Monday, April 30, 2018

Cat Tales ~ BAILEY & MILO

Cats of the Week

Gender: Female (Bailey) and Male (Milo)
Breed: Domestic Short Hairs
Color: Brown Tabbys
Age: 3 years (Bailey) and 2 years (Milo)

Hi, my name is Bailey, and my best friend in the world is Milo! We were both rescued off the streets of Middletown as strays. We came to Cat Tales about the same time and formed a wonderful bond together. Milo loves his belly rubbed more than I do, as I’m a bit more shy. However, I am fond of some of the volunteers and let them pet me. We are both very sweet kitties and would love to be adopted together. We dream of being on a sunny catio, where we can lay next to each other and soak up the warm rays! Milo is FIV+ but he’s a lover, not a fighter so it’s very difficult for other cats to catch it – we’d need to exchange blood. Milo has helped me come out of my shell at Cat Tales so I would love to spend my life with him, and with you! We would love to sit next to you while you’re watching TV, or snuggle up in your warm bed with you. Would you consider adopting us together? We promise to love you forever! Please take us home today!
Phone:   860.344.9043
Watch our TV commercial:

Cat Tales ~ Sit & Beg Event at Cromwell Walmart on 5/12 from 10am-2pm

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Route 9 Challenges -- A Way To Yes

CT DOT is back to the drawing board, looking for a third plan to remove the traffic signals on Route 9. The dilemma is how to accomplish that without adding to downtown congestion. The two plans presented so far involved the relocation of exits, which meant pushing more vehicles onto already-clogged streets at peak afternoon traffic.

Here are the key questions, as I see it. What are the key features of any proposal that will not worsen downtown congestion? And given the spatial constraints, road safety design requirements, and budget limitations involved, can a project that incorporates those key features actually be designed and constructed?”

Removing the traffic signals on Route 9 remains a worthy goal in terms of reducing accidents, pollution, wasted fuel, and time spent in traffic. Of the 7,530 vehicles travelling on Route 9 in both directions at peak afternoon rush hour, 2,780 (37%) exit in downtown Middletown. The dreaded late-afternoon back-ups already affect the North End and Newfield Street area because southbound drivers exit in Cromwell and use Liberty, High, Grand, and other residential streets to access the bridge.

Here’s the heart of the challenge. Removing the Route 9 signals requires the relocation or redesign of exits—namely, the northbound and southbound exits at Washington Street (exit 15) and the northbound exit at Hartford Avenue (exit 16). How can that be accomplished in a way that does not involve a 23-foot wall at the bottom of Washington Street (as in the first plan), does not push all those exiting vehicles onto Rapallo Avenue (as in the second plan), and does not worsen downtown congestion by forcing drivers via relocated exits onto streets where those drivers do not wish to end up (as in both previous plans)?

Removal of the three above-mentioned exits will affect approximately 760 vehicles per hour at peak afternoon rush hour. (All vehicle and turn count figures are projections for the year 2020, provided by CT DOT.) Of those 760 vehicles, 460 are headed for a destination lying west along Washington Street—specifically, 87% of the cars exiting at Washington Street. About 280 of the 760 are headed for the entrance ramp of the Arrigoni Bridge or another destination that takes them through the north end of Main Street—that is, 83% of the cars that exit northbound at Hartford Avenue plus some that exit northbound at Washington Street.

In other words, about 740 of these 760 vehicles are currently exiting precisely where they want to go. Forcing these cars and trucks to exit anywhere else will put more traffic on Main Street and side streets. Therefore, the best solution to the Route 9 congestion problem will retain these exits exactly where they are. But can we accomplish that and remove the traffic signals for through traffic?

Here are two possible solutions. Both of these involve signalizing the entering and exiting traffic at Hartford Avenue. In other words, entering northbound traffic would alternate with exiting northbound traffic, both moving under the proposed elevated southbound lanes whose traffic would not have to stop. Northbound Route 9 traffic would also continue without stopping.

Where the two options differ lies in how the northbound traffic exiting at Washington Street is dealt with. In the preferred but more expensive option, Route 9 southbound would be lowered sufficiently to allow northbound exiting traffic at Washington St. to cross the southbound lanes via an at-grade or slightly elevated bridge. This may require some pumping equipment to be installed to deal with the possibility of flooding. It would also involve removing the pedestrian tunnel under Route 9 from Melilli Plaza—a loss, but perhaps an acceptable one if a pedestrian overpass to Harbor Park is constructed. (Note that this pedestrian tunnel almost never floods, so maybe flooding isn’t such a serious obstacle to lowering the southbound lanes.)

