Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Book Sale at Russell Library this weekend!

The Friends of the Russell Library is offering their last book sale of the season this coming weekend. The hours of the book sale are:

Friday December 8th from 10:00am - 6:00pm;

Saturday December 9th from 10:00am - 2:00pm;

Sunday December 10th from 1:00pm - 4:00pm.

Not only are there wonderful bargains to be found in books, but the prices for CDs and DVDs are too low to pass by. Where else can you buy a movie for $2.00?

This sale also features those titles that did not get sold at the Holiday Book Sale last month, offered at discounted prices lower than the already low prices for which they were priced last month! Come and find last minute gifts for the holidays!

The next Friends Book Sale is not until March 2018. Now is the time to stock up for those long winter evenings when you want to curl up with a nice cuppa cocoa and a book...

Mark your calendars for the next season of Book Sales, beginning in 2018:
  • March 9, 10, and 11
  • April 13, and 14
  • May 11, and 12
  • June 8, and 9
  • September 7, and 8
  • October 12, 13 and 14
  • Holiday Sale: November 16, 17, and 18
  • December 7, 8, and 9

Great bargains are also available online with the Friends of the Russell Library Amazon store!

The Avery Ensemble Performs this Saturday at Russell Library

This Saturday, December 9th, at 1:30pm, The Avery Ensemble will perform in the Hubbard Room of the Russell Library.

First Prize Winner of the 2016 American Prize in Chamber Music,  the Avery Ensemble is a piano quartet joined frequently by guest vocalists and instrumentalists. Avery's performances have been praised by Audiophile Audition as 'marvelous,' and by the Classical Voice of New England as 'committed. . . excellent. . . amazing and persuasive. . . . . simply outstanding.' Recent engagements include appearances as guests of the Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, the Rossmoor Music Association in New Jersey, Coe Hall in New York, the Meadow Ridge Concert Series in Connecticut and the Auditório Jurerê Classic in Florianopolis, Brazil. Avery Ensemble was the focus of an article in the Summer 2016 issue of Chamber Music America's Chamber Music Magazine.

The program for this concert includes pieces that would have been heard by audiences during the years of World War I. 

"The tragedy and barbarism of the Great War marked the end of the previous age, and this turbulence was expressed successfully in the explosion of art music produced in that decade-- a 'licking of the bowl,' scraping the last possibilities of what tonal harmony could offer before abandonment. The challenge of exhaustion from the previous age was met in response with unbelievable invention and creativity, exemplified in the following works:
Faure Sonata no. 1 for cello and piano, op. 109 (1917) -- 19 min
Janacek Sonata for violin and piano (1914) -- 16 min
Reger Piano Quartet no. 2, op. 133 (1914) -- 35 min "

This concert, and many other programs, are sponsored by The Friends of the Russell Library. You can support the programs at the library by buying a book at this weekend's Friends' Book Sale.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Teen Circus-Theater Auditions for "As You Wish!"

Circophony Teen Circus announces open auditions for ages 12 to 19 for As You Wish!, an original circus theater response to The Princess Bride.
Auditions are December 12 & 19 at Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown, and the production will run March 1 – 10, 2018.
Auditions will be held from 6:30 to 9 pm on both Tuesdays – participants should plan to attend just one of the two evenings and stay until 9 pm. Please arrive by 6:15 pm so that you will have your registration completed and be ready to begin at 6:30.
Circophony is an ongoing teen circus program which is run collaboratively by ARTFARM and Oddfellows Playhouse. Auditions are open to anyone regardless of circus or theater experience. Actors, dancers, acrobats, jugglers, singers, circus performers, athletes and other adventurers between the ages of twelve and nineteen are welcome. Everyone who attends the audition and commits to the rehearsal and performance schedule will be cast into the show.  
As You Wish! will combine theater and circus in a unique original performance responding to the iconic film and novel The Princess Bride. Teens auditioning are asked to prepare a short solo (one minute maximum!) showcasing your particular talents. Additionally, the audition will include improvisation, movement, acrobatics and text. Dress to move and be ready to have fun.
Rehearsals begin January 2 and will be Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 – 9 pm. As You Wish! will run March 1 – 3 & 9 – 10 at Oddfellows Playhouse, which is located at 128 Washington Street, Middletown. Tuition to participate is $250, but some financial aid is available.

