Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Raid Our Gallery

submitted by Peg Arico:

The Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center will host a large-format photography show, “Raid Our Gallery,” on April 8 at the Center at 536 Saybrook Road in Middletown. This unique event features the work of some of today’s foremost large-format photographers. Large format does not refer to the image size, but to the size of the film the image is captured on. The photographers use unique processes in developing their images including silver, platinum, glass and tin to create truly unique prints.

In partnership with the New England Large Format Photography Collective, the Raid Our Gallery event benefits the Center for Survivorship and Integrative Medicine at the Cancer Center. There are 100 gallery tickets available for sale. Each ticket is numbered. During the preview, ticket holders select their favorite prints in order of preference. During the random drawing, when their number is called, they may select an available print from their list of favorites. Last year, nearly everyone went home with one of their top choices.

This photo is a sample of the type of large-format photography that will be on display and available for Gallery ticket holders to take home during the Raid Our Gallery event to benefit the Middlesex Hospital Center for Survivorship and Integrative Medicine. This photo is the work of Glenn Curtis of Durham.

Gallery tickets are $150, which includes the reception and one print to take home. Reception-only tickets are $25. Registration and reception start at 6:00 p.m., with the drawing at 7:30 p.m. For more information or to register for the event, please contact Sally Ann Lee at (860) 358-6200.

Spring Classes Begin April 5th

There are still a few spaces available in Oddfellows Playhouse spring performing arts classes for Complete Actor II (ages 9-11) and Stage Combat (ages 12-14). Spring classes begin the week of April 5 and run for 8 weeks.

“The Complete Actor” classes present a curriculum of age-appropriate basic acting, voice, and movement training.. Complete Actor II (ages 6-8) helps young people develop vocal, physical, and emotional skills using theater games exercises, improvisation, and mime. Youngsters also learn how to work with a script —plus have a lot of fun. The eight class sessions are held Tuesdays, 4:30-5:45 pm, April 6-May 25. Tuition is $140, but Oddfellows’ generous financial aid policy offers assistance with tuition to all who qualify.

Stage Combat classes for ages 12-14 allow students to learn how to—safely—punch, kick, slap, fall, pull hair and sword fight. Stage combat is the illusion of violence, but students will learn how stage combat can be used for humor as well as drama. Classes are Wednesdays, 5-6:30 pm, April 7-May 26. Tuition is $145.

Oddfellows Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street, Middletown. More than just a performing arts program, Oddfellows aims to make a positive difference in the lives of young people by using the arts as tools to build self-confidence, communication skills, a sense of responsibility, and an appreciation for the richness and diversity of the world in which we live. For more information or to reserve a spot in a spring class, call (860) 347-6143 or go to

Who Killed Easter Rabbit? Ten Thousand Plastic Eggs Copter-dropped

I'm sure it's being done with the best of intentions, but the planned Catalyst Church Easter Egg drop of ten thousand plastic eggs from a helicopter onto a field at Keigwin School Saturday seems like an accident waiting to happen.

A video of an Easter Egg drop in 2007 in Fredricksburg, VA.

The plan has the approval of Middletown Fire Marshall Lewis Larosa.

"The eggs will be dropped in some kind of netting, and the children will be held back until the eggs are dropped," Larosa said.  "The FAA has all the jurisdiction about the ceiling at which the helicopter will fly, and it's cargo."


Middletown Fire Chief Gary Oulette said this afternoon that the church does not have the authorization of the Fire Department to hold the event.

"They would need to have a truck standing by, and that is not authorized," Oulette said.

The Keigwin field may also be sodden from three days of heavy rain, and despite drainage work done under the field, the hunt may turn the field to mud.

The Board of Education building department has also approved the plan based on the approval by the Fire Marshall.  A source at the BOE building department said that the church expects 500 children to attend.  With a nice day, and the coverage of the story in the Hartford Courant, that may be an underestimate.  A quick browse of the web indicate that these egg drops have been popular with Christian churches throughout the country, often attracting thousands of participants.

Neither Mayor Sebastian Giuliano nor Police Chief Patrick McMahon were aware of plans for the Easter Egg drop.

Larosa acknowledges that Keigwin does not have appropriate parking for even 500 attendees.

But, according to at least one report of such an egg-drop in Georgia, the best-laid plans are often trampled by an Easter-crazed mob of children and their parents.

This report from a blogger who attended such a drop in Cartersville GA:

My boys and I arrived at the EggDrop location, which happened to be at the foot of the historic 1,000-year-old Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site. The first sign of a plan gone wild revealed itself as we approached a fenced-in football field that already held about 5,000 crammed-in people. My first instinct was to turn and run, but I doubt that I could have explained my flight to the 5-year-old with a vice grip on his Easter basket.

EggDrop ground zero was the 50 yard line, and it was surrounded by yellow event tape at a radius of about 20 yards. When the helicopter made its first pass, that yellow event tape was no match for the thousands of screaming kids who burst through to catch the falling plastic eggs. The real problem, though, was that the organizers had not expected that the first drop of around 700 eggs would pelt moms, dads, and unsuspecting eight-year-olds. Panic erupted into chaos when some idiot oranizer with a mega-phone shouted to everyone, “Please, Leave The Field Immediately!” Too late, pal, Pandora’s Easter basket was already wide open. 

There were hundreds of crying and lost children and bruised, panicking parents frantically circling the 50 yard line. The second attempt by the then extremely annoying Megaphone-distiller-of-Chaos– “It is Important. You Must Leave The Field, Immediately!” This just exacerbated the frenzy of separated parents and kids who simultaneously trying to obey the Mega-Idiot and search for their scattered families. At one point, I ran over to the M-I and tried to explain to him that no parent is going to leave the field without the right wounded children, myself included. 

