Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Kids Coding for a Cause

Random Hacks of Kindness Junior is coming back to Wesleyan for a FREE one-day hackathon for local 4th-8th grade students.
Students are paired with Wesleyan student computer science mentors and local nonprofit representatives to develop prototype smartphone apps for local causes.

Participants will join us in Exley Science Center (265 Church St.) on Saturday, April 27th from 8:30 am-3:30 pm for a day of brainstorming, coding and making new connections. Parents may join us at the end of the session to see presentations.

This event is FREE and open to the public, but there are limited spots so you MUST register:

Sponsored by Wesleyan University Information Technology Services, Wesleyan Mathematics Department, Wesleyan Computer Science Department, Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and Jewett Center for Community Partnerships. 

 Read about last year's event:

Scenes of Middletown: Janine Janaki and Ed Friedman at Russell Library this March

Paintings by Janine Janaki are displayed with photos by
Ed Friedman in the new exhibit at Russell Library.
The new exhibit at Russell Library is a wonderful collaboration between two local artists.

Painter Janine Janaki's work is colorful and vibrant, at once abstract and realistic, and always engaging. She works in minute detail, but then steps back, “surprised to see the world, larger than life.” Janine recently was honored with the Arts Advocacy Award by the City of Middletown.

Photographer Ed Friedman states, “To be alive on this planet is a gift; all one needs to do is frame the experience.” After retiring in 2012 from teaching music, long-time Middletown resident Edward Friedman began taking photographs, some pretty and some gritty, of both the natural and the constructed elegance he encountered as he wandered throughout Middletown’s North End.

The two worked together to develop the new exhibit at Russell Library this March. Their work blends well: photographs resonate the shapes and textures of the paintings, and paintings help to enliven the colors and shapes of the photographs. Each artist's work is captivating on its own. However, by interspersing the photographs with the paintings (or vice versa) they augment one another in a beautiful blending of images. 

All of the images are of Middletown: Janaki's work brings to life iconic scenes, businesses and people that will be familiar to the regular visitor to the city. Friedman's photos capture North End scenes -- some familiar, some secreted away, under highways or along unused pathways. Both integrate Middletown's vast variety of life and work in one space.

The exhibit runs through the month of March. In April, the Art Guild of Middletown will present an exhibit from their members. 


Special Guest Chion Wolf from WNPR and Sunny Train This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Chion Wolfe guest stars this Friday

Story City Troupe - "Good Fit/Bad Fit"
March 1 @ 8-10pm, $10

We are excited to welcome Chion Wolfe, the Connecticut "Voice of NPR," as our guest teller for March! She has a terrific story that matches our theme for the evening: "Good Fit, Bad Fit."

Chion is the founder and producer of "The Mouth-Off," a very popular storytelling show at the Mark Twain House that is usually sold out.

Our stories range from mortification to an unexpected harmony of minds, Brooklyn to Poland. As usual, they are all in the popular  Moth story-telling style--true, personal stories told with no notes or props.  

Once again, there's time for you to tell a story, too--just put your name in the hat. After the show, we'll pull two names. We've been blown away by some of the stories that have come out of that hat!

Along with Chion Wolfe, our storytellers for the night include Saul Fussiner, Tom Ouimet, Cynthia Rojas, NIna Lesiga, Maire Greene, Divi Hall and the inimitable Mike Isko, who also doubles as our talented MC.

With or without a story of your own, join us this Friday. We promise you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll identify!

Remember, you can park in the Its Only Natural food store's parking lot next door.  It's OK with them--their way of supporting the art scene at The Buttonwood Tree. 