As You Wish! is created and directed by ARTFARM Executive Director Dic Wheeler, with Circus Direction by Allison McDermott. Dic is the founder and former director of the Children’s Circus of Middletown – heading into its thirtieth season next summer -- and is a director, performer and teacher of theater, circus and Commedia dell’ Arte who has worked in the United States, Europe and Asia. Allison is a graduate of the New England Center for Circus Arts Pro Track program, and teaches and performs throughout New England.
Please pre-register for one of the two audition evenings by contacting,  calling (860) 347-6143, or going to  
If you have questions about the program or about the auditions, contact

Monday, December 4, 2017

Common Council Approves Acquisition of Oddfellows Playhouse Building

The Common Council tonight approved a proposal to take ownership of the Oddfellows Playhouse building on Washington Street.

The Oddfellows Playhouse began 41 years ago, with a $250 grant from the city. It first used a building slated for redevelopment, the Oddfellows Building.

Its current building, at 128 Washington Street, is appraised at $660,000.

About 20 people came out in support of the proposal, including multiple current and former members of the board of directors.

The Council gave its unanimous support as individuals during its discussion and in its vote.

Grady Faulkner noted his gratitude to Oddfellows for its work with children, "[Oddfellows] had the opportunity, the will, the skill, to teach young people how to deal with difficult things in life."

Phil Pessina proclaimed his support, "I'm a very visionary person, ... when I see the young people expressing themselves, I see a bridge the North End ... from Oddfellows to the galleries, to Buttonwood, and tying it all in."

Several council members, especially Seb Giuliano, regaled the audience in Council Chambers with fond memories of their own theatrical performances.  Others, like Rob Blanchard, simply voted "yes".

Further details need to be determined, including whether management of the building will be through the Planning, Public Works, or the Arts and Recreation Department.

In exchange for ownership of the building, the city would be responsible for its maintenance. The Oddfellows Playhouse would rent the building for half of the available time, for $1 per year. The city envisions renting the building to other arts and theater organizations.

"Gus" Gecewicz Honored By Common Council

 Gus Gecewicz, was honored by the Common Council for his work with youth sports. He coached a variety of boys and girls teams for 50 years in the Catholic Youth Organization. He not only did the coaching, but also provided the organization to support the teams. 

Councilman Sebastian Giuliano highlighted his fundraising efforts, reading from the resolution. 
As everyone in Catholic youth sports knows, if there’s no money, there’s no team. Gus has worked to ensure that the kids had uniforms, equipment, and even basketball hoops. He has been involved with everything from asking priests and local businesses to donate to help organizing fishing tournaments to raise money. He even participated in running liquor raffles until he was informed by the police that he ought to go in another direction because that was illegal. To his credit, he was told that after he convinced the police station to buy two books worth of tickets. 
Coach Gecewicz was modest in his remarks, crediting his own coach for inspiration and teaching him how to coach.

Friday, December 1, 2017

It's A Man's World

Milardo is a former Middletown City employee and union officer.

The United Public Service Employees Union (UPSEU) Local #6457, the City of Middletown’s Director/Supervisor’s bargaining unit, has filed a grievance on behalf of a female Human Resource Manager working at the Board of Education. The Union and City have an active bargaining agreement which contains a Labor/Management Reclassification Committee.

The purpose of the Committee is to allow members a means of having their jobs reviewed due to changes. There are other City Union(s) who have similar language in their respective bargaining agreement(s). The UPSEU Management Study Committee is comprised of two (2) members appointed by the Union, two (2) members appointed by the City and one (1) alternate member mutually chosen by the other members who may be an employee but not a Union member. The City’s Human Resource Director is the Chairperson of the Committee and one (1) of the City’s Committee members. (UPSEU Agreement: )

If the Committee agrees that an individual is eligible to be heard after meeting certain criteria, it then is presented to the Management Study Commission and then Common Council for a vote.

Additionally, the City’s Human Resource Director (according to contract language) must support the Committees recommendations to the Common Council members. In the past, the Common Council has decided all job reclassifications are to be lumped together for a single vote for approval or rejection. At the November 6, 2017 Special Common Council meeting, there were three (3) UPSEU member positions which were recommended for upgrades.

The only problem - there were four (4) UPSEU positions the Management Study Committee recommended for upgrades. What happened to the fourth(4th) ? According to City of Middletown Human Resource Director Thomas Tokarz, the BOE’s Human Resource Manager position was removed from the Common Councils agenda because the City’s General Counsel Sub-Committee (GCC) recommended it be re-examined. Now the “show” begins. (video of Directors meeting. Begin at minute 24:10, to hear Director Tokarz’ remarks) Director Tokarz was grilled by Councilmen Thomas Serra, Sebastian Giuliano, Phil Pessina, Linda Salafia, Gene Nocera, and Carl Chisem regarding why the BOE Human Resourse position recommendation was not on the agenda.

As one can see on the video, he had a difficult time answering how this position did not receive an upgrade, and why it was not brought forward. There is no legitimate answer why, with more duties, certifications, and laws to follow than Mr. Tokarz’ position, the female employee is three (3) pay grades lower than his. There also was no good answer of why he is recommending no wage increase for her position!