I further pleaded with him to radio the helicopter and ask them to hold off dropping any eggs until things could be sorted out. He informed me that he did not have radio contact with the helicopter. I didn’t stick around to discuss the comparison of this situation to the underlying theme of Joesph Heller’s most famous book. Instead I dove into the scrum to find my kids. As I pushed my way to the 48 yard line, I saw my two boys sitting on the ground crying. Meanwhile, goofy old RayLiotta in the helicopter was circling with another drop of about 700 more plastic eggs, which cascaded onto the field amidst rippling pops as the egg shells bounced off every man, woman, and child. I ‘m pretty sure that my two boys took the brunt of about salvos before we escaped the perimeter of the field. In fact, as we were leaving the park I counted no fewer than the 7 rounds of egg drops.

While the Board of Education says that Catalyst "has their own insurance," one has to wonder what liability the city, or the BOE bears if a child looks up at the dropping eggs and catches one in the eye.

A wiser friend asked how the $10,000 spent on the helicopter has any bearing on a child's relationship with Jesus at Easter, and perhaps the money would be better spent dropping food or medical supplies in a place like Haiti.

Coginchaug River Flooding

The Coginchaug River flooded its banks overnight, inundating Wadsworth Falls State Park, and overflowing a short stretch of Rte 157 in Middletown. Further downstream, it caused a mudslide which forced the evacuation of apartments on Newfield Street.

Take the River To Me

Stopped by Harbor Park at 4:00 AM, and the river is still rising.

Thanks to Beth Emery for pointing out the National Weather Services predictions for the Connecticut River.  As the chart indicates currently, the river is rapidly approaching major flood stage as Northern streams and rivers continue to push the Connecticut beyond its banks.

And as the Middletown Press reports this morning, the swollen Coginchaug has threatened the stability of two apartment buildings on Newfield Street.

Cloudy with a chance of Redistricting

Macdonough has been getting a lot of ink lately -- I thought you might like to see some photos to go along with all the chatter.

Last Thursday, we had "Movie Night" at the school - it was suggested by a dad who came to a PTA meeting a few weeks ago, and everyone jumped in to help make it a party.

About 100 families gathered in the school cafeteria and gym. Some wore their pajamas and set up camp to watch "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" while snacking on popcorn (thanks Destinta!).

You can see Reggie Holley and Marilyn Dunkley dishing out the popcorn to a line of patient kids.

For those who preferred some grown-up company, there were lots of parents in the cafeteria enjoying a spread put together by Taneone and Rebecca. There were meatballs, of course, and lots of fresh fruit and veggies.

Of course, I couldn't resist the opportunity to do some organizing too, trying to make sure that all the families know about the redistricting vote on April 6th. We're losing 80 children at Macdonough. Most of the kids who would be leaving us live less than half a mile from Spencer -- and well over a mile from Macdonough. That doesn't make this any easier. I talked to one mom who is slated to move and she said, "No, my child won't be moving. I just had his conference and his teacher says he's more than a year ahead of his grade's reading level. I won't risk losing that and I don't think we'll find it anywhere else. We just won't be leaving. That just won't be happening."

Crazy world, huh? Some people are desperate not to come to Macdonough, and some are desperate not to leave.

So that was Movie Night. I didn't get to see much of the movie, but my kid had a great time, sitting next to his friend-since-kindergarten who'll probably be moving to Spencer next year.

I imagine that there will be a lot of people at the Board of Ed meeting on April 6th (7 pm in the Middletown High auditorium). Some will be for the redistricting - and some against. In the meantime, I'm concentrating on celebrating the community we have together now, even as we get ready for change.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The River Rising

At 5 PM, the Connecticut River was several inches higher than at 9AM.  While the flotsam at river's edge indicates it's not the highest the river's been in recent days, the National Weather Service predicts a continued rise in river levels through Thursday.

Rain and Flooding Cause Problems Downtown

(The Connecticut River at Habor Park, 9 AM Tuesday)

A power outage just past noon in Middletown was caused by a blown power generator that was affected by flooding.

Power was out in downtown neighborhoods for hours and the Police Department and Middlesex Hospital were relying on generators for power.

Traffic lights on Washington Street heading toward Route 9 were out during that period.

Mayor Sebastian Giuliano also reported that a portion of Randolph Road near the South Fire Station was flooded and will be closed until flooding recedes.  On a nuisance level, the basement level of City Hall was flooding through a power portal.

Giuliano said that currently the Connecticut River is not at a stage that is problematic.

"But I can't speak to what may happen in a day or two," Giuliano said.

The National Weather Service is projecting that the Connecticut River will surpass the flood stage this in the next few days and crest later this week.

"I use a very unscientific method," Giuliano said.  "I look out my office window.  Right now the river is still below the railings along the walkway, and the pilings across the river on the Portland side are still visible."

Goodspeed Looking for Girls for New Musical

From the Goodspeed Opera House


East Haddam, Conn., March 29, 2010Calling all girls!  Here’s your chance to join a professional acting company.  The birthplace of the hit musical Annie, Goodspeed Musicals is holding auditions for local Equity and Non-Equity child actors (GIRLS between ages 10-13) for its upcoming production of the new musical Radio Girl. Auditions will be held on Saturday, April 24th, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn.  From this audition a small group of the luckiest girls will make it to the final round in New York City.

      Auditions are for SIX LUCKY LITTLE RADIO GIRL HOPEFULS.  In the show, these girls are vying for the title of Lucky Little Radio Girl.  Candidates must sing and tap very well, and have show business running through their veins.    

      On Saturday April 24th celebrity judges including Hartford Courant columnist Mary Ellen Fillo will join our panel of producers looking for the next big talent. In the spirit of American Idol, the competition is high - do you know a girl who has what it takes? 

            All auditions are by appointment only.  Appointments may be made starting immediately.  Please call Company Management at (860) 873-8664, ext. 387, Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm. 

      Interested performers should prepare two songs (up-tempo and ballad, 32 bars – not the entire song).  Bring a resume, photo, sheet music and tap shoes.  Music must be legible and in the proper key (no lead sheets please).  An accompanist will be provided.  You may be asked to tap dance, so don’t forget your shoes.