Chion Wolf's Website
More details/Reserve seats

Middlesex Drum Circle
February 28 @ 7-9 pm
A group of people that enjoy a good drum rhythm, especially when put into a circle. No reservations are necessary, extra percussion instruments will be available, though you are encouraged to bring your own.
Suggested donation: $5 (Give what you can)
Details here

Aligned with Source: A Personal Development Workshop & Meditation
March 2 @ 10:30-12 pm

Topic: A Vibrating Stillness
What does it mean to be Still? How often are you Still & how Still is Still?
Details here
Official Facebook Page
Suggested Donation: $10 (Give what you can)

Sunny Train Family Concert

March 2 @ 3-5 pm, 

Shake eggs, bang on drums, twirl hula hoops, explore yoga poses or play with the world’s biggest bubbles …Everyone loves this family favorite rockin’ railroad band!

Lala and Christopher are professional musicians and educators dedicated to providing the highest quality of interactive family music entertainment for all ages. Kids and grown-ups alike adore their toe-tapping happy harmony filled original songs and catchy jams. 

From a sweet acoustic husband and wife duo, to a full band electrified experience, Sunny Train loves to travel to schools, festivals, libraries, community centers, birthday parties and kid friendly events of all kinds.

Moon Train

March 2 @ 8-10 pm, $10

“Moon Train is a CT based “almost acoustic” band consisting of Christopher Jankowski, Nate Lawson and Conner Oyster. With acoustic guitar, stand up bass and drums, Moon Train is a blend of reggae, folk, jazz, bluegrass and rock; consisting of original music written by Christopher Jankowski and traditional music from around the world. From percussion to fiddle or saxophone, you can almost always find a special guest musician at one of their shows!”
Details here/Reserve seats

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center is located at 605 Main Street, Middletown. There is ample, free parking behind It's Only Natural market. Refreshments, viewing of Buttonwood's Art show, the bookstore and refreshments are all open and available. Call for info: (860) 347-4957. If you want to see what events we have lined up for the month check our website's event calendar here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Opinion: Residents Denied Access and Expected to Pay TWICE!

Submitted by Karen Radz. The Eye welcomes all signed opinion pieces, submit to
In 2015, Middletown voters passed a $33.45 million referendum to improve city fields. Nevertheless, residents are still being denied scheduled time to use them. Recent proposed changes to ordinance 214-37 - use of Pat Kidney and other city fields, will continue to favor the practice of allowing teams comprised of non-residents sole use. At the next Common Council meeting there will be discussion and a vote to possibly ratify these changes, which many residents are against.

The community is invited to attend the meeting on Monday, March 4, at 7pm in the Council Chamber to show support for fellow residents in this matter. Assistance from Mayor Drew, Public Works & Facilities Commission members, and General Counsel Commission members has been respectfully sought on this issue, to no avail.

The main concern for residents is that the proposed ordinance revisions will give priorities to users from outside of our city first (reverse from existing ordinance):
  • Non-resident teams (teams that draw from multiple towns - potentially 100% non-residents -  listed are Xavier, Mercy, Legion) will be given first priority status with all fees waived.
  • 100% resident teams will be given second priority status and will be charged fees.
The proposed ordinance clearly shows bias against Middletown parents who choose not to have their children play on certain teams. Some families may not be able to afford the $600-$800 fees those teams charge, and some may have other reasons for not choosing those teams. Shouldn’t families have choice? City Government should not discriminate against citizens based on what team they play for. One would hope that Mayor Drew and Council members choose to enforce the notion of fair and equitable use of city fields for the residents whose tax dollars pay for such facilities.

From a quick online search of field-use policies and ordinances in surrounding towns, one would discover that each, including those with Legion programs and private schools in town, now require around 67% residency to be a first priority user. Surrounding towns stipulate that teams that are comprised of 67% or more residents are scheduled first - fairly and equitably.

Recently, a Common Council member suggested that Middletown has a good cooperative relationship with Mercy, Xavier & Legion (majority non-resident teams), and that's why they're given first priority status. This may be so, but residents are not able to use their fields either … not sure who the relationship benefits. The fact remains that the individual taxpaying residents of this city voted for the renovation of fields and continue to pay for the bond that funded them, and the ongoing costs to maintain them, yet are unable to use them unless they play for a specific team. One would argue that residents should have equal access. No one is suggesting to remove teams from use - only that residents receive first priority status, just as surrounding towns provide.

