September 23, 2017

Everyone Loves the Lyme Parade!

Smoke billows into the air immediately after the firing of muskets during the parade. Photo by B.A. Harris.

The sun shone, the band played, and the muskets boomed as Lyme held its annual Independence Day parade yesterday.

The parade heads down the hill towards the Hamburg Cove Yacht Club. Photo by B.A. Harris.

Each segment of the crowd eagerly awaited the parade’s arrival …

Looking down on the parade from atop a tank! Photo by T. Noyes.

and then cheered loudly and clapped enthusiastically as the parade approached.

Camp Clare campers added bright colors and youthful smiles to the parade. Photo by B.A. Harris.

Founded by the late Dr. William Irving as an impromptu event for his immediate family in 1958, this small town parade has now grown into something that draws a large crowd of not only residents but also many visitors from further afield.

Traveling in vintage style …

Yet it remains a delightfully casual affair that still marches proudly over Hamburg Cove each Independence Day led by soldiers firing their muskets, dressed in costumes from yesteryear.

Campers at Camp Clare gathered for a photo before the parade began. Photo by T. Noyes.

Also gathered for a photo were the firemen of Lyme.

Lyme’s fearless firemen stand in line for a pre-parade photo. Photo by T. Noyes.

Back to the parade proper, and George Willauer carried important cargo …

George Willauer drove the car carrying this year’s Grand Marshal.

namely, this year’s Grand Marshal, who was …

Lyme Public Hall President William Denow was the Grand Marshal. He is also a member of the Lyme Garden Club and volunteers for numerous other organizations in town including the Lyme Land Conservation Trust, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and the Lyme Cemetery Gang.

His fans at the Lyme Public Hall were out in force …

Lyme Public Hall and Lyme Land Trust members waved enthusiastically from the balcony of Lyme Public Hall, where an exhibition honoring the organization’s 50th anniversary was being held.

Other marchers included members of the Lyme Garden Club …

The ladies of the Lyme Garden Club are an always present parade participant. Photo by B.A. Harris.

the Lyme Fire Department …

Lady Liberty …

Lady Liberty proudly held her torch high as she was driven along the parade route.  Photo by B.A. Harris.

the four-man, hometown band …

The best (and only!) band in the parade played a selection of patriotic tunes. The popular jazz combo was missing for the first year in as many years as anyone can remember tuba player Stu Ingersol of Essex, who passed away this past spring.

George Washington, …

George Washington took a turn at the wheel.

whose passenger was …

Betsy Ross waved her flag and extended Independence Day wishes to all.

As always the military half track driven by Bruce Noyes took its place in the parade.

Tammy Noyes waves from the top of the military vehicle she and husband Bruce Noyes own.

as did vintage cars galore …

Antique cars made for a fine procession. Photo by J. Ballachino.

and still more …

This splendid automobile pulled a trio of bears … Photo by J. Ballachino.

Lauren and Brian Girasoli were there, decked in red variations for their first married July 4th parade …

Lauren and Brian Girasoli. Photo by M. Dickey.

Some sore-footed bears also joined the march in a vintage wheelchair courtesy of the Lyme Ambulance Association.

A pram with a purpose — Lyme Ambulance Association took the opportunity to publicize their upcoming Square Dance on Friday, July 7. Photo by M. Dickey.

And one poor pup was so traumatized by the musket fire that he refused to walk when the 15-minute event was over and had to be carried like a tired toddler.

Liz Wilson loyally carries her dog, who had been somewhat perturbed by the musket fire, to a safe refuge at the end of the parade. Photo by M. Dickey.

And then it was all over — until next year!

 

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Old Lyme Property Transactions are Back!

One of the immeasurable joys  — well, actually this one is distinctly measurable — of having a summer intern is that he kindly goes around picking up things that I have dropped. I’m, of course, using that expression figuratively … specifically, in this case, I mean Jacob has been quietly working away in the Old Lyme Town Hall in his spare moments and has now managed to catch up for us with records of all the Old Lyme property transactions in 2017!

We have more to do, including the Lyme property transaction for 2017, because we were way behind with all property transactions, but this is a terrific start — so thank you sincerely, Jacob!

Here’s the link to the 2017 Property Transactions — enjoy!

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Reemsnyder, Nosal Seeking Re-election to Old Lyme’s Board of Selectmen in November

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, a Democrat, plans to run again in November for the position she has held for the past five and a half years.

In an exclusive interview with LymeLine.com, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (D) has announced her intention to run for a fourth term in November of this year along with fellow incumbent Democratic Selectwoman MaryJo Nosal, with whom she has campaigned successfully for the past three elections.

Reemsnyder told LymeLine.com that she felt she and Nosal together had accomplished a great deal during their tenure by focusing on four broad areas of action.  These were, firstly, projects, which she described as, “Getting things done;” secondly, setting up systems “that will continue on after our tenure,”in a wide variety of areas; thirdly, “support initiatives that add to the quality of life for everyone in Old Lyme;” and finally, “improving customer advocacy and support.”

Democrat MaryJo Nosal will run again in November for the position of Old Lyme Selectwoman.

Reemsnyder went on to give detailed examples of activities she and Nosal had successfully completed under each heading.  In the ‘Projects’ category, she mentioned the Rogers Lake Dam and associated fish ladder, closure of the Town’s landfill, improvements at Sound View including new sidewalks, ADA crosswalks, paving, and parking payment kiosks, and the rebuilding of the Fred Emerson Boathouse at Hains Park.  She noted that the Sound View Improvements Project was 80 percent funded by a federal grant and the boathouse project 50 percent funded by a STEAP grant.

Under the systems heading, Reemsnyder highlighted how the introduction of centralized purchasing in town hall and enhanced cleaning schedule of town buildings had improved service without raising costs.  She also noted that maintenance improvements have resulting in the hiring of a Facilities Manager, who oversees a regular maintenance schedule on all town buildings and improvements in the grounds around town hall. The introduction of new technology under Reemsnyder’s watch has allowed online permit processing for land use permits, including building, zoning, fire marshal and possibly, in the future, health.

In terms of quality of life projects, Reemsnyder cited Lymes’ Senior Center improvements that have resulted in the hiring of a full time Senior Center Director and increased usage of the facility each year by seniors in Lyme and Old Lyme.  She also mentioned the installation of art displays in town hall, the introduction of a ‘No Smoking’ policy in town buildings and beaches, the increased use of town hall space for community meetings, and the establishment of the Rogers Lake Weeds Committee.

Finally, in the improving customer advocacy and support category, Reemsnyder listed some of her and Nosal’s achievements as the increase in the Town’s surplus from 16 to 23 percent, an improvement in work relations with both the Town of Lyme and Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, the establishment of two special funds — one for road improvements and the second for town buildings — to plan for the future maintenance and unexpected costs, and finally the vigorous opposition to the proposed high-speed rail bypass through Old Lyme.

Asked why she was running again, Reemsnyder said there are still a number of projects in the works that she and Nosal, “want to see through.” She said these include the Academy Lane Fire Dock, Sound View improvements, wastewater management in Sound View, the Mile Creek bridge and the LED street-lighting project.

Reemsnyder continued, “I think I have been very pro-active for people,” commenting, “I have been very communicative,” before adding, “When people call, I try to respond as soon as possible.”

And then she concluded cheerfully, “And most important, I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of Old Lyme.”

Editor’s Note: It should be noted that Reemsnyder supplied us with a lengthy list of her administration’s achievements, but we were only able to include a selection of them in this article.

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Studio 80’s ‘Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017’ on View Through October

View of the Sculpture Grounds at Studio 80 where the Opening Reception for Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 will be hosted on June 10. Three works by Gilbert Boro can be seen in the photo.

Opening Reception Features Live Performances by GUSTO Dance & River Valley Dance Project 

Gilbert Boro, owner and sculptor at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme, is hosting an Opening Reception on Saturday, June 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. for two new exhibitions on his property, Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 and The Golden Hour. All are welcome to attend the reception at which light refreshments will be served.

During the Opening Reception, there will be two live, outdoor performances at 6 and 7 p.m. by the GUSTO Dance & River Valley Dance Project. All are welcome to attend the reception, watch the dance performances and wander the beautiful gardens and on-site gallery to view the works.

GUSTO Dance & River Valley Dance Project will present two live performances on Saturday, June 10, at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds.

Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 follows on naturally from last year’s extremely successful juried exhibition of the same name , which drew large crowds and had to be extended into October to meet public demand.  This new exhibition on the grounds adjoining Boro’s studio and inside the Emily Seward Boro (ESB) Gallery on the property features works created by 17 widely acclaimed sculptors interspersed among Boro’s own sculptures, along with works by 22 other contributing artists.  More than 30 sculptors from across the country responded to the Call for Entries submitting some 60 works.

