Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Man Charged With Assault

From the Middletown Police Department

On 6/27/10 the Middletown Police Department received a third party complaint regarding a past assault.  The witness stated that he was on the phone with the victim and that a male then got on the phone asking who was on the phone, then the line went dead. The male was later identified as the accused, Robert McLellan. The witness later saw the victim, who had bruises on her neck and wrists.  The victim told the witness that the accused, Robert McLellan tried to choke her and threatened to kill her.  

Officers then went to the victim’s  house and spoke with her regarding the incident with McLellan.   The victim stated that McLellan somehow got into her apartment, she told McLellan to leave because there was a restraining order against him.  McLellan then grabbed her cell phone, pushed her into the bathroom and held the door shut.  McLellan then entered the bathroom, threatened to kill her and grabbed her neck.  The victim was able to get her cell phone back and McLellan left. 
The victim had visible bruising on her neck and both arms. 

McLellan was located in the area and arrested.  McLellan was held on a $50,000 bond and given a court date of 6/28/10. 
McLellan was charged with: 
Assault 3rd 53a-61
Criminal Violation of a Restraining Order 53a-223b
Threatening 2nd 53a-62
Criminal Trespass 1st 53a-107
Interfering with an emergency call 53a-183b
Strangulation 2nd 53a-64bb
Unlawful Restraint 2nd 53a-96

Suzio Fundraiser to be Held

Middletown Republicans are proud to announce on July 8th at 5:30pm an event will be held for Len Suzio who is running for State Senate in the 13th district.  State GOP Chair Chris Healy will be the special guest.  The event will begin at 5:30pm and be held at the Small Barn on Long Hill Road.
"Middletown needs a change in our state delegation, we continue to be shorted every session.  Len, having served on the Meriden BOE for 14 years including several years as vice-chair is a proven leader who will help Middletown at the capital not hurt us"  said Ryan Kennedy chair of the events host committee.

The event will start at 5:30pm; with light snacks being provided.  Chairman Healy along with many other candidates are expected to be in attendance.

The 13th district includes Middletown , Middlefield, Cheshire, and Meriden.  The events host committee is Board of EducationMember Ryan Kennedy, City Council Members David  Bauer, Deborah Kleckowski  and
Cable Advisory Chairman Jon Pulino.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

iPod Attack

From the Middletown Police Department

Arrested:  Michael DiMauro

34 Aston Lane, Middletown, CT


53a-60 Assault 2nd  (2 counts)
53a-60b Assault 2nd Victim 60+
53a-182 Disorderly Conduct

On June 26, 2010 at approximately 8:17am  Middletown Police officers were dispatched to Batt St on the report of a domestic assault.  The accused Micheal DiMauro went to his grandmother’s home to retrieve a borrowed ipod and some money that was taken from him by his brother. DiMauro’s brother told him he did not have the ipod.  DiMauro was upset and went outside grabbed a metal pipe that was approximately five feet long and started swinging it at his brother.  The brother and the brother’s girlfriend were both struck in the arm and seriously injured due to blows from the pipe.  DiMauro’s grandmother tried to break up the fight and was knocked to the ground and seriously injured her leg.   All three victims were transported to Middlesex Hospital for treatment.

DiMauro was located at his residence and arrested on the above charges and held on a $25,000 bond with at court date of 6/28/10.

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days & Nights of Summer

After last weekend's busy schedule of events in the area, Wesleyan throws its artistic hat in the ring with CFA Days and Nights, a series of talks, concerts and a film series.  As you will read, there's other things to do as well.

The fun on campus starts today (Tuesday June 29) with an "Arabic Music Lecture-Demonstration" at 12:10 p.m. in the CFA Hall (sorry for the short notice.) Violinist/vocalist/composer Sami Abu Shumays (pictured left), a member of the Arabic-American ensemble Zikrayat, will perform and discuss different musical styles (including maqam) and get the audience involved.  Zikrayat just issued its 2nd CD, "Cinematic", a mix of new music and re-arrangements of popular songs and dance instrumentals from Egyptian movie musicals of the 1950s & 60s.  The event is free and open to the public.  The CFA Hall is the old CFA Cinema, located next to the Zilkha Gallery.

 Also tonight, the Summer Sounds on the South Green begins its annual Tuesday concert series (running through September 7) with the first of 2 appearances by the Middletown Symphonic Band. Music Director Marco Gaylord will conduct his charges through a program that wil feature musi from the classic "South Pacific."  The concert, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m.  In the instance of rain, the program moves indoors to South Congregational Church.

Thursday July 1:
The Luis Lopez Herb Garden Series begins its Summer 2010 run at 6 p.m. with the Hartford-based Shaded Soul. A hip-shaking and smooth blend of Motown, Stax, rock and roll and more is on the group's musical agenda.  The vocalists are sharp and the musicians know how to stoke the rhythmic fire so be prepared to dance.  The Garden is located at the corner of Main & Green Streets. The event is free and open to the public - in case of rain, the show will take place on August 5. 

The Annual CFA Courtyard Concert takes place on this evening and 7 p.m. and it's a good one.  Burkina Electric, a sextet that blends traditional West African music with contemporary electronica, will fill the Courtyard (off High Street next to the Davison Art Center) will many fascinating sounds. The band is comprised of Maï Lingani, a star in Burkina Faso because of her unique voice and charismatic stage presence, sings in Moré, Dioula, Bissa, and French. Wende K. Blass, one of Burkina's premier guitarists, contributes soulful guitar melodies. Electronicist/VJ Pyrolator has been one of Germany's most inventive pop musicians and a top producer ever since the days of the "Neue Deutsche Welle" some 25 years ago as a founding member of bands D.A.F. and Der Plan, while New York-based drummer/electronicist Lukas Ligeti is one of the most up-and-coming concert music composers internationally. Known for his nonconformity, diverse interests, and imagination, he has received commissions from prominent groups such as the Kronos Quartet and the Bang on a Can All Stars. Vicky and Zoko Zoko are skilled dancers/choreographers who bring high energy and sharp moves, and also contribute powerful vocals. The music swirls, the costumes are colorful, the sound exciting and the event is free!!  In case of rain, the concert moves indoors to the CFA Theater.

Here's a taste of the group's sound (courtesy of IODA Promonet:
Sankar Yaaré (mp3)

Also, the annual Naturalization Ceremony takes place at 1 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Middletown City Hall. Presided over (this year) by the Honorable Warren W. Eginton, Senior District Judge, United States District Court, District of Connecticut, the event is a wonderful affirmation of the freedom and liberties people seek by coming to the United States (and that many of us take for granted.) The new citizens come from around the world, including Albania, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Germany, India, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.  

