Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fundraiser @ Coldstone Creamery to help feed the Hungry

Wesleyan Concert Choir Performs with Greater Middletown Chorale

By Olivia Bartlett, reprinted with permission of Wesleyan Connection.

Keith Lee '09, a member of the Wesleyan Concert Choir, sings with Greater Middletown Chorale members during a rehearsal March 10 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Middletown. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Twenty-four Wesleyan students will hit a high note in their singing careers April 19, when they perform with one of the preeminent choral groups in Connecticut.

The Wesleyan Concert Choir is teaming up with Greater Middletown Chorale, the region’s 32 year-old community chorus, and a 22-piece string orchestra of professional instrumentalists drawn from the New Haven Symphony and Yale Symphony Orchestras for a concert to be held at Crowell Concert Hall.

“On measure eight, energize it, not with volume but with energy,” says director Joseph D’Eugenio, during a March 10 group practice. “And be very anticipatory of the diminuendo in measure 55. But well done, beautifully sung.”

Joseph D'Eugenio, artistic director of the Greater Middletown Chorale and interim director of the Wesleyan Concert Choir, directs the combined choirs.

D’Eugenio is the artistic director of the Greater Middletown Chorale and interim director of the Wesleyan Concert Choir. For the April concert, both choirs will perform Schubert’s Mass in G, written early in the composer’s short-lived career. The Wesleyan Choir will also sing Mozart’s Ave verum corpus and Georg Phillip Telemann’s Psalm 117, written in 1758. Additionally, Lass dich nur nichts nichts dauren , Opus 30 by Johannes Brahms will be sung by the Greater Middletown Chorale and a divertimento by Mozart will be played by the chamber orchestra.
Although the Wesleyan and Middletown choirs have sung together in the past, most notably for the ceremony that celebrated the installation of Wesleyan’s new organ, the April event will be the first time the Wesleyan Choir has performed a full concert with the Greater Middletown Chorale.

“The Middletown Chorale loves having the students join in for these projects,” D’Eugenio says.

The Middletown singers offer 10 to 30 years experience of singing and skill to less experienced student singers, while the students add that youthful sound of their voices to the whole. So, in the end, the cross-generational vocal production makes for a wonderful blending of voices.”

Linda Secord, director of alumni relations, is also a member of the Greater Middletown Chorale. She practices Schubert's Mass in G in preparation for a concert April 19 at Crowell Concert Hall.

The Greater Middletown Chorale has distinguished itself on many occasions throughout the state, singing twice at the Governor’s Inauguration and recently touring the music capitals of Europe where it presented three concerts in Vienna, Salzburg and Prague. Its performance of Dvorak’s Mass in D has been archived at Prague’s Antonin Dvorak Museum.

Economics major Keith Lee ‘09 is one of the Wesleyan Choir members performing at the April 19 concert. He started singing as a freshman in high school, and has since sung with the a capella group Outside-In, an Opera and Oratorio class, and the student group The Mixolydians.

“I wanted to sing during spring break, which is what led me to check out the Greater Middletown Chorale,” Lee explains. “I really enjoyed singing with everybody. They were all very friendly and quite enthusiastic about singing, which is not always the case at the student level. Singing with a group like the Chorale is definitely something I see myself doing as I get older as well.”

Several from the Wesleyan community sing in the Greater Middletown Chorale: David Morgan, professor of history, emeritus, is a past president; Linda Secord, director of alumni relations; Michael Sciola, director of Career Resource Center; Gertrude Hughes, professor of English, emerita; and Dzintra Infante, a former research assistant in the Biology and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry departments.

“This program represents a unique collaboration of a university and a community group, with each bringing its special talents and gifts to the project,” says Joyce Kirkpatrick, Greater Middletown Chorale board member. “The Wesleyan University Concert Choir has a long history, and a number of Freeman Scholars appear to be involved, which gives it a global flavor. It’s going to be an exciting town-gown project.”

The concert is at 4 p.m., Sunday, April 19 in Crowell Concert Hall. Tickets are $25 for the general public, $20 for seniors and students. Wesleyan students are free. E-mail boxoffice@wesleyan.edu for more information.

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Graffiti and a Mugging: New Gang Activity in Middletown?

The following "Public Safety alert" came in on the email today, from Wesleyan's Public Safety office:
Middletown Police have advised Public Safety that on Sunday 3/29/09 at approximately 12:30pm a non-university person was robbed in the area of High St and Huber Ave. According to Middletown Police the victim was approached by an individual who displayed a weapon and demanded money. After being given the victim's wallet the subject fled from the area.

The subject is described as an African-American or Hispanic male, between the ages of 18-21, 5' 7'' tall, weighing approximately 175 lbs. with light facial hair and a lip ring. The subject was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and grey sweat pants with a red oval logo on the side.

Anyone with any information on this incident is asked to call the Middletown Police at 860-344-3200.

Public Safety reminds all community members to report suspicious people or activity to our office at 860-685-2345 or Middletown Police at 860-344-3200.

Yes, you read that correctly: 12:30 p.m. In other words, in the middle of the day. I called Public Safety this afternoon to confirm this, and a friend emailed Public Safety right around the same time. Both inquiries revealed that the information was, in fact, correct. The robbery took place a half hour after noon yesterday, Sunday.

This disquieting event occurs on the heels of a spate of new graffiti in the neighborhood south of campus along High Street, Beach Street, Home Avenue, and McCarthy Park, much of which is being created by individuals referring to themselves as "3D". Several younger acquaintances tell me that "3D" stands for "three desperadoes". A google search for "3D" and "three desperadoes" [and "desperados"] turns up nothing in the way of gangs, so perhaps it is just a local group of miscreants looking for creative new ways to deplete the Public Works and Police Department budgets. One of the targets of the spray paint was the sign for McCarthy Park along High Street (almost directly across from Huber Ave.). Happily Public Works has already cleaned it off, as well as the "tags" at several of the other locations.

When I spoke with the officer at Public Safety, I asked whether they were aware of the new graffiti. He said they were.

This isn't the first time the question of graffiti and possible gang activity has been reported in the Eye. And sadly it probably won't be the last. In addition, we may be hearing more about all this soon from another source: a "Channel 3 Eyewitness News" truck was seen wrapping up a shoot this evening at the Huber-High intersection. I'm waiting on a call back from the Police Department detective bureau for any additional information. If anyone calls, I'll post an update.

Meanwhile, Helen Ubiñas had a story in yesterday's Courant about graffiti. [Correction: Actually the story was dated 11 January 2009]. She found that while graffiti is up, complaints are down. Apparently people are getting used to it. She reports that a favorite target in Hartford is the new "cable boxes". Actually, I think she's referring to the AT&T "U-Verse" boxes, which have been invading Connecticut towns in the past year.

Kids Soccer Clinic in April at Wesleyan

This came in from Geoff Wheeler, Wesleyan men's soccer coach.

