Monday, February 28, 2022

This Week at The Buttonwood Tree - March 1-6, 2022


The Buttonwood Tree 
605 Main Street, in Middletown

March 2022
The Buttonwood Tree Presents:

Event descriptions are excerpted from The Buttonwood Tree online calendar. Click on event links in text for more information. 





7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

       Laughter Yoga with Mylene (ZOOM)


7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Bob Gotta's Acoustic Open Mic (IN PERSON)


MAR 4 

8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Chris Daly & The Lavender Social Club




MAR 5  

 10:30 am - 12:15 pm

Align with Source Workshop   





 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm  

Anne Marie Menta






MAR 6   

6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Weekly Improv Workshop

For more information on Buttonwood programs, please see our calendar here.

Auditions for ages 14 - 20 for "The Greeks" at Oddfellows

                                Photo by Bill De Kine of 2018 Oddfellows Teen Rep production of Sophocles' Antigone

Auditions are next week in Middletown for actors ages 14 - 20 looking for a powerful and challenging theater experience this spring.

Oddfellows Playhouse Teen Repertory Company 2022 announces auditions for “The Greeks", a powerful contemporary adaptation of Euripides’ "Iphigenia at Aulis" and "The Trojan Women", adapted and distilled into one evening by John Barton and Kenneth Cavander for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Audition dates are March 7 & 10, 6:30 - 9 pm.

Anyone wishing to auditions should:

*Register for one of the two evenings by emailing

*Arrive on time, dress to move, and be prepared to stay the entire 2.5 hours

*Open to anyone ages 14 - 20

*Everyone who auditions and commits to the rehearsal and production schedule will be cast.

Rehearsals begin March 21 and will be Mondays and Thursdays, 6 - 9 pm. 

Performance dates May 19 - 21 and 27-28.

“The Greeks” will be directed by Playhouse Artistic Director Dic Wheeler, with choreography by ARTFARM’s Marcella Trowbridge.

Tuition for Teen Rep is $300. Financial aid or work-study are available for all who need it.

Email to register for one of the two auditions, or call (860) 347-6143 for more information.

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Works of William Bonnie


The Buttonwood Tree 
605 Main Street, in Middletown

February 2022
The Buttonwood Tree Presents:
The Works of William Bonnie

Thursday, February 24, 2022

This Week at The Buttonwood Tree - February 24-27, 2022

The Buttonwood Tree 
605 Main Street, in Middletown

February 2022

The Buttonwood Tree Presents:

Event descriptions are excerpted from The Buttonwood Tree online calendar. Click on event links in text for more information. 




FEB  24 

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Bob Gotta's Acoustic Open Mic (ZOOM)


FEB  25 

8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Post Traumatic Jazz Disorder Brings 





FEB  26    

  10:00 am - 3:30 pm

Reiki Level 1 Class (1/2) with Eileen Anderson RN

 10:30 am - 12:15 pm

Align with Source Workshop with Annaita Gandhy




 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm  

Waberi Jordan






FEB  27    

6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Weekly Improv Workshop

For more information on Buttonwood programs, please see our calendar here.


Economic Development Committee Recommends Land Swap Near Lawrence School

Lawrence School is at the top.
The Economic Development Committee unanimously approved a proposal for the city to trade 4.7 acres
of city-owned school near Lawrence School for over 20 acres of nearby wetlands. The land swap expands the city's open space, and provides street frontage for a new development.

The recommendation now goes before the Common Council, which will consider it at its March 7th meeting.

The developer, Dominick DeMartino, proposes to build two 4-story multi-family buildings, with 76 units each. He told the EDC that the target market is young professionals, with most occupied by single or young married couples. He said it would be a perfect setting for work at home environment, for people who want to look up from their computer to see woods out the window. He said both buildings would be developed at the same time. 

DeMartino told the Commission that the nature of the buildings would be similar to those he had built in Wallingford.

DeMartino said they had done preliminary traffic studies and concluded that there would be no impact on school traffic. He said the traffic study concluded, "The development of this apartment complex will not affect traffic or safety of Lawrence School traffic. ... we do not anticipate any traffic problems whatsoever."