Bysiewicz Rules Out Mayoral Bid

Susan Bysiewicz quite forcefully said she had no intention of running for Mayor of Middletown, "I endorse Dan Drew." Bysiewicz is the Secretary of the State and former candidate for Governor and Attorney General, Drew was the Democratic nominee for Mayor in 2009, losing to incumbent Seb Giuliano. Shortly after hearing Bysiewicz' endorsement, Drew said "I am strongly considering [another run for Mayor]," in 2011.

Bysiewicz and Drew, along with other Democratic Party leaders from Middletown and other communities in the area, were at a reception at Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford, to thank supporters of her recent campaigns for Governor and Attorney General.

Bysiewicz was responding to a story in The Eye which reported that one of many options which she 'had not ruled out' was running for Mayor of Middletown. When she spied this Eye reporter at Monday's function, she immediately announced her endorsement of Drew. With a mixture of bemusement and irritation, each said the Eye article caused them to receive a flood of messages asking about the possibility of a Mayor Bysiewicz.

Disclosure: I was invited to the function as a past supporter of the Bysiewicz gubernatorial campaign.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stabbing at Gigi's Cafe

From the Middletown Police Department

On 06/26/10 at approximately 1:32 am, the Middletown Police Department was notified by the staff at the Middlesex Hospital Emergency Department that a reported stabbing victim had just been dropped off by another individual who left immediately. A short time later it was learned that a brief altercation between two men had taken place outside of Gi-Gi’s Café, located at the corner of East Main Street and Flower Street. Patrol Units responded to the area of Gi-Gi’s Cafe, where a possible crime scene was identified.  There were no witnesses or suspects located at that time. 

The initial investigation found that one of the two individuals involved in the altercation sustained injuries which appear to be the result of a stabbing.  The victim that was dropped off at Middlesex Hospital was transported to Hartford Hospital via Life-Star, where he is currently being treated for his injuries and is listed in stable condition.  The initial investigation has found that the individuals involved in the altercation knew each other and that the assault was not a random act.  The names of the two individuals are not being released at this time, due to the on-going investigation. 

The incident is being investigated by the Middletown Police Department Major Investigations Unit. Any witnesses or individuals with information which could assist in the investigation are asked to contact the Middletown Police Major Investigations Unit at (860) 344-3240.     

Kleen Energy Hearing: OSHA Regulations Urgently Needed, None Currently in Place

"I was in the chemical industry for 35 years and I would have never thought of using high-pressure gas to purge a line," said John Bresland after a hearing in City Hall Monday.

Bresland is a member of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, and it's chair until two days ago.

"It's puzzling for me why you would spend $1 billion to build a plant and then three weeks before it's completed use a process that would blow it up," he added.

Bresland's puzzlement was a reinforcement of his testimony before a Congressional sub-committee which met in Middletown's City Hall Monday.   The Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor met in council chambers and was chaired by Representative Joe Courtney, who invited Connecticut representatives Rosa Delauro, Chris Murphy and  John Larson to join him.  The subcommittee convened a panel which included Breslan, Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, Jodi Thomas - the wife of pipefitter Ron Crabb who was killed in the explosion, Alan Nevas - the chair of the Governor's Kleen Energy Systems and Explosion Origin and Cause Panel, and Professor Glenn Corbet of John Jay College, a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and South District Fire Chief Edward Badamo.

No Regulations, No Oversight

Experts testifying before the committee made it clear, again and again, that there were no regulation on the books that prohibited Kleen Energy or its subcontractors from using high-pressure natural gas to purge gas lines.

"The gas blow procedure is inherently unsafe," Courtney said, in convening the subcommittee.  "There is no law, standard, regulation or code to regulate gas blows."

"I wasn't aware that there was such a procedure," Bresland testified.  "And I was quite shocked to find there was such a procedure."

Bresland later explained that electric generating plants using gas turbines were a relatively new technology, and that there was a "steep learning curve" for regulating agencies.  His replacement as chair of the , Rafael Moure-Eraso, agreed.

Tonight's Chemical Safety Board Hearing on Kleen Energy Explosion in Portland

From the CSB
Middletown, Connecticut, June 28, 2010 – U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) board members are slated to vote tonight on a series of 18 urgent recommendations aimed at preventing fires and explosions caused when fuel gas is used to clean or purge gas pipes of debris, air, or other substances, typically during facility construction andmaintenance.

The CSB public meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Saint Clements Castle conference facility, 1931 Portland-Cobalt Road, Portland, Connecticut, (860) 342-0593. The public is invited; no prior arrangements are needed. Attendance is free and there will be ample seating and free parking.

The recommendations - directed to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and others, result from extensive CSB investigations into the February 7, 2010, explosion at the Kleen Energy power plant in Middletown that caused six deaths and multiple injuries, and the June 9, 2009, explosion at the ConAgra Foods Slim Jim plant in Garner, North Carolina, that killed four workers and injured 67.

The accident at Kleen Energy occurred during the planned cleaning of natural gas piping during the commissioning and startup phase of construction. Natural gas was forced through large piping that was to fuel the plant’s large electricity-generating gas turbines, in an operation called a “natural gas blow.” This gas was vented directly to the atmosphere from open pipe ends that were less than 20 feet off the ground and were located in congested areas adjacent to the power generation building.

CSB investigators obtained gas company records showing some two million standard cubic feet of natural gas were released to the atmosphere during gas blows on February 7—enough, the CSB calculated, to provide heating and cooking fuel to a typical American home every day for more than 25 years. The gas found an ignition source and exploded.

In the CSB proposed recommendations, OSHA is urged to pass regulations that would prohibit the use of natural gas for pipe cleaning, the cause of the explosion at Kleen Energy, and would prohibit the venting or purging of fuel gas indoors, the cause of the explosion at the ConAgra Slim Jim plant. Both explosions resulted from releases of natural gas during the installation and commissioning of new piping that led to gas-fired appliances.

OSHA is also urged to require that companies involve their workers andcontractors in developing safe procedures and training for handling fuel gas.

In testimony this morning at a field hearing before a subcommittee of the U.S House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, held in Middletown, CSB Board Member John Bresland said there is a “significant gap” in the current gas safety standards for general industry and construction, “a gap that threatens the continued safety of workers at facilities that handle flammable natural gas.”

An urgent recommendation directed at the NFPA urges the code-development organization to enact a tentative interim amendment as well as permanent changes to the National Fuel Gas Code that addresses the safe conduct of fuel gas piping cleaning operations. Under the draft recommendation, NFPA would be asked to remove key exemptions in the code for natural gas power plants and for high-pressure gas piping and to require the use of inherently safer alternatives to natural gas blows. CSB investigators determined that compressed air is a feasible and economical alternative to using natural gas for pipe cleaning and is already used by many companies.