April 13-17 - April School Vacation
Cardinal Soccer Clinic
@Wesleyan - Long Lane Fields or Bacon Field House
Time: 9am-12 pm
Who: Boys and Girls age 5-12
Coaches: Geoff Wheeler, Wesleyan Men's Soccer Coach & Players
Cost: $110.00

Download registration form at:


Listen & Look

Here are several events early this week worth your attention.

Jazz at Public, 337 Main Street, presents "Rudy & Rich", a quintet led by vocalist Rudeyna Babouder and guitarist Rich Goldstein, Tuesday evening from 6 - 9:30 p.m. Joining them will be the impressive young pianist Craig Hartley, Henry Lugo (bass, from Noah Baerman's fine trio), and Jay Williams (drums.)

The Wesleyan University Writing Program and the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies presents a poetry reading featuring Professor Vera Schwarcz Tuesday at 8 p.m. in The Russell House, 350 High Street. Schwarcz, Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Wesleyan, is an accomplished poet and will be reading from two new books of poems. "Brief Rest in the Garden of Flourishing Grace" (2009) is comprised of renditions based on the life and times of the Manchu Prince Yihuan. "Chisel of Remembrance" (2009, picture courtesy of Antrim Press ) is a personal collection which blends Chinese and Jewish themes in a passionate and personal style (see below.) The evnt is free and open to the public. Call 685-3448 for more information.

The Screwball Comedy Film Series at The Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, continues Wednesday April 1, at 12noon. "My Man Godfrey" (1936) stars Carol Lombard and William Powell and tells the story of a ditzy socialite who hires a vagrant to be the family butler. The butler (played to perfection by Powell) ends up saving the family fortune and you'll laugh all the while he's doing it. Bring lunch and the library staff provides drinks and dessert as well as expert commentary from Richard Alleva, Assistant Head of Children's Services at Russell and film critic for Commonweal Magazine. The event is free and open to the public.

The Distinguished Writers Series at Wesleyan presents author and editor Junot Diaz at 8 p.m. in The Russell House. Diaz, who is Wesleyan's English Department 2009 Millett Writing Fellow,
is the author of the short story collection "Drown" and the novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao", which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Díaz is the fiction editor at the "Boston Review" and the Rudge & Nancy Allen Professor at MIT. The event is free and open to the public.

Here's a poem from Vera Schwarcz's "Chisel of Remembrance" (courtesy of Antrim Press.)


My mother,
seventy years ago,
sat between her parents
on a sculptured chair.

The man in the stylish hat
has one arm around the girl
with lace-up shoes, another
on his waist as if the world
were a leisurely place
where he might have taken out
a gold watch, counted the minutes
of daily blessing. His young wife
holds the hand of their daughter,
gazing inward, almost in a dream,
not yet alarmed by war. A wig
on her married head slopes gently
like a sumptuous robe, no armor
against the ravage when it comes.

War comes.

To all her children,
not just this serious girl in a dark sailor suit
with one white button, balanced
between parents she will not be able to save,
war comes. It comes to all her kin

and mine.
I refuse to let them vanish
speechless. I call them back
on this page. I strengthen
my hand around a child with dark eyes
and old fashioned lace-up shoes—

gone the aristocratic chair,
gold chain, hat, wig.
The white button remains,
a pustule of hope.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Come Celebrate Arts Advocacy Day in Middletown

On Tuesday March 31, the Middletown Commission on the Arts celebrates National Arts Advocacy Days by honoring the work of Peter Loffredo and the Art Guild of Middletown. The ceremony and reception will take place from 4:30 - 6 p.m. in the new Fishbone Cafe, 106 Court Street (1/2 block down from Main Street.

Loffredo, a native of Middletown, is the founder of both Connecticut Heritage Productions and the Free At Last Players. An actor, director and educator, Loffredo has worked on stages in England and the United States. CHP began in 1981 and its first major work was a film documentary of Connecticut-born actor William Gillette (1855-1937.) In recent years, the organization has produced a number of plays at Oddfellows Playhouse, the Green Street Arts Center and the Little Theatre in New Haven. The Free At Last Players, now in its 20th years, is "a not-for-profit theater group dedicated to dispelling some of the myths and misconceptions that surround mental illness." In all he does, he has a propensity for working on plays that look at social and cultural issues. Loffredo has also served as Theater Director for The Buttonwood Tree and currently teaches at ACES/Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven.

The Art Guild of Middletown came into existence in 1972, the merger of the River Valley Art Guild and the Middletown Art Association. Today, the Guild has over 90 members and is governed by a 13-member executive board. Its mission is to foster and encourage art and the development of the visual artists in the Middletown area by developing quality programs to bring artists together, provide venues for the artists to exhibit their work and provide art instructions and workshops in drawing and painting and related visual arts. They meet monthly and sponsor a yearly Juried Arts Show that takes place in the Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan.

The reception, which features a presentation of citations to the honorees by Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano at 5:30, is free and open to everyone. For more information, call the MCA office at 343-6620, extension 201.

Minds in Motion

From Jennifer Hadley:

Last Saturday, March 21st, Snow School hosted the first ever Middletown “Minds in Motion” program, an afternoon of fun, hands on enrichment workshops for children in grades K-8. About two hundred students, some coming from as far away as Trumbull, Torrington, West Hartford, and Mansfield Center to join their Middletown peers, participated in 23 children's workshops including yoga, science, fencing, art, dance, karate, pottery, theater, circus, and DNA analysis. Meanwhile their parents attended a keynote address by author and educator Nathan Levy on helping children reach their potential and had a choice of three other parent workshops. The goal of Minds in Motion events, which the Connecticut Association for the Gifted (CAG) co-sponsors throughout the state, is to give children a chance to stretch their brains and bodies by trying new learning experiences, and to also give parents and teachers a chance to learn more about parenting and educational topics. A frequently heard comment at the end of the day was, “Can we do this every Saturday?”

Another exciting element of the program was the collaboration it took to pull it off. The Snow School PTO, Farm Hill and Macdonough parents, PROBE, Independent Day School, and CAG worked together with many volunteers, including students from Middletown and Mercy H.S. and the Independent Day school. The event committee would also like to thank local organizations which volunteered their time to be presenters: American Red Cross, ARTFARM, Boy Scouts of America, Computer Explorers, Cromwell Martial Arts, ICONN Fencing Club, Independent Day School, Middlesex County Parent Leadership Programs, Middletown Family Resource Center, Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater, Stage Left Dance Studio, Stepping Stones Museum, Talcott Mountain Science Center, Vinnie’s Jump & Jive, Wesleyan Potters. Wesleyan University, www.arteatery.com, and Yoga in Middletown. Many local businesses also contributed to the program: Illiano's, It's Only Natural, Karen’s Kreations. Middletown Pizza, Public Market, Sammy's Pizza, and Stop & Shop. Organizers have already begun planning for next year, so be on the look out for more information.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Stimulus Dollars for CHC

From the Community Health Center:

President Obama and his administration announced today that the Community Health Center (CHC) will receive $670,628 in federal stimulus funding.

