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April 21, 2019  |  

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Person of the Week

Publications

Valley Courier

Carter Gowrie is a lifelong sailor who has crafted a career around his hobby.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Carter Gowrie: On Sail!

Published April 17, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Some people are lucky enough to discover what they love to do when they are young—really young. In the case of Carter Gowrie, his father snuggled him in a basket and took him out in a sailboat when he was three months old. He has been sailing ever since.

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Valley Courier

Barbara Nair, director of Spectrum Gallery in Centerbrook and Arts Center Killingworth, looks forward to future growth for her arts organization.

Photo by Margaret McNellis/The Courier

Barbara Nair: From Town to Country

Published April 10, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Barbara Nair had no clue that her weekend house in Killingworth would launch an art center, gallery, store, and more: an organization that has become a beacon for arts, artisans, and art appreciators.

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Valley Courier

After a six-year stint as musical director for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., The Reverend Benjamin Straley followed his calling to the priesthood. He has served as assistant rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex since last summer. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Benjamin Straley: Faith is Music to his Ears

Published April 03, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Benjamin Straley’s mother was sure he wouldn’t. But he did, even though he was a painfully shy 11-year-old boy.

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Valley Courier

Barbara Nair, director of Arts Center Killingworth and Spectrum Gallery, looks forward to future growth for her arts organization./Photo by Margaret McNellis/The Source

Barbara Nair: From Town to Country

Published March 27, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Barbara Nair had no clue that her weekend house in Killingworth would launch an art center, gallery, store, and more: an organization that has become a beacon for arts, artisans, and art appreciators.

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Valley Courier

Her subjects may range from a tropical island to a seedy back alley, but what’s consistent in Verna O’Donnell’s work is that it helps her students tell a story. A paraeducator at John Winthrop Middle School, Verna is a volunteer set painter for stage productions at both the middle and high schools. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Verna 0’Donnell: Going Home Again

Published March 27, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Verna O’Donnell has a question: “Who says you can’t go home again?” That’s because Verna has, both to John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School.

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Valley Courier

An eye for design—and the skilled hands to see those designs to fruition—have served Matilda Yenowich Dumbril well in her career. Her latest creations, beautifully re-purposed stage curtains, are part of the Chester Historical Society’s The Red Velvet Challenge. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Matilda Yenowich Dumbrill: Clothes Call

Published March 20, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Every auction employs objects from Chester and requires only that participants use them in original creations in whatever way they wish. This year’s Red Velvet Challenge uses 18-inch squares of the velvet cut from what were former stage curtains at the Chester Meeting House.

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Valley Courier

This time of year, you’ll usually find RiverQuest Captain Mark Yuknat out on the water, tracking down bald eagles and other fauna of the lower Connecticut River.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Mark Yuknat: The Eagle has Landed

Published March 13, 2019 08:30 a.m.

It was blustery day, temperature in the 20s, winds blowing at between 12 and 15 miles an hour, with a wind chill that made it feel like 11 degrees, but the people disembarking from RiverQuest at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex were smiling as they made their way up the gangplank. They had seen what they came for: eagles.

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Valley Courier

John Heiser was named the co-grand marshal alongside his wife Judy of the upcoming Essex Go Bragh Parade to be held Saturday, March 9. Photo courtesy of John Heiser

John Heiser: Ready for a Grand Time at Essex Go Bragh Parade

Published March 06, 2019 08:30 a.m.

For 52 years, John Heiser has lived in the same house in Ivoryton with his wife Judy.

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Valley Courier

A longtime veteran of sports broadcasting, Al Jaffe now brings his skills to a different arena: local theater. He’s a member of the Ivoryton Playhouse Board of Trustees and is helping the theater host four one-act plays staged at the upcoming Women Playwrights Initiative on Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2. Photo by Rita Christopher/Harbor News

Al Jaffe: A Seat on the Aisle

Published Feb. 27, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Al Jaffe loves theater and now he has a theater to love. Al has recently become the president of Board of Trustees of the Ivoryton Playhouse.

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Valley Courier

Since moving to the area six years ago, Rob Stack  has been engaged in his community through organizations like the Essex Rotary Club and the Essex Community Foundation, which holds its second annual Cheers for Charity Beerfest on Saturday, March 9.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Rob Stack: Brewing Up Some Fun

Published Feb. 20, 2019 08:30 a.m.

As long as you’re over 21, Rob Stack would like you to have a drink, albeit a very small one: two ounces of beer in a plastic cup. But there’s catch: you can fill up that two-ounce cup up again, again, and again.