Mr. Bresland told the House Committee, “At our CSB public meeting later this evening, I intend to vote for and support new urgent safety recommendations that we have developed, calling for OSHA to enact new regulations to control this hazard, and I will encourage the other Board members to do the same.

Other draft recommendations would seek related safety improvements from the State of Connecticut and other states, the leading gas turbine manufacturers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Electric Power Research Institute.

At the public meeting, newly appointed CSB Chairman Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso will preside; Dr. Moure and Mr. Mark Griffon were confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday June 23 and were commissioned by President Obama the following day.

The CSB investigation team, headed by Investigations Supervisor Don Holmstrom, will present a report on the Kleen Energy accident as well as a review of existing regulations applying to the practice of gas blows at power plants and general industry.

The Board will hear from two witness panels, including –

· Professor Paul Amyotte – Dalhousie University (Canada)
· Ervin Patterson – Commissioning Management Services, Inc.
· Larry Danner – GE Energy
· Representative Matthew Lesser – Connecticut House of Representatives
· Professor Glenn Corbett – John Jay College of Criminal Justice (New York)
· Michael Rosario – Local 777, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters
· Steven Schrag – Connecticut Council for Occupational Safety and Health

Following a public comment period in which any interested person may speak, the Board will vote on the recommendations. The CSB staff is expected to propose (subject to Board approval) that upon passage of the urgent recommendations, the Kleen Energy and ConAgra investigations would be concluded. Although no additional written report is planned beyond the statement of more than 60 factual findings, the CSB plans to develop a computer-animated safety video describing the two accidents and the recommendations for safety change.

Mr. Bresland told the House committee, “We believe that the 18 urgent recommendations proposed today – together with the two urgent recommendations we issued on February 4 – address all of the principal root causes of these two tragic accidents. If adopted by the recipients, I have no doubt that future accidents will be avoided and lives will be saved as a result.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website,

Kleen Energy Hearings Today

The Middletown Press and the Hartford Courant,0,7614132.story report that there will be a pair of hearings on the Kleen Energy explosion today.

The first, at 10 AM in City Hall, will be a Congressional hearing conducted by the Workforce Protection Subcommittee, the second, at 6:30 PM will be held at St. Clements in Portland, and is being conducted by The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Eye In the Sky: Army Reserve Training Center Construction

Photo provided by Barry Burke

Smith St. and Dainty Rubbish is at the bottom, I-91 is to the right, and The Galleria Home Center is at the top.

From 1995: Serra Opponents Could Run With Patronage Issue

The following article was published exactly 15 years ago today, appearing in the Hartford Courant on June 27, 1995. It was written by Bill Daley.
"Patronage" apparently is the dirty word of choice for both Republicans and dissident Democrats.

Those at a Republican town committee meeting Monday seemed poised to wage as big an attack on Mayor Thomas J. Serra's hiring record as Maria Madsen Holzberg, the mayor's challenger for the Democratic nomination.

"As far as patronage is concerned, I will not consider anything like that," said Emanuel Pattavina, the sole announced GOP candidate for mayor.

City hiring procedures have been a big issue for Holzberg, who on Monday called on Serra to hire a consulting firm to work on filling the town clerk's and building inspector's posts.

Greg Harris, a GOP committee member, took note of Holzberg's issues. The Republicans could draw on them if she loses a September primary to Serra, he said, but what if Holzberg wins? What themes could Republicans use? he asked.

Former Mayor Stephen Gionfriddo -- whose appointment as mayor after his predecessor stepped into the tax collector's job drew fire from Holzberg in 1993 -- conceded that the GOP would have a tougher time against Holzberg in the municipal election because she doesn't have a record to defend. He said Republicans would stress Pattavina's municipal track record while highlighting Holzberg's inexperience.

Pattavina is a former longtime Democratic councilman who turned Republican after being repudiated in 1993 by the Democrats for siding too often with the GOP on council votes.

Gionfriddo added that the Republicans could also seek to draw on disaffected Serra supporters, an idea Pattavina addressed with tongue firmly in check.

Pattavina noted that Democratic Town Chairman Bill Pillarella has announced that he won't support Holzberg if she wins the party primary. He thanked Pillarella in advance for his support.

Earle Roberts, a GOP committee member who attended Holzberg's announcement, said the Republicans need to focus on the issues of patronage and open government. He drew a sharp reaction from High Sheriff Joseph Bibisi when he mentioned Bibisi's hiring practices.

Bibisi's hires since he took office June 1 include a former Middletown police officer who has been accused of threatening another officer with a loaded gun.

"I have picked people who believe in my philosophy, my work organization," Bibisi said. "It is not patronage. It is choosing people who believe in your philosophy and work ethics. . . . There's a difference between patronage and reorganization."
The 1995 Democratic mayoral primary was hotly contested between incumbent mayor Serra and challenger Holzberg. Holzberg repeatedly attacked Serra's hiring record; the Courant reported that in their first debate, "Holzberg repeatedly accused the mayor of unnecessarily filling vacancies in city departments--often with friends, some of them politically connected--that would best go unfilled to save money. ... She said with the police vacancies, the mayor 'hired people with a history of assault and gambling.'" Serra, in turn, called his opponent "the minister of disinformation."

Holzberg won the primary by 173 votes. Serra, and some other Democratic Town Committee members refused to support Holzberg in the general election, which Holzberg won.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Community Health Center Promised $2.5 million in State Bonding

Governor Jodi Rell visited Middletown Friday to promise $2.5 million in state bonding toward the construction of the new headquarters and medical facilities for the Community Health Center.

"I know that $2.5 million is not going to build the building," Rell said.  "But I do know that this is the healthy shot in the arm, if you'll pardon the pun."

"$2.5 million won't get the job done," Mayor Sebastian Giuliano said echoing Rell. "But I predict that Mark will get the rest of it."

Giuliano was referring to Community Health Center CEO Mark Masselli, who spoke about the help and inspiration he and his staff have received from Middletown merchants, civic leaders and those who have helped make Middletown what it is.

He singled out Middlesex Chamber of Commerce president Larry McHugh for his inspiration.

"The governor says that you tell her that the sun always shines in Middletown," Masselli said pointing at McHugh.  "The sun in shines in Middlesex County because of you."

The center, when built, will employ 100 full time employees.  The Community Health Center has 170 locations across Connecticut and serves 100,000 patients annually.

Also attending the event were state Senator Paul Doyle, state Representatives Matt Lesser, Joe Serra, Chris Donovan and Jim O'Rourke, City Planner Bill Warner and Common Council member Vinnie Loffredo.

