Monday, January 31, 2011

Asset Message of the Week - Interpersonal Competence


(From Melissa Robinson, YSB Staff) Interpersonal competence can be tricky even for adults, especially since some people’s emotions are easier to read than others’. Yet, young people who practice the skills of being in touch with their own needs and feelings and know how to appropriately express their feelings are more likely to understand and deal with the feelings of others. Building interpersonal competence is a lifelong process. Each relationship and each interaction allows young people to practice, learn, and master the skills of empathy, sensitivity, and friendship building.

People who are able to communicate, tend to be friendly, sensitive, caring and are naturally people you want to surround yourself with. How can you build this asset in youth that you know? The most obvious way would be to model being sensitive, being a friend, and having empathy for others. I know, personally, I have many of the same characteristics as my father. Although I look nothing like him, I have a lot of the same inner characteristics as he does. He modeled integrity, honesty, responsibility, caring for others, and so much more. Ask your self, who modeled these characteristics for you when you were a child/teenager. What was it about that person that you looked up to and what can you do to be that person for a child now.

Some thoughts to talk about/teach youth:
  • Help decode the media with them: a great example using the Jersey Shore can be found on our blog.
  • Stress that it’s not okay to just “drop” or gossip about a friend
  • Making sure children are connecting with people in person and not just through the computer/cell (texting).
  • Treat others (including your children) the way you would like to see them treat others.
  • Encourage youth to get involved in activities that may draw out interpersonal skills (such as volunteering at the local food pantry or joining a team. Or joining a shovel team!
“Our feelings towards our friends reflect our feelings towards ourselves.” -Aristotle

"Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything." -Muhammad Ali

For more information on Developmental Assets, please visit and don't forget to go to and make your promise to support Middletown youth.

Middletown Press Looks To Enlist Shovel Teams to Help Seniors

The Middletown Press published a story today about seniors stranded by snowy walkways.  If you are willing to help, please contact the people mentioned in the story.

Middletown police asks community to help dig out seniors trapped in homes

MIDDLETOWN – Police are asking members of the community to step forward and volunteer to help shovel walkways and entrances to area seniors’ homes.

This past weekend, police told The Middletown Press, 12 senior citizens called police to report that they were trapped in their homes, unable to dig out of the snow.

But police are not able to come to the seniors’ aid as fast as they would like, Middletown Police Lt. Heather Desmond said Monday.

“In my 16 years here, I’ve never had someone call me and say, ‘I’m stuck; please help me,’” she said.

Desmond asks that anyone who can help those trapped in their homes to come forward and assist.

The Middletown Press is hoping to organize shovel teams of local volunteers to help with this effort.

Individuals or groups are welcome to participate. Call The Middletown Press at (860) 347-3331, ext 222 or 235 to volunteer.

The Middletown Press also invites elderly or disabled residents who need help in digging out to call the newsroom at (860) 347-3331, ext 222 or 235.

Middletown Police invite residents to call the department to request wellbeing checks on elderly and disabled neighbors. Call the police department at (860) 344-3200.

Circus Smirkus Founder Speaks Tonight at Russell Library

Oddfellows Playhouse and ARTFARM are pleased to welcome Rob Mermin, founder of the international youth company Circus Smirkus, to Middletown this evening. Rob will kick off his national speaking tour, “Circle of Sawdust: The Mud, Myth, Mayhem and Magic of Circus” tonight at the Russell Library.

PLEASE NOTE: The event will take place in the HUBBARD ROOM at RUSSELL LIBRARY located at 123 Broad Street, Middletown, CT.

The lecture, filled with clips from Hollywood circus feature films and personal stories and made possible by a grant from the Middletown Commission of the Arts, will begin at 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Now that the location is at the RUSSELL LIBRARY, there is no charge for this event.

Queer Liberation Teach-In Draws Crowd

Sunday at noon a group of about 40 supporters of the Queer Liberation teach-in at Javapalooza marched down the Main Street sidewalk to assemble at the coffeeshop.

"Bigotry go away.  No more mister nice gay," the group chanted. 

Several members of the group carried signs reading "Homophobia Kills," and "I'm Sorry Just Doesn't Cut It," among other slogans along with rainbow flags and walked in a peaceful picket in front of Javapalooza.

The group was assembled to show support from a young Portland resident who was forced by Javapalooza owner Neil Dinerman to leave the shop after carrying in a competitor's coffee. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Woody Woodpecker Sighting...

Friday was one of those back and forth to school five times during the day for various reasons, and on my way home for the 4th time, a Pileated Woodpecker flew right in front of me while I was driving on Cherry Hill Road in Middlefield. Of course, I did not excitedly yell, "Pileated Woodpecker!" I yelled, "Woody Woodpecker" and almost drove into a snow bank. (While I'm dating myself here, I won't apologize for loving Woody Woodpecker! He was my favorite cartoon character for a long time!)

I happened to have my good camera with the zoom lens right next to me in the front seat, and I pulled over to take a picture. Said woodpecker had landed in a large tree, perfectly positioned for a great shot. I rolled down the window, fumbled with the camera, and then he took off right as my toddler yelled, "Mommy, what are you looking at?"

I did manage to get a picture, but not a great one. I had to crop it on my computer or it would have been a fantastic "where's Woody?" exercise. In any case, I've never seen a Pileated Woodpecker in the eight years I've lived in CT, so it was a nice moment in the middle of my crazy day. Here's to hoping you find your Woody Woodpecker this next week!

Local Paranormal group hosts charity event, TAPS investgator to attend

Last summer the Middletown based Paranormal Association of Central Connecticut hosted the very successful Guided Lantern Tour of Indian Hill Cemetery & Wadsworth Mansion. Proceeds benefited the Godfrey Memorial Library and Indian Hill Cemetery Foundation. The Eye covered the event
here & here

As an amateur photographer & lover of historic architecture, I found the Guided Lantern Tour a wonderful opportunity to get night time shots at an other wise off limits locations in Middletown. This spring, the group is hosting another public charity event.