In defense of Mr. Tokarz, I believe he was given marching orders to kill her upgrade by someone higher up on the food chain. The Human Resource Director’s supervisor/boss is the Mayor of Middletown, Daniel T. Drew.

The Management Study Committee voted 5-0 in favor of all four (4) UPSEU position upgrades to go before the Common Council for a vote. The Committee voted on deletions and/or additional duties for each of the job descriptions, as well as what salary grade they should be placed in. Why was this one person singled out? The City cannot say it is about the position not the person. If that were the case, she would be in the same salary grade or higher than Mr. Tokarz, not three (3) pay grades lower.

The Management Study Committee, just as the Human Resource Department, uses what is called the “Maximus Study Report” for analyzing and grading employee duties and salaries. This report has been utilized for many years to grade every City position. No matter how you slice and dice it, her position should at the minimum, equal to her male counterpart. Somehow the City will attempt to make claim the BOE position has somehow lesser value than Mr. Tokarz. Of the four (4) UPSEU positions the Management Study Committee unanimously agreed to support for upgrades, two (2) were male, one (1) is vacant, and the fourth (4) is a female. One of the males is also Middletown’s Democratic Town Committees chairman, and the other is a Dan Drew supporter.

One can only surmise the new hire for the vacant position will be a Dan Drew supporter too.

I believe it’s called “pay for play”. As a past Union president for the managers (I negotiated this contract Article), I can tell you the Management Study Committee was adopted in an attempt to create a fair and even handed job reclassification tool. The Mayor and the Common Council members are to have no input during Management Study Commissions hearings. The Union hoped to form a Committee that would help stop favoritism, discrimination, and other politically motivated actions. After this fiasco, I guess we were wrong!

What transpired during the Common Council meeting is a clear violation of the labor agreement. First, the City’s Human Resource Director did not support the decision of the Committee as so ordered in the bargaining agreement. Secondly, there is no language in the contract which stipulates anyone other than the Management Study Commission to review and vote on their recommendations before they go to the Common Council for a vote. Third, The Commissions recommendations did not go directly to the Common Council for a vote. Why was the Board of Education Human Resource Managers position (a City job which works for the BOE) sent to the General Counsel Sub-Committee for re-evaluation?

The GCC is not part of the contractual protocol. The recommendations of the Management Study Committee are to go directly to the Common Council for a vote… place else!

The Common Council has tabled the vote on BOE’s Human Resource Manager because they had difficulty believing the answers they received. The City’s Chief General Counsel, Brig Smith stated in a Hartford Courant article, that he was eager to have the grievance heard at the State of Connecticut’s Labor Department where he has yet to lose a case. I guess City Attorney Smith already knows that Mayor Drew is going to respond negatively to the grievance.

The Mayor is the Step 1 hearing officer of this grievance and could stop all of this nonsense from happening. After all……Mayor Drew claims to be labor friendly and all for equal rights. Or, is he showing that he believes that the glass ceiling should not be broken for having women receive equal pay for equal work.

The Chief General Counsels statement regarding going to the State and never losing a grievance is very disheartening. I would think, the City Attorney would be a person an employee/Union could turn to if there was a case of discrimination, or other work policy violation. Instead, he has a line drawn in the sand daring employees to open their mouth if they are unfairly treated, bullied, or harassed. He holds a position of power which could end all of the above-mentioned, but chooses to intimidate employees instead.

Why bother having Zero Tolerance and Sexual and Other Harassment Policies! The Mayor and Chief Counsel can eliminate unnecessary legal actions by employees who have legitimate issues. Instead they are daring people to use legal recourse. There are clear violations on the City side.

The only thing I can conclude, regarding why a female employee at the Board of Education is not being paid the same as her male counterpart, is gender discrimination, or Union affiliation!

The bargaining agreement stipulates all disputes should be settled at the lowest possible level. In this instance, that would be by Mayor Drew. Not doing anything to stop this discriminatory issue speaks volumes about the Mayor. Actions, or in this case, inactions, speak louder than words!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

City seeking Arts Advocacy Awards nominees

The city  presents an Arts Advocacy Award annually to an individual or group who has significantly contributed to the cultural and artistic enrichment and/or has shown extraordinary support and initiative for the arts in Middletown.

The Middletown Commission on the Arts is seeking public input on nominations for the award. The nominee(s) need not live in Middletown but should be an individual or group that has made an outstanding impact on the arts in the city.

