March 24, 2017

Join a ‘Building Bridges for Justice Activism Teach-In’ Today in Hadlyme


It is believed that “knowledge is power,” that facts matter, and that for all of us to be effective activists, we need to enhance our knowledge and build our skills.  Therefore, Together We Rise – Building Bridges for Justice, is hosting an Activism Teach-In on Saturday, March 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Hadlyme Public Hall.

Experts from across Connecticut will speak from their experience and speak on the following topics:

  • How to Talk to Your Legislator &  Make An Impact- Michele Mudrick
  • The Lives of Undocumented Kids in CT & How to Help- Edwin Colon
  • Demystifying the State Budget & Fight for Children- Derek Thomas
  • Intersectionality 101

Parking will be available on the street near the Hadlyme Public Hall.  No handicap access available.  An ALS interpreter will be present.

A lunch break is scheduled and it is suggested that participants bring a bagged lunch. Bagged lunches may be ordered from the following:  Two Wrasslin’ Cats at (860) 891-8446, Grist Mill Market at (860) 873-3663, and Higher Grounds at (860) 615-6112.  Place your order by March 3 and let these partnering businesses know that you will be attending the Activism Teach-In when you place your order. Coffee, tea, and water will be available during the Teach-In.

To register (space is limited) and for more information, visit: Together We Rise – Building Bridges for Justice at togetherwerisect.com

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‘Bikes for Kids’ Host Fundraising Dinner Tonight

Former Center School teacher David Fowler is now President of Bikes For Kids.

Bikes for Kids, the charity founded by Chuck Graeb of Old Lyme to donate bikes to children in need, hosts a Fundraising Dinner this evening at the Westbrook Elks Lodge from 6 to 11 p.m.

There will be raffles, a silent auction and dancing along with appetizers and a buffet dinner. The dinner includes stuffed sole and chicken.  Live music will feature Buffalo Jr. and Twice 2 Much.

All proceeds will benefit the acquisition of a permanent facility, bikes, helmets, parts and smiles for children in the community.

Tickets are $75 per person and can be reserved by calling 860-388-BIKE ( 2453 ).

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Lyme-Old Lyme HS Achieves Second Highest AP Scores in Connecticut

Students hard at work in a Chinese class at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, where recently released results show the school achieved the second highest AP scores in the state.

The College Board released the Class of 2016 Advanced Placement (AP®) Cohort Data, Feb. 22, which showed that Lyme-Old Lyme Schools came in as the school system in Connecticut with the second highest overall performance. No other Middlesex or New London County school system achieved a ranking higher than 20th

Performance is calculated based on the number of students in the Class of 2016 cohort who participated in at least one AP exam at any time during high school and who scored a ‘3’ or higher on at least one of those exams. Neither students nor exams are counted more than once.

In response to this exceptional news, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser stated, “To be ranked second in the entire state is an incredible achievement and further supports the notion that the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools provide an education which rivals or exceeds both public and private schools throughout the State of Connecticut. This is a credit to the students, staff, and communities of Lyme and Old Lyme to achieve at such a high level in what is a very competitive atmosphere.”

The national AP® report shows an increase in both the participation and passing rates for the high school graduating Class of 2016 showing that equity and excellence can go hand in hand. Neviaser commented, “There is a widespread belief in education that it is impossible to expand access while maintaining high performance. The AP Program tells a different story.”  

This too holds true in Lyme-Old Lyme as the school system ranked 5th in the state in terms of AP® participation. Participation is calculated based on the number students in the Class of 2016 cohort who participated in at least one AP exam at any time during high school. Neither students nor exams are counted more than once.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools accept students from all communities throughout Connecticut. If you would like to become a part of this high performing school system, visit www.region18.org or contact Ian Neviaser, Superintendent of Schools, at neviaseri@region18.org or 860.434.7238 for more information.

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Obituary: Death Announced of Walter Kaylin, Former 52-Year Resident of Old Lyme

Walter Kaylin 06.28.1921 – 02.15.2017

Walter Kaylin, 95, died peacefully on February 15 at Apple Rehab in Guilford, Ct., after a long period of declining health. His two daughters were by his side.

Walter was born in New York City on June 28, 1921 to Rose and Alexander Kaylin. He grew up on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and graduated from Dewitt Clinton High School, then the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the Signal Corps during World War II. Walter’s first love was writing: He was anthologized by the Saturday Evening Post and worked for many years at Magazine Management, writing adventure stories for pulp magazines in a stable of writers that included Mario Puzo, Joseph Heller and Alex Austin. He wrote two novels, Another Time, Another Woman and The Power Forward. Walter enjoyed a late-in-life resurgence of his cult popularity with the 2013 publication of two collections featuring his stories: Weasels Ripped My Flesh and He-Men, Bag Men and Nymphos.

Walter was an avid sports fan since his days of visiting Yankee Stadium as a boy, once sending a pep-talk letter to a slumping Lou Gehrig, who sent a note of thanks in return. Years later, he found another hero in Muhammad Ali from the time he was Cassius Clay, not only for his prowess in the boxing ring but for his role in the Civil Rights Movement and his resistance to the Vietnam War. Walter expressed his own staunch opposition to the war in frequent, impassioned, well-informed letters to the editor of the local paper at a time when he was all but a lone voice.

He was a jazz enthusiast and a record collector; at his beachfront home of 52 years in Old Lyme, Ct., he played the piano at least an hour a day before enjoying a cocktail with his wife, Peggy, while gazing out at the waves and invariably remarking, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” He continued to play jazz piano at Apple Rehab, to the delight of his fellow residents, even when his right hand was contorted by arthritis.

Walter was predeceased by Peggy, both parents and his brother, Edward. He is survived by his two daughters, Jennifer Kaylin (Randall Beach), a writer in the communications office of the Yale School of Public Health; Lucy Kaylin (Kimball Higgs), editor of O, The Oprah Magazine; and four grandchildren: Natalie Beach, Charlotte Beach, Sophie Higgs and Owen Higgs.

Walter Kaylin was a charismatic, sharp, devoted, delightful husband, father, grandfather and friend–a man of boundless curiosity, searching intellect and deep social conscience. His family, who will carry him in their hearts forever, are grateful to the staff at Apple Rehab for their compassionate care. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in Walter’s memory may be made to Doctors Without Borders or the ACLU.

