Monday, May 21, 2018

Trails & Bike Routes -- Let's Get Organized!

(Pictured above are various bike-friendly road treatments, applicable to the projects to be discussed on May 23.)

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art and The Rockfall Foundation invite the public to learn about recreational trails and bike routes being constructed, planned, or envisioned in the greater Middletown area. The program will take place on Wednesday, May 23, 7- 8:30 p.m. at the deKoven House, 27 Washington Street, in Middletown.

The main presenters will be John Shafer and Kathy Herron, members of Portland’s Air Line Trail Steering Committee and Complete Streets Group; Howard Reid, co-chair of Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee; and John Hall, Executive Director of the Jonah Center.

The presentations will cover the large number of current projects at various stages of development in Portland, Middletown, and extending west through Meriden to connect the Air Line Trail with the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire. A section of the Air Line Trail in Portland is scheduled to open on June 2. Other trails and routes in Middletown are under construction, or construction is scheduled to begin soon, or projects are in the concept and planning phase, or awaiting funding.

Those in attendance will have ample opportunity to ask questions, offer ideas, and join other advocates in exploring strategies to support these walking and bicycling infrastructure improvements. Many studies have demonstrated the health, economic, and quality of life benefits that come with safer and more convenient places to exercise and use non-motorized transportation. But these improvements are not likely to happen without an informed and mobilized citizenry. The need for public awareness and coordinated action is behind the Jonah Center’s Speak Out For Trails & Bike Routes campaign that was launched in February 2018.

For more information, contact John Hall at 860-398-3771 or via “contact us” from

Friday, May 18, 2018

Famous Folk Duo Returns to The Buttonwood Tree with David Davis' "Sax in the City"

The Buttonwood Tree is proud to present former Middletown resident, David Davis and his jazz group Friday night and on Saturday night, the lively and talented duo, the Kennedys. Both shows start at 8 pm.
See more and reserve your seats here for The Kennedys or for David Davis "Sax in the City".

The Kennedys are an American folk-rock band, consisting of husband and wife Pete and Maura Kennedy. They are recognized for their harmonies and instrumental prowess, blending elements of country music, bluegrass, Western swing and janglepop.

At well over a million miles of roadwork, including two stints as members of Nanci Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra, Pete and Maura Kennedy show no signs of slowing down either on tour or in the creative realm.

Originally based in Austin, Texas, they spent a few years in the Washington DC area before moving to the East Village in New York City, where they have been based for most of the last two decades. The Kennedys are known nationwide as the hosts of the late lamented Dharma CafĂ© program on Sirius Satellite Radio, and on Broadway, they are regular cast members of Theatre Within's annual tribute to John Lennon — working in that capacity with Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper and a host of others.

Maverick Magazine (UK) says, "Another wonderful album from New York duo comprised of sweet and soulful acoustic alternative folk-pop music...You will truly enjoy the wonderful songs on this marvellous album. Maura's voice is sweet & charming. There's a geniune emotion at work here..."

The Sunday New York Daily News' Jim Farber " floored by the Kennedys." 
 FRIDAY night we're excited to host for the first time, our dear friend David Davis with two fabulous musicians, Isaac Monts and Wayne Brown. The trio will serve up a tasty dish of  contemporary jazz, funk, instrumental pop and originals from Davis’ latest cd “Dig This” which is getting radio play across the country.
Isaac is currently the Percussion instructor for the Bushnell’s Noah Webster Jazzicians Program, and works both live and in the studio with artists including Ace Livingston, David Davis, Klokwize, Lawrence V. White, and Brittney Crush. Isaac also serves as the Music Director at Liberty Christian Center International in Hartford, Connecticut, and continues his pursuits to inspire and impact others through his music.
Wayne Brown has collaborated with a wide and diverse array of artists as both a writer and producer including Billy Ocean, Ruby Turner, Earth Wind and Fire, Junior Giscombe, Stevie Winwood, Jonathan Butler, George Michael, Janet Kay, Lulu, Yazz and many more, and played with jazz greats such as Coleman Hawkins and Tal Farlow.
Wayne studied Jazz at the prestigious Leeds College of Music. After his time at the College he delved into the mainstream music world and went on to sell several million records as a writer and producer with his international top 5 hits “Heartache” and “Goodbye Stranger”.
Reserve your seat - Free parking behind It's Only Natural market after 6 pm and on Sundays

