Monday, January 17, 2022

Valley Courier Person of the Week

Valley Courier

Professional organizer Ellen Madere has seen a lot of clutter in her career, but in all cases, she says, creating a more organized life can be done. Photo courtesy of Ellen Madere

Ellen Madere: It’s Just Stuff

Published Jan. 12, 2022 08:30 a.m.

It’s a vicious cycle: Make the New Year’s resolution, break the New Year’s resolution.

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Valley Courier

Delcie McGrath has coordinated local efforts to furnish a home for a family from Afghanistan seeking refuge in the U.S. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Delcie McGrath: Furnishing the Future

Published Jan. 05, 2022 08:30 a.m.

International news can seem remote but the connections to a far more local world are very real. Just ask Delcie McGrath. Delcie has been part of a team working on refugee resettlement this area.

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Valley Courier

A self-described “long-term person,” Sybil Higgins has devoted three decades to the Deep River Congregational Church community, including 26 years as Christian education director.

Photo courtesy of Sybil Higgins

Sybil Higgins: Meet the Lady Behind the License Plate

Published Dec. 22, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Her first name is obvious if you see her license plate: it reads Sybil J, for Sybil Joyce, but there’s a lot more than a license plate to say about Sybil Higgins.

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Valley Courier

Nature photographer Jonathan Steele earned his nickname “the tree whisperer” not through communing with the shrubbery, but for his knack for hanging lights for the annual Ivoryton Illuminations display. Photo by Gary Gray

Jonathan Steele: Lighting the Night

Published Dec. 15, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Jonathan Steele calls himself the tree whisperer. It’s not because he talks to the greenery, but because he is the person who hangs the Christmas lights on the tops of trees on the Ivoryton Green for Illuminations, the annual holiday light show sponsored by the Ivoryton Alliance.

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Valley Courier

Ivoryton native Todd Ellison is back on the shoreline and is sharing his impressive musical experience as a member of the board of the Community Music School in Centerbrook. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Todd Ellison: No Business Like Show Business

Published Dec. 08, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Vito Corleone said it, as fans of the Godfather will remember: Every man has but one destiny. If so, Todd Ellison’s destiny was clear from the start. He grew up on Melody Lane in Ivoryton. So? He is an internationally acclaimed conductor, composer, music director, and vocal arranger.

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Valley Courier

Steve Bruce, Con Brio’s founding principal conductor, will lead the chorus in its 25th Anniversary Concert on Friday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Steve Bruce: Sing, Sing, Sing

Published Dec. 01, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Steve Bruce has done the same thing at Christmas for the last 25 years. It’s goes beyond the obvious—decorating the tree, opening presents, enjoying a holiday meal.

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Valley Courier

It was at a Festival of Trees hosted by the Deep River Historical Society that Leslie Kane found a new home, literally and figuratively. She not only liked the community enough to settle here, she’s also found a place to volunteer her skills, assisting the historical society with the 2021 Festival of trees as a board member. Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier

Leslie Kane: Lighting a Path Forward

Published Nov. 24, 2021 08:30 a.m.

When Leslie Kane was house hunting in 2018, she unexpectedly came upon the Deep River Historical Society’s Festival of Trees, an annual event that features Christmas trees that have been decorated by various individuals or groups from the community.

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Valley Courier

The Little Free Library on Baker Road is the handiwork of Adrian Nichols.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Adrian Nichols: He Knows How to Help

Published Nov. 17, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Adrian Nichols’s career trajectory has taken him from motorcycle repair to electronics, but it never included carpentry.

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Valley Courier

Korean War veteran Don Babcock first signed up for Army service in 1950 at age 16. He later served in the Navy. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Donald Babcock: You’re in the Army Now

Published Nov. 10, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Shaving a few years off your age in mid-life is a national sport. Don Babcock once did the exact opposite.

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Valley Courier

Local food writer Mike Urban will talk about his latest book, Unique Eats and Eateries of Connecticut, in a Zoom conference hosted by the Essex library on Thursday, Nov. 4.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Mike Urban: Bite by Bite

Published Nov. 03, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Mike Urban knows the question: where’s a good place to eat. But why ask him? Because Mike writes books on restaurants.

