Friday, October 9, 2015

Three-Day Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree!

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Friday, October 9 @8pm $10
Charles Xavier
Eclectic Electronic Music
Bay Area Maverick recording producer Charles Xavier aka "The Xman" will release his SEVENTH CD titled "BOSCO" in 2016 and the first single "The Dreamer" will be digitally available on September 29th! The XMan, called Rara Avis, “rare bird” by DownBeat magazine, has created amazing arrangements of ambient vibraphone infused with electronic music and digital FX's plus an arsenal of custom X-sounds tailored for the BOSCO Tour 2015-2016! The tour includes only three performances in New England, and The XMan is very excited about his show at The Buttonwood Tree!The artistic demands of jazz have always been the driving force behind vibraphonist, drummer, and composer Charles Xavier, even though his eclectic music evades generic category. A jazz drummer from the age of sixteen, San-Francisco-Bay-Area-based Xavier was born and raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where the East Coast jazz scene shaped and defined his musical tastes.  

Saturday, October 10 @8pm $10
Doug White Quintet 
Doug White:
Composer, singer, tenor saxophonist featured throughout Europe and the East Coast with legendary singer, Annie Ross, (of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross fame), Doug White, founder of independent jazz record label Juniper Records, has enjoyed international acclaim at the helm of his own trios and quartets since the early 1970's. Offering a program that ranges from bop to ballads, catchy original material as well as great standards, blues and modern-style improvising, Doug has entertained at New York City's Supper Club, Jubilee, Bubble Lounge, Rainbow and Stars, London's Pizza On the Park, and Green Room along with private engagements in London, Paris and Provence. 

 For tickets call The Buttonwood Tree- 860-347-4957


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Teachers Marked "Absent" at Their Own Forum

The candidates onstage threatened to outnumber the audience members at Thursday evening's Board of Education candidate forum.  Eight of the ten Board of Ed candidates attended, answering questions posed by the local teachers union, Middletown Federation of Teachers, but there was a noticeable scarcity of teachers, parents and residents.  Only a few dozen showed up to hear what the candidates had to say.

Noticeably absent also, were Democratic candidate Anita Dempsey-White and Republican candidate Emmakristina Sveen, a Wesleyan student, who is also a candidate for town treasurer.

What was clear, again and again, is the commitment each of the candidates had to Middletown's students and schools.  In fact, the questions elicited far more consensus on issues than may have been expected.

The candidates unanimously agreed that teachers did not receive the support, respect and salaries that they deserved.  They agreed that schools have never been funded adequately, though they disagreed on what could or should be done about the matter.  None of the candidates seemed to like the idea of hiring outside contractors (Sodexo) to do work that could be done by city employees.  And they all felt that communication was critical, and could be better.  They looked upon the upcoming redistricting as an unattractive necessity.  And they seemed surprised and shocked that there is a study hall at the high school with 200 students.

Ask these same questions two years from now of those who get elected, and the simplistic naive idealism of "we'll get this done" may be tempered by the stubborn reality of leaden bureaucracy.

The topic of the "achievement" or "opportunity" gap marked the widest disparity when Republican candidate Chris Petter, an attorney who has represented students in bullying cases, declared that the gap was "not just because of income inequality," but was a result of lack of parental involvement.

Democratic candidate Chris Drake
Democratic candidate Chris Drake, also an attorney, consistently demonstrated a grasp of the most complex educational issues, and a knowledge of the conditions facing Middletown's school district. Drake  challenged Petter's assumption, saying that "one of the biggest issues is income inequality in the city, state and nation," and that wraparound services were required to address the issue that leads to an achievement gap.  Drake lamented that "largely, we will not solve the issue on this school board."

The expected hot topic of the evening, redistricting, proved less so.  Democratic candidate Deborah Cain suggested that redistricting to achieve racial balance was essential.

"We don't live in this world alone," Cain said.  "We're a mix of people, and students should have the opportunity to meet other people."

Petter agreed that achieving diversity in schools has been proven to be essential for success in many studies, but felt that in redistricting, socioeconomic diversity should not be a goal.

"We are obliged to do what needs to be done," Democratic candidate Patricia Alston explained.

On a number of occasions, Republican candidate Troy Meeker emphasized his youth, which also lead to a series of answers, on most topics, revolving around his own personal experiences as a student at Middletown High School.