Boro’s expansive Sculpture Gardens are located on 4.5 acres of his residence on historic Lyme Street in the heart of Old Lyme, Conn.  The beautifully landscaped grounds slope down toward the Lieutenant River offering a unique en plein air experience for the exhibition, which combines both large- and small-scale contemporary sculptures. Many of the works, which are in a variety of media, are for sale.

In Love with an Idea’ is the signature mixed media piece in Susan Hickman’s ‘The Golden Hour’ exhibition on view in the ESB Gallery at the Sculpture Grounds during Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

A second exhibition will be on view in the ESB Gallery located on the Studio 80 grounds during the Showcase. “The Golden Hour” will feature mixed media works by talented indoor artist Susan Hickman, who was born a twin in rural Ohio.  She grew up in a small town and went on to study graphic design and photography at Ohio University.

Hickman moved to New York for a year before making her way up to the New England area where she has spent the last 15 years.  She is currently a resident artist of Hygienic Gallery in New London.  An eclectic mixed media artist working with paper, acrylic, ink, oils, found objects, graphic design, clothing design, photography and more, Hickman has also owned and managed several small galleries in New London including DEW ART Gallery, TAKEOUT Gallery and Down Gallery in Mystic.

She utilizes studio waste, discarded paintings, and found textiles as well as new ones, thus creating a restorative process, making something new from the past. She enjoys experimenting with texture and color and finds making art of any kind an exploration and an escape.

The sculptors and the title(s) of their work(s) included in the Showcase are as follows:
Michael Alfano • Fox
Greg Bailey • Green Descent
Henneke Beaumont • Connected-Disconnected
Brooke Bofill • Tension, Reveal
Jerry Erlich • Third Wheel
Denis Folz • Structured Form 1

‘Amulet’ by Gints Grinbergs is the signature piece of Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

Gints Grinbergs • Amulet, Stainless Steel Globes
Deborah Hornbake • Leap
David Judelson • Pablo
Elizabeth Knowles & William Thielen • Locating
Carlin Morris • Untitled
Christ Plaisted • Victorious Vine
Marcia Raff • 3’s a Crowd
Janet Rutkowski • Cymbalic Journey
Lisa Simonds • Silueta
Matthew Weber • Cedar Shingles & Shim Stacks
Melanie Zibit • Echo

The signature piece of the exhibition is Amulet by Gints Grinbergs, who works with a variety of metals, including copper, bronze, and stainless steel, to create open forms.  Welding metal spheres and partial spheres, he creates modern structures, for indoors or out. Fascinated by pictures taken by the Hubble telescope and electron microscopes, Grinbergs makes associations with galaxies and molecular structures. The combination of a modern metal structure with rough, natural stone make these works unique sculptural forms.

Grinbergs has a BFA and a BA. in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and has studied at Massachusetts College of Art and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His work has been featured at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park; Michael Beauchemin Gallery, Boston; and Lever House Gallery, New York, N.Y. and is Included in private and corporate collections throughout North America.

‘Green Descent’ by Greg Bailey is a featured piece in Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

Greg Bailey’s Green Descent is a striking work featuring elongated cones creating a continuum in the shape of an arc.  Bailey comments, “I am more than halfway through my life and besides some fleeting glimpses of awakening, I remain to be a predominantly unconscious individual. I am surprised that I have not grown past being manipulated by advertisements, angered by the news, or frustrated by the people around me. My hope is that by the end of my days I can learn to be present and at peace.”

He adds, “The production of art offers opportunities for discovering unconscious motivations and rationalizations. In this way, working in the studio is a practice of introspection and clarification.”

Fox by Michael Alfano is a delightful, engaging study in realism.  The sculptor explains that he has been, “… sculpting figures, monuments, and philosophical pieces for 20 years,” and comments, “If the artist taps into a universal truth, the piece is felt by everyone like clear mountain air.” He first studied at the Art Students League of New York with an emphasis on life size sculpture and anatomy.

His formal education continued at Boston University, and was augmented by internships with several prominent sculptors. He continues his training with master classes, and occasionally teaches sculpture.  Alfano exhibits his work at galleries and other public venues, and he is a regular entrant in art shows, where he has garnered over 60 awards.  His sculptures are found in private collections throughout the world and can be seen in monuments and other public art on permanent display in the United States.  Alfano’s work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, books, and on television.

‘Fox’ by Michael Alfano is a featured piece in Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

The jurors for the exhibition were sculptor Gilbert V. Boro, art historian Barbara Zabel and photographer Christina Goldberg.

Boro has enjoyed an extraordinary and distinguished more than 50-year-career as a successful architect, sought-after international design consultant and an inspiring educator.  With a BFA from Duke University and post-graduate degrees from Columbia University, NYC, his work explores the interplay of space, place and scale in a wide range of media including steel, stone, wood, metal, aluminum and fiberglass.

Working in sculpture has been a compulsion rather than a possibility for Boro.  While mastering the rigors of technical competence, he developed a deep-seated passion for three-dimensional art, which continues to be the influential force behind his creations. He is both inspired and motivated by the creative freedom of sculpting, finding that abstract work is the means to fulfill his vision.  Boro’s sculptures can be found in art centers and public art venues across the US and throughout Europe; they have also been purchased by private collectors, corporations and foundations in both the US and internationally.

Sculptor Gilbert V. Boro in his studio.

Zabel is Professor Emerita of Art History at Connecticut College, where she taught modern and contemporary art.  She received her PhD at the University of Virginia and has received grants from the NEH, the Smithsonian, and the Mellon Foundation. She has written for art magazines and has published two books, the latest Calder’s Portraits, published in 2011 by the Smithsonian for the exhibition she curated at the National Portrait Gallery.

Since her retirement, Professor Zabel has taught several courses at local museums and has organized several exhibitions for the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, most recently The David Smalley Memorial Exhibition, which opens June 3 and is on view through Aug. 13.

Goldberg has worked as Exhibitions Coordinator and resident photographer for Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds for almost five years.  She is chief curator of Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 and also photographs all the works exhibited on the sculpture grounds on a revolving basis. Additionally, she builds and designs web content for a great range of social media outlets, both for Studio 80 and external clients.

With a background in visual arts and communications from the University of Hartford Art School and Suffolk University, Goldberg’s photographs have been published extensively in numerous local print and digital venues including Coastal Connecticut magazine, Middletown Press, and Events magazine. A selection of her photographs will be on display in the coming months at Paynter Fine Art Gallery, located in the heart of Old Lyme’s Historical District.

View across Gil Boro’s Sculpture Grounds looking towards Studio 80.

This Summer Sculpture Showcase offers a unique opportunity for established sculptors to exhibit their work in a different location, while also effectively creating a new exhibition within the Sculpture Gardens.  Boro comments, “I’m delighted to be able to open my grounds to these exceptional sculptors whose work intrigues me.  Each one offers original creative thinking resulting in a combination of contrasting conceptual designs in a variety of media.  I think any visitor to the exhibition is going to be thoroughly engaged by what he or she sees – including children.”

Boro is somewhat unusual as a professional sculptor in that he loves to see folk of all ages directly interacting with his sculptures, noting that he has a strong aversion to exhibitions, “… where people can’t touch my work.”  Apart from attracting visitors to see the works on his grounds, Boro is thoroughly invested in the vibrant Old Lyme arts scene and hopes this exhibition will help cement the town as a summer destination for art-loving visitors from near and far, especially during the town’s Midsummer Festival, which this year is on Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 29.

About Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds:  Located at 80-1 Lyme St., less than a minute from Exit 70 on I-95, the Sculpture Grounds are open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  Admission is free.  Children, field trips and group visits are all welcome. The Studio is open by appointment.  For further information, contact 860-434-5957, visit www.sculpturegrounds.com or email studio80sculpturegrounds@gmail.com

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On Board the ‘Onrust;’ Famed Re-creation of Adriaen Block’s Boat Sails up Connecticut River

The ‘Onrust’ docked at Saybrook Point Inn and Spa.

It was “a momentous occasion,” according to Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs when a group of dignitaries and invited guests gathered to board the re-creation of Adriaen Block’s boat Onrust last Thursday.  Dobbs pointed out that it was, “400 years ago — 403 to be precise” since the original Onrust commenced its exploration of the Connecticut River ultimately exploring it upstream to just a little further north than present-day Hartford — a distance of approximately 60 miles from Long Island Sound.

Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs takes a brief break from his duties as host on board the ‘Onrust.’

While overwintering (1613-1614) in New York Bay, the Dutch explorer Block’s first ship, the Tyger (Tiger), caught fire and burned to the waterline.  Working through the frigid winter, Block built a new ship from the salvaged remnants and named it the Onrust, Dutch for ‘Restless.’

