Monday, April 30, 2012

South Fire District Votes On Budget Tuesday

The South Fire District is a self-taxing district whose residents must vote each year on the budget for fire protection. This contrasts with the Middletown (central) fire district, whose budget is approved by the Common Council.

The South Fire District budget referendum is today, from 6AM to 8PM. Residents can cast their ballots at the Fire Station.

The proposed budget is $4,606,932, a 5.5% increase over last year's budget. The three items most responsible for the increase are insurance, salaries, and "Capitol [sic] Non-Recurring". The mill rate on South Fire District properties will rise 2.1%, from 3.574 to 3.648.

The 2012/13 budget is available HERE, through the SFD website.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Venus Shines At Its Brightest Right Now

The planet Venus is now, in late April, at its brightest. It appears in the western sky just after dark and into the evening. While it shines brilliantly, actually only about 1/4 of Venus is illuminated. We are seeing only a crescent of Venus.

Why is Venus brightest when we are seeing only 1/4 of the planet illuminated? It's because Venus and the earth are very close now. When Venus is full, it is very far away, on the opposite side of the sun. Now Venus and Earth are on the same side of the sun.

Gazing into the night sky, especially with binoculars or a telescope, is one of the simplest but most awe inspiring things we can do. You can see the stars and planets best from a very dark place, where there are no streetlights, businesses, headlights, or other forms of "light pollution."

MHS Crew Races in Q-Cup

Boys 1st Varsity 8

The MHS Crew traveled to Worcester, MA on Saturday, to take place in the prestigious Q-Cup Race on Lake Quinsigamond. The boys and girls teams both raced three boats against some very heavy competition and in windy conditions.


Using bark to identify trees is the subject of a free program offered at the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, 16 Meriden Road, Rt. 66, MiddlefieldCT on Saturday, May 19, 2012, 1-5PM.  It is co-sponsored by the Mattabeseck Audubon Society.  

The traits most often used to describe tree species, leaves, buds, and twigs, are often not clearly visible or seasonally absent.

Join Michael Wojtech for an exploration of bark -- always visible in every season -- and learn to classify bark into ten types.  Then use bark to identify tree species.

After an indoor presentation, head outdoors and practice identifying trees. For naturalists at all levels of experience.

Admission is free, but registration is required at or phone 860-346-2372.

 Michael will be available to sign copies of his book, Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast.

For more information about Michael or his book visit:   

From 1962: Catholics To Be Given Anti-Bias Pledge Cards

The following article is from 50 years ago, published in the Hartford Courant on April 29th, 1962.

The housing covenant against discrimination in housing will be the subject of a letter to be read in Catholic churches in the Greater Middletown area today.

Pledge cards covering the covenant also will be distributed and parishioners will be asked to sign them if they wish.

The Rt. Rev. Msgr James J. Wilson, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, said Saturday the letter was sent to all parishes in this city, Portland and Cromwell. Mrgr. Wilson was assigned to write the pastoral letter by the Most Rev. Vincent J. Hines, bishop of Norwich.

The covenant known as the "Greater Middletown Open Housing Covenant" was drafted by the city's Interfaith Committee and has been actively supported by the Northern Middlesex Council of Churches. The council has been actively supported by the Northern Middlesex Council of Churches. The council has been active since last October in securing signatures to the agreement.

Signing of the covenant is voluntary. The signer indicates his belief that all persons "have the moral and legal right to rent, buy or build a home anywhere without restrictions which are based upon race, religion or national origin.

Msgr. Wilson said the principles of the housing covenant are in accord with Catholic doctrine and added that Catholics should be ready to support these. He added that the invitation to sign the pledge will be completely voluntary with the parishioner.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Legion Welcomes Home Vets; Seeks News of Others

Middletown's American Legion Post #75 welcomed home two recently returned veterans, and is seeking news of other servicemen or women returning to Middletown.

In ceremonies at Post #75 Saturday morning, Mayor Dan Drew and members of the city's General Assembly delegation presented proclamations to US Army Sgt. Charles Pickett and Staff Sgt. Anthony R. Kierys, thanking both for their service. Pickett is a Middletown native who served deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Kierys, a Portland native now living in Middletown, just returned from Afghanistan two weeks ago.

"I'm pretty fresh off the boat" said Kierys, noting that his 2 year old daughter "grew up a lot while I was gone."

Both veterans were thankful for the welcome.  Said Kierys, "I feel appreciated.  It's nice to have a nice welcome home like this, especially with other veterans."  Pickett said Post 75 had "gone over and above in making me feel welcome back in my home town."

Post Commander Phil Cacciola told all those gathered, "A lot of us are Viet Nam era vets and we remember the way it was in the 70's.  We all feel, to a person, we don't want that to happen to this generation of soldiers."

But making sure servicemen and women get an appropriate welcome home is tougher than it might seem. Privacy laws mean there is no central place for veteran's organizations to find out about local people serving in conflicts overseas.  They have no way to know when veterans are returning unless the soldier or their family notify them.

Michael Rogalsky, of the Middletown Council of Veterans, says anyone serving in the military, or their family and friends, can notify the Council at  Nothing will be made public without the veteran's or family's approval.  But Rogalsky hopes that with more input from families and the public, they'll be able to welcome home every person from Middletown who has volunteered to serve.