As a current member of the board, Cheryl McClellan heaved noticeable sighs more than once when new candidates claimed to be able to solve budget problems by simply examining the budget line by line to make cuts so that more dollars could be shifted to the classroom.  McClellan attempted to explain how the state consistently undercut funding for education with the ECS formula, and that as a board member she had been frustrated by the lack of support on the state and federal level.

"To fully fund education," McClellan said, "Is more than we can afford."

Republican candidate Linda Salafia
Republican candidate Linda Salafia, who is also a candidate for Common Council, was less sanguine about funding, noting that with the cap on car taxes imposed by the state, the city would be strapped and that "the budget is going to be worse than it was in 2008," at the height of the financial crisis.

While all candidates agreed that teachers needed support, Democratic candidate Marilyn Dunkley suggested that teachers need not reach into their own pockets for supplies, and that they should not have to take work home with them.
Democratic candidate Marilyn Dunkley

"I've spoken to a lot of teachers," Dunkley said. "They don't feel like they are being heard."

And perhaps that's the reason that so few showed up for a forum which they sponsored.

Roast of Chandler Howard to Benefit Reading Initiatives

Chandler Howard, president and CEO of Liberty Bank, will be the guest of honor at the 2015 Middlesex United Way Leadership Circle Roast on Oct. 21 at Saint Clements Castle in Portland. Celebrity roasters will take their swings at Chandler during this golf-themed event, all in the name of philanthropy.

The fifth annual event will benefit Middlesex United Way’s expansion into the area of third-grade reading, a key indicator of student success. A student who cannot read by the end of third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than their peers who read proficiently. Add poverty to the mix, and a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer.

Tickets start at $50 and include hors d’oeuvres and dinner. Cash bar will be available. Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 and dinner and program begin at 6:30 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit

Howard has been president and CEO of Liberty Bank since 2007 and has over 30 years of experience in the field of banking. He has long been active in community affairs and he serves on a number of boards and commissions. Howard is a Director of Middlesex Hospital, a past campaign co-chair for Middlesex United Way, and a past director and campaign chair for United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. He has received numerous awards and accolades, including the Hartford Courant's Tapestry Award for his personal and corporate commitment to fostering diversity, the Champion of Children Award from the Village for Families & Children, and the Middlesex United Way Tocqueville Society Philanthropy Award.

Middlesex United Way is a locally based organization dedicated to strengthening lives, helping people, and improving community conditions in the fifteen towns in Middlesex County. Middlesex United Way serves the towns of Chester, Clinton, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Middlefield, Middletown, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

This event is sponsored by A&A Office Systems, Giuffrida Electric, Suburban Stationers, and Wolf & Company, P.C.

Cat Tales Semi-Annual Spaghetti Dinner on Friday, 10/23 ~ 6:30pm ~ Raffle & Door Prizes ~ Food & Fun for a cause!

Cat Tales Semi-Annual Spaghetti Dinner
Join us for our semi-annual spaghetti dinner directly benefiting  the cats and kittens of Cat Tales!
WHEN:  Friday Oct 23, 2015 - 6:30PM to 9:00PM,

WHERE:  Fox Parish Center, 10 Elm Street

COST:  $12 per person - Ticket includes pasta, meatballs, salad, bread and dessert (catered by Silvana's Catering)

Seating begins at 6:30PM 
Dinner served at 7:00PM

Raffle items and Door Prizes!

*For every 3 cans of Friskies OR for every 2 rolls of paper towels, you will receive 1 ticket for the Door Prize drawings (example: 6 cans of Friskies's and 2 rolls paper towels, you would get 3 tickets)

To purchase or reserve your tickets, please contact Cat Tales:

Phone:  860-344-9043

UCONN Training On Special Education Process To Be Held At Lawrence School

From Rebecca Deotte, Parent Leadership Coordinator For Middlesex County, Middletown Public Schools
UCONN’s People Empowering People (PEP) focused on Special Education
is now enrolling for Fall 2015.  This training is for individuals that want to learn more about the special education process in schools and effect change to better the lives of children, families and their community.  Class Topics Include: Understanding and Respecting Values, Communication, Problem Solving, Special Education Overview, Child Development & Action Planning for Children with Special Needs.

