Monday, September 30, 2013

East Street Subdivision Decision Postponed

Westfield Fire Department is immediately
across the street from this lot

The Planning and Zoning Commission heard concerns from neighboring residents and the Westfield Fire Department about water drainage, traffic, and public safety, during a public hearing on an East Street subdivision application Wednesday evening. The Commission was responsive to residents' concerns, and decided to continue the public hearing until October 23rd, to give the applicant more time to address them.

The application was for a modest subdivision of 3 houses on 2.5 acres, across from the Westfield Fire Department at the intersection of East and Miner Streets. The lot was recently clear cut, and an 1850 house demolished. This area of East Street has seen a large number of houses built in the past decade, especially on the ridge above East Street. The Commission heard from several residents that the houses on East Street, and East Street itself are prone to flooding.

Open Forum Oct. 11 to Take Closer Look at Sustainability at Middlesex Community College



In a move to recognize and build upon the growing momentum for environmental stewardship and education at MxCC, the College is hosting a Sustainability Forum with students, faculty and the community. The event, which will be held on Friday, October 11, at 1:30 – 3:30 p.m., in Chapman Hall on the Middletown campus, celebrates MxCC’s leadership role among Connecticut colleges to be proactive in promoting sustainability in its curriculum, operations, and outreach – efforts that are becoming a model for all community colleges within the CONNSCU System.   

The forum is co-sponsored by Eastern Connecticut State University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and MxCC’s President’s Climate Action Response Team.  Free parking is available and registrations can be made by contacting Joy Hansen at jhansen@mxcc.edu or at 860-343-5832.

In addition to hearing a campus sustainability progress report, attendees will be able to participate in “breakout” groups to discuss and brainstorm ways to help the College fulfill its climate commitment, develop educational programs on sustainability-related topics, and implement community-wide practices.  All attendees will be able to share observations, suggestions, and thoughts on progress to date and next steps for the College.

“Over the past few years, Middlesex Community College has taken countless proactive steps to recover its landscape with sustainable gardens and trees, to improve its energy use and operations through recycling and reducing waste, and to incorporate environmental elements into its curriculum,” said Dr. Anna Wasescha, president of MxCC.  “This is all part of MxCC’s strategic plan, echoed by our pledge to the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment.  We are enthused by our progress and welcome ideas from throughout our community.”

Feast Of Saint Francis Of Assisi This Weekend

From Claudia DeFrance.
----------------
A weekend of festivities is planned at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 10 Elm Street, to celebrate the Feast of their Patron Saint.

Please join the parishioners and friends of St. Francis on Saturday, October, 5th and Sunday, October 6, 2013. On Saturday, October 5th, after 5 PM Mass, a pasta dinner, complete with meatballs and more will take place in the Monsignor M.Davitt Fox Parish Center. Dinner costs are $15.00 for adults; children over five years of age, $5.00; under five are free. There will be raffles and music. Bring a non perishable food donation for the Amazing Grace food pantry and receive a free raffle ticket! Take out orders are available. Tickets for purchase are available after all Masses at St. Francis or To reserve a table or purchase tickets, email:sgombotz@sbcglobal.net or call 860-346-1870. No tickets will be sold at the door!

On Sunday, October 6th, the festivities begin following the 12:00 PM Mass with a procession of the statue of St. Francis from the church to the parish center. Face painting, craft table, the Macaroni Kid table, games and a special children's raffle will entertain everyone. Hotdogs, tacos, popcorn and beverages will be available.

At 3:00 PM the Blessing of the Animals will begin. Bring your pets to the outside of the parish center where the blessings will take place.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Around the Garden – and Through the Asters


 My Latin-loving colleagues may recognize the tip of the pen to the phrase “Per aspera ad astra” – through adversity to the stars. The aster, so-called for its star-like composite flowers, is not a difficult plant to grow; in fact, it’s hard to keep it from growing. But mastering the naming of the aster and its kin has been a real trial.

The hot pink variety shown at right is known variously as a New England Aster ‘Alma Potschke’ or as Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Andenken an Alma P√∂tschke'.  Those who learned their plant classifications a few years ago know it as a member of the Compositae genus, a name now abandoned except in old textbooks.

Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful plant, whether left to grow to 30 or more inches tall, or pinched back over the summer to form a shorter, bushier plant. (My experience is that pinching back results in fewer flowers – and also results in masses of cuttings that a diligent gardener would tuck into some peat-and-vermiculite to create lots more plants.)

In the picture at left, a honeybee is harvesting nectar. Bumblebees are busy as well – but they land so forcefully that only a very good camera can capture the flowers swaying and bobbing under the bees' bulk.

