Thursday, March 23, 2017

Join us for a Free Screening of the Film, Racing to Zero, April 3, 2017

The next film in The Elements: An Annual Environment Film SeriesRacing to Zero, will be shown on April 3, 2017, at Middlesex Community College Founders Hall Pavilion (map, directions and public transportation information). The screening will begin at 7 pm, but we invite people to come at 6:30 pm for BYO dinner and conversation. As always, the film is free of charge and open to the public.  
Racing To Zero is about San Francisco’s efforts to achieve zero waste by 2020. As indicated on the film's website, this quick-moving, upbeat documentary presents new solutions to the global problem of waste. By substituting the word RESOURCE for the word GARBAGE, a culture can be transformed, and a new wealth of industries can emerge. Three years ago the mayor of San Francisco pledged to achieve zero waste by 2020. Racing To Zero tracks the City’s waste stream diversion tactics and presents innovative new solutions to waste...documenting a surprising, engaging and inspiring race to zero.

We welcome everyone to stay after the film for an informal post-film discussion led by Kim O'Rourke, Middletown's Recycling Coordinator.  

We hope you can join us! Please phone our office at 860-346-3282 for more information.
The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment. Racing to Zero is the ninth film in the series. Previous films include: Elemental, Watershed, Dirt! The Movie, Chasing Ice, The End of the Line, The True Cost, Dukale's Dream, Xmas Without China, and Merchants of Doubt.

First Church In Middletown, Open and Affirming

Decisive Moment, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, 1932.

First Church in Middletown
190 Court Street
Middletown, CT

Taking the Leap

ARE YOU LOOKING for a church home? a meaningful Sunday morning experience? another way to serve God and your community? First Church in Middletown is a soulful and creative community with links to many state and local organizations and community service and volunteer groups.

Our Sunday services are a blend of tradition and innovation, with Rev. Julia Burkey leading worship and shepherding First Church into its 350th year, informed by 21st-century ideals and outlook. Participation in community services, special music—bell choir and choral singing, on-site childcare, Sunday School, weekly youth gatherings, and occasional retreat and camping experiences are just some of our ongoing programs.

We hope you will reflect on quality of life and community and consider coming to one of our services for a little Sunday morning boost—a fresh look at ancient traditions, a breath of fresh air. Coffee hour and second hour discussion feature timely topics.

First Church in Middletown is at 190 Court Street; there is plenty of free parking nearby. For additional information about First Church services or programs, call the church’s office manager at 860-346-6657.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ Moses!!

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week 




Color:Grey Tabby

Age:5 years old

Hey, I'm Moses! I lived in a feral colony the past few years as someone no longer wanted me which makes me so confused because I am a sweet boy.  I don’t know if they didn’t like my squinty eyes but I think they make me look adorable and they cause me no problems at all.  They make me unique!  I am a huge fan of belly rubs – they are like the best thing in the world!  I think attention and getting pet is awesome, so I really would love to have a home where I am the only pet so I can soak up all the love without sharing – this even includes small humans, they are kind of scary and take away time for belly rubs!  Please open up your heart and home to me. 

No Cats / No Dogs / No Children

Phone:  (860) 344-9043
Email:  ​​
See our commercial!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Former Senator Bob Dole Named to Honorary Board for Letter from Italy, 1944 Project

From The Greater Middletown Chorale.


Former Senator and Army Lieutenant Bob Dole, a WWII combat veteran of the 10th Mountain Division, is one of several prominent individuals named to the Honorary Board for the Hartford Premiere of Letter from Italy, 1944. The performance of this oratorio will feature the combined voices of GMChorale and Hartford Chorale, with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, at The Bushnell on Thursday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m. TICKETS.

The story of Dr. John K. Meneely, a WWII combat medic in the Army’s fabled 10th Mountain Division, who returned home suffering from what is now termed PTSD, inspired Letter from Italy, 1944. Commissioned by GMChorale and created by his daughters, composer Sarah Meneely Kyder and librettist Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely, the moving and powerful oratorio was first performed in our city in 2013.