Wallingford buildings

The Director of Community and Economic Development, Joe Samolis said that the development would require a zoning change by the Planning and Zoning Commission, either by changing the zoning map so that this land would become residential instead of Industrial, or dropping a floating zone for multifamily onto this area.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Superintendent's Attorney Protests Lack of Due Process and Length of Investigation

The Middletown Eye has received a copy of a letter of complaint from Attorney Philip E. Thompson who is representing Middletown Superintendent of Schools Michael Conner during an investigation into allegations made by district employees.  Below is the text of the letter, which was addressed to the attorney representing the Board of Education:

I wanted to let you know that Dr. Conner is scheduled to talk to the investigators from Thompson Hine next week.  However, Dr. Conner wanted me to express to you and to the Board his disappointment not only in the length of time this investigation has taken, but in the direction the investigation has gone regarding time and lack of due process.  He feels that what was supposed to be an investigation into a handful of anonymous and unsubstantiated claims has morphed into in his words, “a witch hunt.”    

First, we were led to believe that the investigation, at least the investigatory part, was to be completed by the end of December 2021.  Here we are going into March 2022 and the investigators are still interviewing witnesses.  We were also informed that the investigators engaged an open complaint process whereby any past or present school district employees, whether they had an “ax to grind”; were seeking payback for an administrative action; or who might have a long-standing grudge or prejudice, could come forward and make unsubstantiated and uncontested claims without any real evidentiary or due process challenges as to the veracity or accuracy of their statements.   To date we have heard that the investigators have talked to over 70 witnesses.  The investigators also told us that all the people making statements against Dr. Conner would be allowed to remain anonymous and that Dr. Conner and his legal team would not be informed as to the nature and content of those statements.  

Dr. Conner believes this investigation as being conducted is an affront to due process and his contracted employment rights.  The investigators informed me that Dr Conner will not be allowed to even provide witnesses in his own defense.   This along with not knowing the nature and extent of the allegations being made against him has setup a nearly untenable circumstance for Dr. Conner and raises legitimate questions as to whether he will be able to properly defend himself from these allegations.  Based on how we are seeing this investigation being conducted, we believe that instead of investigating the truth, the school system now only seems concerned with protecting its own interest.

I have informed the investigators that although Dr. Conner will attend their interview, he WILL NOT answer any questions that his legal team believes could be the subject of any future civil or criminal proceeding.  In addition, under the terms of Dr. Conner’s Administrative Leave letter, he has been directed,“not to report to work, attend any school functions, or take any action on behalf of the  district. 

In addition, you (Dr.Conner) are specifically prohibited from publicizing or discussing this matter with any parents, students or employees of the district.”  This on its face seems to restrict Dr. Conner’s ability to participate in the investigation. Unless the Board clarifies its order and grants Dr. Conner permission to participate in the investigation consistent with the requirements of his employment contract, Dr. Conner will not participate in the investigation.  

Dr. Conner is extremely concerned with potential future civil and criminal litigation as has been threatened against him by several current and former school employees and public officials in Middletown.  Based on this risk, Dr. Conner’s legal team will take all necessary steps to protect his rights as they relate to due process, fairness, and any possible future legal matters.  It is unfortunate this situation has taken a turn in this direction; however, because Middletown Public Schools has engaged a process designed to protect its own interest; Dr. Conner and his family must do the same.    

 Dr. Conner is still ready to engage in good faith negotiations with the Board to address future legal liability and his employment.  However, he will not agree to a blanket waiver of legal action to protect people who have libeled and slandered him and his family.  Dr. Conner’s record of achievement and the Middletown Public School system’s record of improvements and successes since his tenure speak for themselves.  Dr. Conners believes that the allegations against him are primarily motivated by his race and jealously over his success as the Schools Superintendent.  The truth will eventually come forth and the school system’s desire to beg truth from lies will only bring further financial and academic harm to the school system, the taxpayers, and the students in Middletown.         


Friday, February 18, 2022

Local Sporting News: Wesleyan Squash, Swimming, and Basketball Teams In League Tournaments

Lightly edited from a report by Fred Cohan.

Wesleyan's amazing Men’s Basketball team, with a record of 21-3 (!), will be hosting the NESCAC Quarterfinals this weekend. Wes will play the winner of Hamilton vs. Colby on Sunday at 2:00, in Silloway Gym, within the Freeman Athletic Center on Cross Street. Wesleyan will also host the NESCAC Semifinals on Saturday the 26th and the Finals on Sunday the 27th. This team, skippered by Joe Reilly, is the strongest team in a century plus of Wes basketball. Gearing up for the NESCACs, the team had a sensational game last weekend against Bowdoin, winning 101-65. This was only the second time in team history that it scored 100+ points over a NESCAC opponent. You can catch a shoutout of five of the starters here. Those students are Sam Peek (named NESCAC Player of the Week), Nicky Johnson, Jordan James, Antoine Walker, and Shackylle Dezonie. Wesleyan's president Michael Roth discussed the basketball success in his February 15 blog. If you can’t make it to Silloway, here is as video link for basketball, as well as some other events.

