Saturday, February 17, 2018

Middletown Parking Ban In Effect

Note: Public Works Director William Russo said that this ban will not apply to Main Street, but it will apply to all other streets.

Russell Library Welcomes Author Ibi Zoboi February 20

Author Ibi Zoboi will be at Russell Library February 20 at 1:00pm
Russell Library welcomes author  Ibi Zoboi to Middletown! 
American Street author will be reading from her book on Tuesday, February 20, 1:00 – 2:30pm in the Hubbard Room of the Russell Library

Ibi Zoboi was born in Haiti and immigrated to New York with her mother when she was four years old.  American Street tells the story of a young girl that immigrates to the U.S. from Haiti. It was published in February of 2017 to great acclaim. It was Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and ALA Booklist Editors' Choice of 2017.

Ibi's middle grade debut, My Life as an Ice-Cream Sandwich, and her next YA novel, Pride, are forthcoming. Patrons are welcome to bring their copies of American Street to be signed by the author.  Copies of the book will also be offered for sale at the reading.  Light refreshments will be served. For all ages.
Drop in; no registration required.

This event is sponsored by a grant by the Connecticut Humanities. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Winter Snowshoe Expedition -- February 17th

The Middletown Conservation Commission is sponsoring a snowshoeing expedition at the Guida Farm Conservation Area on Saturday, February 17th with an alternative date of Saturday, February 24th. If there is no snow, a conventional hike will go forward on the 17th. The hike will begin around 9:30 at the intersection of Coleman Road and Round Hill Road - at the parking lot across from the T-intersection with Coleman Road.

If the weather is truly inclement -- bitterly cold, heavily raining or seriously snowing -- the ramble will be postponed until the 24th. Call 860-301-1980 for an update on the hiking plans.

The leaders will be Mike Thomas and Elisabeth Holder, members of the Middletown Commission on Conservation and Agriculture. This winter hike will highlight seasonal changes that can be seen along the new trail system, blazed and cleared last fall.

The mostly-flat white trail follows the route of the colonial road from New Haven to Middletown. The red trail crosses old fields, goes through a stand of cedars, and parallels a stream through a deciduous woodland. The blue trail climbs up along the ancient Jurassic fault that produced Connecticut's central valley. It has the steepest grades and winds through upland deciduous woodlands before returning to the fields below.

Hikers may join us for only the easy white trail (1 mile), continue along the easy-to-moderate red trail (1.5 miles), or complete the figure-eight hike that will include all three trails. (3 miles)

The hike will be suitable for school-aged children on up - depending on the participants' fitness and how many trails they want to attempt. Each participant must bring his or her own snow shoes, wear sturdy shoes and layers of warm winter clothing.

The Middletown Conservation Commission welcomes input from the public regarding its open space properties. We will use information about people's experiences to continue our stewardship these properties.

At the beginning and the end of the walk, copies of the Middletown Trail Guide will be available for purchase at a cost of $10.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

This Side of the Curtain: Ukrainian Resistance in Uncertain Times


This Side of the Curtain: Ukrainian Resistance in Uncertain Times

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 6:00pm Memorial Chapel, 221 High Street, Middletown

CONCERT AT 8PM (Tickets: $8 general public, $6 students)

Please join us for a reception in Zelnick Pavilion after the discussion and before the concert.
The evening will begin with a free panel discussion from 6pm to 7:30pm. The discussion, "Resistance and Civic Action in Ukraine,” will focus on the nature of resistance and civic action in Ukraine and its relevance to world events. Keynote speaker Mustafa Nayyem, member of Ukrainian Parliament, Democratic Alliance, former investigative journalist, and catalytic force in Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity will be in conversation with Ukrainian activist and founder of Lviv/Kramatorsk-based Building Ukraine Together Yurko Didula, and Professor Emeritus of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Visiting Professor at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy Dr. Daniel Hryhorczuk. The panel will discuss current events in Ukraine, social reform, non-violent resistance, civic engagement, and social-environmental health.

The panel discussion will be followed by a ticketed concert at 8pm featuring the premiere performance of "This Side of the Curtain.” The multimedia work focuses on art of resistance in times of social-political uncertainty, and will be performed by over 40 musicians and dancers, directed by Associate Professor of Dance, Environmental Studies, and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and Chair of the Dance Department Katja Kolcio in collaboration with with bandurist, composer, ethnomusicologist, and civic activist Julian Kytasty, and Hartford’s Yevshan Ukrainian Vocal Ensemble conducted by Alexander Kuzma. The work will also include photo footage by Evgeny Maloletka edited by Waldemart Klyuzko, design by Assistant Professor of Theater Marcela OteĆ­za, and musical advisement by Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Nadya Potemkina.