Sgt. Pickett echoed the sentiment, saying that "After ten years of war, and with the conflicts winding down, veteran service organizations and community support are even more vital as people come home."

Driving Miss Daisy – Don’t Miss It!

If you think you need to go to New York City and plunk down $100 per ticket to experience great theater, think again. It’s right here in Middletown, for $10 per ticket. You’ll see professional-quality acting in a theater space so intimate and with such perfect acoustics, that the total experience far surpasses most of what you’ll get from any of the highbrow repertory companies.

The year is 1948. Daisy Werthan, a well-to-do Jewish widow in Atlanta has wrecked her car, prompting her businessman son Boolie to insist upon hiring a “colored” chauffeur, Hoke Coleburn, to drive his mother on her errands to the Piggly Wiggly supermarket and to Shabbat services at the Jewish temple. Of course, Daisy at first resists the arrangement and rejects Hoke’s services. But gradually she softens, and a new form of partnership and intimacy begins to emerge.
This is community theater at its best. It’s a story of tension, humor (the audience burst into laughter many dozens of times) and hushed tenderness as the relationship between Daisy and Hoke unfolds. The performances by Carolyn Kirsch as Miss Daisy, Richard Nelson as Hoke, and Nat Holmes as the practical Boolie are all excellent. Ms. Kirsch, in fact, is a professional actor with a long list of Broadway credits and other accomplishments, including the New Hampshire Theatre Award for Best Actress for her role as Amanda in “The Glass Menagerie” in 2008. Every moment in this one and a half hour performance of Driving Miss Daisy is interesting, the comedic timing of each actor is right on, the simple set works perfectly, and Daisy’s many costume changes evoke the multiple scenes, times of day, and seasons of the year. Especially poignant is how the characters age in the course of 25 years – Daisy from age 72 to 97 – and how their perspectives and priorities evolve in the process.

Driving Miss Daisy is a Vintage Players production to benefit Green Street Arts Center with 2 more performances. Friday night’s performance was sold out, but some tickets for tonight at 7 pm and Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m. are still available. For reservations, call the Green Street Arts Center at 860-685-7797.

Middletown Encuentro, Saturday April 28

Commentary On City Budget

This is an opinion piece submitted by Dan Penney

To the editor:

I applaud the Mayor, Staff and the Common Council members for there joint efforts in bringing forward a well thought out City budget during these most difficult fiscal times. Our city from Main Street to the most remote areas, including Westfield and South Farms, has never been more focused on a positive new direction. The revised energy management cost reduction plans and improved BOE working relationships speak for themselves.

Friday, April 27, 2012

City Recycling Events for Spring

Kim O'Rourke, the City Recycling coordinator, is happy to announce a couple exciting recycling programs planned for this spring. Hope you can participate!

1. Saturday April 28th - ShredFest at the Water Dept, 82 Berlin Road, 9 - 11 am
 Time to clean out and recycle again. Bring all our old documents and important papers that are ready to be disposed to the Water Dept. on Berlin Road on Saturday April 28 from 9 - 11am for shredding.  Open to residents and small businesses.  No more than ten boxes please!  All documents will be shred on-site and recycled in accordance with State laws.

2. Recycle those Sneakers! 
We are happy to be able to work with Nike again in recycling sneakers at our Recycling Center from April 2 - June 18th.  Bring clean, dry sneakers to the Recycling Center during regular working hours (Mon - Friday 7am - 3pm & Saturdays 7am - 12noon).  '
Sneakers only. No shoes, flip flops, cleats or other miscellaneous shoes please! 
All sneakers must be emptied out of bags or boxes. 
Schools and businesses are encouraged to run collections at their locations and bring the sneakers in!   
Any questions, call or email me.  

Thanks for recycling!!!  

Kim O'Rourke
Middletown Recycling Coordinator
245 Dekoven Dr Middletown, Ct 06457

Prescription Drug Take Back this Saturday

The Middletown Police Department will be participating in the Drug Take Back program Saturday April 28, 2012 from 10am-2pm.
You may bring in your old prescriptions to properly dispose of them. There is no charge for this service.
This will take place in the Police Department Upper level. 1st door on the right off the elevator.
Middletown Police Department location: 222 Main Street Middletown, CT 06457
To receive automated alerts from the Middletown Police Department please go to WWW.NIXLE.COM to sign up.

Wesleyan Students Light up The Buttonwood Tree - Joe Fonda Jazz Tonight

The students of Wesleyan are incredibly talented, generous and civic-minded just to name a few of their many admirable traits. Last night two groups of students lit up the room with their infectious energy and musical talents. First, a group of twelve with three horns, keyboard, and three singers that belted out jazz standards and made one wonder how long this group had played together. They were really amazing, and were offered their own show at Buttonwood come fall.  The next group was a ten piece a capella group, the second to visit the Tree this year. Again, the talent, energy and spirit ran high.
 The night was organized by the Middletown Arts and Social Justice class who, through a nonprofit organization they created, Brighter Dawns, raised funds for the poor of Bangladesh.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Meet Your Middletown Neighbor: Missy

Missy is a dynamo, machine-like. Her stature is solid and compact. Her athleticism and strength are apparent, though easy to overlook at first glance when presented with her long, thick brown hair, pretty brown eyes, and neatly manicured nails. Missy teaches an exercise class at the YMCA called "Super Sculpt" which combines cardiovascular movement with strength training. In other words, it's jumping up and down and running around while lifting weights at the same time, with a sprinkling of squats, and maybe a smattering of other classic physical challenges like push-ups to keep things interesting. If that sounds unpleasant, or difficult, that's because it is! But it's fun too, and the rewards are obvious, and that is why Missy's class is so popular. One person who has been taking Missy's class for a long time said, “She's very motivating. She makes you feel like you can do it even though it's very hard.”