Like their ubiquitous cousins, the mums (which did a switcheroo from Chrysanthemum to Dendranthema to Chrysanthemum, much like The Artist Formerly Known as Prince) the asters are a sure sign of fall. Fortunately, they don’t seem to mind the vagaries of New England weather, and thrive whether we have monsoons or drought.  As with mums, however, best results come from spring planting – those showy big box store plants should probably be treated as annuals, since they are unlikely to take root if planted now.
 
A few more signs that fall is upon us: some heirloom tomatoes (possibly Black Russians) seem unlikely ever to ripen unless brought indoors and wrapped in newspaper. 

The Winterberries are full of fruit, while the young Weeping Hemlock below, right, is finally producing cones.




 The Katsura tree at left has yet to turn its sulfur yellow color – some aficionados claim the yellow leaves smell like bubblegum. I prefer the summer color, when the green leaves contrast with the rose-colored petioles.






  At right, a small Heptacodium miconioides (Seven-sons plant) has foliage that easily competes with the dainty seven-petaled flowers.)




The feckless squirrels are madly planting hickory trees again – they leave the shells near my patio plants, and next spring I will find a baby tree in the midst of a Jade plant. Better that than marauding the crocus bulbs, I guess.

 The coming week promises a few summery days – perhaps enough to keep the tomatoes ripening. But soon enough, the robins and starlings will swoop down and demolish the dogwood’s bright berries – and when a few flights of Canada geese honk by, we’ll know what lies ahead of us.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

CHC Blood Drive Next Week

Community Health Center, located at 675 Main Street, is hosting a Red Cross blood drive on October 3rd. There is currently an urgent need for blood, especially O negative, B negative and A negative. 

Appointments are available every 15 minutes starting at 1:30 to 6:15 You can book your appointment online at redcrossblood.org, or by contacting Community Health Center's blood drive coordinator, Eliza Cole, directly at 860-852-0826, or eliza@chc1.com

Please consider donating. You could save a life!

Friday, September 27, 2013

State Bond Commission Approves Funding for Cafeteria Renovations at Middlesex Community College


Dr. Anna Wasescha, president of Middlesex Community College, announced today that the state Bond Commission approved almost $1.6 million for cafeteria renovations at this morning’s Bond Commission meeting in Hartford.
Founders Hall, which houses the College’s cafeteria, will be expanded with an attached, covered, outdoor deck that will overlook the campus. The addition will create a new space for students to congregate and will serve as a stage for outdoor events on the campus. Construction on this expansion will begin this fall and is expected to be completed in the spring.
After the remodel, the cafeteria will be able to hold 80-100 additional students and will provide a gathering space for special events, performances, and community events.
“Additional space for our students to study and socialize on campus will greatly improve the student experience here at Middlesex,” said President Wasescha.  “This is the first new building project at the college since Chapman Hall was built in 1992.  Like Chapman, which takes advantage of the vista over the Connecticut River Valley, this addition will feature glass walls that look out onto the forest edge of the campus.  Reinforcing a positive connection with the natural world is one more way that the college is meeting its strategic goals around sustainability.”
Founded in 1966, Middlesex Community College (mxcc.edu) is part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. In all it does, Middlesex Community College strives to be the college of its community. By providing high quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, the college enhances the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. MxCC, recently named a "Great College to Work For" by The Chronicle of Higher Education, offers more than 50 degree or certificate programs at the main 38-acre campus in Middletown, the downtown Meriden Center, and online.  

City to Take Part in Connecticut River "Source to Sea" Cleanup


Mayor Daniel Drew is pleased to announce that the City of Middletown has registered with the Connecticut River Watershed Council as a group that will be participating in the 17th Annual Connecticut River Source to Sea Cleanup. “This year is gearing up to be one of the biggest river cleanups ever, and I am proud that Middletown and its residents will be a part of it” says Mayor Drew. “I wanted to open this cleanup event to everyone in Middletown who would like to come to the River and volunteer and pitch in to clean it up”, the Mayor added.


The cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, October 5, 2013 from 8:00am to 1:00pm; meeting location is Harbor Park, rain or shine (torrential rain and thunderstorms will cancel the event). The primary areas focused for the cleanup are Harbor Park, Columbus Point, Sumner Brook Area and the Public Safety docks. Volunteers are needed for clean up on land as well as along the river's edge using kayaks and canoes. Gloves and trash bags will be distributed to the volunteers. Each volunteer will be asked to sign a waiver prior to their participation in the cleanup. A limited number of tee shirts will be given out for the first volunteers to register. Refreshments will be served.