The less expensive option would require northbound traffic exiting at Washington Street to go a bit farther north to the Hartford Avenue exit, cross under the elevated southbound lanes, and return to Washington Street where it could exit to the right. Not real pretty, admittedly, and spatially complicated, but perhaps it can be made to work.

The main point: both of these options would leave downtown traffic patterns virtually unchanged. I have spoken with DOT engineers on several occasions since August 2016 about these ideas. Their responses have included mention of issues that only traffic engineers can deal with, but I have heard no absolute deal-breaking factors. I do not pretend be a traffic engineer myself, but I believe that, given the many serious constraints of the situation, any acceptable solution will entail both compromises and less-than-ideal features. With some speed reducing measures such as narrower travel lanes, and perhaps widening the opening where Route 9 passes under the railroad bridge, it seems that some such approach is feasible. More to the point, it seems that some version of one of these must be made to work if we are to leave local traffic patterns unchanged. 

But speaking of minimizing negative impacts, here is another dilemma to reckon with.  The project (separate from the traffic signal project) to remove the stop sign at the northbound entrance of Route 17 onto Route 9 — one of the highest accident rate locations in the state— involves building a northbound acceleration lane along the right/east side of the highway near Harbor Park. The engineers have said that this requires the removal of the Harbor Park northbound entrance ramp that serves 560 vehicles per hour at peak afternoon traffic. That’s a lot of cars. Where will they enter Route 9 after the Harbor Park entrance ramp removal? The remaining options are South Main Street, Eastern Drive, and Hartford Avenue. Is there a way to allow the Harbor Park entrance ramp to remain?

Finally, we should embrace those aspects of the most recent CT DOT proposal that would benefit Middletown quite apart from the Route 9 traffic signal issue. The at-grade railroad crossing from Portland Street into the Miller/Bridge Street neighborhood should be restored as soon as possible. The pedestrian bump-outs on Main Street can be installed to improve visibility and safety for pedestrians as well as the efficiency of vehicle traffic flow. The City could modify some streets and build trails—some of which are already planned—to encourage bicycling in and out of the downtown area. Cut-through traffic would be reduced by closing the westbound ramp from the bridge onto Spring Street and the ramp from Liberty Street to Newfield Street, thereby adding to pedestrian safety around Macdonough School. That, of course, would likely put more cars onto Grand and Liberty, but a more efficiently-functioning Main Street and use of one-way streets would reduce the temptation for drivers to cut through on side streets. Middletown police have said they would like to see Main Street traffic signals synchronized, but the lights north of Washington are controlled by the state, while those south of Washington are controlled by the city. Can’t we work something out?

I commend Middletown residents for their informed engagement on these challenges, and I commend CT DOT for their listening, responsiveness, and the time they spend speaking with the public. Many of us—I certainly among them—have gotten quite an education in the process. Let’s all stay involved.  And by all means, if there are better ideas out there, let’s hear them.

John C. Hall is the Executive Director of the Jonah Center for Earth and Art, but the views expressed here are his own. This opinion article first appeared in the Middletown Press.

Screen-Free Week starts tomorrow! Are you joining?

During Screen-Free Week, Russell Library, Middletown Public Schools, HealingNatureCT, and the Rockfall Foundation will be hosting a series of events, including storytimes and an art program at the library, a hike at the Guida Farm Conservation Area, and a special presentation for families on social emotional learning by Scarlett Lewis, founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement.

Storytimes at the Russell Library are:
  • Monday 4/30 10:30-11:30 AM – Wonderful Ones
  • Tuesday 5/1 10:30-11:30AM – Twos are Terrific
  • Thursday 5/3 10:30-11:30AM – Baby Rhyme Time
  • Thursday 5/5 1:30-2:30PM – PreSchool Power
Plus, Friday 5/4 at 4:30-5:30PM there will also be an Art Party at the library, where children can use their imagination to create something beautiful (ages 5-9).

On Monday 4/30 at 6:30PM: Middletown School Readiness presents at Wilbert Snow Elementary School: “Choose Love at Home.” Parents are invited to listen to Scarlett Lewis, founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, to learn about their new social emotional learning program for families. Children are also welcome and Screen-Free activities will be provided for them. This event is open to Middletown preschool and elementary school staff, parents and children. Seating for adults and chaperones for children are limited so this is a first come, first serve event.

And on the final day of Screen-Free Week, May 6th, Beth Lapin of HealingNatureCT, in cooperation with the Middletown Department of Recreation and Community Services, will lead a hike at the Guida Farm Conservation Area from 10:00-11:30 AM.  This easy hike is great for families and children. Get outside and away from screens. Space is limited and pre-registration for this hike is required. Visit for more details and email Beth at to pre-register.