In the words of Senator Dole, ”The experiences and struggles in the mountains of Italy of this courageous and admirable man parallel my own experiences during WWII as a member, as was Dr. Meneely, of the 10th Mountain Division. Thank you for giving me the honor of participating in this most impressive and important endeavor.”

Other members of the Honorary Board include representatives and residents of our city: U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, CT State Senator Len Suzio, Mayor Daniel Drew, resident and Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh, and Wesleyan Professor of History Ronald Schatz.

In preparation for the Hartford Premiere of Letter from Italy, 1944, a series of eight Community Conversations will be featured:

  • A lecture by Dr. John H. Warner, Yale University, entitled “Mental Health, the Media, and the U.S. Veteran: Historical Perspectives on PTSD/Military." 
  • A screening of the 2016 Emmy Award-winning documentary narrated by Meryl Streep, “Letter from Italy, 1944: A New American Oratorio.” 
  • A screening of the documentary followed by Conversation with Dr. James Marinchak, VA Connecticut Healthcare System. 
  • Exhibition: “Letter from Italy, 1944: Original Sources,” with Meneely Collection photos, letters, 10th Mountain Division artifacts, poetry and scores used in the oratorio’s creation. 
  • Presentation, “Letter from Italy, 1944: A Musical Moment,” by Jack Anthony Pott, tenor lead soloist, and Joseph D’Eugenio, Production Director. 
  • A Three Lecture Series, “Transforming the Silence,” will be presented at University of Hartford’s Presidents’ College. Fee for the series is $80 ($65 for Fellows). Register HERE
  1. A screening of the 2016 Emmy Award-winning documentary, “Letter from Italy, 1944: A New American Oratorio,” followed by Conversation with Filmmaker Karyl Evans. 
  2. Poet and Librettist Nancy Meneely will read her poetry used for the oratorio with slide projections and music. Composer Sarah Meneely-Kyder joins her sister for Conversation with the audience. 
  3. A lecture, “Looking at PTSD,” presented by Dr. Jason DeViva, VA Connecticut Healthcare’s PTSD and Anxiety Disorders Program. 

These Community Conversations will be presented between March 2 and April 6, except for the exhibit, which will be ongoing from April 1 to May 30. Visit for information on the dates, times and places.

Letter from Italy, 1944 — a soldier’s story told in music — is indeed most timely as our nation strives to understand and address our veterans’ struggles with the emotional consequences of war, known as PTSD. In the words of Elaine Lowry Brye (Be Safe, Love Mom. PublicAffairs, 2015), “... it is clear, as we look at the alarming numbers of soldier’s suicides and lives torn apart by substance abuse, violence, and emotional instability, that we need a war on brain injury and emotional trauma.” Please join us to learn more about this national crisis and the Letter from Italy, 1944 project.

The Hartford Premiere of Letter from Italy, 1944 is being made possible, in part, by The Richard P. Garmany Fund and The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, with additional support from The William and Alice Mortensen Foundation and The Greater Hartford Arts Council.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

By Pouring Milk Into An Ice Cube Tray, She Created a Genius Life Hack--The Colonel Carries On # 75

by Claire O’Claddagh and Theresa FitzFiddlesticks

Epigraph: “I am big -- it’s the pictures that got small.” --Norma Desmond

I don’t know what the genius life hack was, but my best speculation is milk ice cubes, to put into a glass of scotch, to make a nice cold scotch and milk, with an incentive to down the drink before the cubes melt too much. Who volunteers to test the idea?

Ice cube trays should be designed to double as egg cartons.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

CANCELED: Public Information Session on Eversource Right-of-Way Management in Middletown

UPDATE, March 15: The Eversource Vegetation Management Public Information Session scheduled for this evening at 6:00 has been CANCELED due to conflicts associated with yesterday’s snowstorm. The meeting will be rescheduled to a later date and notice posted accordingly.

