August 9, 2020
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Person of the Week


Valley Courier

Though the COVID pandemic has wrought havoc on summer plans, summer day camp is still going strong at Camp Hazen YMCA in Chester, which means Food Services Director Alex Welch and his kitchen crew are busy feeding healthy meals to their young charges. Photo courtesy of Camp Hazen YMCA

Alex Welch: Food, Glorious Food

Published Aug. 05, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Now, here is some real news: Kids are not only eating Brussels sprouts, they are even asking for seconds—at least at Camp Hazen YMCA in Chester.

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Valley Courier

As president of the Goodspeed Musicals Board of Trustees, Hila Rosen is helping to shape the regional treasure during a time of uncertainty. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Hila Rosen: Expecting the Unexpected

Published July 29, 2020 08:30 a.m.

To say that this year has not turned out the way Hila Rosen expected it to is an understatement. Still, it is the place to begin.

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Valley Courier

Coping with stress is a challenge in the best of times. Licensed counselor Samantha Steinmacher knows these are not the best of times, but she has some excellent ideas to share. Photo courtesy of Samantha Steinmacher

Samantha Steinmacher: Did You Say Stress?

Published July 22, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Samantha Steinmacher knows stress. In fact, stress is her business and with all the complications of COVID-19, stress has not been in short supply.

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Valley Courier

Through her role as vice president of the Chester Library Board of Trustees, Karin Badger has helped foster the metamorphosis of the 100-plus-year-old facility while it has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy of Karin Badger

Karin Badger: Re-Decoration Day

Published July 15, 2020 08:30 a.m.

It’s a familiar decorating story: Paint the ceiling and the walls look so drab, you decide to paint them, too.

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Valley Courier

After 50 years serving as a volunteer firefighter, John Divis remains an active member of the Chester Hose Company. Photo courtesy of John Divis

John Divis: Where’s the Fire?

Published July 08, 2020 08:30 a.m.

John Divis didn’t want to, but he has had to change his Monday night schedule.

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Valley Courier

Given the opportunity to help expand the community’s—and his own—understanding of climate change, Mike Long jumped aboard with the Sustainable Essex group.

Photo courtesy of Mike Long

Mike Long: The Long and Short of It

Published July 01, 2020 08:30 a.m.

When Mike Long learned about Sustainable Essex, he had no hesitation. He knew he wanted to be involved.

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Valley Courier

Through his role as vice-chair of the Chester Park & Recreation Commission, John Williams is working to improve the amenities for all ages at North Quarter Park. Photo courtesy of John Williams

John Williams: Par for the Course

Published June 24, 2020 08:30 a.m.

What does a park look like in your mind’s eye: a playscape for youngsters to climb all over, maybe a basketball court for teens, or, if you live in Chester, a nine-hole disc golf course?

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Valley Courier

Breaking from a career of telling others’ stories, retired journalist Peggy Schenk recently wrapped up her own tale, a work of historical fiction titled It Happened. 

Photo courtesy of Peggy Schenk

Peggy Schenk: It Took a Bit of Time

Published June 17, 2020 08:30 a.m.

When Peggy Schenk told her son Rich she had finished her novel, he told her it was about time. He pointed out she had been working on it for 40 years.

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Valley Courier

Those in Essex or the environs have likely seen the handiwork of graphic designer Bob Vankeirsbilck, who has worked with many local organizations. Photo courtesy of Bob Vankeirsbilck

Bob Vankeirsbilck: Designing Man

Published June 10, 2020 08:30 a.m.

When Bob Vankeirsbilck was in elementary school, he admits pronouncing his last name correctly was a challenge—”Sometimes even for me,” he says.

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Valley Courier

Following a career with the U.S. Coast Guard Band as a performer and conductor, Rick Wyman is bringing his musical and management chops to the Community Music School as the organization’s new executive director. Photo courtesy of Rick Wyman

Rick Wyman: Music Man

Published June 03, 2020 08:30 a.m.