It was the first vessel built by Europeans in New York State and the first yacht built in the New World.  In 1614, Block and his crew set off to explore coastal New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island with the intent of developing trade partnerships with Native Americans.  During his time on the water, Block became the first known European to travel up the Connecticut River  

The re-created Onrust was launched in 2009 by The Onrust Project, an all-volunteer non-profit out of New York, which built the vessel after painstakingly researching traditional Dutch shipbuilding techniques.  

To reach the Saybrook Point Inn at Old Saybrook, Conn., where the guests boarded the ship, the Onrust followed a similar path to the one that Block took in 1614.  It departed from Kingston, N.Y., traveled to New York Bay, traversed the treacherous Hell Gate, entered Long Island Sound and sailed to the mouth of the Connecticut River. 

While preparations were made to launch, Connecticut River Museum Board Chairman Tom Wilcox told the guests now assembled on board the Onrust, “This is a most auspicious occasion,” and correctly predicted they would have, “a lovely sail.”  Despite an earlier threat of rain, the weather cooperated completely with warm temperatures and clear skies.

Steven Tagliatella, owner of the Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, addressed the guests on board the ‘Onrust.’

Another guest on board was Steven Tagliatella, owner of the Saybrook Point Inn, who spoke effusively about the upcoming trip to the Connecticut River Museum describing the Onrust as “a spectacular sight.”  He also took the opportunity to mention the new tourism coalition he has formed to promote tourism in the state, noting that the Onrust offers “a wonderful opportunity” for tourism.

Connecticut State Historian Walter Woodward speaks on the theme of ‘restlessness,’ echoing the name of the boat — ‘Onrust’ translates from the Dutch to ‘restless.’

Walter Woodward, Connecticut’s State Historian, really spoke for everyone aboard when he said, “To be on this boat on this day is so exciting,” but then asked the guests to take themselves back in time to the spring of 1614 when Block brought the boat he had built the previous winter and named Onrust – Restless – to the mouth of the river the natives call Quinitticut. Woodward declared that Block, “was as restless as his little vessel,” explaining, “The 47-year-old trader-explorer was anxious to make up the losses he had experienced the previous winter, when his ship the Tyger had accidentally caught fire.”

Woodward pursued the theme of ‘restlessness’ as he continued, saying, “Then as now, the word restless had many meanings … A generation of restless Europeans … both Dutch and English would come to this river, first in search of trade with the indigenous people, and soon after, in the quest for their land and resources.”

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna (center in sunglasses) chats with a guest during the trip up the Connecticut River.

Woodward added, “Some were restless too in a godly way – troubled in mind and spirit, seeking a place to serve God as their consciences demanded.”

He also noted that, “For those already here, the arrival of the Onrust heralded a new native restlessness – first, as the indigenous people jostled with each other for control of the distribution of European trade goods … and later to fight the efforts of these insurgents to drive them from their homes.”

Jennifer White-Dobbs enjoys the glorious river views with her son (right) and a guest.

Keeping to his theme, Woodward ended with the words, “I know you are restless to get underway, so let me conclude by saying it is a privilege to be here today to mark the moment in time, when Adriaen Block and his Onrust entered the river he named Fresh River, and a world-transforming era of restless change began.”

The Essex Sailing Masters of 1812 greeted the ‘Onrust’ with bright melodies in front of the Museum.

Before introducing the next speaker, Dobbs noted, “The amount of research to build this vessel was amazing,” and also that it had taken, “Around 250 people to build the Onrust.” He explained that the Onrust will be a floating exhibit at the Museum through early October, open for dockside tours, school and Scout programs, along with public cruises and charters.

The guests vigorously waved Dutch flags as the ‘Onrust’ pulled into the Connecticut River Museum’s dock.

Dobbs then presented Emily Boucher, who brought a message from Senator Chris Murphy, which she read aloud to the guests on the Onrust. In the message, Murphy expressed the wish that he could join everyone on the trip, and noted he was pleased with the financial assistance the state had given the Museum which, “was going to allow it [the Museum] to not float away.”

A crew member prepares to fire the cannon to announce the boat’s arrival at the Connecticut River Museum.

Finally the Onrust departed from Saybrook Point inn and sailed serenely up the Connecticut River offering spectacular views in all directions. As the three-man crew prepared for arrival at the Museum during the first hour of the popular RiverFare event, one crew member fired a celebratory cannon. Meanwhile, Essex’s very own Sailing Masters of 1812 provided a cheery, musical fanfare as the historic vessel approached the Museum’s dock. 

It was indeed a wonderful and “momentous” voyage!

For more information on the Connecticut River Museum and the Onrust, visit the Museum’s website.  The Museum extends special thanks to Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa, Essex Meadows, the Sailing Masters of 1812, and The Onrust Project for their efforts in arranging the vessel’s arrival. 

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street in Essex and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River. For a full listing of Museum programs or to buy tickets for the Onrust, RiverFare, and many other events go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

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No Parade (Again) for Old Lyme but Indoor Ceremony Still Exudes Memorial Day Spirit

Despite the wet weather causing the cancellation of Old Lyme’s traditional Memorial Day parade for the second year in a row, more than 100 people still turned out for the Memorial Day ceremony held in Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School’s auditorium Monday morning.

From left to right, Commander Bill Appleby, American Legion Post 41’s Veteran of the Year Mervin Roberts and the Rev. Mark Robinson of Saint Ann’s in Old Lyme.

William Appleby (pictured above), Commander of American Legion Post 41, was Master of Ceremonies.  The ceremony began with the Invocation given by the Reverend Joseph C. Ashe, pastor of Christ The King Roman Catholic Church in Old Lyme, which was then followed by the arrival of colors into the auditorium.  All serving and former members of the armed forces, including the Lyme-Old Lyme veterans assembled on the stage, saluted the colors as they were marched down the stairs of the auditorium.

Under the leadership of Choral Director Kristine Pekar, Lyme-Old Lyme High School’s Select Singers followed with a stirring rendition of the national anthem.

The winners of the American Legion/VFW Essay Contest for fifth graders in Lyme and Old Lyme read their essays titled, “What Memorial Day Means to Me.” Appleby told the winners that although the rain had denied them the chance to be driven Lyme Street in an vintage Mustang in the Memorial Day parade, they would have a second opportunity during the Sound View Independence Day parade on Saturday, July  3.

Abby Hale, who attends Mile Creek School was awarded the bronze medal as Second Runner-up, while Jack Porter, who also attends Mile Creek, was the First Runner-up and received the silver medal from Commander Appleby.

Emma Baehr, a Lyme Consolidated School student, was the gold medal winner.  Her essay ended with the poignant reminder that all those who had given the ultimate sacrifice had done so in order that, “We may continue to enjoy our lives and enjoy our freedom that they fought so hard to keep.”  Each of these students received a medal, a proclamation from the American Legion, a monetary award and, “most significantly,” in Appleby’s words, will also have a flag flown in their honor over the US Capitol in Washington DC.

Performing again and displaying extraordinary talent, the Select Singers then sang “America The Beautiful.”

The Reverend Mark Robinson of Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church in Old Lyme gave the Benediction remembering those, “for whom the trumpets have sounded on the other side,” and urging that “Their sacrifices here help to establish the freedom for which they died.”

Mervin Roberts, Chaplain of the Fire Department, then gave the homily, which he explained is something defined as “a philosophical dissertation grounded on a Biblical or ethical subject.”

He commented that during the traditional parade and post-parade ceremony, “We celebrate our heroic military, mourn our departed, offer prayers, honor our ancestors, award prizes and enjoy a parade.”

He asked a little later in his homily, “So what did I neglect to mention?” and answered his own question with the words, “Plenty. Lives cut short, sometimes needlessly, heroes forgotten, relatives and friends gone.”  Roberts went on to explain the history of Memorial Day, which used to be called “Decoration Day” at that time when July 4 was known as “Declaration Day.” The former “got started around 1863 during the Civil War.’ and, “… began, get this, in the Confederate States to honor rebel soldiers who had died in battle.”

A smiling Mervin Roberts (left), Chaplain of Old Lyme’s Fire Department and American Legion Post 41’s Veteran of the Year 2016-17, stands with the Reverend Mark Robinson of Saint Ann’s.

Noting, “Freedom in principle is great but in practice it’s certainly elusive and it’s certainly not cheap,” Roberts added, “The dozen cemeteries of Old Lyme serve to remind all of us of the price that has been paid to keep us free.”

Roberts concluded, “There were some who gave their lives for causes no longer popular, for wars unnecessarily fought or poorly led. Wars were also fought for a concept now often swept under the carpet, the concept that freedom is worth fighting for, actually giving one’s life to preserve, and the corollary to that is that freedom without justice is not true freedom.”