About Screen-Free Week:
From April 30-May 6, 2018, children, families, entire schools, and communities will rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen.* Plan to unplug from digital entertainment and spend all that free time playing, reading, daydreaming, creating, exploring, and connecting with family and friends!
*except for work and school assignments

For more on Screen-Free Week, visit here.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The One and Only DON WHITE at The Buttonwood Tree

The humorist, folk/singer-songwriter, author, troubadour, and downright funny guy, known as Don White, is headlining at The Buttonwood Tree on Saturday, April 28th, at 8 pm. While often performing with Christine Lavin across the US, tonight he alone will regale us with song and story. Reservations are suggested and can be found here, along with more info.

Who is Don White?
Don’s approach to music is a weird, unique blend. If he just played folk music, it would
be a handy label. But he has invented his own genre with a mix of humor and powerful
songwriting. White’s arc as a writer and performer has taken him from his industrial
hometown of Lynn, Ma across the country as hitchhiker, through Boston’s comedy clubs
and coffeehouses, and onto the stage with greats like Christine Lavin, Arlo Guthrie, Taj
Mahal, Ritchie Havens, Patty Larkin, Bill Morrissey, Tom Rush, and Louden Wainright
III. At every point, White has been the ultimate observer, infusing his work with his
experiences as a husband, a father, a seeker, and a joker.

The Buttonwood Tree is located at 605 Main Street. (860) 347-4957

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Buttonwood Tree Hosts Daryl's House and Hall & Oates' Guitarist Before a Tour with TRAIN

Eliot Lewis, a multi-instrumentalist, has a career most musicians could only dream of. Eliot is not only a member of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Daryl Hall & John Oates band, but also the original featured musician on MTV’s Live From Daryl’s House.

Tonight he'll perform as a duo with a female singer - not to miss!  As a solo artist, he consistently performs and releases his own brand of guitar featured rock and soul. Eliot performs with the most successful duo of all time, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Daryl Hall & John Oates on tour and will head out with them and the band, Train after this weekend.

"His talent and dedication go way beyond the average performer. In short, Lewis is a guy who respects his fans and craft. If Lewis comes to town, go see him"
- Thom Jennings (Backstage Axxess)
Eliot Promo 1
Eliot has worked with some of the biggest artists in the music business including
Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, Train, Grace Potter, Ben Folds,
Booker T, Jewel, Rob Thomas, Keb Mo, Jason Mraz, Darius Rucker, Gavin DeGraw, just to name a few. He has also performed on some of the mostprestigious stages all over the world including the legendary Hollywood Bowl and Japan's Budokan Arena, as well as on The Voice, Conan O'Brien, Today Show, The View, Jimmy Kimmel and many others.
"Eliot is a musician who can do it all, great singer, songwriter and guitarist.
He rocks and he's got soul. No one does it quite like him"
- Daryl Hall

Official Website:

The show runs 8-10pm at The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street, Middletown. Seats are $18, free parking behind It's Only Natural market and refreshments are available.  Reserve a seat.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Scarlett Lewis Brings Choose Love Movement to Snow School Monday

Large Crowd At Public Transportation Hearing

The Middletown Area Transit District conducted a public hearing last night, to get reactions to
possible cuts in service and increases in costs for the buses serving our city. Over 75 people came out to express their opposition to these cuts.

The lead administrator of MAT, Lisa Seymour, told the assembled crowd that the Governor had proposed a budget that would cut funding to small regional public transportation services like MAT by 15%, while not reducing at all the funding for CTtransit, which operates public transportation in the larger cities of the state.

The speakers came from a wide cross section of the community. Students at Middlesex Community College spoke about their dependence on the bus for their education. Elderly residents spoke about their dependence on the bus for getting to medical care, and on the impact rising fares would have on people with a fixed income. People with disabilities spoke about how the bus allowed them to hold a job that kept them off of welfare.

Representatives of social services told of the hardships that the people they serve would face if they lost transportation.  Leaders in the business community pointed out that employers such as FedEx and Walmart would have more trouble hiring workers if the bus service was inadequate.

Most speakers expressed outrage that cuts in service and increases in fares would be even considered, when so many of the wealthiest were paying so little in taxes. Gary Lambert, a full time student at Middlesex Community College, asked, "Why pick on the bottom?" Eric Samson, an adjunct professor at Middlesex Community College said, "We are in a blame-the-poor political climate."

The director of the regional council of governments in our area, Sam Gold, suggested that residents contact the governor and their state representatives to urge more equitable funding for Middletown Area Transit.

