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September 15, 2019  |  

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Person of the Week

Publications

Valley Courier

As captain of Team ICE (that’s Ivoryton, Centerbrook, and Essex), Don Shannehan expects the best showing in years when his players face off against the teams from Chester and Deep river on Sunday, Sept. 22 for the annual Old Time Baseball Game.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Don Shannehan: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Published Sep. 11, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Don Shannehan thought his ball playing days were over after he broke a finger fielding a line drive in an adult softball game more than 25 years ago.

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Valley Courier

Throughout his career as a teacher and administrator in local schools, Dave Russell has kept his oar in the water as a member of the Westbrook Marine Patrol. 

Photo by Aviva Luria/The Courier

Keeping Current with Dave Russell

Published Sep. 04, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Dave Russell was born in a city located at the confluence of three rivers, but it was in Connecticut that he became a boater.

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Valley Courier

As children’s librarian at the Deep River Library, Elaine Alexander likes to have all the ingredients on hand to keep kids of any age engaged and entertained.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Elaine Alexander: Kids Are Her Game

Published Aug. 28, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Maybe you saw Bat Girl at the library, or maybe Mrs. Santa Claus, or maybe a pirate.

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Valley Courier

Accomplished classical musician Michael Sanders’s main career was in transportation, though in his retirement he’s been able to share his musical appreciation by serving on the board of the Robbie Collomore Concerts. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Michael Sanders: This Double Bass is not a Fish

Published Aug. 21, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Michael Sanders’s family has a special relationship to the Person of the Week column. Mike is the third member of his family to be featured.

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Valley Courier

The fire department’s only currently licensed drone operator, Essex Fire Marshal John Planas explains that gear like the drone and the recently approved new fireboat can make a major difference in rescues and fire suppression. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

John Planas: Fired Up About Safety

Published Aug. 14, 2019 08:30 a.m.

John Planas, the Essex fire marshal, had some very good news last week.

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Valley Courier

Ready for the road: Joe Urso and his wife Cheryl will make an eight-day motorcycle ride from Florida to Farmington this month to raise funds for Special Olympics CT.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Joe Urso: On the Road Again

Published Aug. 07, 2019 08:00 a.m.

Joe Urso drove to Florida 20 years ago. He vowed he would never do it a second time, but he will break that vow this month. He will be doing the route again but in the other direction, south to north, starting in Florida and returning to Connecticut. What’s more, this time he will do it on a motorcycle and his wife Cheryl will be riding on the back.

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Valley Courier

What goes around has come back around for Michael Hammond, who is returning to the Essex Library Board of Directors after a hiatus of more than a decade—and he’s bringing some new ideas. Photo by Julia Hammond

Michael Hammond: An Advocate for Libraries

Published July 31, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Michael Hammond is doing it again, serving once more after an 11-year break on the board of trustees of the Essex Library Association.

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Valley Courier

A native Texan, Margaret Paulsen has found a welcoming home in New England, and in particular at the Deep River Congregational Church, for which Margaret is organizing the annual Rummage Sale coming Saturday, Aug. 17. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Margaret Paulsen: A Bargain Isn’t Always in the Basement

Published July 24, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Need a chair? A sled? A music stand? A pet carrier? Or maybe something more exotic like an antique Swedish birthing chair?

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Valley Courier

An artist by training, The Nest board member Mary Jo Helchowski also works as a barista at the community coffee shop that has a goal of providing meaningful work for those with intellectual or emotional disabilities. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Mary Jo Helchowski: Coffee for a Good Cause

Published July 17, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Mary Jo Helchowski was sitting outside The Nest, the new coffee shop on Deep River Main Street, drinking, of course, coffee. More often she is inside, behind the counter, making the coffee, but this was a Monday and the shop was closed.

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Valley Courier

Deep River Housing Authority Chair Lisa Johnson takes her commitment to area seniors a step further by preparing her famous Monday night meals for seniors at Kirtland Commons. Photo courtesy of Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson: Food as a Way to Happiness

Published July 10, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Using food as her genre of giving and to make others happy, Lisa Johnson seasons her phenomenal cooking with love.