 Saturday programs:

This workshop empowers you to see your Light and be your best. Topic this week: 
Changing Perspectives How do you flow in today’s constantly shifting realities?
Personal Life Coaching opportunities may be arranged with Annaita through The Buttonwood Tree. Email:

Teens are welcome to present any artistic forms on Third Saturdays from 3-5 pm. Thanks to Middlsesex Music Academy, we can accommodate bands with advance notice. Please call or write us at (860) 347-4957.
The Buttonwood Tree is located at 605 Main Street, Middletown.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mayor Vetoes Council Budget

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Susan Allison (1961-2018), Poet Laureate of Middletown.

Susan Allison, Poet Laureate of Middletown, passed away Tuesday. 

Susan Allison, the poet laureate of Middletown, passed away Tuesday evening. 

If you wish to share memories with her family, contact her husband, Stephan by email: stephan.allison (at) gmail (dot) com. 

The family is planning a memorial service for the early evening of Saturday, June 16th. Details will be forthcoming

For Want of an Arts Coordinator

I am posting this in response to the Common Council’s recent decision to eliminate the Arts Coordinator position from the budget. Rather than my usual snarky comments, I have decided to present what I am calling a curated Google search of quotes about the importance of the arts.

"Politicians don't bring people together. Artists do."
–Richard Daley, Former Mayor of Chicago

“The arts are the best insurance policy a city can take on itself.”

–Woody Dumas, former Mayor of Baton Rouge

"Art is fundamental, unique to each of us…Even in difficult economic times - especially in difficult economic times - the arts are essential."
–Maria Shriver

"The arts are not a frill. The arts are a response to our individuality and our nature, and help to shape our identity. What is there that can transcend deep difference and stubborn divisions? The arts. They have a wonderful universality. Art has the potential to unify. It can speak in many languages without a translator. The arts do not discriminate. The arts can lift us up."
–Former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, first African-American elected to Texas Senate.

"The strength of every democracy is measured by its commitment to the arts.”
–Charles Segars, CEO of Ovation

". . . in any civilization - ours included - the arts are inseparable from the very meaning of the term 'education.' We know from long experience that no one can claim to be truly educated who lacks basic knowledge and skills in the arts."
–National Standards for Arts Education

The arts empower. The arts give a voice to the voiceless. The arts help transform American communities and, as I often say, the result can be a better child, a better town, a better nation and certainly a better world. Let’s champion our arts action heroes, emulate them and make our communities everything we want them to be.”
 ~ Robert L. Lynch, Presiden, Americans for the Arts

“In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities….the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country.”
–Paul G. Allen, Co-Founder, Microsoft

“The country is so wounded, bleeding, and hurt right now. The country needs to be healed—it’s not going to be healed from the top, politically. How are we going to heal? Art is the healing force.”
~ Robert Redford, National Arts Policy Roundtable 2012

“Arts and culture make considerable and necessary contributions to the well-being of communities. Arts and culture are powerful tools with which to engage communities in various levels of change. They are a means to public dialogue, contribute to the development of a community’s creative learning, create healthy communities capable of action, provide a powerful tool for community mobilization and activism, and help build community capacity and leadership.”
~ Creative City Network of Canada

“I must study politics and war, that my sons may study mathematics and philosophy…in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry, music and architecture.”
–John Q. Adams

“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”
 –Lyndon Johnson, on signing into existence the National Endowment on the Arts

“When artists give form to revelation, their art can advance, deepen and potentially transform the consciousness of their community.”
~ Alex Grey

“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him… We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
~ John F. Kennedy

“GE hires a lot of engineers. We want young people who can do more than add up a string of numbers and write a coherent sentence. They must be able to solve problems, communicate ideas and be sensitive to the world around them. Participation in the arts is one of the best ways to develop these abilities.”
– Clifford V. Smith, President of the General Electric Foundation