Pep is a FREE ten week program of 2 hour sessions; upon completion of the course participants earn a certificate from UCONN. Classes will be held The Lawrence School, Kaplan Drive Middletown, on Tuesdays from 6pm to 8pm.  Childcare is available for children 4 and up, and a light dinner will be served. PEP begins in mid-October; Space is limited so register now!   To register please contact the Parent Leadership office at 860-638-1463 or 860-310-7778 or email at

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Finding Your Elusive Ancestor in Connecticut Governmental Records

On Thursday, October 8 at 1:00pm., The Society of Middletown First Settlers Descendants presents “Beyond the Barbour Collection: Finding your Elusive Ancestor in Connecticut Governmental Records”, a talk by Mel Smith from the Connecticut State Library, at the Russell Library's Hubbard Room. 

The Connecticut State Library's History and Genealogy Unit is well known for its extensive collection of historical and family research materials including several state-wide Connecticut Genealogical Indexes.  These indexes include the noted Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records which contains important information on thousands of your Connecticut ancestors. However, not all births, marriages or deaths were recorded in town or church records, while other records have been lost over time. Sometimes you need to go beyond the Barbour Collection to find evidence of your ancestor. Sometimes you need to turn to other resources.  lease join reference librarian Mel Smith who will help you navigate Connecticut governmental records for a clue in finding your elusive Connecticut ancestor! Drop-in, no registration.

Body Found In Connecticut River Identified As Edward Mann

From the Middletown Police.
Yesterday, 10/6/15, the Middletown Police Department responded to the report of a body found in the Connecticut River near the docks at Harbor Park, south of the restaurant.

The body has been identified as Edward A. Mann (age 62) of Middletown, CT.

The Middletown Police Department’s Major Investigations Division is still investigating the incident and is requesting that anyone who may have been in contact Mann or knew of his whereabouts in the days prior, contact the Middletown Police Department 860-638-4000.

Mann’s family has been notified and they are requesting that the media respect their privacy during this time of sorrow.

The Middletown Police Department would like send our condolences to Edward Mann’s family and friends.

​Cat Tales presents the Cat of the Week! PUDDY!!

​Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week!


Gender:  Female
Breed:    Domestic Short Hair

Color:    Calico
Age:       5 years

Hello, my name is Puddy!  Aren't I simply gorgeous?  My owner recently passed away, and I've been feeling so displaced.  I am still very sad, and I'm also confused as to why I'm at Cat Tales.  The volunteers have been so good to me - they pet me, feed me, love me and even give me treats!  However, with all the cats at the shelter, I'm feeling overwhelmed.  I am used to being the only pet in a quiet household, so I think it would be best if I could go back to what I'm used to. I am a bit shy at first, but once I know you I am very sweet girl and an excellent companion. I'd love to curl up in bed with you or sit on the couch by your side. Please come to meet me, and I bet you will want to adopt me!

No Cats  /  No Dogs  /  No children​​
Phone:  (860) 344-9043

Direct Pipeline Project Information and Meeting Wednesday

Submitted by Connecticut Forest and Park Association

Expanding the natural gas pipeline through MDC land could put your drinking water quality and the New England Trail at risk.  Learn more on Wednesday, October 7th.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, LLC (TGP) has proposed a natural gas pipeline project cutting across Connecticut and has an application before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

A "community presentation" will be held on Wednesday, October 7th from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at West Hartford Town Hall (50 South Main Street, West Hartford) on the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project at the request of the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) - drinking water and sewer manager for the Greater Hartford region.  The MDC has publicly expressed serious concerns that the widening of the pipeline on MDC reservoir lands could potentially impact drinking water quality for the approximately 400,000 people in the Greater Hartford region who depend upon it.

In addition to drinking water quality concerns, CFPA has written to FERC to note that several segments of the New England Trail National Scenic Trail (NET) on MDC property and beyond would likely be shut down during the construction phase of this massive project.  The New England Trail (NET) is one of only 11 national scenic trails in the U.S. and is maintained by CFPA and its volunteers in Connecticut, and we are always working to keep the NET connected and open for all to enjoy.

This map shows the intersections between the pipeline and the New England Trail. [Please contact CFPA for map]

I hope to see you in West Hartford on the 7th; I'll probably be wearing my green CFPA shirt with a blue oval on it.

All the best,

Eric Hammerling, Executive Director
Connecticut Forest & Park Association

P.S. If you are a resident of Bloomfield, Farmington, Hartford, West Hartford, or surrounding towns, and are concerned about the project and/or want to learn more, this community presentation may be your best opportunity to both listen and, if the spirit moves you, lend your voice to the debate. A big turnout sends a strong message to TGP and FERC that they have to consider potential impacts on both drinking water and recreation on MDC lands.