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Valley Courier

After more than four decades serving local families, Dr. Howard Tunick is retiring from Deep River Family Dental and dedicating more time to his many outdoor hobbies. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Howard Tunick: Sink Your Teeth into This

Published Oct. 27, 2021 08:30 a.m.

It is over; it is done. Dr. Howard Tunick will not have to ask patients to open wide; he will not have to reassure nervous youngsters about the drill; he will not have to give reminders about flossing and brushing.

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Valley Courier

Moving from Essex to Chester, Overabove CEO John Visgilio says he’s long been a fan of the Chester vibe. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

John Visgilio: Advertising in the Digital Age

Published Oct. 20, 2021 08:30 a.m.

John Visgilio is back where he started out after college: Chester. John had a freelance job with Chester resident Peter Good. Good and his wife Jan Cummings are nationally known graphic designers.

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Valley Courier

Region 4 Superintendent of Schools Brian White joined the district shortly before what would become a particularly challenging time for schools, due to COVID-19. He says the skill and dedication of the faculrty and staff made the transition as smooth as possible. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Brian White: When School is Never Over

Published Oct. 13, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Most adults in the United States have one cell phone; Brian White has two, one for school business and one for personal calls. And there is a lot of school business because Brian is the superintendent of schools of Regional District 4, comprising Essex, Deep River, and Chester.

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Valley Courier

Good friends—and an ease in asking them for money—helps Joshua Janson in his fundraising success. His current project is Memento Vivere: A Cocktail Fundraiser to benefit the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Joshua Janson: The Art of the Benefit

Published Oct. 06, 2021 08:30 a.m.

It was serendipity. Joshua Janson saw the story in the back of a magazine, a real estate feature called Steal of the Week; it was a house in Middletown.

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Valley Courier

Now a senior partner with Centerbrook Architects, Cassie Archer is the designer behind Chester Elementary School’s new open-air meeting space. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Cassie Archer: The Great Outdoors

Published Sep. 29, 2021 08:30 a.m.

When Chester Elementary School students sit in the new open-air meeting space adjacent to Chester Elementary School, they aren’t thinking about Cassie Archer.

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Valley Courier

Essex resident the Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas, Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, will retire next year. His next steps remain uncharted, but full of promise. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Ian Douglas: The Right Decision at the Right Time

Published Sep. 22, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Here’s one shortcut to talking about retirement: Just say Michael Jordan or David Ortiz. And what’s the message? Go out at the top of your game.

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Valley Courier

Donna Dione will be one of the organizers on site at Plattwood Park for the third annual Water Lantern Celebration to benefit A Little Compassion; the event will be livestreamed on Saturday, Sept. 25. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Donna Dione: Lighting the Night

Published Sep. 15, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Model sailboats often skim across the pond at Plattwood Park in Deep River but on Saturday, Sept. 25: Glowing lanterns, each illuminated by an LED candle, will float across the water.

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Valley Courier

Friends of Essex Library President Lisa Burkarth is lining everything up for a fun community contest, Bingo with Friends, to benefit the library and local merchants. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Lisa Burkarth: It’s a Go for Bingo

Published Sep. 08, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Haven’t played bingo in a while? The Friends of the Essex Library can do something about that.

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Valley Courier

Stephanie Proulx says she’s made great friends and lifelong connections through volunteering with the Chester Rotary Club. This year, she is co-chairing the club’s annual Lobsters on the Lawn fundraiser coming Saturday, Sept. 11 to the Chester Fairgrounds.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Proulx

Stephanie Proulx: Love that Lobster

Published Sep. 02, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Stephanie Proulx liked the Chester Rotary’s annual Lobster Fest so much that she joined the organization. Now, along with Ted Taigen, the Chester Rotary’s president, Steph is co-chair of the event, this year called Lobsters on the Lawn.

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Valley Courier

Dental surgeon by day and firefighter at night (and sometimes day), Andy Kressley was recently elected the chief of the Essex Fire Department. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Andrew Kressley: Where’s the Fire?

Published Aug. 25, 2021 08:30 a.m.

One of the persistent dreams of childhood is of someday being a firefighter. Far fewer children dream of someday being a dentist. Andrew Kressley is both.

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Valley Courier

Essex resident Gerry Garibaldi has written and published his fourth novel, The Sixth Door of Happiness, a thriller set in China. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

A Tale of Ghost Cities and Intrigue from Gerry Garibaldi

Published Aug. 11, 2021 10:26 a.m.

A dead body; a mysterious North Korean woman; a ghost city in the interior of China known informally as the Maze; international intrigue and unexpected romance as detective Chien Marc tries to unravel the mystery without getting caught in the web of treachery.

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Valley Courier

Through her willingness to take on new roles and genuine interest in people, Sharon Slaton has become an essential part of the Estuary Council of Seniors. Photo courtesy of Sharon Slaton

Sharon Slaton: Keeping Things—and People—Together at ECSI

Published July 29, 2021 10:00 a.m.

This is how it started: Sharon Slaton’s mother-in-law was on the board of the Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. (ECSI) and mentioned that the council could use some part-time help if Sharon was free.

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With a lifetime’s experience with fife and drum corps, Michele Auger is working to re-start the Comstock Fife and Drum Corps. Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier

Michele Auger: Music to Ivoryton’s Ears

Published Aug. 04, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Michele Auger became accustomed to the unmistakable sounds of military field music—the short, quick taps of a stick on a snare drum, the sharp notes of a fife, and the steady beat of a bass drum—as a young child.

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Valley Courier

Saturday, Aug. 7 will be a hectic but rewarding day for Denise Dudak, who is co-chairing the Essex Lions annual Lobster Bake. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Denise Dudak: Do Lions Eat Lobster?

Published July 28, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Do lions eat lobster? Maybe not on the plains of Africa but in here in Connecticut they will, at least, be cooking lobsters on Saturday, Aug. 7 at the Essex Lions annual Lobster Bake.

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Valley Courier

Paul “Taco” Santowski is working to return a farmers’ market to Deep River.

Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier

Taco Cultivates Community Spirit In Deep River

Published July 21, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Paul “Taco” Santowski is known for many things.

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Valley Courier

At the end of this month, Diane Arnold will take the helm of the Essex Savings Bank, taking over for retiring bank president Greg Shook. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Diane Arnold: New President at Essex Savings Bank

Published July 14, 2021 08:30 a.m.

As part of the process of choosing the Dali Lama, a team of worthies visited a young Tibetan boy who had a series of objects placed in front of him and they determined on the basis of what the child reached for, that he would be the next Dali Lama.

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Valley Courier

Sally Carlson Crowell is the president of Deep River’s 60 Club, which organizes activities for its members. Photo courtesy of Sally Carlson Crowell

Sally Carlson Crowell: Shall We Dance?

Published July 07, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Here’s what Sally Carlson Crowell told a representative of Congressman Joe Courtney.

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Valley Courier

After more than a year presiding over a darkened theater, Ivoryton Playhouse Executive/Artistic Director Jacqui Hubbard is delighted to welcome audiences back in person starting on Thursday, July 8. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Jacqui Hubbard: Staging It

Published June 30, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Jacqui Hubbard, executive/artistic director of the Ivoryton Playhouse, has a message: It’s b…a…c…k! After more than a year of COVID shutdown, the playhouse will open for the season on Thursday, July 8 with a musical whodunit: Murder for Two.

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Valley Courier

As a proud founding member of the Ivoryton Gardeners, Judy McCauley will be one of the grand marshals of the 2021 Ivoryton Fourth of July Parade.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Judy McCauley: Honoring the Gardeners

Published June 23, 2021 08:30 a.m.

You can’t say it often enough: Everybody loves a parade, and especially when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of last year’s Fourth of July Parade in Ivoryton and the Essex Memorial Day parade earlier this year.

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Valley Courier

Deep River artist Rachel Carlson brought her own take to Chester’s iconic squirrel mascot, designing this year’s Chester Rotary Club Four on the Fourth Road Race T-shirt. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Rachel Carlson: It’s a Squirrely Thing

Published June 16, 2021 08:30 a.m.

A lot of ifs: If squirrels could talk and if one decided to do stand-up comedy, it is possible the performing rodent, given the general attitude towards squirrels, would use the late comic Rodney Dangerfield’s famous one liner, “I get no respect.”

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