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Festival of Women’s Plays Opens 2017 Season at Ivoryton Playhouse, Friday & Saturday

IVORYTON:  The Ivoryton Playhouse announces the 2017 inaugural festival of the Women Playwrights Initiative –  Four One Acts by Four Fabulous Women Playwrights. Two evenings of staged readings will take place on Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4, at The Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT, followed by discussions with playwrights, actors and directors.

Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m.,  there will be two readings presented. 

Guenevere by Susan Cinoman. Teenagers, Guenevere and Arthur, are best friends–a fierce competitor, she always bests him in sword fights. What will be the outcome when confronted with Excalibur in the stone?

Apple Season by Ellen Lewis. To make arrangements for her father’s funeral, Lissie returns to the family farm she and her brother fled 26 years before. Billy, a neighbor and school friend, comes by with an offer to buy the farm. As memories, needs, and passions are stirred, we learn what happened to the siblings as children, and of Lissie’s startling price for the farm.

Saturday, March 4, at 7 p.m., there will be a further two readings presented.

Buck Naked by Gloria Bond Clunie. Two daughters are thrown into a tizzy when they discover Lily, their 60-plus-year-old mother, has decided to spice up life by tending her back yard garden – “au naturel”!

Intake by Margo Lasher. An arrogant young psychiatrist meets an 80-year-old woman for what he assumes will be a routine examination. During the course of their relationship, he comes to realize how little he knows, and as she reveals her deep love and understanding of her two aging dogs, both doctor and patient learn about life, love, and hope.

Before the performance on Saturday at 5 p.m., the League of Professional Theatre Women will host a panel discussion with the playwrights, moderated by Shellen Lubin, followed by refreshments before the 7 p.m. readings.  If you would like to attend the pre-reading discussion, you must register by Feb. 26, at this link.

To purchase tickets for the Friday, March 3, or Saturday, March 4, readings – each starts at 7 p.m. – call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Tickets:  $20 adult each night; $15 senior each night; $10 student and LPTW members.

A special two-day pass (tickets for Friday and Saturday night performances for $30) is being offered.  Call the box office at 860.767.7318 to reserve your two-day pass.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT  06442.

For more information about the Women Playwrights Initiative, contact Laura Copland, Director of New Play Development, at laurac@ivorytonplayhouse.org.

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Connecticut Voters Take Fight Against Extreme Poverty to D.C.

Sen. Murphy addresses a group of ONE members on Capitol Hill.

Constituents Lobby Sen. Chris Murphy to Protect Funding for International Development

On Tuesday morning, Feb.28, Nutmeggers descended on Capitol Hill as part of the ONE Campaign to urge Sen. Chris Murphy to do everything possible to protect the international development funding in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget and promote girls’ education, essential to fighting extreme poverty.

Constituents asked their members of Congress to preserve funding at its current level—which is less than 1 percent of the budget—and to vigorously oppose any proposed cuts. Slashing funding could have a devastating impact on the fights against extreme poverty and deadly diseases, and jeopardizes Americans’ safety and job creation.

Sen. Murphy speaks with Kelly Smith and Sarah Feller about funding for international development.

ONE is a policy and advocacy organization of more than 7.5 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE was co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono to raise public awareness and press political leaders to combat AIDS and other preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs.

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Opinion: With Thanks to the Groups That Have Already Sent Comments About the High-Speed Train Route to the FRA … Now It’s Our Turn

An Acela train travels through Rocky Neck State Park this morning.

We are fortunate here in Old Lyme that three different organizations made the decision to commit a vast amount of resources, primarily in terms of innumerable volunteer hours, to prepare pages and pages of well-researched comments on the Federal Rail Authority’s (FRA) Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

These comments prepared respectively by the Town of Old Lyme, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE), and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and SECoast (its special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley) have now been submitted their comments to the FRA ahead of the March 1 deadline for receiving comments.

It should be stressed, however, that the FRA is not obliged to respond to these comments in detail (as it was in the previous stage of the project) prior to issuing its Record of Decision (ROD), which is anticipated as early as March 1 but now seems likely to be issued later in the month at the earliest.

Reading the comments — 82 pages by the Town of Old Lyme,  a five-page-letter by the CFE, and 41 pages by the CT Trust for Historic Preservation and SECoast — one can only marvel at the level of detail and comprehensive analysis displayed coupled with incisive and objective reasoning. The overall message of all three groups is crystal clear — the FRA failed to communicate its plan effectively, failed to analyze its impact sufficiently, and failed to justify its choice of proposed route convincingly.

A veritable army of people assisted with the production of the Town’s comments, the covering letter for which was sent by Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder; the CFE letter is signed byAndrew W. Minikowski, Esq., Legal Fellow of the CFE; and the CT Trust for Historic Preservation’s comments are authored by Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the Trust, and Gregory Stroud, Director of Special Projects and founder of SECoast. We owe an enormous debt of thanks to these individuals and the many, many more — some named, some unnamed in the documents — who have freely given of their time and expertise to formulate these coherent arguments against the FRA’s currently proposed route.

It should be noted that all the documents stress the respective organization’s support for the concept of an improved passenger rail service from Washington DC to Boston, Mass.

We, as a community, now owe it to these people who have worked so hard on our collective behalf to support their efforts and write or email the FRA today (tomorrow, March 1, is the deadline) with your own opinions about the Old Saybrook to Kenyon, RI bypass.  As Stroud said yesterday morning in response to a question asked at a presentation he made at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, “The FRA needs to hear from individuals.  It’s the number of comments that they receive, which will make an impact.  You don’t have to write a masterpiece.  It doesn’t have to be long.  Just write and, at minimum, mention the bypass specifically and say you do not support it.”

Comments should be sent by email to: info@necfuture.com or by mail to:
NEC FUTURE
U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration
One Bowling Green Suite 429
New York, NY 10004

So … top of your “To Do” list for today is to write that email or letter … you owe it to yourself, but more than that, you owe it to these selfless people who have already given so much for us, but ultimately, you owe it to your community.

Thank you so much.

Read a related Letter to the Editor from Town Attorney Jack Collins at this link.

 

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Lyme-Old Lyme HS Girls Take Second Place at State Gymnastics Championship

Class S State Championship runners-up!