Suggestions, which should include the sender's town and information about the nominee, can be emailed to Arts Coordinator Stephan Allison at by Dec. 15.
The MCA will be presenting its award honoring this year's recipient in a local ceremony coinciding with National Arts Advocacy Day March 20 to 21 in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Eric Mintel Quartet: Charlie Brown Christmas Special!

From the White House to the Kennedy Center to the United Nations and beyond, the Eric Mintel Quartet has been thrilling audience of all ages with their electrifying Jazz for over 25 years. Eric was a featured guest on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz on NPR, The Eric Mintel Quartet has opened for Dave Brubeck at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, appeared on the QVC television network and has been featured in many jazz and newspaper publications. Come see them live November 30th when they kick off the holiday season with a Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Playing the music of Vince Guaraldi for the Charlie Brown cartoon, and some original tunes. Featuring Eric Mintel on piano, Nelson Hill on saxophone, Jack Hegyi on flute and Dave Mohn on drums. Reservations are strongly suggested

November 30th | 8-10pm | $18

Story City Troupe

Story City is a troupe of storytellers based in the Hartford, CT area and trained by Matt Dicks, one of The Moth’s champion storytellers. Story City Troupe uses The Moth Formula: all are true, personal stories, often funny, sometimes amazing, poignant or ironic and based on a single theme for the evening. The troupe members range in age from their 20’s to their 70’s, proving you can come up with a good story at any age.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll identify!

December 1st | 8-10pm | $10

Eric Lee & Kim Hoffman Double Bill

Raised in rural upstate New York, Eric Lee’s earliest introductions to music were the sounds of his mother’s piano and the songs of John Gorka, Bob Dylan, and Jackson Browne. He began studying classical violin and traditional Irish fiddle at the age of nine, and was soon performing and recording with local artists. The music of Eric Lee is a chimera of genres and influences; an ever-evolving world of sonic exploration with stand-alone melodies always at it’s core. His new EP traverses a range of emotion, from the unbridled joy of love in “Miles Above the Ground” to the wrenching pain of Eros in “To Write you a Song”; the unflattering honesty of coping with loss (“Life Without You”) to the cosmic petition to the ancient powers in “Hands of Fortune.”

 Kim Hoffman is known to many for her sweet back up violin playing for several local musicians.   On December 2ndKim will bring her guitar and vocals to share some of her original songs.  Be prepared to laugh, think, and be touched as she shares stories and songs of some of her life’s  observations and adventures!   You may even get to hear the violin!

 December 2nd | 8-10pm | $12

 Change It Up Art Reception

This Month’s Artist, Kathleen Curran Smits is adjunct faculty at Quinnipiac University and Manchester Community College teaching computer graphics and digital design. She is an instructor and curriculum developer for a veterans oriented vocational program through CPTV called the Institute for Advanced Media.
Kathy paints landscapes in oils and has developed abstract digital art based in photography. She has been accepted into regional and national exhibitions and won awards. Her work is in private collections across the country, in Canada and Australia. Currently she is represented by the Pandion Gallery on Fisher’s Island in the summers. Kathy serves as Vice President of the Art League of New Britain and is an associate board member of the American Artists Professional League in NYC.

December 3rd | 3-5pm

Visit for more info/reserve seats
Call 860.347.4957
TBT is located next to It's Only Natural Market at 605 Main Street, Middletown

Wednesday Wildlife: The Foxtrot

A long-time reader sent us the below video of a fox in our city.  This was filmed with a motion-activated game camera over the Thanksgiving weekend. 

The Eye would like to make city wildlife stories and pictures a regular feature. If you have a story or photo of wild animals in our city, please share (  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Eric Mintel Quartert Returns to The Buttonwood Tree

The Buttonwood Tree is proud to present The Eric Mintel Quartet on THURSDAY, Nov. 30 @ 8 pm. Reservations are strongly suggested. Seating is limited. Additional seating and live remote viewing are available in the bookstore. Reserve your seats at

(EMQ: "Take Five" - a jazz piece composed by Paul Desmond and performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet on their 1959 album Time Out.)

Call 860.347.4957 for more info.
TBT is located next to It's Only Natural Market at 605 Main Street, Middletown

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Readers Theater presents Sam Shepard Play Monday, November 27th at Russell Library

Ages of the Moon will be presented Monday,
November 27th at Russell Library.

Readers Theater presents Ages of the Moon by Sam Shepard on Monday, November 27th at Russell Library's Hubbard Room. 

Join us for refreshments at 6:30pm before Ages of the Moon by Sam Shepard begins at 7:00pm. Since the library will close at 6:00pm, the Court Street entrance to the Hubbard Room at the back of the library will be open.

The play revolves around old friends, Byron and Ames, re-united by mutual desperation. Over whiskey on a hot summer’s night, they sit, reflect and bicker until fifty years of love, friendship and rivalry are put to the test at the barrel of a gun. 

