Friday, July 20, 2018

Reproductive Rights Advocacy Group Damns Suzio and Praises Lesser

Two of our city's elected officials were cited by NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut for their efforts with respect to the protection of a reproductive rights, but for opposite reasons.

State Representative Matt Lesser was hailed as one of Connecticut's Pro-Choice Legislative Champions, on the basis of his work to introduce and promote legislation intended to protect our reproductive healthcare and rights. Lesser is currently running in the August 14th Democratic primary for the State Senate seat being vacated by Paul Doyle.

State Senator Len Suzio, in contrast, was one of a six who were labeled Greatest Anti-Choice Threats, for his support for legislation that was anti-choice or would have restricted access to reproductive healthcare. Suzio is running for re-election to the 13th Senate District.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Commissioners Fear Crisis In Understaffed Planning Office

City commissioners with planning responsibilities have expressed deep concern about the lack of staffing in the city planning office.  While the mayor and the city planner share the concern, both dismiss the notion that a crisis exists.

At the end of July, Zoning Enforcement Officer Michelle Ford, will be leaving Middletown's office of Planning, Conservation and Development.  Her departure leaves the already understaffed office with one less qualified employee.  Ford, the former Environmental Specialist for the city, is leaving for a position at Eversource.

Ford indicated that she is taking the new job because it is more aligned with her career aspirations as an environmental specialist, and not because she's upset with the situation in the planning office, but she said that the vacancies in the office make it difficult to get the job done, and frustrating for the public.

"We used to be a six person office, and now it's just Tom and me," Ford said.  "The phones are ringing, people are stopping by to get a question answered, and there's no one available to do that."

The office at full staff, typically hosts a Director, Deputy Director, a Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO), an Environmental Specialist, an Economic Development specialist and two clerical staff, will be down to Director Joe Samolis, Economic Development specialist Thomas Marano and the clerical staff, Cynthia Jones and Susan Nesco.

The departures leave the office without certified planning staff to make planning and zoning enforcement decisions.

This lack of staff has caused serious concern for commissioners on boards and commissions associated with the planning office.

A Certifiable Crisis

"It's a certifiable crisis not to have a Zoning Enforcement Officer," according to Planning and Zoning Commission chair Stephen Devoto (full disclosure: Devoto is also an author for the Middletown Eye).  "And we need the professional advice and guidance of a professional planner to protect the city from legal action as a result of rulings, and to encourage good development in the city."

"I was concerned last Spring, but now I'm past alarmed," said Liz Holder, chair of the Commission on Conservation and Agriculture.  "We’re very discouraged.  There are things that should be moving forward and they are not. We have grants for farmland preservation and open space that aren’t being applied for.  I’ve been told by the Planning Office that no grants are being applied for."

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A/C Restored at The Buttonwood Tree and Event Schedule

In early June the former Arriwani Hotel on Main Street, where both the supportive housing at Liberty Commons and The Buttonwood Tree reside, lost its air conditioning. The one rooftop unit runs the entire building and finally it has been replaced and the job completed!! 

Initially two portable a/c units were rented and installed at TBT, but without any windows that open, full venting was unachievable and the plan aborted. Fans were bought and borrowed, but with the high heat that ensued, it was not possible to maintain a reasonable temperature and TBT was forced to close. While many programs were canceled or postponed until later, some events were relocated.
In difficult times, the love of community shines!
The Buttonwood Tree wishes to thank the following people and organizations for their kindness and generosity by providing a space or assistance so these events could be held. 

The CT RENTAL CENTER graciously reduced the rental bill by a substantial amount.
FIRST CHURCH, MIDDLETOWN on Court St hosted a Middlesex Music Academy student's recital. With support by RANI ARBO.
MAC 650 (The Middletown Artists Coop at 650 Main Street) hosted Story City Troupe.
CONGREGATION ADATH ISRAEL hosted a recital for a Middlesex Music Academy's teacher.
ODDFELLOWS PLAYHOUSE hosted a concert with Jann Klose and Anna May.

Back to our regular schedule, here is a listing of upcoming events for this weekend. A full calendar of events can be found online HERE. Printed event calendars can be found in many locations around the state, at Wesleyan University, Russell Library, City Hall and along Main Street.