Coach Kim Detuzzi led Lyme-Old Lyme to an amazing second place in the CIAC Class S gymnastics state championship, which was held Saturday at Pomperaug High School in Southbury. This result was the culmination of an extremely successful season during which numerous records were shattered by this talented team.

The contest was won by Woodstock Academy, which triumphed for the fifth time in a row with 151.425 points, while the Wildcats finished with an impressive 132.075 points.

Team members include Mary Bolles, Britney Detuzzi Anna Donato, Caroline Montanaro and Melia Tyrol.

Detuzzi scored 8.925 on both floor exercise and vault, 8.55 on balance beam and 8.2 on uneven bars, achieving the highest score of the team on each event.

The Wildcats, who finished as one of the top four scoring teams in the divisional championships, have now qualified to compete in the open team championship to be held March 4 at New Milford High School.

Congratulations, Wildcats!

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‘The Kate’ Hosts Annual Fundraising Oscar Party Tonight

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, The Kate, will hold a fundraising benefit on Oscar Night, this Sunday, Feb. 26, beginning at 7 p.m. and continuing until the Oscars are all awarded!  The Oscar Party is The Kate’s annual red-carpet event that honors 12-time Oscar-nominated, four-time-winning theatre namesake, Katharine Hepburn, while also making for a great party.

  • Walk the red carpet.
  • Pose for a photo or two.
  • Bid on an auction item.
  • Hold a real Oscar.

Watch the Oscars live on The Kate’s gigantic screen as you indulge in delicious appetizers, treats, and beverages.  Come and celebrate like a star!

A few individual tickets to attend the event are still available at www.thekate.org or call 877-503-1286.

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Cub Scouts Explore Historic US Naval Ships During Overnight Trip to Battleship Cove

Cub Scout Pack 27 of Old Lyme gather for a photo on board a battleship at Battleship Cove, Mass.

Cub Scout Pack 27 of Old Lyme recently stepped back in time, walking the decks and sleeping in the cots where Navy sailors once lived while fighting for the United States during World War II. The Pack took an overnight trip on Jan. 28 to Battleship Cove, in Fall River, Mass., to explore the world’s largest collection of historic U.S. naval ships.

Boys in bunks: finding out what sleeping on board a battleship is like.

Bear Scout Alex Glaras, 8, described the sleeping quarters. He said,

“It was huge and had so many canvas beds that I couldn’t count them all. Each column was four bunks tall and I was on the third level. I had to climb the beds like a ladder.” Bear Scout Trevor Buydos, 8, said, “I really liked sleeping high up in the pipe berths with my friends and the ship’s jail was a lot of fun.”

After touring the battleship Massachusetts, destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., submarine Lionfish, PT Boats 617 and 796, and the Russian missile corvette Hiddensee, the Scouts, their parents, and adult leaders, Tom Ortoleva, Peter Turtoro, and Chris Buydos, spent the night on board the famous battleship, the USS Massachusetts.

Watching the sunset from on board the “Massachusetts.”

Glaras said, “There were four decommissioned World War II ships … They were all hugely awesome!” Battleship Cove’s Nautical Nights program included a knot tying class, storyteller, living history presenter, and historical motion picture.

Seeing first hand the power of the battleship guns.

Bear Scout Connor Vautrain, 8, said, “At first I was scared to sleep on a ship all night. But once I got there I realized it wouldn’t move. A funny part about it was that when we got there they told us to go wait by the helicopter. I thought the helicopter would take us onto the ship. But then we just walked there! On the ship we saw a movie about the history of the ship. It was a lucky ship because no on on it ever died. We did a fire drill too. We had to sleep on cots; actually they were really comfortable. Overall, it was a blast!”

Alex Glaras stands on the deck of the ‘Massachusetts.’

Battleship Cove serves as the Commonwealth’s official memorial for Massachusetts citizens of all military branches who lost their lives in World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf conflicts, and most recently the Commonwealth’s victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

This Cub Scout was excited to explore the interior of a battleship.

Preserving five National Historic Landmark naval vessels, Battleship Cove also delivers educational programs that expose a national audience of 60,000 youths to a mission that promotes duty, honor and country. The trip enabled the Scouts to better understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by veterans of all military branches in all wars. “Battleship Cove was really awesome, and I hope to go back soon!” said Glaras.

Aerial view of Battleship Cove.

For over 42 years, Pack 27 of Old Lyme has seen hundreds of Old Lyme’s youth (Kindergarten through fifth grade) enjoy and climb the different ranks of Scouting into young adulthood.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout oath and law.  Pack meetings are held on the third Thursday each month. All are welcome.

For more information, contact Tom Ortoleva at ortoleva.house@gmail.com or Chris Buydos at cjbuydos@comcast.net.

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CT Trust for Historic Preservation, SECoast, Submit Lengthy Comments Opposing FRA’s Proposed High Speed Railroad Route, Criticizing Planning Process

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, their special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, have submitted 41 pages of comments to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the  Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which presents the Preferred Alternative of the Old Saybrook – Kenyon, R.I. bypass that runs through Old Lyme.

The powerful cover letter to the comments, the text of which is given below, summarizes the organization’s major ongoing concerns as follows: “We … remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.”

The cover letter concludes: “No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative … directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.”

The full text of the cover letter reads as follows below:

The full text of the 41 pages of comments can be read at this link.

Dear Federal Railroad Administration and NEC Future Project Team:

On behalf of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, our special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, we submit the following comments to provide feedback on the Preferred Alternative and the contents of the Tier 1 Final EIS for NEC Future. These comments are provided during the Waiting Period prior to development and issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD) for this project.

Since January 2016, the Connecticut Trust and SECoast have worked diligently and effectively to direct significant public attention to the NED Future Tier 1 EIS process. We did so out of grave concern for the impacts of proposed planning on the historic, cultural and environmental resources of Connecticut’s coastal communities. An education campaign that initially centered on Old Lyme, the western gateway of the proposed Old Sayrbook to Kenyon bypass, soon expanded region wide, jumped states to Rhode Island, and now includes Fairfield County communities in western Connecticut as well.

We have organized a notable volume of informed commentary on the NEC Future Plan, but remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.

No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative identified in the Tier 1 F-EIS directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.