Veteran of the Year Mervin Roberts is seated  second from left while everyone in the auditorium honors him with a standing ovation.

Commander Appleby then introduced the 2016-17 Veteran of the Year, which was none other than Mr. Roberts! Appleby quoted Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who had said at the dinner when the award was made, “Can anyone think of Old Lyme and not think of Mervin Roberts?” Following Appleby’s words, Roberts was given a warm and extended standing ovation by the audience

Wrapping up the proceedings, the traditional three-shot-volley was fired outside — but within earshot — of the auditorium, ‘Taps’ (with an echo) was played, and then the flag-bearers solemnly filed out of the auditorium while salutes were made.

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Dedication Ceremony for New Boathouse Celebrates Old Lyme’s Decades-Long, Continuing Passion for Rowing

Surrounded by VIPs at the Dedication Ceremony for the Fred Emerson Boathouse, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder cuts the ribbon to declare the boathouse officially open.  Photo by Tanya Patten.

More than 100 people gathered Saturday morning at Hains Park on the shores of Rogers Lake  to join a ceremony to dedicate the recently completed Fred Emerson Boathouse.  All joined by a love of rowing, they were there to celebrate the official opening of the boathouse, which is the new home for boats owned by Lyme-Old Lyme Schools and the Old Lyme Rowing Club/Blood Street Sculls.

Old Lyme Rowing Association/Blood Street Sculls President Greg Hack spoke to the assembled crowd expressing thanks to many individuals and organizations saying, “On behalf  of  the over 150 athletes who will row on Rogers Lake this year, I would like to express how thrilled we are that the new Boathouse is now complete.  We all feel a deep sense of gratitude to the people of the Town of Old Lyme, and to the State of Connecticut, for their support throughout this project.”

Construction of the boathouse was initially funded by a Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant for $478,000, which was awarded in July 2013, and then subsequently Old Lyme residents approved a request from their board of selectmen in October 2014 for an additional $405,000 to be taken from town funds.  The proposed renovations were intended to make the boathouse ADA accessible, and provide sufficient space to store all the boats owned by Lyme-Old Lyme High School, the Old Lyme Rowing Club/Blood Street Sculls and Old Saybrook High School.  There will also be space available to carry out equipment maintenance and repair.  Renovation of the basketball court and new bathrooms, which would be accessible to the public, were also included in the project.

Hack continued his words of gratitude thanking Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, “for her leadership and unwavering support during all phases of the project … [Old Lyme Selectman] Skip Sibley, a former collegiate rower who shared our dream of a new boathouse when it was first just a sketch on a cocktail napkin … and [Old Lyme Selectwoman] MJ Nosal for her enthusiasm and support.”

He also thanked Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser and Athletic Director Hildie Heck, “for their support, and for recognizing how important the sport of rowing has been for Lyme-Old Lyme High School.”

Turning to the members of the Boathouse Hains Park Improvement Committee (BHPIC), Hack commended, “their tireless work, and in particular [the efforts of] our co-chairs Paul Fuchs and Paul Gianquinto.  Paul F brought tremendous expertise on rowing matters to the project, and Paul G brought intimate knowledge of construction procedures that were oh so valuable, not to mention his incredible dedication and tenacity throughout the project.”

Hack also thanked Nina Peck, “our architect, for creating a wonderful plan for the new building that is both attractive and highly functional.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser commented, “We are grateful to the Town of Old Lyme for pursuing the STEAP grant that helped support the construction of the new boathouse. This structure will allow our rowing programs to continue to grow and allow us to build upon our past successes. The new boathouse will provide much needed support for our student rowers for many years to come.”

Old Lyme Selectman Skip Sibley addresses the crowd at the Fred Emerson Boathouse Dedication.  Photo by Tanya Patten.

Sibley gave a brief history of the man after whom the boathouse is named, Fred L. Emerson Jr. of Lyme. Sibley noted Emerson was an avid rower who founded and financed crew programs at more than 60 high schools, colleges and private clubs throughout the nation. In Connecticut alone, Sibley mentioned, Emerson is solely responsible for the creation of programs at the East Lyme High School, the Coast Guard Academy, Old Lyme High School, Connecticut College, Simsbury High School, and the Middletown High School.  Emerson also gave strong support to university crew programs at Wesleyan, Trinity and Yale , and school crew programs at Choate, the Thames River Sculls, South Kent, and Gunnery.

Emerson was born and raised in Upstate New York where his father founded a prosperous shoe company. He started his rowing career at the Culver Military Academy in Indiana, and later captained the rowing squad at the University of Wisconsin Class of ‘32.  Sibley noted that, while competing for the Badgers, Emerson became aware of the challenges of financing a rowing program when his own varsity career was impacted by budget restrictions. This lesson inspired Emerson later on in his life to support fledgling rowing programs generously.

Sibley submitted that Emerson was widely regarded a champion of the underdog, who sponsored women’s crew long before Title IX established the legal requirement for equity across the genders.

Sibley went on to share the origins of Rogers Lake rowing, drawing his information from a number of sources.  He commented that the catalyst for US Women’s Rowing was when the U.S. announced their plan for a women’s rowing team to compete in the 1976 Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Montreal.  At that time, women’s rowing was still in its infancy — the US announcement precipitated a quantum leap in the sport onto the national stage.

Sibley explained that in February 1971 Emerson connected with Connecticut College rowing coach C. Bart Gullong.  They organized the first meeting of women’s rowing coaches from across the country and this marked the inception of the New England Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges.

The following spring, in May 1972, the New England Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges (NEAWRC) held its first regatta on Rogers Lake in Old Lyme, thanks in great part to the generosity of Emerson, who designed the 1,000-meter course, donated boats to many of the participating schools, and provided almost all of the financial backing for the event. One eight from each institution was allowed to participate, with the Princeton crew emerging victorious.

In 1974, the name of the organization was changed to the Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges (EAWRC) and 19 teams took part in the first race known as the EAWRC Sprints on Lake Besek in Middlefield, Conn.  (The schools participating were Barnard, Boston University, Connecticut College, Dartmouth, Drexel, MIT, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Middletown High School, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Radcliffe, Rhode Island, Syracuse, Washington, Wellesley, Williams, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Yale.)

Because this was the first year in which five or more women’s teams from the Ivy League participated in a championship event, this 1974 regatta is generally seen as marking the beginning of championship competition for women in any sport, in any Division I conference. Radcliffe won that event and is thus considered the first Ivy League and EAWRC champion.

Sibley concluded, “Fred’s ‘can do’ philosophy of building programs and his passion to share the benefits of rowing amongst all skills will endure for ever. And this new boathouse bearing his name is certainly a testament to that.”

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) addresses rowing enthusiasts of all ages who attended Saturday’s Dedication Ceremony. Photo by Sheree Sibley.

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) and BHPIC Co-chair Paul Fuchs also spoke enthusiastically about the boathouse and its future impact on the local rowing programs.  Fuchs noted that Saturday, June 3, is National Learn To Row Day and for the fourth year, this event will be celebrated at Fred Emerson Boathouse by opening its doors to everyone to try rowing at no cost.

Before the speeches ended and the celebrations began, Hack summed up the joy and excitement of the occasion saying, “Over 50 years ago, Fred Emerson first coached young people out of the original boathouse on Blood Street.  Since then we have grown and achieved new levels of enthusiasm and success in what are truly community-based programs.  I am hopeful that Fred would be pleased with what we have built here together.”

He concluded, “I thank the people of Old Lyme and all who were involved in the project for their vision and for their understanding about how rowing helps to make the Town of Old Lyme such a unique and special place.  We pledge to be good stewards of this new facility for decades to come.”

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School Budget Passes Easily in Both Towns

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser sends details of the referendum results to Region 18 Board of Education members.

Voters in both Lyme and Old Lyme passed the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools’ 2017-18 proposed $33.6 million budget convincingly yesterday.

In Lyme, only four people voted against the $33,634, 371 budget while in Old Lyme, 88 voted No. In an extremely low turnout in both towns, the Yes votes in Lyme and Old Lyme respectively were 111 and 271 giving final totals across the Regional School District of 382 Yes’s to 92 No’s.

A delighted Lyme-Old Lyme School’s Superintendent Ian Neviaser commented after the results had been announced, “I’d like to thank the voters for supporting the education budget.  We were proud to bring forward the lowest budget increase on record and are happy to continue the great work of educating the children of Lyme and Old Lyme.”

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Polls Open 6am in Referendum on Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Proposed $33.6M Budget, Result on LymeLine Tonight

Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools will hold a referendum today in Lyme and Old Lyme — the two towns that comprise Regional District #18 — on their proposed $33,634, 371 budget for the 2017-18 school year.

Voting will take place Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Cross Lane Firehouse for Old Lyme residents and Lyme Town Hall for Lyme residents. LymeLine.com will publish the result as soon as it is announced shortly after 8 p.m.

When LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser presented the budget for approval to the Region #18 Board of Education in February, he commented, “We are proud to present the lowest budget increase on record for Region #18.  While the increase is exceptionally low, this has been achieved through savings that do not impact any of our existing programs or services. ”

During his presentation Neviaser explained the budget was set to support the objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan by:

  • Preserving and building upon the high standards of education in Lyme-Old Lyme while remaining fiscally responsible to our communities
  • Supporting the ongoing renewal of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and staff development activities in response to the expectations of state and national standards.
  • Continuing to plan and provide technology infrastructure and applications that are consistent with highly effective and efficient programming and operational standards.
  • Maintaining high facility standards for all district buildings and grounds.
  • Maintaining a dynamic and responsive approach to programming needs and mandates in special education.
  • Maintaining both compliance and reasonableness in response to state and federal mandates.

He noted that budget increases include certified and non-certified salaries, instructional programming, and administrative services while decreases include costs for benefits, special education and debt service.  Neviaser stressed that while showing only a minimal increase, the operations/program budget still reflects:

  • Continued adherence to class size guidelines
  • Reduction of staff to account for enrollment decline
  • Continuance of existing academic and extracurricular activities
  • Adjustments for anticipated changes in the special education population
  • Adequate funding for maintenance and repair of buildings and grounds
  • Scheduled replacement of technology and equipment
  • Program improvements that are consistent with high academic and operational standards

He also highlighted that several new programs were being implemented and a selection of facilities being upgraded. Program improvements include a new/updated elementary math program, technology infrastructure advancements and replacement of staff computers.  

Facility upgrades include installation of window AC units at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and Lyme School​; addition of main campus pathway lighting; increasing the number of security cameras​; installation of a concrete lacrosse practice wall​ and replacement of the fuel oil tank at Lyme School​.

For more information on the Region #18 budget, visit this link on the Lyme-Old Lyme School’s website.

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Old Lyme Town Budget Calls for 3.26 Percent Increase, Requires 0.55 Mill Rate Increase to 21.75

Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell presents the Town’s proposed 2017-18 budget at Monday night’s meeting.

Around 30 residents showed up for Monday night’s public hearing in the Old Lyme Town Hall Meeting Room of the Town’s proposed budget of $36,355,031 for the 2017-18 fiscal year.  The proposed budget presented by Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell, which includes $26.5 million for Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools, represents a 3.26 percent increase over the 2016-17 approved budget.

The Towns of Lyme and Old Lyme divide the LOL Schools’ budget of $33,634, 371 between them based on percentages representing the respective number of students that each town has attending LOL Schools. The total LOL Schools budget for both towns reflects a 0.49 percent increase over the current year, but when translated exclusively to the Old Lyme budget, the sum represents a 3.65 percent increase over the current year’s figure.

Old Lyme’s general government and capital budgets, which make up the balance of the Town budget (excluding the school budget), total $9,819,829 representing a 1.84 percent increase over the current year.  This number comprises $8,774,129 for general government and $1,045,700 for capital spending.

Russell summarized key increases and decreases in the the two sections of the budget, noting that regarding grants to non-profits , “The only one to receive an an increase is the Old Lyme Library.”  He commented on the subject of Debt Service that “The only debt that the Town has relates to the Town Hall,” and that the period remaining on the debt is seven years.

The two largest single items in General Government capital expenditures are replacement of the Cross Lane Playground equipment ($150,000) and renovations to the bathrooms at Hains Park (also $150,000.)

The former expense was the reason that many in the audience attended the meeting.  Stacy Winchell, Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club President, which has been working to raise money for the playground, commented in an email after the meeting, “As we have been working diligently for three years in bringing a safe and all-accessible playground to Cross Lane, we wanted to represent to the public that we continue to support and contribute to the return of a playground at Cross Lane.”

Renovations to the Hains Park bathrooms were originally included in the boathouse plans but now needed additional funding.

Another project which received increased funding ($10,000) was a feasibility study to determine the viability of a sidewalk from Town Woods Park to Rte. 1/Boston Post Rd.

Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell answers a question about the Town’s proposed 2017-18 budget at Monday night’s meeting.

Russell said the board of finance was proposing to take, “$800,000 out of surplus to soften the blow to taxpayers,” but adding, “$600,000 was taken out of surplus for each of the last two years … but not needed last year.”  Adding, “We probably won’t need it this year,” he noted that the mill rate for 2017-18 is scheduled to increase from 21.2 to 21.75 mills, an increase of 2.58 percent.

Russell cited three examples of how the mill rate will impact property owners.  The first was for a house appraised at $347,200 and assessed at $243,000.  This homeowner paid $5,152 in property taxes in 2016-17, but will pay $5,285 under the proposed mill rate next year.

His second example related to a house appraised at $540,200 and assessed at $378,100.  This homeowner paid $8,016 in property taxes in 2016-17, but would pay $8,224 next year under the proposed budget.

Russell’s consistent message throughout the presentation was that the board always pursues a course that errs on the conservative side.  As a result, he explained, the town enjoys the highest credit rating possible.  Additionally, he noted that the board uses a predicted collection rate on taxes of 98.25 percent whereas the rate is, in fact, typically over 99 percent.

When public comment opened, one resident asked if the cameras being installed in police cars would be transferable between vehicles and Russell  confirmed they would.

Former Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold, who is now town treasurer,  stated, “The Hains Park bathhouse is a controversial issue.” He agreed the bathrooms “need to be fixed,” but said, “The question should have gone to a Town Meeting … to be aired fully.”  Griswold suggested it was now, “… lost in the budget.”

Russell responded that the question had been much discussed by the board and in the end, members had decided that since, “The Town had approved bathrooms and the boathouse,” the board should now add the necessary funds for the bathrooms into the budget.  David Kelsey commented from the floor that this new sum to fund the bathrooms is now, “… buried in the budget.”  Judith Read also questioned the boathouse project funding asking whether there was a surplus in hand on the boathouse project and if monies for the bathrooms were originally included in the boathouse project.

After the close of public comment, Russell said the proposed budget will now go forward for approval by residents at a town meeting to be held May 15.

Prior to that, Lyme and Old Lyme residents will vote separately in a referendum on the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools $33.6 million budget to be held May 2. Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in both towns and the results from each town are combined to determine if the budget has passed.  Voting in Old Lyme will be held in the Cross Lane Firehouse.

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Celebrating her 99th, Mary Vidbergs is Justifiably ‘Queen for a Day’

Happy 99th birthday, Mary !

It may have been one of the coldest days of the year last Sunday, March 12, but nothing was going to stop Mary Vidbergs’ family — one branch of whom lives in Old Lyme , namely the Pfeiffers — from celebrating the long-time Essex resident’s 99th birthday in style.

Mary arrived around 11 a.m. at the top of Main Street and was promptly presented with a large bouquet and ‘crowned’ with a tiara.

The family — some of whom braved the bone-chilling temperatures in lederhosen — had planned a surprise for Mary, which involved driving her from the top of Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage down to the Griswold Inn.

Dr. John Pfeiffer of Old Lyme (third from right, front row, in the photo above), who is Mary’s son-in-law as well as Old Lyme’s Town Historian, is well-known for his penchant for wearing shorts in all weathers around town!

She may be 99, but Mary was determined to enjoy the view from her carriage!

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, Mary smiled continuously through the whole adventure and insisted at the end of her ride on thanking the horses for their labors.

An ever-cheerful Mary waved goodbye to the crowd before entering the Griswold Inn where all her family joined her for what we’re sure was a wonderful family party.

Happy 99th, Mary, from all your friends at ValleyNewsNow.com — we’re looking forward to your 100th already!

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Old Saybrook ‘Sister March’ Draws Almost 1,000 on Saturday

Baby’s first march — we suspect not Grandma’s!

The march may only have been registered late last week, but almost 1,000 people still turned out Saturday morning in Old Saybrook to join the movement that inspired around three million people across the globe to publicly express their opinions on the rights of women and other minority groups, and in many ways on the new Trump presidency as a whole.

More than 500 people had gathered by 10 a.m. on the Old Saybrook Town Green unsure whether they were just going to simply stand in front of the Town Hall or whether they were actually going to march.

They came from towns all along the shoreline — Guilford, Clinton, Old Lyme, Lyme, East Lyme, and Old Saybrook were all mentioned — and they spanned in age from a few months to others well into their 80s and many wore what had become the signature pink “Pussy Hats.” Many people brought signs ranging from hand-written words painted on pieces of cardboard to an elaborately embroidered banner bearing the words “Not My President.”

Others like Alison Mitchell of Old Lyme fearlessly sat in her wheelchair strongly and stoically making her point.

