bailey of California, formerly of Essex.

The Lyme, Old Lyme, Salem, Essex and East Haddam Land Conservation Trusts announced today the winners of their jointly sponsored amateur photo contest. The purpose of the contest was to focus on the celebrated and scenic countryside in those towns and its diversified wildlife. The ages of the photographers ranged from children to senior citizens.

This contest was made possible by the generous financial support provided by Lorensen Toyota, Oakley/Wing Group at Smith Barney, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Essex Savings Bank, ChelseaGroton Bank, Ballek Garden Center and Murtha Cullina LLP.

“There were so many wonderful pictures submitted that the judges had a difficult time selecting the winners” said Tony Sullivan, spokesperson for the conservation trusts.

The three independent judges are William Burt, a naturalist who has won acclaim for his books of wildlife photography: Rare and Elusive Birds of North America, Shadowbirds, and his recently released Marshes: The Disappearing Edens. Amy Kurtz Lansing, Curator at the Florence Griswold Museum and a Yale University doctoral candidate in the History of Art. She is also the author of Historical Fictions: Edward Lamson Henry’s Paintings of Past and Present and Rudy Wood-Muller, a photographic illustrator and designer. His first large exhibition was at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and was followed by numerous other shows, including a one-man show at the Rochester Institute of Technology. A group of his photographs have been selected to be part of the Permanent Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“This year an additional award was given out to honor one of our prior judges, John G. Mitchell, who passed away” said Sullivan. “John, who was one of the editors at National Geographic, dedicated his career to writing about the environment and conservation, so the award was for the best picture reflecting that subject.”

The categories and names of the winners are:

JOHN G. MITCHELL – Environmental Conservation Award

Mark Roger Bailey, California (Formerly Essex)

LANDSCAPES/WATERSCAPES

First Place:  
Skip Broom, Hadlyme

Second Place: 
April Surprenant, Salem

Third Place: 
Alexandria Hollwedel, Ivoryton

Honorable Mentions: 
Tom Nemeth, Salem
John Sargent, Quaker Hill
Gerry Graves, Old Lyme

PLANTS

First Place: 
Tony Sullivan, Lyme

Second Place:
Cheryl Philopena

Third Place: 
Skip Broom, Hadlyme

Honorable Mentions: 
Jessica Nemeth, Salem
Linda Waters, Salem
Marian Morrissette, New London

WILDLIFE

First Place:  
Skip Broom, Hadlyme

Second Place: 
Harcourt Davis, Old Lyme

Third Place: 
Cheryl Philopena, Salem

Honorable Mentions:  
Marian Morrissette, New London
Hank Golet, Old Lyme
Mark Roger Bailey, Essex

CULTURAL/HISTORIC

First Place: 
Skip Broom, Hadlyme

Second Place:  
Carol Giese, East Lyme

Third Place:  
Mark Roger Bailey, California (Formally Essex)

Honorable Mentions:  
Lionel Williams, Essex
Jacquelyn Sanders, Old Lyme
Donald Quigley, Old Lyme

YOUTH

First Place:  
Emma Pennie, Old Lyme

Second Place: 
Meghan Buckley, Haddam

Third Place: 
Courtney Briggs, Old Saybrook

Honorable Mentions:  
Rebecca Johnson, Colchester
Samantha Barretta, Lyme
Hanna Potter, Old Lyme

All the winning photographs will be available for public viewing at Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library at 2 Library Lane in Old Lyme during the month of April. The photos can also be seen at http://landtrustsphotos.shutterfly.com/ or on the web sites of each of the sponsoring conservation trusts.

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Sen. Linares, Lyme, Deep River Leaders to Fight Property Tax Hikes

Sen. Art Linares, Lyme First Selectman and COST Board Member Ralph Eno, Deep River First Selectman and COST President Richard Smith, and Rep. Phil Miller.

Sen. Art Linares, Lyme First Selectman and COST Board Member Ralph Eno, Deep River First Selectman and COST President Richard Smith, and Rep. Phil Miller.

At a March 4 press conference at the State Capitol complex, the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST) voiced opposition to the governor’s car tax plan.

Mayors and first selectmen discussed how the plan would cause municipalities to lose millions of dollars in tax revenue and be forced to make up for that loss in other ways, namely through increased local property taxes.

Sen. Art Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) was among those supporting the town leaders at the press conference.  “No one likes paying the car tax and we’d all like to see it eliminated,” Sen. Linares said.  “But the plan that is before the state legislature would lead to higher property taxes for everyone.  The bottom line is that we simply can’t afford higher taxes.  By working together and speaking with one voice, we can put this car tax plan in the breakdown lane.”

Connecticut River System Highlights Role of People in Sustaining Nature

Dr. Frogard Ryan, state director, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut

Dr. Frogard Ryan, state director, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut

A fishway around a dam on the Mattabesset River in East Berlin might not seem to have much to do with towns along the lower Connecticut River.

But the fishway The Nature Conservancy is building on the property of StanChem, a polymer manufacturing company about 35 miles from my home in Old Lyme, is good news—here and there.

As the Conservancy’s state director, I have a vested interest in the project’s success. It’s no stretch, though, to say we all have an interest in this work.

The Mattabesset River is a tributary of the Connecticut River, and the elaborate U-shaped fishway being built near the StanChem complex will help improve the health of the river area residents know and love as a neighbor.

That’s just for starters, though.

As I toured the site recently with StanChem President Jack Waller and Conservancy Connecticut Director of Migratory Fish Projects Sally Harold, I was reminded of a fundamental truth:  Conservation is made possible by people, and if Connecticut’s natural resources are to be sustained into the future, it will be because people make it so.

River and stream connectivity is an important environmental issue and opportunity in our state. The vast majority of dams in Connecticut are relatively small and privately owned. Many of them no longer serve the purposes for which they were built; some are at risk of failures that could threaten public safety.

From an environmental perspective, dam removal can open access to upstream spawning habitats for migratory fish. It also can restore the natural, swift-moving flows that support some native species, and it can enhance water quality by improving nutrient and sediment transport.

Removal isn’t always an option, of course, and that was the case with this project, where the impoundment created by the dam provides water that would be crucial for StanChem in case of a fire. In such circumstances, a well-thought-out fishway is a great—if not always easy— alternative.

The fishway on the Mattabesset is designed so that American shad, alewife and blueback herring will be able to use it. Because the old dam has been a complete barrier, none of those species has been above it in maybe 100 years.  All told, about 50 miles of habitat—including tributaries to the Mattabesset—will become available to them, improving the overall health of the Connecticut River system.

An embedded tube for migrating American eels is part of the project, too, and the Connecticut Department Energy and Environmental Protection will gather information from an observation room there for its “No Fish Left Behind” reports about monitored fish runs across the state.

Equally important, though, is how this project has happened.

A $308,000 Connecticut DEEP Ecosystem Management & Habitat Restoration grant, a $10,000 contribution from the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership through Northeast Utilities, and private donations to The Nature Conservancy are helping pay for this work. Of course, it also couldn’t happen without StanChem’s active buy-in.

With the state and the private and nonprofit sectors involved, the cooperation that characterizes this project is a model for conservation.

Still, it wouldn’t be possible without the commitment of individuals—people who want to make a difference. Mr. Waller, whose buoyant enthusiasm for the project is infectious, comes to mind, as does DEEP Supervising Fisheries Biologist Steve Gephard, a long-time champion of the project.

A great deal of work was done last year to improve the health of Connecticut’s rivers and streams. In East Berlin, Farmington, Stonington and elsewhere, there were real successes with dam removal and fish passage.

With so many of Connecticut’s dams privately owned, the future of this type of work depends greatly on individuals—including, I hope, some readers here—who see and cherish the opportunity to make a difference. There are so many dams out there where work of real ecological value could be done. Perhaps one of them is yours.

Dr. Ryan, who is the State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut, lives in Old Lyme; the Conservancy’s Connecticut Chapter is located at 55 Church Street, Floor 3; New Haven, Conn. 06510-3029.

Sen. Art Linares Meets With Deep River Taxpayers

Sen. Art Linares (center) speaks with a taxpayers at his Feb. 20 Town Hall Meeting in Deep River. Sen. Linares’ next Town Hall Meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave.

Sen. Art Linares (center) speaks with a taxpayers at his Feb. 20 Town Hall Meeting in Deep River. Sen. Linares’ next Town Hall Meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, State Sen. Art Linares held a 90-minute Town Hall Meeting at Deep River Town Hall.

The meeting, which was attended by about 20 taxpayers, allowed area residents to question Sen. Linares about the state budget and discuss his efforts to make Connecticut more business-friendly.

“We had an excellent discussion, and I thank Deep River taxpayers for stopping by,” Sen. Linares said.  “For those who could not attend, feel free to contact me with any questions you have about taxes, spending, or any topics you wish to discuss.  I can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at 800 842 1421.”

Residents may sign up for Sen. Linares’ State Capitol e-alerts at www.senatorlinares.com .  His next Town Hall Meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave.

Sen. Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

A Portfolio of the Beauty of the Recent Snow Storm

A snow covered tree top surveys the scene

A snow covered tree top surveys the scene

Without question much damage was done by the recent snow storm. For some the lights and the power went out. Others were trapped in their homes for days because of the sheer massiveness of the snow storm.

Whereas below every element is covered with snow

Whereas below every element is covered with snow

Shoveling out was incredibly difficult. In many cases professional work crews had to dig people out.  Cars were buried; driveways were non-existent and getting to the store was a major undertaking.

Two straining trees, their branches bent with the weight of snow

Two straining trees, their branches bent with the weight of snow

Still, there was a memorable beauty to the storm. It created whole new worlds of splendor. Soon enough it degenerated into muddy piles of dirt and snow, but in its fullest glory here is what it looked like.