Missy has been known to look out at a small sea of sweaty people with defeated looks on their faces gasping for breath and shout "Get up!" and then, with a barely perceptible pause, as if having waited an adequate amount of time for the wimps to comply, "NOW!" Her style is best described as happy drill sergeant. To this she says, “My style is very assertive, but it's always in an effort to motivate people and push them beyond the limits of their mind, but never beyond the limits of their bodies. In my experience, our mind sets limits below what our body can handle. Sometimes members are surprised at how strong they are, or how long they can maintain a cardiovascular exercise. In the end, everyone should listen to their bodies.“ 

JoAnna Bourain ’12 interviews Jay Hoggard (April 28)

Jay Hoggard. Photo by Santina Aldieri.

On Saturday April 28, the Wesleyan Music Department and the Center for the Arts present the Jay Hoggard Quartet. CFA Intern in Arts Administration JoAnna Bourain ’12 interviewed Wesleyan Adjunct Professor of Music Jay Hoggard about his upcoming performance in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

Schools PTAs Urge Parents to Support School Budget

The Board of Education goes before the Common Council this evening at 7pm to make its case for the 2012-2013 School Budget.  Mayor Drew said he would flat fund the educational budget on April 3rd, which would mean cuts of almost $3.5 million to amount the BOE has asked for.

School PTAs are urging parents to attend tonight's meeting to show support for the budget as proposed.  Interim Superintendent Dr. David Larson is expected to comment on at least the following arguments in support of a fully funded budget:
·         A 0% increase is less than a current services budget because of salary and benefit contracted increases.
·         78% of the education budget goes to instruction
·         75% of the budget is for salaries and insurance benefits
·         Maintain class size
·         Need for school librarians/media specialists to support the implementation of the common core – new national standards for education.
·         Need for interventionists to support our required SRBI (Scientifically Researched Based Intervention) implementation and the Common Core.
·         Update of our Student Information System to Power School to improve communication with parents and students as well as organization and access of student data (i.e. grades, enrollment, attendance…).
On April 17th, former BOE Chairman Ted Raczka, now the Budget Committee Chair, commented on what the loss of millions would do to the school budget:  "Extra-curricular activities will start to go, and if we're short millions, we will have to look at staffing levels.  Most of our retirements were done last year, and so it's not a good picture."  Raczka went on to say, "The reason I'm sitting over here at the end of the table [referring to where he sits at BOE meetings] is because I want to see money spent in classrooms.  I don't care about politics.  If you look at our funding compared to other communities, we're not getting it, and we're going to suffer because of that."

Raczka mentioned that he thought the Common Council would put some of the money back, but in the end, Middletown as a whole has to be serious about funding a quality education.

{Author's Note:  If you don't know what Common Core refers to, it's the new national standards for education coming out of DC.  Connecticut adopted the standards on July 7, 2010.  Click here for more information.}

School Superintendent Search To Hold Community Open Forum Monday

From Donna Marino, Partnership Coordinator, Middletown Schools.
Join us for a Community Open Forum for the Superintendent’s Search Focus Group:

Monday, April 30th at 7:45 pm 
Woodrow Wilson Middle School Library off of Hunting Hill Ave. 

If you are unable to attend please complete our survey available on the website at

How They Voted: Medical Marijuana

The State House of Representatives last night voted to approve a bill legalizing the medical use of Marijuana, by a vote of 96-51 (full story: CT News Junkie).

Here is how our city's delegation voted:
Christy Carpino (R, 32nd District): YES
Joe Serra (D, 33rd District): NO
Gail Hamm (D, 34th District): YES
Matt Lesser (D, 100th District): YES

Proponents of the bill expect the Senate and the Governor to support the bill. If they do, Connecticut would join New Jersey, Rhode Island, 16 other states in allowing medical cannabis.

The bill has a number of conditions on the prescription, production, sale, and use of medical marijuana that do not exist on prescription drugs.

Opening Night

Snow Angel 
by David-Lindsay Abaire
4/26-4/28 Thursday, Friday, Saturday 7:30pm
Adults $15, Students & Seniors $8
Thursday - Please bring a canned food item for Amazing Grace Food Pantry and receive a $2 discount on your ticket.
To make reservations call 860-347-6143 or go online here

Special thanks to the Middlesex County Community Foundation's Council of Business Partners for their help in making this production possible by supporting the work of Oddfellows Playhouse and the Rushford Center.
Images from Wednesday's Dress Rehearsal
Photo credit: Rob McGuinness

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jazzin' with the Stars Inspires, Excites

Heartbeat Dixieland Jazz Band performs at Jazzin' with the Stars Concert.
Jazzin’ with the Stars 
at First Church on Court Street

Saturday was a wonderful afternoon for a concert—sunny and warm. First Church doors were open wide, welcoming all who came for Jazzin’ with the Stars, a full house. Organized by musician and philanthropist, Mr. Bill Logozzo, the Concert's proceeds will go to two Connecticut charitable organizations
the Hole in the Wall Camp and the Channel 3 Kids Camp, through Mr. Logozzo's charitable foundation, Musical Dreams for Human Harmony