 Residents urge Council members to vote to allow equal scheduled access to city fields. Again, the proposed revisions will waive fees for non-resident teams while requiring teams of mostly residents, or teams with 100% residents, pay. Middletown residents will pay twice!

 It is up to the Middletown Common Council to make a decision that is in the best interests of residents. There will be an opportunity for the public to weigh in on this issue at the Monday, March 4, Common Council Meeting in City Hall at 7pm. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Urinetown at Middletown High School February 28 - March 2

Consider this Broadway hit too quickly and you may dismiss it as insignificant, puerile and irreverent.  Irreverent it is, but Urinetown, which ran for three years and nearly a thousand performances on Broadway, and won three Tony Awards, is far deeper than a puddle of, well, you know.

Urinetown is a parody of the stereotypical Broadway hit. Big songs about topics which don't seem to deserve big songs.  If you're a Broadway fan, you'll recognize it's poking fun at everything from The Threepenny Opera to Les Miserables.  What you'll also find is that it take the piss out of capitalism, corporatism, populism, environmentalism, bureaucracy and city politics.

Once again, Middletown High School courts controversy by offering a play that slashes the cliches of Broadway standards, and has our teen performers literally raising bathroom humor to a higher level.

Middletown High School presents Urinetown this week, Thursday February 28 at 7, Friday March 1 at 7, and Saturday March 2 in matinee at 1PM and again at 7 PM.  Tickets ($15 for adults, $10 for students) are available at the door, or in advance, at a discount, from any MHS drama club member.

The show is directed by Jillian Kellogg. 

Chamber Supports St. Vincent de Paul Acquisition of Green Street Building

From the Middlesex Chamber. For background, see HERE.
Middlesex Chamber Chairman Jay Polke announced that the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to support St. Vincent de Paul Middletown’s proposed relocation to 51 Green Street, Middletown, Connecticut.

“St. Vincent de Paul Middletown does critical work in community assistance and this move will allow them to expand their space and operations,” said President of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Larry McHugh noting the chamber looks to be a constructive partner.

St. Vincent de Paul Middletown plans to sell their current 617 Main Street building, which will allow that building to redevelop commercially.

“We are pleased that St. Vincent de Paul Middletown’s move will allow them to support its clientele in a more efficient and effective way while also allowing for future economic development opportunities on Main Street,” said McHugh.

Friday, February 22, 2019

State Rep. Phipps to Hold Office Hours on Saturday

Quentin Phipps, who represents the city in the State Legislature, has scheduled Office Hours for this Saturday.

WHERE: Brew Bakers, 169 Main St.

WHEN:  Saturday, February 23rd; 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Stop by and share your thoughts and concerns on the issues facing you and your family in our city and across Connecticut.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mayor Drew Named In Federal Lawsuit Against City

Click on image to enlarge.
Click HERE for full document
A city employee has filed a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination and retaliation by the city. The suit is filed in the United States District Court in New Haven, and alleges violations of the Civil Rights Act, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, and Connecticut's Equal Pay law.

Michele DiMauro has been working in city schools since 2006, and has been the Manager of Human Resources for the Board of Education since 2012. Although this position deals exclusively with workers in the school system, it is under the supervision of City Hall.

DiMauro filed a grievance through the union in late 2017, stating that her salary was significantly lower than that given to the male Director of Human Resources in City Hall, though the positions were equivalent, and she oversees Human Resources functions for 1200 employees, while the City Hall Director oversees Human Resources functions for 700 employees.

In her lawsuit, DiMauro alleges that Mayor Drew has made denigrating comments about the professionalism and competence of female city employees, called her a "paper pusher" and referred to female city employees as "witches around a cauldron."