The sun illuminates the snowy scene

The sun illuminates the snowy scene

The deer look at us as we look at them

The deer look at us as we look at them

Enjoy an Exciting, Educational ‘Eagle Watch’ Cruise with CT River Museum

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The view east into Hamburg Cove from the Connecticut river

Last Friday was the perfect winter weather for a boat trip on the lower Connecticut River to view the wildlife and enjoy the experience of being one of the very few boats on the river during mid-February.  I was a guest aboard the 65 ft. Project Oceanology vessel Enviro-Lab III  for one of the “Eagle Watch” boat trips offered by Connecticut River Museum in partnership with Project Oceanology during February and March each year.  This is the fourth season the Connecticut River Museum has teamed up with the Groton-based marine science and environmental education organization, Project Oceanology, to provide a dynamic on-water experience.

The 65 ft Enviro-Lab III owned by Project Oceanology who have partnered with Connecticut River Museum to offer the Eagle Watch trips

The 65 ft Enviro-Lab III owned by Project Oceanology who have partnered with Connecticut River Museum to offer the Eagle Watch trips

Although visitors to the river in winter can see many interesting avian species, the bald eagle is the one most visitors hope to see.   Declared an endangered species in 1973 with the passage of the federal Endangered Species Act, populations began to recover following the ban on DDT, and by 2007,  the bald eagle populations had recovered to the extent that they have now been removed from the endangered species list.  They are, however, still protected on the federal level by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Every winter a number of bald eagles migrate south looking for open water to feed as the lakes and rivers in Canada and northern New England  freeze.  Many of these birds stop in Connecticut and winter along major rivers and large reservoirs, and can been seen feeding and occasionally nesting on the banks of the Connecticut river.

1302_2013FebEagleWatch_024-3a

A juvenile bald eagle in flight over the Connecticut river

Although a sighting is not guaranteed, eagles are spotted on most trips.  On the first trip of the season, six adult eagles and eight juveniles were spotted.  On this trip, we were fortunate to spot our first young eagle soaring high above the boat minutes after casting off from the town dock as the boat headed north up river and then we saw several more eagles throughout the trip, some roosting in riverside trees and some gracefully circling above the river.

1302_2013FebEagleWatch_041-9

A juvenile bald eagle perched on a tree along the river bank

Eagles nesting on Nott Island

One of the highlights of the trip was to observe, from a distance, the rare sight of an eagle on her nest on the eastern side on Nott island, just across the river from Essex harbor.  In the 1950s the bald eagle was no longer a nesting species in Connecticut but, according to the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, in 1992 the state documented its first successful nesting of bald eagles since the 1950s when a pair raised two young birds in Litchfield County.  Since then, the nesting population has increased gradually and, in 2010, 18 pairs of bald eagles made nesting attempts in the state.

1302_2013FebEagleWatch_096-8

Female bald eagle on nest on Nott Island, CT

One such nesting pair is seen here on Nott Island.  The female was about to lay her eggs a week or so ago but was temporarily disrupted by Winter Storm Charlotte.  Hopefully, now that she is back on her nest, the eggs have been successfully produced.

“Let’s go out on the river and have some fun!”

The Eagle Watch boat trips are led by local expert naturalist and lecturer Bill Yule, who is an educator at the Connecticut River Museum.  He is not only an expert on most wildlife species found along the Connecticut River but also a renowned expert on local mushrooms and fungi.  Yule welcomed visitors aboard the trip with the invitation, “Let’s go out on the river and have some fun,” and throughout the trip he helped locate and identify birds, related historical stories about life along the river and made sure all the passengers were warm and comfortable with plenty of hot coffee.

Naturalist and lecturer Bill Yule provides interesting and informative information on all wildlife species seen along the river throughout the cruise

Naturalist and lecturer Bill Yule provides interesting and informative information on all wildlife species seen along the river throughout the cruise

Yule was accompanied by two educators from Project Oceanology, Chris Dodge and Danielle Banco, who cheerfully helped identify interesting birds and assisted the boat captain with docking and navigating up and down the river between the ice flows.

Bald eagles are certainly not the only avian species guests can enjoy on the trip and on this particular voyage, we enjoyed numerous sightings of  cormorants, black-backed gulls, red-tailed hawks and common merganser ducks.

We returned to the town dock some 90 minutes after departure excited by all the birds we had seen and moreover, educated about them, and, despite the cold, I am confident I am not the only traveler on that voyage who will be taking another trip later in the season.  All in all, it was an awesome experience!

1302_2013FebEagleWatch_026-4

The common merganser duck in full flight along the river

February Vacation Week Programs

The Connecticut River Museum is also offering a week-long program of vacation week activity for the February school break starting tomorrow, Feb. 19.  In addition to an Eagle Watch adventure on Friday, Feb. 22, the program will also include a day exploring the many galleries in the museum, an outdoor exploration day including a nature hike and animal tracking, and an arts and crafts day building models boats, learning knot tying and other maritime arts.

1302_2013FebEagleWatch_009-2

Avian wildlife exhibit in the Connecticut River Museum

To make reservations for the vacation week program or for more information about Connecticut River Museum educational programs or Eagle Watch Tours, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or contact Jennifer White Dobbs in the Education Department at jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org or Bill Yule, also in the Education Department, at byule@ctrivermuseum.org.

Project Oceanology in Groton also offers Winter Seal Watch trips during weekends in February and March.  These two and a half hour trips travel out into Fishers Island Sound to view these playful creatures, which are abundant in this area.  The ticket price of $25 (adults) and $20 (children) also includes a 20-minute slide presentation.

Linares – Working to Grow Latino Businesses

State Sen. Art Linares (left) at the State Capitol complex with former Hartford State Rep. Art Feltman (center) and Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) Executive Director Julio Mendoza (at right)

State Sen. Art Linares (left) at the State Capitol complex with former Hartford State Rep. Art Feltman (center) and Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) Executive Director Julio Mendoza (at right)

State Sen. Art Linares on Feb. 4 met at the State Capitol complex with former Hartford State Rep. Art Feltman  and Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) Executive Director Julio Mendoza to discuss policies which can help Connecticut small businesses grow jobs.

Sen. Linares is trying to make Connecticut more business-friendly by eliminating the state’s business entity tax, which is currently paid by more than 118,000 Connecticut businesses.

The Spanish American Merchants Association (www.samact.org), is a Connecticut non-profit organization created to assist business people, in particular Latinos, to acquire a better understanding of economic principles. The organization seeks to promote business expansion, job creation, economic growth, and new entrepreneurship. The group now boasts the membership of more than 500 Hispanic business owners and organizations statewide.

Sen. Linares  (www.senatorlinares.com) can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at 800 842 1421.  He represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Special Fund Established at the Acton Public Library

The Acton Public Library is pleased to announce that the Ernest Bernstein Honor with Books Fund has been established with a generous gift from Barbara Bernstein, as a way to acknowledge her late husband’s love of learning and libraries.  This fund will be used to purchase books on the German Holocaust.   Individuals who wish to contribute to this fund can memorialize or celebrate a special person, and donations can be made in honor of friends and family members.

When a gift is made, the donor and honoree will be listed in a special Honor with Books Fund book, which will be on permanent display in the library.  Books purchased through this fund will receive a bookplate to indicate that they were acquired through this fund.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to this fund can make a contribution to the Acton Public Library, with a notation indicating that it is for the Honor With Books Fund.

For more information, please contact Michele Van Epps, Library Director, at the Acton Public Library.  The library’s address is 60 Old Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook,  CT  06475.  The phone number is 860-395-3184.

Shoreline Bus Usage Continues to Grow

9 town transit bus2Once again 9 Town Transit has seen large growth in ridership.  Extended service hours, regional connections, new service in Haddam and improved awareness contributed to growth of 15% during 2012.

Since 2009, 9 Town Transit has greatly expanded the reach and hours of its services.  Public bus service is now available from the shoreline to New Haven, New London, Middletown and Hartford, all for a fare of $1.50.   Most services now begin around 6:00 AM and end at 7:00 PM or later.  Connections are offered to four neighboring transit systems.

In addition to service improvements, 9 Town Transit has been actively promoting awareness of public transit options in the region.  This has included a new website, brightly painted buses, bus stop signage throughout the region, print advertising and participations in community events.

These factors contributed to a total annual ridership of just under 98,500 passenger trips, an 83% increase since 2009.  About half of all trips are now work related.  All services are open to the general public.

Additional information, route maps and schedules are available online at www.9towntransit.com or by calling 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

33rd District Republican State Senator Art Linares Jr. Assigned to Four Legislative Committees

Art Linares, candidate for State Senate in the 33rd district

State Senator Elect Art Linares

AREAWIDE— Republican State Senator Art Linares Jr. has been assigned to the Legislature’s Banking, Commerce, and Education committees, along with the Select Committee on Children, as he prepares to take office representing the 33rd Senate District when the 2013 legislative session opens Wednesday.

Linares, a 24-year old Westbrook resident, was elected in November to the 33rd District seat held for two decades by former Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. Linares defeated Democrat Jim Crawford and Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag to become the first Republican elected in the district since former State Senator Ed Munster of Haddam held the seat from 1990-1992. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and portions of Old Saybrook.

In the committee assignments announced by Republican Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, Linares was named as ranking Republican member for the Banking Committee and the Select Committee on Children, while receiving a spot on the Commerce and Education committees.

Palette Knife Artist Jill Beecher Matthew Exhibition at Acton Public Library

Storm Brewing Outer Banks by Jill Beecher Matthew

Storm Brewing Outer Banks by Jill Beecher Matthew

Paintings by artist Jill Beecher Matthew are featured in an exhibit at the Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook from December 10 through January 19.

Having studied with Noel Belton, Leif Nilsson, Lois Griffel, and The Cape School of art, Matthew uses palette knives and oil paints to enrich her art with texture and color clarity. Her paintings are an expression of her lifelong love for art and nature and her favorite backdrop is the magnificent New England landscape. Matthew is a resident of Old Lyme. Her paintings will be on exhibit in both the main gallery on the first floor of the library, and the display space on the second floor.