Saturday's stars were there: Jimmie Rogers, Ronnie Spector, Mr. Marshall Lytle of the Comets, and Canadian chanteuse, Michelle Berting. But the main attraction for me was Mr. Logozzo and his Heartbeat Dixieland Jazz Band and friends, with their rich and exhilarating sound. Even if Dixieland is not your favorite jazz language, with Heartbeat, this music has great appeal. As Dee-jay Jimmy Jay (so-called DJ to the stars) opened the show, Heartbeat lead with a selection of New Orleans classics: “Bourbon Street,” “Basin Street Blues,” Louis Armstrong’s “Swing that Music,” sung by Dr. John Clark, and “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave to Me,” sung by the incomparable Skip Hughes. Then Ms. Berting sang with style, and with Heartbeat backup, “Georgia” and “Sentimental Journey.” 

Several HB regulars stood out, including the versatile Sherman Kahn on clarinet and sax, sounding not unlike one of our legendary jazzmen—Benny Goodman and Stan Getz come to mind. (Yes readers, he’s that good!) With trumpeter Jeff Hughes, Gim Burton on banjo, Al Bernard on tuba, and moonlighting, our First Church Minister of Music, Shari Lucas, all top notch musicians.* Their sound filled the Sanctuary, as half the audience was on its feet, dancing in the aisles. One dancer exclaimed, "This is the first time I’ve ever danced in a church!" Oh my, what would our prudent Puritan ancestors say?

Next up, Jimmie Rodgers and Ronnie Spector were inspiring, both coming back from nearly crushing setbacks. He is in ongoing recovery from a nasty episode that left him severely beaten; and she is a survivor of marriage to the once-great rock impresario Phil Spector. Both singers performed with recorded backup that was satisfactory but less so than live.

The singular star of the show (in my view) was Marshall Lytle, a name I didn’t recognize but won’t soon forget. Recently inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Mr. Lytle, a double amputee, put on a stirring. show. Alternating between his personal rock-n-roll history and wildly rousing tunes, his voice rang out with conviction and authenticity, "Rock This Joint!" yes, it rocked! (See youtube Rock This Joint. Marshall is the one swinging the bass.) Mr. Lytle flaunted his Hall of Fame trophy and mentioned the recent amputation of one of his legs as if it were a trifle, like being bald or having green eyes. With Triple Play Band backup (Bill Logozzo, Dave Spitzer, and Sal Basile, as a trio) 
and a formidable set of lungs, Mr. Lytle came across with great pizazz—sounding for all the world like Bill Haley and the Comets!
Musical Dreams for Human
Harmony board members,
inc. Bill Logozzo (u. right)
 and Shari Lucas (l. left).  
Toward the end of the afternoon, several performers mentioned the generosity of Mr. Logozzo and his charitable foundation, Musical Dreams for Human Harmony. Proceeds from the concert make possible their gift of support to The Hole in the Wall Camp—represented at Saturday’s concert by Matthew Cook, and the Channel 3 Kids Camp—represented by Denise Hornbeck. Mr. Logozzo’s gift to Middletown was a first-rate show! As performers and audiences alike seem to feel that First Church is a superior concert venue, I wonder who we’ll see performing at First Church next?
*Google any of these names or bands and you’ll find a long list of associations & credits for performances at some of New England’s best venues & festivals, & numerous youtube clips

City's Republican Voters Endorse Romney In Primary

Three weeks ago, it appeared that the results of the Connecticut presidential Republican primary election might have an impact on the nomination. For better or for worse, Mitt Romney wrested control of the nomination when Rick Santorum ended his campaign. Thus, Connecticut reverted to its usual role as one of the states which anoint the candidate who has already won the nomination in other states.

Statewide, Romney won 67.5% of the vote, Ron Paul 13.4%, Gingrich 10.3%, and Santorum 6.8%.

 In Middletown, Romney won 55.2% of the vote, Paul 19%, Gingrich 15.7%. Despite not campaigning in Middletown, Santorum won 9.3% of the Middletown Republican voters.

The turn-out in Middletown, as elsewhere in the state, was quite low: 14.5% of registered Republican voters went to the polls.

Dr. Anna M. Wasescha Inaugurated as Middlesex Community College Sixth President

MIDDLETOWN, CONN. – In a room filled with elected officials, members of the board of regents, former trustees, alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and supporters, Dr. Anna M. Wasescha was formally presented as the sixth president of Middlesex Community College. The ceremony, which can be viewed at, was held on Saturday, April 21 in Chapman Hall on the MxCC campus. Dr. Jonathan M. Daube, president emeritus for Manchester Community College (and former interim president at MxCC) presided over the ceremonies.

Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman opened the ceremony stating, “Governor Malloy and I can’t be happier with the choice to put Dr. Wasescha in this position and we thank her for coming to this great state of Connecticut.”

Senator Blumenthal commented on Dr. Wasescha’s choice to plant a sugar maple tree on campus to kick off her week-long inaugural celebration.  “There is a saying that the essence of public service is to plant a tree that you know you will never sit beneath, but that others will sit beneath,” Sen. Blumenthal said. “I think that President Wasescha brings to this school that sense of vision and that sense of foresight, seeing into the future, seeking to match skills with jobs that exist and will exist in the future, seeking to create careers and opportunities for people who are here now and whose lives will stretch into the future after many of us are gone.  What more exciting work is there?”