'Longtime fans of Mr. Shepard should definitely see this play. It is a poignant and honest continuation of themes that have always been present in the work of one of this country’s most important dramatists, here reconsidered in the light and shadow of time passed.' -- NYTimes Review, 2010.
Readers Theater is live drama acted by local actors, directed by Anne Cassady and Richard Kamins.
This series is sponsored by The Middletown Commission on the Arts and the Friends of the Russell Library 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Board of Ed Holds First Meeting With New Members

(UPDATED 11/22)

In its first order of business, the Board of Education nominated and elected Chris Drake (D) as chair, Cheryl McClellan (R) as Vice Chair and Marilyn Rios (D) as Secretary.  All votes were unanimous.

After the officer elections, the board received the winners of the annual anti-bullying poster contest conducted by the Middletown Federation of Teachers.  The winners in three categories were: Autumn Russell (k-2), Sara Hammi (3-5) and Safara Samadi (6-8)

Much of the meeting was given over to Dr. Michael Conner's plans for his first one hundred days as new superintendent.

Conners explained that in the two weeks he's been at the head of the district, he's already met with teachers, administrators, students, parents and Common Council members.

His entry plan, entitled Explore Middletown, which he admitted was ambitious, but doable, entails meeting with all education stakeholders, collecting and analyzing data, and beginning to draw up plans for moving forward in the district.

Conner emphasized the importance of talking to all members of the community, particularly students.

"They give us the best data," Conner said.

As a result, he is instituting the Superintendent's Student Advisory Committee, suggesting that admission to the committee would include elections for leadership roles.

Conner also said that he would be conducting two intensive workshops with the Board of Education.  One, a two-day retreat, would allow the Board members to explore their duties and responsibilities, and explore the ways in which they, as elected representatives of the community, could work with him and the educational community to meet the goals of advancing student achievement.  The second, to be held in August, would review duties, responsibilities and the goals the Superintendent will set for the district.

The board also heard a presentation from Farm Hill principal Jennifer Calabrese and Associate Superintendent Enza Macri on a pilot effort to bring social and emotional learning to all students at Farm Hill.

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

The Coconuts

Comedy Rock Band

Each time COCONUTS comes to The Buttonwood Tree we try to present something a bit different. This time we're going to highlight our Baby Boomer roots with a lot of music from the 60s along with the usual insanity. The show is going to be a Boomer Sing-Along Party, and what better place for an intimate party than the Buttonwood? 

We will have Brother Zack joining us on lead guitar with hot licks and special tricks so it will definitely be a night to remember with the band you can't forget.

Comedy Rocks! Hilarious Parodies, Sing-Alongs & Good Ol’ Rock ‘n’ Roll. More than just a comedy show…More than just a band…The Ultimate Baby Boomer Party Band!
Johnny Eagle (vocals, blues harp, kazoo, percussion), Joe Beetz (guitar, vocals), Sal Monella (bass guitar, vocals, trumpet)

Friday November 24th | 8-10pm, $15   Reserve Your seat HERE

Andrew Biagiarelli Trio / My Girl My Whiskey & Me

Reggae / Calypso / Bluegrass

Andrew Biagiarelli is going on tour for the release of his new album! Andrew Biagiarelli spent his early 20s traveling the American West with just a backpack and a guitar.  Jamming around bonfires from Alaska to Colorado, he absorbed all the varied influences of his friends on the road.  With a sound ranging in style from folk and blues to jazz-infused, his music is as varied as the landscapes of the American West.  While living on a sailboat in the Caribbean, he assimilated reggae and calypso rhythms into his approach to songwriting.  A natural storyteller, he weaves a tapestry of songs and tales of his travels into his live performances.

My Girl My Whiskey & Me is currently based out of Greenville, SC. In June of 2017 they began a tour called “50 in 52”, attempting to reach all 50 states within one year. Melding progressive and traditional bluegrass seamlessly, this mandolin, and guitar duo is not an act to miss! Coming soon to a state near you.
Saturday November 25th | 8-10pm, $15         Reserve Your seat HERE

Thursday, November 16, 2017

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree


Someone You Can Xray & Brian May

Electric Blues

Someone You Can Xray: Is a CT-based rock fusion band for everyone!   From electric blues & country, to funk and psychedelic improvisations, hilarious stage antics and surprise instruments, there’s always a surprise!

Brian May: Brian May is making his fourth appearance at The Buttonwood Tree and has been performing around Ct., New England and New York State for the past 50 years. This show will feature all original songs, with influences of roots, blues and some folk rock. Vocal harmonies a plus with excellent instrumentalists from both acts.