For further information, please call 860-395-3184, or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10–8:30, Friday and Saturday 9—5, and Sunday 1—5.

First Season of St. John School Lego Robotics Club

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Old Saybrook’s St. John School new LEGO Robotics Club ready to show off their first season’s activities at a recent school assembly. The students shared a slide show about the FIRST LEGO League, a research presentation of an idea to help senior citizens with accurate medicine dispensing, and their LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot solving numerous obstacle course challenges.”

Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Announces Best of 2012 Awards

(L-R):  Judy Sullivan, Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Lisa Miksis, Publisher – Shore Publishing, Kristen Roberts, Chamber of Commerce President

(L-R): Judy Sullivan, Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Lisa Miksis, Publisher – Shore Publishing, Kristen Roberts, Chamber of Commerce President

Four annual Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Awards were presented to deserving members at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner Meeting & Silent Auction held Thursday December 6, 2010 at the Saybrook Point Inn.   Over 120 members enjoyed the evening celebrating the Chamber’s 2012 accomplishments.  The 2012 Award recipients are:

  • Business of the Year – Shore Publishing, 274 Boston Post Road, Madison
  • Non-Profit of the Year – Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services., 322 Main Street, Old Saybrook
  • Volunteer of the Year – Rich Bachand, Tarlov Financial, Ivortyon
  • Rookie of the Year – Tom Salvo, Barnum Financial Group, Guilford

“The Old Saybrook Chamber is very proud of our 2012 award winners.   These four recipients exemplify commitment and dedication to the Chamber and the community,” said Judy Sullivan, Executive Director of the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about the Old Saybrook of Commerce and its programs, visit www.oldsaybrookchamber.com.

(L-R):  Sam Barnes, Youth & Family Services Commission Chair, Heather McNeil, Youth & Family Services Director

(L-R): Sam Barnes, Youth & Family Services Commission Chair, Heather McNeil, Youth & Family Services Director

 

Estuary Council of Seniors Partners with Local Car Dealer to “Share the Love” this Holiday Season

Hayden Reynolds, his daughter, Lilly and his father, Gary; three generations of the Reynolds family, personally delivered Meals on Wheels in Lyme.

Hayden Reynolds, his daughter, Lilly and his father, Gary; three generations of the Reynolds family, personally delivered Meals on Wheels in Lyme.

The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. Partners with Reynolds Subaru of Lyme, CT to “Share the Love” this Holiday Season.  Subaru’s “Share the Love” event helps deliver nutritious meals and compassion to Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Old Lyme, Lyme, Killingworth, Madison, Essex, Deep River, Clinton and Chester’s seniors.

The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. is proud to announce it has partnered with Reynolds Subaru of Lyme this holiday season to deliver meals to seniors in all ten towns and to provide awareness of the funding needs for senior nutrition. Since June 2010, The Estuary’s senior nutrition budget has been cut $102,000. Last year the Estuary provided 60,000 meals to seniors in the ten town area. The “Share the Love” campaign kicked off on November 21st with the three generations of the Reynolds family participating. Hayden Reynolds, his daughter, Lilly and his father, Gary; three generations of the Reynolds family, personally delivered meals in Lyme. Reynolds Subaru has loaned The Estuary a Subaru car for daily meal delivery throughout the six-week campaign. The Reynolds family has been serving the shoreline for over 150 years, they started back in 1859 with horse drawn carriages, today the 6th generation of the Reynolds provides his community with Subaru’s for a safe and reliable all wheel drive vehicle.

Each week thereafter through the holidays Reynolds Sales, Parts and Service staff as well as local Rotary Clubs and the First Selectmen of our ten towns will also visit seniors delivering meals. Local Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops from the shoreline towns are making holiday cards which they will deliver to each senior along with their meal and a Christmas plant the week before Christmas. Christmas plants are being donated by Clinton Nurseries and Grove Gardens of Clinton, Riggio’s of Essex, VanWilgens of North Branford and the Old Saybrook Walmart store. This local effort is part of the Meals on Wheels Association of America’s (MOWAA) participation in the national Subaru of America, Inc. “Share the Love” Event.

As one of the five Subaru “Share the Love” event charitable partners, the Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is awarding $200,000 in “Share the Love” grants to local Meals on Wheels programs that partner with Subaru dealerships in the fight to end senior hunger. The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. is eligible to win a MOWAA-Subaru “Share the Love” grant of up to $35,000 to help provide hot, nutritious meals to homebound seniors in all ten towns it serves. Hayden Reynolds is spearheading a “matching funds competition” and hopes that many other local businesses will join him. If you are interested in providing a tax deductible financial match or a partial match to the grant they hope will be awarded to The Estuary Council of Seniors please contact Sandy at 860 388-1611.

“We are honored to be part of ‘Share the Love’ for a fifth straight year,” said MOWAA Interim CEO, Larry J. Tomayko. “Subaru recognizes the importance of giving back to the communities it serves. Working together, MOWAA and Subaru are helping to provide more than just a meal; we’re bringing warmth and compassion to so many hungry and homebound seniors who would otherwise go without.” The Subaru “Share the Love” Event runs from November 21, 2012 to January 2, 2013. Subaru is donating $250 for every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased during “Share the Love” to the customer’s choice of one of five charities, including MOWAA’s Meals on Wheels. Over the past four years, proceeds from the Subaru “Share the Love” Event have provided funds to MOWAA to support its vision to end senior hunger by 2020.

The Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is the only national organization and network dedicated solely to ending senior hunger in America. MOWAA is the oldest and largest organization composed of and representing local, community-based Senior Nutrition Programs in all 50 states as well as the U.S. territories. MOWAA’s vision is to end senior hunger by 2020. To obtain more information about MOWAA or to locate a local Meals on Wheels program, visit the MOWAA website at www.mowaa.org

Old Saybrook Board of Ed Receives Board of Distinction Award

Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor displays the Board of Distinction Award for the Old Saybrook Board of Education

OLD SAYBROOK-  The Old Saybrook Board of Education was presented with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Level 2 Board of Distinction Award during the annual CABE / CAPSS (Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents) Convention held at the Mystic Marriott on Friday, November 16th.

The CABE Board Recognition Awards are designed recognize boards which provide effective leadership to their districts through the use of good practices. This program which acknowledging the importance of school board members and superintendents working together as effective teams continues an important trend among school boards associations across the country.

CABE Board of Distinction Award – Level Two recognizes Boards which are truly exemplary. To be eligible for this higher level of award, the Board must have achieved Level One distinction at least twice in the past four years. Boards must achieve at least two Level Two items in each Level Two category to receive this award.

The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) serves local and regional school districts in Connecticut and is dedicated to improving the quality of education throughout the state and the nation. CABE’s membership includes 145 school districts representing 90 % of the state’s public school population. CABE is a leading advocate for public education at the State Capitol and in Washington D. C., and offers many types of support services to local boards of education including the Board Member Academy, a continuing education program for local board of education members.

The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) is a statewide nonprofit educational administration organization whose membership includes Connecticut public school superintendents, assistant superintendents, central office administrative personnel, state department of education officials, and college and university professors. It provides educational and administrative leadership on a state and national level; it researches, gathers, and disseminates data and information necessary for the management and operation of effective school systems; it monitors state and federal legislative activity and strives to influence positive laws and regulations affecting the education of Connecticut’s public school students; it provides personal support services for its members; it holds statewide conferences of interest to the educational community; and it is a strong voice and staunch advocate of quality public school education.

Rotary Helps Eradicate Polio

For 20 years, Rotary clubs have remained determined to do whatever is necessary to achieve a world free of the crippling disease polio. Recognizing this commitment – as well as Rotary’s important role as a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the United Nations and the World Health Assembly have partnered with Rotary to completely eradicate polio by the end of 2012.

Rotary’s chief responsibilities in the initiative are fundraising and advocacy, a role of increasing importance as the end game draws near. Sixty-one Rotary clubs in Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex and New London counties have embraced this effort by using Thunderclap, a Social Media tool which enables supporters to sign up to share a single message simultaneously across all supporting accounts on World Polio Day, October 24, 2012 to raise awareness of the fight to end this crippling disease. In addition, these clubs have provided an army of volunteers to promote and assist at national immunization days in polio-endemic countries around the world. Connecticut State Governor, Dannel Malloy will be issuing a proclamation on October 24, 2012, in support of End Polio Day.

“When Rotary first started the fight against polio in 1985, the disease affected 350,000 people every year in 125 countries. Since then, polio has been reduced by 99%. We are “This Close” to ending polio,” says Brian Amey, Governor, Rotary District 7980.

Rotary, which already has contributed $1.2 billion to stop this crippling childhood disease, announced its new funding commitment in New York City on Sept. 27 during a special side-event on polio eradication convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly. Earlier this year, Rotary raised $228 million in new money for polio eradication in response to a $355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation, which promptly contributed an additional $50 million in recognition of Rotary’s commitment.

Polio cases have plummeted by more than 99 percent since 1988, when the disease infected about 350,000 children a year. Fewer than 700 new cases were reported in 2011. Rotary and its partners have reached more than 2.5 billion children with the oral polio vaccine, preventing more than five million cases of paralysis and hundreds of thousands of pediatric deaths.

To learn how you can participate in this historic opportunity to end polio once and for all, please visit rotary.org/endpolio.

The 61 clubs in twelve areas of District 7980 are part of a much larger organization-Rotary International (www.rotary.org). Rotary International is made up of 34,000 clubs in 200 countries and geographical areas with over 1.2 million members. The organization works to help the world’s needy people and to further world peace and understanding as evidenced by its unique role as a founding member of the United Nations, retaining a permanent seat on the General Council. The Rotary International Foundation invests each year in humanitarian and educational projects throughout the world. The area clubs support many of these programs such as the Polio Eradication program, the Haitian Health Foundation and Clean Water Projects in South India and Ghana.