The funding was announced by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro in her visit to CHC today and by a press release later in the day by U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd. Twelve health centers in the state received funding; however CHC received the single highest amount.

Community Health Center, Inc. will use the funding to expand primary care staff positions and capacity at two CHC primary sites in New Britain and Meriden. The stimulus funds will result in seven new positions and capacity to care for another 2,200 patients annually. In New Britain, the funds will support an expansion, due for completion in August, that will add 20,000 square feet to an existing building. In Meriden, the funding will support a renovation of existing space that has just begun. The funding will equip and furnish eight exam rooms in New Britain and the same in Meriden. The Meriden renovation is expected to be completed in April 2010.

“This funding will allow us to expand and renovate buildings and expand access to care for thousands of underinsured and uninsured patients in New Britain and Meriden,” said Mark Masselli, president and CEO of CHC. “It also provides for much-needed jobs. This would not be possible without the tireless leadership of our Connecticut delegation, who have worked hard to ensure that working families receive access to affordable health care.”

The money is part of a $338 million program that is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved by Congress a few weeks ago.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tonight: Film Featuring Record Express

I Need That Record!, the independent film featuring Middletown's Record Express and other local Connecticut record stores will be shown tonight at the Kent Film Festival at 9:30 pm at Town Hall. The film will also be showing at the Boston Independent Film Festival in late April and the CT Film Festival in Danbury in early June. This is a fantastic documentary film made locally right here in our community. Its received some very positive reviews and has been shown around the United States and also in Europe. Check http://www.ineedthatrecord.com/ for the latest news and screening dates.

Macdonough's Turn

On Thursday night, nearly 50 people gathered in the Macdonough School cafeteria to go through the same "visioning" exercises about our school system as Moody School did on Wednesday night. JCJ Architects are taking seriously their charge to understand what families in town want for the schools -- and at times it was a bit of a struggle to keep people focused on that lofty question when there are so many immediate concerns about possible redistricting for next year.

If you've been following this issue you know that Moody has had larger classes in recent years, and the Superintendent has promised parents that a solution will be found before next year. JCJ was retained to make recommendations by May on this short-term issue, as well as producing a longer-term plan for redistricting all the schools, considering the capacity of each school, the configuration of grades and compliance with Connecticut's racial imbalance law which requires that no school can be more than 25% higher or lower than the district average for minority students.

Greg Smolley from JCJ stressed that he has not been given any directive from the Board of Ed or the Superintendent's Office about what solutions this study should recommend -- he says he has not been hired to justify some plan that is already in the works. But one parent bluntly put it to the crowd: "I'm not buying it." She voiced out loud what many in the room were murmuring among themselves: the suspicion that Macdonough alone might be asked to absorb the overcrowding at Moody School. Smolley didn't back down -- he said that in all the studies he had done, all up and down the east coast, he had never been given less pressure from an administration, and he said "you can believe that or not, I have no reason to lie to you."

I was reassured by his commitment that although meetings are only being held at Macdonough and Moody schools, the short-term recommendations will in fact consider the capacity of all eight elementary schools in town. That means that every school will be reviewed for the potential to take more students, either by moving uses within the building to create new classrooms or by increasing class size -- if in fact JCJ determines that some Moody families will need to move. Although it was a hard sell, Smolley maintained that the only reason that Moody and Macdonough were having community meetings was that they chose the largest building and the smallest building to study, to see if that would give them some insight at the beginning of the process. They will eventually hold meetings at all the schools.

In the context of all that stress, I'd like to report that the visioning process itself was truly a pleasure, primarily because of our lively and interesting table of 8: five current Macdonough parents, one Moody parent who lives in the North End, one Macdonough teacher and one staffer, both of whom live in the neighborhood. As fishmuscle and JAM wrote on Thursday's Eye, our task was to rank 9 items on how they affect the schools. No shrinking violets here -- each person was willing to speak up for their beliefs about what makes a school a good place. Two people were all for putting a higher priority on technology, while the two iphone-wielding parents argued against it. I had phys. ed way down on my list but changed my mind after the teacher pointed out that kids need time to get moving or they can't learn. We talked about the stigma that some of us feel is attached to Macdonough -- mixed with pride about how the school is getting better all the time. We all agreed on the importance of after-school programs, but daycare fell lower on our lists.

Living close to your school was primary for many people -- as one wise-cracking parent at another table noted, we might have been at a realtors' association meeting, since all you kept hearing all night was location, location, location. Although my table was generally frustrated with the format of the lists -- where, for example, was the issue of racial balance/diversity on the list of school qualities, we wanted to know -- it did spur conversation that hopefully was noted by our JCJ facilitator. In my regular life, I attend a good number of public meetings, and I have to say I can't remember the last time I participated in such an open and reasonable discussion about issues affecting our town. In sum, it was a worthwhile evening -- I came away renewed in my appreciation for the Macdonough community and my family's commitment there.

It turns out that the exercise itself was meant as a learning experience. Smolley wrapped up by pointing out that we'd probably noticed how challenging it is for a small community of 8 people to come to concensus on what makes a good school, so we can expect that kind of challenge and compromise to continue throughout the study.

JCJ will have some preliminary findings to share at their next meeting on April 27th meeting at Woodrow Wilson School at 6 pm. Childcare will be available.

Dar Delights

Last night, Middletown was the recipient of a very special treat in the form of a concert by the ever talented Dar Williams.. As always, Dar delivered intelligent and thought-provoking messages through the angelic beauty of her voice and the simplicity of her guitar playing. She is a natural storyteller and her song introductions came across as if having a conversation with a friend. Dar graduated from Wesleyan in 1989 and it was apparent last night that her experiences there have shaped her songwriting ever since. She had tales to tell about the campus radio station WESU and wove those stories into the introduction of Are You Out There, the song about the deep influence that radio can have on youth. Her lyrics are so emotional and so real and delve so deeply into such painful topics, my friend and I were wondering how she sings her songs without bursting into tears – we certainly did! I thought the biggest tearjerker was “After All”, a song about the struggles of coming into your own self, which last night was introduced also as having developed under the backdrop of Wesleyan.

The audience seemed to be mostly students. One who I spoke to said she had never heard Dar Williams music before. If that student was at all representative of the audience in general, I can hardly imagine the triumph of discovery that this show surely must be for so many who were hearing Dar Williams’s soulful music for the first time. Another person I spoke to was a Dar Williams fan who came from Clinton to see the show. She couldn’t say enough about how impressed she was with the venue and all of the other amazing events, past and upcoming, that were listed in the calendars.

Health Care Forum Today

This event is free and open to the public - sorry for the late notice.

Washington, DC - On Friday 27 March at 11 AM, Congresswoman Rosa L.
DeLauro (CT-3) will hold a roundtable discussion on health care reform
with constituents who have contacted her about health care coverage,
health care providers, business leaders and health policy experts who
are pressing for meaningful reform, at the Community Health Center (635
Main Street) in Middletown. This week is the 7th anniversary of Cover
the Uninsured Week, which was launched to foster conversation about
reforming our health care system and making affordable health insurance
available to the 46 million currently uninsured Americans.