Few elected officials attended the public hearing. Councilmen Robert Santangelo and Sebastian Giuliano spoke about the importance of the bus to the city. Amy Albert read a statement from State Representative Matt Lesser, who could not attend because he was at the State Capitol voting on important issues.  Lesser wrote, "I want area residents to know that I strongly oppose the proposed cuts to MAT service.... I am working with Middletown's delegation to do everything possible to protect MAT service."

Mayor Dan Drew was the last to speak, first arriving almost two hours after the start of the public hearing.  He explained the budgetary process, saying the legislature was now going through the budget proposed by the governor. He pointed to other demands on the state budget, "There are so many important needs that aren't being met because the money isn't there."

Drew said it would be hard to get the money returned to local public transportation, "This is like gravity, and gravity is a lot stronger in some places than others .... And pulling the money back is hard."

But he reiterated that our city's legislators were working hard to fix this.

There were no representatives from the State Department of Transportation present.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hair! Sing-a-Long at the Buttonwood Tree this Sunday!!

Can you name this Middletown celebrity? 
On Sunday, April 29th, beginning at 6:30pm, we welcome the community to  a SING -ALONG celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Broadway opening of Hair! The Musical.
Come to sing, reminisce and have fun! 

The event is presented by the Russell Library, Oddfellows Playhouse, ARTFARM and The Buttonwood Tree. It features a live rock band and opening with some footage from the original Broadway cast.

Get out your love beads! Warm up your voices! Prepare to enjoy an evening of “mystic crystal revelation and the mind’s true liberation”!

“Hair” opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre on April 29, 1968. 

The band includes: 

Keyboard - Matt Durland
Guitar 1: Matt Kerovac
Guitar 2: Tom Oh
Bass: Harper Liles
Tenor Sax: Alex Antaya
Drums: Zach Fontanaz

(Fun fact: Tom Oh was part of the national tour of the show and has worked with the writers of the show)

Refreshments are available, all are welcome.

In 1968, the production was directed by Tom O’Horgan, choreographed by Julie Arenal, with set design by Robin Wagner, costume design by Nancy Potts, and lighting design by Jules Fisher. The original Broadway ‘tribe’ (i.e., cast) included authors Rado and Ragni, who played the lead roles of Claude and Berger, respectively, and Lynn Kellogg as Sheila, Lamont Washington as Hud, Sally Eaton and Shelley Plimpton reprising their off-Broadway roles as Jeanie and Crissy, Melba Moore as Dionne, Steve Curry as Woof, Ronnie Dyson (who sang ‘Aquarius’), Paul Jabara and Diane Keaton (both Moore and Keaton later played Sheila). Among the performers who appeared in “Hair” during its original Broadway run were Ben Vereen, Keith Carradine, Barry McGuire, Ted Lange, Meat Loaf, La La Brooks, Kenny Seymour (of Little Anthony and the Imperials), Joe Butler, Peppy Castro (of the Blues Magoos), Robin McNamara, Heather MacRae (daughter of Gordon MacRae and Sheila MacRae), Eddie Rambeau, Vicki Sue Robinson, Beverly Bremers, Dale Soules and Kim Milford. The production ran for four years and 1,750 performances, closing on July 1, 1972.

Middletown Area Transportation Service Cuts Proposed

The public transportation system that serves our city, Middletown Area Transit, is proposing steep fare increases and service cuts. This comes on the heels of a proposal to spend $70M to improve commuter service by eliminating stop lights on Route 9.

There will be a public hearing this evening:
Wednesday, April 25
5:00PM to 6:30PM
Common Council Chambers
City Hall

The proposed cuts are to times (Saturday and evening service), and to service areas (Westlake, Portland/East Hampton, Mlink, and the Cromwell Walmart).

The Mlink route links Middletown with Meriden, serving its train station and connecting our city to the Northeast rail network. The Meriden train station, which was recently improved, will be a stop on the new commuter rail between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts. Its new rail service will be frequent and inexpensive.

While MAT is contemplating cuts to its service, others have pushed for expansion, pointing out that public transportation reduces traffic and improves the roads and life in our city for everybody. Subsidies to public transportation are a tiny fraction of those given to the construction and maintenance of roads for private automobile use.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Polish the Love Beads and Press Your Bellbottoms for Oak and Velvet's Annual Fundraiser

Custom furniture maker, Oak and Velvet who have production and spectacular showroom space in the Remington Rand Building, are hosting an annual fundraiser for Huntington's Disease on Saturday April 28.

The event includes dinner, drinks, live music and dancing (with a hippie theme).

South Fire District Budget Vote TODAY.

From the South Fire District Commissioners
To the residents of the South Fire District:

The South Fire District Budget vote will take place tomorrow, April 24th,
from 6 AM to 8 PM.

Every vote is important. Please stop by the Firehouse tomorrow and vote.