Old Saybrook Garden Club Honored by First Selectman

Old Saybrook First Selectman, Carl P. Fortuna, Jr. (center), presents a proclamation to Mary Roche (on his immediate right), president of the Old Saybrook Garden Club, honoring the club’s 60 years of service to the community. Also attending the ceremony were seven former club presidents (left to right): Carol Voigt, Judy Grover, Lee Merritt, Norma Dyson, Erma Gimbel, Dorothy Alexander, and Betty Harris

Old Saybrook’s First Selectman, Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., in a brief ceremony at Town Hall on October 3, presented a proclamation to the Old Saybrook Garden Club in recognition of its 60 years of service to the community. Club president, Mary Roche, received the proclamation on behalf of the club. Also attending were seven former presidents: Dorothy Alexander, Norma Dyson, Erma Gimbel, Judy Grover, Betty Harris, Lee Merritt, and Carol Voigt. Another former president, Lajla Hanes, was unable to attend.

The proclamation reads: “Whereas, the Old Saybrook Garden Club was founded in 1952 by Mrs. Allen Talcott, and is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year; Whereas, the Town of Old Saybrook takes great pride in recognizing the success of the Garden Club and the 36 active members that participate in countless projects that help beautify and enrich our community; Whereas, the Old Saybrook Garden Club contributes financial support by awarding a scholarship of $1,000, each year, to an Old Saybrook High School or college student studying in the field; Whereas, the Garden Club’s signature project is the Main Street Median plantings and every spring members plan, plant and tend the 23 planters and every holiday season decorate with lighted trees and wreaths; Now therefore, I, Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., First Selectman of the Town of Old Saybrook, hereby proclaim my appreciation to the Old Saybrook  Garden Club and honor their volunteerism, commitment and philanthropy to our community. Dated this third day of October, 2012, at Old Saybrook Connecticut.” The framed proclamation is signed by Mr. Fortuna and decorated with a gold seal embossed with the town’s coat-of-arms.
In addition, Mr. Fortuna presented Ms. Roche with a beautiful framed photograph of the Japanese magnolia tree in bloom on the Town Green, where each May the club holds its Gardeners’ Market–the plant sale, tag sale, and bake sale that pays for the club’s many civic projects. The picture is to be passed on to each new club president.

Middlesex Hospital Breaks Ground for New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook

“Shovelers,” left to right, Noel Bishop, First Selectman of Westbrook; Vincent G. Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; Harry Evert, Senior Vice Presidennt, Middlesex Hospital; Christopher Seaton, Chairmain of the Board of Directors, Middlesex Health Systems; Darlene Briggs, Chairwoman, Westbrook Division, Middlesex Chamber of Commerce; and Larry McHugh, President Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop was all smiles at the October 10 official groundbreaking ceremonies of the new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center, scheduled to open in Westbrook in 2014. Bishop should be pleased, because for the past 37 years Middlesex Hospital has been operating its Shoreline Medical Center in neighboring Essex, and now the clinic is moving to Westbrook.

When the Medical Center moves from Essex to Westbrook, it is uncertain as to what the Hospital will do with the Essex facility. A number of possibilities are being assessed.

Worth noting is the fact that both Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna were on hand for the ceremonies. However, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman was unable to attend the celebration.

There was Included in the tent of notables, which had been set up off the Tanger Outlets, were the President and CEO of Middlesex Hospital, the Chairman of its Board of Directors, local Chamber of Commerce executives, among other dignitaries. Also, attending were over a hundred well wishers standing under a breezy tent that protected those present on a blowy and sunny afternoon.

Past History of Middlesex Hospital’s Outreach Medical Services

At the groundbreaking a number of speakers noted that that it was over 40 years ago that Middlesex Hospital made its decision to expand its emergency medical services out into the shoreline communities. In fact, the first “out placing” of emergency medical services by Middlesex Hospital took place in a single small building located along Main Street in Centerbrook.

This facility was a great success, and it demonstrated that there truly was a need for an outreach of emergency medical services along the shoreline. Then, in 1975 the hospital moved its Shoreline Medical Center from Centerbrook to a piece of privately donated land on Westbrook Road in Essex.

The Essex shoreline clinic to be phased out in 2014

Providing emergency medical services will continue to be offered at this Essex location up until the new Medical Center opens. Then, after that all emergency medical services will be provided at the new facility in Westbrook.  The exact of address of the new facility will be will be 250 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook.

A Brand New Chapter for Emergency Medical Care

As the hospital’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Christopher Seaton, put it, “Times have changed.” Or, as the hospital’s President & CEO Vincent G. Capece said, “This is a brand new chapter for high quality, emergency medical care.”

Also, cited by the parade of speakers was the fact that the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook would be 44,000 square feet in size, which is twice the size of the present facility in Essex. Others noted that there will be plenty of parking at the new emergency facility, as well as, perhaps the most obvious advantage of all; the clinic’s location will be very close to Exit 65 on I-95, a heavily traveled Interstate.

87,000 Visits Annually at Essex Clinic

To illustrate the enormous success of the concept of off-site emergency medical care, the Essex facility is now seeing 87,000 patient visits annually. One speaker termed the off-site formula of medical care as, “a humanistic approach to medicine.”

It also appears to be a very profitable approach, one where you can not only double the size of your present facility, but leave enough room on the land to treble the size, if necessary.

While the Speakers Spoke, the Nearby Bulldozers Roared

During the remarks in the tent on the grounds of the Tanger Outlets, just down the road on the right hand side, going towards I-95, there was a huge amount of earth moving going on. Across an expanse of land that was until a week or so ago a heavily forested area, the ground was now being leveled to make way for the new emergency clinic.

The site being cleared for a 44,000 square foot shoreline clinic building in Westbrook

Large boulders, which were just a few days ago were underground, were now stacked up in one gigantic mound. Everything was being done to level a shelf of land for the building that will house Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center.

Giant earth mover that is being used at site of new Shoreline Clinic

Factually speaking, it was here at the construction site, where the first, true groundbreaking took place, perhaps a week or so ago.  Furthermore, the dress of those who participated in this first “groundbreaking” wore work clothes and not business suits, although perhaps a suit or two came by for a brief look.

Still, the vision, and the willingness to take large risks to adopt a new and growing approach to providing medical care, belonged to those who wore the suits and spoke at the ceremonies under the tent up the road from the construction site.

Nine Features for the New Clinic’s Success

As for the nine primary features of this new facility, they were listed on one of the tent walls as follows: 1) Improved location; 2) Double the size of our current facility; 3) Expanded emergency center; 4) Improve patient privacy: 5) Separate entrance to outpatient center; 6) Lab services; 7) Infusion therapy; 8) Expanded radiology services; and 9) Designated Women’s imaging area.

Of this list perhaps the first, “Improved location,” is the most important. The new Westbrook location, although certainly not as desirable for Essex residents, for other shoreline residents, the new location on I-95 will be far more convenient and accessible.
Residents of Old Lyme and Lyme, and even Niantic , now have simply to get on I-95 for quick access to the facility. Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Clinton residents will also have easier access to a facility on I-95. Also, residents in the towns along Route 9, which merges seamlessly into I-95, will also have greater ease of access.

In a way the new location is a “win, win” for almost everyone. The hospital can address increased patient volumes and patients get more accessible medical care in an expanded and more modern facility.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook

Little Fenwick’s Historic Commission Orders Big Time Developer to Lower Posts, and Wins

This story involves a dispute between the Borough of Fenwick Historic Distrcit Commission and a very large, New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr. In the end the Historic Commission won the case, and developer Sciame lost.

In the Fenwick Historic Commission’s review of Sciame’s massive reconstruction of Katherine Hepburn’s former estate, the Historic Commission had one quibble. That was that the two, new granite posts at the entrance to the estate, were simply too high.

Former Katherine Hepburn estate now owned by Frank Sciame

Therefore, the Historic Commission ordered the developer to lower the height of both of the two posts from their  height of 60 inches to a lower height of 48 inches. Sciame duly responded to the Commission’s request — but not exactly in the way that the Commission intended.

How Not to Measure the True Height of Posts

Rather than simply slicing 12 inches off the tops of both posts, Sciame built around the base of the posts, two flower beds, each of which were 12 inches high. Sciame then advised the Historic Commission that he had complied with its order, because if you measured the posts from the top of the flower beds to the top of the posts, the height of both posts was 48 inches.

Furthermore, Sciame told the Historic Commission, if it did not like this way of doing things, it should take him to court. The Fenwick Historic Commission did just that, and the result was a ruling by State Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg that was a “win, win” for the Fenwick Historic Commission.

The Judge in his opinion held, “[T]he most reasonable interpretation of the [Fenwick Historic Commission’s] order [to lower the height of the posts] is that the pillars must be reduced in height such that from the roadbed or whatever location that they are anchored into the ground, the height of the top of the pillar is forty eight inches.” In short, Sciame’s attempt to measure the height of the posts from the top of the flower beds was rejected by the court.

No Fines Imposed Because of Developer’s “Good Faith”

Nevertheless, the Court held at the end of its seven page decision, that, “Because of the good faith dispute over the appropriate interpretation of the [Fenwick Historic Commission’s] order, the court declines to impose fines for non-compliance with the [Fenwick Historic Commission’s] order.”

The Court also ordered compliance with its order, “within 45 days of this judgment.” Since the court’s decision was rendered on August 2, “within 45 days” would mean that the posts should have been shortened by September 16.

Although the developer may have missed the court’s deadline by several days, an inspection on October 6 revealed that both of the posts at the entrance to the estate have been neatly sliced off from the top, and the height of both posts are now 48 inches, from the ground up.