 On March 15, 2017, from 6:00 to 7:00, the City will host a public information session with Eversource concerning right-of-way management.  The goal of the session is to help educate the public on Eversource’s vegetation and right-of-way management best practices used on the transmission corridors here in Connecticut.  Representatives from Eversource’s Vegetation Management and Environmental Licensing & Permitting teams will be making a presentation and answering questions. The City looks forward to an open dialogue between residents and Eversource. The event will be held in the Council Chambers of City Hall located at 245 deKoven Drive.

For more information, please contact Michelle Ford, Middletown Planning, Conservation and Development Department, at (860) 344-3401, or

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Case Against Noise

Opinion, submitted by Sarah Frost
For the number of people walking around with buds stuck in their ears, there should be no audience of consumers left to hear the blather of advertising and music that are projected onto the city of Middletown every day. It is nearly impossible to go about an average day without some audio intrusion.

I am not talking about the everyday city life noises: vehicles, “walk sign is on” alerts, sirens, horns, construction, church bells, etc. I am talking about the carefully placed intrusions of video screens at gas station pumps, music piped from buildings or restaurants on to sidewalks, and city-sanctioned canned music at the South Green.

About eighteen months ago, Middletown installed black posts along the walkways and sidewalks of the South Green that are a combination of low-level LED lights for illumination and speakers to broadcast soft music 14 hours every day. Canned music does not belong on the South Green. This oasis is surrounded by the hospital, Wesleyan, various offices and businesses – places that employ people who might like to leave their office at lunch time to find quiet time in the park. That is no longer possible.

Public Works Director, Bill Russo explained the lights were added after area residents complained of poor lighting in the park and the adjoining crosswalks. The idea of the music was to create a calming atmosphere while at the same time creating noise. “People don’t like noise,” Russo said. Exactly! People don’t like noise, especially excessive, inorganic noise, in parks.

Spending time outdoors can contribute to a plethora of good feelings, from relief of depression and stress symptoms to simply experiencing a bit of nature and feeling revived and refreshed. I would argue that outdoor time should be quiet time. When I go to a park, I want to observe and listen to the  sounds of nature -- the twitter of live birds, scampering squirrels and people-watching. If I choose to listen to music, I prefer it to be my musical choice for my ears only, not that which someone else has decided I should be subjected.

From a safety standpoint, Russo said the noise deters unwanted behavior, such as loitering, or other unruly actions. I understand that. Music is also played in the pedestrian tunnel that runs under Route 9 from Melilli Plaza to Harbor Park. In this confined space, were I to linger longer than required to simply traverse from point A to point B, the noise would certainly reverberate and echo enough to drive me away.

From a marketing standpoint, I understand the video screens at gas pumps. With the pay-at-thepump revolution, convenience store owners want to lure customers inside. Music broadcast across the entire span of the establishment will include plugs for the store’s specials, and videos will play to a captive audience, ostensibly offering news updates disguised as advertising.

And I understand outdoor music at restaurants, especially those with sidewalk seating. Although, one might argue the City’s tactic of music as noise may actually deter patrons from restaurants. I think of Eli Cannon’s, which blasts music into the North End and through the closed windows of passing cars. (The subtle “background noise” at Amici’s is just about perfect. Barely discernible, it actually does enhance the dining experience, since it is possible to have a normal-volume conversation while dining.)

From an aesthetic standpoint, I cannot understand canned music on the South Green. A place set aside years ago for public gathering, it generates its own entertainment, from games of Frisbee to family picnics to occasional buskers. People go to the park for entertainment, not to be entertained.

We are a society of short attention spans and an expectation of outside stimulation, as though if left to our own devices we could not figure out how to pass an hour sitting on a park bench. Some people do not want to be alone with their own thoughts, but some of us relish that time. I relish that time. That time when I simply experience my surroundings, absorbing the no-ad, no-music moments.
John Grossmann and Gordon Hempton, co-authors of the book “One Square Inch of Silence” have said, “Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything.”