Regards,

Daniel Mackay                                                                  Gregory Stroud 
Executive Director                                                           Director of Special Projects 
CT Trust for Historic Preservation                               CT Trust for Historic Preservation

 

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Connecticut Fund for the Environment Send Strong Letter to FRA Opposing Their ‘Preferred Alternative’ High Speed Rail Route

We have been invited to publish the text of a letter sent Feb. 23 from the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE) to the Federal Rail Authority (FRA), which, while supporting the principle of high speed rail, clearly states the CFE’s opposition to the FRA’s Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the following two headings:

  1. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative
  2. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment is the premier Connecticut-based legal defense for environmental actions. It also has the embedded bi-state organization, Save the Sound.

The letter reads as follows:

RE: Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement for NEC Future High Speed Rail Improvements Through Coastal Connecticut

Dear Acting Administrator,

Connecticut Fund for the Environment (“CFE”) and its bi-state program Save the Sound respectfully submit the following comments on the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) for the NEC Future high speed rail project, specifically those portions of the EIS detailing anticipated impacts to coastal Southeastern Connecticut. CFE is a state and region-wide nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental protection and advocacy that represents more than 4,700 members in both Connecticut and New York.

I. CFE is Major Supporter of High Speed Rail and its Numerous Benefits

High speed rail is critical to the transportation future of both the Northeast region and the country. CFE is a longtime supporter of high speed rail service in the Northeast. High speed rail must be an integral component of our nation’s transportation infrastructure as the United States moves further into the Twenty-First Century. In addition to making long distance travel faster and more convenient, high speed rail can serve as a major economic driver both as the result of its construction and implementation and the transport efficiencies it will provide to business and private citizens. Accessible high speed rail is not only an efficient mass transit alternative for many citizens, but an effective way of decreasing carbon emissions produced by the transportation sector. This is of particular importance to states such as Connecticut, where the largest increasing portion of the state’s greenhouse gas output originates from motor vehicle transportation.(1) Many of Connecticut’s major highways, including I-95 and I-84, become clogged with traffic during normal commute times, increasing the potential for excessive greenhouse gas emissions and inefficient use of fossil fuels. Accordingly, alternative means of transport that would decrease congestion on Connecticut’s highways in major travel corridors are a necessary and much needed public objective. Given the environmental benefits of high speed rail overall, CFE strongly supports proposals to make high speed rail a reality for commuters along the Northeast Corridor. It must, however, been done properly. The current NEC Future EIS provides such scant detail about potential site-specific environmental impacts that CFE is compelled to request that Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) conduct a much more thorough analysis prior to making any committed decisions regarding the NEC Future project. In its current form, the EIS fails to provide any substantive information from which citizens can draw conclusions regarding the potential environmental impacts of the preferred alternative.

II. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative

As a threshold matter, CFE questions whether FRA and the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) have conducted a sufficient analysis in making the determination that the preferred alternative evaluated the Tier 1 EIS is the most feasible alternative to be pursued in order to increase rail speed along the Northeast Corridor. In regard to Connecticut, the preferred alternative entails following the existing rail corridor with a new track segment from Old Saybrook, Connecticut to Kenyon, Rhode Island and rail improvements to existing track from New Haven, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts. Without meaningful environmental analysis, however, it is impossible to evaluate whether the preferred alternative is, in fact, the best alternative.

In selecting a preferred alternative so early in the process, FRA risks committing a large volume of resources to pursuing an alternative that may, ultimately, be impractical or unduly expensive to implement on the ground. This is particularly so given the preferred alternative at issue, which entails routing a new section of rail through a densely populated portion of the state and includes formidable infrastructure elements, such as a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River, discussed in greater length below. In electing to proceed along the existing coastal rail corridor, CFE is concerned that FRA may have selected convenience at the expense of overall benefit. Although FRA presumably conducted these analyses, the Tier 1 EIS contains very little comparative evaluation of the preferred alternative against the details of some of the other proposed routes through Connecticut. For example, there is no comparison between the Hartford route and the coastal route. Likewise, the EIS does not explore potential issues that may arise in regard to each alternative, such as the difficulty of blazing a brand new segment of rail through rural eastern Connecticut or the potential for the Connecticut River tunnel to be unworkable and replaced with the earlier proposal of an elevated rail bridge. As FRA prepares its final record of decision, CFE urges FRA to seriously explore the pros and cons of the preferred alternative against the routes in some of the other proposals.

III. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

In regard to the preferred alternative as it stands in the Tier 1 EIS, CFE expresses serious concerns about the level of analysis conducted with respect to the proposed new rail bypass between Old Saybrook and Kenyon.(2) In addition to constructing a new segment of rail through a heavily populated and historic portion of the state, the EIS proposes constructing a rail tunnel beneath the Connecticut River estuary.(3) The EIS, however, is devoid of any details or feasibility analyses of such a tunnel. Indeed, there is little that can be determined from the EIS beyond the fact that the preferred alternative contains a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River in Old Lyme, Connecticut. There is no information concerning the design of such a tunnel, whether a tunnel is even feasible in the proposed location, how the tunnel will impact the Connecticut River riverbed, or the presumably extensive environmental impacts that will occur when constructing a subsurface tunnel beneath the largest river estuary in the region. Although the tunnel was ostensibly proposed in order to ameliorate the concerns that the public had with an elevated rail bridge being constructed through the heart of a historic downtown area, as the NEC Future project originally proposed, the lack of meaningful detail about the impacts of constructing such a tunnel leaves open the possibility that will ultimately prove so burdensome and destructive that FRA will fall back on its original rail bridge proposal.

CFE recognizes that the current document is programmatic in scale,(4) yet the analysis of the preferred alternative provides the public with no information other than the fact that FRA anticipates constructing a tunnel and a line on a map where the tunnel will ostensibly be located.(5) Although site specific impacts are relegated to Tier 2 in a tiered EIS process, the decision to do so in the present case leaves numerous communities and citizens in utter uncertainty as to the specifics of FRA’s exact plans in regard to the Old Saybrook-Kenyon bypass. As courts have recognized in the context of other Tiered EIS projects, the broad nature of review at the Tier 1 stage can result in serious ongoing implementation and impact problems at Tier 2 and thereafter.(6) Given the lack of precise detail about the proposed tunnel at this stage, there is a risk that when rigorous analysis of the tunnel occurs during Tier 2, FRA will encounter potential impacts that would have best been evaluated—and perhaps avoided—earlier.