Both gate posts now shortened to 48 inches high

Middlesex Hospital to Hold a Ground Breaking of Its New Westbrook Facility that Will Replace the Shoreline Clinic in Essex

Artist’s rendering of the proposed new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook

Moving rapidly, with its plan to replace its present Shoreline Clinic on Route 153 in Essex with a new facility in Westbrook, Middlesex Hospital will hold a Groundbreaking Ceremony at the Tanger Outlets in Westbrook on Wednesday. October 10 at 4:30 pm for invited guests.  The Tanger Outlets is located at 314 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook.  The new Westbrook facility of Middlesex Hospital will be located just down the road from the Tanger Outlets, which is just off Exit 65 on I-95.

The Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center has been in existence in its current location since 1975, and was the first, freestanding emergency department in the country.

Middlesex Hospital chose to build a new Shoreline Medical Center because the current facility’s size and land is being used to maximum capacity. There is no available space to add needed services, and existing services are being squeezed because treatment areas cannot accommodate all the technology that medicine today demands.  Also, the existing location cannot house an additional structure to “right size” the facility and allow for future expansion.

The new location in Westbrook will address all of these factors, as well as providing convenient access to emergency and diagnostic care for the tens of thousands of patients that use the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center every year.

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop said, “Westbrook is extremely excited that the new clinic will be located here in Westbrook. It is a fantastic opportunity for our town.” Bishop also noted that the Exit 65 location of the new clinic was just across the highway from the State Police station, and that the new medical center, “will be a great service to our [shoreline] communities.”

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said, “The Shoreline Clinic has been a wonderful and positive part of our Essex community for many years, and we are sad to see them move. However, it is our hope that Middlesex Hospital will continue to provide some medical services from their present building here in Essex.”

Linares Renews Call to End “Early Release Program”

Art Linares running for the 33rd district State Senate

Westbrook, CT – - 33rd District Senate Republican candidate Art Linares has renewed his call to end the states early release program.

Linares made his comments in an early morning speech on Saturday after police reported that Joseph Mabery, who had 28 prior convictions and was part of the early release program, was arrested for lewd behavior on a public bus in front of a 14 year old girl in the Middletown area. In a statement later released by his campaign, Linares called upon his opponent Representative Jim Crawford, for the third time, to abandon his support of the program and join his call for Governor Malloy to halt the program. Linares continued by saying that since the program began over 700 early release criminals have committed a crime and have been returned to jail.

“How can Governor Malloy and Jim Crawford still support this program after 700 crimes? What is the number that will make them give up on this failed policy? Will it be 1000, 2000, 5000. How many murders will it take three four five what is the number that will make them start protecting the citizens.”

At the end, Linares said, “The incarceration of prisoners should be left up to Judges and prosecutors and not a bunch of Politicians in Hartford.”

New Fire Department Signs Help Locate Sprinkler System

The Children’s Tree Montessori school in Old Saybrook is the first business in town to post the new fire department stand pipe sign. The new signs will be popping up on businesses all over town to quickly show fire department members where to connect their firetruck to the buildings sprinkler system. For more information please contact the Old Saybrook fire department.

Essex Savings Bank Recycles Income to Non-profits

Essex, CT – Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank announced that non-profit community organizations will receive $102,250 from the Directors’ portion of the Bank’s Community Investment Program.  The Bank annually commits 10% of its after tax net income to qualifying organizations.  In April 2012, the Bank donated $76,698 to 94 non-profits who participated in the customer preference balloting at the Bank.  By year end 2012, $255,665 will have been allocated to over 200 organizations bringing the total distribution since the inception of the program in 1996 to $3,415,552.

The Directors’ portion of the fund will be donated to the following:

Camp Hazen YMCA (Chester)  $2,500

“Night at the Theatre” Benefit Gala to be held November 17, 2012

Camp Hazen YMCA (Chester) $2,500

2013 Healthy Kids Day Sponsor

The Chester Historical Society, Inc. (Chester)  $1,500

Toward underwriting cost of three newsletters and Annual Report.

Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc. (Essex)  $4,000

Toward funding of Agency newsletter and Annual Report.

Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock (Essex)  $2,500

Benefactor Sponsor of the Fall Ball 2012 (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. – Total of $5,000)

The Deep River Historical Society (Deep River) $1,500

Toward mailing of Society’s newsletters and flyers for special activities.

Essex Historical Society (Essex)    $1,500

To fund membership newsletter.

Essex Library Association (Essex) $1,500

Toward costs associated with Strategic Planning Process.

Essex Park & Recreation (Essex) $2,500

Toward Essex Basketball Center Project (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. – Total of $5,000)

Essex Winter Series (Essex)$3,000

Principal Concert Sponsorship.

Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. (ECSI) (Old Saybrook) $2,500

To underwrite portion of mailing expenses for monthly newsletter, “The Estuary Gazette”.

Florence Griswold Museum (Old Lyme) $1,750

“Major Donor” Reception (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. – Total of $3,500)

Florence Griswold Museum (Old Lyme)  $5,000

“The Magic of Christmas” 2012 (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. – Total of $10,000)

Goodspeed Musicals (Chester/East Haddam)$5,000

2012 “Supporting Sponsor” of spring production “Amazing Grace” at the Norma Terris Theatre

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. (Old Lyme) $5,000

2012 Symphony Orchestra New England June 2012 (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. – Total of $10,000)

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. (Old Lyme) $2,000

To assist in underwriting cost of producing printed and electronic newsletters and maintenance and development of website during the 2012-2013 fiscal/academic year.

Ivoryton Village Alliance (Ivoryton/Essex)  $1,500

Assist funding for 2012 Ivoryton Illuminations held in December 2012

Katharine Hapburn Cultural Arts Center & Theatre (Old Saybrook) $5,000

“Producer Sponsor” for venue sponsor 2012-2013

Lawrence & Memorial Hospital (New London) $5,000

Donation to Centennial Campaign

Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc. (Essex)  $1,500

For publishing and mailing quarterly newsletter, “Tutor”.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (Old Lyme)  $5,000

Signature Sponsor of the 2012 PopArts Ball held in June 2012 (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. – Total of $10,000)

Lyme Art Association (Old Lyme)  $1,750

Presenting Sponsor of the 2012 New England Landscape Invitational Exhibition and Primary Sponsor of the Weekly E-Blasts (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. – Total of $3,500)

Lyme Public Library, Inc. (Lyme)  $1,000

To fund annual cost of Library’s newsletter.

Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) (Old Lyme)$4,000

Toward funding of newsletter, “Youth Connections” both printed and on-line.

MacCurdy Salisbury Educational Foundation, Inc. (Old Lyme) $1,500

To fund newsletter, “Evelyn’s Wishes”.

The Madison Historical Society (Madison) $1,500

Toward underwriting costs of publishing the quarterly newsletter.

Middlesex County Community Foundation, Inc. (MCCF) (Middletown) $7,500

“15 Candles Anniversary Celebration – 15 Towns, 15 Years” to be held November 16, 2012 (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. –Total of $15,000)

Middlesex Hospital (Middletown) $5,000

Toward the new Shoreline Medical Center Campaign (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. – Total of $10,000)

Musical Masterworks, Inc. (Old Lyme) $1,250

Concert Co-Sponsor (Co-Sponsor with Essex Financial Services, Inc. Total of $2,500)

The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association, Inc. (Old Lyme) $1,500

For costs associated with two printings and mailings of newsletter.

Strong Center at the Surf Club, Inc. (Madison) $5,000

Toward renovations of the Strong Field at the Surf Club.

Tri-Town Youth Service Bureau, Inc. (Deep River)   $4,000

Toward printing and distribution of three issues of Agency newsletter.

Valley-Shore YMCA (Westbrook) $2,500

Toward sponsorship of  “Healthy Kids Day” 2013

Valley-Shore YMCA (Westbrook) $2,500

Toward the “After school Enrichment Program” for 2012-2013 school year.

Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center (Westbrook/Madison) $1,000

Toward sponsorship for the 2012 Vista Tour de Shore.

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 five offices in Essex (2), 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, are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

The Preserve Comes to Essex – Local Property Owners Take Action to Stop It

Lot 4, the knoll on which developers want a home site, and opponents see unacceptable runoffs

A “Grade A” controversy has broken out over a proposed new development on Ingham Hill Road in Essex. The proposed new development , which is sponsored by the developer of the now- stalled 1,000 acre Preserve in Old Saybrook, River Sound Development LLC, is now seeking to get town approvals for a new 36-acre, six lot development located on Ingham Hill Road in Essex.

Map of Ingham Hill Road development. The Essex/Old Saybrook boundary runs along the bottom

The property to be development in Essex abuts the town’s boundary with Old Saybrook, and it is on the right hand side of Ingham Hill Road, when looking up towards Plains Road (Route 153).

Neighbors Oppose Development

A group of three neighboring property owners on Ingham Hill Road are dead set against the proposed development, and at the August 23rd meeting of the Essex Planning Commission they filled an Intervention Pleading, so as to become a part of the approval process. This pleading was granted by the Planning Commission, which then entertained an almost two hour period for the interveners to make their case against the new development.

The Ingham Hill Road interveners were: Judith Bombaci, Kenneth Bombaci and Suellen McCuin.  The Bombacis are members of a well established family in Essex, and in fact there are no less than fifteen listings under “Bombaci” in the Essex section of YP Shoreline telephone directory. Ms McCuin has been a strong opponent of the development, since it was first announced.

Familiar “Bombaci Tree Experts” road sign on Plains Road.

Extensive Arguments Against the Project

Speakers who spoke in opposition to the Ingham Hill Road development were lead by the interveners’ attorney, Christopher J. Smith of the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin LLP in Hartford. Also, two Certified Professional Wetland Scientists from Rema Ecological Services, LLC,  (REMA), George T. Logan and Sigrun N. Gadwa, spoke against the project among other members of the interveners’ team.