Cruise Night Award Winners

From the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce

Teresa Opalacz, Chairman of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and event Co-Chairmen Foster Charles and Norm LeBlanc announced the ten individual winners of the 13th Annual Cruise Night on Main awards.  There was a field of over 1,000 that were judged in the event, which drew 5,000 people to downtown Middletown.   It was held on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 on Main Street, Middletown and was presented by Town Fair Tire, Trantolo & Trantolo, and WDRC-FM.  The award winners are:

The Town Fair Tire Choice Award:  Bob Lehman of Portland – 1932 Ford roadster
Best in Show Award Presented by Trantolo & Trantolo:  Michael Cichon of Portland – 1967 Pro-Street Chevrolet Camaro
The DRC-FM People’s Choice Award:  Tom Melia of Portland – 1936 Ford cabriolet
The NAPA Know How Award:  Dennis Dagliere of North Haven – 1940 Ford Convertible
Liberty’s Choice Award presented by Liberty Bank:  Mark & Linda Mona of Windsor Locks – 1969 Dodge Charger
The Verizon Wireless Most Reliable Award:  Joe Sandella of Guilford – 1967 Chevrolet Impala
The Downtown Business District Main Drag Award:  Michael Marino of Middletown – 1964 Chevrolet Corvette
Frank Maratta’s Auto & Cycle Show Dream Machine Award:  Dave & Barb Hahn of Colchester – 1938 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery
The Stone Depot Della Terra Sweetest Ride! Award:  Bob Warenda of Niantic – 1934 Ford pickup
Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano’s Mayor’s Choice Award:  Vincent LaBella of Berlin – 1958 Chevrolet Corvette

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Church on High

The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved an application to convert the Polish National Home, at the intersection of Warwick and High Streets, into a church. The All People Community Outreach (APCO) ministry will purchase the building for their services and fellowship meetings. APCO has been meeting for 9 years in borrowed space, it currently meets in Bielefield Elementary School.

Attorney Michael Dowley, representing the applicant, told the Commission that since the Polish National Home is a non-conforming use (grandfathered into the neighborhood, it would not be automatically approved today), there was only one question, "Is this [APCO] use less intense than the use as the Polish National Home." He argued that since the Polish National Home hosts parties of up to 250 people, and at one time had as many as 750 members, while APCO has only 25 members, the answer was obvious.

Olga Gorey and Leon Klick, who are members of the religious groups currently using the Polish National Home, said that social clubs are not maintaining membership, "We just can't get young members to join." They argued that the conversion of the social club to a church was a good thing for the community. About 25 members of the public, mostly from the new church, attended the meeting to support the application.

Two residents of the neighborhood raised concerns about parking, and the possibility of a soup kitchen or homeless shelter being opened by the church.

Eunice Raynor, APCO pastor, said that the church was focused almost exclusively on outreach, "We are an outreach ministry. ... We don't plan to spend a lot of time in the building."
Dowley said that the church has a written agreement to be able to use parking at the mini-storage facility on Bretton, and thus has more parking available, for fewer members, than does the Polish National Home.

The Commission included an amendment to the application which restricted the use of the building to those uses included in the application. This requires the church to submit a new application in order to open a soup kitchen or homeless shelter in the building.

Other Business.
Chair of the Commission Quentin Phipps announced that the City of Middletown had officially dropped the lawsuit it had filed against the Planning and Zoning Commission over its approval of a zoning variance for the Public nightclub on Main Street (The Public went out of business despite P&Z approval).

Phipps invited discussion over the proposed ordinance aimed at making Middletown a more bicycle-friendly community. Planning Director Bill Warner said that a group of bicyclists who meet at Pedal Power to go on long rides had contacted members of the Common Council, and had appeared at the Economic Development Committee. EDC had supported an ordinance which was then discussed by Common Council. Council in turn asked for further review of the ordinance by a variety of commissions including the Ordinance Study Commission and the Public Works Commission.

Warner suggested that Public Works might object because under the ordinance all of their road projects would be subject to the advisory opinion of a committee championing bicycle traffic. He pointed to last summer's repaving of Wadsworth Street as an example where a bicycle committee might have insisted that sidewalks or bicycle lanes be added to allow residents to bike or walk to Wadsworth Park.

The Commissioners heard from Beth Emery, an Eye contributor and longtime advocate of alternative transportation; she said that support for alternative transportation came from more people than just the Pedal Power cyclists. There was cursory discussion about the ordinance, with Phipps cautioning against an ordinance which would aid a very small number of residents. He also said that he hoped that the purview of any bicycling committee would not duplicate the concerns of the P&Z.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Heroin Bust on Portland Street


On June 23, 2010 the Street Crime Unit with the assistance of the Detective Division and
the Patrol Division executed a Search and Seizure Warrant at the residence of 19 Portland
St. We had received numerous complaints concerning this address from concerned
citizens that reside in the area. Neighbors complained that a Hispanic male Jesus Otway
(AKA “Cheo” ) sells heroin out of the house at 19 Portland St. First Floor and was in
possession of several firearms. Detectives know Otway through several incidents, which
included a vehicle pursuit, assault on a police officer, and weapons in his motor vehicle.

The male target of our investigation Jesus Otway age 22 was taken into custody in
Killingworth on an unrelated outstanding warrant for Criminal Mischief Third degree.

Sijairy Huertas age 22 was located inside of the residence along with a young child.
Huertas was wanted for Failure to Appear Second Degree on a Criminal Mischief charge
out of West Hartford.

Located inside of the residence was a backpack, containing 16.1 grams of heroin with
a street value of over twelve thousand dollars. Also inside of the backpack was 4.9
grams of cocaine with a street value of over eight hundred dollars. There were numerous
amounts of packaging materials including plastic bags, wax paper folds, scales, sealers,
sifters, cutting agents, and measuring devices.

There was also a stolen motor vehicle located in the rear of the residence at 19 Portland
St., which had various front end parts removed from it. Located in one of the bedrooms
at 19 Portland St. were several pieces of the vehicle including the headlights, the front
bumper, and the front quarter panels. An arrest warrant for Otway for the stolen motor
vehicle is forthcoming.

The Department of Children and Families was contacted as the narcotics that were
located inside of the residence were accessible to the child. DCF responded to the scene
at 19 Portland St. as their investigation is still ongoing.

Jesus Otway was subsequently arrested for the following charges and held on a
$400,000.00 Bond as he is a flight risk:
  • Possession of Narcotics
  • Possession of Narcotics With Intent to Sell
  • Possession of Narcotics With Intent to Sell within 1500’ of a School
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Operating a Drug factory
  • Risk of Injury to a Minor

Sijairy Huertas was subsequently arrested for the following charges and held on a
$200,000.00 Bond:
  • Possession of Narcotics
  • Possession of Narcotics With Intent to Sell
  • Possession of Narcotics With Intent to Sell within 1500’ of a School
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Operating a Drug factory
  • Risk of Injury to a Minor
Any citizens willing to give information concerning possible illegal activities are
encouraged to contact Sgt. Rich Davis of the Street Crime Unit at (860) 344-3259. All
information will remain anonymous.