 Friday November 17th, 8-10pm | $12

Teen Open Mic


Teens, looking for a place to perform? A place to recite your latest poem? How about your newest original scene? Or, a time-tested monologue? If so, The Buttonwood Tree Teen Open Mic is FOR YOU!
Be a part of Buttonwood’s first ever open mic specifically for teen performers ages 12-18. Perform any type of artwork: you can use our piano or bring a guitar, ukulele, or other instrument to play! Cover your favorite song or perform an original! Whether it is your first time performing or you are an experienced teen musician, poet, or artist, the Buttonwood Tree is a positive, supporting environment for teens to perform. Parents and friends are welcome to come support!

Thanks to Matt at the Middlesex Music Academy, a back line of a full drum kit, bass amp and guitar amp can be provided with advance notice. Email or call us to make arrangements.

Saturday November 18th, 3-5pm | $5

Seat Of Our Pants (SOOP)

Contemporary Acoustic Folk

Seat Of Our Pants (SOOP) has been playing their own brand of contemporary acoustic folk by the “seat of their pants” for the past 5 years, and having a whole heck of a lot of fun doing it…but don’t let the name fool you. Carolyn, Jeff, Mark, and Mike have the whole package with tight vocals, guitar, bass, violin, percussion, and two CDs under their belts. They deliver a fabulous combination of original material and unique covers of current and not so current tunes, with genuine ease and grace. And they are no strangers to the stage at The Buttonwood tree, with 3 previous standing-room-only appearances since 2013. From their humble beginnings at an open-mic, to appearances at places like The Bread Box, The Vanilla Bean, to taking 1st place this Summer in the Open Mic Competition at The Majestic Theater in West Springfield, SOOP has attracted a word of mouth following in Connecticut and beyond that continues to grow.

Friday November 18th, 8-10pm | $10

First Church in Middletown Annual Christmas Concert, Sunday, December 10, 4 pm

Candlelight Christmas Concert

First Church
in Middletown
190 Court Street 

Sunday, Dec. 10th
4 o'clock pm

The Candlelight Christmas Concert at First Church is a calm and wondrous, late-afternoon service. It's a good time to unwind during this busy season, and think about your own Christmas joys--we think you'll enjoy it.

On SUNDAY, December 1O, at 4:00 PM, First Church (UCC) in Middletown hosts its annual Candlelight Christmas Concert. The concert is free and open to the public (donations are appreciated).  

The concert features classical and traditional, as well as Gospel and spiritual selections from our choirs, our bell choir, and the Court Street Singers men's choir; as well as Christmas readings and carol singing. A buffet reception will follow the concert in the Parish Hall.

FIRST CHURCH in Middletown is at 190 Court Street, in Middletown, and there is plenty of free parking nearby. For additional information about First Church programs, please call our office manager at 860-346-6657. 
(Or see us at or on FaceBook, First Church Middletown FB.)


Comcast Public Access TV Studio Open House Friday

From Elizabeth Walden, Public Relations, Comcast, Western New England
Comcast is opening the doors of its local Public Access TV Studio, located at 199 Shunpike Road, Cromwell, CT to residents of our city (and Cromwell, East Hampton, Portland, and Middlefield) on Friday, November 17th  from 6:00pm to 8:00pm for the studio’s Annual Open House.  Refreshments will be served.

At the open house, residents will be given a tour of the production studio, which includes three cameras, an audio console and a character generator for graphics. The equipment will be set up for demonstrations and guests will leave with a basic understanding of television production.

During the year, Comcast hosts workshops at its public access studio for community residents, local non-profit groups and municipal employees, allowing them to learn the various aspects of television production, including the operation of cameras and other equipment, directing and hosting programs and covering local events and public meetings. Training is also provided on an individual or group basis.

Through the workshops and trainings, attendees will learn to produce, write and tape their own local television programs for local access channel 15. Public access television runs the gamut from government meetings and educational programming to talk shows and youth group activities and sports.

Community members interested in becoming public access television volunteers can register for the workshops at the open house or by calling the studio directly at 860-613-3035.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Celebratory Swearing-In

The Reverend Ed Ford senior delivers a benediction.
Council chambers in Middletown were filled with friends, family, colleagues and dignitaries as newly-elected municipal officials were sworn into their offices Tuesday evening.

"May they prove worthy of the confidence placed in them by their citizens." - Father Russell Kennedy

It was the biennial meeting of the Common Council, for the express purpose of the swearing-in, so most Council members were present, Mayor Dan Drew presided, and guests included Republican State Senators Len Suzio, Toni Boucher and George Logan.  Also attending were chairmen of the towns Democratic and Republican town committees, Sal Nesci and Bill Wilson, respectively, and the newly-hired Superintendent of Schools Michael Conner.  Members of the current and past Boards of Education and Planning and Zoning commission were also in the room.