Around 10:30 a.m., it became apparent that a march was beginning going north up Main St. on the east side towards Boston Post Rd. then crossing over and returning to the Green going south on the west side.  By this time the crowd had swelled by several hundred more and as the demonstrators marched, more and more people joined.

Women were definitely in the majority but there were plenty of men marching too.  There were some chants, “Love Trumps Hate” was a popular one, and songs,”We Shall Overcome” rang out at one point, and overall, it was a cheerful, friendly occasion.  When the clouds cleared and the sun finally broke through on the return leg, marcher Rosemary Barclay of Old Lyme said with a chuckle, “It’s certainly not going to rain on our parade!”

From left to right, some Old Lyme marchers share a smile.

But once wasn’t enough for these intrepid marchers.  Almost as soon as they found themselves back at ‘The Kate,’ they started re-tracing their steps and ultimately completed a second loop. The Old Saybrook Police did a wonderful job stopping the patient traffic so that the marchers could cross Main Street whenever necessary.

By the time of the second circuit, the line of marchers was so long that it snaked down one side of Main St., across the road and then up the other side.  Passengers were getting out of cars to join the march, horns were being sounded regularly — and loudly — in support of the marchers and only one lone pick-up truck with “Trump’ flags was spotted.

At the end of it all, the marchers happily gathered in front of the Town Hall and in communion with all the other marchers across the nation and the world, observed a meaningful moment of silence before peacefully dispersing.

More signs …

… and another …

… and another …

… and another …

David Brown with coffee and a sign …

A previous presidential campaign slogan refocused …

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CT Congressional, State Delegates Stand United Against FRA Plan to Route High Speed Trains Through Old Lyme, Southeastern CT

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder speaks at yesterday’s press conference. Photo by CTNewsJunkie.com.

At a press conference held yesterday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, U.S. Sen. Blumenthal, Rep. Courtney, state Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker, state legislators from the southeastern Connecticut shoreline and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder stood united in their opposition to the Federal Railroad Authority’s Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released yesterday.

The EIS includes the controversial Old Saybrook to Kenyon, R.I., bypass, which travels through Old Lyme, although in Blumenthal’s words, “the needle did move … the FRA backed off in terms of an aerial route,” and a modification has been made in that a tunnel is now proposed from Old Saybrook to Old Lyme — details of the precise route of the tunnel are unclear.  But Blumenthal continued, “A tunnel raises another whole set of questions … the [Connecticut River] estuary is one of the world’s treasures.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal addresses reporters at yesterday’s press conference. Photo by CTNewsJunkie.com.

At one point in the press conference, Senator Blumenthal held up a photo from the EIS report of the massive boring equipment that would be used to dig the tunnel commenting it would be used to destroy whole neighborhoods.

Blumenthal stressed time and again that the proposed plan is “DOA — dead on arrival,” because “the FRA statement made it crystal clear that the process migrates to Hartford now,” and “this plan is not ever going to pass muster,”  He clarified, “This is a plan with no funding,” indicating that if the state of Connecticut does not underwrite the cost of the proposed railroad in the state, it cannot proceed.

Reemsnyder spoke passionately of the effect that the proposed route would have on Old Lyme, saying, “It has the potential of devastating our community, despite all the communication [confirming expressing that opinion.]  She added regarding the new tunnel option, “We still have grave concerns [about that option], the [Connecticut River] estuary is one of the few in the world without industry … our residents have invested in the environment, giving their time, effort and money.” Reemsnyder acknowledged the support of all the state and town leaders standing with her noting, “I’m glad to see my colleagues behind me,” and stating firmly, “We will continue the fight.” She reminded the audience in conclusion, “This plan will only go forward when Connecticut wants it to go forward.”

Pointing out, “This report ignores the concerns of residents,” Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) said he planned on, “introducing legislation to prevent using Connecticut funds to fund this plan” until a “common sense and reasonable solution” is found. All speakers were in support of investing in Connecticut’s railroad but felt the current infrastructure should be upgraded rather than build new tracks, which would only create only marginal time savings for rail travelers.

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) noted, “This plan is like a black cloud hanging over the Town of Old Lyme,” and commented on the “disturbing aspect” of the plan in that the FRA, “decided to ram it through.”  In giving his support to Formica’s proposed legislation, Carney said firmly, “I stand with Senator Formica … shame on the FRA.”

Gregory Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast.org — the non-profit “organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley” — was encouraged by Formica’s proposed legislation, commenting by email, “If there is a bright side to the news today, it is that State Rep. Devin Carney and State Sen. Paul Formica have taken exactly the right tack, proposing legislation to block funding for the Kenyon to Saybrook bypass if it fails to garner local support. It’s a concrete step that hits directly at the weakness of the plan, and helps turn vague
assurances into concrete legal hurdles. It’s important legislation. It deserves bipartisan support, and we hope that
Governor Malloy will stand up for southeastern Connecticut and lend his support.”

CT Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker addresses media representatives at the press conference in the State Legislative Building. Photo by CTNewsJunkie.com.

Click here to view a video of the press conference

We thank our friends at CTNewsJunkie.com for sending us their photos from the press conference. Click here to read a report of the press conference by Christine Stuart of CTNewsJunkie.com and published Dec. 16.

Click here to read a commentary by SECoast.org on yesterday’s announcement, which includes some very important information about the fact that the FRA finalized this proposed route over a year ago. To quote from SECoast’s blog post, “… The plan released yesterday is the same plan we uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act in late June. It includes the same finalized maps and documents we uncovered in early September. This is the same plan that CT DOT Commissioner James Redeker discussed with staff, Federal Railroad Administration and David Carol of Parsons Brinckerhoff days after the close of public comment on February 16. Remember, in an interview with the Connecticut Mirror, CT DOT Public Transportation chief Richard Andreski admitted that this same plan, unchanged, was chosen all the way back in November 2015 prior to public comment …”  Read the full post at this link.

View the FRA’s map of the proposed route at this link; Old Lyme is on Map Sheet 18, which is at page 30/71.

A report by Kimberly Drelich published by The Day Dec. 17 is at this link.

A report by Don Stacom published by the Hartford Courant Dec. 16 is at this link.

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Old Lyme Board of Selectman Discuss Possibility of Instigating Historic Survey of Town, But No Vote Taken to Move Forward

At a Special Meeting of the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen last Friday morning, the selectmen discussed the possibility of conducting a study of historic properties in the town, which had  recently been requested in a motion by the Old Lyme Historic District Commission (HDC). 

Gregory Stroud, Executive Director of  SECoast, had similarly urged that such a survey be undertaken in an op-ed published by LymeLine.com Nov. 6, 2016, noting that Old Lyme’s current survey is some 40 years old and therefore, “shamefully out of date.” He pointed out, “A historic survey matters not just for high-speed rail, but because it will inform every state and federal infrastructure project heading our way …”

The selectmen invited the HDC Chair Dr. John Pfeiffer to join their discussion and he explained why the HDC felt a survey was necessary, saying, “A survey needs to be done to find out what’s out there — we know what’s in the Historic District, but not outside,” adding, “Only when you know what’s out there can you plan.”

Pfeiffer commented, “I hope the Connecticut [State Historic] Preservation Office (SHPO) would come out and make a presentation about the survey terms,” adding, “I don’t know what they have in mind.”  He said that the HDC had endorsed the proposal to have a new survey conceptually, but “want to know more about it.”  Pfeiffer said, “I would want to get a better handle on what they would do,” while also noting that $30,000 was currently “available” from the state to fund the survey.

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder welcomed the idea of SHPO coming to Old Lyme to give a presentation about how they would conduct the survey as happened when the Sound View proposal was under discussion.  She expressed concern at the area which had been mentioned as the survey size related to this proposal — roughly a one-mile-swath from north to south through the center of town. She commented, “I wonder at the breadth of the survey — that’s a lot.”  Pfeiffer agreed, “It’s probably going to be a long-drawn out process.”

Selectman Arthur “Skip” Sibley, who joined the discussion by phone, said, “I thought there was an existing survey that we’re updating … I thought it was just the Historic District.”  Pfeiffer explained, “In the 70s we produced a pretty good map … the survey would define what’s outside.  The first step is [to find out] what is out there.”

Sibley then asked, “Would it make sense to have a town hall committee to head this up?” noting that there is “A lot of passion and energy for this topic.”


Pfeiffer responded in the negative saying, “Let’s get the survey started before we have another committee,”  adding, “I’m at a loss to figure out how rigorous they (SHPO) want to be … I don’t know what they have in mind.”