      Candidates must be available for rehearsals, July 13 – July 28, and performances at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre, July 29 – August 22.  Rehearsals occur in East Haddam, Conn and performances occur in Chester, Conn. 
     Performers of all ethnicities are strongly encouraged to audition.  
Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals.  The only regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed also maintains the Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in the Musical Theater.  Goodspeed Musicals gratefully acknowledges the support of our Corporate Partner Comcast and Official Audio Sponsor Sennheiser Electronic Corporation. Goodspeed Musicals is supported in part by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Forum: Gender Discrimination in the Health Insurance Market

From the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women

WHAT: Informational Forum on Gender Discrimination in the Health Insurance Market

WHEN: Tuesday, March 30; 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: Legislative Office Building, Hartford, Room 2D

WHO: This forum is being organized by the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, and is sponsored by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), and Citizens for Economic Opportunity.
Speakers will include representatives of the National Women’s Law Center, based in Washington, D.C. and Jamie Stirling, CEO of Stirling Benefits of Milford, CT. 

 WHY:  Women are paying up to 30% more for health insurance than men simply because of their gender. The presentation will include how the federal healthcare reform bill will affect the gender rating used by health insurance companies.


Tonight! LinkedIn for Job Seekers at Russell Library

Thomas Clifford will teach you how to maximize job searches with LinkedIn by creating a powerful profile, effectively communicating with networks, discovering the best contacts, joining worthwhile groups, and obtaining strong recommendtions. Thomas is an award-winning business media producer and communications enthusiast, is an "Expert Blogger" for with his own blog ranked among the world's best leading marketing and media sites by AdAge. The program takes place in the Russell Library Hubbard Room from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. Monday, March 29. Sign up at the Russell Library Information Desk or by calling 860-347-2520. If you need any special accommodation, contact Michelle Foyt at 860-347-2528, ext. 121 or in advance. This program is funded by a Middletown Community Development Block Grant.

Showing of A Chemical Reaction, Thursday April 1

Join us for a screening of the award-winning documentary, A Chemical Reaction, co-hosted by Project Green Lawn partners and the Middletown Regional Agricultural Science and Technology Center.  The film tells an inspiring story about a successful grassroots effort to ban harmful lawn care chemicals in a local community in Canada, along with the discoveries that preceded it and the many challenges overcome along the way.  A discussion will be led by organic horticultural consultant and SafeLawns representative, Scott Reil, after the film.  Suggested donation: $5.  Registration is encouraged at (860) 344-3526.  To be shown at 7PM at Middletown High School

Diaper Appeal Looking for Participants

Families are hurting in this “Great Recession”. Families with babies and very young children are in the most trouble – at a time in children’s lives when it does the most damage.

You can help! Join the 2010 Mother’s and Father’s Days Diaper Appeal. There are three ways your organization can participate:
  1. Ask your members if they would like to make a contribution to honor their mother or father.  Your donation will allow us to purchase diapers at cost. Mom or Dad will receive a beautiful card on Mother’s or Father’s Day. The enclosed appeal forms will get you started. 
  1. Organize a diaper drive. Collect diapers from your members and the public. Deliver them to 29 Crescent Street between 10 AM and 4 PM the week of May 10. It’s as simple as that.
  1. Make a contribution from your organization.  Your money couldn’t be better spent!
This is the second year of a diaper appeal in Middlesex County. Last year we collected 20,000 diapers. This year our goal is 50,000. You can put us over the top.

Questions? Call Maria Demarest, 860.346.8695, or Betsy Morgan, 860.346.1522.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

From 1980: Selection of Convention Delegates Criticized by Loffredo, Gionfriddo

The following article is from exactly 30 years ago today, appearing in the Hartford Courant on March 28, 1980. It was written by Gary Weiss.
State Rep. Paul Gionfriddo, D-Middletown, and former Common Councilman Vincent J. Loffredo, charged Thursday that blacks and minority group representatives were excluded from the slate of 20 Democrats picked for the convention to select candidates for statewide office.

Gionfriddo repeated comments made by himself and Loffredo at a meeting of the Democratic Town Committee Wednesday night, criticizing the selection of delegates for the convention that will pick the Democratic candidate for the Second Congressional District.

"We come to the minority community and labor unions every year for support, but we don't put members of those constituencies on the delegations," Gionfriddo said.

The 20 delegates to the state convention will pick members of the state Central Committee and the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The delegates to the convention were approved by the Democratic Town Committee Wednesday night by a vote of 47-to-16. That delegation includes no minority or labor representation.

The delegation to the Second Congressional District convention, which includes labor representation but no minority members, was approved in a voice vote.

Lawrence Cacciola, Democratic Town chairman and chairman of the committee that nominated the delegates to the two conventions and others, which were approved without opposition, declined comment on the criticism Thursday.

Loffredo Thursday termed the town committee's action as "purging the party" and said that it was reminiscent of when party bosses dictated teh membership of committees and forced their relatives and friends on party panels.

Loffredo and Gionfriddo claimed that persons who had served on the two key delegations in the past were removed by the nominating committee, in a departure from usual practice. Loffredo said that the persons removed had been supporters of his unsuccessful bid for the mayoral nomination and that the persons replacing them were supporters of Mayor Michael J. Cubeta, his opponent.

Various town committee members affiliated with labor unions opposed the state convention delegate slate because it lacked any labor representation, said town committee member William Pillarella, former vice president of the Middletown Central Labor Council.

One of the town committee members voting to approved that slate was Joseph Sbona, president of the Central Labor Council.
Loffredo is currently a councilman and member of the Democratic Town Committee. Pillarella is the chief of staff to Mayor Giuliano.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Small Plane Lands Off Randolph Road

(Photo by Trevor Davis)

The Middletown Eye received a report from Common Council member David Bauer that a small plane has apparently made an emergency landing in a field off Randolph Road near Farm Hill Road around 4 PM today.