For an off-year election in which only eight candidates were elected, the room buzzed with excitement before and after the event.
Susan Allison.

"Choose any bank...down by the river sideways...and contemplate its bend and the wending ways of folks who came here in unending streams."  - Susan Allison.

The evening began with an invocation from Father Russell Kennedy from St. Francis of Assisi, followed by a reading from Middletown poet laureate Susan Allison of her poem about Middletown, "Choose Any River."


The swearing-in of all newly-elected officials followed immediately.  On the Board of Education, Ed Ford (R), Sean King (D), Lisa Loomis (D) and Jon Pulino (R) were sworn in.  On the Planning and Zoning Commission, Stephen Devoto (D), Nick Fazzino (R) and Corrine Dorsey (R) and Tyrell Brown as Republican Planning and Zoning alternate were sworn in.

Surrounded by family, Ed Ford is sworn in by Mayor Dan Drew.
Part of the excitement came from the early publicity afforded two young African-American men elected to town committees as Republicans.  Ed Ford was elected to the Board of Education and Tyrell Brown was elected as a Planning and Zoning alternate.  The young men shared roles as President (Brown) and Vice President (Ford) of their high school class, are close friends and are said to be the youngest Republican African-American to win office in Connecticut.  Ford is a junior psych major at CCSU, and Brown is a junior business major at SCSU.  WTNH featured the pair in a news story after the election, and was present for the swearing in, but the local coverage was superseded by national coverage when the pair was featured on Fox and Friends in the Fox New NYC studios. (editor's note: the fact that these capable young men were elected is reason for celebration for their party, and for Middletown, but it should be clarified that their "win" in "deep blue Connecticut" as characterized on WTNH and Fox, came only as a result of minority party representation rules.  The minority party (in this case, Republican) on any board in Middletown, must be represented.  In Middletown, the majority party is Democratic, which means that of the nine members of the Board of Education, three must be Republican, or another minority party.  On Planning and Zoning the Dems hold four seats, and Republicans three).

Sean King and family.

Lisa Loomis and family.

Jon Pulino and family.
Stephen Devoto and wife Joyce Powzyk.

Corrine Dorsey and family.

Nick Fazzino.

Tyrell Brown and family.

"It's that love, that grace, that mercy that we seek tonight." - Reverend Ed Ford, Sr.

During the singing of the national anthem, Board of Education member Lisa Loomis took a knee in quiet protest and solidarity in seeking racial justice and equity, and the need for the community to continue discussion of the topic.  Loomis' gesture went unnoticed by most in attendance.  She released a public statement on her decision: "It is my understanding that in recent weeks some Middletown High School students have been wrestling with whether or not to take a knee during the national anthem. In my view, one purpose of education is to empower children. Another purpose of education is to foster critical thinking and a free flow of ideas, and encouraging respectful dialogue about complex issues is an excellent way to do that. I believe the “taking the knee” protest offers a good opportunity for this, but based on my discussions with community members, I do not believe we, as a district, have taken advantage of this opportunity. I took a knee tonight to encourage district and school leaders to facilitate a respectful dialogue about the complexities of this issue so our students feel like their voices have been heard."

On a lighter note, a clerical error meant that Planning and Zoning commissioner Stephen Devoto's name was printed on several of the certificates awarded the newly elected officials, instead of their own names. Devoto, who is a regular contributor to the Middletown Eye, denied that it was an attempt to gain control of any commission or that Russian election interference was involved.

The official ceremony ended with a benediction by Edward Ford, senior, father of the new Board of Education member Ed Ford. But family and friends milled about for another hour congratulating the new officials and celebrating with cake and cannolis.

The Return of the First Church Holly Fair!

Our holiday arrangements of fresh pine and
holly are hand made and make lovely gifts.
First Church

Holly Fair 2017
Saturday, Dec. 2

9:30am – 3pm

190 Court Street

The First Church Holly Fair
returns this year, featuring specially selected Holiday Vendors. We'll have gently-used Jewelry, original art prints (internationally known artist), children’s holiday books, baked goods,cookies by the pound, and gourmet soups to take home, and arrangements of holiday wreathes and centerpieces all made by hand with fresh, local greens.

A sit-down gourmet luncheon of homemade soups, breads, and pies is one of the fair’s most popular attractions; a classic Christmas video will be shown, and Santa Claus will attend from 10:30am to 1:30pm. The fair runs from 9:30am to 3pm. Admission is free and open to all. First Church is open & affirming. Come with friends, family, and children.