Click HERE for full document
These and other complaints had previously motivated the Common Council to vote unanimously to investigate whether there were unfair hiring and promotion practices, and retaliation against employees who speak out against them. The report did not find direct evidence of mayoral malfeasance, but did highlight disturbing themes and concerns, in particular employees' fear of retribution by the Mayor.

DiMauro filed a charge of discrimination with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities about a year ago. She has now decided to sue in Federal court instead.

The lawsuit requests lost wages and benefits of employment, and attorneys' fees. It also seeks punitive and compensatory damages as a result of emotional distress, pain, humiliation and embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of enjoyment of profession, and harm to reputation. The lawsuit does not name a specific dollar value.

The attorney for the city, General Counsel Brig Smith, declined to comment on the lawsuit, as did Michele DiMauro. The Office of the Mayor  referred all questions to Attorney Mike Rose, the outside counsel who is representing the city. The Eye was unable to reach Rose before press time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Opinion: The Mayor’s Proposal to Move St. Vincent de Paul To 51 Green St.

Submitted by the leadership of Middletown Green Community Center, Inc.; Jeff Hush, Executive Director, Kris Kolstad, Chairman of the Board, and Joan Hedrick, Member of the Board.
Editor's note: Background article: St. Vincent DePaul To Be Awarded Green Street School.

Photo from
On March 4, the Middletown Common Council will vote on the proposal of Mayor Drew to award St. Vincent de Paul the city property at 51 Green Street, which formerly housed the Green Street Arts Center.   The Mayor turned down the proposal of a grass-roots coalition, the Middletown Green Community Center (MGCC), to preserve the community center and expand the arts focus of the previous center to include technology and health.

The desire of the business community to move St. Vincent de Paul off Main Street has a long and contentious history going back to the 1990s.  Thus when Wesleyan University indicated privately to Mayor Drew that it was going to withdraw its support for the Green Street Arts Center, the Mayor and Joe Samolis, the City Planner, approached Ron Krom, the Director of St. Vincent de Paul, and offered him the building at 51 Green Street.  The city issued a request for proposals for the re-use of 51 Green Street, but it appears that from the Mayor’s point of view the outcome was already clear.

Photo from
The Mayor’s proposal would destroy a valuable community resource that has stabilized the North End, a fragile low-income neighborhood.  Fourteen years ago Wesleyan University, desiring to contribute to the community and to provide a way for their students to mentor low-income children, invested upwards of 1.3 million dollars in this property which the city owns, turning a former primary school into an arts center with a theater, all-purpose rooms, spaces for dry art and wet art, a sound studio, and a pristine dance studio with beautiful polished floors and mirrors.  Does it make economic sense to destroy a $1.3 million-dollar cultural asset?  The biggest damage of course is to the community and to the youth of the North End, who would no longer have a safe place to go after school, who would no longer be exposed to experiences and skills that expand their minds and hearts and lead them to productive lives in the community. 
Photo from

It is unfortunate that two vulnerable communities—the patrons of St. Vincent de Paul and the
residents of the North End—have been pitted against one another.   St. Vincent de Paul’s staff under the leadership of Ron Krom have provided much needed support for the homeless and hungry.  That they want to expand their services is admirable.  But consider the impact this move would have on the residents of Ferry St. and Green St.  The cost of destroying a community center and destabilizing an at-risk residential community is high.   Would it not make more sense to look for another space into which St. Vincent de Paul could move, such as the empty St. John School, or to create additional space in annexes close by their present location? 

Instead of pitting a soup kitchen and a community center against one another, how about tabling the Mayor’s proposal and working to develop a way to support both?  The Middletown Green Community Center has wide community support and many willing partners, such as Russell Library, NEAT, and Afropop Worldwide.   We would  welcome city support as well, and several members of the Common Council have raised the possibility of the city  sharing some of the space in 51 Green Street by, for example, putting Youth Services there, to free up space in the Municipal Building and to help MGCC carry the expenses of running 51 Green St.

