Saturday, October 01, 2022

Valley Courier Person of the Week

Valley Courier



Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Paula Webster: The Trick Worked

Published July 13, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Paula Webster explains that she was tricked into quilting. A friend from her knitting group who also quilted made her an offer straight out of The Godfather: an offer she could not refuse.

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Mike Adams has already collected a first - he was the first person to sign up for the 44th annual Four on the Fourth road race. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Michael Adams: Road Runner

Published June 29, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Mike Adams already has a first and Chester Rotary’s Four on the Fourth road race has not even been run yet. Mike was the first Chester resident to sign up for the 44th annual race this year. Though many road races now measure distances in kilometers, Chester calculates distance, as it always has, in miles.

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Closing in on 50 years of service to the Essex Volunteer Fire Department, Paul Fazzino, Sr., and his wife (and fellow volunteer) Jeannine will be grand marshals of the Ivoryton Fourth of July Parade. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Paul Fazzino, Sr.: Fire Fighter and Now Grand Marshal

Published June 22, 2022 08:30 a.m.

You know what they say: location, location, location. And that, Paul Fazzino, Sr., says, explains his early enthusiasm for firefighting. He grew up “almost next door” to the fire house in Ivoryton.

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As president of the River View Cemetery Association, Dick Mather is helping lead the years-long effort to restore some of the cemetery’s oldest grave markers. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Dick Mather: A Grave Situation

Published June 15, 2022 08:30 a.m.

A grave situation demands a grave solution. No surprise, this is a story about graves, specifically the oldest graves in the River View Cemetery in Essex.

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World War II veteran Ed Hemmann served in the Pacific Theater before returning to Connecticut for a long and rewarding career in banking. In light of the recent 80th anniversary of America’s entry into the war, the Deep River Historical Society is hosting a new exhibit, Remembering our Deep River Veterans, that seeks to preserve and present the experiences of Hemmann and his fellow vets. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Ed Hemmann: Thanks for the Memories

Published June 08, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Ed Hemmann is a war veteran, not of Afghanistan, not of Iraq, not of Vietnam or Korea, but of a war that increasingly few people living today have firsthand memories of: World War II.

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As a longtime volunteer with Buddy Track, Chester Elementary School Secretary Gail Capezzone gets a chance to work with student and adult volunteers throughout the Region 4 district. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Gail Capezzone: Buddying Up

Published June 01, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Gail Capezzone has a helpful hint for the correct spelling of her last name.

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After an admittedly young lifetime in a restaurant, Maddie Kayser was ready, able, and willing when her mom Hedy Watrous decided to hand over the keys to Deep River’s famed Whistle Stop Café. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Maddie Kayser: Taking Over at the Whistle Stop

Published May 25, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Ask Maddie Kayser what she has learned since taking over the Whistle Stop Café in Deep River last January from her mother Hedy Watrous; it’s not cooking, it’s not restaurant management.

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Musicians at Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School are used to working with Kevin Lam, but about 60 new musicians from throughout the community joined him recently to perform “Kyiv, 2022” with the high school musicians at their spring concert.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Kevin Lam: Banding Together

Published May 18, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Kevin Lam conducts bands. But Kevin, instrumental music director at Valley Regional High School (VRHS) and group lessons teacher at John Winthrop Middle School, had never conducted a band the size of the Ukraine Benefit Ensemble, the group he recently led. The large group performed as a part of the spring concert at the high school.

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Serving on the Essex Board of Selectmen gives Stacia Libby a chance to work in the interests of her neighbors. Photo by Aaron Rubin/The Courier

Libby Stacia: Everyone Needs to Be Heard

Published May 11, 2022 08:30 a.m.

“You talk about everything at a bar. You sit at a bar, everyone always wants a beer, there’s no pressure to sell, they’re coming to you,” she says.

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That woman with the sword? That’s Vickie Miorelli, captain of the Essex-based Sailing Masters of 1812 fife and drum corps, which will commemorate the anniversary of the 1814 British raid on Essex Harbor in the The Burning of the Ships parade on Saturday, May 14. 

Photo courtesy of Vickie Miorelli

Vicki Miorelli: Call Her Captain

Published May 04, 2022 08:30 a.m.