A Fiddling Sampler at the Russell House Sunday

Come get a glimpse of some real live fiddlers convening at Wesleyan this Sunday afternoon. Join us Sunday March 28th at 3 o’clock in Russell House for a short-sweet fiddling event!

Bring your ears for listening, your feet for tapping, your questions for asking.

Contra fiddling is what you hear at every Wesleyan contra-dance. It's playful, rhythmic, improvisatory with a repertoire of old and new tunes from Irish, French-Canadian, Old-time and other traditional musics.

Emily Troll’s senior thesis presentation brings together New England fiddlers to share tunes and stories with Wesleyan and Middletown audiences with a spotlight on practicing – practice strategies, practice frustrations, practice environments. The event is called “Calliope House” in honor of the Greek muse of poetry and a popular fiddle jig.

When: Sunday March 28th 3:00
Where: Russell House
What: discussion and music

Fun at the Fair

Earlier today I stopped by the 4th Annual Green Lifestyle Fair in Westbrook. The hall was abuzz with hundreds of visitors including the young and old and all ages in between. There were over 60 exhibitors of everything from green building and energy efficiency products to agricultural and local products showcases, and representatives from many area advocacy groups, plus a book fair, raffles, and other fun stuff.

A couple of the exhibitors were from Middletown. One of these was Middletown Monitor / Solatube with information about heaters, tankless (on demand) hot water heaters, skylights and solar attic fans. Also from Middletown, Consulting Engineering Services (CES) for the past 15 years has provided Sustainable Design services to public and private sector clients throughout Connecticut, including involvement in the Clark Residence Hall at Wesleyan.

My favorite discoveries were:

"Delivers farm fresh goodness to your door!
We believe in eating local. We believe in supporting our CT Farmers and small business in general. We are, after all, a small business ourselves. We deliver locally grown, mostly organic, fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy products, meat, baked goods, CT maple syrup and local honey, directly from local farms and producers right to your door."
I say, why pick one or two farm stands to visit when you can shop dozens of them right from your home. In addition to the usual farm store bounty, the wonderfully descriptive website of CT Farm Fresh Express might just introduce you to some things you won't find elsewhere, such as such as sorrel, shiso, chervil, celeriac, sunshine squash, buckwheat shoots, and claytonia lettuce, and all of it grown right here in Connecticut.

"Dedicated to offering an outstanding selection of high quality products for the home made by New England artisans and craftspeople. We believe that buying locally produced products whenever possible can help us all by creating a more environmentally and economically sustainable future for our region. We know you want to buy locally and we are confident that you will value the exceptional quality and 100% guarantee that comes with every item we sell."

The ReCONNstruction Center

A materials clearinghouse, the center converts donated and salvaged items into charitable dollars. It was created in order to reduce the waste of natural resources through re-use of building materials. The center sells the materials at affordable prices allowing them to be a community resource and to help owners and landlords maintain affordable housing stock, reduce landfill waste, and generate revenues which are used to support other non profit organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation, and the New Britain Chapter of Rebuilding Together. Individuals can donate unwanted building materials, or shop for new, used, antique, and surplus building materials in the 6,500 square-foot showroom and warehouse in New Britain.

Thanks to the Shoreline League of Democratic Women for presenting this fun and educational fair!

Bondsman Nabs Brown

From the Middletown Police Department

On 03-26-10, at approximately 11 PM, Bail Enforcement Agents brought Sylvester Brown, age 26 of Hartford Connecticut into Middletown Police Headquarters for three failure to appear warrants.  In addition to the FTA warrants, the Middletown Police had an additional warrant for the arrest of Sylvester Brown.  The additional arrest warrant was for Brown’s involvement in a 2009 Home Invasion.
  On 09-15-09, at approximately 5:05 AM, Brown and Dana Cleveland Age 25 of Hartford Connecticut both alleged to have entered the 2nd floor residence of 89 Grand Street, Middletown Connecticut.  Both Brown and Cleveland were said to have held the two female residents at gunpoint while one of them (Brown or Cleveland) searched the home for a third party.  The third party was not present at the time.  
  One of the female victims was able to call the police with her cellular phone just prior to being detained by the suspects.  As the police were just about to enter the residence, both Brown and Cleveland fled out the rear of the apartment. 
  Subsequent to an investigation, The Middletown Police Department’s Detective Bureau was able to obtain arrest warrants for Dana Cleveland and Sylvester Brown.  Cleveland was apprehended on 10-07-09 and arraigned in court.  Brown will be charged with Home Invasion, Unlawful Restraint in the 1st Degree and Threatening in the 2nd Degree.  Brown is being held on the total of $625,000.00 for the four warrants.  He will be arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on Monday, March 29th, 2010.

Army Reserve Confirms Wetland Mitigation on Boardman Lane

Thanks to Barrie Robbins-Pianka for forwarding this correspondence.

The U.S. Army received a permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the Middletown Armed Forces Reserve Center. The permit allows the project to move into the construction phase while preserving aquatic resources.

The reserve campus will be built at a former industrial site currently known as Cucia Park on Smith Street in Middletown. The Army exercised the option to purchase this city-owned site for $2 million. The site contains approximately 42 acres and is zoned industrial.

“The 404 permit opens the door for construction to start on the Armed Forces Reserve Center and protects wetlands and wildlife,” said District Commander Col. Keith Landry, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville. “The project shows the importance of partnering with the Middletown residents; local, state, Connecticut National Guard and Congressional representatives; and the collaboration with state and federal environmental organizations such as the New England District Corps of Engineers.”
Landry signed the permit, as applicant, that was issued under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act by the New England District, on March 26, 2010. The Corps issued a public notice on Aug. 11, 2009 and the application was reviewed in collaboration with Federal water resource agencies.