 It is up to the Middletown Common Council to make a decision that is in the best interests of the community—the whole community and not just the business community.  There will be an opportunity for the public to weigh in on this issue at the Monday, March 4 Common Council Meeting in City Hall at 7 p.m.


Jeff Hush, Executive Director, MGCC
Kris Kolstad, Chairman of the Board of MGCC
Joan Hedrick, Member of the Board of MGCC

Middletown Green Community Center, Inc.

Jazz Quartet Performing This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Sarah Hanahan Jazz Quartet

Friday, February 22, 8-10 pm

Sarah is the proud owner of a beautiful Yanagisawa A-991 alto sax, currently mastering its technique at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz within the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford). Sarah was raised listening to a wide variety of music, but always had a special love for jazz. As with the rest of her troupe, Sarah Hanahan’s Jazz quartet is comprised of aspiring musicians from the Hartt School of Music, bringing with them a fresh, new sound. Emerging from the Hartford college’s jazz program, the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, these four unique individuals have developed their own energetic spirit that aspires to match those of artists old. Their repertoire consists of original music, but also of their own, swingin’ interpretations of certain American standards.

For recordings and more information:

Aligned with Source: A Personal Development Workshop & Meditation

February 23 @ 10:30-12pm

Looking to Earth for your needs
Suggested Donation: $10 (Give what you can)

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center is located at 605 Main Street, Middletown. There is ample, free parking behind It's Only Natural market. Refreshments, viewing of Buttonwood's Art show, the bookstore and refreshments are all open and available. Call for info: (860) 347-4957. If you want to see what events we have lined up for the month check our website's event calendar here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Ben Butler Encore at The Russell Library

Readers Theater, in association with Russell Library, presents "BEN BUTLER" in the HUBBARD ROOM 1:30 pm Saturday afternoon February 23rd. 

The Civil War Comedy/History comes back to Middletown in celebration of Black History Month and offers those who missed the June 2018 performances another chance to enjoy this fascinating work by Richard Strand.  

New Haven actor Rodney Moore returns to perform the memorable role of runaway slave Shepard Mallory.  Richard Kamins carries on in the celebrated titled role of the Major General, and Daniel Ayotte adeptly portrays the Lieutenant. New to the cast will be Durham's Henry Coe as Major Cary of the Confederate Army, returning to the "stage" after many long years. 

The doors to Russell Library's Hubbard Room (in rear of Library building) will open after 1:00 pm---enter from Library's Court Street driveway.  Seating is limited.

Wadsworth Mansion Wedding Show Sunday, March 3

From the Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate.
The Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate is  hosting their annual Wedding Show on Sunday, March 3, 2019. The Show will be open to the public from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The fee for guests will be $10.00 a person.

The Wedding Show has been designed to inspire brides and grooms who want to create a once in a lifetime experience in a unique setting. The show features a curated list of some of the Mansion's favorite vendors. Representing a multitude of services -- caterers, florists, photographers, videographers, rental companies, cake bakers, and the like -- these best-in-industry companies will be showcasing their talents for tailoring a wedding specifically to a couple’s vision.  A complete listing of participants can be found at Please RSVP at

Executive Director, Deborah Moore, stated that she is extremely optimistic about the 2019 and 2020 wedding seasons. Moore stated that brides are planning further in advance then in the past. Half of the Saturdays in the 2020 peak wedding season are already booked and for couples who don’t want to wait, there are still some prime Friday and Sunday dates in 2019 available. “Couples really enjoy having the flexibility to create a very unique and personal day instead of being restricted to a venue’s list of wedding professionals which is a business model that many venues are following. We like giving our brides and grooms the freedom to select who they want.”