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Valley Courier

After a lifetime of caring for the elderly, Andrea Schaffner will be stepping down as Essex Meadows’ medical director. Photo by Rita Christopher

Andrea Schaffner: A Change of Status

Published July 03, 2019 08:30 a.m.

What happened to the college freshman who wanted to be an artist and a writer?

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Valley Courier

Chester resident Deb Vilcheck is chairman of the annual Four on the Fourth Road Race in downtown Chester. Photo by Karena Garrity

Deb Vilcheck: Hitting the Ground Running with Four on the Fourth

Published June 26, 2019 08:30 a.m.

For 20-year Chester resident Deb Vilcheck, being the chairman of the 41st annual Four on the Fourth Road Race in downtown Chester is one more way to give back to a town and a community she loves so much.

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Valley Courier

For this year’s Ivoryton Fourth of July Parade—the 14th for the village—Lorraine Donovan has the unenviable job of parking czar, but she’s also had the pleasure of helping to plan this small-town event. She also helps organize the village’s Ivoryton Illuminations in winter. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Lorraine Donovan: On Duty on the Fourth

Published June 19, 2019 08:30 a.m.

If Lorraine Donovan talks to you while she is volunteering at the Ivoryton Fourth of July parade, she may utter one of the most feared sentences in the English language: You can’t park here.

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Valley Courier

Artist, retired executive, and World War II veteran Janet Lee continues at 96 to lead a remarkable and interesting life. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Janet Lee: Time to Remember

Published June 12, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Brendan McCaffery has contributed to New Haven county’s oldest Irish festival for many years. He says it takes a huge group effort to put together the cultural display coming soon to the North Haven Fairgrounds.

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Valley Courier

A fifth-generation local, Charlene Doane is helping others learn about their neighbors (and raise funds for the Ivoryton Library) with the Through the Garden Gate tour of historic homes and gardens in Ivoryton and Centerbrook on Saturday, June 15.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Charlene Doane: The Allure of the Tour

Published June 05, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Why do people do it? Maybe an interest in horticulture? Or, maybe interior decorating?

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Valley Courier

Following in the footsteps of Sosse and the late Jack Baker, Nancy Pinney is running the Chester Gallery and making her own connections to the Chester community.

Photo by Jim Wallis

Nancy Pinney: New Face at the Chester Gallery

Published May 29, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Sometimes people work hard to find the perfect solution to a problem. Sometimes, it just falls into their laps.

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Valley Courier

A career to look forward to: that’s Mary Hambor’s hope for each graduate she helps gain an internship or other Capstone project at Valley Regional High School.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Mary Hambor: A Turn for Every Intern

Published May 22, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Young, eager, and enthusiastic, just needs some job experience. Everybody was there once.

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Valley Courier

Physical therapist Kristen Driscoll Vollaro draws on her success in running and coaching Spartan races for helping those of all fitness levels recover from injury.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Kristen Vollaro: An Obstacle is an Opportunity

Published May 15, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Carry a burlap sack filled with 100 pounds of wet sand one-third of a mile up a hill? Shimmy across a slack cable suspended 25 feet above water until the halfway point and then jump in and swim the rest of the way?

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Valley Courier

Fused-glass artist Jeni Gray-Roberts is returning as defending champion to the Huckleberry Finn Recyclable Raft Race on Saturday, May 18. The free event is sponsored by the Chester Land Trust. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Jeni Gray-Roberts: A Raft of Fun

Published May 08, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Huck Finn and his runaway companion Jim floating down the Mississippi River on a raft is one of classic scenes of American literature.

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Valley Courier

To help empower a new generation, Lorrie Milton founded She’s Speaking, an advocacy group that supports local high school and middle school girls as they learn from women in leadership roles. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Lorrie Milton: Speaking of Speaking Up

Published May 01, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Lorrie Miller wants to get the word out to young women: You can speak up; you can make a difference; don’t buy into a lesser opinion of yourself.

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Valley Courier

Ducks for all interests: Ahead of the Saturday, May 4 Duck Race to benefit Chester Rotary and Homeward Bound CT, Lynette Bester is Rotary’s current champion rubber duck salesperson. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Lynette Bester: No Ducking the Question

Published April 24, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Is a little rubber duck floating in the bathtub a treasured childhood memory? There is an opportunity to recreate that memory with a special twist, a rubber duck race, at the upcoming Chester Spring Weekend on Saturday, May 4 at 4 p.m. What’s more, the tiny ducks will be floating for a good cause.