This could be a Final Jeopardy question, and Vickie Miorelli would know the answer

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Dick Shriver and his wife Barbara lived in Lviv, Ukraine, for seven years and continue to receive firsthand reports of the war tearing that country apart. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Dick Shriver: Firsthand Knowledge of Ukraine

Published April 27, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Dick Shriver has something to say about Ukraine, and not just because he listens to news reports. Dick and his wife Barbara lived for seven years from 1995 to 2002 in Lviv, one of Ukraine’s major cities in the west of the country near the Polish border.

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Angela Jones is among the Chester Rotarians out in force in Chester for Chester Squirrel Days from Friday, April 29 to Sunday, May 1 (the annual Rubber Duck Race and Float Parade is on Saturday, April 30). Angela is co-chairing this year’s festivities with John Ivimey. 

Photo courtesy of Angela Jones

Angela Jones: Squirrel It Away

Published April 20, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Angela Jones will not be wearing a squirrel costume on Chester’s upcoming Squirrel Days, Friday to Sunday, April 29 to May 1.

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After a couple attempts at retirement, Dennis Powers is now sharing his strategic planning expertise with a number of local nonprofits. He’s also rear admiral of the Cruising Club of America, which is presenting a series of talks on the Newport to Bermuda Race at the Connecticut Spring Boat Show. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Dennis Powers: Over the Bounding Main

Published April 13, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Dennis Powers has been sailing for more than six decades, but at the upcoming Connecticut Spring Boat Show at Safe Harbor Essex Island on Friday to Sunday, April 29 to May 1, he will be on dry land.

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A veteran of each Con Brio concert since its founding 25 years ago, Leslie Quarrier will be singing at Con Brio’s Spring Concert on Sunday, April 10. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Leslie Quarrier: Sing for Joy

Published April 06, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Predicting the future is always risky business but if all goes according to plan, on Sunday, April 10 at 4 p.m., Leslie Quarrier will be singing at Con Brio’s Spring Concert.

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A lifetime of interest in local history gives Don Perreault plenty to talk about in the Chester Historical Society’s upcoming presentation Creating Ephemera! 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Don Perreault: Pursuing the Past

Published March 30, 2022 08:30 a.m.

It’s the crumpled sales slip stuffed in a wallet; the candy wrapper left in a pocket; the old birthday card found in the stack of wrapping paper.

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A self-described Yankee at heart, Pamela Dumas Serfes has recently joined the Essex Library Board of Directors. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Pamela Dumas Serfes: Life in Balance

Published March 23, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Pamela Dumas Serfes made a decision that many people think about but far fewer do: she quit a prestigious, well-paying job without having a concrete employment plan for the future.

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Susan Dee is bringing her national marketing expertise to bear in her hometown as new president of the Essex Board of Trade. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Susan Dee: New Head of Essex Board of Trade

Published March 16, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Susan Dee has her own way to telling another person’s age. If someone hears her last name and then makes a comment about the late actress Sandra Dee, Susan has the information she needs.

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Deep River Land Trust member Janet R. Stone was recently honored with the 2021 Dr. Melvin Woody Lower Connecticut River Conservation Award from the Lower Connecticut River Land Trust. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Janet R. Stone: Rock On

Published March 09, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Janet R. Stone couldn’t have a more appropriate last name. Janet, who lives in Deep River, is a geologist.

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In his retirement, Rick Ruzzo is keeping active by volunteering at The Estuary and also playing saxophone in the New Horizons Band at the Community Music School in Centerbrook.

Photo courtesy of Rick Ruzzo

Rick Ruzzo: It Started with a Saxophone

Published March 02, 2022 08:30 a.m.

It’s not on the list of romantic gifts, but Rick Ruzzo decided to marry his wife Linda after she gave him a saxophone for his birthday.

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Aaron Page is the new president of the Chester Elementary School PTO—and he’s also helping fuel local appreciation for ‘90s Movie Trivia at an upcoming event at the Pattaconk 1850 Bar and Grill. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Aaron Page: Home Is Where the Heart Is

Published Feb. 23, 2022 08:30 a.m.