James Sipperly, Environmental Resource Specialist for the City of Middletown will coordinate this event for Middletown. If anyone is interested in participating as a group or as an individual, please contact him at 860-638-3506 or by email: james.sipperly@middletownct.gov.

Mayor Drew added “I want to thank all of you in advance for participating in this worthwhile event that will not only beautify the city’s most valuable natural resource, but will also help the environment.”

Riverfront Planning: It's not too late to play


In a downtown full of armchair urban planners, Thursday night was one of the biggest games of the season.   About 100 people gathered at City Hall for a community brainstorming session about the potential of Middletown's riverfront.  

The crowd had depth - businesspeople, kayakers, garden club types, environmentalists, developers and politicos.  It was clear that we all take this opportunity very seriously - the chance to finally make something of our riverfront.

(Don't panic if you missed it, because the workshop will be repeated this Saturday morning, September 28th.  But you have to call Michiel Wackers at the city planning office at 860-344-3425 and get your name on the list!)

NYC-based Project for Public Spaces facilitated the workshop -- PPS is a planning group that specializes in helping cities create...well....public spaces.   To put it bluntly, Middletown is lucky to have PPS as our guides through this process - you can read their philosophy and view their projects on their website.  Thanks go to Laney Bank, a member of the ad-hoc Riverfront Committee, for being the matchmaker.

One of my favorite things about PPS is their focus on small, doable ideas that can quickly change how a community feels about a space, which can be the first step to long-term transformation.  They showed an inspiring collection of photos of creative waterfront ideas. In Paris, a stretch of riverfront highway is transformed into a pop-up beach for a month in the summer; in Buffalo, NY, a barren zone under an elevated highway comes to life with bright Adirondack chairs and a temporary stage.  They also showed more mature and spectacular waterfronts, like the delightful public spaces that now line the Hudson River in New York City, mixing up play structures, waterfront bars, lawns for lounging, boating classes, and public art.

They gave us an idea of how the "After" shots could look.  And here we are, way way back at "Before".

The workshop started with bus trips to various sites throughout the riverfront area.  Small groups visited the Omo Manufacturing property, Peterson Oil, the wells on River Road and the former Jackson Corrugated factory, to get a close-up look at the challenges and opportunities of each parcel.

I was a lucky member of the group that toured the Sewage Treatment Plant, which we all hope will be torn down some decade soon.



Just one of the "diamonds in the rough" along our riverfront, the treatment plant has a few buildings and a number of tanks, as well as a glorious but overgrown stretch of waterfront.   Because the area is mainly in the floodplain, it's unlikely that new buildings could be constructed, so the existing buildings are important  - we can re-use their foundations.

Guy Russo, the City's director of Water & Sewer, and Common Councilman Gerry Daley led our group on the tour.   Even through the brush, it was clear that the views of the downtown and the Arrigoni bridge are spectacular from this site.  One tidbit that I learned from Guy is the importance of keeping mature trees along the riverfront itself, not just because they help with erosion problems - their shade plays a role in maintaining fish habitats.

We briefly walked through the main building, which had some geek appeal:



And just be grateful that this blog doesn't come in smell-o-rama, because even a pleasant day at the treatment plant is a bring-your-own-clothespin kind of event.


After our tour, we all returned to City Hall to meet with our groups and brainstorm new uses in the area we had visited.  At the end of the evening, each group presented their ideas.

There was lots of consensus on the desirability of creating a linear bike and walking path from Harbor Park all the way to the Town Farms Inn, varying from boardwalk to path, depending on location.  Mike DiPiro pictured the Middletown Road Race running along the water in the future.  Everyone agrees that Union Street needs some serious help, and that the recent improvements to the Harbor Park tunnel were a good thing.  Gerry Daley and a few others are enamored with the possibilities of running a limited trolley on the rail line, continuing on to DeKoven Drive.


Other ideas were more specific.  Patti Vassia charged the garden club to come up with a way to beautify the exterior of the bunker-like water filtration building at the end of River Road.  Seb Giuliano suggested building a stage that overhangs the river, perhaps bridging the spot over Sumner Brook where the Columbus Park meets the Peterson Oil property.   My group pictured terraces going down to the water, which could double as seating for watching events on the water.

Parking, as ever, was a controversial topic.  A few voices called out for keeping the cars on the other side of Route 9, as much as possible.  Some of the options for parking could be affected by the DOT's new proposal to lengthen the on-ramp that runs from Route 17 to Route 9, which was marked on a map taped to the wall.