Music is wonderful and inspiring and healing, but please, keep it out of parks meant to give us natural respite. The sounds of the city are hard to escape, but if we keep piling on the noise, pretty soon it might all become one big din, too much to digest and it will eat away at our own inner silence.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wesleyan to Expel All Male Undergraduates, Ending Experiment in Coeducation -- The Colonel Carries On #74

By Lyre L. Panzonfahr

Epigraph: “[Gosh darn] mother[loving] men in Congress -- they should all be taken out, [emascul]ated, and shot.” --Jarna Shrile

"'Eye mite knead sum knew shoos four Jim,' Harry tolled hour Ant An." Spellcheck hasn’t a care in the world about the previous sentence.

What your lawyer won’t tell you. Common legal typos: statue for statute, pubic for public, contact for contract, Easter District for Eastern District, fist for first, noting for nothing, clam for claim, feral for federal, properly for property (and vice versa), band for bank (and vice versa), latches for laches, supercede for supersede, set froth for set forth, discreet for discrete, singer for signer, trail for trial, Untied for United, plenty for penalty.

What do I make of that? “Fist National Band of the Untied States” (FINBOTUS) They play loose-limbed rockabilly.

Relatedly, I like The Band of Middletown, whom the cognoscenti call T-BOM. The lead singer is the, um, outspoken Jarna Shrile.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Milardo Questions the Nomination of Mayor's Chief of Staff to Planning Position

COMMENTARY  by John Milardo
This is an opinion piece originally published in an occasional newsletter, "And Justice For All," by a former longtime Middletown city employee, union member and union representative. Statements made in this commentary are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of other editors and authors whose work appears here.
According to Mayor Dan Drew‘s statement, his nominee appointment for the Director of Planning, Conservation & Development will take place Monday, April 3rd Common Council meeting.  The General Counsel Commission will take up the topic prior to the Common Council on Thursday March 9 in City Hall Conference Room 208.  There are issues related to this appointment which need to be looked into for transparency reasons and public scrutiny.
Ÿ  How did the City advertise for this vacancy?  Locally, nationally, periodicals, electronically, City website only?
Ÿ  How did the Mayor’s nominee qualify for this job without any of the educational minimum requirements?
Ÿ  Did the nominee apply for this position as prescribed by the City of Middletown Personnel Rules, Charter and Ordinance, and Civil Service guidelines?
Ÿ  Was the interview panel made up of individuals from the Planning, Zoning, and Conservation field?
Ÿ  Who were the individuals on the interview panel and what was the process?

Ÿ  Reportedly the Mayor’s nominee participated and/or was an observer during interviews of the qualified applicants? 

This is a huge problem if in fact it is true.  It would have given him an unfair advantage over anyone else if he applied and was interviewed by the very same panel. 
Basically, it would be like an open book test.  Nice to have someone else give you the answers needed for your test.
Ÿ  If the Mayor’s nominee was interviewed, was it by the same panel and same criteria as the other applicants which the nominee may have been in attendance? 
Or, was it at a subsequent meeting with the Mayor and someone else?
Ÿ  Did any of the applicants qualify (pass the test) and get placed on the City’s “Eligibility List”, which was sent to the Mayor for review and/or appointment?
Ÿ  If none of the applicants qualified and there was no “Eligibility List”, why wasn’t the position advertised again publicly?  
The Mayor has recommended the reduction of minimum qualifications for the current job description.  He wants to eliminate language in the original job description (“Economic or a related field with Master’s level course in the field”) as well as (“with 5 years of urban planning/conservation/development experience”).  The Mayor also wants to eliminate the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification requirement in the current job description. He wants to change it from having the certification prior to hiring, to being able to earn it within so many years after being appointed to the Directorship.  In addition to the Mayor’s nominee lack of educational requirements, he also does not possess his AICP certification, as other candidates were required to have.
If the recommended job changes are approved, it would change everything!  First of all, in fairness to all applicants, you would make job description changes before posting a job, not after appointing or nominating an individual.  Many more professionals in the Planning world will be qualified to apply for this job if the requirements are changed.  The position should be re-advertised publicly with the new changes, and another test given to all new and old qualified applicants.  
Also, if you are modifying (reducing) educational and certification requirements, how is it that the position retains the same pay grade?  Should the salary not be reduced?
These are some of the questions which need to be addressed.  
In local news reports here and here the Mayor was reported as saying that  his Chief of Staff was part of ALL City projects is ridiculous!  Was he involved in every variance and resident request - in every commercial/industrial request?  
I don’t think so.  I’m sure every Mayor wants to be apprised of significant projects coming into town, but to say "He's been a critical player in bringing all the deals we've been successful on to fruition in the past several years," (Hartford Courant) is just not the truth, in my opinion!  The absurdity continues with the Mayors remark that his Chief of Staff and nominee for the PC&D position was the reason Middletown’s “unemployment rate fell from 7.2 percent in 2011 to 3.6 in December.” (Middletown Press)  Come on now!  If that is the case then the Chief of Staff should be running for Governor of Connecticut.