Thank you,

South Fire District Commissioners

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Get Smart with Money at Russell Library This Week!

This week, April 23 - 27 is "Money Smart Week" at Russell Library. We've got a great line up of programs designed to give you some insights into how to control your money:

Monday at 10:30am is 
Introduction to Grant Resources
Join this discussion and hands on session related to grant seeking. Participants will be introduced to several online resources that describe grants and funding options as well as providing information on the grant seeking process. There will be some formal instruction and then time to explore your own needs. These sources are most helpful for individuals who in the nonprofit world, with some options also for individual needs.  If you have an interest in pursuing grant funding please also consider attending the workshop on Friday, April 27th at 10am, 'How to Secure Grant Funding,' led by Judi Margolin. Registration is required for both events, available online or by calling 860-347-2520.

Tuesday at 6:00pm is: 
Become a Master of Your Money
Organize your finances! Using Excel to Manage your Investments, we will focus on creating and using a spreadsheet to list all of your investments, bank accounts, savings and stock information in a single location (in case of an injury or death in the family).  Financial security topics will also be discussed.
This hands-on class is taught using library- supplied laptops on Windows 7 and Excel version 2013. Seating is limited to 8 students.

Wednesay at 1:30pm is: 
Budgeting with Excel
In this introductory course, participants will learn how to create a monthly household budget using Microsoft Excel. Topics will include working from templates, formatting spreadsheets, and creating basic formulas. Bring a rough draft or working file to start simplifying and streamlining your budget in this hands-on workshop.
A general understanding of computers and comfort using the keyboard and mouse is recommended.
Class capacity is 8 seats. Registration recommended; drop-ins suggested if there’s room.
Please sign up on-line or call the Information Services Desk at 860-347-2520.

Thursday at 6:30pm is:
From Millennials to Boomers - Financial Advice Built for the Generations
Whether you are in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or approaching retirement, you experience many of the same

financial pressures. For all of our differences, there’s much we can learn together about how to overcome the

challenges we face. Whether you’re just starting down the path of your life’s financial journey, or you’ve already

walked a mile or two, attend this seminar for some helpful strategies and financial habits to help get you headed.  Light refreshments included.

in the right direction.

What you will Learn:

• Common 'debt traps” and how to avoid them

• How much to invest and what investment vehicles make sense for you

• The importance of creating and sticking to a financial plan, regardless of your age

• How fees (obvious and not so obvious) reduce your returns

• If you and your family are protected with your current insurance coverage

Friday from 10am to 1pm is: 
How to Secure Funding from Foundations
Foundations are mysterious institutions to those unfamiliar with them. This workshop demystifies the process of securing foundation funding. It provides a thorough grounding in what foundations are all about, including how many there are, who runs them, trends in foundation giving and how to learn more about them.  The workshop focuses on what motivates foundations to give and helps participants determine why a funder might or might not support their organization. Built into this session will be an overview of the Foundation Directory Online, the premier source for finding funders, available at the Russell Library. Light refreshments included.
Registration is required, drop-ins are welcome if space permits.  
This program is made available through the generosity of the Friends of the Russell Library.

Heard on Main: Big Cuts, Less Service for Area Buses

The Evening Stroll

Our after-dinner walk on Main Street is usually punctuated by nods and hellos to the locals we pass, and the occasional "Good Evening".   Sometimes we chat with Anne Marie if she's standing outside the Buttonwood Tree greeting patrons arriving for a show, or with Rob at Tschudin Chocolates if he's got a break between customers.  Fred Carroll might be out sweeping sidewalks or dispensing art (he's our local Cartoonist Laureate, and lately, he frequents Perk on Main, if you want a dose of philosophy and humor about this tiny town.) 

Last night, a Main Street regular - Mark Barcomb -  pulled me aside and asked if I knew about the changes coming up at Middletown Area Transit.  There's a proposal to raise bus fares and cut services and there's a city meeting coming up - could I let people know?

I said I would.

Cuts to Bus Service

Last year, Middletown Area Transit proposed a big cut in services, and the city stepped in, nixing the service cuts and prompting a forced turnover in leadership at MAT (The Courant wrote about it here).  There's now a new proposal - to raise bus fare from $1.75 to $2 and make cuts to night and Saturday service, and reducing service to Westlake, Portland/East Hampton, Walmart in Cromwell, and the Meriden Train Station.  There's a public hearing on Wednesday, April 25 from 5 to 6 pm at the Council Chambers at City Hall.   The flyer, posted on MAT's facebook page, is below. 