In her speech to the audience, Dr. Wasescha pledged to make MxCC “more extraordinary than ever,” by “dreaming big.”  She noted that “inaugurations are a time of rebirth and regeneration,” and that the school is part of a new cycle in higher education that addresses today’s economic and social challenges.

 “As a society, we have been painfully slow to appreciate just how radical the transformation of our economy has been over the past 20 years,” Dr. Wasescha said, addressing not only the changes within higher education, but of the massive economical, industrial, and environmental changes throughout the world.  “At a time when academic achievement levels have stayed the same or slowly declined, many growth industries cannot find highly skilled, knowledgeable workers.” She said today’s new generation of community colleges, which are flexible and more responsive than other types of higher education, will help solve this problem.

Dr. Wasescha laid out her vision for her term as president at MxCC – and as a permanent part of the school’s history.  “We will be champions of an exceptionally high quality of higher learning, the kind that increases knowledge, hones skills and creates the habits of mind in our students that all together will result in the kind of society we would be proud to sign our names to,” she said.  “We will be one of the loudest voices in the crowd calling for renewed commitment to engaged citizenship, the kind that embraces democratic ideals, civil practices, altruism, and dedication to the common good.”

Addressing her commitment to increasing environmental education and awareness, Dr. Wasescha said: “We will breathe new energy into our campus life, the curriculum and co-curriculum, with a commitment to environmental stewardship – that draws on knowledge of the sciences and the social sciences, the arts and humanities, and that helps us understand how each one of us has a positive role to play in sustaining the intricate web of life that is our natural world.”

Prior to her speech, Dr. Robert Kennedy, president of the Connecticut Board of Regents of Higher Education, presented Dr. Wasescha with the MxCC college medallion. “Today we inaugurate a president who brings with her a profound understanding of the comprehensive community college, and I commend those who were involved in her appointment,” he said.  “Dr. Wasescha understands MxCC’s role of the development of Connecticut’s workforce.  She also understands the important role a community college plays in providing students with skills they need to be engaged citizens, face complicated issues of the day, and be prepared to contribute to a common good.”

Earlier in the week, Dr. Wasescha signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a “high-visibility effort to make campuses more sustainable and address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to reduce and ultimately neutralize greenhouse gas emissions on campus.” MxCC also held several environmentally focused events to highlight the president’s inaugural theme of “going green.”

Dr. Wasescha received her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration, her master’s degree in higher education, and her baccalaureate degree in English literature from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  Prior to joining MxCC, Dr. Wasescha served as provost and then as special assistant to the president at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Fergus Falls.  Before that, she was an associate dean of doctoral programs at Walden University in Minneapolis.  She also served as an adjunct professor at Concordia University in Saint Paul, as research assistant at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and as associate dean of student affairs at Hamline University, Saint Paul.

Founded in 1966, Middlesex Community College ( is part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents for Higher Education. The school offers more than 50 degree or certificate programs at its three locations:  the main, 38-acre campus in Middletown, the downtown Meriden Center, and the shoreline in Old Saybrook.  The college promotes understanding, learning, ethics, and self-discipline by encouraging critical thinking.  Current enrollment exceeds 2,875 full and part-time students, and 1,600 continuing education students.
# # #

Celebration of Trees

The Long Hill Estate Authority, The City of Middletown Urban Forestry Commission, and The Rockfall Foundation are collaborating to replace lost and damaged trees at the Wadsworth Mansion and the Wadsworth Arboretum from the 2011 storms that ravaged Connecticut. On Thursday, April 26, 2012, from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. the Wadsworth Mansion will host a 'A Celebration of Trees', a fundraiser for the purpose of purchasing and planting trees at the two Wadsworth Legacy properties. Following a wine reception, Ted Esselstyn, co-founder of City Bench, will speak about his company, which recycles city trees from all over Connecticut into museum-quality furniture. Wood from the Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill has been used in his furniture. A piece of his work has been donated for a raffle at the event. Admission is $30.00 per person and reservations can be made by calling 860 347 1064.

Storms Irene and Alfred left a trail of destruction throughout Middletown in 2011. The Wadsworth/Kerste deBoer Arboretum suffered damage or loss to over 20% of its historic trees. City Arborist Dana Whitney estimated the two storms did more than $128,000 in damage to trees in the arboretum. The Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill incurred thousands of dollars in lost trees, including 100-year-old oaks and pines.

The Wadsworth Legacy Tree Restoration Fund has been created to replant trees lost at these two historic landscape properties. Donors can select a tree from planting lists for either property and dedicate it to an individual or organization or they can make a general purpose donation. "We're really excited about the donation of trees," Jane Harris, chairwoman of the Urban Forestry Commission said. "We're planning it as about a 5-year program. We don't want to plant 100 trees at once and then have a bad summer drought and lose them all." Harris said the commission prefers to plant native species so they last through cold winters and hot summers and are accepted by area wildlife.