“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”
   –William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education

"In the push for quality math, science, technical, humanities, and other programs, please be sure that the arts are not ignored or pushed to one side. Provide your political support for the total curriculum. The arts enrich all of us."
–Dr. Richard Miller, Executive Director American Association of School Administrators

“The Arts and Sciences, essential to the prosperity of the State and to the ornament of human life, have a primary claim to the encouragement of every lover of his country and mankind.”
–George Washington

"The creative arts are the measure and reflection of our civilization. They offer many children an opportunity to see life with a larger perspective...The moral values we treasure are reflected in the beauty and truth that is emotionally transmitted through the arts. The arts say something about us to future generations."
–Ann P. Kahn, Former President of The National PTA

“Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.”
–Albert Einstein

"Pyramids, cathedrals, and rockets exist not because of geometry, theories of structures, or thermodynamics, but because they were first a picture-- literally a vision--in the minds of those who built them. Society is where it is today because people had the perception; the images and the imagination; the creativity that the Arts provide, to make the world the place we live in today."
–Eugene Ferguson, Historian

"How can we turn our back on an endeavor which increases our children's cultural intelligence, heightens individual sensitivity and deepens our collective sense of humanity? I suggest to you that we cannot."
–Alec Baldwin at Arts Advocacy Day 1997

 “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
 ~ Pablo Picasso

Family Bike Ride Cancelled

Due to Saturday's weather forecast, the Family Bike Ride that was scheduled for Sat. May 19 has been cancelled.

Lesser Honored For Older Adult Legislation

Press Release from Dan Uhlinger, House Democrats, Ct. General Assembly
The AARP (formerly American Association of Retired Persons) presented its 2018 AARP Legislative Achievement Award to Representative Matt Lesser (D, representing our city) in recognition of his leadership on affordable utilities issues affecting older adults, during a ceremony Tuesday in front of an AARP local at St. Pius X Church in Middletown.

“We are very happy to present this award to Matt Lesser in recognition of his leadership on affordable utilities,” Nora Duncan, AARP state director, said. “AARP Connecticut thanks and congratulates Representative Lesser as a legislative champion and for his continued advocacy on the issues important to Connecticut’s residents.”

“In 2017, Representative Lesser’s efforts to protect ratepayers by being a champion in opposition of the special deal for the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant were admirable. We thank him for his support and steadfast advocacy in helping to protect Connecticut ratepayers from unreasonable rate hikes,” Duncan said.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award from AARP and to have my work in the legislature recognized by such an important and influential organization,” Lesser said. “We need to continue to do everything we can to help our older residents maintain a quality of life in retirement,” Lesser said.

 Duncan said AARP has about 600,000 members in Connecticut.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Common Council Approves Naming Two Sites After Former MHS Teachers Jim Bransfield and Santo Fragilio

Submitted by Frank Logiudice.
The Middletown City Council overwhelmingly approved two proposals with unanimous votes to name two city buildings after two former and legendary educators from Middletown High School Mr. Jim Bransfield and Mr. Santo Fragilio.  Both Bransfield & Fragilio were were popular and well-respected teachers at MHS among the students and staff.

Bransfield taught history at both Middletown High & Woodrow Middle Schools for 30 years as well as a Sports Writer/Columnist for The Middletown Press for 50 plus years as well as the publicist for several organizations.  He was also a Freelance Sports Reporter for the Record-Journal Weekly Publications as well and was the public address sports announcer at many events in and around Middletown.  Fragilio was the long-time MHS Band Director, Music Teacher and Arts Consultant for the Middletown Public Schools since 1948.

The Baseball Field Press Box at Palmer Field Stadium will be named after Bransfield and his late son Dana which will be known as the "Jim & Dana Bransfield Baseball Field Press Box".   The Publics Works Department is currently working on a plaque and there will be a dedication ceremony for it at a future date according to William Russo, the Public Works Department Director.

The Performing Arts Center at MHS will be renamed the "Santo Fragilio Performing Arts Center." 