Selectwoman MaryJo Nosal said she was about to ask Pfeiffer what had “… compelled the HDC to support this [the motion to request a survey.]  She then answered her own question saying, “I like the answer that it’s looking at what’s outside [the Historic District.]  Nosal questioned whether the survey should be “a regional effort,” to which Pfeiffer responded firmly, “Yes.”  Like Sibley, Nosal said she also believed the survey involved, “… just updating current maps,” noting, “I think it makes really good sense to look outside the town and make it a regional effort.”

Stroud, who was present at the meeting in the audience but not at the table during the discussion, spoke during public comment to clarify several points.  He stressed that the initial $30,000 from the state, “Doesn’t require a match [from the town] and therefore is not wasting any taxpayer money.” Moreover, a further $15,000 is available from the federal government and significantly, “SHPO has expressed an interest in the project.”  He emphasized that the funds are “currently” available and that therefore there is “some element of a ticking clock.”

Regarding the issue of the scope of the survey, Stroud noted that Daniel McKay of the Connecticut Trust had “arrived at this scope based on the comments of Rachel Reyes- Alicia” at the Aug. 31 meeting held in Old Lyme.

Following up on comments related to the purpose of and time to conduct the survey, Stroud confirmed, “The survey does not entail national registration.  It’s a survey to determine eligibility.”  He explained his understanding that the survey would take “months, not years” to complete and noted the scope of the survey could be adjusted by the town as desired.  He also commented that the “rigor” of the survey, of which Pfeiffer had spoken is different from “scope.”

After the meeting, Stroud told LymeLine.com, “I don’t think anyone with any serious understanding of these issues questions the need for an updated historic survey. I just hope that rather than waiting another three or six months to begin a survey, we start the process when it can still be fully-funded by state, federal and private grants, and while it still can help shape the decisions of the CT DOT and the Federal Railroad Administration.”

He continued, “Let’s keep this process as fast, streamlined and effective as possible. A simple historic survey with wide geographic boundaries. No national registration. No bells and whistles.”

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Old Lyme, Lyme Mirror State — But Not Country — on Choosing Clinton as President; Lyme Picks Needleman Over Linares, But Incumbent Still Wins

Election workers hard at work in the Old Lyme Polling Station at Cross lane Firehouse. Photo by L. Peterson.

Election workers hard at work in the Old Lyme Polling Station at Cross lane Firehouse. Photo by L. Peterson.

At the time of writing, it appears that, like the majority in the state — but unlike the majority in the rest of the country — Lyme and Old Lyme both chose Hillary Clinton to be President.

Both town experienced exceptionally high voter turnouts, but although Lyme was able to finalize its results in the normal time frame, it was well past 10:15 p.m. before Old Lyme Moderator Larry Peterson was able to announce the results there.  This was due primarily to the Election Day Registrations (EDRs) not being received until almost 9 p.m. from the town hall and then still needing to be processed, which took more than another hour.

In keeping with the final results, both Lyme and Old Lyme voters overwhelmingly chose Democrat Richard Blumenthal to continue as their US Senator, Democrat Joe Courtney to be their US Congressional Representative (2nd), and the uncontested Republican Devin Carney to be their State Representative (23rd).

In Old Lyme, in keeping with the final result, voters returned Republican Paul Formica as their State Senator (20th) for a second term while up in Lyme, unlike the final result, which saw Linares cruise to a comfortable victory in the 12-town district, voters chose Democratic challenger Norm Needleman over incumbent Art Linares (R) to be their State Senator (33rd)

These are the unofficial Old Lyme results in full with the winner shown in red:

President:
Hillary Clinton (D): 2473
Donald Trump (GOP): 1990
Gary Johnson (Lib.): 142
Jill Stein (Green): 63

US Senate:
Richard Blumenthal (D): 2667 (WF): 220 (Unknown): 34  TOTAL: 2921
Dan Carter (GOP): 1661
Richard Lion (Lib.): 27
Jeffrey Russell (Green): 29

US House District 2:
Joe Courtney (D): 2758  (WF): 245  (Unknown): 21  TOTAL: 3024
Daria Novak (GOP): 1545
Daniel Reale (Lib.): 39
Jonathan Pelto (Green): 49

State Assembly 23rd District:

Devin R. Carney (GOP): 3003  (Indep): 441  Unknown: 9  TOTAL: 3453

Old Lyme Registrar of Voters:
(Both are elected)
Marilyn Clarke: 2397
Catherine Quine Carter: 2038

Additional candidates on the Old Lyme ballot are:

State Senate 20th District:

Paul Formica (GOP): 2805  (Indep.): 168  Unknown: 8  TOTAL: 2981
Ryan Henowitz (D): 1501  (WF): 81

These are the unofficial Lyme results in full with the winner shown in red:

President:
Hillary Clinton (D): 888
Donald Trump (GOP): 520
Gary Johnson (Lib.): 65
Jill Stein (Green): 27

US Senate:
Richard Blumenthal (D): 1003 (WF): 69  TOTAL: 1072
Dan Carter (GOP): 495
Richard Lion (Lib.): 9
Jeffrey Russell (Green): 16

US House District 2:
Joe Courtney (D): 1001  (WF): 78   TOTAL: 1079
Daria Novak (GOP): 479
Daniel Reale (Lib.): 13
Jonathan Pelto (Green): 19

State Assembly 23rd District:

Devin R. Carney (GOP): 1065

State Senate 33rd District:

Art Linares (GOP): 704  (Ind.): 41  TOTAL: 785
Norman Needleman (D): 789
Colin Bennet (Green):  23

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Halloween on Lyme Street

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Oh, what a night it was on Lyme Street!  There were witches and warlocks, ghosts and ghouls, aliens and … adorable little girls just like the one in the center above … and (our inside information suggests …) these ‘goblins’ in the photo all live on the same street — but it’s not Lyme Street …

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The Cooley Gallery was bedecked with the biggest spider that you’ll ever see …

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It seemed every house on Lyme Street had a continuous line heading towards the front door …

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The Mergys outdid themselves yet again with an incredible Alice in Wonderland-themed tableau and even the appropriate movie …

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Whatever was happening inside E.F. Watermelon, it was sure drawing a crowd!

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The Fairfield-Sonn residence was beautifully illuminated and decorated ready for the busy night ahead. Estimates from several houses along Lyme Street were of around 800 Trick-or-Treaters by the time the evening was done …

Photo by Leslie Massa.

Photo by Leslie Massa.

And just look look who showed up at their door!  We’ll make no comment … other than “Great costume!”

Photo by Leslie Massa.

Photo by Leslie Massa.

We’ve no idea who this young man is … but his intense concentration on choosing his candy was too delightful to miss …

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Photo by Leslie Massa.

They came in the most fabulous costumes, with buckets and bags … and brimming with smiles!

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Photo by Leslie Massa.

And talking of costumes — who’s this wonderful, cuddly, little skunk?  And yes, we did say skunk!  We think it may just be Max Garvin … and his similarly-attired mom, Missy!

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And who’s this delightful Dorothy?  Please do tell …

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And finally, who’s this lurking in the bushes??  Oh my, let’s hope he’s history after Halloween …

 

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Farewell to Fiorelli: The Director Who Made The Library “The Heart and Soul of Old Lyme”

A smiling Mary Fiorelli (center) stands with her siblings.

A smiling Mary Fiorelli (center) stands with her siblings, Skip and Patricia.

It seemed as if almost the whole town had turned out Thursday, Sept. 29, to say farewell to Mary Fiorelli, who was retiring after almost 16 years as director of the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library (OL-PGN) and another three before that as its reference librarian.

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The large crowd, pictured in small part above, which had caused the parked cars outside not only to fill the library’s lot but also to span both sides of the length of Lyme Street, overflowed from the Reading Room at the back of the library into the main area of the library itself.  It was a sad but joyous occasion as the community said goodbye to its much beloved, happily adopted (Fiorelli lives in Mystic) member and wished her well in all her new retirement ventures.

In a typically short but genuine speech — Fiorelli is well-known for avoiding the spotlight whenever possible — she thanked the Old Lyme community, “for giving me the opportunity to do the job I love for almost 16 years.”  She confessed, “For me, the best part of being the director has been developing programs and exhibits. It allowed me to stay in touch with our patrons … I heard all about what they liked or were interested in, which gave me a way to gauge our successes and plan for future programs.”

John Forbis gives his good wishes to Mary at the event.

John Forbis gives his good wishes to Mary at the event.

And it was while planning these programs that Fiorelli found she, “wanted to explore my own need for a creative outlet, which led me to pick up a camera and take photography classes.” Standing in a room filled with an exhibition of photographs she had taken,  Fiorelli commented, “This photographic exhibit is my way to share with you my passion for the outdoors and the many hidden gems we have in our own state parks and preserves.”

From left to right, leslie massa, Chairman of the Friends of the library, Alan Poirier, Library Board of Trustees President and David Winer, past Board President share memories of Mary's tenure.