Information will be available at the Wadsworth Mansion by calling (860) 347-1064 or visiting

If the photo above looks familiar to you, it might be that you have seen this lovely piece of CityBench furniture at Bradley Airport. Don't miss your chance to enter the raffle and win one of these stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces.  The fascinating story and work of CityBench can be seen at their website:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Snow Angel onstage at Oddfellows

Oddfellows Playhouse’s Junior Repertory Company presents Snow Angel by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire.    Performances begin Thursday 4/26 at 7:30pm and continue on Friday 4/27 and Saturday 4/28 at 7:30pm. 

Snow Angel tells the story of the small town of Deerpoint as it is hit by the biggest blizzard in 107 years.  15 Teens encounter a mysterious girl named Eva as she emerges from the storm.  A humorous, eerie tale of faith and friendship, Lindsay-Abaire shrouds the stress and strife of teens growning up in mystery. 

Snow Angel tackles themes of bullying and the struggle behind young people's interpersonal relationships.  The Playhouse and Junior Repertory tackled the themes right from the beginning of the rehearsal process.  Partnering with the Rushford Center through special funding from the Middlesex County Community Foundation’s Council of Business Partners, staff led conversations with the students early on, focused on their own personal experiences with “bullying” and how to bring those experiences, similar or different, to the life of the characters they were creating.

The production is appropriate for families and students of all ages.

The production runs April 26-28.  All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for Adults and $8 for Students/Seniors.  Thursday April 26th Oddfellows will be collecting canned food items for Amazing Grace Food Pantry, anyone that brings a canned food item will save $2 off their ticket price.   Tickets are available online at or by calling 860-347-6143.  Oddfellows Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street in Middletown.

The production is made possible by major support from CT State Department of Education, CT Department of Economic and Community Development, Middlesex United Way, The Stare Fund, Pratt & Whitney, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, J. Walton Bissell Foundation and Daphne Sebolt Culpeper Foundation.  Special support from the Middlesex County Community Foundation’s Council of Business Partners, Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation and Tower Laboratories.  Media support provided by Comcast and WESU 88.1FM.

Middletown Senior Community Center Informational Meeting Meet

        Middletown Senior/Community Center 

Informational Meeting

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Council Chambers
Middletown Municipal Building

                                      245 DeKoven Drive 

Public Input Encouraged

If you have any questions or need additional information about the workshop, contact Chair Ron Klattenberg, 860.604.1570
or Vice Chair Phil Pessina, 860.346.0348

Note: Both the Eckersley Hall Design and Mayor Drew's City Hall addition will be presented for public discussion

Monday, April 23, 2012

Last Monday, Highland Avenue

Laundry day. 


Education vs Incarceration (4/24)

Middletown Mayor Daniel T. Drew, Middletown Youth Services Bureau, Local Interagency Services Team(local juvenile justice collaborative), and the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education invite you to join them on April 24, 2012 at 6:00pm to watch the documentary and engage in a discussion about how this issue affects your community.  The documentary will be shown in the Daniel Family Commons located in the university's Usdan Center (77 Wyllys Ave) and parking is available in parking lot E located directly across the street. A light dinner will be served at 5:30pm.

Although calling ahead is not mandatory and all are welcomed to attend we ask that you please RSVP for food purposes with the Middletown Mayor's Office at 860-344-3401.

For more information and event flyer please see our initial post here on the Eye:

Thank You and Pics from Saturday's PRIDE Day

Check out the pics from North End PRIDE Day, 2012.  There were projects all over the neighborhood including opening up the established Erin St. Community Garden, working in the up and coming Ferry St. Community Garden and general cleaning.

Because we had so many volunteers, we were able to build the amazing Alondra Hernandez Community Garden in one day!  We still have more to plant, but we're well on our way to a new community space.  For those who remember what 20 Portland St. looked like last year (see below for a reminder), this garden is a big change.  The Mayor declared Saturday North End PRIDE Day in the City of Middletown, which was quite an honor for our residents and their hard work.

Thank you to our amazing residents, volunteers, Comcast Cares Volunteers, Macdonough School, the Young Democrats, the Republican Town Committee, Minuteman Press, Sherwin-Williams of Cromwell, Stone Depot, Home Depot, Gorilla Graphics, St John's School in Old Saybrook, Ballek's Garden Center,  CT SignCenter and the City of Middletown Public Works Department for all of the help!!  Comcast even gave the North End Action Team and Macdonough School a grant to help support our programs.

*History: When 20 Portland St. was condemned and taken in foreclosure, the city offered the lot for free (and they were going to give $$ to help rehab) to anyone willing to take the lot and rehab the buildings. The houses were in such bad shape that the city couldn't find any takers.  They were a safety concern and were bringing down the quality of life for the people who lived around them.

The city ultimately tore down the properties and issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) for ideas with what to do with the space.  NEAT submitted a proposal along with residents of Portland St. that was approved. So, NEAT now has control over the site and we built a garden this week as a partnership between NEAT and Comcast Cares Day.

All-City Music Festival this Saturday

Photo: Middletown Elementary Band Director Stephen D'Amato rehearses the 4th grade band for the All City Music Festival.

Middletown student musicians rehearsed last weekend for the upcoming All-City Music Festival, which will take place on Saturday, April 28th, at 6 pm at the Wesleyan University Freeman Athletic Center Hockey Arena on Cross Street.

Performers come from all 11 schools and all grade levels from the 4th grade through High School. The ensembles presented include the 4th Grade Band, 4th & 5th Grade All-City Chorus, All-City 5th Grade Jazz Ensemble, All-City Recorder Ensemble, Keigwin Band, Keigwin Chorus, WWMS 8th Grade Band and Chorus, Middletown High Concert Choir and the Middletown High Concert Band. The Middletown Public Schools Cultural Council contributes to this activity.