After the City Council voted on the proposal to name the PAC after Fragilio at the April 2nd meeting Councilman Gene Nocera presented a plaque to Mr. Fragilio's niece & nephew Janice & Tim Palmer of Higganum with the resolution Nocera made at the March 5th City Council meeting.  After Nocera read the resolution to them he shared his thoughts about Fragilio.  "I worked with Santo for probably over 40 years. He was an exceptional man. A mentor personally to myself serving on committees with him and he would always and I said this before but it is worth repeating in his unique way say 'that's great yes it was a wonderful program but how can we do this better?'  He would always have that position on performing that it had to be better we always had to look on how we could do things better in everything we do."

Santo Fragilio's nephew Tim Palmer thanked the City Council for naming the PAC after his uncle.  Palmer said "I personally like to thank you for naming the Performing Arts Center after Santo.  I spent the last six years with Santo and his wife when Marie got sick. I am an athlete. I was not a music person.  After six years with Santo and Marco going to concerts I kind of changed all that.  Santo was Marie, music and Middletown that was all he talked about.  He grew up in Middletown and he loved the school system-the more he could do the better it was.  I wish he were here today to see this.  He has to be looking down and thanking all these people.  I thank you believe me.  Thank you very much." 

Now that the City Council approved the naming of the PAC after Santo Fragilio the Middletown Public Schools will begin the work of transforming the PAC after him over the summer according to Marco Gaylord the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Naming Committee. In the fall a dedication ceremony will be held at the new Santo Fragilio Performing Arts Center.  The details will be announced.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Memorial Day Parade on Main Street in Middletown

Memorial Day Parade,
10:30 am Monday Morning
on Main Street

Memorial Day events in Middleton
on Monday, May 28, this year begin with the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Washington Street Veteran's Green Memorial at about 9 am and continue with the Main Street Memorial Day parade. The parade starts at about 10:30 am, at Spring and Main streets, then heads south on Main Street to end at Union Green (or South Green, information on the location is conflicting--but you'll find the place), not far from the Inn at Middletown and South Congregational Church and South Green. A ceremony honoring all veterans will follow on the Green.

Parades on Main Street in Middletown are a grand old tradition and were held at least as early as 1890. This year's participants will include various Middletown school bands, Middletown Fire Department contingents, at least one float, and no doubt many other unexpected sights and sounds!

Previous participants include the Middletown High School, Middletown Fire Department personnel and engines like these, and various veterans and other community groups and street vendors. 

Join in honoring our veterans, our nation,
and our
democracy on this  nonpartisan occasion! Celebrate our home state. Toot your horn, roll your drum! See your friends and neighbors walking about on a spring day. And enjoy lunch at one of Middletown's many fine restaurants!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dem Council Members Eliminate Arts Coordinator in Adopted City Budget

The Common Council passed the city budget for 2018-2019, and in the process eliminated the Arts Coordinator position from the city budget.  Until recently, the position was held by Stephan Allison, who has retired.  The coordinator was in charge of all city arts presentations, including concerts, the celebration surrounding the Independence Day fireworks, and all relationships with the Children's Circus, Oddfellows Playhouse and many of the other arts organizations in the city.

Cutting the coordinator's position saved the city $84,406, though the already-posted position would likely have hired a candidate at a much lower rate.

The budget, developed by the Democratic caucus of the Common Council, was only released an hour before the budget vote on Monday evening.  Republicans on the Council complained that neither they, nor the public, was able to examine the budget before it was presented for the vote on Monday.

In other budget developments, the Police Department was denied the ability to hire three new officers as requested.  The police officers were to serve as SRO officers in city schools.

The Board of Education budget was technically cut by $500,000, but capital expenditures picked up by the city, new Alliance grant dollars from the state and the Council's promise to allow the Board to carry over funds from previous years, means that the Board of Ed, and new superintendent Dr. Michael Conner will be able to pursue plans for major changes in Middletown's schools.

In the final vote on the budget, all but two Republicans, Deb Kleckowski and Linda Salafia, voted to adopt the budget which was cut by $1.2 million from the budget presented by Mayor Dan Drew.

Video here.

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ Dempsey!