For example, given the information present in the current EIS, it is impossible to know the exact manner in which the tunnel will affect the immediate river environment. The EIS does not state whether the tunnel will be through bedrock below the river or a structure along the river bottom or some other alternative. The Connecticut River estuary is unique among the region’s estuaries because of its extensive wetland and habitat resources.(7) A tunnel has the potential to seriously disrupt the Connecticut River’s natural flow into Long Island Sound and will likely affect the deposition patterns of nutrient rich sediments that flow into the estuary from further upstream. Likewise, if the proposed tunnel’s construction will disrupt the layers of sediment already present on the river bottom, such disruption will have the inevitable effect of unearthing pollutants that have become sealed off by more recent sediment deposition and reintroducing them into the water column, in effect repolluting the ecosystem with old pollutants. Yet none of these details or contingencies are addressed in the Tier 1 EIS, but relegated to later analysis at Tier 2.

Similarly, the Tier 1 EIS does not adequately address the physical impacts that would presumably occur on lands adjacent to the tunnel beneath the Connecticut River. The EIS, for example, is bereft of any meaningful analysis of the potential impacts on the invaluable wetlands that flank the Connecticut River estuary. As previously mentioned, the installation of a rail tunnel on the bottom of the river could, depending on its design and depth, potentially disrupt the historic flow patterns of the Connecticut River, which in turn could lead to the loss of wetlands. Likewise, the actual construction of the tunnel descent on the lands abutting the riverbank could negatively impact or destroy wetlands. Losing wetland acreage in a high population area such as coastal Southeastern Connecticut is a dangerous proposition, given the increased risk of shoreline flooding as climate change ushers in rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events. Given the level of detail in the EIS, however, it is uncertain as to whether any such impacts will occur or how extensive they may be. Due to the high risk that harm to wetland resources may ensue, such analysis should not be delayed to a subsequent stage of the administrative process.

Additionally, the Tier 1 EIS delays appropriate analysis of potential impacts to endangered and threatened species until the Tier 2 stage.(8) As is widely recognized, the Connecticut River estuary serves as invaluable habitat to a large number of species. For example, the estuary is noted as possessing one of the highest diversities of fish species in the Northeast.(9) Likewise, the estuary and river corridor serve as an important resource for numerous migratory bird species.(10) As the EIS notes, many federally endangered species are currently present in the very local ecosystem to be affected, including the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii), Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), and several species of sea turtle.(11) As a practical matter, putting off the site specific analysis of impacts to endangered species can result in numerous problems either at Tier 2 or during project implementation, should an endangered species stand in the path of the tunnel’s proposed route.(12) The risk of such an occurrence is high, for as the EIS recognizes, Connecticut contains the highest number of endangered and threatened species of all states impact by the overall project.(13) At that point, irretrievable resources and time will have been needlessly spent in vain when an earlier analysis could have avoided such a problem while safeguarding habitat.

CFE also notes its grave concern regarding the earlier proposal for an elevated rail bridge over the Connecticut River that would direct the route of the new spur through the heart of historic Old Lyme and nearby cultural sites such as the Florence Griswold Museum. As the preparation of an environmental impact statement requires the sponsoring agency to consider the effects on the “human environment,” the health and quality of life in communities directly affected by a massive project such as NEC Future should be of paramount importance in FRA’s decision making. Should the Connecticut River tunnel ultimately prove unworkable or overly expensive, CFE shares the concerns of many citizens that FRA will implement the original rail bridge proposal instead, thereby subjecting a historic town center to irreparable damage and a diminution in aesthetic and environmental value. If there is even a remote possibility that FRA may ultimately implement a rail bridge over the Connecticut River as an alternate aspect of the new spur, it must fully present and analyze the expected environmental impacts at the current stage of the process so that the public may be fully and adequately informed of such a possibility.

Overall, CFE recognizes that the NEC Future project is one of enormous scale. Although a Tier 1 EIS is intended to be programmatic in scale, the current document provides directly affected communities and stakeholders with only the merest indications and suppositions as to what actual impacts will entail. In terms of the preferred alternative’s Old Saybrook-Kenyon spur and the subsurface tunnel included therein, the lack of concrete detail leaves local communities in a state of uncertainty as to what such a massive infrastructure project will mean in terms of impacts on the human environment and nearby ecosystem resources. As it is entirely possible that a yet unforeseen environmental impact will prevent actual implementation of the preferred alternative as presented, affected communities and the public are justly concerned that a subsequent, on the ground decision will result in earlier aspects of the proposed project being spontaneously resurrected as a means of quickly avoiding a major environmental impact and moving ahead with the project without additional delay. Given the importance of high speed rail to the future, it is necessary that the environmental impacts of any proposal are fully evaluated and understood by all stakeholders prior to moving forward.

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew W. Minikowski, Esq.
Legal Fellow Connecticut Fund for the Environment
900 Chapel Street, Upper Mezzanine
New Haven, CT 06510
203-787-0646 ex. 108

Supporting notes referenced by number in the text:
1 Acadia Center, “Updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for Connecticut: Recent Increases and Underlying Factors,” (June 13, 2016), available at http://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CT-GHG-EmissionsInventory-Report-2.pdf (last visited Sept. 9, 2016).
2 Federal Railroad Administration, “Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement,” Appendix A, 40–41 (Nov. 2016), available at http://www.necfuture.com/pdfs/tier1_deis/appendix/app_a.pdf (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
3 Id. at 7.5-7.
4 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, “Guidelines on the Use of Tiered Environmental Impact Statements for Transportation Projects,” 3 (June 2009); see Ilio’ulaokalani Coalition v. Rumsfeld, 464 F.3d 1083, 1094 (9th Cir. 2006).
5 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2.
6 See Hoosier Environmental Council v. U.S. Dept. of Transp., 2007 WL 4302642, *7 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 10, 2007).
7 Jenna Pirotta, “Connecticut River Estuary: Haven for Juvenile Fish and Migratory Fish Highway,” N.O.A.A. FISHERIES GREATER ATLANTIC REGION, available at https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2012/haven_for_juvenile_fish_and_migratory_fish_highway.h tml (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
8 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-9.
9 Glenn D. Dreyer and Marcianna Caplis, “Living Resources and Habitats of the Lower Connecticut River,” 56 (Dec. 2001), available at http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1037&context=arbbulletins (last visited Jan. 26, 2017).
10 Id. at 48.
11 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-5.
12 See generally Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 98 S.Ct. 2279, 57 L.Ed.2d 117 (1978).
13 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-3.
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Earth2 Presents a WELLfed Event Tonight in Essex to Raise Funds to Build a Sustainable Well in Uganda

Villagers in Oculoi, Uganda, collect drinking water from an unsafe source. The WELLfed event being held Friday at Centerbrook Architects will change these people’s lives by funding a well to provide them for the first time with clean drinking water.