Wesleyan’s Women’s Basketball will be hosting the first round of the NESCAC championship tomorrow night at 7:00, taking on Hamilton. The Quarterfinals will be held on Sunday at 4:30, hosted by Tufts. Wes comes into the NESCACs with a stirring victory over Bowdoin last weekend. Caleigh Ryan scored a career-high 30 points, plus 11 rebounds. Summary.

Men’s Squash will enter the National Intercollegiate Team Tournament on Friday, taking on Hamilton at noon and then Fordham at 2:30. The team had a successful NESCAC tournament here at Silloway, Feb. 5-9. After losing a tough and close elimination match against Hamilton, 5-4, the team decisively beat Conn College 8-1 in a consolation match. The wins featured a comeback rally by Abhu Gupta, close five-game matches by Andrew Doucette and Toby Goldston, and a decisive two-game match victory by Ethan Yan. 

Women’s Squash had a good NESCAC tournament last weekend. After a close elimination round losing to Hamilton, the team decisively beat Conn College 9-0 and then Colby in a close one, 5-4. Portia Pliam had a stand-out win coming back from being down 2 games to 0, and then winning 3-2, both outlasting and outplaying her opponent. Women’s Squash will move onto the CSA Team Championship in Cambridge in a week. 

The Swimming and Diving team had success at the NESCAC championships. First-year swimmer Ainsley Dodson set a new Wesleyan record in the 200-meter individual medley! Senior Mengmeng Gibbs advanced to the final round of 50-meter breaststroke and recorded her season-best time to place 6th out of the 44 competitors. Here is a recap.

NESCAC Swimming and Diving is extremely competitive, with five of the country’s 20 best teams consistently emerging from NESCAC. Therefore, an important dimension of success, beyond placements in the championships, is personal improvement. Some of the most dramatic improvements were achieved this season by Rachel Townsend, Ainsley Dodson, Caitlyn Chang, Cameron Kahn, and Anne Volker. Improvement stats are highly regarded by the conference’s fellow coaches, and partly by that criterion, Wes Head Coach Peter Solomon has been named NESCAC Coach of the Year twice in recent years, in 2017 and 2019. 

The Men’s Swimming and Diving Team are heading to Colby for the Men’s NESCAC championship this weekend. The team moves into the championship with some notable wins against Clark, Hamilton, and Trinity, and placing third out of eight teams in the Connecticut Cup. 

Composting for Our Climate Video and Poster Contest

Mayor Ben Florsheim is pleased to announce the City’s first Composting for Our Climate Video and
Poster Contest.  Winning videos will be spotlighted on the City of Middletown website, social media and public access television. Winning posters will be enlarged and displayed on Middletown Area Transit buses that circulate through the City. 

The Composting for Our Climate Contest offers local students an opportunity to highlight their talents and help fight climate change.  Middletown students, Grades K – 12, are encouraged to create a video public service announcement, or a poster, that highlights how composting reduces climate change.  

 Composting is a natural, controlled process, which breaks down organic material such as leaves and food waste, and turns it into a valuable soil amendment.  Composting helps protect our climate and has numerous environmental benefits.  Food scraps in landfills generate methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas.  Food scraps burned at trash incinerators contribute to harmful climate pollutants and, because they are wet, are more difficult to burn. Once organic materials are composted, the end product, the compost, can be applied to land to make it a healthier soil and reduce global warming. 

Any Middletown student in Kindergarten – Grade 12 may participate.   Poster entries must be submitted in person at Russell Library or the Department of Public Works (located in City Hall), or emailed to by 4:30 p.m. on May 2, 2022.  Videos must be submitted through a requested link.  The link must be requested by April 29, 2022 from   Entries may be made by individuals or teams of up to four students.  All entries must be accompanied with a permission form completed by a parent or guardian.  

As mentioned above, winning videos will be posted on the City of Middletown website, social media and public access cable television.   Winning posters will be displayed on Middletown Area Transit (MAT) buses.  Also, all winners will also receive a $25 Downtown Middletown Gift Card.  Second place winners will receive a $25 gift certificate towards Middletown Recreation programming.  All posters will be on display at Russell Library.  