For planning unique and beautiful weddings the Wadsworth Mansion Wedding Show is the show to visit. The vendors represent the best in the industry and it is an enjoyable experience for brides as the event is intimate, not intended to overwhelm newly engaged couples.
For more information call 860 347 1064.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

One Man Play Based on The Prodigal Son and The African-American Church

The Prodigals

February 17 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Professor, playwright and director Bill Foster will take the audience through a one-person short version of his new play, The Prodigals. The original work is based on the biblical proverb, The Prodigal Son. This will include audience participation and is a family friendly program based on the African American church. There will be a Q & A afterwards, and Prof. Foster will talk about the evolution of the play.  Please join us!
Look at every new day as an opportunity to find success and be happy. Who knows what you might accomplish?    Find out more/reserve seats here

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center is located at 605 Main Street, Middletown. There is ample, free parking behind It's Only Natural market. Refreshments, viewing of Buttonwood's Art show, the bookstore and refreshments are all open and available. Call for info: (860) 347-4957. If you want to see what events we have lined up for the month check our website's event calendar here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Celebrate Love this Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree with Waberi Jordan!

Waberi Jordan returns to The Buttonwood Tree for the 2nd time, to celebrate Love.

Friday, February 15, 8-10pm

“If one were to describe Waberi’s Sound, one might say that it is an Inter-Galactic fusion of deliciously playful rhythm splashed across a Cosmic canvas on which her voice shines through  like a symphony of Angels dancing through the air…”

February 15th, by popular demand she takes the stage, with music that speaks to the heart and warms the soul. And if all the stars align, there will be a few joyous surprises as well!

Having begun her musical Journey in Los Angeles – specifically in Leimert Park – her mentors and influences include Billy Higgins, Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples’ Arkestra and the Great Voice of U.G.M.A.A. and the inimitable Dwight Trible who admonished her to follow her heart with her music and voice when he was so moved by her haunting-yet-refreshed recording of Strange Fruit. Dwight “made it his life’s work to help the world to hear her voice.” More than a beautiful voice and a guitar, Waberi performs music that is reflective of a complex narrative, gently sculpted around jazz, blues, and her own style that makes Jordan highly sought after as a featured vocalist and collaborator. Some of the most innovative and exciting new musicians, from multiple genres, has garnered Waberi a swiftly growing international audience from Los Angeles and New York to UK, France and Amsterdam

Image result for anaita workshop the buttonwood tree
Aligned with Source: A Personal Development Workshop & Meditation

February 16 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

This Weeks Topic: REVERENCE
How do we approach others & all things in our life? What does it mean to be in reverence? How does it change our lives?
Explore simple concepts of living in awareness that: open you up to the wonders of life; discover who you are; let go of fear and all that keeps you stuck. You create your reality and as co-creator of this world, find out how you can bring to it and you, peace, harmony, health and abundance. Each session ends in a powerful guided meditation.
Suggested donation: $10


February 16 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Teens, looking for a place to perform? A place to recite your latest poem?
How about your newest original scene? Or, a time-tested monologue? If so, The Buttonwood Tree Teen Open Mic is FOR YOU!

Be a part of Buttonwood’s first ever open mic specifically for teen performers ages 12-18. Perform any type of artwork: you can use our piano or bring a guitar, ukulele, or other instrument to play! Cover your favorite song or perform an original! Whether it is your first time performing or you are an experienced teen musician, poet, or artist, the Buttonwood Tree is a positive, supporting environment for teens to perform. Parents and friends are welcome to come support!
Thanks to our sponsor, the Community Foundation of Middlesex County for supporting this program and Matt at the Middlesex Music Academ for providing a back line of a full drum kit, bass amp and guitar amp with advance notice. Email or call us to make arrangements. Details here

  The Brett Bottomley Trio will perform at The Buttonwood Tree

Saturday, February 16th    8-10pm   $15.  Reservations suggested


An All-star group featuring internationally renown Chapman Stick player BrettBottomley. The Trio performs Latin , Original and Jazz standards. The All Star cast includes Ken Fischer on piano and  Bob Ahern on drums. Details here