P.P.S. If you want to learn more, visit the webpage put together by our friends at Rivers Alliance of CT.

Connecticut Forest & Park Association
16 Meriden Road
Rockfall, CT 06481

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Body found in Connecticut River

From the city police department.
Earlier this evening the Middletown Police Department responded to the report of the body
of an adult white male found in the water near Harbor Park.

The Middletown Police Department Major Investigations Division has found not outward signs of foul play. The identity of the victim will not be released until family is notified.

The police department will be continuing the investigation.

Anyone with any information should contact the Middletown Police Department at 860-638-4000. No further information at this time.

Free Shakespeare Workshop Wednesday

Russell Library is hosting a free Shakespeare workshop with ARTFARM Artistic Director and Lead Actress Marcella Trowbridge on Wednesday, October 7, 6:30 - 8 pm. 
Understand Shakespeare from an actor's point of view in this 90 minute immersion into Shakespeare. This interactive workshop will include a quick dip into the language of Shakespeare, including metrical structure, rhythm, literary devices and rhetoric plus secret tools for understanding the text. In signature ARTFARM style, this workshop will be on our feet, off the page and into our mouths! Don’t be afraid- seasoned aficionado or new to the Bard, come and play- this will be fun!
Limit 20. Please pre-register by contacting Russell Library at (860) 347-2520 or email
"Understanding Shakespeare" is part of ARTFARM's Shakespeare400 Passport Initiative, celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's death by promoting public enaggement with Shakespeare throughout Connecticut during 2015-16. For more info about the Shakespeare400 Passport, contact

Russo-Driska Decries Drew Campaign "Hypocrisy"

Submitted by Sandra Russo-Driska, candidate for Mayor. One version of the Drew Campaign request for donations can be viewed HERE (this one asks for $50, apparently the amount of the request varied according to the household).  
 The Eye welcomes all responsible, signed opinion pieces (email).
I noted with great interest, Dan Drew’s latest campaign mailer hitting up would-be contributors to donate “$100 to Drew 2015 before the critical September 30th deadline.” I was ready to dismiss this latest ploy as just another in an endless flood of shameless money grabs by the Drew Campaign until I read further.

Drew stated, "This election I am facing a new challenge. My Republican challenger is a self-funding wealthy opponent. She has already put in excess of $12,000 into her campaign to win this election.” The Mayor’s latest whopper reveals a new level of hypocrisy, even for him, and would actually be comical were it not such a transparent and cynical attempt to insult the intelligence of Middletown voters.

A wealthy opponent? Perhaps Dan Drew and his public relations handlers have me confused with Donald Trump! Middletown voters should understand that this ridiculous claim comes from the candidate who has raised more than $80,000 for this campaign, greater than 80% of which has come from donors outside of Middletown. Prominent among them, the Malloy-Drew axis of usual suspects- Democrat politicians and party insiders, the ‘pay to play’ crowd of contractors and consultants who do business with the State and the City, as well as the customary political hired guns--professional lobbyists and their special interests.

My campaign, by contrast, demonstrates strong grassroots Middletown support from Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated alike, funded by family, friends, neighbors, and other local supporters, and yes, by me and my husband- in short, by hard-working Middletown citizens and small business owners. What we have in common is that we are sick and tired of seeing the Mayor’s Office under Dan Drew for sale to the highest bidder.

The voters of Middletown have news for Mr. Drew. This election cannot be bought by the free-spending Drew campaign and its high-paid professional political consultants. The voters are not fooled by either the Mayor’s empty rhetoric or his overflowing campaign coffers.  This Mayor has over promised and under delivered.  As I meet with Middletown residents, it is becoming clear that they have had their fill of this Administration, its politics as usual, and its fat cat donors.

If I am fortunate to be elected in November, I fully intend to restore the Mayor’s Office to the people of Middletown where it rightfully belongs. My guiding principle as your Mayor will be simple and straightforward - put people first, not politics. Good ideas and enlightened policies are not the monopoly of any one political party.  I seek to be the Mayor of all of the people, and my Administration will reach across the aisle and across our City. We will assemble a diverse coalition of people of good will, committed to moving Middletown ahead , unencumbered by the political IOU’s ,  vendettas that sadly, have marked the last four years under the current Mayor.

Sandra Russo-Driska
Mayoral Republican Candidate FOR Middletown