On Friday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Earth2 presents their fifth WELLfed fundraiser, at Centerbrook Architects & Planners at 67 Main St., Centerbrook, Conn. Guests will wander the tasting stations, learn about the nonprofit beneficiary and well-building partner, Call To Care Uganda, and add their artistic touch to a quilt gift that will travel to Africa.

In so doing, guests will let their kindness stretch across borders and fuel profound change, improve health and sanitation, inspire critical educational opportunities, and jumpstart the safety and empowerment of over 800 people of all ages in Oculoi Village in the Kaberamaido District in Uganda.

In-kind donors include venue sponsor Centerbrook Architects & Planners, A Thyme To Cook, Caseus, Black Hog Brewing Co., Coastal Cooking Co., Fresh Salt at The Saybrook Point Inn, RIPE Craft Bar Juices, Wright’s Steakhouse, J Cakes, La Cuisine Catering, Cafe SoL, rental sponsor Connecticut Rental Center, Earth2, Gourmet Galley, graphic designer Julie Clements-Reagan, La Belle Aurore, Savvy Tea, SKYY Vodka, Spice Catering Group, quilt sponsor The White Dress by the Shore, Zest Fresh Pastry, and more.

The brief program will include Centerbrook Architects partner Chad Floyd, Josh Chalmers (Earth2 CEO and WELLfed founder) and Martha Wells-Hoffman (Call To Care Uganda Executive Director and founder), who notes that “supplying a source of clean water to Oculoi gives the gift of life. The world doesn’t stand a chance without water. It is what is standing between a billion people and their health, safety and the opportunity to unlock their true potential!”

“Earth2’s mission statement is ‘Change the world before bedtime,’” says Chalmers, “and WELLfed brings that goal to life for our guests and empowers them to make an enormous change with a small-but-potent effort, all while eating, drinking and socializing with old and new friends. What we create in just two hours is immeasurable. Safe water means improved health, opportunities, and time for education – and the villages make a commitment to maintaining the wells for generations to come.”

Chalmers recently made a pledge to help build 100 wells by the end of 2020 and WELLfed is launching other fundraising challenges, including a WELLfed Fashion event in New York City, WELLfed WEDNESDAY restaurant day on March 22 in Boston in partnership with Summits Education to build a clean water system in Haiti, and other local and national initiatives and collaborations.

Event tickets are $75 per person, all-inclusive, with 100 percent of the ticket price going directly to the well build. Tickets and details are available at this link or by contacting Earth2 at Josh@earth2company.com.

If you cannot attend this event and want to support the dream, donation pledges can be arranged through the same contact email and fundraise.com link. You may also contact Chalmers with questions, for more information and photos, or to join the fun as a tasting station donor.

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Democracy, White House & the Presidency: Prof. Borelli Speaks at Lyme Library Tomorrow

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington DC aka The White House.

The Friends of Lyme Public Library present a talk by MaryAnne Borrelli this Saturday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. titled, “Democracy at Home, The White House and the US Presidency,”

Borrelli will speak on the White House – presidential residence, historic site, conference center, museum – in all its functions and roles, it is an enduring symbol of American power.  But is it the people’s house or the politicians’ office building?  Is it a symbol of American democracy or privilege?  These are just two of the questions to be considered as attendees take a (long-distance) tour of this beautiful and grand mansion.

Borrelli, a graduate of Wellesley College, Boston College and Harvard University, joined the faculty of Connecticut College in 1992 where she is a Professor of Government.  Her research focuses on gender and the US presidency, and she has participated in the White House Transition Project, which has mentored both Democratic and Republican White House staff members.

The author/editor of several books, The Politics of the President’s Wife (2011) and The President’s Cabinet: Gender, Power and Representation (2002), she will bring books to sell.

For more information or to register, call (860) 434-2272

Lyme Public Library is located at 482 Hamburg Rd./Rte. 156, Lyme, CT 06371

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LYSB Hosts Free Screening Tonight of “The Mask You Live In,” Followed by Q & A

Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) hosts a free community screening tonight, Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6:30 p.m. of  the award-winning documentary, The Mask You Live In, in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.  Doors open at 6 p.m. and members of the public are welcome.  Due to mature content, this event is recommended for ages 14 and up

Safe Futures and the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut will lead a Q&A session after the screening.

The film follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.  Research shows that compared to girls, boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives.

Boys are pressured by the media, their peer group, and even the adults in their lives.  This film confronts messages encouraging boys to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence.  These gender stereotypes interconnect with race, class, and circumstance, creating a maze of identity issues boys and young men must navigate to become “real” men.

Reviews of the film include the following:

  • “A deeply affecting documentary about how boys are directed to grow up to be “men” — and what it really means to be a man in today’s society.”
  • “The Mask You Live In changed my life. It’s the first documentary I’ve seen that is not only for me, but about me.”
  • “Mandatory viewing for all parents, not just parents of boys. Anyone who works with children will benefit from this thought provoking film.”

Major community sponsors are Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, Safe Futures and the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut.  Shoreline Web news LLC, publisher of LymeLine.com, is also proud to be a sponsor of the event.

For more information, contact LYSB at 860.434.7208 or visit the LYSB website.

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Letter to the Editor: Town Attorney Urges Residents to Review Old Lyme’s Response to FRA’s Tier 1 High Speed Rail Proposal, Send Comments to FRA Before March 1

To the Editor:

On December 16, 2016, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released its Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) concerning NEC Future – the proposed plan to shorten the travel time between Washington, D.C. and Boston via high-speed rail. The FRA’s plan includes building a tunnel under the Connecticut River and Old Lyme and significantly altering routes to straighten out the tracks between Old Saybrook and Kenyon, Rhode Island.  This plan will have devastating impacts on the environment, as well as potential damage to some of our historic buildings and our home and commercial values.