Roundtable participants include:

Mary Beth Johnson, Middlefield - Mary Beth lost her job at Aetna in
January and is coping with losing her health insurance. She is
currently covered by COBRA with Aetna subsidizing coverage for April &
May. However, beginning in June, the cost will be slightly over $900.00
per month for herself and her domestic partner - the cost alone is
nearly double what she receives in unemployment benefits.

Mark Masselli, President/CEO, Community Health Center - The Community
Health Center, Inc. (CHC) is a private nonprofit agency providing
affordable, high-quality primary health care, dental, mental health, and
social services to thousands of area residents from over 100 Connecticut
communities each year. CHC is one of the leading health care providers
in the state of Connecticut, offering services to the insured,
underinsured and uninsured for over 34 years. CHC has twelve locations
throughout Connecticut.

Dr. Kristen Zarfos, St. Francis Hospital - Dr. Zarfos is a fellow in the
American College of Surgeons. She is a general surgeon with a focus in
beast cancer care and is an assistant professor of surgery at the
University of Connecticut School of Medicine, as well as Director of the
St. Francis Comprehensive Breast Health Center in Hartford,
Connecticut. Dr. Zarfos has seen the human suffering caused when people
are uninsured or underinsured, including one woman who died of breast
cancer because she did not have insurance to cover the necessary health

Larry McHugh, President of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce - As
president of the chamber, Larry works to ensure the chamber is a
resource for businesses in the community and has seen the effect of
skyrocketing health care costs on businesses.

Sharon Langer, M.Ed., J.D., CT Voices for Children - Senior Policy
Fellow at CT Voices. Her work focuses on health policy and financing
issues, particularly those affecting families and children. Ms. Langer
was recently appointed to the newly created HealthFirst Authority which
is charged with making findings and recommendations to the state
legislature concerning expanding coverage and access to health care in
CT. She currently coordinates the Covering Connecticut's Kids and
Families Coalition, a project of CT Voices, which brings together state
officials, community health providers, advocates, and others who seek to
help families enroll in the state's publicly funded health insurance
program, HUSKY.

WHERE: Community Health Center

635 Main StreetMiddletown, CT

WHEN: Friday 27 March 2009

11 AM

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oddfellows Playhouse Names New Children's Circus Director

Oddfellows Playhouse proudly announces that Skyler Sullivan is the new director of the Children’s Circus of Middletown. Sullivan is an extraordinary circus artist as well as an actor, singer, dancer, and mime. He has been a teaching artist with Circus Minimus in New York since 2001 and has an ongoing role as a juggling chicken on the well-known public television show, “Sesame Street.” He also appears as Arthur on “The Electric Company,” a Sesame Workshop on public television. Sullivan taught clowning, juggling, trapeze, tight wire, and acrobatics at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts. He takes over from Jake Weinstein, who led the Children’s Circus for the past 2 summers and has moved to Tennessee to pursue circus activities there.

Skyler Sullivan received his BFA in acting and musical theatre from Emerson College and brings a wealth of skills to the Children’s Circus. He has extensive training in mime, wire walking, stilting, juggling, partner acrobatics, clowning, stage combat, and Commedia dell’Arte. He is an accomplished dancer and plays the guitar, piano, and harmonica. He has performed with the American Mime Theatre in New York, the San Francisco Mime Troupe in California, and at the New York City Clown Fest as well as serving as the ring master for Circus Minimus. He appears frequently on stage and television and in films. Sullivan is sure to make the 2009 Children’s Circus one to remember.

The Children’s Circus of Middletown, part of the Middletown Commission on the Arts’ Kids’ Arts activities, was begun in 1988 by former Oddfellows’ artistic director Dic Wheeler. Each summer, 175 young people, ages 8 to 14, learn stilting, juggling, clowning, acrobatics, dance, unicycling, visual art, and other fantastic circus skills in this 5-week, half-day program. A challenging full-day Advanced Circus Program for veteran circus participants, ages 12-15, helps them take their skills to the next level. The circus concludes with a spectacular outdoor performance that has become a summer tradition in this area. With music by a live circus band and an audience of over 1,000, nearly 200 youngsters dazzle the crowd with circus acts and a level of skill that belie the youthfulness of the performers.

This year’s circus runs from June 29-July 31, with the gala circus show on July 31. Registration for Middletown youngsters began March 1; registration for out-of-town young people opens April 1. For more information, call Oddfellows Playhouse at (860) 347-6143.

Images, Music & Words

The new exhibition at The Davison Arts Center is the work of contemporary photographer Judith Joy Ross. The American-born Ross is a recipient of numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Charles Pratt Memorial Award, and an Andrea Frank Foundation Award. Her work can be found in numerous permanent collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

The Opening Reception takes place today (3/26) from 5 - 7 p.m. and Ross will deliver the Gallery Talk at 5:30. Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Professor of Classical Studies at Wesleyan and a huge photography fan, will introduce the photographer. They collaborated on "Protest The War", a photographic essay published in 2007 by Steidl/PaceMacGill. The exhibition officially opens tomorrow and runs through May 24.

The Buttonwood Tree has been busy lately and continues that trend this weekend. Tonight at 7 p.m., "The Armchair Geographer", aka Claude Masse, will discuss "Topographic Connecticut." Masse is passionate about the outdoors and encourages discussion.

Singer-songwriter Brooke Campbell comes to The Buttonwood on Friday with a repertoire steeped in folk, blues and bluegrass traditions with a hint of "pop" music sensibilities. Her voice is soft, sensual, and soulful and her songs look at life and love and how the two don't always fit together. The music starts at 8 p.m. To find out more about Campbell, go to http://brooke-campbell.com.

Saturday at 7 p.m., The Riverwood Poetry Series, hosted by Colin Haskins, comes to The Buttonwood with "An Evening of Irish Storytelling Through Poetry" featuring Kathryn Kelly and Maggie Greene. Providing the Musical Prelude will be Patrick & Joseph Ganci on violin and piano, respectively. For more information, call 347-4957.

Sunday, the Free at Last Players will present live skits, poetry and stories at 4 p.m. in the intimate performance space. The troupe is a not-for-profit theater group dedicated to dispelling some of the myths and misconceptions that surround mental illness. Founded in 1989, the members have performed all over Connecticut and the United States with shows created by the group’s members. To find out more, go to www.freeatlastplayers.org.

Boney's Music Lounge, directly above the Fishbone Cafe, 120 Court Street, welcomes soul-blues-funk-jazz guitarist Melvin Sparks for a Saturday evening filled with danceable grooves and hot solos. Sparks, who's been purveying his r'n'b infused licks since the early 1970s, will be joined by his new trio featuring Bill Carbone (drums) and Matthew O. (organ.) You can bet the room will be rocking. The music should get underway after 9 p.m. and run past midnight. For more information, call 346-6000.