Attorney Smith also submitted to the Planning Commission an “Opposition Packet,” which contained extensive written arguments against the new development, as well as typography charts of the development site prepared by the developer’s own engineer, Doane – Collins Engineering Associates, LLC, and professional biographies of the wetland scientists and Attorney Smith.

Air and Water Pollution Concerns Expressed

“We are in strong opposition to this subdivision,” Attorney Smith said in his testimony at the Essex Planning Commission hearing. “The property has significant natural resources,” he said, including “landmark trees” on the site, some of which are 120 to 140 years old.

Lot 2, the home site that the Essex Wetlands Commission rejected

Also, the interveners’ attorney said that the proposed Ingham Hill Road development, “will have, or is reasonably likely to have, the effect of causing the unreasonable pollution, impairment or destruction of the air, water or other natural resource of the State of Connecticut located on, and off, the subject property…”

In addition, the attorney made the troublesome charge that the developer of the Ingham Hill Road project had not disclosed during its  appearance at an earlier hearing of the Wetlands Commission, the project’s adverse effects from the “substantial clear cutting of landmark trees and vegetation, and site development including a septic system and dwelling immediately upland and in close proximity to an off-site pond and on-site intermittent watercourse …”

This “failure to disclose” charge could be a troubling for the developer, if it were proved that it failed to state significant environmental impacts of the project, which the Wetlands Commission was entitled to hear.  The Wetland Commission in an earlier proceeding approved the building of five of the six home sites proposed on the site, but disapproved of Lot 2 of the development.

Smith’s objections to the project were further amplified in a letter by Rema Ecological Services, LLC, of Manchester, Connecticut (REMA), to the Essex Planning Commission. The REMA letter asserted that “development of the subject property … would result in both short-term and long-term impacts … through sedimentation and surface water quality degradation.”

Spotted Turtles, Wood Frogs and Songbirds at Risk

In addition, the REMA letter asserted that, “Due to the taking of valuable upland habitats, including significant mature trees, and the fragmentation of the landscape, resulting in greatly reduced ecological integrity, wildlife resources at the site would be unreasonably impacted and impaired, including uncommon species such as the spotted turtle, a keystone species, such as the wood frog, and the whole guild of area-sensitive neotropical migrant songbirds.”

Also, REMA wetland scientists wrote that, “water resources, both on-site and off-site, will be impaired both during the construction phase, through erosion and sedimentation, and following it, by impairing surface water quality.”

Bombaci Pond Could Be Adversely Affected   

The REMA testimony mentioned that, “The proposed location of the house in Lot 5 is directly over a natural, frequently flowing stormwater conveyance channel that feeds the Bombaci Pond. The Bombaci Pond is visible from Ingham Hill Road and is an important part of the streetscape.”

Photo of Bombaci Pond. Members of Bombaci family challenged the development

One can speculate that the direct negative impact on the Bombaci Pond may have been a factor in motivating the Bombaci interveners to challenge the proposed development.

In conclusion, the REMA letter said, “With the possible exception of Lot 3, the lots in the proposed conventional subdivision are not feasible, in our professional opinion.”

The Developer’s Response to the Attacks on Its Project

At the conclusion of the presentation by those opposing the new development on Ingham Hill Road, the developer attorney, Brian Smith of the law firm of Robinson & Cole in Hartford, initially appeared to be taken aback by the drum role of hostile testimony against his client’s proposed development.

Smith, who is no relation to the interveners’ attorney, Stephen Smith, said to the Planning Commission that he hoped that he would be given the chance to respond to the attacks against his client’s proposed development at the next meeting of the Planning Commission on September 13. He also said that the developer needed the approval of at least six home sites “to make the project work.” Planning Commission Chairman Tom Danyliw assured Smith that he would be granted an opportunity to be heard at the next Commission hearing.

The 1,000 Acre Preserve Proposal Still Alive

In what turned out to be something of a coda to the hearing on the Ingham Hill Road development, a resident of Old Saybrook, who was at the Essex hearing, said that he wanted to make sure that the Commission understood that the proposed development in Essex was a part of the Preserve sponsor’s larger plan to develop its property in both Essex and Old Saybrook.

Chairman Danyliw treated the citizen intervener courteously, and allowed him to present a quick slide show to buttress his point that the Preserve developer still had long range plans to develop its 1,000 acre site in Old Saybrook, and that this proposed development in Essex, was just a part of this long range plan.

In fact, the interveners’ petition by Attorney Stephen Smith also took  note of the fact the developer’s Essex application, “is part of an overall site development of a 1,000 acre parcel, which involves, in part,  substantial stormwater discharge onto the subject  property and directly or indirectly into a watercourse or intermittent watercourse with a vernal pool habitat,” and, “thereby unreasonably impairing such resources.”

All this shows that in spite of over a decade of disappointments in its effort to develop its 1,000 acre parcel of virgin land in Old Saybrook,  that this attempt to develop its property in Essex, clearly demonstrates that the developer of what was once called the Preserve, has yet to give up, and go away.

Jim Crawford’s Campaign Responds to Partisan Attack

WESTBROOK — Less than 48 hours after the conclusion of Tuesday’s primary elections, Jim Crawford, the Democratic candidate for State Senate from the 33rd District, was hit with a partisan attack from his Republican opponent. The negative statement attempted to begin the general election campaign by making political hay of a recent tragedy in Meriden, CT.

Crawford’s campaign manager David Steuber responded with the following statement:

“It is very disappointing that Mr. Linares has chosen to begin his general election campaign by choosing a partisan attack fueled by the more extreme members of his party, which attempts to score points on a recent tragedy,” Steuber said.

The messaging on the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program began with State Sen. Len Suzio, who promptly had to apologize for racially insensitive language when first making his case on the issue. Suzio also asked for assistance freeing an inmate under the program who was convicted of embezzlement.

“Had Mr. Linares asked ranking Republican leaders who voted for the bill, he would have learned that it saved taxpayers millions in incarceration costs, and actually increased the length of time served by criminals like the Meriden suspect.”

In the Meriden case which Mr. Linares raises, Rep. Crawford’s vote resulted in the accused individual serving more time than he otherwise would have: 91% of his full sentence, rather than only 85% under preexisting law. Ranking Republicans in the General Assembly voted in both the Appropriations Committee and the Judiciary Committee to create the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program.

Forty five of 50 states, including Texas, already have similar cost-saving legislation on the books.

“It’s a shame to see Mr. Linares begin this general election campaign with such a partisan attack. We just finished a very civil, respectful primary this summer. I hope the Republicans will give some consideration to that example for the fall,” said Steuber.

Linares Invites Opponent to Join Call to Suspend Early Release Program

Art Linares, candidate for State Senate in the 33rd district

Art Linares, candidate for State Senate in the 33rd district, last week urged his opponent to join him in asking Governor Dannel Malloy to suspend the early release program for violent criminals.

“The cold-blooded murder of Ibrahim Ghazal on June 27th was tragic proof that early release is a threat to our community,” said Linares.  “Public safety must be the first priority of government.  I urge Governor Malloy to suspend this misguided program immediately, and I urge Representative Crawford to join me in that demand.”

Under the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program, violent felons—including armed robbers, arsonists, terrorists, rapists, and repeat sex offenders—are eligible for early release from prison if they attend certain classes and meet other bureaucratic criteria.  Frank Resto, accused of the murder of Mr. Ghazal, was released under the program, despite a history of violent behavior in prison.

“I don’t know what Representative Crawford was thinking when he voted to let these criminals out early,” said Linares.  “Not only did he support the bill, but he voted against amendments that would have removed sex offenders and violent criminals from the program.

“Whatever his reasoning, now that we’ve seen the results of this policy, it’s time to do the right thing and suspend the program.  Meanwhile we are all in danger, and I honestly believe it’s only a matter of time until early release results in another horrific attack.

“It’s clear that oversight and review required to make such a program work safely simply aren’t in place.  Until that happens—and until the legislature has a chance to revisit the topic next session—we should keep violent criminals behind bars until their sentences are served.

“I believe that’s what the people of this district want—it’s what I will work for as a State Senator, and what I believe has to happen now.”

Friends of Gillette Seeks New Officers

The Friends of Gillette Castle State Park, founded in 1998, needs a new president, some officers, and some committee chairs to continue its work in support of the park and the experiences of the some 200,000 visitors that enjoy it every year.

The next Friends meeting will be at the Castle Visitors Center at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, August 9.

“We have a few general volunteers…but we need to portion out job and task descriptions to prevent too many duties from settling too hard on too few people,” said Friends’ newsletter editor John Stratton. “There are openings in activities like our Gift Shop, membership and website management, grant writing, our biannual Easter egg hunt, and as representatives for the park at events.”

The Friends efforts in past years have included funding for park-maintenance equipment, new display frames and cases, video equipment, and the display-restoration of an electric locomotive once used by Mr. William Gillette on his estate’s railway.

The Friends have also helped support a relationship with the East Haddam Stage Company, which this year has performances of “The Speckled Band,” a 1930 Radio Drama on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, July 7-August 12. In addition, the Friends’ volunteer advisors, Tyke and Teddie Niver, continue to re-enact the role of “Mr. and Mrs. Gillette” at the Castle and other events statewide.

 

Interested individuals are welcome to attend the August 9 meeting, and lend their ideas and assistance to the board.

Saybrook’s McAvoy Scores Hoop Dreams Scholarship

Old Saybrook senior, Kayla McAvoy, was the recipient of one of 12 Madison Hoop Dreams $500 scholarships which will help defray her expenses this fall as a freshman at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Kayla first attended the Madison Hoop Dreams Summer Camp as a fifth grader and continued through school vacation and summer sessions and eventually became part of the staff as an assistant coach and referee. “The combination of Kayla’s personality, intellect, and charm, earned her this scholarship,” stated co-director Bill Barker.