A strategy team was convened by Bonnie Reemsnyder, our First Selectwoman, to build the case for why the proposal included in the Final Tier 1 EIS is an unacceptable option. After many weeks of research with some the country’s leading authorities on the environment, estuary, threatened species, acoustics, vibration and other issues, this team submitted the below-referenced 82-page response to the FRA on February 14, 2017.

I strongly urge Old Lyme residents to review the town’s cover letter and comments to the FRA found at the links given here.

We are totally supportive of infrastructure improvements that will support safe and efficient rail service, but those can and should be achieved without the dramatic route changes proposed in this EIS.  Please consider sending your own comments to the FRA immediately.  The FRA noted that it “will consider feedback received on the Tier 1 Final EIS in developing the Record of Decision (ROD). The FRA will accept and review feedback on the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Final EIS until the publication of the ROD, which is not anticipated prior to March 1, 2017”.

Please call town hall at (860) 434-1605 x212 if you have further questions.  You may send your comments by email to: info@necfuture.com, or by mail to:

NEC FUTURE
U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration
One Bowling Green Suite 429
New York, NY 10004

It is likely that comments received after March 1st will not be considered so please act quickly!

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Jack Collins, on Behalf of the Old Lyme NEC Future Strategy Team,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author was a member of the Old Lyme NEC Future Strategy Team.

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9 Town Transit Partners with Google Maps for Online Trip Planning

AREAWIDE — Finding local bus route information just got a whole lot easier.  In fact, you probably already have it available on your smartphone.  Google Maps now includes local bus routes and schedules in its directions feature.

Riders no longer have to read timetables.  They simply enter the date and time that they hope to arrive at their destination and the trip planner will provide three options, showing the amount of time and number of transfers for each option, letting you easily select the most convenient trip.

Google Maps can even provide walking directions, so you can find out exactly how to get to the nearest transit stop or station, and how to get to your destination once you leave the train/bus.  For extra convenience, Google Maps has most locations already stored, so you only need the location name or just a category, such as fast food.

“We are pleased to welcome 9 Town Transit to Google Maps.”, says Ryan Poscharsky, Strategic Partner Manager at Google.  “This partnership shows 9 Town Transit’s commitment to innovating, as well as serving and attracting new riders. Together we can provide useful and accurate information to help people quickly get to where they want to go.”

Another important feature is the ability to plan trips across agencies and modes.  CT Transit New Haven and Hartford, CT Transit Express, Shoreline East and Metro North are all available in Google Maps, so it is easy to plan your trip from Old Saybrook to Hartford, from Manhattan to the outlet malls, or from your Clinton to downtown New Haven.  Google Maps tells you all transfers required along with the connecting agency name and contact information.

“We hope this tool makes it easier than ever to plan your trip by bus or train in our region”, says Joseph Comerford, Executive Director of 9 Town Transit.

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Obituary: Death of Margaret Amy Hoffman (Peggy) Announced

Margaret Amy Hoffman

Margaret Amy Hoffman (Peggy), 95, died peacefully on January 31 in Peterborough, NH after a long period of declining health. 

She was born in Spring Lake, New Jersey on August 24, 1921 to Everard C. Stokes and Phyllis M. (Beavis) Stokes, who had emigrated from England in 1919.  Her father published three books of poetry and was vice president of the Church Fire Insurance Corporation based in New York, which provided insurance to Episcopal churches. Margaret grew up in the coastal town of Sea Girt, NJ graduating from Manasquan High School in 1939, where she had played basketball and tennis. Following a preparatory year at St. Mary’s School in Peekskill, NY she entered Radcliffe College as a chemistry major where she met her husband John L Hoffman, an editor of the Harvard Lampoon and midshipman with the USNR. He was the son of artists Harry and Beatrice Hoffman of Old Lyme, CT. Margaret and Jack went on to have five children, settling first in Old Lyme, CT and then Winchester, MA, before retiring to Amherst, NH in 1984.  As children arrived, her chemistry training gravitated towards kitchen cuisine and her interests shifted to child psychology and sociology. She had always been a champion of the underdog and an advocate for the less fortunate. In midlife she completed a BS in psychology at Northeastern University in 1968 followed by a MSW at Simmons College in 1973.  She served as a clinical instructor at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, was employed as a medical social worker at the Winchester Hospital in MA and then for the rest of her career at Kennedy Memorial Hospital for Children in Boston. There she provided psychosocial assessments of children with a broad spectrum of problems including neurological, emotional, behavioral and developmental issues. She also provided individual and family therapy and was a group leader for the Rehabilitation Unit.

While living in Old Lyme, CT she had been a regular at the Old Lyme Beach Club during the 1940s and 50s. She and her husband were benefactors of the Florence Griswold Museum and the Old Lyme Land Trust, providing the first main portion of the riparian woodland that was to become the Hoffman-Matthiessen-Degerenday Preserve along Sill Lane.               

Following retirement and the move to Amherst, NH she pursued the creative interests she hadn’t had time for while working and raising a family.  She took a variety of art classes and worked hard at developing her natural talent.  She became a skilled artist, working in watercolor, oils, and pastel, and produced beautiful work, mainly flower studies and portraits.  She also took piano lessons and became an excellent pianist, although she was too shy to play in front of people.            

For several years she volunteered for the Friends of the Amherst Town Library and FISH, a group that provides rides to medical appointments.         

Margaret was an avid reader, library patron, and a gardener who thrived on being out in the sunshine maintaining her lovely flower gardens.  She loved dogs and had a number of them over the years.  Earlier in her life she enjoyed horseback riding.  She was adept with a sewing machine and made most of her own dresses (all the while grumbling about what a waste of time sewing was).  She was a devoted mother who frequently said that her greatest joy in life was her children.          