School visioning workshop draws 100 people to Moody School

JCJ Architecture held its first Public Outreach/Visioning meeting at Moody Elementary School this evening from 6 to 9. About a hundred parents and other members of the public came, as well as Board of Education members Corinne Gill, Ryan Kennedy, and Sheila Daniels, Mayor Giuliano, and teachers at Moody. All provided their input for the purpose of the District Wide Utilization Study that the Board of Ed has commissioned JCJ to undertake.

Attendees worked in 11 groups of about 8 people each, with JCJ staff as facilitators, to complete three evaluation sessions where individuals ranked nine categories in order of relative importance based on their personal preferences. Then, the group as a whole discussed the categories and developed a consensus ranking . Groups had about 25 minutes to complete their rankings, and very lively discussions took place on multiple issues.

Session 1: The school as a place of learning
Attendees considered school size, class size, technology, classroom/types, physical education, arts programs, grade configuration, non-school amenities, location/travel time. Every one of the 11 different groups ranked class size as the #1 most important, with location/travel time coming in second for most groups. Non-school amenities (health center/day care/community use) were ranked last by most, and everything else was somewhere in the middle.

Session 2: The school as a municipal asset
The features of schools as a municipal asset that were ranked: sustainable, cost to operate, cost to build, indoor/environmental quality, age of building, number of buildings, tax
impact, location, symbol/identity. "Indoor/environmental quality" was ranked in the top two by all groups, perhaps not surprising at Moody School, which only recently eliminated a mold contamination which had caused health problems for teachers and students alike. The other feature that was very highly ranked (1st or 2nd by almost all groups) was "Location". The least important feature for most groups was the school as "Symbol/identity".

Session 3: The school as a community asset
Various possible features of the school as it might contribute to a community in ways beyond education were ranked: health center, daycare, public use, after school programs, preschool/Head Start, parent/adult education/job training, location, community information centers, partnerships with the community. The vast majority of groups again chose "location" as the most important feature, followed by "after school programs," and "pre-school/Head start."

Overall, the meeting was very productive as parents seriously considered what they believed to be most important about the future of education in Middletown.

After the conclusion of these 'visioning' sessions, parents asked the lead JCJ Planner, Greg Smolley, questions about the study and its possible outcome(s). Parents were extremely anxious about the possibility that redistricting would change the school that their children attend. Smolley explained that parents' input from tonight's session would play a major role in their report to the Board of Ed, but he also encouraged concerned parents to attend Board of Education meetings to express their opinion and concerns.

Board of Ed member Ryan Kennedy echoed those sentiments, and further encouraged residents to speak with individual board members, via the contact information for each that is available on the School District's web pages. Four of the nine board seats, including that of the chair, Ted Raczka, will be up for election this year.

Smolley said that the initial report with recommendations to alleviate the severe overcrowding at Moody will be sent to the Board in May. The final report, which will address district-wide issues, will be done early in the next school year. He said that when both the mayor and the School Board facilitate wide-spread community involvement in the process, it reduces the potential for decisions to be hijacked for political purposes. He applauded Middletown's efforts so far, saying that the turnout was greater than they had seen in some other communities.

JCJ Architecture will be at Macdonough Elementary School Thursday evening, March 26, from 6 to 9PM, to repeat this process.

by Jennifer Mahr and Stephen Devoto

Inherit the Wind

I dropped by the Inherit the Wind dress rehearsal at Oddfellows Playhouse yesterday and grabbed these shots. Consider them a preview to a great show. Every actor in the cast has an amazing stage presence, and the chunk of the performance that I saw was gripping. I fully recommend going to see it either this weekend or the next, it is well worth the time.

The dates are
March 26th at 7 pm. Tickets are “pay-what-you-can,”
March 27 and 28 at 7:30 pm
April 3 and 4 at 7:30 pm

Go here to get tickets!

Planning and Zoning Approves Community Health Center Exception

Representatives of the Community Health Center hoping to build a new headquarters on the corner of Main and Grand Street won approval to construct the building without retail on the ground floor level.

The new CHC will consolidate administrative offices and medical examination rooms from several Middletown buildings into the new headquarters.

Attorney Ralph Wilson, representing CHC, claimed that the Planning and Zoning Board had no authority to rule on parking, since the building is in a B1 zone, where parking does not have to be a part of a development package. Still he, and traffic and parking consulting engineer, Joseph Balskus spent an hour demonstrating how the CHC would be providing a net increase in parking in the North End, though the current lot of 55 spaces would be reduced to 29. Additional parking would be accessed by employees and patrons at a new lot next to the former trolley barn on Kings Avenue, and in the Liberty Square parking lot.

Mark Masselli, CEO of the Community Health Center, arrived to the meeting late as a result of meeting with Connecticut representaties in Washington DC today. Masselli addressed concerns of commission member Deborah Kleckowski who worried that approving an exception for a property which is not yet owned by CHC, and is, in fact, until April 1, out on RFP (Request For Proposal). Masselli explained that in the search for federal economic stimulus dollars, the process of vetting by municipal agencies has been compressed. He apologized for the need for haste, and city planner Bill Warner explained that CHC had accepted all responsibilities for liability if their plans were not approved.

"The building is another star for the North End," Masselli said. "We're hoping to do something our forefathers dreamed of for the North End. But we're in competition with 10,000 other applicants for stimulus dollars."

Eli Cannons owner Phil Ouellette appeared and spoke in favor of the development.

"We were in the North End before anybody wanted to be in the North End," Ouellette said. "And parking is important to our business. If the parking issue is to be solved as it was described, with better lighting, safer, and more aesthetically pleasing then it is now, I support it. This would connect us to the flow of Main Street."

Neighbors living in the homes at 12 and 16 Grand Street which will be demolished to make way for new parking worried about displacement.

"I would hate to see my home destroyed," said Brenda Stassola who lives at 16 Grand. "It would be a good idea if you could find me a place to move."

"I 'm hearing that this is a stimulus project," Patrick Young of 12 Grand Street said. "I'm a laid off construction worker, and I'd love to have a job working on this project."

For his part Masselli was open to helping in the relocation of families, hiring local workers and accepting design modifications for the building, including suggestions that a ground level brick wall on Grand Street include windows.

"We have a responsibility to the community. We have a responsibility regarding housing," Masselli said. "We don't throw people out onto the street. And it's been our mission to employ local people."

The commission also approved plans for a food manufacturing plant for Norpaco Gourmet Foods in the Liberty Commerce commercial park on Bysiewicz Drive.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Planning and Zoning Commission Still Without A Chair

Again Wednesday night, for the third month in a row, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted on electing a new chair for the commission.

Again, with Democratic candidates Deborah Kleckowski and Barbara Plum nominated, the commission voted, with written ballots. Kleckowski got four votes, Plum three. Neither was elected since five votes are needed.

