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November 22, 2019
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Person of the Week

Publications

Valley Courier

Drawing from a lifetime of adventurous cooking, Ron Lavoie used time recovering from an injury to craft a cookbook with 100 recipes and the wisdom of an accomplished home chef. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Ron Lavoie: A Recipe for Dinner and for Life

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

Ron Lavoie has written a cookbook, Everyday Gourmet: A Lifetime of Cooking. But there is more than dinner in the story of how this volume came to be.

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Valley Courier

Sarah Whitney keeps the legacy of her father, Paul Marden, alive in Essex through her efforts with the Readers Aloud program at Essex Elementary—plus quite a bit more.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Sarah Whitney: Father Knows Best

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

There have been a number of families where family members have been Person of the Week at different times.

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Valley Courier

A former U.S. Navy aviator, Keith LaFlair will be a part of the Chester American Legion Post 97 Veterans Day parade and ceremonies on Monday, Nov. 11.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Keith LaFlair: Marking a Special Day

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

Keith LaFlair spent more than 40 years flying in airplanes but not as a passenger. Keith was a pilot and there’s more to the story than that.

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Valley Courier

Stacie DiNello is joined on the Riverwind Inn porch by Fred and Ethel, this year’s Deep river Merchants Association Scarecrow Contest third-place winners. (The Deep River historical Society’s Corn Goddess scarecrow took top honors, with the Friends of the Deep River Library’s entry taking second.) The contest is just one of the projects Stacie helps oversee as president of the merchant’s association. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Stacie DiNello: In at the Inn

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

Okay, want to date yourself? Then identify Fred and Ethel Mertz. If you are a certain age, that’s no problem. Fred and Ethel were Lucy and Desi’s faithful neighbors and sidekicks on the old I Love Lucy Show.

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Valley Courier

It’ safe to say Peggy Winkley knows how to be a good neighbor. She and her family lived in many of the homes she’s renovated for use by adults with mental and emotional challenges as part of Brian House, for which she serves as executive director. 

Photo courtesy of Peggy Winkley

Peggy Winkley: Making a House into a Home

Published Oct. 16, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Thirty-five years ago, Peggy Winkley and her late husband Mal had an idea.

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Valley Courier

Howard Tuttle will do just about anything for the library, including opening his home for the Friends of the Essex Library’s Festival of Dinners on Saturday, Nov. 2.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Howard Tuttle: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Published Oct. 09, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Howard Tuttle doesn’t know the menu yet but he does know he and his wife Peggy will be having a dinner party on Saturday, Nov. 2.

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Valley Courier

Deb Smith joined the Essex Library as executive director in July and has since immersed herself in the library and the community. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Deb Smith: Creating Community Through Books

Published Oct. 02, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Coming to Essex with an impressive résumé, Deb Smith brings a strong sense of excitement and verve to her new job as executive director of the Essex Library Association. Smith hit the ground running on July 1, the first official day of her job, and she hasn’t stopped yet.

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Valley Courier

Gary Nash, Jr., a movable bridge project manager, felt the need to get the hands-on experience as an ironworker to do his job well. He’s taking that same attitude toward learning as the cubmaster of the newly formed Tri-Town Cub Scout Pack 13, which serves boys and girls in Chester, Deer River, and Essex. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Gary Nash, Jr.: Leader of the Pack

Published Sep. 25, 2019 08:30 a.m.

Here’s a riddle: What is blue and yellow and runs in packs? Answer: Cub scouts.

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Valley Courier

To help highlight the contributions that all members of the community can make if given a chance, Marjorie Russell is helping stage the Water Lantern Celebration to benefit A Little Compassion and the Nest Coffee House on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Plattwood Park, Winthrop Road, Deep River. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Marjorie Russell: Light the Night

Published Sep. 18, 2019 08:30 a.m.

On Saturday, Oct. 5 at dusk, Marjorie Russell will launch a lantern with a light inside and a special message written outside on the pond at Plattwood Park in Deep River.

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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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