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Valley Courier

Carter Gowrie is a lifelong sailor who has crafted a career around his hobby.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Carter Gowrie: On Sail!

Published April 17, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Some people are lucky enough to discover what they love to do when they are young—really young. In the case of Carter Gowrie, his father snuggled him in a basket and took him out in a sailboat when he was three months old. He has been sailing ever since.

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Valley Courier

Barbara Nair, director of Spectrum Gallery in Centerbrook and Arts Center Killingworth, looks forward to future growth for her arts organization.

Photo by Margaret McNellis/The Courier

Barbara Nair: From Town to Country

Published April 10, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Barbara Nair had no clue that her weekend house in Killingworth would launch an art center, gallery, store, and more: an organization that has become a beacon for arts, artisans, and art appreciators.

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Valley Courier

After a six-year stint as musical director for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., The Reverend Benjamin Straley followed his calling to the priesthood. He has served as assistant rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex since last summer. 

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Benjamin Straley: Faith is Music to his Ears

Published April 03, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Benjamin Straley’s mother was sure he wouldn’t. But he did, even though he was a painfully shy 11-year-old boy.

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Valley Courier

Barbara Nair, director of Arts Center Killingworth and Spectrum Gallery, looks forward to future growth for her arts organization./Photo by Margaret McNellis/The Source

Barbara Nair: From Town to Country

Published March 27, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Barbara Nair had no clue that her weekend house in Killingworth would launch an art center, gallery, store, and more: an organization that has become a beacon for arts, artisans, and art appreciators.

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Valley Courier

Her subjects may range from a tropical island to a seedy back alley, but what’s consistent in Verna O’Donnell’s work is that it helps her students tell a story. A paraeducator at John Winthrop Middle School, Verna is a volunteer set painter for stage productions at both the middle and high schools. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Verna 0’Donnell: Going Home Again

Published March 27, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Verna O’Donnell has a question: “Who says you can’t go home again?” That’s because Verna has, both to John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School.

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Valley Courier

An eye for design—and the skilled hands to see those designs to fruition—have served Matilda Yenowich Dumbril well in her career. Her latest creations, beautifully re-purposed stage curtains, are part of the Chester Historical Society’s The Red Velvet Challenge. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Matilda Yenowich Dumbrill: Clothes Call

Published March 20, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Every auction employs objects from Chester and requires only that participants use them in original creations in whatever way they wish. This year’s Red Velvet Challenge uses 18-inch squares of the velvet cut from what were former stage curtains at the Chester Meeting House.

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Valley Courier

This time of year, you’ll usually find RiverQuest Captain Mark Yuknat out on the water, tracking down bald eagles and other fauna of the lower Connecticut River.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Mark Yuknat: The Eagle has Landed

Published March 13, 2019 08:30 a.m.

It was blustery day, temperature in the 20s, winds blowing at between 12 and 15 miles an hour, with a wind chill that made it feel like 11 degrees, but the people disembarking from RiverQuest at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex were smiling as they made their way up the gangplank. They had seen what they came for: eagles.

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Valley Courier

John Heiser was named the co-grand marshal alongside his wife Judy of the upcoming Essex Go Bragh Parade to be held Saturday, March 9. Photo courtesy of John Heiser

John Heiser: Ready for a Grand Time at Essex Go Bragh Parade

Published March 06, 2019 08:30 a.m.

For 52 years, John Heiser has lived in the same house in Ivoryton with his wife Judy.

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Valley Courier

A longtime veteran of sports broadcasting, Al Jaffe now brings his skills to a different arena: local theater. He’s a member of the Ivoryton Playhouse Board of Trustees and is helping the theater host four one-act plays staged at the upcoming Women Playwrights Initiative on Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2. Photo by Rita Christopher/Harbor News

Al Jaffe: A Seat on the Aisle

Published Feb. 27, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Al Jaffe loves theater and now he has a theater to love. Al has recently become the president of Board of Trustees of the Ivoryton Playhouse.

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