This project is co-sponsored by Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts, Dance Department, the College of the Environment, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and the Ukrainian Selfreliance New England Credit Union. This project is made possible in part by a grant from Wesleyan University's Creative Campus Initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ New England Dance Fund, with generous support from the Aliad Fund at the Boston Foundation.

IMAGES CLOCKWISE (from top): Maidan Revolution of Dignity, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2013; Mustafa Nayyem; Yurko Didula on reconstruction site in war-torn city in Donetsk Province; children and parents painting anti-tank barriers in the city of Mariupil, Ukraine, near the Russian border.

A World of Arts in the Heart of Connecticut

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Speak Out For Trails & Bike Routes

A coalition of local organizations promoting off-road recreational trails and safe on-road bike routes is launching a campaign to gather citizen support for several exciting projects in Portland and Middletown. Descriptions and maps of these multi-use trails and routes may be viewed at

If you want to see these bike- and pedestrian-friendly improvements carried out and are willing to advocate for them, please sign the web-based “petition” (see below) indicating that you are prepared to “speak out” via email or attend hearings when critical community support is most needed. 

One major goal of “Speak Out For Trails and Bike Routes” is to implement the Bike Route Master Plan for Middletown. This plan was recently developed and released by Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee, identifying major bike routes throughout the City. This plan recommends designated bike lanes or share-the-road signage and pavement stencils to enable safer travel by bicycle, for both transportation and recreation purposes. At a recent meeting, Middletown’s Public Works Department agreed to begin implementation of the master plan by designing a bicycle route from the intersection of Main St. and Rapallo Avenue, along deKoven Drive and East Main Street to Millbrook Road, and from there to Durham, and Haddam. Such proposed improvements will make a big difference in terms of safe cycling in Middletown, but they will require strong community support to become a reality.

Another long-term goal of “Speak Out For Trails And Bike Routes” is to build a connection between the Air Line Trail (which will soon reach the YMCA’s Camp Ingersoll in Portland) to the Arrigoni Bridge, across the river, and further to Middletown’s Mattabesset Bike Trail in the city’s Westfield area. From there, another section of the proposed connector trail will provide a safe bike route through the center of Meriden to the Quinnipiac Gorge Trail and to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire. Because the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is a section of the East Coast Greenway (a project to build a bike route from Key West, Florida to Eastport, Maine), the Air Line Trail to Farmington Canal Connector Trail would become part of a 125-mile loop encircling the greater Hartford area, with the likelihood of bringing long-distance bicyclists through our area.
While some of the links in this 18-mile connection from Portland to Cheshire already exist or are planned, other sections will need some study for precise route identification. The whole project will require active citizen support in multiple towns, guided by the partner organizations. 

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art initiated the campaign, along with Portland’s Air Line Trail Steering Committee and Complete Streets Group, and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee and Environmental Collective Impact Network (Ecoin). The initiative has received strong support from the Lower Connecticut Valley Council of Governments. The municipalities of Middletown, Portland, Meriden, and Cheshire have shown initial interest.

Many studies have shown that improved conditions for bicycling and walking bring significant benefits for health, education, economic development, property values, public safety, reduced health care costs, and prolonged independence and quality of life for the elderly. 

Maps for these projects and others (the Long Lane Multi-use Trail and the Landfill Trail in Middletown) can be found on the Jonah Center’s website, at There you can sign the “Speak Out For Trails and Bike Routes” petition. Providing your contact information will allow the partner organizations to alert you when letters, emails, or attendance at hearings will be most helpful.

Superintendent to Propose a 2.89% School Budget Increase

At a Board of Education Budget Committee meeting Monday evening, Superintendent Michael Conner previewed his BOE budget presentation for Tuesday's regular meeting.  Conner said he will ask the Board to pass a 2.89% budget increase over the 2017-2018 operating budget.  The increase amounts to a $2,365,000 increase over the current year.

Conner emphasized that the new budget will not count on Alliance Grant funds from the state to be used in the operating budget.  Governor Dannell Malloy has proposed a $650,000 increase in school aid for Middletown.  The legislature needs to ratify that amount.

Conner said that Alliance Grant dollars will be used exclusively for their intended purpose of addressing core priorities in the district including educational innovation, closing the achievement gap, improving teacher effectiveness.

In previewing the budget, Conner said that he was happy to present the city with a budget that took advantage of new efficiencies, organizational coherence, strategic use of grant dollars and efficiencies in use of facilities.  Conner said a status quo budget increase would have meant a request for a 7% increase.