Overall, people seem to like the idea of the riverfront as a recreational destination - or perhaps a series of destinations, like a seasonal skating rink/beach volleyball court, a water playground, a skate park.  There were lots of ideas: morning yoga, art festivals, chess tables, Middletown historic re-enactments and food carts.   Other parcels, set back from the water's edge, were mentioned for residential and cultural uses.

The potential is there for the riverfront to boost the vitality of Middletown - but how do we get from "Before" to "After"?    After these sessions, PPS will be synthesizing all the ideas, tempering them with a little reality and experience (or maybe jazzing them up) and helping the Riverfront Committee settle on a vision for the area.  The next steps would be aligning our zoning and creating a method for overseeing the work, and putting together plans/partners/finances for how each step could happen. 

It was exciting to hear my fellow citizens express their ambitions to create something that is worthy of that beautiful setting.  If you've ever been one of those people who says "Middletown should really do such-and-such with the riverfront" (and let's face it, who among us who read and write the Eye haven't said this?!), then you should make your voice heard tomorrow morning at City Hall.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Medical Marijuana, Fallen Veterans, And Cemeteries

It was a busy night at Planning and Zoning. The Commission reviewed a lease for a medical marijuana producer, and held public hearings on the Trees of Honor Memorial in Veterans Park, and on a change in the zoning code text to allow cemeteries in the multifamily zone. It also held public hearings on residential subdivisions on East and Wadsworth Streets, these will be the subject of a later post.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Memories of Katchen Coley


  In January 2012, I called Katchen Coley shortly after she'd had minor surgery to offer my help with household tasks. I made the mistake of thinking this would be a quick call to arrange a time to visit her, and I squeezed this phone call into my busy day between meetings and appointments. In response to my offer of help she answered, "That is very nice of you now I must tell you that last week I met with the Planning Director and..." she continued on for five full minutes before I interrupted her, to which she replied indignantly, "I need to tell you about this because you might have to take my place in this discussion!" Her sense of urgency did not escape me. In her late eighties, pragmatic Katchen squarely faced the reality that she didn't have a lot of time left as an activist.

  Katchen's intense tone commanded attention, though at times (like when I telephoned to offer my help) her oratories were met with exasperation. A common refrain at the monthly meeting of the Middletown Conservation Commission went something like this:

"Katchen! This is not the time for this. You are out of order!"

  Boundaries were not Katchen's strong point. It was sometimes hard to tell whether she purposefully eschewed decorum or rather just lacked certain diplomatic skills, but the former seemed more likely, given Katchen's consistent intentions.

  I did stop by Katchen's house a few days after that phone call, but she didn't take any help from me and instead we sat at her kitchen table and talked for two hours. Afterwards I was left wondering how we talked about so many different things in such a small amount of time. The Tea Party, drilling in ANWAR, the energy use of exit sign lighting, climate change, President Obama, and the gulf coast were all topics we touched on.

  I asked her directly about the frequent reprimands that her interjections brought her at the Conservation Commission meetings. She said that she got rather annoyed at times when she was dismissed. She felt that she had important and relevant things to add to the discussion and she didn't understand why her comments were a problem. She conceded that the chair was doing the best job possible of keeping the meeting running efficiently. Katchen was born in 1924; maybe her mannerisms were held over from coping strategies she may have developed in her earlier life during decades when women's voices were not always taken seriously. In my time on the Conservation Commission for the last 5 or so years, Katchen was one of many vocal women who make up the majority of the Commission.

  Having earned many accolades and awards for her decades of tireless advocacy, she still regarded her experiences as considerably more important than recognition. I asked Katchen if she considered herself to be an expert, or an activist, or something else. She said that if categorization were necessary, she preferred to call herself “what Rush Limbaugh would – an environmental wacko.” While much of Katchen's knowledge was anecdotal or experiential rather than scientific, I told her I thought this was overly self-deprecating. She responded with an unrelated digressive story. She evaded most of my questions, choosing to educate me on the legislative process, the differences between local and national politics, and the origins and histories of one of the many organizations with which she was involved.

  At the beginning of our talk, Katchen immediately began asking me questions about myself. When I confessed my frustrations with the Conservation Commission, with its many big challenges and seemingly few concrete accomplishments, Katchen gave me her version of a pep talk. She cited several specific examples to illustrate the cyclical nature of progress. She described her years of attending congressional briefings and testifying in support or opposition of various legislative bills, and the associated successes and setbacks. “You have to accept the idea of taking two steps forward and one step back”, she said. “You have to be constantly vigilant... Seeing defeat after defeat after defeat, you have to keep picking yourself up off the ground and trying another angle. I don't want you to get sidetracked. Sometimes I ask myself why I am doing this. Why not play bridge like some other retired people do? But I can't do that. Why are we knocking ourselves out? We have to for the world to continue. That's why I want you to keep on fighting.”