Auto Love on Main

It was gloriously bumper to bumper with lovingly maintained cars and pickups on Main Street. The annual Cruise Night drew thousands downtown to admire the chromed beauties.
Two photos are from Brian Stewart.

Buttonwood Buzz

submitted by Anne-Marie Cannata:

Friday night at The Buttonwood Tree folks of all ages came out for a good time. Children played games in the bookstore while the music from Anne and Pete Sibley danced in the air. The audience of over 40 was comprised of many newcomers to Middletown - friends of the Sibleys and TBT regulars as well. The voices of Anne and Pete were so well harmonized and in synch that one patron who frequents TBT said it created an atmosphere more intimate than he ever felt in the room before. They invited on stage their friends Rani Arbo and Scott Kessel who played a violin and cardboard box, respectively - adding another level of complexity to the music and a light camaraderie that was enjoyed by all. Saturday night Noah Baerman and the Sunna Gunnlaugs Quartet had the house packed with Jazz fans, many experiencing their first show at TBT. It was quite some awesome music! By their applause and comments, it seemed everyone had a great time, especially our lucky raffle winner who went home with a $100. gift certificate from Malloves Jewelers. Thank you, Malloves and all of our supportive friends. Sunday night the house was ROCKIN' with the Yiddish Princess - and I'm not kidding! I don't speak Yiddish, but I loved the sounds they belted out, and the dancing in the aisle was a kick! Tom Monaghan always brings us a treat - crazy fun and wildly different.

Bill Ward

I was saddened to read this morning of the passing of William "Bill" Ward.  Longtime member of the Wesleyan faculty, Bill was Professor of Theater and Design from 1969 until his retirement in 1998.  Creative, quiet, responsive, and caring, he was a person one could talk to without feeling inferior. Bill really understood his craft and could communicate that knowledge in a succinct manner.  And he did impressive work for the various Wesleyan directors he worked with, from Ralph Pendleton to Fritz DeBoer to Bill Fransisco to Gay Smith and many others. Students had great respect for his understated style and he enjoyed teaching how to design and build sets.

According to the obituary printed in today's Middletown Press (read it here), there is no funeral service or calling hours planned. One expects there will be a Memorial Service at Wesleyan in the near future.

Our thoughts go out to his wife Mary, his daughters Jennifer, Karen and Laurie, and his 7 grandchildren. 

City Officials Advocate City Taking Lead Role In Omo Cleanup: Could Cost Millions

 (Attorney Diane Whitney addresses the Common Council.)

"This is a case where there's bad news, and there's worse news," said Attorney Diane Whitney, an expert in environmental cleanup,  addressing serious contamination on what has come to be known as the Omo site on Walnut Street in Middletown.  "First we have this site, and Middletown has done some of this contamination.  And the worse news, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is coming."

The Common Council held a workshop on the cleanup of the site in a special meeting Tuesday, and members were urged by Whitney, who represents JR Marino, current owner of the property, City Planner Bill Warner and City Attorney Tim Lynch to take the lead in the cleanup and relieve the Federal EPA of the responsibility for cleanup.

(Environmental expert Amy Vaillancourt.)

Could Cost Millions

"It is certainly not pleasant, and it's going to cost Middletown millions of dollars," Warner said.  However, he argued that by using a surgical strategy in the cleanup, the city could save millions over what it would cost for a cleanup directed by the EPA and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Safety.  That cleanup, which would include a remediation of PCBs on the site, and a capping of the site by scraping four feet of earth on the site and replacing it with clean fill, would cost, at a minimum of $15-20 million.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Farmers Market Starts July 2

We're getting ready to start the 2010 season for the North End Farmers Market on Main St.

We have an amazing group of farms this year including Cicarelli Farms from Northford, George Hall (Ogre Farms) Organic Farm from Simsbury, Beckett Farms, Chaplin Farms, Gotta's Farm, Roses Berry Farm and Beltane Farms.

Additionally, there will be guest vendors each week selling soaps and other gift items. We'll have samples, recipes and more!

If you'd like to volunteer to help make the market a success, please contact NEAT at 860-346-4845 or

Otherwise, just prepare yourself to shop!!

Accident on Saybrook Road

From the Middletown Police Department

On Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at approximately 12:21 P.M., a motor vehicle collision occurred on Saybrook Road at Aircraft Road. 

The preliminary investigation indicates that a 2007 Ford  E250 van, operated by Eugene Hightower, age 34, of Waterbury, was traveling in a northerly direction on Saybrook Road, and was attempting to turn left onto the Route 9 on-ramp.  A 2007 Nissan Sentra, operated by Julie Boothroyd, age 21, of Higganum, was traveling in an easterly direction on the Route 9 off-ramp, attempting to turn left onto Saybrook Road.  The 2007 Ford and 2007 Nissan collided within the intersection. 

As a result of the collision, both Mr. Hightower and Ms. Boothroyd were transported to Middlesex Hospital and both are listed in stable condition.    

Witnesses to the collision are asked to contact Officer David Godwin of the Middletown Police Department’s Traffic Unit (860) 344-3264.

Rotary Awards Service Above Self Awards

 Left to Right- , Award Recipient Emma Soneson, Middletown Rotarian Jim Misenti and Award Recipient AJ Cosenza.

At a recent June meeting, Emma Soneson and AJ Cosenza were selected by the Middletown Rotary Club to receive the 2010 Service Above Self Awards. Since 1910, the Motto of Rotary has been “Service Above Self,” and the Middletown club annually recognizes a local student(s) who encourage and foster the ideal of service in their community.  Each recipient was given $300 from the Middletown Rotary in which they could pick a local charity to donate to; Soneson selected Doctors Without Borders organization, and Cosenza chose the YMCA Camp Ingersoll program.
Soneson, a sophomore at Haddam Killingworth (HK) High School, was nominated by Michael Malone, the pastor of First Congregational Church of Haddam.  According to Malone, “Emma’s involvement in so many different activities demonstrates her extraordinary commitment to volunteer service.”  Her outreach to the community includes participating in a county wide homeless awareness program, stocking food shelves at Amazing Grace, assisting with Sunday School, and supporting a child in Zambia through a monthly donation to the Christian Children’s Fund.  Last Christmas Soneson donated $100 in her parents name to restock a medical facility in Africa.  As a viola player in the Shoreline Youth Symphony Orchestra, she has also volunteered 15 hours to help younger musicians.
Cosenza, a sophomore at Xavier High School, was nominated by Sister Mary Dolan of St. Mary’s School of Religion in Portland.  In her nomination, Sister Dolan described Cosenza as an “outstanding, energetic, and responsible service provider.”  In the Parish Religious Education Program, Cosenza worked with a group anonymously to prepare foods, gifts, and general supplies for the needy elderly members of the community.   He has also been a volunteer team teacher for the third grade religious class. As a member of Xavier High School’s Ryken Service Society, he has volunteered at St. Vincent DePaul soup kitchen, participated in service projects at two Xavier retreats, and volunteered for the Head Start children’s program.  He has also helped at the Portland Fair for the past two years.  Cosenza received the Margaret Downey Scholarship Award for demonstrating Integrity, Hard Work, Respect, Character, Sensitivity and Willingness to help others. 
The Middletown Rotary Club meets every week at noon at First & Last Restaurant, plans and supports a wide variety of service activities, and has informative guest presentations. For more information, visit