Tickets are available for purchase on Friday, April 27, from 6 to 8 pm at the Wesleyan Hockey Arena and will also be available, in limited supply, at the performance on April 28th.

Middlesex Land Trust’s 25th Annual Meeting next Saturday

From David Brown, Executive Director Middlesex Land Trust.

Having hiked on the Palmer Preserve at previous MLT meetings, I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity, the Preserve is right across the river from our city, and contains gorgeous meadows and forests.

Please come join the Middlesex Land Trust in celebrating its twenty-fifth Annual Meeting on Saturday April 28th at the Red Barn on the Palmer Preserve, located at 258 Middle Haddam Road in Portland.

The meeting will feature a presentation by Mr. Barry Parrish of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Mr. Parrish is the Wildlife Refuge Manager for the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, a system that presents a vast environmental resource in the Connecticut River Watershed from Canada to the Long Island Sound. Mr. Parrish will discuss the wildlife of the lower Connecticut River Valley and the nearby Salmon River Division of the Conte Wildlife Refuge.

The Annual Meeting will begin at 10AM with a short business meeting after which Mr. Parrish will give his presentation on the Wildlife Refuge. Refreshments will then be followed by a short walk on the Palmer Preserve for those who would like to get out on to the land.

Please come rain or shine, and don’t forget your walking shoes!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kiwanis Pasta Day Fundraiser Thursday!

Time for the Kiwanis Club of Middletown's PASTA DAY fundraiser featuring door prizes and a silent auction.

The Middletown Kiwanis support local non-profit programs and Club projects including our two largest projects Warm the Children and our College Scholarships for a student from each of the Middletown high schools as well as the Middletown High School Key Club, Middletown Little League, I Have a Friend After School Program, Bicycle Rodeo/Safety Clinic, Camp Sunshine, Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Institute, Mount St. John School, Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen, Amazing Grace Food Pantry, MARC, Gilead Community Services, Even Start Program at Middletown Adult Education, Recognition of Graduating Valedictorians and Salutatorians from all Local High Schools, .  

Pasta Day is a great meal (lunch or dinner) at a reasonable price - $10 eat in or takeout, and we'll be happy to deliver lunch orders of five or more. Serving hours are 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 26. Christ Church Court Street. Tickets can be purchased in advance by contacting:

Middletown Earth Day Week Program: There’s Still Time & Room to Join Us

        The Rockfall Foundation  is hosting a presentation by author and researcher, Joe Roman, featuring his most recent book, Listed: Dispatches from America’s Endangered Species Act. on April 24, 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm at the deKoven House Community Center. The evening will feature a talk, audience conversation and informal reception.
         America’s comprehensive – and sometimes controversial – Endangered Species Act was passed nearly 40 years ago. In his recent book Joe Roman explores the successes, failures, and future promise of the ESA, drawing from years of studies, personal observation and field interviews.  More than a general history of endangered species, Listed is a tale of threatened species in the wild, and the inspiring people from all walks of life working to save them. Employing methods from the new field of ecological economics, Dr. Roman explains how preserving biodiversity can help economies and communities thrive.

Joe Roman is a conservation biologist, author, and researcher at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. Dr. Roman came to the Gund Institute as an Environmental Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and helped start an interdisciplinary program on Biodiversity and Human Health at the US Environmental Protection Agency. He is the author of the cultural history Whale (Reaktion 2006) as well as Listed (Harvard University Press.) His science and nature writing has appeared in The New York Times, New Scientist, Audubon, Conservation, and other venues. His research has been covered by the Associated Press, National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other outlets. More information can be found here.

Dr. Roman is also “Editor in chef” for the website , “Fighting Invasive Species One Bite at a Time,” which promotes ways to eradicate destructive invasives from our local ecosystems while adding more diversity to our diets:  “This spring, instead of dressing your lawn with herbicides, consider balsamic vinaigrette...”  For more information 

      Suggested donation: $20 per guest. For information: Call Tony at (860)347-0340; or email

            The deKoven House Community Center is located at 27 Washington Street in Middletown

March of Dimes Walk Fundraiser Next Sunday

On Sunday, April 29 at its new location at Union Park/South Green, hundreds of families and business leaders will join together to March for Babies—the March of Dimes walk fundraiser honoring babies born healthy and those who need help to survive and thrive. Funds raised help support prenatal wellness programs, research grants, neonatal intensive care unit family support programs and advocacy efforts for stronger, healthier babies. 

Middletown High School Safe Graduation Party Carwash Fundraiser

CAR WASH Fundraiser to benefit MHS Safe Graduation Party.
Saturday, April 28, 9AM-1PM
Ace Hardware, 480 S Main St.

From 1912: Thomas Hocking Finds Brother's Family Did Not Accompany Him

The following is an extract of article published 100 years ago today, appearing on Monday, April 22nd, 1912 in the Hartford Courant. This article was on page 12 of the paper, the image is from the front page of the same paper.