Come join PACC for a night of investigating the once Spencer Mansion.. Now the Deep River Public Library.. come see what happens when the lights go down in this beautiful location.
Doors open April 2nd at 6 pm for a class on the equipment the group uses. Investigation begins at 7 pm runs till 1 am.

Cost of the event ticket is $50.00. All ticket sales to go to the Deep River Library
Equipment class from 6 pm - 7 pm $ 10.00 per person. No tickets will be sold at the event, all participants must pre purchase via the group's website below. Novice ghost hunters or just curious history buffs are welcome to attend. Amateur photographers will find this a particular interesting opportunity to document the mansion as well.
PACC would like to emphasize this is a completely secular and open event done with the utmost respect all the participant's belief's; a purely investigative approach is taken. Think you might have something going bump in the night in your house?
PACC does home investigations FREE of charge to clients, interested may contact the group via the web. They bring in professional equipment including infrared cameras, and home owners can participate.
While the group does investigations in private homes, in no way does the group associate it self with any religious practices-
occult or conventional ( a common misconception); and in fact all participants are asked to refrain from practicing while at the investigation to keep the atmosphere open and positive. None the less, in the past events like this attract all kinds of people, and one just might be surprised in meeting like minded individuals of all backgrounds. PACC encourages people to take a look at the mission statement on the website.

A special guest at the investigation in Deep River will be Robert Moccio an established ghost hunter/investigator from the well known group TAPS.

Payments currenlty can be made via Paypal..... visit the web site at

Participants can pay an additional fee have a reading by either medium Dee Dove or PACC member & medium Laura Cartwright of Middletown. Please make note of this on the website in the comments section or call ahead.
PACC is the only paranormal group that they currently know of to embrace Deaf participants. This event is open to the Deaf/ deaf community, the group is unique in that it has investigators trained in American sign as well as Deaf investigators.. Please make note when signing up if you need an interpreter.
For More informtion feel free to call 860 - 343- 3611 or email

Door Prizes via raffle.... Great fun! Space is
LIMITED (again no tickets sold at the door) so those interested are asked to book now via the web. Any groups looks to do such a fundraiser should also check out the site.

Board of Education Chair Raczka At Westfield Meeting Monday

The Chair of the Board of Education, Ted Raczka, will be the guest speaker at the Westfield Residents Association Quarterly Meeting on Monday evening.

Raczka will discuss the School budget recently approved by the Board of Education, and now under consideration by the Mayor and Common Council. In a moderated session, he will answer questions about the process for determining the budget, and about any other issues of interest.

All are welcome at Westfield meetings. There will be a brief WRA business meeting at 7:00, Mr. Raczka's presentation will commence at 7:30. The meeting is in the Fellowship Hall of the 3rd Congregational Church, 94 Miner Street, just one block east of the Westfield Fire Station on East Street.

From 1981: Tychsen Recommends Merging Middletown's High Schools.

The following article is from exactly 30 years ago today, published in the Hartford Courant, on January 30, 1981

Because of rapidly declining enrollment, the city’s two high schools should be merged into one, ending a 49-year-old rivalry between the two institutions School Superintendent Alfred B. Tychsen recommended to the Board of Education Thursday night.

Tychsen recommended that by 1985 Woodrow Wilson High School shouldbe the one city school to have grades 10-12. Middletown High school would be converted to a junior high school for grades 7-9, as would Keigwin Middle School.

The old wing of Woodrow Wilson Middle School and two other office buildings would be turned over to the city. Keeping Wilson Middle School would require $5 million in repairs, Tychsen has said.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snow Plow Casualty?

Actually not, but I thought it was funny. I told my kids it would be a great day to build a snowman, and we have a wooden snowman accessory kit they love to use. My daughter built this on the pile right at the end of the yard next to the road, so what else was I supposed to think?

Snow Removal

City crews are out in full force today removing snow... here's a quick clip I got on Court Street.

music: "Winter's Love" by Animal Collective.

Queer Liberation Front Teach-In at Javapalooza Sunday

The Queer Liberation Front will hold a teach-in Sunday at noon after a reported incident in which Neil Dinerman,  the owner of the Main Street coffeeshop, Javapalooza, allegedly physically ejected a patron from the shop using derisive anti-homosexual insults in the process.  The young man who alleges the abuse has asked for anonymity.

"I didn't put a hand on anyone," Dinerman said Saturday.  "I got angry, and I lost my temper, and I said things I shouldn't have."

Dinerman explained that the young man entered the store with a coffee from another shop, a national chain.  Driscoll confirms that detail.

"I'm trying to run a business here, on a paper thin margin, so when someone comes in with a coffee from another place, it's like waving a red flag in front of a bull," Dinerman said.  "I asked him to leave and he and his friends laughed at me.

Dinerman admits to using obscenities, but said that his choice of insult was not determined by any perception of the young man's sexual orientation.

"I said things I shouldn't have," Dinerman said, indicating that his choice of curse words which may be considered anti-homosexual was inadvertent.

"I was chose those other words, and they were completely inappropriate," Dinerman said.

According to Melanie Driscoll, a spokesperson for the Queer Liberation Front, the group is meeting with Dinerman Saturday to ask for an apology and to inform him that they are planning to hold a teach-in at his shop on Sunday.  Driscoll and others plan to meet with Dinerman Saturday to discuss their plans for the teach-in.  Dinerman confirmed the meeting.

"I apologize for getting angry and using those words," Dinerman said.  "I have no prejudice against anyone because of their sexual orientation.  Of course I respect them, but I'd ask them, in return, to respect a struggling business owner trying to make a go of it when profits are slim."