Further information, rules, forms and helpful tips can be found here.  Please read the contest rules carefully. Entries must follow all the rules in order to be considered. 

This program is brought to you by Middletown Public Works, Middletown Recreation and Community Services, Russell Library, Middletown Commission on the Arts, and Middletown Area Transit.  For more information, contact 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022


Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day-February 17, 2022!  Pass It On!

Thursday, February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day. It is easy to do and celebrate. All you have to do is to be extra kind and extra nice to someone that you know and don't know.

Here are some ways to practice this random act on February 17th & every day such as compliment a stranger, treat a homeless person to lunch according to "Random Act of Kindness Day-February 17, 2022" article from Also, say hello to people you don't know and people you do, write a positive handwritten note to your teacher, friend, co-worker or supervisor, pick up litter at a public park or school, place positive notes at work and home, pay for someone’s coffee or snack, shovel someone’s driveway, check on a neighbor, spread cheer wherever you go and on social media. Most importantly, Smile. Once you do this today don't stop on February 17th. Make it a habit and do it every day.

For more information about Random Act of Kindness Day please see the following websites:

Enjoy the videos.



Sweet Harmony Café and Bakery Feeds Eversource Crews After Major Storms

Submitted by Tricia Taskey Modifica,
Eversource Media Relations Manager – CT
After a major storm hits and there’s damage to the electric system, it’s all-hands-on-deck for Eversource employees.  Every employee has a storm role – including line crews, logistics personnel, customer services representatives, and safety specialists. Restoration can last days, and crews often work around the clock to get the power back on for customers.

Also playing a critical role in supporting restoration efforts are local businesses like Sweet Harmony Café and Bakery. At a moment’s notice, these businesses are called on to help serve meals to Eversource and out-of-state crews.  Co-owners and sisters Laura Conley and Trang Tran have become accustomed to watching the weather, and they’re always at the ready to keep the team’s energy up and spirits lifted.

“They’re always great to work with,” said Christa Simmons, a member of Eversource’s procurement team. And with a menu consisting of everything from omelets, to sandwiches, salads, and a famous mac ‘n cheese recipe—"the food is always made with love and care. I see Laura as a modern-day version of the culinary ambassador Edna Lewis.”

In 2021 alone, local vendors like Sweet Harmony Café and Bakery worked closely with Eversource during storms to provide nearly 72,000 meals for employees working in Connecticut. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were delivered to work centers, staging sites, offices, and hotels where crews were staying across the state. As a small business owner, Conley said working with Eversource has been beneficial—especially as they have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our partnership with Eversource helped us to weather the decrease in traffic to our shop during the pandemic, and we’ve learned a lot from serving the employees morning and night during these storm situations,” she added. “It’s challenged us but also made us grow as a business.”

“During these unprecedented times, it’s critical that we support diverse businesses,” said Eversource’s Simmons.  “When diverse businesses are given an opportunity like here at Eversource, it enables them to expand and more importantly, make an impact on the community.”

When it comes down to it, cooking and baking is more than just a career for Conley and Tran. It continues to be their “gateway to smiles” and helping others.

“I mean, I don’t want to be up there in those buckets fixing the power,” Conley said laughing. “If they have the courage to do that in all kinds of weather, then the least I can do is make sure they’re fed a good, warm meal.”

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Methadone Clinic Court Ruling to be Appealed

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted to endorse the city's appeal of a court decision that would bring an opioid addiction treatment center to Washington Street.

The genesis of the court case was the decision in 2020 by the Commission to deny an application by the Root Center for a methadone clinic on Washington Street, across the street from Indian Hill Cemetery. The vote was 4 to 3 in favor of approval, but as the City Charter requires any approval to receive 5 of the 7 votes, it was a denial. 

The Root Center appealed the decision, arguing that the requirement for a supermajority was at odds with State Statute. The Middlesex Superior Court agreed, and ruled that the Commission's 4-3 vote was actually an approval. 

The city filed an appeal, now under consideration by the court. The Root Center made a settlement offer that is not public information, according to Director of Land Use, Marek Kozikowski.  The Commission discussed this settlement offer with City Attorney Chris Forte in executive session, not open to the public. 

After returning to public session, the Commission voted unanimously against accepting the settlement offer, advising the City to pursue its appeal.