Her beloved husband Jack, a Harvard social anthropologist, died in 1992 after nearly 50 years of marriage.  In the years following his death, she took several trips abroad, traveling to England, France, Spain, and Russia with her sister Mary or via Elderhostel.  In 2002, while attending the Unitarian church in Wilton, she met John Voss of Hollis, NH.  They spent a happy five years in each other’s company until his death in early 2008.  Margaret then moved with her dog Cedric to the RiverMead retirement community in Peterborough NH, where she lived until the time of her death.      

She was predeceased by a son, John L. Hoffman, Jr. in 1957, by both parents, her sister Mary Horn, and her beloved West Highland white terrier, Cedric.  She is survived by her sister Beatrice Miles, her devoted children, David Hoffman and his wife Suzanne of Bivalve, MD and Old Lyme, CT; Stephen Hoffman of Alexandria, VA; Thomas Hoffman and his wife Alexis of Anchorage, AK; and Elizabeth Hoffman and her partner Anthony Iovino of Putney, VT.  She is also survived by her four grandchildren, Molly and husband Mike, Alex and wife Amanda, Michael and wife Cheryl, and James; three great-grandchildren, Sophie, Oliver, and Madelyn; her sister Beatrice Miles, and seven nieces and nephews.           

Margaret was smart, funny, artistic, empathetic, insightful, and generous.  She will be greatly missed.     

Her family would like to thank the staff at RiverMead for their unfailingly patient and loving care.  

She was buried at the Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme, CT, with arrangements through the Jellison Funeral Home of Peterborough, NH.  A family memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in Margaret’s memory may be made to Westie Rescue of New England, 10 South Washington Street, Norton MA 02766 www.westierescuene.com or your local humane society.   

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Essex Winter Series Presents Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band Today

Essex Winter Series Artistic Director Mihae Lee.

ESSEX — Known for its unique concerts of world-class talent and diversity, Essex Winter Series plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary year with a robust schedule for the winter months. The season-opener on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School in Deep River is a musical tour de force led by Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee.

Lee has carefully curated a program featuring breathtaking music that spans over 600 years. She will be joined by audience favorites William Purvis, Patricia Schuman, Randall Hodgkinson, the Attacca Quartet, as well as emerging young artists.

The concert begins with a celebratory fanfare of Copland, then a high spirited string quartet by Haydn, wonderful cabaret songs and jazz ballads. The first half ends with the ultimate crowd-pleaser, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue arranged for piano four-hands and performed by Ms. Lee and Mr. Hodgkinson.

The second half begins with beautiful Renaissance music for brass, then an aria from the opera Carmen and the finale movement of Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, both in a passionate gypsy style. The concert will end with a bang with hot jazz performed by Jeff Barnhart, Vince Giordano, Paul Midiri, Joe Midiri, and Jim Lawlor.

The season continues on Feb. 19 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band performing a centennial celebration of recorded New Orleans Jazz. On March 5, it’s Garrison Keillor and “Stories in Mind, Poems by Heart.” The beloved raconteur, author, and entertainer will share his unique brand of wisdom and humor in what is sure to be an unforgettable afternoon.

Chanticleer, an orchestra of voices, returns to the series on April 2 to perform the program “My Secret Heart” which includes a world premiere by Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Cole Porter and Noel Coward standards, and the return of Augusta Read Thomas’ “Love Songs” to the repertoire.

All performances take place on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. with the Jan. 8 and Feb. 19 concerts at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, and March 5 and April 2 concerts at Old Saybrook High School. Individual tickets are $35 and $5 for full-time students with savings offered for subscriptions to all four performances. Seating is general admission. To purchase tickets or learn more, visit www.essexwinterseries.com or call 860-272-4572.

The 2017 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Guilford Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, and Tower Laboratories. Outreach activities are supported by Community Music School and donors to the Fenton Brown Circle.

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Celebrate Winter Today at Chester’s 26th Annual Winter Carnivale

Street entertainers delight the crowds at the Chester Carnivale. File photo by John Stack.

CHESTER — The townspeople of Chester are looking forward to their 26th annual winter celebration, Chester Winter Carnivale, on Sunday, Feb. 19.

That’s when the picturesque small town of Chester is filled with people cheering on ice carvers as they create beautiful sculptures from blocks of ice, while laughing at the antics of street performers and applauding a long parade of new and antique tractors being driven down Main Street by their proud owners. All that, and food, music, art, and shopping too!

Bill Bernhart stands proudly beside his ice carving at the Chester Carnivale in this 2012 file photo by John Stack.

The day begins at 10:30 a.m. when the carvers get started on their ice sculptures. Both professional and student ice carvers will be hard at work, demonstrating their techniques to onlookers while they try to be finished by 1 p.m. for judging.

Meanwhile, the Chester Hose Company, Inc. is holding its annual “Chilly Chili Cook Off” fundraiser. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., go to the Chester Hose Company Fire House at 6 High Street and pay your $5 admission so you can taste all the different chilis cooked and dished out by restaurants, caterers and fire departments. You can vote for your favorite fire department chili, favorite restaurant chili, most original chili, and best dressed chili serving table.  Beverages will be sold. All proceeds go to the Chester Hose Company.

Still hungry? Pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, soups, and lots more will all be available inside and outside the restaurants in town. Also, popcorn and kettle corn.

Just be sure to be back out on Main Street by 2 p.m. for the 15th Annual Chester Tractor Parade. Colorful and rusty, big and small, antique and new, decorated and plain – tractors are driven through the town center in an incredibly long parade. You never knew there were so many tractors in the Connecticut River Valley!

Free activities will keep the whole family entertained for the day. Colorful beads and balloons will be handed out throughout town all day and face painting is available. The Chester Museum at The Mill will be open at no charge, offering a place to explore Chester history. Galleries and shops will be open, many with special events.

Tractors and more tractors descend on Chester on Carnivale day for the Annual Tractor Parade. File photo by John Stack

Chester Winter Carnivale is held rain or snow or shine.  Main Street will be closed to traffic. Free parking is available in the commuter lot on Rte. 148 at the foot of Rte. 9 and in the Roto-Frank parking lot on Inspiration Lane (exit 6) and at Greenwald Industries on Rte. 154 (212 Middlesex Avenue). (Follow the signs.) All lots will be served by courtesy shuttle buses to the town center.

Tractor Parade at a previous year’s Chester Carnivale. File photo by John Stack.

For more information, visit facebook.com/chesterctwintercarnivale or https://finditinchesterct.wordpress.com/

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