Arts There & Here This Week

Wednesday June 23:
The 3rd Annual Riverwood Poetry Festival takes place from Wednesday through Sunday June 27 in venues throughout central Connecticut. 

Opening night takes place at 6:30 p.m. in the Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Avenue in Hartford.  "Traprock", a Noh play written by Middletown resident Jean-Ann Wertz (pictured left), will be presented as a staged reading with a cast of John Basinger, Tony Palmieri, Matthew Pollack and me with some fascinating original music and sounds by Michael Pestel.  The evening will also feature excerpts from "A Lesson Before Dying" written by Romulus Linney with a cast of Juming Delmas and Thomas Cornell. An Open Mike follows the staged readings.  To find out more, call 860-249-1207.

Subsequent readings and performances will take place in South Windsor (Thursday), West Hartford and Berlin (Friday), Middletown (Saturday) and Hartford (Sunday).  You can view the entire schedule (and it's an impressive one) by going to

Thursday June 24:
The Middletown Symphonic Band, Marco Gaylord, music director, presents a free concert at 7 p.m  outdoors at the Village at South Farms, 645 Saybrook Road in Middletown. The event is open to the public - in the instance of rain, the concert will take place on Thursday July 8.  For more information, call 860-344-8788.  To learn more about the MSB, go to

The Middletown Teen Theater presents "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in the Performing Arts Center at Middletown High School, LaRosa Lane.  The musical comedy, written by William Finn (music and lyrics) and Rachel Scheinkin (book), won 2 TONY Awards - the show features audience participation and some particularly funny songs.  For ticket information, go to

Friday June 24:
Thus begins a busy Summer weekend.  You can start in New Haven on the Green when ARTFARM's "Circus for a Fragile Planet" is presented at 1:45 p.m.  It's one of the free events at this year's International Festival of Arts & Ideas.  For more information, go to

The Greater Middletown Chorale presents "Summer Serenade", its 5th Annual Benefit Event, at 6 p.m. in the Wadsworth Mansion at the Long Hill Estate, 421 Wadsworth Street.  The evening will feature food, drink, music, a live auction, a special Lantern Lighting on the Lawn and more.  For ticket information, go to or call 860-633-6198.  

Cold Stone Creamery, Riverview Center, hosts "Raise the Roof", a fundraiser created by Artists for World Peace and the Good Hope Foundation (in Tanzania) to help raise funds to construct a roof for a community health center in Moshi, Tanzania.  The event will feature live music, African crafts and, of course, ice cream. The good folks at Cold Stone will donate 25% of their proceeds to the cause. One never needs a reason to eat ice cream but this is a very good one.  The event takes place from 6 - 9 p.m. 

The Buttonwood Tree presents Shawn Taylor & Wandering Roots in concert at 8 p.m. Taylor and band play original music that blends folk, country blues, bluegrass and more. To find out more and get a taste of the music, go to

Summer is here and the time is right for the Hot Steamed Jazz Festival.  The 18th Annual Festival, which raises money for the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Camp (started by Paul Newman) for children with life-threatening illnesses, has 4 sessions (Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon) and is loaded with great musicians.  This year features long-time favorites such as the Galvanized Jazz Band (pictured), the great boogie-woogie pianist Bob Seeley and saxophonist/clarinetist Dan Levinson plus a special appearance by composer/pianist William Bolcom and his wife Joan Morris.  To find out more, go to or call 1-800-348-0003. 

Adeline Pusz Hits Century Mark

Middletown resident Adeline Pusz celebrated her 100th birthday on June 17 at Middletown's Senior Center.

The Mayor's Thoughts For the Grads

Mayor Sebastian Giuliano's Speech to the Middletown High School Graduating Class of 2010

I am honored to take this opportunity to offer the greetings of the City of Middletown to Chairman Raczka and the Board of Education, to Dr. Frechette and the Administration of the Middletown School District, to Principal Fontaine and the faculty and staff of Middletown High School, to the families and friends but, mainly, to the members of the Class of 2010.

Tonight we celebrate the completion of your academic careers with Middletown schools.  Some of you have been with us since kindergarten, others have come in at various points along the way but, in a few moments, Dr. Frechette will certify that all of you have successfully completed the requirements and, with those words, you will be transformed from students into graduates.  You will then file across this stage, where each of you will be presented with the tangible documentary evidence of this achievement.  After that, it will be over.

You might not fully appreciate that particular fact until September.

For the first time in a long time, you will be facing something entirely new.  Whether you are bound for college or the workplace, your surroundings and associations will be different from those to which you have become accustomed.  Also, you will be challenged in ways you have not experienced.  I am sure that some of you are looking forward with great enthusiasm to what comes next; others are terrified by it.  If statistics are to be believed, most of you will simply go forward in the same mindset with which you have approached challenges in the past.  I urge you, however, not to become such a statistic.

It is easy to be lulled into complacency.  It takes far less effort to settle for mediocrity than to pursue excellence.  We all have our comfort zones.  We are prone to remain in circumstances that are familiar to us, even when we find those circumstances to be less than satisfying.  This is nothing new, nor is it unique to your age group.  Thomas Jefferson acknowledged the same when he wrote:
. . . [A]ll experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
So, if something as monumental as the American Revolution was as much an exercise in overcoming internal resistance to change as it was an open war against external oppression, then what would be different about any significant endeavor?  Your purpose, as you leave us, therefore, is to seek out challenges, face them squarely and overcome them - not avoid them.
You represent the ultimate expression of our educational system.  The whole apparatus - elementary school through middle school and high school - is designed to bring you to this point.  While we will no longer have the same direct influence over you in the days and years to come, you will take with you not only the technical skills, but the virtues we have imparted to you.  It is our hope that you will take everything we have offered you over the years and make the most and best possible use of it. This you should to in spite of whatever fear you may have, as courage is undoubtedly one of those virtues.

“Regret” must be the saddest word in the English language.  Mark Twain said that “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.”  You don’t want to be that person.  You don’t want to be approaching your 20th reunion thinking about missed opportunities and what might have been – regretting every occasion when you could have stepped out in faith but instead chose to retreat in fear, opting for the comfort of the status quo.

All of you have the potential for greatness.  What then, can hold you back from achieving it?  Only you yourself can.  Nelson Mandela, in his 1994 inauguration, quoted the essayist Marianne Williamson, from her 1992 work A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles”, as follows:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
So congratulations from the City of Middletown to the Blue Dragon Class of 2010.  Now, go forth from this time and place.  Invent, explore, learn, design, guide, cure, write, paint, sing, dance, fly, sail, build and create.  And don’t be afraid to tilt at a windmill or two.

Out of Proportion


I was among those who thought the construction of a gazebo in Union park a mistake, especially when the best defense that could be made for it was that it was an Eagle Scout project.  Others, who supported it, said that it could be used as a band shell in place of hauling the infamous Showmobile into the park for concerts.  But the size and placement of the gazebo made that notion impractical.

Despite my initial objections, I think the gazebo is actually a nice addition to the park, aesthetically, but I still think it's use as a practical shelter is limited.

However, the recent addition of a brass placard which hosts the name of every individual who gave a dollar to the project is, simply, hideous.

This is not a plaque which holds the name of veterans, or war dead, but an eternal thank-you to donors who ponied up to make the gazebo possible.

Giving thanks to donors is appropriate, of course, in a speech, or in an opening-day printed program, in a mayoral proclamation or on a temporary banner.  Yes, this is a time of quid pro quo naming rights, where millionaires who have earned fortunes by exploiting others give back to their communities, and to those they've exploited, with an gallery space,or a museum, or an educational building, or a performance venue, and expect to see their names in granite above the cornice.  I'm quite sure that no one who contributed to the building of the gazebo expected to see their names immortalized in bronze on a plaque which seems designed to outlive the gazebo it commemorates.

If a commercial entity wanted to erect a sign of this proportion (compared to the structure it adjoins), it would surely be a zoning issue.

I can imagine this bronze monstrosity is the well-intentioned product of an over-enthusiastic scout troop, and that enthusiasm can be appreciated, and the gesture forgiven...if the plaque is taken down and erected at Scout headquarters.

Sure, let it sit for a season so that all who help to raise the gazebo can feel good about their contributions, but by all means, let's get rid of the sign by next summer so we can appreciate the gazebo itself.

And if a plaque is needed, how about something tasteful, and small, that can be attached to one of the pillars of the gazebo itself.

Let's remove it to remind ourselves that generosity and philanthropy should be rewards in and of themselves, and that immortal thanks are not necessary to reward good deeds.  If anyone should recognize that, a scout should, because if a good deed every day were rewarded in this way, each scout would be carrying a backbreaking kit bag full of bronze.

And for those who will think that this complaint is out of proportion with the problem plaque, let's consider that it is the small details which make a city beautiful.  So whether it's the preservation of shade trees on Main Street (and don't get me started on the destruction of mature trees right across Main Street from the gazebo), or the effort to keep center-city walls free from graffiti, or the fight to diminish the amount of open-lot parking space, it's the details that add up to the image we project of ourselves to the rest of the world.

Congrats Grads!

It was a sunny, happy Monday night at Middletown High as some 250 seniors received their diplomas. Here are some photos of the graduates and their families.

Senior Summer Sizzler

Tuesday, June 29- Don’t miss the 4th Annual SENIOR SUMMER SIZZLER All-American Retro Picnic at Water’s Edge Center for Health & Rehabilitation, 111 Church Street, Middletown from 12Noon-2pm (will be held rain or shine- if weather is inclement, event will be moved inside).  All active adults and seniors (55 and older) are invited to join us for a FREE Picnic lunch, live music by Stan Scott and his band, and raffle prizes.  Call 860.347.7286 by June 23 to RSVP.

Monday, June 21, 2010

McConoughy Hall Demolition Underway

The demolition of the MoCon began on Friday. Project Manager Alan Rubacha told me that the building will be largely demolished by the end of the week, but that removal of the cement foundation will take much of the summer. Wesleyan plans to leave the resulting area as open space.

The Wesleyan dining hall, concert venue, and student meeting space was built in 1962. During its 48 years, MoCon has hosted appearances by Nina Simone, Martin Luther King Jr., Joan Crawford, Doc Watson, Gloria Steinem, and Norman Mailer, among many others.

Relay For Life

The Greater Middletown Relay For Life was held on Saturday, June 12 from 12 noon to Sunday, June 13 at noon, at the Woodrow Wilson Middle School Track on Hunting Hill Avenue with over 70 team sites with tents, lawn chairs and decorations.  There are over 900 pre-registered participants who took turns walking around the track for the duration of the Relay.  One person from each of the 70 teams was on the track at all times. Relay is a chance to Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back!

Opening Ceremonies began at 4:00 pm.  The Relay Committee of 2010 was introduced by Chairwoman Amy Hughes.  The National Anthem was sung by Kayla Land, with remarks from Honorable Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, Dr Michael Frechette Superintendent of Middletown Schools and Survivor Speaker Marilyn McAlee.

At 4:30pm, the first Lap of Relay For Life was the Survivor Lap.  Cancer Survivors came and walked the first lap with some in wheelchairs to be present to celebrate their survival.  This lap was lead by Girl Scouts Troup 62048. It is very emotional and hopeful to see so many people who DO survive cancer!  Following this lap, was the Caregiver lap with their Survivors.  A reception and dinner immediately followed to honor them.  Don Zywocinski played guitar during the dinner. CNX Radio Connecticut broadcasted live during the opening ceremonies and the Survivor reception.

In the evening at 8:30 pm, there was a Torch and Luminaria Ceremony.  The first lap was walked  with torches purchased to honor a survivor or in memory of a loved one.  Luminaria white bags with candles in each were placed around the track.  Each bag has a story to tell, each one is in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of someone who has lost their battle with cancer.  The candlelit bags lined the track and light the way for Relay For Life as participants walked throughout the night.  The Wilkos family spoke about having a son with cancer and how they are celebrating life.  There was a large screen with scrolled names of the local Survivors and the names of those who lost their battle with cancer.  Bagpipes were played and the mood was very solemn  

The weather was becoming very rainy and then lightening halted the Relay.  Emergency Management sent the participants to the school and then sent everyone home until the morning for their safety. 