Driscoll expects the teach-in to draw a crowd.  As of this posting,  Facebook site reports 191 individuals planning to attend the teach-in.

"As paying patrons we are allowed to," Driscoll said.  "And we plan to do it whether he (Dinerman) allows it or not."

"I don't plan on preventing the meeting," Dinerman said.  "I think it could be helpful.  And, I'll take the business.  We could use it."

According to a Queer Liberation Front press release:

On Sunday, January 30th, 2011, at 12 PM, Queer Liberation Front and allies are organizing a peaceful “Know Your Rights!” teach-in at Javapalooza in Middletown to demand from Mr. Dinerman a public apology, show of goodwill toward the queer community, and allowance to conduct our teach-in without interference.

According to Driscoll, the young man who alleged the assault, and his parents reported complaints to  "the mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, the police, the head of Consumer Protection, and the CT Commission of Human Rights and Opportunities."  Driscoll said that none of these groups provided assistance. 
"Did I use foul language? Yes," Dinerman said.  "Do I apologize.  Yes, or course.  But I don't apologize for throwing someone out who brings a competitor's coffee in here."

Westfield Fire District 2011 Annual Meeting On Tuesday

The annual meeting of the Westfield Fire District, City of Middletown will be held on February 1, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. at the Westfield Fire Department, 653 East Street, Middletown, CT.

All inhabitants living within the limits of said Fire District for six months and qualified as electors of the City of Middletown are members of said Fire District and are eligible to vote at said meeting.

The purpose of the meeting is:
1) To elect three (3) Commissioners for a term of three (3) years beginning on February 1, 2011,
Candidates applying for the position:
•Sidney A. Harmon
•James C. Reardon
•Jonathan L. Alderman

2) To transact any and all business which may properly come before said meeting.

Ross Andrew, Jr. - Chairman
The Westfield Fire District

Friday, January 28, 2011

Treacherous Travel Around Town

Though the snows have stopped temporarily, walking and driving are still hazardous (as this rear-end accident on Court and Main demonstrates) today as the tempartures fell overnight and froze puddles and thawing snow.  Snow piles are high, forcing drivers to nose out into intersections, and pedestrians to walk in the driving lane, and slick spots are numerous.  Many sidewalks remain uncleared.

Board of Ed To Consider New Policy on Public Comment

Tuesday night's regular Board of Education Meeting was a busy one: Superintendent Michael Frechette reported on snow days (4 taken so far, not many left), the projected district enrollment for the next 10 years (will remain fairly flat with a bubble in the current 2nd grade), and the difference between his wish list and the list of support needs the district has.

Assistant Superintendent Barbara Senges talked at length about the District Data Teams, noting that technically, this is the last year of the 3-year District Improvement Plan mandated by Middletown's performance levels on the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs). In a recent meeting, it was decided that instead of writing a new plan for the next three years, the district will continue with its current plan. This is for two reasons: first, all the parts of the original plan aren't implemented yet, and second, the original plan is working and Middletown is off the "needs improvement" list for the first time in several years. Senges also passed on several compliments from the State Representative who visits all 16 districts in CT with improvement plans: "She said that in all the districts she visits, no one has the depth of conversation Middletown has...and she's never seen a group with the same level of instructional leadership as we do."

The hot seat for the evening belonged to Facilities Director Ken Jackson as there are still issues at MHS with a failed retaining wall, lighting and acoustical problems in the pool area, and cracked seats in the auditorium. The good news, though, is that the seat company is replacing all 1,000 auditorium seats under warranty. Jackson also asked the BOE for $5000 for an Engineering Study to tackle the electrical issues at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. The school had its second electrical fire on January 19th, but the problem stems from CL&P's phase dropout issues on that side of town. While an infrastructure update will ultimately solve the problem once and for all, that's CL&P's decision, and in the meantime, Jackson has to take measures to prevent future fires and to protect power to the district's server. When WWMS loses power, power to the district's server is also lost, which affects the ability of every school in the district to access the internet. This loss of internet service also means the district can't use its Honeywell Emergency system to notify parents. This was obvious on Jan. 19 when the school was evacuated and kids sent home early, but the district couldn't call parents to tell them their kids were on their way home. Jackson told the Board he wants to have an electrical study of the system to see how to get surge protection, but that he will also be looking to install an emergency generator to protect power to the server.

The most interesting topic of the evening, though, came from a quick comment during the public session. A gentleman (and I didn't catch his name, I apologize) thanked the BOE for returning SRO's (School Resource Officer) back to Middletown High. "The teachers really appreciate it and the officers are excited to be there and they're really settling in." Then the gentleman went on to add, "I also urge the board to consider some kind of policy to control the slanderous comments made during the Public Session...people just get up here and say stuff that isn't true."

MHS Principal Robert Fontaine then gave a "State of Middletown High" speech. (This was still during the public comment session where speakers have 3 minutes and when the timer beeps, BOE Chairman Ted Raczka cuts the speaker off mid-sentence.) Fontaine had lots of nice things to say about how the climate is improving at MHS and how the data teams are making are improving instruction and how suspensions are down. Notably, though, when the 3-minute timer beeped, Fontaine kept talking...

Toward the end of the meeting when Policy Committee Chair Sally Boske was updating the Board on policy issues, she noted that the committee would be considering a "policy on public comment."

Now why is this interesting (especially to this EYE reporter)? Just over a year ago, the BOE amended Bylaw 9325(a) to limit public comment to 3 minutes a person down from 5 minutes a person. The Board has been routinely criticized for this limitation. The MHS Principal could have been added to the agenda in any number of places as a legitimate report to the board, but he choose to use public comment time and he wasn't limited to 3 minutes. And it wasn't like he was just allowed to finish his sentence or even a paragraph. He continued speaking for at least another 2 -3 minutes past the allotted time. And now, the policy committee will be looking to create what kind of policy?