Tai Chi Classes Start This Week at The Buttonwood Tree

Simple Tai Chi 

“Just for the Health of it” with Mike McEwen

The Buttonwood Tree offers a diverse array of programs to the community, with a new class starting this Wednesday and Thursday, Feb 13 and 14, "Simple Tai Chi". The same class is offered twice, and participants may attend either or both, but must Pre-register, no walk-ins accepted. Register here

Fun, informative & life-changing, this Simple Tai Chi class was created for busy people of all ages. Give yourself the gift of better health and more relaxation with this 8 week class.

Mike understands the challenges of finding time for yourself and realizes the value in quieting the mind and relaxing the body.  With an emphasis on reducing stress to improve your overall good health, it also serves to build a stronger focus.  All are welcome to learn these Simple Tai Chi techniques and principles that can be utilized in your every day movements.

This class allows you to receive the best of Tai Chi, without struggling to fit the lengthy study of a traditional Tai Chi class into your busy lives. Mike became a certified instructor of Tai Chi in 2006, from Central Connecticut Tai Chi Ch’uan. He also has over 25 years experience as a practitioner of Qi gong and Reiki Healing Energy. He has a strong passion to share this knowledge with others and has lead previous classes at The Buttonwood Tree. Recognizing the health and other benefits that one receives, by the power of this life force energy better known as Qi energy, former students have requested more classes … here they are!

Find out more, and register here.
Classes are held at The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street, Middletown.
More info: (860) 347-4957 or email to

Monday, February 11, 2019

~ First Church Presents: DANCE with L.A.M.F. ~

Dance on Middletown's 2nd-best dance floor!
First Church Middletown  *  190 Court Street  *  Side Door
 Free or $5, as you are able  * All proceeds to First Church

Geen Thazhampallath Offers a Tribute To Tom Serra

Former mayor and Common Council majority leader Tom Serra died this week after a battle with pancreatic cancer.  This tribute is authored by Geen Thazhampallath, who interned with Serra and is now the city's Parking Director.

Thomas J. Serra is the G. O. A.T. Greatest Citizen. Greatest Public Servant. Greatest Middletonian of All Time. No one is even close.

Is the G.O.A.T. Brady or Montana? Is it Lombardi or Belichick? Jordan or Lebron? Is it FDR, or Lincoln? The debates are endless and the answers usually tinged by one’s own time of life.

Here in Middletown, there are certainly formidable names to consider for our G.O. A. T. nominations. Past and Present. Titans of business, icons of education, sports, arts, and pols that have served at every level. Garafalo, McHugh, Masselli, Alexander, Cacciola, Gallitto, Cotton, Thompson, Baldwin, Snow, Bysiewicz. All worthy of mention. None worthy of the top spot. That spot belongs solely to the life and now memory of Tom Serra.

Serra was a god-like figure in my life from about age 10 when I first saw him throw a 30-yard perfect spiral, in a dress suit, to my buddy on Roberta Drive, while he was out campaigning for Council. Over the next 35 years he moved from god-like figure to father figure as our lives crisscrossed each other. Five years ago, I lost my dad. Tom filled the void as we often talked about life and true public service.