Point of information:  According to the City of Middletown Charter, there is no such official position in the Mayor’s office titled Chief of Staff.  It’s a manufactured job title.  There is a position called Administrative Assistant to the Mayor in the City Charter.  In either case,  it's a political appointment made by each Mayor.
Understandably, the Mayor is trying to prove his nominee is qualified for the position.  Proving it factually is more difficult than just telling everyone he is the best person for the job.  How would his nominee qualify for this position in another town?  I’ll bet his application wouldn’t even be considered!
According to the November 2016 Common Council meeting minutes, the outgoing Director of Planning, Conservation & Development, Michiel Wackers, was presented an Ordinance citation for all the great work he had done.  I will assume the citation is accurate as attested by all members of the Common Council.  Especially Councilman Gerry Daley who has been a member of the PD&C Commission for many years.  You can read Resolution #129-16 (page #5) in full on the City of Middletown website and Councilman Daley’s comment regarding the Fed-Ex project, which the Mayor’s intimates his nominee was responsible for?  
The Councilman praised the outgoing Director on his hard work for bringing the Fed-Ex project to fruition.
In the Middletown Press article, you can see how the Mayor and Councilman Gerry Daley appear to be laying the groundwork for an additional position within the PC&D Department.  That person would have the knowledge and perform the duties of a Planning and Development Director.  That person would be required to have the qualifications which the present nominee needs but doesn’t possess.  Someone has to have them!
Councilman Daley and the Mayor are trying to diffuse the nominees lack of minimum qualification requirements by stating what the PC&D Department really needs is an “administrator”, not someone who possess’ the qualifications and certifications of a Planning Director.  That is hogwash!  
If the Common Council buys all this and does approve the nominee with job changes for the position, Middletown will have the first and only Planning, Development & Conservation Director in the State, and perhaps the nation, who does not possess the required minimum qualifications, degrees, and certifications for the job.  Middletown is poised to reclaim its waterfront with smart development.  Having a person who does not possess even the minimum requirements of the position in the department to oversee this massive development opportunity is disturbing.
I hope the Common Council does the right thing for the people of Middletown and not just their Party leadership, and rejects the Mayor’s nominee.

--> John Milardo

This Week at The Buttonwood Tree

605 Main Street / PO Box 71, Middletown, CT 06457 / 860.347.4957

Orlando Baxter - Live Standup Comedy
Thursday, March 9 @ 8 pm $20

Orlando Baxter exploded onto the Boston comedy scene in 2005, and was quickly established as one of the areas hottest young comics. His fresh perspective and unique relatability soon made this former high school teacher a fan favorite and led to a string of finalist positions in a host of contests and festivals including The New York Comedy Contest, NBC’s ‘Stand Up for Diversity’, The Boston Comedy Festival, and The Montreux Comedy Festival in Switzerland.