It wasn’t a new mouthpiece or new reeds that helped Rick Wyman solve one of the problems of playing the baritone saxophone.

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Valley Courier

A self-described introvert, Georgia Male has made many friends, human and otherwise, in her role as farm manager and camp counselor at the Bushy Hill Nature Center. Photo courtesy of Georgia Male

Georgia Male: Where Animal House is a Compliment

Published May 27, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Everybody knows Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen, to say nothing of Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen. But do you know? No, not Rudolph but Thelma, Jack, Ace, Abe, Boris, Lucy, Helen, and Greyson?

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Valley Courier

Staying healthy and fit at home can be as complicated as an online spin class or as simple as soup cans, according to Stacy Meisner of Essex. Photo courtesy of Stacy Meisner

Stacy Meisner: Keeping Fit in a Crisis

Published May 20, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Couch potato used to mean an out-of-shape viewer sitting on a sofa with a beer and a bag of chips watching sports on television.

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Valley Courier

Working out of a converted attic workshop that also doubles as a dance studio, Ron Mangano has been busily sewing protective masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Ron Mangano

Ron Mangano: So Good to Sew

Published May 13, 2020 08:30 a.m.

With limited entertainment options in these days of shelter-in-place, many people are spending evenings watching reruns of everything from old baseball games to long-departed cable series.

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Valley Courier

Caring for pets hasn’t been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, so Essex resident Dr. Buck Drummond has been working six days a week at the Animal Hospital of Old Saybrook. To help cat owners live more peacefully through the stay at home era, he is offering a video presentation, Cats! through the Essex Library on Thursday, May 14.

Photo courtesy of Buck Drummond

Buck Drummond: Being Catty

Published May 06, 2020 08:30 a.m.

They gaze at you adoringly; they snuggle up readily; they never refuse to clean their rooms.

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Valley Courier

Seeing an opportunity to spread cheer in her beloved Ivoryton, Julie Hines started what became a community expression of support on the green. Photo by Jonathan Steele Photography

Julie Hines: Lights On

Published April 29, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Sometimes things take on a life of their own, like the lights now shining on the Ivoryton Town Green.

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Valley Courier

The work-from-home revolution (and just generally function-from-home revolution) is familiar territory for Jon Claude Haines, a Chester tech specialist who’s sharing his expertise to help local organizations stay connected. Photo courtesy of Jon Claude Haines

Jon Claude Haines: Zooming In

Published April 22, 2020 08:30 a.m.

A rocket zooms into the sky; a Nascar driver zooms around the Daytona 500 track; and now everybody else can Zoom to meet with colleagues.

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Valley Courier

Nautical Needles owner Sue Lennox is putting her skills to work sewing protective cloth masks that she’s donating to healthcare workers. Photo courtesy of Sue Lennox

Sue Lennox: When Masks Are Not for Halloween

Published April 15, 2020 08:30 a.m.

It’s unusual to start a newspaper piece with the classic fairy tale opening, Once Upon a Time. But now Once Upon A Time is not a Hans Christian Andersen phrase; it is last month.

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Valley Courier

Though COVID-19 has curtailed many of the person-to-person connections that are a part of Rachel Thomas’s day-to-day work as a region missionary with the Episcopal Church, she’s living in the moment and encouraging her flock to do the same.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Thomas

Rachel Thomas: A Minister Reflects

Published April 08, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Rachel Thomas is working at home, attending computer meetings on group sites, connecting with people by telephone.

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Valley Courier

Historical fiction author Loretta Goldberg found many of the same social concerns in Elizabethan England as she sees in modern life when researching for her novel The Reversible Mask. Photo courtesy of Loretta Goldberg

Loretta Goldberg: Playing the Espionage Game

Published April 01, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Loretta Goldberg sees connections between what appear to be very dissimilar careers. She started out as a serious...

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Valley Courier

As health director for the Town of Essex, Lisa Fasulo has been helping keep the community safe and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo by David Fasulo

Lisa Fasulo: Busy Times

Published March 25, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Lisa Fasulo, the director of the Essex Health Department and a registered sanitarian, was following her own advice. She was maintaining social distancing with a reporter—in fact, extreme social distancing.