McAvoy, a 6’ center for the Old Saybrook High School Lady Rams, will be bringing to the WPI Lady Engineers an impressive high school record including being one of 5 players in the Lady Rams history to score 1000 points during her high school career.  The administration and staff of Madison Hoop Dreams and her Old Saybrook community wish her the best of luck as she takes this next step in her journey as a student and an athlete.

(Madison Hoop Dreams was founded 19 years ago, and is attended by campers in grades 2-10 from over 20 towns in Connecticut. The camp has become Connecticut’s most popular basketball day camp. Six years ago, the camp’s co-director Bill Barker, began awarding college scholarships and other charitable gifts from the camp’s profits.  At this point over $60,000.00 has been dispersed.)

Old Saybrook Garden Club Awards Scholarship

Betty O’Brien (left), Scholarship Chairman of the Old Saybrook Garden Club, awards the club’s 2012 prize to UConn freshman, Deanna Willbanks.

Deanna Willbanks, an environmental science major at the University of Connecticut, has been named the winner of the Old Saybrook Garden Club’s 2012 scholarship. Ms. Willbanks, a 2011 graduate of Old  Saybrook High School, earned a 3.92 grade-point average in her first semester at UConn while taking chemistry, calculus 2, and oceanography, among other courses–and while paying her own way through college and participating in many extra-curricular activities. “I am strongly interested in chemical waste disposal and toxicology,” says this high-achieving young woman, “…and hope my degree will lead  to a job with the DEP [Department of Environmental Quality] or the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency].”

The Old Saybrook Garden Club awards a $1,000 scholarship each year to an Old Saybrook resident who is studying or planning to study botany, city planning, conservation, forestry, horticulture, land management, landscape design, or environmental science at an accredited two- or four-year college of university.

Double Eagle Ceremony at Essex Troop 12

Dan Wohlmuth, left, of Essex and Gabriel Bacewicz of Old Saybrook are all smiles as they share the duties of cutting the cake after both were recognized for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout at Essex Troop 12 BSA during a recent ceremony at Centerbrook Meeting House. (Tony Bacewicz Photo)

Boy Scouts of America Troop 12 of Essex recently held a Court of Honor recognizing Gabriel A. Bacewicz and Daniel A.Wohlmuth who both attained the rank of Eagle Scout this year.  The event took place at Centerbrook Meeting House on June 29th and was attended by State Representative Philip J. Miller, State Representative Marilyn Giuliano, Selectman for the Town of Old Saybrook Scott Giegrich and BSA Mattabesett Trail District Advancement Representative Thomas Jump.

Scoutmaster John McGirr presided over the ceremony that was well attended by Troop 12 scouts, family members and friends.

Daniel Wohlmuth, son of Rosa and Carl Wohlmuth of Essex planned and supervised construction of an equestrian bridge at Cockaponset State Forest replacing a previous bridge that had been flooded out by beaver activity. The 32 foot long bridge was constructed with more than 200 volunteer hours and required multiple supports across a running stream to support the weight of a horse and rider. The bridge now enables both horse riders and hikers to traverse the trail without having to ford the stream. Dan is a class of 2012 graduate of Xavier High School and is enrolled at the University of Connecticut where he will pursue a degree in engineering.

Gabriel Bacewicz, son of Juliann and Anthony Bacewicz of Old Saybrook supervised the construction of a greenhouse and garden beds at the John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River that now serves the school’s food and life science programs and is being used by local Girl Scouts to raise vegetables for the local soup kitchen. Gabe is a class of 2012 graduate of Old Saybrook High School and will begin studies in music education at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music this fall.

Ed Munster Endorses Art Linares for State Senate

Art Linares running for the 33rd district State Senate

The last Republican Senator to serve the people of the 33rd district, Ed Munster has announced his support for Art Linares of Westbrook CT for the position he once held. Calling Linares the future of the Republican Party, Munster called upon his former constituents to join the campaign and donate to Linares who is in the process of raising money for his campaign in November.

Munster, a former Congressional candidate, who came very close to winning the election in 1994, made his opinion known in a letter to the Linares campaign earlier this week. He called upon all Republicans to rally behind Linares who is seeking the Senate office for the first time.  Linares is a confident, intelligent and dynamic candidate who can think outside the box and bring a different way of thinking to Hartford. He is a strong and hardworking candidate who has the best chance of winning the Senate seat for the first time in a long time, according to Munster.  Linares in a phone conversation thanked Munster for his support and asked Munster for continued  advice going into November.

Linares is the founder of Green Skies energy in Middletown and is a former aide to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, working in his Washington DC office until this past December.

For more information Contact: Ben Mitchell Presssecretary@artlinares.com

Perfect Timing for Discussion of Dire Events in Egypt at Foreign Policy Forum in Old Lyme

Dr. Steven Cook of the Council for Foreign Relations, who spoke about Egypt

The timing could not have been more perfect. The very day that the Southeast Connecticut Committee on Foreign Relations (“SECCFR”) held its regular monthly meeting featuring a speaker on Egypt, the Supreme Court of that country dissolved the Egyptian parliament.

The Egypt specialist, who addressed SECCFR that afternoon on June 14, was Dr. Steven Cook, a nationally recognized expert on Egypt and the new Middle East. Dr. Cook is presently the Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Also, he has an upcoming new book is entitled, “The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square,” to be published by the Oxford University Press. However, because of the rapidly changing events in Egypt, Dr. Cook said that he has had to update his book, constantly, before it before it goes to press.

In his remarks Dr. Cook also admitted that his wife has been complaining lately that he has been spending too much time in Tahrir Square in Cairo rather than at their home in Washington.

A Pessimistic Outlook for Egypt

In his remarks before an audience of over hundred persons in a meeting room at the First Congregational Church in Old Lyme, Dr. Cook was generally pessimistic about the present political climate in Egypt, a country that is the largest nation by far in the Middle East. He said that these days only two groups hold real political power in Egypt. They are: (1) the military generals left in place from President Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years of rule, and (2) a newly empowered Muslim Brotherhood Party with an Islamist agenda.

Audience at SECCFR meeting in Old Lyme

This in turn has left little room in the nation’s political power structure for a Western-leaning, democratic center, a development which Dr. Cook feels is very unfortunate.

As for the format of Dr. Cook’s remarks, he followed the custom at SECCFR meetings by limiting his remarks to one hour. The first half hour he spoke from notes as to the current situation in Egypt, and in the second half hour he answered questions from the audience.

Informal discussion with Dr. Cook after the meeting

Also, as is customary after the formal meeting of the group, Dr. Cook and a couple dozen of SECCFR members went out to dinner at a local restaurant for informal discussions.

Local Business Leaders Direct SECCFR

The Chairman of SECCFR is Rowland Ballek. Ballek is a familiar business figure along the Connecticut shoreline, having recently retired as Chairman of the Essex Savings Bank. As for SECCFR in Ballek’s view, “People are very interested world affairs, especially recent developments.”

Chairman Rowland Ballek and Executive Director Bill Chatman of SECCFR

To satisfy this interest, since 1999 the organization has been holding regular meetings which feature presentations by foreign policy specialists. The forums are generally held monthly, except in July and August.

The Executive Director of SECCFR is another retired business leader. He is Bill Chatman, who is a former CEO and Managing Director of Foster Wheeler Limited, an Engineering Contracting company based in the United Kingdom.  At SECCFR, Chatman’s job is to find and invite the speakers who address the monthly meetings of the group. Chatman sees the mission of SECCFR, “to try to educate people about what is going on in the world outside the United States.”

In addition to Ballek and Chatman, the Secretary of SECCFR is Martha Gibson, PhD. About SECCFR she says, “It is rare to have a local venue that offers an interactive forum on critical foreign affairs,” adding, “I am amazed by the array of backgrounds among our members.”

The Group’s Mission Statement

SECCFR’s mission statement notes that the group’s “principal activity is to provide a forum for non-partisan, no-advocacy dialogue between its members and eminent speakers on foreign relations.” It also states,   “SECCFR is committed to hosting the widest possible range of views while advocating none. By maintaining a reputation for impartiality, the Committee facilitates civil discussion on issues that bear directly on American’s global interests.”

The speakers that addressed SECCFR meetings during the fall 2011 and through the spring of 2012 are typical. SECCFR meetings are both at the church in Old Lyme, as well as on-campus at Connecticut College in New London.

Recent Speakers at SECCFR Meetings

Last September a former U.S. Ambassador, Kenneth Brill, spoke on, “The Breakdown of American Diplomatic Effectiveness.”

Then in October another former Ambassador, Wayne L. Cutler, spoke on developments in North African and the Arabian Peninsula.

In November Dr. Joel Sokolsky addressed the group on Canadian and American security interests, and in December, foreign policy specialist, Wayne Merry, spoke on the provocative theme, “Back to the European Drawing Board” regarding “the German Question” and “America’s Trans-Atlantic Role.”

After skipping the next month, in February SECCFR members heard remarks by Dr. Mohsen M. Milani, Chair of a Florida university’s Government and International Affairs Department, who spoke of a possible change in U.S. policy towards Iran’s building a nuclear weapon.

This was followed in March by remarks by Linda Chatman Thomsen, Esp., a former Director of the Division of Enforcement at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, who spoke on U.S. laws that regulate American businesses in foreign markets.

At the April meeting Ambassador Morton Abramowitz spoke on, “Turkey: New Myths, New Realities.”  The speaker is a former President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Then at the May meeting the speaker was Professor Shelly Rigger, who spoke about the importance of Taiwan and its relationship to China. The speaker is fluent in Chinese, and she holds a doctorate in Government from Harvard University.

SECCFR Never Pays Speakers’ Fees

SECCFR has a policy of not paying speakers’ fees. However, it does reimburse speakers for their incidental expenses, such as lodging and travel expenses.

As for those persons who wish to become members of SECCFR, the regular membership is $125 a year, and there are associate and student memberships at a lower rate. Also, any person interested in joining is invited attend two of the organization’s meetings without charge to see if they would like to join.