First Church of Christ (UCC) is located at 190 Court Street in Middletown. The church is handicapped accessible, and free event parking is available across the street at Middle Oak parking garage. For more information, call the church office at (860) 346-6657. Or see us at

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

New Policy For Safe Sidewalks & Snow Removal

City residents should take note of a new policy, and new ordinance, on sidewalk snow removal.  In the past, property owners could be fined for failure to remove snow and ice from sidewalks after snow storms. Under the new policy, those who fail to remove snow and ice within 24 hours after a storm will still be fined, but the fine will increase for each violation.

Also, and perhaps most significant, in the past the fines did not always accomplish the goal of getting the sidewalk cleared, leaving the situation still dangerous for children walking to school and for other pedestrians.  (Perhaps some property owners found it more convenient to pay the fine than to get the work done. Maybe they didn't pay the fine.) But under the new ordinance, the City may hire someone to remove the snow and bill the property owner for the job,  then place a lien on the property if the bill is not paid.

Below is the actual text of the ordinance.  It's another step toward safer walking conditions--in other words, Complete Streets--in Middletown!

LIVING WELL: Wellness Fair at First Church

The Living Well
is a morning of alternative activities for healing and recovery.

Come & discover healthy ways to change.

Saturday, Nov. 18
First Church in Middletown 
190 Court Street.

First Church in Middletown will host a community Wellness Fair--
The Living Well, on SATURDAY, November 18th. Registration begins at 8:30am and a
dmission is FREE. Displays will feature healthy ways to change for relaxation and recovery.

Demonstrations and conversations, counselors and teachers
will describe various healing activities, including 

         Music therapy     REIKI     Art therapy   
    REFLEXOLOGY        Cooking for health     Meditation     
Essential oils       TAI CHI     Chiropractic care
First Church is located at 190 Court Street. It's the church without a steeple across from Middle Oak parking garage, a block up from Main Street in Middletown, CT. For additional information, call the Church Office: 860-346-6657 or see First church is open and affirming. Come and bring your friends, family, and children.

Newly Elected Officials To Be Sworn In Tonight

The 8 officials elected to office in municipal elections will be sworn in during the biennial meeting of the Common Council, tonight at 7PM in Council Chamber, City Hall. As with the last swearing-in ceremony, the meeting will feature poetry and prayers.

After a reading from Susan Allison, Poet Laureate, and an invocation from Father Russell Kennedy, Pastor at St. Francis, Mayor Drew will administer the Oath of Office or Affirmation of Office.

This Council Meeting will end with a benediction given by the Reverend Dr. Edward C. Ford, Sr, of the Waterbury church Bread of Life Evangelistic Ministries

There will be light refreshments after the religious and government ceremonies are finished.

click to enlarge

Monday, November 13, 2017

Songs of WWI with Tom Callinan at the Russell Library

Jeremiah Coleman, a Middletown native killed in WWI.

On Thursday, November 16, at 7:00pm, Middletown native Tom Callinan will present a program of diverse songs from and about World War I, drawn from his 40-year career as a full-time creative and performing artist.
Tom will be self-accompanied with an assortment of string, wind and percussion instruments. In addition to weaving a narrative about 'The War To End All Wars,' Tom will present the answer to a life-long family mystery: why his great-uncle Jerry’s name was not included on the WWI obelisk on the Washington Terrace Green.

 With the assistance of the Middlesex County Historical Society and Russell Library's archives of period newspaper articles, Tom was able to learn more about Jeremiah's life, and as a result he composed 'Searching for Great-Uncle Jerry.’ He hopes it will not only help keep Private Coleman's name and memory alive, but it may inspire others to find out more about their respective family histories.

Drop-in ; no registration.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Russell Library. 
Call (860) 347-2520 for additional information.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

INTERFAITH Dinner: Festival of Gratitude, Sunday, Nov. 12, 4pm

Interfaith Festival of Gratitude
At Table, In Community

First Church in Middletown invites you to attend an INTERFAITH Festival of GRATITUDE, to share in our season of abundance and celebrate our interfaith connections. The interfaith supper takes place on Sunday, Nov. 12, at First Church in Middletown, 5-8 pm. 

This seasonable event features a table of sacred food, an interfaith panel discussion, educational displays, a food drive for Amazing Grace Food Pantry, and time for leisurely conversation with people of all faiths.  

Please bring a nourishing dish that reflects your spirituality, with a detailed list of ingredients to display for those who have food restrictions or allergies. ALSO, if you are able, please bring a can of food for Amazing Grace Food Pantry.

All Are Welcome
Dish or no Dish!

First Church in Middletown, 190 Court Street (side door).
For more information, please call 860-346-6657, or see us at