Bylaw 9325(a) currently allows "any individual or group to address the Board concerning any subject that lies within its jurisdiction..." The only restriction possible is that the subject of the public address has to be a matter that the BOE has control over. So, for example, someone couldn't complain to the BOE about how public works removes or doesn't remove snow from corners in Middletown. I'll be curious to see just what comes next...a tax-paying citizen can only talk to his or her elected officials in a public setting if...if...the subject is nice and doesn't point out any deficiencies? Oh wait, maybe only if the citizen has personal knowledge of a problem (meaning he or she was actually there on school property to witness the concern) and it's the second Wednesday of the fourth month of an odd year.

Hmm. I guess I'm going to have to dig out my first amendment again...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Citizens Asked to Clear Hydrants

From the Middletown Fire Department

In light of the extremely heavy snowfall, the Middletown Fire Department is appealing to the citizens of the City of Middletown to assist with the identification and clearing of snow around a fire hydrant.  It has become extremely difficult to identify hydrant locations with the large mounds of snow that accumulated from plowing

If you have a fire hydrant on your property, you can assist not only the fire department, but yourself and your neighbors as well by clearing the snow from around the fire hydrant.  As everyone is well aware, every second counts in a fire, any delay in locating a fire hydrant may have a negative impact on life safety and the successful outcome of a fire. 

The personnel of the Middletown Fire Department are asking that if you have a fire hydrant on your property, please clear it in such a way that fire personnel can identify it. If you know of a fire hydrant that has not been cleared, and you cannot clear it yourself, please mark it and the fire department can assist with clearing it.   If you need assistance, please feel free to contact the fire district that you live in. 

For any additional information, please contact Deputy Chief Robert Kronenberger.  Office: 860-343-5045; Cell: 860-883-7564; email:

Second Story, Man

 Photo by Joanne Jukins

After the collapse of two buildings in nearby Portland from heavy snow, many residents are clearing roofs.

Help to Restore Liability Protection for Municipalities

This is important to all citizens of Middletown who enjoy the use of the many public lands and spaces the city owns, and public lands and trails you visit across the state. While I'm not aware (can anyone else comment on this please) of Middletown limiting recreational activities on municipal lands, it is only a matter of time before Middletown follows the lead of other localities if this bill does not pass. Please see the CT Forest and Parks Position Paper for more information.

Or visit the CT Forest and Parks web link.

Reprinted from the CT Forest and Parks:

Recreational Liability Public Hearing is Monday

Late Wednesday the Environment Committee set a Public Hearing for Monday, January 31st, Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Working with many supporting organizations, towns, and businesses, we were able to get an active crowd to the MDC Public Hearing last July.  Together we developed a position paper and other materials on Recreational Liability. Restore Liability Protection for Municipalities Position Paper

The Bill that will be heard by the Environment Committee on Monday is S.B. 831. S.B. 831 would restore the liability protection to Municipalities that is currently afforded to state, private, utility, and corporate landowners who make their land open for the free use and enjoyment of the public.  This liability protection was available to municipalities for 25 years before it was removed in a controversial court case in 1996, Conway v. Wilton.

** If you wish to testify, sign-up for the hearing will begin at 11:00 A.M. on January 31st in Room 1E of the LOB.  You need to submit 40 copies of written testimony to Committee staff one hour prior to the start of the hearing in Room 1E of the LOB.  The first hour of the hearing is reserved for public officials.  Speakers will be limited to three minutes of testimony.

Please help spread the word ... this is very short notice ... and we need you!

All the best,

Eric Hammerling
CFPA Executive Director

p.s.  To assist anyone interested in providing testimony (but who may not have the ability to make 40 copies of it and bring it to the LOB), we are glad to make copies for you at CFPA IF you get your testimony to me via by 9:00 a.m. this Sunday 1/30.

rescheduled: Rockfall Foundation Open House

Winter Snows --we're rescheduling & hope you can, too

The Rockfall Foundation

Members and Friends Open House

and Reception for

Claire Rusowicz

Postponed until a future date--and some thawing

Given the amount of snow we received and very cold temperatures predicted for the rest of the week, parking and driving for many of us will remain troublesome for a while. Our on-the-ground scouts recommend that we look for warmer days to reschedule and we will.

We look forward to setting another date--please keep safe and warm until then.

Questions? Please call The Rockfall Foundation office (860)347-0340 or

The Rockfall Foundation

deKoven House Community Center

27 Washington Street, Middletown CT 06457 (860)347-0340

Greening and Growing Middlesex County for 75 Years

Flamenco & Family Festival at Green Street

¡Viva Flamenco! A Demonstration and Workshop with Marta Torres
Friday, January 28 | 7–8:30 pm
Regular: $8; Members/Students/Seniors: $5

Marta Torres, a native of Madrid Spain, will demonstrate flamenco dance and explain its history, including a question and answer session. The final half hour will allow audience members to try flamenco for themselves—participation encouraged, but not required.

Family Festival at Green Street—Come in from the Cold!
Saturday, January 29 | 10:30 am–2:30 pm | FREE!

Join us at Green Street for a day of family activities for all! All ages are welcome; children must attend with a parent or caretaker. This event is free, but your donations will help us hold future events.

10:30 am-1 pm Community Music Initiative (all ages)

12-1:30 pm Hip Hop with Eric QuiƱones, ThoroEnergy (ages 8-12)

1-1:45 pm Early Childhood Music (ages 5 and under)

1:45-2:30 pm Storytelling (all ages)

1-2:30 pm Creative Arts Workshop (all ages)

Ugh, How Beautiful

Another foot and a half in the yard.  I hear the distant thunder of snow plows, and the hypnotic beeping of the earth (uh, snow) movers.

The city was $47,000 into the plowing fund before this storm.