The following morning participants returned at 8:00, The Fight Back Ceremony was held.  This ceremony was for all present to make a commitment to continue and remind each other that the fight is not over after this Relay.  Susan Myers spoke about being a caregiver for her son and how she has become involved with the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.  A  purple chain was held around the track to visually show the number of cancer survivors present in our area.  Flags were given to all to take as reminder to continue the fight against cancer.  Participants signed the fight back banner and received a fight back red bracelet.  Promises were written to promote early detection with testing, to support the research, education, advocacy and patient services vital to the mission of eliminating cancer through the American Cancer Society.

Closing Ceremonies begin at 11:00 am with drawings and awards.  The final Victory Lap was be lead by Committee Members and concluded the Greater Middletown Relay 2010.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Brunch

O'Rourke's Diner was packed with families this Father's Day morning.

On our way out, we counted the people in line. 40 people waiting, and just 40 seats inside!

From 1910: Supposed Body a Spoiled Cheese

The following article is from 100 years ago today, published in the Hartford Courant on June 20, 1910.

Most weeks, after combing through the archives of old newspapers looking for that special nugget, I transcribe the text from the scan of the old newspaper, to make it easier to read. This week I thought I might be accused of making it up (especially the title), so here is the original scan.

The papers of 100 years ago seem to be full of articles in the format, "So and so thought something really really bizarre was going on, but then he discovered it was actually nothing." I'm not sure what that says about Middletown, or journalism, in 1910, but it is a refreshing change from the journalism in the rest of these pages.

A Night of Melody, Musicianship and a Full House

Tonight (Saturday June 19), The Buttonwood Tree was packed to overflowing for 2 sets of jazz....yes, jazz. I know The Buttonwood only seats around 50 but Anne-Marie had to turn people away.

The large crowd showed for several reasons.  1) - Noah Baerman, Middletown resident and Jazz Ensemble Director at Wesleyan was on the bill.  2) - Owen McNally of The Hartford Courant wrote a laudatory essay about the headliner, Icelandic pianist/composer Sunna Gunnlaugs and her Quartet, and that caused Hartford-area jazz fans to sit up and notice. 

Instead of a review, let me get to the high points.  I've heard Noah play numerous times over the past 12 or 13 years but rarely better.  He's been dealing with the effects of Ehler-Danlos Syndrome for the better part of 2 decades - it's a connective tissue disorder that could, potentially, permanently end his ability to play piano.  Well, he must be feeling stronger because his playing tonight was full of fire, shading, powerful long lines that covered the keyboard.  The Buttonwood piano sounds great these days and so does Noah.

He played with Ms. Gunnlaugs' rhythm section, bassist Dan Fabricatore and her husband, drummer Scott McLemore. The bassist, a substitute for Eivind Opsvik, had a lovely, full, tone and played in a very melodic style - many bassists are time-keepers but Fabricatore, a friend of Noah's since their undergraduate years at Rutgers, does much more than that. All the tunes they played were ones that Baerman had composed in his sophomore year and had played some of them (in those days) with the bassist. I heard plenty of drummers in the Buttonwood but none played the room as well as McLemore.  It's easy for percussionists to be too loud in the intimate performance space yet McLemore, at times, was whisper-soft. Not content to just keep the beat, he created percussive backdrops, played melodic figures, used brushes many times hroughout the evening.

Ms. Gunnlaugs is also a fine musicians, with influences ranging from Icelandic folk tunes to Bill Evans to Keith Jarrett's European Quartet (of the 1970s and 80s.) Her melodies and harmonic sensibilities make the listener pay attention - she creates unique worlds within her songs.  The other lead voice in the Quartet is alto saxophonist Loren Stillman who digs deeply into the material and weaves solos of rapid-fire notes blended with keening sounds and, often, a light touch. The music was quite involved but never heavy-handed. 

Full house, fine music, good company - a large part of the success of this performance is that one can interact with the musicians, especially during the break or after the show.  They appreciate it, knowing that people are willing to take the time to attend the show and to talk with them.

In the midst of a crazy week, tonight's show at The Buttonwood was a wonderful diversion.  Go to, check the schedule and take part in the arts in Middletown.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Sad Tale of a Mechanical Pulse

In this week's Sunday New York Times Magazine, Katy Butler, California author and former Middletown resident tells the horrifying tale of the extended suffering foisted on her father and mother by the perverse incentives in our medical system to implant pacemakers.

Butler's father, former Wesleyan professor Jeffrey Butler died in two years ago after strokes, Alzheimer's disease and other ailments robbed him of his physical abilities and his mental capacity.  Her story demonstrates that a medical system which rewards procedures over health, can create unintended consequences and untold suffering.

The literally heartbreaking story takes place in Middletown, and involves Middletown physicians, named in the article, and Middlesex Hospital.

Motorcycle Collision with Car on Newfield Street

From the Middletown Police
On Friday, June 18, 2010 at approximately 5:36 P.M., a motor vehicle versus motorcycle collision occurred on Newfield Street in the area of Fisher Road.

The preliminary investigation indicates that a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am, operated by Harriet Diaz, age 51, of Middletown, was traveling in a northerly direction on Newfield Street, and stopped to turn left onto Fisher Road. A 2000 Kawasaki ZX600, motorcycle, operated by Alexander Vazquez, age 27, of Meriden, was traveling behind the Pontiac, and collided with the rear of the vehicle. Subsequently, the operator of the motorcycle was ejected, and struck the rear window to the vehicle.

As a result of the collision, Mr. Vazquez was transported to Hartford Hospital, and is listed in stable condition. Ms. Diaz was transported to Middlesex Hospital, and subsequently released.

Witnesses to the collision are asked to contact Officer David Godwin of the Middletown Police Department’s Traffic Unit (860) 344-3264.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Local Artist's hold Fundraiser at Coldstone

A message from Artist's for World Peace, an organization founded by Middletown resident and multi talented artist & teacher Wendy Black Nasta, from the group's website:

"Fundraiser event with live music, African crafts (for children of all ages) and ice cream! Cold Stone Creamery will donate 25% of its proceeds. Artists for World Peace and the Good Hope Foundation (in Tanzania) are presenting this fundraiser to construct a roof for a community health center in Moshi, Tanzania. Foundation and walls are in, all that is left is to “raise the roof”. For info, or on Facebook: Artists for World Peace. The event will be held at Cold Stone Creamery, 100 Riverview Center, Middletown, CT.

We are also looking for the following donations to the community health center. Artists for World Peace will be traveling to Tanzania in August. If anyone would like to donate any of the following, please drop them off at Cold Stone Creamery on Friday, June 25th between the hours of 6:00-9:00 p.m. or call our office and we will arrange another time. (860) 347-4219:"