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Valley Courier

When growing up, Anne Bishop frequently heard the statement “Make yourself useful” from her father. It’s a message she’s taken to heart. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Anne Bishop: Useful is the Word

Published March 18, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Most adults have only dim recognition of childhood babysitters, but not Anne Bishop. That’s because one of her sitters is now enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Carl Yastrzemski.

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Valley Courier

After a decade of service on the Essex Parks & Recreastion Commission, including five years as chair, Bob Russo will be sent off in style as grand marshal of the Essex Go Bragh parade on Saturday, March 21. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Bob Russo: On St. Patrick’s Day, Everyone is Irish

Published March 11, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Some people are Irish all year; others, like Bob Russo, are Irish only on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Valley Courier

The Reverend Timothy Haut is celebrating 40 years as pastor of the Deep River Congregational Church, and in return, the church is inviting the wider community in to celebrate him on Saturday, March 14. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Tim Haut: Going Strong

Published March 04, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Here are some highlights from 1980: The Winter Olympics were in Lake Placid New York; Ronald Reagan Defeated Jimmy Carter in the presidential election; the Pittsburgh Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl; and Tim Haut became the minister of the Deep River Congregational Church.

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Valley Courier

While her career as a guidance counselor keeps Abby DeTour in a high school all day, she’s still game to help out at her daughters’ alma mater, Valley Regional High School, for the spring musical. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Abby DeTour: No Detours in Her Schedule

Published Feb. 26, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Abby DeTour graduated from high school some three decades ago, but she has not left, either professionally or personally.

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Valley Courier

When it comes time to throw a party for the Essex Elementary School community, Carrie Comerford will be at the forefront, dressed in pajamas with her fellow organizers for Essex Elementary School Family Night on Friday, Feb. 28. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Carrie Comerford: Bingo, It’s Her!

Published Feb. 19, 2020 08:30 a.m.

A bit rusty on your masked crusaders? Feminine superheroes not your specialty? Then meet Elastigirl, or alternatively Carrie Comerford of Ivoryton.

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Valley Courier

In her hometown of Ivoryton, Pat Muggleston is helping to ensure the 150-year history if the Ivoryton Library continues for another 150 years. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Pat Muggleston: Look for Her at the Library

Published Feb. 12, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Pat Muggleston has heard a lot about Harry Potter. That is because her last name incorporates what wizards like Harry called people who did not possess magical powers: Muggles.

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Valley Courier

Chester’s David Rau will deliver a talk on the Florence Griswold Museum at the Essex library on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Photo by Jenny Parsons

David Rau: Stay Healthy—Visit a Museum

Published Feb. 05, 2020 08:30 a.m.

Now here’s a prescription that you can’t fill at the drug store. For reducing stress, encouraging mindfulness and maintaining good health, visit a museum.

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Valley Courier

With a clutter-free life the natural result of growing up in a military family, Eva Counter draws on her skills and inclination as professional organizer. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Eva Counter: Getting Organized

Published Jan. 29, 2020 08:30 a.m.

What do getting better organized and losing weight have in common?

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Valley Courier

When you’ve reached the peak of fame as a rock and roll star, what’s left? For Blue Öyster Cult co-founder Joe Bouchard, a return to his high school band instrument in a group of beginners and returning musicians is keeping his chops fresh. Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier

Joe Bouchard: Worldly Musician Makes Local Impact

Published Jan. 22, 2020 08:30 a.m.

By happenstance, Joe Bouchard has turned his musical focus back to the trumpet.“I went to this...

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Valley Courier

Though it took two full years, Margo Valentine oversaw the story of her life move from her handwritten manuscript to finished product. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Margo Valentine: Looking Back

Published Jan. 15, 2020 08:30 a.m.

If Margo Valentine had not fallen down the stairs while going to a tailor’s shop in 2016, she would not have written a book. But Margo, then 85, did fall down. And she did write a book.

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