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Valley Courier

Valley Regional High School grad Carolyn Blicharz DMD is happy to be back in familiar territory practicing alongside her dad, Dr. Ernest Reamer. As for the dimples on her cheeks that people have remarked on ever since she was a child, patients sitting in her dental chair rarely comment. “Usually I’m wearing a mask,” she explains. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Carolyn Blicharz: It’s Time

Published Feb. 13, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Carolyn Blicharz has found a way to be a part of a public speaking contest without having to open her mouth.

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Valley Courier

Noted Chester civil rights activist Marta Daniels will present a program on Constance Baker Motley, the first black woman to become a federal judge and a major (if overlooked) figure in U.S. history, at a Chester land Trust chili dinner on Thursday, Feb. 21.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Sharing Constance Baker Motley’s Early History

Published Feb. 06, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Goodness knows it is hard to keep a secret in a small town, but Marta Daniels has one—though she won’t have it for long. She is going to tell all on Thursday, Feb. 21 at a Chester Land Trust program at the Chester meeting house. The event, including a pre-program chili dinner, is a fundraiser for the Chester Land Trust.

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Valley Courier

Valley Regional High School alum Kevin Alvord will bring his acting talents back to the stage as part of the upcoming production of the musical Newsies from Friday, March 8 to Sunday, March 10. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Kevin Alvord: Backstage

Published Jan. 30, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Kevin Alvord is going to shave his red beard, let his trimmed mustache grow to a full-handlebar extravaganza, put on a frock coat and for three days in March, become President Theodore Roosevelt.

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Valley Courier

A lifelong singer, Bob Johnson took a half-century hiatus from playing the trombone, but he’s back at it now as a member of the New Horizons Band.  Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Bob Johnson: Overcoming the Odds

Published Jan. 23, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, who created such memorable fictional orphans as Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, could have written the story about the early years of Bob Johnson’s life.

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Valley Courier

Former Essex resident Roseann Ventimiglia now calls Chester home, and she’s quickly established community ties through activities like leading the Friends of the Chester Public Library annual book sale. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Roseann Ventimiglia: Buy the Book

Published Jan. 16, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Roseann Ventimiglia said yes. The result is that she is the new head of the upcoming book sale sponsored by the Friends of the Chester Public Library. And there is more that is new. For the first time the sale will be held at the United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, rather than in the library basement. The four-day sale will take place from Friday, Jan. 18 through Monday, Jan. 21.

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Valley Courier

In a short time in Essex, Susan Hosack has become an active community volunteer, including co-helming the upcoming Putt Fore the Library mini-golf fundraiser for the Essex Library. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Susan Hosack: Book a Round of Golf

Published Jan. 09, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Surely, it was fate. Pulling open the holiday table favor known as a Christmas cracker or a Christmas popper, Susan Hosack found a tiny plastic golf club and a miniature green to go with it.

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Valley Courier

Deep River native Shane Lindner was recently back in town with reports from his recent 2,653-mile through-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from the Mexican to Canadian borders. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Shane Lindner: Going for a Walk

Published Jan. 02, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Everybody has their own way to finish the sentence, “Happiness is…” but few people’s idea of happiness would match Shane Lindner’s. For him, happiness is a tattered pair of hiking shorts, a leaky one-person tent, and a 2,653-mile walk.

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Valley Courier

Kim Thomas’ 15 minutes of fame came this summer when the Lifetime Channel used her Centerbrook bakery Savour as a set for the film A Very Nutty Christmas. Even better, she says? She herself never had to go on camera. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Kim Thomas: Picture This

Published Dec. 19, 2018 08:30 a.m.

The old song “You Oughta Be in Pictures” applies to Kim Thomas—sort of. It’s not Kim who actually was in a movie; it was her bakery, Savour in Centerbrook, that was a central location for A Very Nutty Christmas, a Lifetime Channel Christmas movie.

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Valley Courier

“Nature never stops,” according to Suzanne Burns, which is likely why this new director of education at the Connecticut River Museum has a busy winter season ahead of her. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Suzanne Burns: Telling the River’s Story

Published Dec. 12, 2018 08:30 a.m.

What links Pittsburg, New Hampshire, a town with a population of 813 at the Canadian border, and the valley shore area of Connecticut? Even if the New Hampshire town is not a familiar name, there is a powerful connection: the Connecticut River. Pittsburg is where the river rises and some 406 miles later it runs into Long Island Sound not far from the Connecticut River Museum in Essex where Suzanne Burns is the new director of education.

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Art Davies, with his grandchildren Erin, Noah, Emma, and Paige, is preparing for the big Lions Club tree sale to be held at Deep River Hardware. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Art Davies: What’s Christmas Without a Tree?

Published Dec. 05, 2018 08:30 a.m.