Thomas Hocking of No. 98 Liberty Street, this city, who lost a brother, George Hocking, in the wreck of the Titanic, had a peculiar experience in connection with the tragedy. He went to New York to meet the wife and two children of his brother, who, the wireless messages said, had been saved. He met the Carpathia and found a Mrs. Hocking and two children were among the survivors, but they were people he had never seen before. Mrs. Hocking told him that she embarked, accompanied by her brother-in-law, also named George Hocking, and that he was among the lost. The Middletown man's brother, who also went down with the ship, was unaccompanied, having decided at the last minute to leave his family at home. He assisted the other Hocking family in escaping from the doomed ship. The local man felt the shock of his brother's death keenly, but was glad to hear that his family were not with him when the tragedy occurred.
Cassandra Day, in Middletown Patch, provides more details on the life of Hocking and his brother.

There seems to be some confusion about Hocking's first name. The above Hartford Courant article is the only one to refer to the Titanic passenger as "George Hocking", all other sources (including Encyclopedia Titanica) refer to the man heading to our city as Samuel James Metcalfe Hocking.

It appears that The Courant got some of the details, including the name, confused. According to Encyclopedia Titanica, a Richard George Hocking was traveling with his sister (not sister-in-law), their brother-in-law, and two of their nephews. George was a baker from Cornwall, England, traveling to Akron, Ohio.

The brother of our city's Thomas Hocking was a confectioner from Devon, England. Whatever his first name was, Hocking's last letter to his wife Ada, was mailed from the Titanic’s last port of call, Queenstown, Ireland. In the letter, he encourages her to write to him at 98 Liberty Street, and closes his letter, "Everybody tells me I shall not regret the step I have taken, so buck up and we shan't be long.”

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Yoga In Middletown Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Yoga In Middletown Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Yoga in Middletown is celebrating its 10th anniversary at its current location, 438 Main Street, right in the heart of downtown Middletown, one flight above Joe Riff’s Music. This studio is one of the few in Connecticut offering the Iyengar method, and alignment based yoga instruction. There are classes for all levels from Beginners to Advanced, and special classes for Back Care, Prenatal, Restorative, Iyengar workshops, Intensives, and Private Sessions. The professional faculty at Yoga in Middletown are committed to helping each student reap the many benefits of yoga practice according to that person's ability and state of health. Some commonly experienced benefits from this practice are improved strength, flexibility, breathing, circulation, organ and endocrine function, as well as an overall sense of inner balance, vitality, and well-being. The studio also offers Pilates classes. For more information please visit or call 860-347-YOGA (9642) Congratulations on ten years of Yoga in Middletown!

Kisses Sweeter Than Wine

Jazzin' with the Stars 

  . . . and Remembering Dick Clark 

Saturday, April 21, 2 - 5 p.m.

First Church

190 Court Street
Middletown, CT

Today the first-ever “Jazzin’ with the Stars” concert will unite one of the best known bands in New England, The Heartbeat Dixieland Jazz Band, with a host of special guest stars. The concert will take place at The First Church of Christ, 190 Court Street in Middletown, from 2 to 5pm. The performance will benefit the nationally known The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp founded by the late Paul Newman, and the regional Channel 3 Kids Camp sponsored by WFSB-TV3. Tickets are available by calling (860) 227-2274 or at All tickets will be held for pick up at the door on the day of the event.

Featured performers will include Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame artist Ronnie Spector; 50s/60s hit-maker Jimmie Rodgers; Rock 'n Roll pioneer and founding member of Bill Haley and the Comets Marshall Lytle; and Canadian chanteuse Michelle Berting. Triple Play, a trio known for its performance of classic rock and roll from the 50s and 60s, will back up some of the guest stars. The MC for the event will be Internet radio host and DJ of the Stars Jimmy Jay.

Conceived by the Heartbeat’s founder, drummer and philanthropist Bill Logozzo, “Jazzin’ with the Stars” is presented under the auspices of Logozzo’s own Musical Dreams for Human Harmony foundation, dedicated to raising funds through musical productions and programs to help people with specific medical needs or handicaps. “Every day of my life, I recall the fear I lived with through my childhood and adolescent years, said Logozzo. “What helped me get past those difficult times was knowing how my parents, my teachers, my coaches, my friends and laypersons all showed how they cared about me. I don’t think my story is unusual, but I'm certainly aware of how important it is for kids to receive our love and support. This is my motive for using the wonderful world of music to involve as many people as possible to reach out to young people to let them know they are cared about.”

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the “Jazzin’ with the Stars” concert will benefit two children’s charities based in Connecticut: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and the Channel 3 Kids Camp.

Founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a community dedicated to providing “a different kind of healing” to children and their families coping with cancer, sickle cell anemia and other serious illnesses. Through summer sessions and family weekend programs at the Camp in Ashford, Connecticut, and year-round outreach to hospitals and clinics throughout the Northeast, the Camp serves more than 20,000 children and family members annually. All services are free of charge.

Located in Andover, Conn., the Channel 3 Kids Camp welcomes more than 4,000 children ages 6-16 from Connecticut and areas throughout New England each year. The camp provides services to boys and girls from all walks of life, especially those who do not have the financial ability to experience the joys and value of a high quality camp program. Channel 3 Kids Camp offers traditional day and overnight summer camp, Camp Venture’s (an after school program), a year-round teen leadership program and other programs.

Tickets for the “Jazzin’ with the Stars” benefit concert cost $35 each and are available at or by calling (860) 227-2274. All tickets will be held for pick up at the door on the day of the event.

The one, the only Heart Beat Dixieland JAZZ Band.