As part of the completed findings of the environmental assessment, the 404 permit requires wetland mitigation for approximately 1.6 acres of wetlands which will be impacted on the Cucia Park site.
The mitigation site for the impacted wetlands will be located on 52 acres on Boardman Lane. Under the mitigation requirements, the former industrially-zoned property will be permanently protected against development.

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $51.5 million contract to KBE Ventures, A Joint Venture of KBE Building Corporation & Derita Construction Co., Inc., for the reserve center construction. The two companies are headquartered in Farmington, Conn., and Middletown respectively.

The Armed Forces Reserve Center campus will include a 164,000 square-foot primary training facility, 35,000 square-foot organizational maintenance shop, and a 3,890 square-foot storage building. Citizen Soldiers will use this campus for classroom training for distance learning and computer simulation, human resource and administration offices.

The contract includes associated parking areas, walkways and access roads. Approximately 100 full-time personnel are expected to use the campus.

“The contract award, 404 permit and construction start are milestones for the project and emphasize what can be accomplished when residents, community and Congressional leaders and the Army work together,” Landry stated. “We promise to build a facility Middletown residents and Reservists can be proud of having in their community.”

Thank you,
Todd Hornback
Chief, Public Affairs Office
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville
BB: 502-558-7932

Relay for Life Committee to Meet, Volunteers Welcome

The Relay for Life of Greater Middletown will have the monthly planning meeting at the Middletown Police Department Community room on Main Street in Middletown on Thursday, April 8th.  Committee Members will meet at 6:00 pm and Team Captains will meet at 7:00 pm

Sub-Committee updates will be given by Sub-Committee Chairs on Luminaria, Logistics, Registration, Finance, Kids Care, Entertainment, Team Development, Online Fundraising, Surviorship, Publicity, Recruitment, Mission & Advocacy, Corporate & Business Sponsorship.   A report will be given on the recent  Relay Blitz event. 

Anyone who would like to join the Greater Middletown Relay is welcome. Wanted: New teams who committ to fundraising and participating in the event, Committee volunteers to assist with planning and helping with the Relay, Business sponsorships, Business donations & services, Raffle prizes of products & services are ways to support the Greater Middletown Relay For Life.  Relay for Life is an overnight event joining together teams of community members to Celebrate cancer survivors, Remember loved ones, and Fight Back against cancer!

The Greater Middletown Relay for Life "Celebration on Broadway" will be held Saturday, June 12 and continue through Sunday, June 13 at the Woodrow Wilson Middletown School Track in Middletown.  For further information contact Amy Hughes at or the American Cancer Society staff partner Morgan Greenleaf at  and by calling 203-379-4782.  To get more involved, visit us on the web:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Good Night Blue Moon in Middletown Friday

Goodnight Blue Moon is an orchestral-acoustic-folk band from New Haven, Connecticut. The band cites influences ranging from Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel to Matt Pond PA and The Avett Brothers. But, thanks to their diverse musical backgrounds, the members of this 7-piece come together to deliver a sound that is uniquely their own.

GNBM is Erik Elligers, guitar and vocals; Matt Crowley, mandolin, vocals; Nancy Matlack, cello and banjo; Amy Matlack, viola and vocals, Matt Goff, drums and percussion; Adam Kubota, bass.

Green Street Arts Center, 51 Green St., 7 PM

Admission is $8; $5 for Green Street Members. For more information, visit or call 860-685-7871

Lions Den to Host Kleen Fundraiser

The Lions Den of Middletown, Conn. announced today it will be giving back to the families of the six men who tragically lost their lives in the Kleen Energy Plant explosion with an amateur boxing fundraiser event on June 26th. The Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford will be hosting the event.

Feb. 7, 2010, is a day that will never be forgotten in Middletown. At approximately 11:20 a.m., a massive gas explosion took the lives of 6 men and injured 12 more at the Kleen Energy Plant on River Road in Middletown. The blast was felt as far away as Naugatuck. The six men killed were: Raymond Dobratz Jr., 58, Old Saybrook; Peter C. Chepulis, 48, Thomaston; Ronald Crabb, 42, Colchester; Chris Walters, 48, Florissant, Mo; Roy Rushton, Hamilton, Ontario; and Kenneth Haskell, 37, Durham, N.H.

Stepping in to help these families during their time of need is Lions Den owner and president, Doug Cartelli, who said it was necessary for his gym and fellow Middletown residents to come together and “Fight the Good Fight” for these families that have experienced a “tremendous loss.”

Cartelli, and longtime friend and former cruiserweight boxing contender, Craig Salamone, Lions Den vice president of operations, have been working hard to develop a fundraiser to give back to the families

“The city called me looking for donations for the families of the power plant explosion victims because it’s putting together a big dinner event on April 17th at Middletown High School,” Cartelli said. “This fundraiser dinner gave me an idea and I started thinking and called back and met with John Milardo of the Middletown Park and Rec. ‘Why don’t we take it one step further and bring the whole community together with this amateur boxing event?’ So that’s what we’re doing. I let John Milardo know that these events can raise a lot of money, and as John stated; "we can give back to the families that just lost their providers, just lost their loved ones and don’t have anything coming in.  Let’s make them some money, and in the process, do something a lot bigger to bring everyone together.”

The June 26th boxing event will feature Middletown’s and surrounding areas’ finest men and women from city and labor organizations. Those already committed to the event include Middletown police, fire department and emergency rescue. Other agencies expected to participate are city workers, construction tradespersons, and private citizens.
The participants will spar in the 24-foot boxing ring. In order to fill the bout card, amateur boxers from the Champions of Life program at the Lions Den and others will be added to the event. The boxers will be divided into two teams, a “red” team and a “blue” team. The red team will be trained and coached by the Lions Den’s Johnny Callas and John “Iceman” Scully. Callas is a former three-time all-American collegiate boxer with Central Connecticut State University and after a successful amateur career went on to run the Charter Oak boxing club in Hartford and helped develop more than 70 Junior Olympic boxing champions. He is now the head boxing coach for the Champions of Life program at the Lions Den. Scully has over 26-years of boxing experience and is the lead boxing instructor at the Lions Den. Scully became the first boxer from Connecticut to make the U.S. Olympic trials, where he captured a bronze medal in the 165-pound class. Scully has won the New England middleweight title, the WBF Intercontinental super-middleweight title, and twice fought for the light-heavyweight championship of the world.