Commission members continued the parlimentary bickering about whether the Commission actually had a chair. Kleckowski suggested that Plum, who had been the chair, should not be listed on municipal stationery as the chair.

Commissioner Ron Borrelli spoke angrily about the commission's inability to elect a chair.

"If you're gonna vote for some who appointed herself chair, and appointed herself to three other commissions, and hasn't been here for four months to attend meetings," Borrelli said. "Then you're voting, along party lines, for someone who shouldn't be chairman, or a commissioner. Let's elect someone else. Let's move on."

Democrat Barbara Plum, who has served as chair of P&Z for several years, leaves Middletown, and the state, for an annual winter vacation each year.

In other parliamentary matters, the commission passed a mercy rule - a revision to their bylaws, which states that all Planning and Zoning meetings must end by 11 pm, with some exceptions allowing meetings to absolutely end by midnight.

Events This Week (Part 2)

With all the talk swirling around stem-cell research as well as some school districts across the United States choosing to teach "creationism" , this is a excellent time to present "Inherit The Wind". The play, written in 1955 by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, is a fictionalized account of the 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial", an event that pitted the great arbiters William Jennings Bryant and Charles Darwin against each other in a case that about a Tennessee teacher (Scopes) who taught Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution to his high school students.

The Teen Repertory Company of Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, will have 5 performances of "Inherit the Wind" starting with the "pay-what-you-can-preview" at 7 p.m. on Thursday March 26. You can give money or bring a non-perishable for the Amazing Grace Food Pantry or both. Subsequent performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday March 27 and 28 and also April 3 and 4. For ticket information, call 860-347-6143.

Farmers Market at Wesleyan Today

It's Springtime, so come celebrate this WEDNESDAY from 11-2 at USDAN
COURTYARD for the first outdoor Farmers' Market!

As always there will be beautiful fresh produce, goat cheese, baked
goods, pesto, eggs, honey, handmade jams, spices, yarn, coffee,
cookies, soaps, bread, and more!

You can buy lunch from Bon Appetit and enjoy the sunny 50 degree weather.

Bon Appetit's menu:
Corn Chowder
Wild Green House Salad (Starlight Gardens)
Grilled Beef Burgers (4 mile river farm)
All Natural Beef Hot Dogs (4 mile river farm)
All Natural Kielbasa (4 mile river farm)
Red Bliss German Potato Salad (Connecticut grown potatoes)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Important Message from The Buttonwood Tree - No City Funding for 2009

Hello Friends of The Buttonwood Tree!
We are pleased to announce:
In celebration of the 20th year since opening the Ibis Bookstore

May 8, 2009
(The Friday night of Mother's Day weekend)

Photo at right:
In 2006 Susan and Stephan Allison receiving honors from then-director of the Buttonwod Tree Anne Sabin.

Due to challenging economic times and change in policy, our city funding is no longer secured for 2009. Without this support it will be nearly impossible to receive other funding from outside sources, and so the likelihood that The Buttonwood Tree could continue would be slim. In our effort to remain open we have begun to plan a fund-raiser with our goals being to thank and recognize our beloved founder, Susan Allison, to show the city leaders that we have community support for our organization, to raise money that will be eligible for matching funds, and to have a really good time together! We'll have both live and silent auctions, door prizes, lots of entertainment, glances back in time, stories and surprises. We hope you'll show your support in some form and join us for the making of new memories while we relive some old ones :)More details to come...For now... please save the date... May 8th, 2009 (tentative time 7-10pm)

Thank you! from Anne-Marie Cannata, Executive Director

N.E.A.R., Inc. /The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center

Wesleyan Honors (People We Know)

This just in from the Office of the Wesleyan President:

Good afternoon,

It is with great pleasure that I announce to the Wesleyan community that an award-winning best-selling author, a pioneering entrepreneur and philanthropist and two dedicated members of the Middletown community will be the honorary degree recipients at the 177th Wesleyan Commencement on May 24, 2009.

Anna Quindlen P’07, who will also give the Commencement Address, is a novelist, a journalist, and a champion of higher education. She currently writes the “Last Word” column on the back page of Newsweek and serves as chair of the board of Barnard College, where she received a degree in English literature.

Ms. Quindlen has published five novels, all of them bestsellers. Her most recent, Rise and Shine, debuted at number one on The New York Times bestseller list. She has also published many nonfiction books, including Thinking Out Loud, How Reading Changed My Life, and A Short Guide to a Happy Life, which has sold more than a million copies.

Ms. Quindlen spent most of her journalism career at The New York Times, where she wrote three columns, “About New York,” “Life in the 30s,” and “Public and Private.” She won the Pulitzer Prize for her work on the paper's OpEd page. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary degrees from more than a dozen colleges and universities.

Ms. Quindlen is the mother of three children. Her son Christopher Krovatin, also a novelist, graduated from Wesleyan in 2007.

Azim Premji P’99 is chairman of Wipro Limited, one of India’s leading technology companies. Headquartered in Bangalore, India, Wipro Ltd. provides a wide array of information technology services, infrastructure solutions, professional services and business solutions. He is also a non-executive director on the board of the Reserve Bank of India and a member of the Prime Minister’s Committee for Trade and Industry in India. Business Week listed him among the “Top 30 Entrepreneurs in World History” and Time named him one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

In 2001, Mr. Premji established the Azim Premji Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing quality primary education for every child in order to build a just, equitable and humane society. The current programs of the Azim Premji Foundation engage 2.7 million children in more than 20,000 schools across India. Mr. Premji is the first Indian recipient of the Faraday Medal, and in 2005, the Government of India conferred upon him the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian awards in the country.

His son Rishad graduated from Wesleyan in 1999 and will be celebrating his 10th reunion this year.

Mark Masselli and Jennifer Alexander ’88 have been tremendous supporters of the Middletown and Wesleyan communities. Mr. Masselli is the co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Community Health Center, Inc., Connecticut's largest and most comprehensive provider of primary health care services for the uninsured and underserved. Founded in 1972, it now provides medical, dental and mental health care services to over 70,000 people annually in the state.

Mr. Masselli has been involved in a number of initiatives to revitalize Middletown for both businesses and residents. He is also the founding member of many community service initiatives in Middletown, including New Horizons Battered Women's Shelter, Nehemiah Housing Corporation, and Oddfellows Youth Playhouse. He has worked with the Dalai Lama in efforts to resolve issues facing the Tibetan people. Mr. Masselli also was active in the development of the Bishop Tutu Refugee relief agency during the critical years fighting the apartheid system in South Africa.

Ms. Alexander founded the non-profit Kidcity Children's Museum, which draws 100,000 visitors a year to downtown Middletown. She has chaired the Downtown Business District, is a member of the Middletown Redevelopment Agency, the Central Business Bureau of the Chamber, and has co-chaired the Chamber's Creative Juice Council for people in the arts and creative industries.