Katchen and her energy were an inspiration. She passed away on August 19th, and her memorial is Thursday October 3 at 2pm At Beckham Hall 2nd floor of the Fayerweather Building, Wesleyan University.

City Company Gets Federal Grant For Pathogen Detection Equipment

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro announced today that Real Time Analyzers Inc. has been awarded a $681,521 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant was competitively awarded through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Real Time Analyzers builds portable Raman Spectrometers to analyze small samples, they are based on Industrial Park Road.

The grant will be used to develop an analyzer to detect foodborne pathogens in a timelier manner than currently exists. This proactive approach is in line with the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act, which DeLauro championed. The law takes a more proactive approach to food safety, shifting the focus to preventing outbreaks, rather than reacting to them.

“The ability to detect such foodborne pathogens quickly and on-site in an affordable manner will go a long way towards ensuring a safe food supply for the United States,” said DeLauro. “Dr. Farguharson’s work is both innovative and just the kind of project that the SBIR program was designed to support. He has already demonstrated great success in utilizing SBIR funding and I have every confidence that he and his staff will make great strides in the continued development of the Foodborne Pathogen Analyzer.”

Dr. Stuart Farquharson, President & CEO of the company said, “Current technologies require one to four days to detect pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella in foods. Our analyzer will perform these measurements in less than four hours. This will allow food companies to dramatically increase their testing of equipment and food prior to shipment, which should reduce outbreaks.

“A major US food supplier has been providing guidance to Real-Time Analyzers in the development of the analyzer. We are currently seeking a supplier of test equipment to the food industry as a partner so that this product can reach the market quickly.”

Chloe E. Jones '15 on "Who's Hungry" (Sept. 27 & 28)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe E. Jones '15 discusses Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin's "Who's Hungry," which will receive its Connecticut premiere at Wesleyan on Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 8pm in World Music Hall, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin's "Who's Hungry."
Photo by Rose Eichenbaum.
Pictured (left to right): Rachael Lincoln, Darius Mannino, Zach Tolchinsky.
 
This weekend in World Music Hall four puppeteers will gather around a 24-foot-long dinner table, transformed into a runway-style puppet stage, for the Connecticut premiere of Who’s Hungry, a work of experimental theater.

From Los Angeles performance artist Dan Froot and New York puppet artist Dan Hurlin comes a story about the struggle of hunger across America and the strength of community. A deeply collaborative endeavor, Who’s Hungry weaves together the oral histories of five residents of Santa Monica, California who have faced either hunger, homelessness or both. To bring their stories to the east coast, Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts and Theater Department have partnered with two remarkable organizations: the New England Foundation for the Arts and St. Vincent de Paul Middletown.

A grant from the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts has made it possible for Who’s Hungry to tour the region.  Each of the partner organizations hosting the performance interviewed members of their community who have either experienced hunger first-hand or seen it up close.  The interviews were compiled into the sound score Who’s Hungry New England, which will be incorporated into each performance.  At Wesleyan, this sound score, a powerful montage of voices meant to raise awareness about the impact of hunger in New England, will play as the audience gathers before the performances begin.

Wesleyan is also partnering with St. Vincent de Paul Middletown, an organization that provides food to individuals and families through their community Soup Kitchen and the Amazing Grace Food Pantry. The Soup Kitchen serves nearly 250 prepared meals each day to Middletown residents. The Food Pantry provides food to more than 1,000 households every month.

Representatives from St. Vincent de Paul Middletown, including community members who frequent the Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry, will be on hand at both performances of Who’s Hungry.  They will have a table in the lobby where people can learn more about their work and pick up a copy of Soup Stories, a booklet they’ve created from local stories. Following each performance there will be a live Skype discussion with some of the residents of Santa Monica whose stories are featured in Who's Hungry. Representatives from St. Vincent de Paul Middletown will be there as the voice of the local community. As St. Vincent de Paul’s Executive Director Ron Krom said, “Hunger is not just a Cali problem; it’s a local problem, too.”

Additionally, St. Vincent de Paul Middletown loaned a series of portraits to the CFA depicting guests of the Soup Kitchen to be displayed before each performance.  The simple yet stunning pencil sketches are the work of illustrator/artist and Wesleyan alumna Abby Carter '83.  As a long-time Soup Kitchen volunteer, Ms. Carter chronicled her experience using a camera and a sketchpad. Over 50 of her portraits are now on display at the Soup Kitchen, a gallery of local faces and a beautiful representation of the community. Mr. Krom says the gallery continues to grow as new people arrive and want their portrait proudly displayed on the wall of the Soup Kitchen.