Those interested in becoming a member of SECCFR should contact the group’s Secretary, Martha Gibson, PhD. She can be reached at her office at Merrill Wealth Management, 100 Eugene O’Neill Drive, New London, CT  06320-6402; or by telephone at 860-447-7400.

Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Awards $8,000 in Local Scholarships


OLD SAYBROOK, CT-  
Eight local high school seniors are each receiving a helping hand for college in the form of a $1,000 scholarship from the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber’s C. Wilfred Hunter Memorial Scholarship recognizes students who have demonstrated academic achievement and a commitment to community service. This year’s local scholarship winners are:

Spencer Arbige, of Old Saybrook High School;

Jazmin Gulliksen, of Old Saybrook High School;

Isabella Jacobsen, of Old Saybrook High School;

Nora McNeil, of Old Saybrook High School;

Samantha Regan, of Old Saybrook High School;

Brittany Rosser, of Old Saybrook High School;

Meaghan Senack, of Old Saybrook High School; and

Brianna Grills, of Waterford High School.

“The Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce is proud to award eight $1,000 scholarships to such outstanding students as they prepare for the next step in their educational careers,” said Kristen Roberts, President of the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Scholarship Committee Chairperson.  “We wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.”

Each year, the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce accepts nominations from residents of Old Saybrook and children or employees of Chamber members who are graduating from public or private high school.  Students are selected based on academic achievement and community service.

Proceeds from the Chamber’s annual Chili Festival, sponsored by Guilford Savings Bank, fund the scholarship program.  This year, the Chamber was planning to award four $1,000 scholarships and thanks to a matching grant from David Adams, owner of Saybrook Junction, the Chamber was able to double the amount of scholarship recipients and award a total of eight $1,000 scholarships.

“We are so pleased to be able to help so many students this year through the generosity of one of our Chamber members, Saybrook Junction,” said Judy Sullivan, Executive Director of the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce, “The applicant pool was very impressive and  these students deserve recognition for the achievements.”

For more information about the Old Saybrook of Commerce and its programs, visit www.oldsaybrookchamber.com.

About the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber is a member driven organization dedicated to enhancing the economic vitality and quality of life in Old Saybrook and its surrounding communities.

 

American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Grants for Mature Women

The Lower Connecticut Valley Branch of AAUW is offering educational grants to mature women who are pursuing an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree. The grant is a minimum of $500 per semester. Applicants must be 21 or older, have a high school diploma or equivalent, be enrolled or anticipating being enrolled in an accredited degree granting college or university program and be residents of the towns served by our branch (Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook).

Recipients will be chosen on the basis of goals, performance and financial need. All awards are conditional on proof of registration. Applications must be postmarked by June 30 and decisions will be announced by August 15th.

Applications and information may be requested from Jane Kelly (860)581-8256 or Rose Petersen (860)434-432 or by email to aauwlcv@gmail.com.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. AAUW has a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches, and 500 college/university institutional partners. Since its founding 130 years ago, members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. AAUW’s commitment to educational equity is reflected in its public policy advocacy, community programs, leadership development, conventions and conferences, national partnerships, and international connections.  For membership information about the Lower Connecticut Valley branch, contact Liz Wessoleck (860)399-9615 or Deb Rie (860)399-0664.

Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily Announces Retirement

Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook

AREAWIDE–  Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook announced Tuesday that she will not seek a new term in the Nov. 6 election, throwing open the race in the 12-town district Daily has represented for ten terms.

Daily’s decision to retire, which comes after she had formed a 2012 candidate committee earlier this year, was confirmed only one week before the Democrats district nominating convention on Monday in Essex. A former first selectwoman of Westbrook, Daily has represented the large district since 1992, defeating a series of Republican challengers by wide margins in each legislative election.

The district currently includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook. During portions of Daily’s tenure, Durham, Killingworth and Marlborough were also in the district.

Lon Seidman, an Essex resident who serves as a Democratic State Central Committee representative for the 33rd  District, said more than one prospective candidate is likely at the nominating convention where he is expected to serve as convention chairman. “We want to make sure it’s a fair and open process,” he said. Seidman, who serves on the Essex Board of Education, said he would not be a candidate for the senate seat.

One likely candidate is 36th District State Representative Phil Miller of Essex. A former first selectman of Essex, Miller won the seat representing Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam, in a February 2011 special election. A longer serving legislator in the district is State Representative Linda Orange of Colchester, who has represented Colchester and abutting towns, including East Haddam, since 1997.

District Republicans have set up a likely Aug. 14 primary contest for the party nomination after Neil Nichols of Essex, the unsuccessful GOP challenger to Daily in 2010, edged 23-year-old newcomer Art Linares of Westbrook on a 24-22 delegate vote at the party nominating convention Monday.  Nichols Tuesday wished Daily well, recalling that he and Daily had each run positive campaigns in their 2010 contest that Daily won by 3,818 votes. “I respected her enough that I concentrated on the issues,” Nichols said.

There will also be a Green Party candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot. Melissa Schlag of Haddam, an opponent of the controversial but now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that Daily supported last year. Schlag has the Green Party ballot line and is currently collecting petition signatures in an effort to qualify for public financing for her third party campaign.

See related Press Release:  Sen. Daily to Retire from Legislature upon Completion of Current Term

 

Sen. Daily to Retire from Legislature upon Completion of Current Term

Hartford – State Senator Eileen M. Daily (D-Westbrook) today announced her intention to retire from the General Assembly upon completion of her current term. Senator Daily has prepared a letter for political allies, supporters, and delegates to next week’s 33 rd Senatorial District nominating convention explaining she will not stand for re-election this year.

Senator Daily has represented the towns and residents of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook in the state Senate since 1993. Senator Daily is a former First Selectman of Westbrook and prior to that served on its Board of Education.

“Replacement and renewal are integral to the revitalization of any institution,” Senator Daily said. “In the past year holding office has become more physically demanding for me and it would be difficult to initiate a re-election campaign. I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, endured chemotherapy and associated treatment, and am presently recuperating from a broken ankle.”

“During the last weeks of this session I was challenged to maintain the pace required at the Capitol. As I review my 20-year tenure and consider the future I’ve settled on this plan with complete confidence that it’s time for another voice to speak for this district,” Senator Daily said. “I am also literally blessed with a loving husband and family – Jim and I eagerly look forward to spending more time with our children and grandchildren.”

While in office Senator Daily co-authored breakthrough legislation creating the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP), through which grants are available for large-scale public works projects that might be otherwise unaffordable for small towns. Senator Daily also co-authored legislation creating a fund for open space acquisition statewide, and was instrumental in preserving many acres of open space in her district.

Senator Daily identified completion of several short and long-term projects among the many gratifying instances of bringing state resources to bear in her district:

  • Sediment detention and ice control in a federal/state Salmon River Flood Control Project.
  • Inclusion of the beautiful Eight Mile River Watershed within the national Wild and Scenic River program.
  • A comprehensive, federal/state dredging project for the Westbrook harbor, announced earlier this spring, to begin next fall.
  • Acquisition of property in Haddam for new athletic and recreational fields.
  • Grants to 33rd District towns through STEAP for infrastructure improvement.

“Connecticut’s 33rd Senatorial District is home to some of the most beautiful natural treasures our state has to share and its voters have repeatedly given me the distinction and decidedly good fortune to advocate for this area all this time,” Senator Daily said. “Nevertheless the day-to-day opportunity I’ve had to serve and help constituents overshadows successful completion of these public works projects and policy initiatives.”

Senator Daily said her office remains open and available, as always, to help municipal government officials and constituents.

Lajla Hanes of the Old Saybrook Garden Club Works with Old and Young

Lajla Hanes, Senior Outreach Chairman (and Youth Coordinator) of the Old Saybrook Garden Club is shown in the Esturary Council of Senior's dining room, which is set up for the "Tea by the Sea" fundraiser.

Old Saybrook Garden Club’s Senior Outreach Chair, Lajla Hanes, is a treasured volunteer around the Estuary Council of Seniors in Old Saybrook. She began working there to assist her husband, Stuart, who is the local coordinator for the AARP Tax Aide program. One day she happened to mention that she had to do some flower arrangements and immediately the staff convinced her to put her design talents to work for the Senior Center .

Lajla conducts floral-design classes for seniors several times a year and oversees the decorations at the Estuary Council’s fundraisers. For the April “Tea by the Sea” event she also created three floral designs featuring teapots full of roses that were among items included in a raffle. Upcoming fundraisers will include a Painted Chairs Auction on June 3, “Wine by the Water” August 9, and “Autumn on the Dock” in September. For all of these events Ms. Hanes will lend her design skills, hard work, and enthusiasm. “We love Lajla,” says  Sandy Hart, Development Director, “she inspires us all.”

Indeed, Lajla. Hanes is truly a woman for all seasons: In addition to serving as the the garden club’s Senior Outreach Chairman, she is also the club’s Youth Coordinator and directs the “Sprouts” volunteers who present programs at Goodwin Elementary School. “Sometimes, when I get up in the morning,” says Lajla, “I can’t remember if I’m a first grader or an old lady!”

Diabetes Care Program Available on the Shoreline

Local shoreline residents can take advantage of diabetes care services offered by Middlesex Hospital, at a new location at the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center, 260 Westbrook Road, Route 153, in Essex.

The Middlesex Hospital Diabetes Care Program is designed to help all people with diabetes better manage their disease. Services include individual counseling by a registered dietitian/certified diabetes educator about healthy eating for weight management and blood sugar control; insulin administration; taking medications; being active and managing risks and problem-solving related to diabetes.

The program is based on the national standards for diabetes self-management education programs and is recognized by the American Diabetes Association and is accredited by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA). There is a fee for the services, but Medicare and most insurances cover services for diabetes education with the customary copay.

For more information about the Middlesex Hospital Diabetes Care Program in Essex, call (860) 358-3003.