In 2003, Ms. Alexander was honored with the Wesleyan University Service Award. She founded the Wesleyan Club of Middletown and served as its co-chair and chair. She has also participated in many Career Resource Center panels on the role of the entrepreneur, served on the Wesleyan University Bookstore Advisory Committee, and was a member of Wesleyan's 175th Anniversary Committee.

In 2008, Ms. Alexander and Mr. Masselli received the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen Award.

Professor LiLy Milroy will serve as the Faculty Marshal at Commencement this year. We look forward to a great day of celebration with the members of the Class of 2009 on May 24th!

Michael S. Roth

Wesleyan Events Wednesday & Thursday (abridged version)

The Distinguished Writers Series at Wesleyan presents Andre Aciman Wednesday at 8 p.m. in The Russell House, 350 High Street. Aciman, author of "Call Me By Your Name" and the nonfiction works "Out of Egypt: A Memoir" and "False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory" is a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 685-3448.

At the same time, the "Israel in Shorts" series presents "$9.99", a stop-action animated film based on the stories of Israeli author Etgar Keret. The premise of the film can be put this way; "Have you ever wondered "What is the meaning of life? Why do we exist? The answer could be yours for a mere $9.99." You may recognize the voice of Geoffrey Rush "("Pirates of the Caribbean", "Elizabeth") on the soundtrack. After the screening, which takes place in the Goldsmith Family Cinema on Washington Terrace, Keret will discuss the book and the movie. This event is also free and open to the public.

On Thursday at 8 p.m.,
the Annual Samuel & Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lectures presents "The Bible Through Literary Eyes", a lecture by Robert Alter (Wesleyan class of '37). Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, Alter is the author of 17 books with subjects ranging from Stendhal to Kafka to the art of biblical narrative. His recent translations of the Five Books of Moses, Samuel, and the Book of Psalms have been enthusiastically received and widely praised for capturing so forcefully the original Hebrew. A reception will follow the presentation which takes place in Room 108 of the Usdan University Center on Wyllys Avenue. This, too, is free and open to the public. For more information, email jzwelling@wesleyan.edu.

(UPDATE: Tickets for the Dar Williams show are sold out.) If the Old Testament is not of interest, singer-songwriter Dar Williams (Wesleyan, class of '89) performs at 8 p.m. in Crowell Concert Hall. Joining her will be Paul Baker Hernandez, a songwriter, performer, and lecturer who lives in Managua, Nicaragua. The event is co-sponsored by Wesleyan University's Office of Academic Affairs, Alumni Relations Office, Center for the Arts, Latin American Studies Program, Music Department, Department of Sociology, and WESU. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 685-3355.

Here's Dar is action on "Austin City Limits":

Serra Discusses the City Budget

In an interview with the Eye, Democratic majority leader on the Common Council, Tom Serra, blasted Republican Mayor Giuliano for playing politics with the budget during this period of fiscal crisis for the city. He defended the Democratically controlled Council for their handling of a number of controversial decisions during last year's budget process (including the Remington Rand sale, discussed elsewhere), and promised to restore funding for public access broadcasting of Council meetings.

Calls Mayor's Budget Round Table Discussions a "Sham"
Serra said he had attended the Budget Round Table discussion by the Mayor at the Chamber of Commerce and was "extremely irritated" by it, "These [Round Table discussions] are really just a campaign trail battering of the Democratic Common Council, a way to thrust his opinion on the residents." He called for cooperation between the mayor and the Democrats, "The Mayor hasn't communicated with Council one iota."

Serra said he found it ironic that a Republican Mayor was less fiscally conservative than a Democratically controlled Council, claiming that since Giuliano took office he had raised taxes by 5.3%, which is more than the previous 10 years, when Democrats controlled the executive branch. Serra said that the initial offer made by Giuliano to the police unions was a 32.5% raise over 5 years. The raise that was ultimately approved through arbitration was for much less: 22% over 5 years. Including the arbitration costs, this difference saved the city almost $3 million over the 5 year contract. Serra expressed his commitment to providing raises that match the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

The police raises were not budgeted by the Common Council, but instead paid for through the City's Fund Balance. Serra minimized the impact of those withdrawals, saying the fund balance is not a city "savings account", as characterized by the Mayor. Instead, it serves two purposes: it provides funds for unexpected expenses and it signifies to the bond rating agencies that the city is in solid financial health. He said that the unreserved Fund Balance of $13.8 million was ample to give the city a top credit rating by the Moody's rating agency. He said it was "smoke and mirrors" for the mayor to claim at the Budget Roundtable discussions that the Democrats "raided your savings".

Balancing the Budget This Year
Serra called for three approaches to producing a balanced budget.
  1. Reasonable cuts in services.
  2. Lower raises for union contracts, across the board. Serra emphasized that the cuts should fall fairly on all bargaining units.
  3. Tax increase. Serra said that this should be minimal.
I asked Serra why the Democrats had not participated in the January 30th conversations between the Mayor, departmental directors, the Board of Education, and the unions. Those discussions were about possible furloughs and/or reductions in pay raises, an area that Serra said was an important part of balancing the budget this year. He dismissed those conversations, "as a ploy to get Democrats involved in negotiations to share the burden [of negotiating]. That's not our role, we will get involved as a legislative body. ... It's his responsibility." He recalled that when he was mayor during a recession in 1994, he negotiated with unions a delay in their raises.

Serra anticipates that there will be additional revenue in next year's budget compared to last year, including $750,000 from the NRG power plant, and possibly $1.2 million from the Kleen Energy power plant.

We also discussed the possible revenue that might come to the city if the Army decides to purchase Cucia Park for their military training facility. He indicated that the Democrats would consider using money from the sale of Cucia Park to the Army for operating expenses if the budget situation was dire enough. He said that the money should be used first to replace the loss of open space, second for Parks and Recreation, and "If necessary some perhaps will be used for operating expenses."

Public Broadcasting of Council Meetings to be Restored in the Budget
One item that Serra specifically vowed to restore in the budget is the money for broadcasting of Common Council Meetings, which he initiated as mayor in 1994. "Since the demise of print media, it is definitely important to people ...... Cititizens out there need to see what elected officials are doing." Responding to the mayor's concern that broadcasting of meetings leads to longer meetings, Serra pointed out that the Mayor, as chair of Council meetings, has control over the length of meetings. He called on the Mayor to utilize Roberts Rules of Order effectively, to run more efficient meetings.

Agreement with the Mayor on the Board of Education Budget Process
Councilman Serra said that in years past the Board functioned well in establishing a budget. He felt that the budgeting process last year was not as functional as it should have been, sharing the frustration of the mayor.

Serra explained that the autonomy of the Board of Ed (by state statute) means that the city has minimal control over spending on education. However, in years past he has advocated with the Board for an increase which simply matches the Consumer Price Index. In November of 2007 he met with board members Raczka, Keiser, and Boyd, Superintendent Frechette, Finance Director Erlacher, and Councilman Klattenberg to discuss the education budget. He was frustrated when the Board came to the city with a 12% increase in their budget, far more than the 5% he felt was justified.