Born of two strong and generative partnerships, the Connecticut premiere of Who’s Hungry is an opportunity to engage with an important issue on a local, regional, and national scale.  A product of great collaboration, Who’s Hungry is a catalyst for continuing to work together in confronting hunger within our own communities and across the country. Grab a seat at the table this weekend.

Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin: "Who's Hungry"
Connecticut Premiere
Friday, September 27 & Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 8pm
World Music Hall
$23 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students


A Outside the Box Theater Series event presented by the Theater Department and the Center for the Arts.

Please note that this performance contains mature themes and language that may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Wadsworth Street Subdivision At Planning And Zoning

Across the street from Wadsworth Park
The Planning and Zoning Commission will tonight consider an application for a 9 lot subdivision in land that lies in a bend of the Coginchaug river, across from the entrance to Wadsworth State Park. The application was submitted by Pattagansett Holdings, LLC, of Durham.

The subdivision has already been reviewed by the Inland Wetlands Agency.

The Planning Department has posted some of the documents regarding the application:
Existing site plan
Subdivision map
Staff comments
Planning and Zoning meets at 7PM in Council Chambers, on Wednesday, September 25th. There will be a public hearing on this application.
----------------
Author's Disclaimer: I am providing information about P&Z meetings, as I have done since 2008, on a volunteer basis for The Eye. I am now a candidate for the Planning and Zoning Commission, and I will continue to cover P&Z until the election in November, because my motivation as a volunteer and one of my goals as a candidate is to increase community understanding of and involvement in land use decisions. The Eye welcomes coverage of P&Z (and other municipal meetings) by any correspondent, including all candidates for office; I would be thrilled to divest myself of The Middletown Eye's P&Z "beat".

Film Studies at Wesleyan: Definition and Demonstration

From the Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning
 ---------------------- 
Saturday, October 26, 2013 | $125 
Center for Film Studies, Wesleyan University

A full day in the Center for Film Studies begins with a talk on the origins and history of film studies and the Cinema Archives at Wesleyan by their founder, Jeanine Basinger. She will then be joined by film faculty members Steve Collins, Scott Higgins, and Marc Longenecker for further presentations.

Participants will experience the film classroom as film students experience it and learn about the components that are integrated within this unique program of study. See and hear lectures from the film faculty, watch student films, and learn about the process of student filmmaking. Learn about the Wesleyan Film Series that is run by students for the university community and be invited to attend a film screening on Saturday evening.

Wesleyan University’s film studies department is one of the top-ranked film schools in the world according to The Hollywood Reporter’s July 2012 article on the top 25 international film schools. It counts many famous alumni within its ranks such as Michael Bay, Alex Kurtzman, Joss Whedon, and Benh Zeitlin.

8:30–9 a.m. Registration; Coffee
9–10:30 a.m. Origins and History of the Film Studies Department and the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, Jeanine Basinger
10:30–10:45 A.M. Break
10:45–Noon The Cinematic Moment: A Glimpse Inside the Wesleyan Film Classroom, Jeanine Basinger, Steve Collins, and Scott Higgins
Noon–1 P.M. Lunch (provided)
1–2:30 P.M. Wesleyan Student Films: From the Production Classroom to the Screen, Steve Collins
2:30–3 P.M. Break
3–4 P.M. Behind the Scenes of the Wesleyan Film Series, Marc Longenecker
8–10:30 P.M. Saturday Night at the Film Series (optional)

To register online, please go to www.wesleyan.edu/will. To register via the mail, please contact the Wasch Center at (860) 685-3005. Registration must be received by October 21, 2013.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

East Street Subdivision At Planning And Zoning

The Planning and Zoning Commission will Wednesday consider a 4 lot subdivision on East Street, across from the intersection of Miner and the Westfield Fire Department. The application was submitted by Pattagansett Holdings, LLC, of Durham.

The Planning Department has posted some of the documents regarding the application:
Existing site plan
Subdivision map
Staff comments
The staff comments include the following:
The developer applied for a demolition permit through the Building Department and demolished the house that was built in 1850.
The developer has proposed sidewalks on East Street and they connect to the large development to the north which [sic] is desirable. East Street is a state highway and they will need State approval to construct the walks.
The parcel of land is extremely flat and there have been issues with the ponding of water on the parcels to the south. The applicant should explain the amount of increase in impervious surface and where it [sic] will be directed.
Planning and Zoning meets at 7PM in Council Chambers, on Wednesday, September 25th. There will be a public hearing on this application.
----------------
Author's Disclaimer: I am providing information about P&Z meetings, as I have done since 2008, on a volunteer basis for The Eye. I am now a candidate for the Planning and Zoning Commission, and I will continue to cover P&Z until the election in November, because my motivation as a volunteer and one of my goals as a candidate is to increase community understanding of and involvement in land use decisions. The Eye welcomes coverage of P&Z (and other municipal meetings) by any correspondent, including all candidates for office; I would be thrilled to divest myself of The Middletown Eye's P&Z "beat". 