You probably are thinking that filling a void in one life doesn’t qualify anyone to be the G.O.A.T. You may be right in that assessment except for the fact that Tom played the role of mentor, friend, cheerleader, fixer, and family patriarch in hundreds, if not thousands, of local lives.
  • He served as principal of Vinal High School for two decades touching the lives and careers of young people that now reach into every facet of service, manufacturing, carpentry, and technical know- how throughout Middletown and Middlesex County.
  • He helped shape the very Middletown skyline that we see today. He was there when the State Court, Kidcity, the Middlesex Tower, Aetna complex, Fed-Ex and other major projects took height and flight.
  • Tom wasn’t just a former Mayor, current Councilman or Majority Leader, he was a civic giant unlike any other. His public service was eclipsed only by his fervent love of family, his support or leadership of veterans, public schools, public sports and recreation, the Sports Hall of Fame, St. Sebastian’s parish, and local labor organizations. Few, if any, have showed up at every civic club event, dinner or fundraiser and served the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce like Tom did. In the last few years he often mentioned to me that his greatest love was organizing the Chamber’s career fair for young people. Once a teacher, always a teacher.
  • He was a high school sports legend in his own right and still physically looked the part in his 70s. We should also remember that the sports legend of yesterday was called upon in 2006 to save his old school one last time. If it weren’t for Tom, the new MHS would still be a giant hole in the ground. Trust me. I was the one in the back ground calculating what goal line we needed Tom to cross, for all of us, one more time. A million dollars here, another four million there.
  • Here’s the ultimate irony. He did all this in a very public eye that spanned over 50 years of his life often getting blamed for things he had nothing to do with. Yet, not one bit of it makes him the G.O.A.T. He and anyone else, in that rare high air, are not there based on what we see, but it’s based on all that stuff we don’t see. It’s based on all the extra work, sacrifice, personal advice, and private calls for help answered, that makes them great. That’s the stuff of legends. That’s the stuff that will always make Tom Serra Middletowns G.O.A.T. End of debate.

Senate Proposal Would Connect City to State and National Trails Network

Our City lies between two regionally known trails for bicycles and walkers, and yet is currently connected to neither. A bill introduced in the state legislature proposes to remedy this.  

From the Jonah Center, click to enlarge
The north-south Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is an 82 mile trail for bicycles and pedestrians that runs from New Haven to Northampton, with a few short interruptions. The 48 miles from New Haven to Tariffville are part of the East Coast Greenway Trail, which will stretch from Maine to Florida.

The east-west Airline trail begins in the village of Thomson, in the far northeast corner of the state, and was recently extended to Portland.

Neither trail reaches our city.
Our city's two State Senators, Mary Abrams and Matt Lesser, are cosponsors of a bill whose purpose is to connect our city to both of these trails. The connection would pass through the Meriden train station, allowing bicycle access to the New Haven to Springfield train service.

The Transportation Committee at the Capitol will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 10:30 A.M. in Room 1E of the LOB. Letters in support or opposition to this  proposed trail system can also be sent to the Transportation Committee, and to Senators Mary Abrams and Matt Lesser.

Part of the proposed connection would utilize a proposed Newfield corridor trail. This trail is the subject of a public hearing also on Wednesday,  in the Community Room of the Police Station at 222 Main Street.

Friday, February 8, 2019

New Multi-Use Trail Being Planned

Middletown’s Department of Public Works has scheduled an important hearing on the Newfield Corridor Trail on Wednesday, February 13, 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Police Station at 222 Main Street. The Department of Public Works will make a brief presentation on the planning, surveying, and design phase of the project. Members of the public will have an opportunity to express support and ask questions.
The Jonah Center began advocating in 2012 for a multi-use trail that will start close to the downtown area (such as Veterans Park) and connect with the Mattabesset Bike Path in the Westfield/Westlake section of the city at Tuttle Road. We are excited and delighted that the Public Works Department appears ready to move forward with this long-awaited and talked-about project. The process of route definition, survey, wetland delineation, permitting, and design is likely to take a number of years. The Jonah Center and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee would appreciate your presence and show of enthusiasm at this meeting to send a strong message to City officials that bicycle and pedestrian are important to you. A strong turnout will help move the project along at a quicker pace! 
The City has many infrastructure projects in the works and tends to give priority to those that are perceived to benefit the largest number of residents. So it is important to show that this project has strong support and matters to residents from all over town, not just to those who live in the immediate vicinity of the trail. Delays could result in the funds earmarked for the project purchasing far less than they would have originally. 
More information on the trail can be found by clicking on the following links: