Thursday, October 19, 2017

Spotted Around Town: Backyard Sailing?

Certain Freeman Road residents did not let the small size of their pond limit their ambitions, anchoring a sailboat in a pond that is barely more than twice the length of the boat itself. 

Maybe they are just getting ready for climate change and the rise in sea levels.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Invitation to Sing at First Church Christmas Concert

Come Sing with
First Church Choirs 
First Church has two voice choirs—Celebration Singers and Senior Choir. Celebration Singers rehearse on Mondays—Nov. 6, 13, 20, 27, and December 4—at 6:15pm. This group sings contemporary style anthems in four parts. Senior Choir meets on Wednesdays—Nov. 1, 8, 15, 29, and Dec. 6—at 7:30pm, and sings four-part traditional-style anthems.
For more information, contact Minister of Music Shari Lucas at or at the church office, 860-346-6657. See us also on FaceBook: First Church in Middletown.

at Christmas

Come practice with First Church choirs and sing for our Annual Candlelight Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 10, 2017!
The concert lasts about an hour and a half long, and is followed by a buffet-reception for friends and family.

First Church in Middletown
190 Court Street

Board of Education Candidates Appear At Teachers' Forum

City voters will elect 4 new members of the Board of Education on November 7th, and each party is fielding a full slate. The Middletown Federation of Teachers hosted a lively forum for the candidates on Tuesday evening. All 8 candidates attended, along with about 30 members of the public.

Members of the audience and the teachers' union asked candidates to discuss the skills and experiences relevant to the Board of Ed, to address the divisive and anti-education policies of Donald Trump, to address school financing, the Common Core standards, and how as a Board member they would interact with the Common Council in budget discussions. The forum lasted for over two and a half hours, what follows is a small sampling of the views of each candidate.

Ed Ford (R) is a proud graduate of Middletown High's class of 2015. He said his youth and recent experience in our public schools would allow him to bridge different constituents of the school system, "I would be able to offer the experience I went through myself. ... I will be able to provide a freshness [to the board]." In response to a question about how he would approach members of the Common Council to ask for more resources for the schools, he said he would prepare extensively before meeting with them "I will have data that support the school needs, I would present the research."

Jon Pulino (R) is an English Literature teacher at Maloney High School in Meriden, with a masters degree in educational technology. He emphasized his experience as a teacher, "I go [into school] every day. ... The point is I go to work. ... We need to work together." Asked what the most important leadership attribute is for a Board member, he said, "You have to do all your diligence."

Chris Sugar (R) is a lawyer who works in the area of labor relations; he has been a community member of the Middletown BoE policy committee since 2016. In response to a question about whether he supports Donal Trump and his policies, he simply said, "I did not vote for him." He said he was an advocate for social justice, and made it clear he would do what he could to oppose Trump's policies that hurt Middletown education and children.

Kevin Kelly (R) is a retired nurse, he worked at psychiatric institutions, including Connecticut Valley Hospital. He said, "I'm running because I have the skills to work with people." In response to a question about his racial attitudes, he boasted that he has grandchildren of multiple races, and friends from throughout the world, "Personally, it's never been an issue." He said he voted for Donald Trump.

Pat Alston
 (D) is retired from a career as an equal opportunity employment specialist, and she now works as a real estate agent and runs an after-school program for children of all ages. Of families thinking about where to make a home, she said, "I want to make Middletown a 'go-to' town, where [people say] they have the best schools."

Sean King (D) said that he moved to the city expecting to stay just a few years, "but we fell in love with the city and our schools." He repeatedly emphasized the importance of communication, for his own education in making decisions on the Board of Education, and for the community to understand those decisions.  He pointed to the data he would use to determine whether the schools have what they need, and promised to advocate forcefully to make sure the schools were appropriately supported. He also discussed the importance of communicating with children to help them overcome the destructive effects of the rhetoric and policies of Donald Trump.

Lisa Loomis (D) is a teacher in Hartford, she is also a candidate for a doctorate in Educational Leadership. She said she has a pair of passions in life: education and working for social justice; and she has a pair of goals for the Board of Education: narrow the gap that exists between the achievements of white students and the achievements of students of color, and improve the social and emotional growth of all students. Her answers focused on the students.

Vinnie Loffredo (D) is also a proud Middletown High graduate, he taught at his alma mater before having a long career working for the Connecticut Education Association, a public school lobbying organization. The only incumbent to seek re-election, he has served as Chair of the Board of Education for the past two years. He touted his extensive relationships with the Common Council, where he served for many years.
NOTE: the author is a Democratic candidate for Planning and Zoning, and thus part of a slate that includes all the above Democratic candidates. He does not pretend to be unbiased. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Buttonwood Tree Hosts George Washington Carver Project and The Kennedys!

This weekend at The Buttonwood Tree will prove special for those in attendance with jazz music to honor the historic inventor, George Washington Carver, and an anniversary celebration. Join us to create your own magical moment!

Avery Sharpe and Kris Allen honor one of America's Greatest scientists, African American great, George Washington Carver. The Duo project that Avery and Kris have put together to honor Mr.Carver, will consist of original music written by Kris and Avery, based on the life work of this great scientist

October 20th, 8-10pm | $20

A Spiritual & Holistic Healer from India, Annaita is experienced in applying varied healing modalities to a wide range of situations. In these inter-active workshops, Annaita seeks to empower, sharing her deep understanding of life, holism and spirituality, enabling you to rise above life’s challenges, live a healthy, fulfilled & confident life.
 This week's topic: Heart Chakra
 October 21st, 10:30am | $10 suggested donation

The Kennedys are celebrating 20 years of marriage and performing together, so love will be in the air, even more so than usual. With over 13 couples now married or such, who met at TBT, it's proven to be a great place to rekindle or make new relationships.

October 21st, 8-10pm | $20

Bonnie Bryne LeMay, an award winning impressionist painter will be holding an art reception at The Buttonwood Tree. LeMay's art has been described as "Passionate", "Thought-Provoking", and "Calming".

October 22nd, 3-5pm

Celebrate the Fall Harvest and More at Forest City Farms!

Come down to Forest City Farms on Sunday, October 22 at 1 pm to celebrate the CT River Coastal Conservation District's 70th Annual Meeting and Fall Harvest Day! The farm is located at 1100 River Road in Middletown.

Learn about the farm’s efforts to enhance their farmland for agriculture, the many conservation practices put in place, and plans to make the farm an educational community‐based resource to engage families and children. After a brief business meeting and conservation awards ceremony, we welcome you to stay for refreshments, conversation, and the Fall Harvest Day activities. There will be a variety of family‐friendly activities taking place, including walking tours led by Gabe Russo (see flyer below). For more information about our annual meeting, including our award winners, see our flyer. RSVP to Kathy King at 860.346.3282 or

Forest City Farms is a small organic farm on City-owned land along the Connecticut River in Middletown, focused on contributing to the local sustainable food community.  The farm is owned and managed by Gabe Russo with support from many of his family members. A wide variety of heirloom produce and culinary herbs is grown at the farm, and sold at farmers markets and to restaurants, distributed in local farm shares, and donated to the local soup kitchen and food pantry.

The Fall Harvest Day is part of a Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District project to enhance urban agriculture in Middletown, funded by a grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts.  Funding for a pilot program to plan and hold two on-farm educational events at Forest City Farms, the secondof which is the Fall Harvest Day, was provided in part by a generous grant from The Rockfall Foundation, Middletown, CT.

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Middletown, CT, works to conserve the natural resources of towns in the lower Connecticut River watershed and coastal areas. For more information about District technical and educational programs and services, visit us at, or

Board of Education Candidate Forum: Tonight, Tuesday October 17. 6:30 PM, MHS

The Middletown Federation of Teachers (MFT) is once again hosting a forum for the candidates for the Board of Education on the November 7 ballot.

The forum takes place tonight, Tuesday October 17, at 6:30 PM in the auditorium of the Middletown High School on LaRosa Lane.

Candidates from both parties have been invited to give their views on education in Middletown.

An Eye Looks Into The Mirror

The new blog in town.
We at The Middletown Eye are thrilled to see another blog that covers local news and culture. The Middletown Mirror began to publish stories of our city on September 19th. 

So far it has published stories on Middletown High football, Xavier High Football, the new Sliders sports bar on South Main, and the playing field and parks improvements under way at Pat Kidney Fields and Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

We hope all of our readers will also take a look to see the Mirror's reflections on our city.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

There are four (4) more Tuesdays to catch MIFF films!

Middletown International Film Festival

Various locations in Middletown 

The Salesman

October 17: Wesleyan University, Center for Film Studies, 301 Washington Terrace
(Iran, 2016, directed by Asghar Farhadi)

While both participating in a production of "Death of a Salesman," a teacher's wife is assaulted in her new home, which leaves him determined to find the perpetrator over his wife's traumatized objections.


October 24: Middlesex Community College, Chapman Hall, Training Hill Road
(Iceland, 2015, directed by Grimur Hakonarson)

In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven't spoken in 40 years have to come together in order to save what's dearest to them - their sheep.


October 31: Middlesex Community College, Chapman Hall, Training Hill Road
(Ethiopia, 2014, directed by Zeresenay Mehari)

A young lawyer travels to an Ethiopian village to represent Hirut, a 14-year-old girl who shot her would-be husband as he and others were practicing one of the nation's oldest traditions: abduction into marriage.

The Kind Words

November 7: Russell Library, Hubbard Room, 123 Broad Street
(Israel, 2015, directed by Shemi Zarhin)

This quirky and wry comedy follows three Jewish Israeli siblings who, in the wake of their mother's death, learn the man who raised them is not their biological father. The revelation sends them on a road trip from Israel across France to discover the truth about their real father.

Middletown's International Film Series

Common Ground 2017, this year's 9th Annual Middletown International Film Series, is sponsored jointly by Russell Library, Wesleyan University, and Middlesex Community College, and it's what people like me have longed for in a town like Middletown (let's make that in a state like Connecticut), where foreign film venues are relatively few.

Unlike Seattle, my former home town, Middletown has no small, atmospheric film venues--Seattle has many, some with only 20 seats. And some of the small theatres in Seattle are for foreign film only. Seattle has a community of knowledgeable and ardent fans of foreign film, and they are very active. Seattle's small theatres have been thriving for years--since the time of the early Beats. The film culture there is exciting. People anticipate new releases (as well as older classics), see them with their friends, stay around afterward for coffee and to discuss the film. A satisfying leisure activity.

Middletown now has this wonderful International Film Series. Remote Control, was shown last week (unformately, at the same time as Dar Williams's appearance at Wesleyan-R.J. Julia Bookstore), at Wesleyan's Center for Film Studies. Remote Control presented a slice of life in Mongolia--whether inner or outer Mongonia, isn't clear--but most of the action takes place in Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital. The audience numbered maybe 20 people.

I found Remote Control thoroughly engaging. A young man from the countryside takes refuge in the city, creates a leanto-home for himself, a rooftop squat, and finds amusement watching with a telescope as neighbors go about their lives behind the windows of their adjacent mid-rise apartment building. One apartment's large-screen TV, which has its own remote control clicker, faces the young man's rooftop. And as he becomes emotionally involved in the life of a young woman there and  purchases his own remote, he finds a way to interact with her. It's a rather light-hearted vignette--nothing like Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock's sinister take on a voyeur.

This story plays out against exotic trappings of Mongolian culture--Buddha images, art featuring characters from Mongolian myth, the delivery of milk door to door from a milk pail with a long-handled measure. In a setting where Western material culture that encroaches--cars, city-scapes, city lights, high-rise buildings, TVs, and clothing, the background of Ulan Bator and Mongolia makes for a visual feast--a smorgasbord that is at once familiar and foreign.

It's all there--the foreign film experience and a cafe within walking distance. It's all there for the looking, on these beautiful autumn evenings; and all for the taking--it's free: the Common Ground 2017, 9th Annual Middletown International Film Festival. Four more films will complete the series on the next four Tuesdays: The Salesman (Iran, 2016), Rams (Iceland, 2015), Difret (Ethiopia, 2014) and The Kind Words (Israel, 2015). 

Take a look at Russell Library's website Common Ground 2017 for the scheduled venue. All screenings are on Tuesday at 7p.m., with guest lecturers at each screening. Free admission, free parking, and accessible venues and seating. Dinner downtown and an international film, all near by. Cultural diversity--the otherness that enriches and refreshes.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Stories of a New America: October 26.

From the Middletown Rotary Club.
The Rotary Club of Middletown will be sponsoring an event designed to broaden understanding of
issues faced by refugees once they've arrived in the United States. The inspiring and enlightening play, called “Stories of a New America”, is about refugee resettlement and is based on over 100 interviews with refugees who have resettled in Connecticut after civil unrest in their homelands.

The Rotary Club of Middletown partnered with Middlesex Community College and IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) to retain the Collective Consciousness Theater to perform the play at Middlesex Community College’s Chapman Hall on Thursday, October 26 at 11:00 AM.

The play’s unique format, capturing refugees’ hopes and fears – both past and present – is brought to life by five multilingual artists who portray more than two dozen roles. The diverse stories from Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba and Congo have attracted local and national media, which have praised the performance as powerful, original and relevant to the world today.

A “Talk Back” will be conducted at the play’s conclusion, during which the audience will be able to interact with the actors, a local refugee, and IRIS Director, Chris George. IRIS is a non-sectarian, independent, nonprofit refugee resettlement agency that has welcomed more than 5,000 refugees to Connecticut since 1982.

Although the Rotary Club of Middletown has focused on the greater Middletown community by sponsoring family and community literacy projects, the Thanksgiving food drive, scholarships and vocational training initiatives, youth leadership, student exchange, hunger and homelessness programs, it is also involved in a number of international projects. Says Co-President Cheryl Duey, “We truly have a broad reach. Issues facing asylum seekers and refugees in Connecticut fit the Rotary International area of focus called Peace and Conflict Resolution.”

Anyone interested in the performance, the Rotary Club of Middletown, or helping refugees in Connecticut is free to contact: Cheryl Duey
, Co-President, Rotary Club of Middletown ( or Ann O’Brien with IRIS (

Friday, October 13, 2017

Third by Wendy Wasserstein presented by Readers Theater Monday at Russell Library

Readers Theater opens their season at Russell Library with the play, Third by Wendy Wasserstein. Theater goers are asked to come to the Court Street entrance of the Hubbard Room. Doors will open at 6:30pm. Light refreshments will be served until curtain time at 7:00pm.

Since the library closes on Mondays at 6:00pm, the only access to the Hubbard Room will be from the Court Street entrance.
Wendy Wasserstein

Third was Wasserstein's last play, and premiered off Broadway in 2005. The play takes place at a small, prestigious, New England liberal arts college during one academic year. A female college professor, Laurie Jameson, has her her life and fundamental assumptions challenged by an encounter with a student, Woodson Bull, III. The professor and student have strongly divergent personal and political characteristics.
The play grapples with the issues of stereotyping, identity politics and family issues.

Reader’s Theater is live drama enacted by local actors.
Directed by Anne Cassady and Richard Kamins

Funded by the Middletown Commission on the Arts and The Friends of the Russell Library.