Purchase tickets here
OR call 860 347 4957 to reserve your seat

Hiroya Tsukamoto 
with opening by Andrew Biagiarelli
Friday, March 10 @ 8 pm $12

Hiroya is a one-of-a-kind guitarist and composer. Born and raised in Kyoto, Japan and in 2000, he received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and came to the US. Since then, he has been performing internationally including appearances at Blue Note in New York with his group and Japanese National Television. Hiroya has released six albums.

Andrew Biagiarelli spent his early 20s traveling the American West with just a backpack and a guitar. Jamming around bonfires from Alaska to Colorado, he absorbed all the varied influences of his friends on the road. With a sound ranging in style from folk and blues to jazz-infused, his music is as varied as the landscapes of the American West. While living on a sailboat in the Caribbean, he assimilated reggae and calypso rhythms into his approach to songwriting. A natural storyteller, he weaves a tapestry of songs and tales of his travels into his live performances. His first studio album is in the works at Dirt Floor Recording Studio. 

OR call 860 347 4957 to reserve your seat

Eric Mintel Quartet
Saturday, March 11 @ 8 pm $20

Since 2011 The Buttonwood Tree (TBT) has been fortunate to host the EMQ in December for their special Charlie Brown Christmas concerts and Dave Brubeck pieces. For this encore performance, along with some Brubeck favorites, EMQ will “Play TV” for us – taking Classic TV show themes and playing them as Jazz pieces. Join us for an intimate evening with one of the most enthusiastic entertainers around!

As an added bonus, Lan Chi Restaurant, a first rate Vietnamese dining establishment just a bit down the street from TBT, is offering a 15% discount to ticket holders. Later, diners are entitled to a free beverage of their choice at The Buttonwood Tree (including beer and wine). Treat yourself to olfactory, visual and auditory delights!

The Eric Mintel Quartet has been thrilling audiences of all ages with their electrifying jazz for over 25 years including two performances at the White House by invitation of Presidents Clinton (1998) and Obama (2011), several concerts at the Kennedy Center, a special performance at the United Nations and countless accolades through the years. Featuring pianist and composer Eric Mintel, Nelson Hill sax/flute, Jack Hegyi bass and Dave Mohn drums. The EMQ is best known for their tribute to Dave Brubeck and performance of many Eric Mintel originals. The EMQ also has become a staple of the holidays with their highly successful “Charlie Brown Jazz” concerts delighting families across the country.
OR call 860 347 4957 to reserve your seat

Other Great Events this Week
Aligned with Source: An Interactive Workshop & Meditation
Saturday, March 11 @ 10:30 am $5
Hosted by Annaita Gandhy.  Topic: Living the Law of Attraction 

NEAR and Far Storytellers
Sunday, March 12 @ 2 pm $10
This is a program of storytelling featuring an open mic opportunity for anyone in the audience during the first half with headliners for the second half.
Anything Goes Open Mic and Moments of Gratitude
Monday, March 13 @ 7 pm $5
Sign-ups at 6:30.  Come share your talent and gratitude with us! 

Intentional and Empowering Yoga
Tuesday, March 14 @ 1 pm Donations welcomed
A fun, accessible and supportive Hatha Yoga class with Theresa Govert that brings awareness to breathe, intention to movement and an emphasis on inner wisdom and body positivity.
CSA Song Development & Music Business Workshop
Tuesday, March 14 @ 7 pm $5
Bill Pere leads this informative, valuable, Song Development and Music Business workshop.

Learn more about these events and others at



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

One Book on the Riverbend Announces 2017 Title

The title for the 2017 One Book on the Riverbend is The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

Brown tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and how the team raced its way to the Berlin Olympics.   

The team of working class boys defeated the elite teams from other universities, and faced off with the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Berlin Olympics of 1936.

One Book on the Riverbend is composed of various organizations, schools, and public libraries of Cromwell, Portland and Middletown to promote literacy and community by the joy of sharing a good book.   

Books may be borrowed at one of the three public libraries, online or at the circulation desk. A wide range of programs are being planned to dovetail with the themes which are integral to the story.

For more information about how your book group or organization may get involved, contact Christy Billings, or call (860) 347-2520.