Liberty Bank Presents Seminar For First Time Home Buyers




NEWS



www.liberty-bank.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 10, 2013

Contact:      Jane Brosnan – (860) 344-7213
                   jbrosnan@liberty-bank.com


LIBERTY BANK PRESENTS SEMINAR FOR FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS

Liberty Bank in partnership with North End Action Team, Inc. will present a free Homebuyer Education Seminar on September 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Green St. Art Center, 51 Green St.

Late of Pablo Fanque's Fair -- Popcorn by The Colonel # 63

Epigraph: “Are we lost?” I asked [Daddy] tenderly. “Shut up,” he explained.

“The beauty of the night -- moonlight everywhere, sauntering clouds limning majestic trees -- would have enchanted me had I not been seeing it through a bullet hole in the trunk of my car.” --Tonya Lavel

"Wildlands, Woodlands, and Farmlands: The Past and Future of New England Forests and Farming"

Wesleyan's College of The Environment is presenting a public lecture by Brian Donahue this Wednesday.
Brian Donahue
Wildlands, Woodlands, and Farmlands: The Past and Future of New England Forests and Farming
Wednesday, September 25, 7PM
PAC 001
Brian Donahue is Associate Professor of American Environmental Studies on the Jack Meyerhoff Fund at Brandeis University, and Environmental Historian at Harvard Forest. He teaches courses on environmental issues, environmental history, and sustainable farming and forestry, and chairs the Environmental Studies Program.

Donahue holds a BA, MA, and PhD from the Brandeis program in the History of American Civilization. He co-founded and for 12 years directed Land’s Sake, a non-profit community farm in Weston, Massachusetts, and serves today on the Weston Conservation Commission and the Community Preservation Committee. For three years he was Director of Education at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. He sits on several other boards including the Thoreau Farm Trust and The Land Institute.

Donahue is author of Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town (Yale University Press, 1999), which was awarded the book prize from the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. He also wrote The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord (Yale Press, 2004), which won book prizes from the New England Historical Association, the Agricultural History Society, and the American Society for Environmental History. His latest publication is American Georgics: Writings on Farming, Culture and the Land (Yale Press, 2011), an anthology co-edited with Edwin Hagenstein and Sara Gregg.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Osprey?

Christine O'Grady writes,
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I saw this bird on the south end of Industrial Park Rd about a month ago and thought it might be some type of falcon. I went home and did some research and I think it is an osprey. It was a really big bird and I could not thinking of where there was a large water source was around there sufficient for its habitat. Someone said there are osprey poles/nests on the Mattabassett river somewhere.

Maybe he was just out for a stroll.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wesleyan Students Protest For Custodial Workers Rights At Football Game

From the protester's press release.
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Saturday evening around 30 protesters marched through Wesleyan’s first evening football game in support of the custodial staff. In a letter addressed to Wesleyan University’s President Michael Roth, a custodian wrote, “But do not mistake our roles as custodians for subservience, and do not mistake our lack of education for stupidity.” Since the University has subcontracted its cleaning services to the company Sun Services, 10 workers have been laid off reducing the number of custodians from 60 to 50. This change has resulted in an unmanageable and arduous workload. As little as 2 workers have been assigned to clean entire dormitories.

 The protesters chanted slogans demanding dignity, justice, and reasonable workloads.

Friday, September 20, 2013

First Contra Dance of the Semester



The Wesleyan Contra Dance is starting up again for the fall semester!

Our first dance is this coming Saturday, September 21
8-11pm
Beckham Hall
(which is on the 2nd floor of Fayerweather Hall, on Wesleyan's campus, on Wyllys Ave.)

We're starting out the semester with top-notch music and calling -- the band Mavish (Jaige Trudel on fiddle and Adam Broome on guitar), and George Marshall calling.

Beginners are more than welcome!  We'll see you on Saturday!