His frustration increased last year when the Board threatened to close Macdonough School if their budget was not met, generating extensive public protest directed at the Common Council.

The Budget Process Going Forward
The Council will begin analyzing the Mayor's budget as soon as he submits it on April 1st. Common Council will hold a series budget meetings in April to discuss with City department directors the budget implications for each department. Those meetings will take place on April 14th and 15th at 6PM, April 20th at 7PM, and April 21st at 6PM; they will be open to the public but there will be no public comment period. On April 28th at 7PM there will be a public hearing on the budget.

Council is required by statute to approve the budget by May 15th. Councilman Serra was confident about Council's ability to balance the budget without substantial tax increases. "There may be very slight increase in the mill rate, we're talking about tenths of a mill, not several mill."

Irish Music Concert: Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely

[from Jody Cormack]


(from the band Lúnasa!)

Kevin Crawford & Cillian Vallely

Friday, March 27, 2009, at 8pm
Middletown Artist Cooperative (MAC650)
650 Main St.,Middletown CT

Suggested donation: $20 general, $10 students, $5 children 12 & under
Please call Jody Cormack 860-983-7963 for reservations
or email jcormack@wesleyan.edu

Please join us in welcoming Kevin and Cillian back for another spectacular performance! This tour is very special as they’re launching their new album “On Common Ground”, an incredibly beautiful and exciting recording! DON’T MISS IT!!

Two years of researching tunes between a heavy schedule of band commitments has led to this exciting new recording from band Lúnasa’s powerhouse melody makers, Kevin Crawford (flutes and whistles) and Cillian Vallely (uilleann pipes and whistles).

Born in Birmingham, England, Kevin Crawford’s early life was one long journey into Irish music and Co. Clare, where he eventually moved while in his 20’s. Starting at age 7, Cillian Vallely learned the whistle and pipes from his parents, Brian and Eithne, at the Pipers Club in Armagh.

Joining Lúnasa in 1997 and 1999 respectively, Crawford and Vallely made their way to the heart of the group and now tour the world, performing and teaching on a full time basis. Having released seven band albums and worked on numerous individual projects, the duo decided to combine their talents and create a distinctive sound with an album of flute and pipe duets.

The combination of uilleann pipes and flute is rare in duet recordings of traditional music and the duo have utilized the unique tonal qualities of their flat-pitched ‘C’ instruments to record the music on “On Common Ground”. The tunes have been sourced from various manuscripts, archives and field recordings but there are also a number of new self-composed pieces, In addition, Kevin and Cillian play a variety of low whistles and are accompanied on guitar by two of Ireland’s most recognised and respected guitarists, Donal Clancy and Paul Meehan.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Events This Week (Part1)

The following item takes place Tuesday March 24 at 7 p.m. in the Hubbard Room of The Russell Library, 123 Broad Street.

The Life and Times of William Webb: An African-American Civil War Soldier” will be presented by Kevin Johnson. Mr. Johnson will portray Private Webb who was from Hartford and was recruited in 1863 to serve in the Twenty-Ninth (Colored) Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. Johnson’s portrayal of Webb is told from an emotional and exciting first-person perspective that vividly illustrates the struggle of the African-Americans in the Colored Infantry during the Civil War. The presentation is based on extensive research in the collections of the Connecticut State Library and the Museum of Connecticut History in Hartford.

Mr. Johnson is an employee of the State Library’s History and Genealogy Unit. The program is co-sponsored by Russell Library and the Middlesex County Historical Society in conjunction with the Society’s exhibit “Hard & Stirring Times—Middletown and the Civil War.” The program is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call 347-2528, extension 135.

Also on Tuesday, Jazz at Public, 337 Main Street, presents vocalist Charmagne backed by a quartet featuring Steven Porter
(bass), Doug Porter (guitar), Tim Porter (drums), and Middletown resident David Davis (saxophone). The music starts at 6 p.m. and goes until 9:30.

"One Book, One Middletown" Events This Week

One Book, One Middletown's celebration of "Water for Elephants" kicks into high gear this week. Tuesday, The Book Bower (inside Main Street Market) will hold 2 discussions titled "The Great Depression: Lessons for Today", the first at 12:30 p.m., the second at 5:30.

Wednesday, there will be a "Book Discussion" at 12:30 p.m. at Middlesex Community College, 100 Training Hill Road. At 7 p.m. in the Hubbard Room of The Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Rich Hanley will show the documentary "The Circus Fire." Hanley, a Professor of Journalism at Quinnipiac University, wrote, directed and produced the work for CPTV; a brief description follows.
"On July 6, 1944, the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus big top caught fire during an afternoon performance in Hartford. After less than 10 minutes of unimaginable horror, 168 spectators, mostly women and children, were either dead or dying. Hundreds were injured.Even decades later, many survivors and relatives of the dead remain haunted by what happened and why."

Thursday, there's a seminar at 12noon in Chapman Hall at MxCC titled "The Extraordinary Life of P.T.Barnum." The slide presentation is a production of the Barnum Museum, located in Bridgeport, the home of the great entrepreneur. Then at 7 p.m., it's back to the Hubbard Room of The Russell Library where Quinnipiac Professor Hedda Kopf will lead an in-depth Book Discussion.

Friday, students from Middletown High School will facilitate a Book Discussion at 6 p.m. in Javapalooza, 330 Main Street.

All these events are free and open to the public.

Get your tickets soon!

This letter from Middletown High's Music Director, Marco Gaylord, encourages you to get your tickets early for the April 7th concert at the Bushnell in Hartford.


Dear Friends,

Spring brings with it blooming flowers, warm sunshine, and the wonderful sounds of nature. This spring (April 7th) will also bring an exciting concert featuring the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the Middletown High School Concert Band, Concert Chorus, and student soloists. The two organizations played their first show together in 1993 and, since then, have continued the program every other year.

This year the concert will be held at the beautiful Bushnell Memorial Hall, Hartford, on April 7, 2009 at 7:00 PM. In addition, we are pleased to announce that Neely Bruce, the popular Professor of Music at Wesleyan University and Hartford Symphony Maestro Edward Cumming will conduct this extraordinary program.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the MHS musicians to study and practice alongside the professionals. And as in the past, the finale will lift you right out of your seat. Please fill out the bottom portion and mail it to Middletown High School with your check in a sealed envelope or purchase them at the below locations. Tickets will be distributed on a first come first serve basis.

Please join us in celebrating this wonderful evening of music.

Marco Gaylord

Tickets for MHS Goes to the Symphony are $15 for the Orchestra level seating, $10 for the mezzanine, and $5 for the balcony.

Tickets are for sale at:
• All Liberty Bank Branches
• City Hall at the Town Clerk's office
• Middletown High School

Or you can send a check, payable to MHS - Hartford Symphony, and include a self-addressed-stamped-envelope and a note indicating the number of tickets and seating sections to:

Sue Monarca
Middletown High School
200 LaRosa Lane
Middletown, CT 06457

If you have any questions, call 704-4505.