Sunday at First Church: Snow or No Snow

First Church of Christ,

190 Court Street
Middletown, CT

First Church lore has it that services have been held every single Sunday since the congregation first gathered when Middletown was settled by the English in 1650. That's what we're told when we trek in, shivering and shedding snow and moisture on a stormy Sunday morning when only a handful of the faithful show up. It makes one feel like a pioneer, a trailblazer, and a part of history, however modest.

The most challenging Sunday weather-wise was in mid-March about 8 years ago, when 24 inches of snow fell overnight and 12 determined worshipers trudged to the doors of 190 Court Street. That was our lowest attendance on a Sunday in recent memory.

Sometimes that's what it's all about: just showing up, snow or no snow. For those who come this Sunday, we have some favorite hymns lined up, and you can count of a lot of human warmth, tasty refreshments, and an opportunity to share joys and concerns with a wider community. Of course, we will be discussing John Hall's recent announcement that, after 21 years as the Senior Minister of First Church, he will conclude his ministry at the end of June this year.

Come visit and share the warmth of First Church this Sunday. There will undoubtedly be snow.

First Church provides child care on Sundays, and parking is available on Court Street and in the surrounding neighborhood, between the ever-increasing piles of snow.

First Church is an Open and Affirming Church: All are welcome into the full life of our community regardless of their race, age, gender, nationality, marital status, economic situation, mental or physical ability, or sexual orientation. No matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome. Come visit and see. We won't bore you. We won't talk down to you. We will love you and respect your intelligence. We will give you tools to help you deepen and pursue your spiritual path.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Teens & Technology Event Postponed

Due to the cancellation of all afterschool and PM activities for the Middletown Schools tonight's presentation "The Bully's Playground: Teens and Technology" has been postponed until its snow date of March 2nd.

The next workshop is the series is "Your Online Identity: Its Possible Consequences" which focuses on how the creation of online profiles through social media and its relation to our right to privacy and the affiliations we keep (school, work, etc). As we start to share more and more, how will that online presence impact us? There will also be a presentation by the Middletown Police Department on the issue of sexting and how it relates to the law. This presentation will be held February 23rd in the Woodrow Wilson Middle School library at 6pm.

Planning and Zoning and DRPB Meetings Postponed

Quentin Phipps, Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, has decided to cancel tonight's meeting due to snow.

Discussion and decisions on tonight's agenda items, including Eckersley-Hall and the Cooley Avenue historic factory building, will take place at the next P&Z meeting, February 9.

The Design Review and Preservation Board meeting for tonight has also been canceled.

City to Require Closing of Miss Patsy's Kitchen

Patricia Hofher, the Miss Patsy of Miss Patsy's Kitchen is resigned to her fate.

"If we're handed a cease and desist by the city, we'll obey it," Hofher said as she prepared breakfast sandwiches for two customers Monday.  "We have to do what the judge ordered."

What the judge ordered is for the City of Middletown to enforce its zoning laws, and in the case of Hofher's kitchen on wheels at 980 South Main Street, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) has declared it illegal.   According to Zoning Control officer Bruce Driska, the city will pursue closure of the breakfast and lunch stand.

"We are obliged to follow the judgment issued by the court," Driska said.  "I've met with the City Attorney, and with (city planner) Bill Warner.  We want to be sure we handle it correctly."

But that's only a small part of a story which began six years ago.

Chris Parslow, who owns a house at 11 Maple Shade Road bordering the driveway where Miss Patsy's is permanently parked on a concrete stand with water and utility service, has been trying to get the city to enforce its own zoning ordinances for more than six years.  At first he was concerned solely about the noise and the additional traffic in the driveway but as the battle continued, he was even more concerned that a retail precedent would be set if the portable kitchen was allowed to stay.

"The larger concern is that it would have established retail sales on what is zoned as a residential lot," Parslow said.  "That could've opened the door to development of any kind of restaurant, store, or chain restaurant there."

In 2004, the city's zoning enforcement officer at the time ordered it closed.  David Mylchreest, who owns the property on which Miss Patsy's Kitchen rests resisted the order and sought an opinion from the ZBA.  Mylchreest insisted that retail sales had occurred on the site for years, and that the right to

Historic Silk Thread Factory Building To Be Discussed At Planning And Zoning

Developer Michael Johnson is applying for a permit to use part of a three-story brick factory near the corner of Cooley Street and Main Street Extension as a public assembly space. The factory, built in the early 1870s, employed as many as 150 men in the early 1880s, they used a 50 horsepower steam engine to turn raw silk into thread.

Johnson proposes to use about 10% of the building for a public meeting space. According to MiddletownPatch, the tenant for this space is Narcotics Anonmyous.

Johnson does not specify how he will develop the remainder of the building or the newly empty space adjacent to it, where another factory, a "saw-tooth" building, was recently razed.

Johnson told reporter Shawn Beals

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Streeto Asks BOE for Cooperation With Donated Sick Time

Common Council member James Streeto spoke during the public session of the Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening and asked BOE members to help facilitate the donation of sick time hours by union members to a newly employed school cafeteria worker.

The union, Local 466 has asked the school district to allow members to donate their own sick time hours to the new employee, but so far the school administration has resisted, causing a controversy with the union and additional tension between the city and the school administration.

"The rhetoric on this topic needs to be dialed down," Streeto said.  "As it needs to be dialed down on a number of issues in this city."

Streeto urged the board to appoint a representative to work with the city's Personnel Review Committee to find a compromise.

"It's been the subject of too much heat and not enough light," Streeto said. "And it's about helping someone who truly needs help, and I suspect that's the reason we all got into politics in the first place."

Later in the meeting BOE chairman Ted Raczka suggested that the issue was in the hands of the PRC, and he was optimistic about a positive outcome.