DATTCO Lowest Bidder

In other news. Richard Labrie, from Futures, the company contracted by the BOE to handle bus contract bidding announced that DATTCO was the lowest bidder.  The full board will vote to accept the bid at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday.   The five year contract begins with an annual busing budget of $6, 381,546 for the school year ending in 2019, with 2.5 % increases in each of the remaining four years of the contract.  The only other company that placed a bid was Specialty Transportation.

Mardi Gras Concert Tonight, in Essex

From Trevor Davis.
The 8 piece Occasional Dixieland Jazz Ensemble will be playing for a one hour concert at 7pm, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, with a great singer, Phred Mileski. Free will offering. Go wild before Lent!

City to Receive $450,000 Multi-year Grant to Support Single-parent Families

From The Connection.
Our city has won the Boston Federal Reserve “Working Cities Challenge,” which promotes economic growth throughout cities in Connecticut, as well as other parts of New England. This grant provides $450,000 in a multi-year commitment to support the implementation of different strategies and resources to help single parents in need begin their journey towards financial stability and economic independence.

The collaborative team, led by the Middlesex United Way and The Connection, has received the $450,000 grant to reduce the percentage of Middletown single-parent families living at or below the Federal Poverty Level from 35% to 20% over a ten-year period.

During the first year, the initiative named Middletown Works will address the root causes that hinder low-income single parents from securing opportunities that will lead to a living wage job. Middletown Works will focus on creating vocational pathways to sustainable careers, specifically in healthcare, STEM, logistics and manufacturing, where there is an identified local need. Part of the plan is to link existing employment services in Middletown and give job seekers multiple points of access to these resources. Middletown Works also hopes to raise employer awareness about the needs and strengths of single parent employees, through outreach and engagement efforts, with help from the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce and local businesses.

The collaborating, diverse core team who will continue to work on this initiative are co-leads Middlesex United Way and The Connection as well as representatives from the City of Middletown, Middlesex Community College, Wesleyan University, Middlesex County Community Foundation, Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, Department of Children & Families, ACES/Early Head Start, Shiloh Christian Church, and several other community members/parents who represent the target population for this grant.

Middlesex United Way, The Connection and The Peach Pit Foundation each have committed to providing an additional $45,000 collectively as part of a required match to receive the grant.

Middletown competed against sixteen qualifying cities during the application process when The Reserve Bank’s Working Cities Challenge officially launched in Connecticut in 2016. Middletown is joined by East Hartford, Danbury, Hartford, and Waterbury as the awarded communities selected.

Friday, February 9, 2018

PCSE Spring Speaker Series

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship has a series of Wesleyan alumni, professionals, and leaders from the nonprofit and business worlds coming to speak. Topics range from Legal Basics with Dave Menard from Murtha Cullina LLP, to Startup Impact with Ojala Naeem from reSET, to Effective Organizational Leadership with Muzzy Rosenblatt of Bowery Residents Committee.

All guests will speak at two identical sessions in Allbritton 004 (222 Church St.):
They have a limited amount of seats in each session that are free and open to the public.

Please email to reserve a seat at either session, or if you have any questions!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Daley, Nesci Attempt To Invalidate Progressive DTC slate

The following letter was sent to the State Democratic Party by former Middletown Democratic Town Chair, Sal Nesci, and Councilman Gerry Daley.

DISCLAIMER: Middletown Eye authors Ed McKeon and Stephen Devoto are members of the recently-elected Democratic Town Committee.

(click to enlarge)

Exhibit of Pierre Sylvain's Work Opens at Russell Library

Pierre Sylvain
Fantastical Journey: Voodoo, Slavery, Jazz
February 9 – March 31 2018

From February 9th through March 2018, Russell Library will exhibit paintings representing the past ten years of artist Pierre Sylvain’s work. Focusing on Voodoo, Slavery, and Jazz, the art portrays cultural themes of the African American experience. An opening reception is planned for the evening of February 9 from 6 – 8pm in the main lobby of the library, and will feature the jazz trio, “Liviu Pop and Friends”.

Pierre Sylvain has generously donated a painting to be auctioned off online to benefit the Russell Library. Bidding opened Monday, February 5th 2018 at 10AM, and runs through February 14th 2018 at 5PM. Please see the full list of Online Silent Auction Rules. The painting is called "Love at First Sight" and the size is 14"x14" acrylic and collage. You can access the auction at: 

Liviu Pop Jazz Trio: is composed of Rich Goldstein on guitar, Yahn Frenkel on organ, and Liviu Pop on drums. They will be playing at the exhibit opening Friday, February 9 beginning at 6:00pm.

The exhibit Pierre Sylvain: Fantastic Journey: Voodoo, Slavery and Jazz can be viewed during library hours through March 31, 2018.

The exhibit kicks off a series of Black History events at the library sponsored by the Connecticut Humanities.