Events: July 17th - 24th 
(Click titles for more information on each event)

Friday, June 20th @ 8-10PM, $10 Admission

Tom Wrann and Tom Mooney, founding members of “Two Virgins” rock band (with the CD “Two Virgins” recorded and produced by Mike Arafeh at Coffeehouse Records, right here in Middletown CT), have shifted musical gears. They’re still writing and performing original compositions but are now embracing a more rustic sensibility.

Using acoustic guitars, a banjo stick, and congas, the lyrics still reflect the complexities, joys, and confusion of life in these modern times. With an ear toward The Incredible String Band, Steve Earle, Donovan and others, Wrann/ Mooney share a love of “Power Folk”. Long time friends of Middletown, they look forward to the upcoming show at The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts and Cultural Center.

It’s not rock and roll but they’re not ready for the rocking chair either.

Saturday, July 21st @ 10:30am - 12PM, $10 suggested donation (Pay what you can)

This week's topic: "Living Your Potential" Are you living yours? What keeps you back?

In today’s environment of hardship, ill-health, corruption and inequality it is often difficult to see the Light. The purpose of this workshop is to empower you to see yours. A Spiritual & Holistic Healer from India, Annaita Gandhy, wants to help you find it! Sharing her deep understanding of life, holism and spirituality, Annaita aims to help you rise above life’s challenges and live a healthy, fulfilled & confident life.

Saturday, July 21st @ 3-5PM, $5 Admission
Free passes for students are available at Middlesex Music Academy
Be a part of Buttonwood’s first ever open mic specifically for teen performers ages 12-18. Perform any type of artwork: you can use our piano or bring a guitar, ukulele, or other instrument to play! Cover your favorite song or perform an original! Whether it is your first time performing or you are an experienced teen musician, poet, or artist, the Buttonwood Tree is a positive, supporting environment for teens to perform. Parents and friends are welcome to come support!

Saturday, July 21st @ 8-10PM

It is a sub-genre of rock, typically adopting a style unique to the artist. TRAG is one such ‘artist,’ a team of them, hailing from Fairfield county. Their style derives from the unique diversity of its members’ various backgrounds – called “progressive sound” in their own words. TRAG has earned themselves a reputation in various the clubs and theaters of the Tri-State area, and soon, they are making a stop in Middletown’s neighborhood to play at Buttonwood Tree!

The Ensemble: 

Mark Tragianese – As lead percussionist, as well as a singer and founder of TRAG, Mark has spent his days solidifying his reputation as a percussionist with local groups like Theravada, Ulterior Motive, and Kinetic Sect. His progressive songwriting and dynamic percussion style rounds out TRAG’s diverse background.

Nora Tragianese – The lead vocalist, as well as a percussionist and pianist, Nora’s Classical Vocal Training was influenced by greats such as Steve Perry, Pat Benatar, and Ann Wilson. 

Ron Garofolo – Lead guitarist and super-fan of blues-styled music, Ron has been honing his skill since the age of sixteen under influences like Pink Floyd and the Allman Brothers. 

Lou Vitali – From Tenor Sax to Electric Guitar and finally to Bass, Lou had undergone a metamorphosis of style over the course of his younger years! Influenced by greats such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, Loud prides himself as the rhythm of TRAG.

Monday, July 23rd @ 7 - 10PM, $5 Admission

Got a talent you just have to share with the rest of the world? Then stop by to The Buttonwood Tree, where the mic is open to any and all who've got at least one creative bone within them. This time, our host is local dealer and framer of art, "Catman Bill" Katz!

Come on down, even just to watch! Performances are interspersed with 'Moments of Gratitude,' where we take time to remember the hidden good in life that shines through the apparent bad.

The Buttonwood Tree
605 Main Street / PO Box 71, Middletown, CT 06457
Contact us at 860.347.4975

Monday, July 16, 2018

Martha Redbone, Zulynette at Wesleyan's Center for the Arts This Week

Martha Redbone: Bone Hill—The Concert
Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 7:30pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$28 general public; $26 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni; $12 students, youth under 18

The contemporary musical theater work Bone Hill is inspired by four generations of Martha Redbone’s Kentucky family lineage. Visit the Center for the Arts website for more information.

And Hartford-based poet and author Zulynette will give a free talk about her work as a creative change agent that uses art as a tool to inspire others to heal and empower themselves on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 12:10pm in Ring Family Performing Arts Hall. Visit the Center for the Arts website for more information.