When Aaron Page said that last fall that he was going to take over as the new president of the Chester Elementary School PTO, he often got an unexpected and skeptical response.

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Emily Weeks, who teaches art history at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, is also working on a catalog résumé of the works of Jean-Léon Gérôme. Photo courtesy of Emily Weeks

Emily Weeks: Talking About Art

Published Feb. 16, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Have you seen Emily Weeks walking around Essex? She walks a total of 2 ½ hours a day, an hour and a half in the morning and another hour in the afternoon. Her outfits change, but she says big black sunglasses are a constant.

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When creating SoMA–South of Main Art Collective, Chelbi Wade set out to make a sanctuary where artists can work together and support each other. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Chelbi Wade: Let’s Hear it for South Main

Published Feb. 09, 2022 08:30 a.m.

People always ask. Chelbi Wade always explains. It’s about her first name. Where did it come from? Is that what her parents named her or has she created it? And how do you pronounce it?

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When Adam Kerop returned to his hometown of Deep River, he also brought his substantial fire fighting and prevention experience and now serves as fire marshal and assistant chief of the Deep River Volunteer Fire Department. Photo courtesy of Adam Kerop

Adam Kerop: Where’s the Fire?

Published Feb. 02, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Many youngsters say they want to be firefighters. Most do something else. Not Adam Kerop.

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Matthew Carrol, who owns and operates The Blue Hound Cookery with his wife Tracy, is also the assistant animal control officer for the tri-Town area. Photo courtesy of Matthew Carrol

Matthew Carroll: Dogged Determination

Published Jan. 26, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Harry Plaut, of Old Lyme, is the chief control officer for the three towns.

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Charlene Janecek has been involved in so many levels of local government, it’s hard to catch her by surprise, though her recent path to the first selectman’s seat certainly qualifies. Photo courtesy of Charlene Janecek

Charlene Janecek: Chester’s New First Selectwoman

Published Jan. 19, 2022 08:30 a.m.

You can call her first selectwoman, but Charlene Janacek says most people in Chester just call out, “Hey, Charlene.”

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Professional organizer Ellen Madere has seen a lot of clutter in her career, but in all cases, she says, creating a more organized life can be done. Photo courtesy of Ellen Madere

Ellen Madere: It’s Just Stuff

Published Jan. 12, 2022 08:30 a.m.

It’s a vicious cycle: Make the New Year’s resolution, break the New Year’s resolution.

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Delcie McGrath has coordinated local efforts to furnish a home for a family from Afghanistan seeking refuge in the U.S. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Delcie McGrath: Furnishing the Future

Published Jan. 05, 2022 08:30 a.m.

International news can seem remote but the connections to a far more local world are very real. Just ask Delcie McGrath. Delcie has been part of a team working on refugee resettlement this area.

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A self-described “long-term person,” Sybil Higgins has devoted three decades to the Deep River Congregational Church community, including 26 years as Christian education director.

Photo courtesy of Sybil Higgins

Sybil Higgins: Meet the Lady Behind the License Plate

Published Dec. 22, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Her first name is obvious if you see her license plate: it reads Sybil J, for Sybil Joyce, but there’s a lot more than a license plate to say about Sybil Higgins.

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Nature photographer Jonathan Steele earned his nickname “the tree whisperer” not through communing with the shrubbery, but for his knack for hanging lights for the annual Ivoryton Illuminations display. Photo by Gary Gray

Jonathan Steele: Lighting the Night

Published Dec. 15, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Jonathan Steele calls himself the tree whisperer. It’s not because he talks to the greenery, but because he is the person who hangs the Christmas lights on the tops of trees on the Ivoryton Green for Illuminations, the annual holiday light show sponsored by the Ivoryton Alliance.

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Ivoryton native Todd Ellison is back on the shoreline and is sharing his impressive musical experience as a member of the board of the Community Music School in Centerbrook. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Todd Ellison: No Business Like Show Business

Published Dec. 08, 2021 08:30 a.m.

Vito Corleone said it, as fans of the Godfather will remember: Every man has but one destiny. If so, Todd Ellison’s destiny was clear from the start. He grew up on Melody Lane in Ivoryton. So? He is an internationally acclaimed conductor, composer, music director, and vocal arranger.

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