The blue team will be trained and coached by Cartelli, Salamone and Tommy Lombardo.
Cartelli hopes to have the victims’ family members honored and present at the event. Ed Riley President of Hartford Building Trades has also offered a strong commitment in helping with this fundraiser.
For more information on how to become a sponsor or participate in the event please contact Doug Cartelli or Craig Salamone at the Lions Den, 860-613-2394. The majority of proceeds will be donated to the benefit of the families affected by this tragedy. Ticket prices for the event are $25 general admission and $45 for ringside reserve. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the first fight scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Guys and Dolls Jr at IDS

Guys and Dolls, Jr opens tonight at the Independent Day School in Middlefield. The musical is being put on by the Middle School Drama Club.

Shows are Friday and Saturday at 7 and Sunday at 2. Tickets are $10 at the door.

DTC Election took place with secret ballot, held in caucus

Former Mayor Thornton

The Democratic Town Committee meeting opened with 56 members present at first roll call. Former Mayor Dominique Thornton was the first to speak, and motioned for a recess, so that the membership could caucus, and vote with a private--secret ballot. There was heated debate over the procedural legality of moving forward in this manner, with calls of foul play from both sides. The democratic Common Council members of the city and others argued for a public vote, while Dan Russo and his supporters, pressed for the secret ballot. Both sides had  documentation to support their viewpoint, some provided from the State Democratic Committee. Those arguing for the secret ballot also noted that Robert's Rules of Orders allowed for this action to go forward. By a roll call vote of 33 for and 28 opposed, with 3 DTC late comers now in the count, the motion to go into recess carried.
2009 DTC officials
The next order of business called into question was if the public, and press would be allowed to observe the Democratic Town Committee proceedings while in caucus. The point was made that a meeting being held in a public location, was required by law to be open to the public; following this realization, the motion passed by a voice vote, but not before it was recognized that the now former parliamentarian of  the committee, James Streeto had just been dismissed of his duties prior to the beginning of the meeting, leaving it apparent that this was news to many, when he was called upon to act in that capacity, at the height of the discord.

Still acting as Chair Mr. Russo then called for a vote on the two uncontested offices of the DTC those of  Vice Chair and Secretary; with all in favor barring one abstention, based on what was felt to be the illegality of the proceedings, both nominations where voted into office.

At this time a motion was made to have a temporary chair conduct the meeting and the  election; Attorney Ryan was nominated and selected for this roll.

Russo speaks to the DTC asking for their vote.
Richard Pelletier nominated Dan Russo for chair, followed by Gerry Daley's nomination of Lisa Santangelo. Daley asked the democratic Common Council members to stand and join him in the nomination praising Santangelo's experience, energy, contributions to the last election and her local community involvement.  He assured his fellow Democrats that she will work at the local level to get Democrats from Middletown elected to local and state offices.

A coin flip determined the order of speaking for the two nominees, who both had the preference to speak last, but not before Mr. Russo deferred to Santangelo by saying, "ladies first."

Mr Russo was the first to speak and made a point of defending the secret ballot. He followed this by noting that the Democratic Team had great accomplishments during his tenure, without noting them specifically. He took time to cite what he called an attack on his leadership made in a February letter, sent by the Democratic members of the Common Council.  He stated he did not respond to the attacks at the time in deference to the Kleen Energy tragedy. Russo said he and others on the DTC where outraged by the letter and that it was wrong and inappropriate. He accused the Democrats of the Common Council of wanting a chair they would be able to control, thus guaranteeing their elections in perpetuity.

Ms Santangelo's words to those assembled was short and succinct by comparison. First she stated that she likes to follow rules, and will follow the rules. She made it clear that she was asked to run for chair.  In terms of her qualifications she noted her training as a Communications Mediator, as well as a host of other past experiences in politics (of which I was not quick enough to list). Santangelo noted that there was a lack of financial support and fundraising efforts for candidates running for office in the last election, and that she would work hard to change this in the next election round. She ended her address by stating she would breathe life back into this body, and work to bring independents back to the democratic fold.
After another short go round of parliamentary squabbling, each DTC member was called to come forward, receive a ballot, and cast a vote into the "ballot box." After careful scrutiny of the vote count, Santangelo was named the chair, with a vote of 33 to 30.

Lisa Santangelo
Gracious in defeat, Russo as well as his supporters vowed to support Santangelo and to do the work of the democratic team, and help to win offices in November and in the next Mayoral election. He offered congratulations to Santangelo, and then thanked those who have supported him over last six years, stating "let us move forward together."

Common Council member Tom Serra thanked Russo, stating that though he disagreed with him on many things, he appreciated his hard work on behalf of the DTC and commitment to the party.

"We have lots of work to do,"  Santangelo said in her first statement as chair. Before adjourning the meeting, she set some dates for fund-raising events and oversaw the approval of the slate of delegates for the 2010 Nominating Convention.

Sonnet Slam April 8

From ArtFarm

The four hundredth birthday of the publication of Shakespeare’s sonnets may have come and gone, but ARTFARM is going to “party like it’s 1599” anyway. For the second straight year, this Middletown-based theater company will be staging a Shakespeare Sonnet Slam and Elizabethan Bash!, and this time WNPR’s Colin McEnroe will be helping out the cause as “Celebrity Host” for the event.