There are two more dances this semester:
October 25 (Friday)
December 6 (Friday)
(No November dance, because of the availability of the hall.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Realistic Balance Party Endorsed Candidates Removed From November Ballot

According to Middletown Town Clerk Linda Bettencourt, Realistic Balance Party endorsed candidates will be stricken from the ballot on the Realistic Balance line.  This applies to all endorsed candidates other than John Killian, who will still appear on the ballot as the party's candidate for mayor, and Fred Carroll, who will be the party's candidate for the Common Council.

Bettencourt explained that the reason the party's endorsed candidates will be removed is that Connecticut State Statute 9-452 requires signatures of all candidates nominated by a "minority" party. The Republican and Democratic party does not require signatures of candidates to have those candidates considered valid.

Killian and Carroll signed the endorsement as chair and co-chair of the Realistic Balance Party.

The only candidate who will be completely stricken from the ballot is Steven Smith, a Meriden teacher who sought the endorsement of the Working Families Party, and was denied, but was endorsed by the Realistic Balance Party.

"I think it errs on the wrong side of access to the ballot," Realistic Balance Party chair John Killian said today.  "If people want to get off of the ballot, I can understand it.  If people want to be on the ballot, and are removed because of a technicality, it's tough to take."

All other candidates endorsed by the Realistic Balance Party have been endorsed by other parties, and will be listed on the ballot with those parties, those candidates include Republican Board of Education candidates Sheila Daniels, Brian Kaskel and Bill Wilson, Republican Candidate for Planning and Zoning, Jeremy Clark and Democratic Candidate for Planning and Zoning Stephen Devoto.

Republican Candidate for Common Council David Bauer, who was endorsed by the Realistic Balance Party, officially declined the endorsement of the party in a letter to the Town Clerk dated September 12.

Bettencourt explained that while the statute requiring signatures was effective as of July 2011, there were minority candidates on town ballots throughout the state in the last election, and that many of these candidates had not provided the appropriate signature.

Bettencourt said she was this week by the Secretary of State that minority candidates signatures were required.  She has informed the party chair, and the affected candidates.

"As soon as I learned that the endorsements are invalid because the lack the appropriate signatures, I am bound by law to remove them from the ballot," Bettancourt said.

Bettencourt also explained that Middletown is not the only town being examined.  The challenges to the minority slates began in Bethel and Westport.   She predicted that the controversy will affect many ballots in the state, and may have reverberations in previous elections.

The origins of these challenges across the state has not been revealed, but in East Hampton, the entire Tea Party slate has been removed from the ballot.

In Middletown, Killian believes the challenge originated with the Republican Party.

"They had a meeting, and next thing you know the ballot was challenged," Killian said.

"We endorsed a slate in 2011, without signatures and this did not happen," Killian said.  "We endorsed Seb Giuliano and Ron Klattenburg and their names were on the ballot under our line."

According to an email sent to affected candidates, Killian plans to challenge the removal of candidate names.

In fact, in 2011, The Realistic Party endorsed slate contained ten candidates (Full Disclosure: my name appeared on that endorsed slate as a candidate for the Board of Education).

"Middletown was drawn into the controversy," Bettancourt said.  "But every town clerk in the state is now obliged to examine endorsed slates."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Free Citizenship Class At First Church

Every Tuesday and Thursday beginning
October 1st and ending November 21st

9:30AM - 11AM

First Church of Christ, Congregational
190 Court Street, Middletown, CT 06457

Pre-registration required by September 27th
Call Marjola Nelson at (860) 229-READ (7323) or email lvccmiddprog@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Thursday: Coffee and Dessert: Zero Waste

From Kim O'Rourke, City Recycling Coordinator
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Come learn about the City’s Zero Waste Initiative at this ZERO WASTE event (no waste will be generated) and discuss recycling ideas with the City Recycling Coordinator on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hubbard Room of the Russell Library.

Coffee and dessert will be served! Bring your own mug.

RSVP to kim.orourke@middletownct.gov.

Of All the Things We've Lost, We Miss Our Mind the Most -- Popcorn by The Colonel #62

"Constrained writing" is an umbrella term for odd things like writing without the letter "e," but  the phrase is useful to describe writing under any constraint. Tweets, sonnets, limericks, and term papers and journalistic assignments with page or word-number limits are all forms of constrained writing.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dreams Of The River

Michael Ennis, writing in The Middletown Press, asks readers to think big:
Imagine, for a moment, ten years from now, what might exist along Middletown’s riverfront: acres of public recreational space at the river’s edge, walking and bike paths that extend more than a mile south, a cultural/environmental/community center at the site of the old water treatment plant, a marina and boardwalk, and even a potential “eco-tourism” rail link to the south. Adjacent private development would complement the overall plan, and include a mix of commercial and residential uses.
The full article is HERE.