Police Seeking 15 Year Old, Possibly Suicidal

Update from the police (1/26/2011): As of 3:45pm Dejevon Green has been located and is in good health. Nothing further. Thank you for all your assistance!
From the Middletown Police

Dejevon Maurice Green age 15
Black Male, 159lbs 5’6”

Clothing: Dark blue Nike Boots, Blue Jeans and a black North Face Jacket (short length) possibly a long black thermal shirt under the jacket. Dejevon was carrying a Nike duffle bag full of clothes.

Picture to the right is two years old.

Dejevon made suicidal statements to his family prior to leaving his residence in Middletown. He was last seen at the CVS on Main St. Ext. at approximately 11:30am and may be at risk to himself.

Prior to living in Middletown, Dejevon lived in New Britian and may be heading back there.

Anyone with any information regarding the whereabouts of Dejevon is urged to contact their locale police department or the Middletown Police Department (860)344-3200

Black History Extravaganza

Girls Inspired For Total Success( Gifts) a club at Middletown High School is hosting a Black History Extravaganza celebrating Fashion and Design on February 4, 2011 at Middletown High School(Auditorium) in Middletown, CT.

Doors open at 7pm, Show starts at 7:30pm, Admission $5.00, Refreshment will be sold.

Special alumni guest performances by: Pretty Boiiz, Jordan Watson and Alex Foxworth.Featuring clothes from Never Say GoodBye, Fashion Bug ,Old Navy and other retailers.

People Empowering People Program To Start Soon

Worrying about problems in your community? Help change them! Turn your concern for children into action! Learn the skills to make this happen. Find out about the People Empowering People program.

The Middletown Public Schools, in conjunction with the Connecticut Parent Information Resource Center (CT PIRC) & the Parent Trust is about to begin the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension’s People Empowering People program in Middletown.

The statewide program is a personal and leadership development program with a strong community focus. The program, facilitated by Susan Owens includes ten two-hour sessions on values, communication skills, problem-solving skills, parenting skills, leadership skills, action planning and community opportunity. Following the training, participants attend weekly sessions and work on projects that benefit the community. The program will begin February 25, 2011 from 6pm to 8pm at the Community Health Wellness Center 635 Main Street in Middletown, CT.

A light dinner will be served and childcare will be provided

Please call 860 638-1462 to attend.

Looking Into Mirror

By now, the Charles Lloyd Quartet concert at Wesleyan's Crowell Concert Hall this coming Friday night (1/28/11) should be sold out. The ensemble's new ECM CD, "Mirror", is a masterful blend of spirituals, jazz, popular song and world music.
However, there is an opportunity (and a rare one at that) to hear Mr. Lloyd in conversation with Adjunct Associate Professor of Music (and director of the Wesleyan Big Band) Jay Hoggard on Thursday at 4:15 p.m. in the CFA Hall (formerly the CFA Cinema.)  The event, titled "A Conversation About Music and Spirituality", is free and open to the public.  One hopes that the weather isn't so bad that the musician and composer Lloyd is waylaid. 
For more information, call the Box Office at 860-685-3355.

Superintendent Meets With Parents On Budget

Superintendent of Schools Michael Frechette maintained a self-imposed optimism in talking with parents, most members of the Middletown School Association, about the budget he has presented to the city for approval.  But his optimism was leavened by the dire financial straits faced by the federal and state governments.

"You know the cliff they've been talking about for three years," Frechette said Monday evening at Wesley Elementary School. "This is it."

Frechette explained that the budget presentation was identical to those he has made to the Board of Education budget committee, and to the larger Board of Education.  While the budget calls for a 3.45% or 7.12% increase, depending upon the amount of state ECS grants, he called the budget "status quo."

"This is the third year in a row we've had the same budget," Frechette explained as he talked about a budget which he noted only contains increases for health benefits and mandated salary increases.

Frechette emphasized that although the budget has been flat for three years, it has not hampered achievements in the school district that he says are held in high esteem at the state level.

"Our district improvement plan has been used as a state model," Frechette said.  "We are the only district on the list of those who needed improvement who is in safe harbor.  Every one of our subgroups made adequate yearly progress.  And we made all these improvements, and closed the budget gap with no increase in budget."

Frechette also noted that the Malloy administration has looked at Middletown as a model for school reform in Connecticut.

With all the positives comes the reality of budget hardships from the federal to the municipal level, and Frechette declined to indicate where cuts might be made if the district's budget is not accepted by the city.

"It's my job to lobby and to advocate for this budget," Frechette said in an answer to a parent who wondered where cuts might be made.

"If 88% of the budget is salaries," Associate Superintendent Barbara Senges said.  "Then it's pretty easy to determine."

With federal stimulus funds unlikely, the $2.4 million which found its way to the city in stimulus grants (which were also deducted from CES state grants), currently fund 44 teacher positions.

Leah Meyer, a Lawrence School parent complimented the administration on improved rigor in classroom study, and urged the administration to continue emphasizing improvements at all costs.

"If you could make it even more rigorous that would be better," Meyer said.  "Because that's what keeps people in town.  That's what keeps people from sending their kids to private schools."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Middletown High Goes To The Symphony Soloist Competition Tonight at MHS

Tonight is the Middletown High Goes To The Symphony Soloist Competition Performance. The competition/performance will take place at the Middletown High Performing Arts Center Theater @ 7:00PM. Everyone is invited to attend this very special performance. Below is the concert competition/performance order and selections. We hope to see you tonight!

Middletown High Goes To The Symphony
 Soloist Competition
January 24th, 2011
Middletown High Performing Arts Center Theater

Qui Sedes                                                                      Antonio Vivaldi
Judy Reid, Alto
Piano Accompanist, Aaron Sinicrope

Alone, and Yet Alive!                                                    Arthur Sullivan
Amy Schildwaster, Alto
   Piano Accompanist, Ali Sinicrope

Lied Ohne Worte (Song Without Words)                     F. Mendelssohn
David Westby, Cello
Piano Accompanist, Aaron Sinicrope

Warsaw Concerto                                                        Richard Addinsel
Andrew Satterberg, Piano
Piano Accompanist, Gina Fredericks

If Ever I Would Leave You    Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein
Michael Cho, Baritone
Piano Accompanist, Aaron Sinicrope

Violin Concerto No.3, First Movement                        Antonia Vivaldi
Katelin Greatsinger, Violin
    Piano Accompanist, Ali Sinicrope

Domine Deus                                                                 Antonio Vivaldi
Elizabeth Anderson-Krengel, Soprano
 Piano Accompanist, Aaron Sinicrope

Quando Men Vo                                                             Giacomo Puccini
                            Kaitlyn Passons, Soprano
Piano Accompanist, Gina Fredericks

Mandoline                                                                      Gabriel Faure
Zachary Fletcher
    Piano Accompanist, Ali Sinicrope

Original Piece                                                               Nathan Fletcher
                                     Recorded Accompaniment

Voi Che Sapete                                                             W. A. Mozart
April LaRosa, Soprano
Piano Accompanist, Ali Sinicrope

New England Emporium Features Landscape Photographs by Jason Neely

The New England Emporium (386 Main Street) is displaying work by Jason Neely, a Middletown photographer. Neely's "New England Landscapes" series is made up of twenty photographs taken in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut--including many from Middlesex County such as Wadsworth Falls in Middlefield and Herzig Farm in Durham.

As faithful readers of The Eye will remember, Neely's work was featured in the August 2009 issue of "National Geographic" and is also the cover of "Raditude," the 2009 release by rock band, Weezer.

Neely moved to Connecticut four years ago, he says the beautiful scenery in New England has inspired him to put together this particular series of photos. Many of them will provide an antidote to the cold and snow currently washing over us.

Neely's father was an amateur photographer who lost a long battle with melanoma in the summer of 2009, shortly after the National Geographic photo was published. A portion of all sales will go to the Middlesex Cancer Center in his memory.

More of Neely's photographs are available for viewing on his Flickr site.

More photos after the page break below.

Lucky Strikes Middletown

The Cypress Restaurant, 1265 Main Street, has a really big weekend of music including a visit from internationally known blues musician Lucky Peterson.  Peterson, equally adept at keyboards and guitar as well as a fine vocalist, has had a long and exciting career, performing for 44 of his 47 years!  At the age of 8, he recorded with blues legend Willie Dixon and 9 years later toured with blues vocalist Little Milton.  Before launching his own career, he spent time on the road with Bobby "Blue" Bland. 

Joining him on Friday night (1/28) at The Cypress will be his wife Tamara (vocals) and the great local drummer Liviu Pop. The show starts at 9 p.m. and the cover charge is only $5.00!

Saturday night (1/29), the Dayton Rich Band returns to The Cypress for an 8 p.m. show. Guitarist Rich fronts an impressive quartet including local folks such as bassist Joe Cannata, drummer John Morello and multi-instrumentalist Dean Coutsuridis.  Need more information?  Call 860-346-3367. 

Superintendent to Meet With Parents, Residents About Budget, Monday January 24

School Superintendent Michael Frechette will meet with parents, teachers and residents to answer questions about the proposed school budget for 2011-2012.  The meeting will take place at Wesley School, at 6:30 PM.

The proposed budget is increased from this year's by 3.45% or 7.11% depending on the amount of state aid the school district receives.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

From 1961: 17 Below Zero Reported Along Newfield Street

This article is from 50 years ago today, published in the Hartford Courant on January 23, 1961.
The forecast for today is for a comparatively balmy 7 below zero.

Policeman Howard Lineberry reported a thermometer reading of 17 below zero at his home on Newfield Street early Sunday morning. Other residents of the street confirmed the reading.

The temperature was nine below zero at 7 a.m. at Mr. [sic] Higby weather station, but caretaker Kornel Bailey said this was not a record; he said the temperature at 7 a.m. Saturday was 10 below zero.

City snow removal workers, who had worked in sub-zero cold Saturday, did not work Sunday, but firemen were called out four times Sunday morning between midnight and sunrise.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wireless Zone Surpasses Goal For Fight Against Breast Cancer

From Susan G. Komen For the Cure, CT

The Wireless Zone Foundation for Giving continues its support of the Connecticut Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® with a $7,450 donation to the local fight against breast cancer – the largest donation from the Connecticut-based company to date. This most recent contribution brings Wireless Zone’s contribution to more than $20,000 in support of Komen Connecticut’s work throughout the state.

Wireless Zone is not only a wireless retail store, but also a community partner. Each year the Foundation gives to local organizations like Komen Connecticut that have an impact on Wireless Zone employees and franchisees.

“As an organization that serves the entire state of Connecticut,” said Anne Morris, executive director of Komen Connecticut, “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with a company that has its roots in our state and has a special commitment to the wellbeing of its employees and their families.”

Wireless Zone is especially dedicated to Komen for the Cure – Susan Suhr, the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, won her fight with breast cancer several years ago and has been spearheading fundraising efforts for this cause specifically. She has devoted her time and creative energy to develop an inter-office fundraising campaign to raise money for Komen Connecticut.

Donations were made by Wireless Zone corporate headquarters employees, both directly and through the purchase of York Peppermint Patties sold throughout the month of October (National Breast Cancer Awareness Month). For a minimum donation of $5, employees were also allowed to wear denim and pink during the company’s designated day of celebration.

Komen Connecticut will invest the funds raised in research and Connecticut-based breast cancer education, screening and treatment programs, to ensure that women have access to the information and services they need to keep them healthy.

About the Connecticut Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Komen for the Cure’s presence in Connecticut began in 1994 with a Race for the Cure. The local organization was incorporated as an Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1999. Komen Connecticut serves local communities by providing funding for research and local life-saving programs which address education, screening and treatment for Connecticut residents. In 2010, Komen Connecticut invested $1.02 Million locally, providing funding to 21 Connecticut breast health programs. Since 1994, Komen for the Cure has awarded more than $20 Million to programs in our local communities. For more information, visit or call 860-728-4955.

The Snow's Good For Something

Snow fort by Dana Royer.

Youth Support Lectures Series Kicks Off Wednesday With Speech on Cyber Bullying

From Melissa Robinson, Middletown Youth Services Bureau

I thought that I would use this opportunity to make you all aware of the upcoming Middletown Substance Abuse Council's Lecture series.  The first lecture will be Wednesday January 26th from 7-8 at Keigwin Middle School.  The topic for the first lecture is:  The Bully's Playground:  Teens and Technology.  Students from the Youth Service Bureau's summer research program will discuss cyberbullying specific to Middletown youth and talk about what can be done.  Please come support these young researchers who dedicated 6 weeks of their summer to fight cyberbullying!

Please note that the snow date for this lecture is March 2nd, 2011.  If school is closed, the program will be rescheduled.  In case of any questions regarding inclement weather, call (860)852-1091.

Friday, January 21, 2011

MAPA Presents Frog and Toad this Saturday and Sunday at IDS in Middlefield

Gilead to Receive State Funding For Emergency Generators For Adolescent Group Home in Middletown

From the office of Matt Lesser
State Representative Matt Lesser, who represents Durham, Middlefield and Middletown in the Connecticut General Assembly, announced $19,000 in state aid for two facilities owned by Middletown-based Gilead Community Services.

The state grants, to be formally approved in a meeting of the State Bonding Commission on January 27, will provide emergency backup generators for two adolescent group homes, one in Middletown and the other in Old Saybrook.

We are thrilled to receive this funding; the timing couldn’t be better with the weather we have been having,” said Barry Simon, Gilead’s Executive Director. “Power outages for these homes require emergency planning to maintain the health and safety for the children we serve. To maintain a safe environment and avoid emergency relocation is a wonderful thing. Things like this really make a difference and allow us to improve lives and build futures.”

State law requires that the homes be evacuated after four hours in the event of a power outage.

"This funding will provide critical continuity of care for adolescents and young adults receiving psychiatric services," Rep. Lesser said. "I am proud of the work Gilead and other non-profit providers do throughout Middlesex County."

The two homes receiving grants are the Baldwin Home in Middletown and the Anchorage House in Old Saybrook, both funded by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF). The two homes provide community based programs to provide psychiatric services to youth age 14 through 21. The youth attend school or work programs and are taught skills to assist them in the transition to young adulthood.

Weekend Lineup at The Buttonwood Tree

Tonight's show with Deni Bonet has been postponed until later due to anticipated icy road conditions. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Saturday's show will be a winner for sure, come early to get a seat! Reservations may be made at

Sunday we have 2 worship services in the morning. Food Not Bombs shares a delicious, free meal at 1 pm and often offers some casual music, and always enlightening conversation.

Sunday afternoon, Elizabeth Thomas will hold Tryouts for Youth Poetry Slam. Come to participate or just listen to these brave young folks share their poems.

Dan Arcamone Jazz!

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 - @8pm
$10 / $8 students

High energy, rock-influenced jazz!

Dan Arcamone - guitar

Jen Allen - piano

Rich Zurkowski - bass

Joe Palmer - drums

Swinging, soulful, energetic, gifted, flawless, these are just some of the words that have been used by critics to describe Connecticut based guitarist Dan Arcamone. Equally at home as a composer and performer, Arcamone’s powerful yet elegant style has been winning over audiences and critics alike. Drawing influences from the likes of Pat Metheny, John Coltrane, and Michael Brecker, Arcamone has developed a playing style that All About Jazz calls “intellectually stimulating” and “high energy.”

The 3rd Tryout Slam for the CT National Youth Poetry Slam Team 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011
Doors open/Sign-up at 2:45pm, Slam starts at 3pm

If you are a poet and like the mic, if you like applause and are between the ages of 13 and 19, you are eligible to try out for the CT National Youth Poetry Slam Team 2011. You should come prepared with at least 3 poems (be familiar with the rules and format) and enthusiasm.

The top 3 (maybe 4) poets from this slam will compete in a FINALS slam (TBD) with top poets from around the state. The eventual top 6 young poets will represent CT at Brave New Voices in San Francisco in July 2011. For more information, log onto

If there is any question regarding a reschedule due to inclement weather, please check for more information before heading out.

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center
605 Main Street / PO Box 71, Middletown, CT 06457 / 860-347-4957

Book Store / Art Gallery Hours – 

During events, by appointment, 
at random times and regularly:

Sundays 1-2 pm

Mondays 10 am – 10 pm

Tuesdays 11 am – 7 pm

Wednesdays 1-7 pm

Thursdays 10 am – 7 pm

Fridays 11 am – 3 pm

Handicap accessible
Light Refreshments available
Reservations can be made online at

Ongoing Happenings:


Worship Services - 10 am, 11:00am

Food Not Bombs - 1:00pm


Wing Chun Study Group - 6-7pm, $8/Class 5$ for students

Open MIC with J-Cherry - 7:30pm Signup 8:00pm start time -$3-5 suggested donation – pay what you can.


Kundalini Yoga Class with Kay Lani - 5:15pm - 6:30pm

Fees: Walk-ins: $12

6-class card: $60

12-class card: $98

Discounts also available for senior citizen and student class cards and special offers for first time students

1st Thursdays of the Month:

Open MIC with Bob Gotta - 6:30 sign up - 7:00 start

Suggested Donation $5

2nd Wednesdays of the Month:

Belly Dance Presentation - Show starts at 8:00pm

Suggested Donation $5