The Shakespeare Sonnet Slam will be held on Thursday, April 8 at 7 pm at Kidcity Children’s Museum in Middletown. The public is invited to come enjoy a raucous sixteenth century party, including period music, food, drink, Elizabethan celebrities and, of course, an array of performances based on Shakespeare’s sonnets.

The Sonnet Slam is a Shakespeare Poetry Slam & Performance Event first held last year to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the original publication of Shakespeare's Sonnets. 

Performers of all ages will bring their artistry to one of the Bard’s 154 sonnets, including professional actors from around Connecticut. The recitals will include a variety of theatrical elements -- from singing and dancing to puppets and “circus” sonnets. Additionally, wandering performers will engage the audience in Shakespearean insult contests, and guests will have the opportunity to experience a royal audience – and photo opportunity - with Queen Elizabeth I.

“The Sonnet Slam is the artistic centerpiece”, says ARTFARM Artistic Director Marcella Trowbridge, “but the entire museum will be turned into an Elizabethan Festival. Shakespearean characters and Elizabethan royalty will be working the crowd. Joseph Getter and Mick Bolduc of the “Shakespeare in the Grove” band will be playing period music as the audience arrives. Local musical icon Bob Alexander will be performing on the electric harpsichord. Of course there will be plenty of wonderful food and drink, donated by local merchants and individuals and served up by elegantly costumed actors. People can get involved in a number of ways, depending on their comfort level -- perform a sonnet, sponsor a performer, or simply attend the event. Even though the Shakespeare Sonnet Slam is a fund raising event to support ARTFARM’s Shakespeare in the Grove 2010 production of As You Like It, at $14 per person it is the entertainment bargain of the sixteenth century.”

To perform in the Shakespeare Sonnet Slam individuals must solicit generous patrons to “sponsor” their sonnet performances by making donations in support of Shakespeare in the Grove. Sponsorships are in multiples of fourteen – in honor of the fourteen lines of a sonnet. Prizes will be awarded to the performers with the highest patronage totals, and each performer who raises more than $500 in sponsorships will be entered into a drawing for a week in a vacation house on the Maine coast.

Tickets to the Elizabethan Bash! are $14 and include tickets for two drinks. Sonnet performers are admitted to the Elizabethan Bash! for free, but must register with ARTFARM by April 5 in order to perform. 

ARTFARM’s Shakespeare in the Grove has been providing free, professional outdoor Shakespeare to central Connecticut audiences since 2006. This year’s production of Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It will be held July 8 to 18 overlooking the Connecticut River Valley at Middlesex Community College.

Kidcity Children’s Museum is located at 119 Washington Street in Middletown. For more information, including Shakespeare Sonnet Slam guidelines and sponsor forms, go to If you have questions, call ARTFARM at (860) 346-4390 or email

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Democratic Town Committee, Historic Election Result

DTC officers for 2010. The New Chair, Lisa Santangelo; standing

Elizabeth (Lisa) N.W.  Santangelo was elected Chair of the Democratic Town Committee (DTC) tonight by three votes over incumbent Dan Russo: a 33-30 vote. Following the vote, it was noted by standing ovation that Ms Santangelo would be the first woman in Middletown's DTC history to hold this position. Uncontested elections went to
Vice Chair: Anne M  Tommasi (on the left of Santangelo,)
Treasurer: Grady L. Faulkner Jr. (on the far left)  Secretary: Sandra L. Farcaci (to the right of Santangelo).
Common Council Members: Lt; Vincent Loffredo, Rt; Thomas Serra
 While the meeting got off to a very contentious start, with heated debate as well as raised voices over how to proceed with the vote for chair and treasurer, it ended cordially with thank-yous all-round to the former Chair, and Treasurer of the DTC, and a promise to work together on fundraising and supporting the election of Democrats in the coming November election.
More details of the meeting to follow.

Escapee Taken Into Custody

From the Middletown Police Department

At approximately 1415 hours, Christopher Burgos was located and taken into custody by Middletown and CVH Police in the area of Bielfield School on Maynard Street. 

At the time of the arrest the school was closed due to a pre-scheduled early dismissal. 

Police Searching for Escapee

Middletown Police are searching for Christopher Burgos who escaped from CVH at approximately 1050 this morning.  At the time of the incident, Burgos was being transported by Riverview  personnel for routine medical treatment at 520 Saybrook Road. 

Burgos is 18 years old, Hispanic male last seen wearing jeans, black sneakers and a black hoodie.  He is 5’9”, 150 lbs. 

Middletown Police are being assisted by CVH Police and the Connecticut State Police in this search.  One K9 team is being utilized along with a CSP airplane.

Burgos is described as very aggressive and has impulsive tendencies.  He should be considered dangerous.  His last know address is in West Hartford, CT.  A photograph of Burgos is available and will be sent via email.  Copies of the photograph are also available at the Police Department front desk.

Residents are urged to contact the police if they see an individual matching Burgos’ description.

Seussical Junior at High School

WWMS presents Seussical Jr at the MHS, March 25, 26, 27

Seussical JR comes to the new Middletown High School this weekend.  The musical is being presented by the Woodrow Wilson Middle School Drama Club and boasts a cast of over 40 talented singers, dancers, and actors.  The family-friendly production runs Thursday and Friday (March 25 and 26) and then again Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

The popular drama program drew so many willing participants that several key roles have been double cast and different actors will feature in different roles over the course of the three days of performances.  The cast, adorned in wild wigs and imaginative costumes, bring to life many of Seuss' most beloved characters in a plot that interweaves several stories.  The story is largely based on the book "Horton Hears a Who" and follows the hero, Horton, through many trials and tribulations to rescue the "Whos" that only he can hear.

Andrew Gilliland stars as Horton, Nick Maturo as the Cat in the Hat, Haley McDonald and Joanne Sheehy as Jojo, and many others round out the 7th and 8th grade cast.  Tickets are available at the door and cost  $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.

The Middletown High School auditorium can be reached through the parking lot to the right of the building as you approach from LaRosa Lane off Newfield Street. 