File this one under "I" for Irony

One of the proposed cuts is to the MLink line, which is the bus between Middletown and the Meriden Train Station.  Currently the station only serves Amtrak lines, but that's about to change.  On June 16, 2018, the long-awaited Hartford Line will begin offering more frequent and speedier train service from Springfield to New Haven. This will be a huge increase in convenience for people who want to get from Middletown to New York or Boston - and also a reduction in price from current methods. The new train station in Meriden includes lots of parking but for folks who don't drive, the MLink bus is the cheapest alternative.   So the proposed cuts to the bus service come right when demand should be increasing.  (The new train has drawn at least one proposal to expand the MLink - not cut it.)

Will someone please write about this?!

The Middletown Eye would welcome input from anyone who wants to look into all this and do a piece on how things are going under new leadership at Middletown Area Transit and what prompted these proposals.  Heck, we'd be glad to read more about it in the Hartford Courant or Middletown Press too - or even the Middletown Insider.

Even though our current bus service is less than it could be, it's a vital service for people who don't or can't drive.  Just last month it seemed like DOT had plenty of money for projects in Middletown...maybe they could use some of that for the bus system!

Click on the image to see a bigger version of the flyer about the meeting:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Free Master Class in Generative Theater for Women Saturday

ARTFARM's Marcella Trowbridge will be offering a free Master Class in Generative Theater this Saturday in Middletown. The class is open to all women 17 or over, and is designed to offer a taste of the type of work that will done at this summer's Generative Theater Institute.
Generative Theater involves developing issue-based theater content as an ensemble -- taking personal and group stories and experiences and turning them into performance material. Please arrive on time and dress to move. The workshop will be held at Wesleyan's Schoenberg Dance Studio, 247 Pine Street, Middletown. No experience is necessary, and dancers, actors, visual artists, musicians and activists are encouraged to attend.
ARTFARM's Generative Theater Institute will take place July 2 - 22 in Middletown. It is open to all women ages 17 - 24. For more information contact, call (860) 346-4390, or go to

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

TEMPEST to Headline Benefit Event for Food Pantry and Buttonwood

The Buttonwood Tree and Oak & Velvet Fine Upholstered Furniture team up to bring an amazing band to Middletown in support of the  Amazing Grace Food Pantry and The Buttonwood Tree.

TEMPEST is an iconic band that will get your toes tappin'! To start the night there will be an opening performance by dancers from the Royal Scottish County Dance Society!

- Friday, April 20th, 2018
7:30-10:30 pm Doors open:7 pm

- Tickets are $20, can be purchased online at, at the door or at The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street, Middletown.

- Will be held in the beautiful showroom for the Oak & Velvet furniture business, in a historic factory located at 180 Johnson Street, Middletown. (now called the R.M. Keating Historical Enterprise Park.)

- Drawing for 4 Grounds Passes for the TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP

- Games (darts, pool...), Public Market's tasty sausages and hot dogs, snacks and an assortment of beverages will be available. Tickets on sale now!

Lief Sorbye, the founder of Tempest, has introduced unusual instruments into their own blend of world folk music. Keeping the spirits of the audience and the band uplifted through energetic and entertaining performances that span the spectrum from Celtic and Folk Festivals to Rock Clubs has always been the ultimate goal for Tempest. 

Tempest were inspired by a Dakota Sioux proverb on the “The Tracks We Leave”, which has triple references to the environmental, spiritual and musical tracks we leave upon the world we live in. The last 27 years have seen Tempest release nine critically acclaimed CDs on Magna Carta, and play more than 2,000 gigs. 2018 will see Tempest continue touring and bringing their Celtodelic Rock to their established and new fans alike.

Since forming in 1988, Tempest has delivered a hybrid of high-energy Celtic Rock. But as the band has matured throughout the years, their music has morphed stylistically. World Music has seeped into Tempest’s over all sound because the band members are drawn to traditional and ethnic music from around the globe. There has been a natural progression towards coloring Tempest’s music with elements from Scandinavia, India, African and Arabic countries. Middle Eastern flavors, traditional Irish and Scottish Medleys mingle with Robert Burns poems, Norwegian lyrics and heavy rock instrumentals on Tempest’s finest record to date.

• Lief Sorbye – Vocals, Mando Guitar, Acoustic & Electric Mandolines
• Adolfo Lazo – Drums
• Ab Menon – Guitars
• Kathy Buys – Fiddle
• Josh Fossgreen – Bass

RSCDS Dancers (led by Barbara Austen): 
Barbara List
• Ken Way
• Everett Munro
• Hillary Stevens
• Catriona MacAuslan
• Elizabeth Muir
• Steve Rice

Seating is limited, space is limited ... Get Tickets HERE
For more info call (860) 347-4957 or click link above.
This show is NOT located at The Buttonwood Tree.