Art Davies says there are some 43,000 different kinds of items in a hardware store. But in Deep River Hardware, which Art owns, for the first three weeks of December there will be 43,001. The extra category is a seasonal favorite: Christmas trees.

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Valley Courier

Cathy Shanley is one of the many volunteers helping to string together one of the region’s most cherished holiday traditions, the Ivoryton Illuminations, which starts on Saturday, Dec. 1. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Cathy Shanley: Lighting the Night

Published Nov. 28, 2018 08:30 a.m.

If you wanted to find Cathy Shanley any Saturday since early October, there was only one place to look: the barn where the lights for Ivoryton Illuminations are stored.

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Valley Courier

A self-described introvert, Karen Burzin has stretched out of her comfort zone since getting her start in acting with the Ivoryton Players, which will stage its final show, 4 Beekman, on Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Karen Burzin: Getting into the Act

Published Nov. 21, 2018 08:30 a.m.

Karen Burzin was not in her elementary school class play; she was not in her middle school play, nor her high school play.

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Valley Courier

Dan Batt displays the chair he designed for the reception area at Centerbrook Architects, where he is an associate. The chair’s build reflects his designing philosophy: combining an efficient use of resources with comfort and a striking aesthetic. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Daniel Batt: Effectively Efficient

Published Nov. 14, 2018 08:30 a.m.

On a recent morning, a visitor to Centerbrook Architects stood with 3-D glasses, not simply viewing, but virtually walking through a meditation garden Dan Batt is in charge of designing for the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford. The 3-D experience, gravity-defying but also vertigo-inducing, was an introduction to the different ways 21st-century technology enables architects to work.

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Valley Courier

A pilot since his college days, Al Reeser flew trans-Atlantic transport planes for the Air Transport Command during World War II. Now 99 and living at Essex Meadows, he’s still finds opportunities to take flight. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Al Reeser: Up, Up and Away

Published Nov. 07, 2018 08:30 a.m.

World War II is a chapter in a history text for most people today, but for Al Reeser of Essex, it is real life memories. During the Second World War, Al, who is now 99, was a co-pilot flying for the Air Transport Command (ATC), which flew supplies from the United States to war zones and flew wounded back to the United States.

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Valley Courier

Though officially retired as an instructor at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Holly Ridgway is still a dedicated volunteer who’s helping organize the upcoming High Hopes Holiday Market on Sunday, Nov. 11. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Holly Ridgway: Horse Power

Published Oct. 31, 2018 08:30 a.m.

When she was seven years old, Holly Ridgway had her future all figured out. She wanted to emulate everything her older brother did.

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Valley Courier

Jane Deuse Cable and the American Legion Post 97 in Chester have been plans for honoring veterans in the coming weeks. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Jane Deuse Cable: Let’s Hear it for Veterans

Published Oct. 24, 2018 08:30 a.m.

Jane Deuse Cable left active service in the United States Navy in 1971, but she is still on active duty—but this time for veterans. She is the adjutant of American Legion Post 97 in Chester.

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Valley Courier

The past 25 years have breezed by for CDE Preschool teacher Donna May. In a world that has seen substantial changes in that time period, she notes that much of what pre-schoolers want and need has stayed the same. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Donna May: Preschool Never Gets Old

Published Oct. 17, 2018 08:30 a.m.

No matter what the newest fads and the most up-to the minute toys, Donna May says there are some time-tested favorites in pre-school that resist the pressure of current fashion.

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Valley Courier

Fritz Jellinghaus’s lifetime of efforts to promote the arts in civic life have long been appreciated and sometimes even applauded, such as with his recent Governor’s Patron of the Arts Awards for his commitment to the Connecticut Arts Council. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Fritz Jellinghaus: The Art of Supporting the Arts

Published Oct. 10, 2018 08:30 a.m.

Life, as its practitioners know, has its good days and some days with far more challenging moments

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Valley Courier

The Chester Fife & Drum Corps 150th Anniversary Muster on Sept. 22 was bittersweet for Frenchy Cordeau, who made the major gathering something of a personal milestone, retiring as drum major and business manager of the corps.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Frenchy Cordeau: A Major Decision

Published Oct. 03, 2018 08:30 a.m.

C’mon, admit you may have imagined it: leading the parade, marching as the drum major with hat and baton at the head of, well, 76 trombones.

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Valley Courier

Tom Wilcox has stepped up to serve as an interim director of the Connecticut River Museum (CRM) as the museum board seeks a permanent director. With a background directing a Maine maritime museum and long service (in two stints) to the CRM Board of Directors, it’s a role he’s ready to fill. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Tom Wilcox: New Man River

Published Sep. 26, 2018 08:30 a.m.

Tom Wilcox once thought he was retired. But that was then. This is now.

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