Middlesex Community College to Host Fun and Informative Open House on July 19


Interested prospective students, families, and community members are invited to explore classes, meet faculty, and experience Middlesex Community College at an OPEN HOUSE on Thursday, July 19, 2018. The open house will run from noon to 7:30 p.m. at the Middletown campus located at 100 Training Hill Road. This fun-filled event is designed for all prospective students, including high school students, adult learners, veterans, business partners, as well as those looking for a career boost or business training.

Middlesex campus doors will be open for an exciting day of activities, interactive exhibits, informative workshops, and hands-on displays — everything needed to discover MxCC’s affordable and outstanding academic programs and to apply for Fall 2018 admission on the spot. Then stay for a special appearance by Hot 93.7 DJ Stevey Newnez, starting at 3 p.m.

Tour the scenic MxCC campus (one of Middletown’s hidden gems), meet with faculty members from more than 65 associate degree and certificate programs, speak with financial aid counselors, and get advice from college success teams. Beginning at 12:30 p.m., and at every hour, visitors can attend workshops in financial aid, college success, and career preparation. Academic program coordinators will be available from 2 to 6 p.m.

Explore demonstrations and interactive displays from several of MxCC’s academic and training programs, including the Center for New Media, emergency medical technician (EMT), law enforcement/police vehicles and equipment, veterinary technology, student clubs, and much more. 

MxCC community business partners are also invited to be available to meet with prospective students or learn how an MxCC education enables students to obtain jobs in their industries.

The first 200 guests will receive giveaways. Everyone is invited to stay to enjoy refreshments and live entertainment.

For more information, please visit

Gun Range Sound Study Presentation Tuesday

The Police Department has been evaluating how to reduce the sound of bullets that regularly spreads into Westfield neighborhoods from the gun range on the slopes of Mount Higby. The Council approved a large bond to study and develop recommendations for improvements to the gun range.
  • Community Meeting:  Sound Study for Police Department’s Dingwall Horan Joint Firearms Training Facility
  • When:   Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 7pm
  • Where:   The cafeteria of the Middletown High school, 200 La Rosa Lane

The vendor conducting the sound study of the Middletown Police Department’s Firearms Training Facility will be on hand to explain the process and discuss possible recommendations.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Meet Your Greens at Spoke + Spy July 19th

This month at Meet Your Greens (Rockfall's Monthly Environmental Networking Happy Hour), we'll be talking apples with permaculture expert Tom Christopher at Middletown cidery Spoke + Spy. 
Learn about local apple production, sample locally brewed ciders and connect with local environmentalists. We'll also be joined by the Bread Pitt, which will be serving up sandwiches right outside Spoke + Spy, so bring your appetite!
Meet Your Greens starts at 5:30pm and Spoke + Spy is located at 180 Johnson Street.
Also, save the date for upcoming Meet Your Greens
  • On August 16th, we'll be touring Smith Farm in East Haddam, a farm offering meaningful work to people with developmental disabilities, and providing food to the Brian House group home and the local community.
  • On September 20th, Jane Harris of the Middletown Garden Club will be discussing rooftop gardening on the Community Health Center's rooftop.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Make Your Home More Energy Efficient And Benefit The Jonah Center

Home Energy Solutions (HES) work crews have a slow period in summer, but you can take advantage of that by calling the Jonah Center’s partner, New England Conservation Services at 1-877-389-7077. Mention the “Jonah Center Promotion” and schedule a home visit.

Home Energy Solutions is a state-sponsored program funded by utility rate-payers like you. Yes, you have already paid into the fund that will pay for these services. Why not take advantage of them.  Even if you have had HES at least 3 years ago, you may be eligible to benefit from it a second time.  John and Susan Hall have actually had 3 HES visits at their home, spread over 8 years.

For every sign-up that results in a completed visit, NECS will donate $50 to the Jonah Center. Not only that, but for visits made before August 31, the customer co-pay will be reduced to $124.
To see a video about Home Energy Solutions, click here.

During a Home Energy Solutions assessment, a team of courteous technicians perform a number of tests to locate energy inefficiencies in your home, including pinpointing drafts and air leaks. Once identified, the technicians perform weatherization services that include caulking and installing insulation and weather strips. The technicians will also swap out traditional incandescent light bulbs with high-efficiency replacements, and install low-flow water devices on showers and faucets to help reduce your hot water bill. The value of these improvements to your home is estimated to be $1200, on average.