Al Copley, Co-founder of Roomful of Blues Delights at The Buttonwood Tree

Fortunate audience members at The Buttonwood Tree Saturday night were treated to an amazing show by the legendary Al Copley. Dancing, laughing, conversations and merriment were the course of the evening as the show unfolded. Co-founder of Roomful of Blues, Copley has had an illustrious career as a pianist and composer. He'll return to TBT for another show on October 27th.
See more at
See more about Al Copley

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Earth Day Hike -- April 22, 2018

The Middletown Conservation Commission is sponsoring a hike at the Guida Farm Conservation Area on Earth Day -- Sunday, April 22nd. The hike will begin at 1:00 at the parking lot across from the T-intersection of Round Hill Road and Coleman Road.

The leaders will be Mike Thomas and Elisabeth Holder -- members of the Middletown Commission on Conservation and Agriculture. On our walk last spring, we saw frog eggs, a wood frog, an owl pellet, a sputnik-shaped fungus called cedar-apple rust, and several bird species. There are also unique and dramatic rock formations. Because some of the former hay fields have reverted to woodland, this site presents many opportunities to see how this process takes place.

There is also abundant evidence of invasive, non-native species – Japanese barberry, oriental bittersweet, and multiflora rose. We will hike the trails, show maps of the proposed water tower, and discuss our efforts to deal with invasive species on the site.

The hike will be suitable for all ages -- from school-aged children on up. Participants should wear sturdy shoes, long pants, warm jackets, and be sure to bring a water bottle. At the beginning and the end of the walk, copies of the updated Middletown Trail Guide will be available for purchase at a cost of $10.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

If you don’t know, now you know

Just a friendly notice to local drivers:

Watch out for cars making u-turns on Broad Street on Sunday mornings.

That’s when the Rolling Doughnut is parked between Court & College.   I have it on good authority that the Sugar Raised is “fluffy & super tasty”.  To find their next stop, follow them at

H/T Notorious BIG & Miranda

City Radio Station Holds Spring Record Fair Saturday

From WESU Public Relations.
WESU’s illustrious Record Fair is back for the 2018 spring season. Although there were a few hiccups securing our traditional venue, the event is back and better than ever in the usual location at Beckham Hall on Wesleyan’s Campus (55 Wyllys Ave, Middletown, CT). The event will be held on Saturday, April 21st from 11am-4pm. There will also be an early bird special admission from 10am-11am for a fee of $5.

As usual there will even be exclusive and discounted WESU swag as well as discounted $1 records and CDs. Live WESU DJs will be spinning records and tunes all day. WESU is always accepting record donations to sell or add to our extensive record library at the station.

WESU is a listener supported radio station and relies heavily on listeners’ donations to keep the station running. The biennial Record Fair helps to sustain the station while also providing a fun community setting for all ages! The new transmitter is a very large financial burden to the station, so it is all the more reason to come out and support your favorite community radio station at this wonderful event.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wesleyan Student Musicians Perform at Russell Library Saturday April 14!

A student-run chamber group at Wesleyan University with a passion for string instruments and classical music will be playing a selection from their repertoire in the lobby of the Russell Library beginning at 10:15am Saturday April 14th.

They hope to bring people together through music. The students are: 

Kate Luo: 1st violin
Henry Lin-David: 2nd violin
Julia Adler: viola
Camille De Beus: viola
Dani Smotrich-Barr: cello
Kimberly Tsiang: cello
Anna Zags: cello

Come and enjoy some classical music this Saturday!

At the same time, the Friends Book Sale will be going on in the Children's Activity Room, from 10:00am - 2:00pm. 

The staircase leading into our Main Reading Room shows a
projection of one of the stained glass windows.
Authors 06457! is also featured in the lobby of Russell Library from 11:00am - 1:00pm. Local authors Sara Ann Hofferd and Steve Liskow are the authors this month. 

Sara Ann Hofferd is currently working on a series of alphabet books that enhances the basic ABC book. Her featured book, Alphabet Sketch, is a motivational tool for your little one to search for the alphabet throughout your home. Initially created for friends and family to illustrate at baby showers or gatherings, Alphabet Sketch has grown to an audience of children under 7 as well. This way, it is personalized and broadens vocabulary by exploration.

Steve Liskow is an award-winning author who also teaches writing and serves as a mentor and panelist for Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. His novels, many set in Connecticut, deal with issues such as a shooting in a public school, and teen drug abuse.

A Tour of the Russell Library will begin in the lobby at noon and take participants into some of the "hidden secrets" of the library.

Spring is in the air!

The first signs of Spring started popping up around Main Street earlier this week, and by that, of course, I mean sidewalk tables.

Fiore's was first out the gate!