Pub Crawl For Kleen Family Fund

Main Street-Middletown, CT
3pm to 9pm

3pm-Gatekeeper's Tavern
(featuring The Gatekeepers Band & Friends)
4pm-Hair of the Dog Saloon
5pm-Nikita’s Bar & Bistro
6pm-La Boca Cantina
7pm-Firehouse Steakhouse and Halligan Taproom
8pm-The Shadow Room
(featuring Singer/Songwriter Tommy Lourdes-Hartford Advocate Best Solo Acoustic Nominee 2009)

*6 bars to represent the 6 people who have passed on and left us with their honorable memory*


PICK UP YOUR $20 T-SHIRT NOW AT MANY OF THE ABOVE PARTICIPATING ESTABLISHMENTS AND JOIN US IN SUPPORTING THE CAUSE (All proceeds will be held by establishments until we come together to decide how we would like to support these families affected by the tragedy...suggestions are welcome)
We will be starting the KRAWL at Gatekeeper’s Tavern, 73 Ferry St. (right off Main St.). Donation buckets will be placed at each bar. AS WELL, there will be Ambassadors at each location to facilitate the progression of the KRAWL. When the whistle blows, the KRAWL moves to the next location. Feel free to jump into the flow anywhere along the way. All bars will have a map of KRAWL 4 KLEEN route available. We are also incorporating a "card run" for fun and to keep it interesting. Buy a drink, get a card, yours could be the lucky one to win cocktails for two, free appetizers and more. Please join us in positive support of the families who have been deeply affected by the tragedy at the Kleen Energy Power Plant in Middletown, CT. Krawl 4 Kleen Family Fund is a beneficial collaborative effort our community can be proud of.
LOGO and T-SHIRT DESIGN BY LOCAL ARTOGRAPHER RAE DIMAURO JACOBUCCI of RDJ DIGITAL-we would like to thank her for her talents! We look forward to seeing you there in good spirit and thank you for your support.

Facebook invite link:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Turkish Music: A Different Sound World

This is an excerpt from CFA Director Pamela Tatge’s blog

“You enter a different sound world,” says Wesleyan’s Private Lessons Teacher and renowned guitarist, Cem Duruöz, when describing the music of his homeland, Turkey. “The scales and rhythms are uniquely intricate and beautiful. I grew up hearing them on my mother’s radio.” This Saturday, Duruöz will give the pre-show talk prior to the final Crowell Concert Series performance of the year, a concert by the Boston-based Turkish music ensemble, Dünya.

According to Professor of Music Mark Slobin, Turkish music is “one of the great art musics of the Middle Eastern complex that includes Arabic and Persian music and dates back many centuries.” Slobin’s former student, Robert Labaree, who received his Phd from Wesleyan in 1989, founded Dünya and is also chair of the music history department at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Slobin describes his dissertation as a “pioneering comparison of medieval music and Middle Eastern music examined through the songs of the troubadour.”

Saturday, March 27, 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
Pre-concert talk at 7:15pm by Cem Duruöz

Visit the Center for the Arts blog to read the full story.

Forklift Accident at Plastic Design International

From the Middletown Police Department

On 03-24-10, at approximately 12:00 am, the Middletown Police and the Westfield Fire Department responded to 111 Industrial Park Road, Plastic Design International Company for the report of a fork lift that overturned pinning its operator. 

Upon arrival, responders found the operator pinned underneath the forklift.  The operator was alleged to have been driving the machine down the driveway to said address where it appeared that he lost control of the forklift causing it to roll over.  Westfield Fire Department deployed the use of air bags to lift the forklift.  The operator was then freed from under the forklift and stabilized by medical personnel.  The operator was then transported to the Hartford Hospital via LifeStar.

The scene was turned over to Middletown Detectives and OSHA for further investigation. 

The operator’s condition is critical at this time.   

Moving to Macdonough: One Family's Opinion


Living downtown, it's never made much sense to me that my kids should attend Farm Hill School, on the other side of town.   But given the reputation of the school they should have attended when they started, Macdonough, I was glad that they were assigned to Farm Hill.

Reputation.  It's a difficult thing to live down.

But the reputation of Macdonough needs to change, because it's not the school it was 15, or 10 or 5 years ago.

Macdonough now competes with all other Middletown schools in achievement and test scores, a fact most Middletown residents find convenient to ignore.

The reputation of the "old" Macdonough no longer holds true.

With redistricting, several sets of children from relatively affluent families who are concerned about educational values, and deeply involved in the lives of their children, are slated to attend Macdonough.  Many of these children are also caucasian, and that fact will help equalize the racial balance in a school where racial balance was out of whack using whatever measure you choose.

Four years ago Macdonough was at an undeniable, dismal low.  It's a shameful fact that performance at the school was below measurable standards.  Kids at Macdonough were not learning, and were destined for failure.  And shame on most of us because we didn't care about "that" school, in "that" neighborhood, and "those" families.

Enter Principal Jon Romeo.

New Play Premieres at Oddfellows

On Thursday evening, Oddfellows Playhouse Junior Repertory Company presents the world premiere of The Hans Christian Andersen Day School presents “Cinderunzelstilskin.” In this fanciful new play, written by local playwright Matthew Pugliese, Lorra Carey directs an ensemble of 17 talented actors, ages 12-14, from throughout central Connecticut.

This comic tale of fairytale economics is a little bit Cinderella, a little bit Rapunzel, and a lot of confusion. While the end may never be in doubt, it is the journey that provides the enjoyment for both actors and audience. This is a comedy that will entertain the whole family.

A “can-can” preview of Cinderunzelstilskin will be performed on Thursday, March 25 at 7 pm. Audience members are asked to bring a canned or nonperishable food item for the Amazing Grace food pantry. Additional performances are on Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27 at 7:30 pm. All performances are at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, Middletown, CT. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. For more information or reservations, please call (860) 347-6143.