Phil Oulette Announces Sale of Eli Cannon's

As an organization which has held its annual meetings at Eli Cannon's, it's with regret and joy that the Middletown Eye shares Phil Oulette's announcement that Eli Cannon's has been sold to long time employees Rocco and Aubrey Lamonica.

Phil is unlikely to acknowledge his essential role in the revitalization of the North End of Main Street in Middletown, as he and his restaurant became known as early champions of the craft beer culture.  He coined the term NORA, for the neighborhood (North of Rapallo), and was a huge factor in the opening of NORA cupcakes, and cross-the-street rivals, Krust.

Phil is also unlikely to brag about all he's done for the neighborhood, donating generously to Macdonough Elementary school, Gilead Community Services, Films On Foss and other organizations, and for being a champion of downtown Middletown business.  We'll all miss Phil, who likes to pretend he's a hardass, but he really has a heart of gold.  And for anyone who has had a glass of amazing beer on the beach, and is worried about the next, the joint is in good hands.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Music At The Mansion Kicks Off Tonight!

Rani Arbo, our city's former music ambassador will perform with her group in a FREE concert at Wadsworth Mansion tonight.

The concert will begin at 6:30pm. The grounds will be open for picnicking at 5:30pm.  

In the lineage of string bands who blur the boundaries of American roots music, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem have always been standard-bearers, with a particular knack for pairing words and music. From bluegrass barnstormers to sultry swing, old-time gospel to bluesy folk-rock, they consistently turn in lush arrangements with “stylish, unexpected choices” (Acoustic Guitar). Original songs fit seamlessly aside artful re-workings of Georgia Sea Islands music, Hank Williams, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen — just a few of the many places this band is willing to go.

The Friends of Long Hill Estate and the Long Hill Estate Authority with sponsorship from Middlesex Hospital host the Music at the Mansion series in the month of July.

The concert schedule is:
  • July 11: Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem 
  • July 18: Funky Dawgz Brass Band
  • July 25: Mixed Signals
  • August 1: Shaded Soul Band 
Parking will be at Wilbert Snow School, 299 Wadsworth Street, and at Mercy High School, 1740 Randolph Road.  Handicap parking is available at the Mansion.   As there is limited parking at the Mansion, ALL vehicles will be directed to Mercy High School/Snow School when Mansion parking is full. Concerts will be held in light rain or the threat of showers, but cancelled with the proximity of electrical storms that may endanger both guests and musicians.

Films on Foss This Saturday

Films on Foss returns on July 14th this year for Films on Foss: Hidden Figures and has two more films; Films on Foss: Coco (July 28th), and Films on Foss: The Goonies (August 11th).

Picnic starts at 7pm and movie around 8:30pm. The event is free to attend, just bring your own blanket or chair and enjoy.

This completely youth-developed and youth-led project wouldn't be possible without the generosity of our community. A HUGE thanks to our lead sponsors Wesleyan University College of Film, Middlesex United Way, and Eli Cannon's.

We'd also like to thank A.R. Mazzotta Employment Specialists, Community Health Center, Inc., and Malloves Jewelers of Middletown for their support as well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Open House July 12: MxCC Natural Gas Field Technician Certificate at Eversource


Middlesex Community College and Eversource Energy have partnered to offer the Natural Gas Field Technician Certificate, a new program designed to help develop the future workforce in the growing natural gas industry. Classes for the certificate program will begin in August 2018 at Eversource’s new state-of-the-art training facility. Come to the open house to learn more!

Natural Gas Field Technician Certificate
Thursday, July 12, 2018
4 to 5:30 p.m.
Eversource Energy training facility, 107 Selden Street, Berlin
Click here for more event details.

To register for the open house, call 860-343-5716 or email DBordonaro@mxcc.eduWalk-ins also welcome.

The natural gas industry is experiencing tremendous growth in meeting and serving the energy demands of homeowners, businesses, and municipalities across Connecticut. Expanding access to natural gas and accelerated replacement programs have driven a higher demand for skilled resources to construct, maintain, and service the natural gas infrastructure.

“We’re always working to better serve our customers and a well-trained workforce is critical in accomplishing that goal,” said Eversource President of Gas Operations Bill Akley. “We’re proud to partner with Middlesex Community College to cultivate a new generation of highly skilled and efficient natural gas technicians. Upon successful completion of this program students will have a better understanding of our industry and learn skills that will open employment opportunities for them in the fast-growing natural gas business.”

Applications close on Friday, July 20, 2018. Please visit the Middlesex website for details, class schedule, and program requirements at