Today there were even more signs, like merchants washing their store windows...

...and pansies in the planters (props to the Downtown Business District).

At one point, I thought I heard the chirping of birds, but it turned out it was just a delivery truck backing up.  Cheep, cheep, cheep!

If you're coming down to Main Street tonight (Friday), don't miss Bread & Puppet at First Church (they just pulled into town and are unloading their bus!)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bread and Puppet Tomorrow!

click to enlarge
From Trevor Davis
A last minute change in venue has brought an internationally acclaimed act know for their giant puppets and messages for children and adults to First Church at 190 Court St., for only one performance this Friday, April 13 at 7 PM.

After the performance Bread and Puppet will serve its famous free sourdough rye bread with aioli, and Bread and Puppet’s “Cheap Art” – books, posters, postcards, pamphlets and banners from the Bread and Puppet Press – will be for sale. The Bread and Puppet Practitioners-of-the-Pursuit-of-What String Band will welcome the public. 

Bread & Puppet Theater is an internationally celebrated company that champions a visually rich, street-theater brand of performance art filled with music, dance and slapstick. Its shows are political and spectacular, with huge puppets made of paper maché and cardboard. Founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City's Lower East Side, the theater has been based in the North East Kingdom of Vermont since the early 1970s.

Council To Debate Arcade Parking Garage Bond Tonight

The Common Council will have a special meeting tonight, to discuss a proposed bond ordinance to fund the "Planning, Design, Engineering, and Deconstruction of the Arcade Parking Garage." The meeting starts at 6PM in council chambers.  There is a public hearing.

The bond would be for $750,000. 

The charter requires a voter referendum before any bonds greater than $750,000 can be taken out. The Council routinely circumvents this by splitting projects into smaller pieces.

Last week the council approved a bond of $500,000 to fund the "Planning, Design, Engineering, and Construction of City Public Parking Improvements."

And a second bond of $375,000 to fund the "Planning, Design, Engineering, and Construction of Surface Parking Lots in the Downtown Area.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

TEMPEST Performs BENEFIT CONCERT for The Buttonwood Tree and Amazing Grace Food Pantry

Sponsored by and held at Oak & Velvet Fine Upholstered Furniture, this event on FRIDAY, APRIL 20th, will support St. Vincent de Paul's Amazing Grace Food Pantry and the programming at The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center. This event will feature the electric Celtic rock sounds of the California-based band, Tempest as well as food, games and more! Tickets are $20, show goes 7:30-10:30pm (on 4/20) and tickets may be purchased at any time online.
Thanks to sponsors: Oak & Velvet, Spoke and Spy Ciderworks, Middlesex Music Academy, Red Lion Hotel, Cromwell

Artists Reception for Don Logie

Tonight, Tuesday, April 10, The Buttonwood Tree is proud to present the artwork of local photographer, Don Logie, from 6 -8 pm - 605 Main Street, Middletown, CT. Refreshments will be served at this free event.

Don Logie likes to travel.  he likes to attend jazz concerts.  He likes to photograph.  This exhibit  combines these interests.  The photos on display were taken at The Buttonwood Tree, Maine, and Italy.

The Internal Landscapes are the jazz performances at The Buttonwood Tree, the creations of the performing musicians.  Is not jazz the language of the night?  Don tries to show the energy of the musicians and communications between and among them.
The External Landscapes are the views of the Great Outdoors that Don has recorded. He became interested in night photography after seeing a beautiful photo of the Aurora Borealis and taking a course at Maine Media Workshops from the photographer, Jim Nickelson, formerly of Connecticut.  Night photography is full of surprises. He never knows what he will get.  THE COLORS, LIGHT, SHADOWS AND FORMS ARE THEIR OWN MUSIC.
Enjoy, and sing along. Artwork will be on display all month at TBT.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Readers Theater presents "Doubt: A Parable" at Russell Library Monday April 9th

On Monday, April 9 at 7:00pm, Readers Theater will present Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley in the Hubbard Room of the Russell Library. 

The play is set in a fictional Catholic school in the Bronx. Sister Aloysius, a deeply conservative nun, learns that the school’s priest met one-on-one with the first African-American student, and accuses him of molesting the student. Ben Brantley’s review states, “The play's balance of conflicting viewpoints, its austere institutional setting and its sensational front-page subject at first bring to mind those tidy topical melodramas of truth and falsehood that were once so popular.” 

Th play won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. It was turned into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Father Flynn and Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysium. 

The library closes at 6:00pm on Monday. The audience is requested to enter the Hubbard Room from the Court Street double-door entrance.

Readers Theater is sponsored by the Friends of the Russell Library. General audience seating, no reservations necessary.