From left to right, Leslie Massa, Chairman of the Friends of the Library, Alan Poirier, Library Board of Trustees President and David Winer, past Board President share memories of Mary’s tenure.

In a somewhat longer speech, the chairman of the OL-PGN Board of Trustees Alan Poirier noted, “I’m not sure of the math, but I believe Mary is the 19th or 20th director of the library – and we are transferring this great legacy that goes back to the dedication in June 1898.” He said that at the 1898 ceremony, Daniel Gilman, President of the Johns Hopkins University, called the library, “a place for inspiration.”

Famous faces in the crowd: David Handler (back right) and Luanne Rice (extreme right), both Top 10 New York Times authors, joined the celebrations.

Famous faces in the crowd: David Handler (back right) and Luanne Rice (extreme right), both Top 10 New York Times-selling authors, joined the celebrations.

Poirier told the audience, “Mary has kept to that vision with all that she has done for us.  She has helped us deliver the experience we want patrons to have,” which was, “… to be the community’s vibrant hub for engagement, discovery and creativity,” and, “to inspire lifelong learning and discovery in a welcoming place with exceptional resources, programs and services.”  Poirier stressed the fact that Fiorelli had worked diligently to make the library “a welcoming place,” especially in her work setting up and curating art exhibits, thus, “helping to maintain that link to the artist, which goes back to the earliest days of the library.”

Mary Fiorelli stands with former OL-PGN staff member Stephanie Romano, who recently was appointed the Director of Chester Library.

Mary Fiorelli (right) stands with former OL-PGN staff member Stephanie Romano, who recently was appointed the Director of Chester Library.

He also noted that Fiorelli had increased participation in library programs by over 60 percent in recent years, broadened outreach to home-bound patrons and created new partnerships with local schools. Moreover, she kept the Trustees well-informed about operations and about new opportunities and, “… most importantly, she has built a huge reservoir of trust with the patrons.”

Everyone was there: Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeff Andersen chats with the Poiriers.

Everyone was there: Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeff Andersen chats with the Poiriers.

Fiorelli is a keen sailor and Poirier drew on a seafaring metaphor to sum up Fiorelli’s contribution to the library, saying, “calm in a storm” comes to mind when one thinks of her, and adding, “I can say that her calm and steady and knowledgeable approach has taken us very far, and I know these traits will continue to drive what she does from here on.  Mary has continued to make this a place for inspiration – and for that she is a friend forever to the staff, patrons and trustees.”

Former OL-PGN Board President Jack Collins (left) engages with library supporters.

Former OL-PGN Board President Jack Collins (left) engages with library supporters.

A former chairman of the board of trustees, David Winer, noted Fiorelli, who had joined the library in 1997 as its reference librarian, only applied for the director’s position “with great reticence and ambivalence.”  She was appointed Library Director in 2000 and Winer commented that, ironically, after so much persuasion to make her apply, her 16 years of service “now make her tenure one of the longest in the library’s history.”

Selectman Arthur 'Skip' Sibley (left) makes a point.

Selectman Arthur ‘Skip’ Sibley (left) makes a point.

Winer said, “It didn’t take her long to be the best there is … and she did everything from setting up exhibitions, tearing them down, even cleaning the toilets!”  He concluded, “She’s a true multi-tasker.”  He listed numerous accomplishments that Fiorelli had achieved which included increasing the endowment by over $1 million in three years and leading the library “into the high-tech age,” which he commented to laughter was quite a challenge in Old Lyme.

Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) share a moment with a guest at the event.

Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) share a moment with a guest at the event.

To more and louder laughter he added, “She also learned how to deal with the board of trustees — all 17 members — and became very skilled at exiting them out of her office!”

Friends and volunteers were all on hand to celebrate mary's 16-year tenure as OL-PGN Library Director. From left to right, Mary Jo Nosal, Doug Wilkinson, Julie O'Brien, Marisa Hartmann, Lucy Wilkinson and incoming OL-PGN Director Katie Heffnan.

Friends and volunteers were all on hand to celebrate Mary’s 16-year tenure as OL-PGN Library Director. From left to right, Mary Jo Nosal, Doug Wilkinson, Julie O’Brien, Marisa Hartmann, Lucy Wilkinson and incoming OL-PGN Director Katie Huffman.

Winer concluded, “Under your direction, the library became the heart and soul of Old Lyme and I want to thank you for all you’ve done for the library, for Old Lyme and wish you the best for your retirement … and God speed.”

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If You Oppose the Proposed High-Speed Rail Route, Join SECoast’s Fundraiser This Afternoon at Bee & Thistle

fundraiser-at-bt_oct2016SECoast, the non-profit group actively and constructively opposing the proposed high-speed rail line through Old Lyme and southeast Connecticut, is holding a fundraiser at the Bee and Thistle Inn on Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m.

SECoast.org is a locally-directed special project of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. Since publicly breaking news of the proposed bypass in January, SECoast.org has been working tirelessly as an effective advocate for Old Lyme and the local area by catalyzing growing regional opposition to the bypass.

Thanks to the generosity of the Bee and Thistle’s owner David Rufo, the Inn’s Executive Chef and acclaimed wildlife photographer Kristofer Rowe and singer/songwriter Dan Stevens who is performing at the event, 100 percent of the funds raised on Sunday will go towards mounting a legal defense to the route, which it is anticipated will be announced next week.  The monies raised will help support staffing, digital media and administrative costs of the campaign.

Once that announcement has been made, there are precisely 30 days by law to respond to the preferred route.  SECoast wants to be ready to react immediately to the announcement.

Tickets for Sunday’s event are $50 and fully tax-deductible.  There is also a Sponsor level at $250 and sponsors will receive an autographed Kristofer Rowe photograph.

Donations in any amount are always at welcome at this account or by mail at CT Trust for Historic Trust Preservation, 940 Whitney Ave., Hamden, CT 06517-4002 (make checks payable to CT Trust with “For SECoast” on the face.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the work that SECoast has been doing.  Without Greg Stroud and his small band of dedicated individuals, the proposed Old Saybrook to Kenyon by-pass would likely have quietly continued along its probable path to becoming part of the FRA’s Tier 2 preferred route.

We are delighted that Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Joe Courtney, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney are now all vocally opposed to the route and believe that in no small part relates to the efforts of SECoast.  We hope our Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) will show their support for SECoast because surely the BOS objectives are identical to those of SECoast?

This fundraiser is your chance to show your appreciation for all the work that SECoast has undertaken so far on behalf of the residents of Old Lyme specifically and, in a broader sense, the people of southeastern Connecticut … and all the work it will take on in the future.  If you choose not to support SECoast, then please don’t feel you have a right to complain about the train route down the line … pun intended!

See you on Sunday!

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Groundbreaking Ceremony Celebrates Start of Long-Anticipated Sound View Improvement Project

From left to right, Sound View Improvement Committee members Bonnie Reemsnyder, Frank Pappalardo, Jim Lampos, and MaryJo Nosal dig a ceremonial shovel in the sand at the groundbreaking on Hartford Ave. held Oct. 3.

From left to right, Sound View Improvement Committee members Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Sound View Commission Chairman and SVIC member Frank Pappalardo, SVIC members Angelo Faenza, Jim Lampos and Rob Haramut (from RiverCOG), and Old Lyme Selectmen Mary Jo Nosal and Skip Sibley dig a ceremonial shovel in the sand at the groundbreaking on Hartford Ave. held Oct. 3.

The sun shone brightly as town officials, Sound View Improvements Committee (SVIC) members, design and construction personnel and a handful of Sound View residents cheerfully gathered at the flagpole at the foot of Hartford Ave. for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction on the long-awaited project to upgrade the street.

Old Lyme residents originally approved $877,000 for the project back in July of this year but this past Tuesday (Sept. 27) increased the amount approved to $911,100 to allow for the bids having come in higher than expected. The improvements comprise the reinstatement of horizontal parking on Hartford Avenue, sidewalks expanded from 3 ft. to 6 ft., lighting, plantings, bike racks and the addition of curbs and bump-outs.

A view up Hartford Ave. looking north prior to the start of the project.

A view up Hartford Ave. looking north prior to the start of the project.

The town expects to receive 80 percent reimbursement on the current project and is still exploring ways to fund the reinstatement of a park (named Sound View Green) and upgraded restrooms, which were originally included in the plan but have both now been removed due to budget overruns.

Construction is scheduled to start Monday, Oct. 10.

Construction is scheduled to start Monday, Oct. 10.

Asked how she felt now that the start of construction is finally imminent, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who also served on the SVIC, responded enthusiastically, “I’m delighted and can’t wait to see everything accomplished.  It’s going to be wonderful and also a great place to walk.”  She commented, “People have been talking about this since I became a Selectwoman in 2003,” adding, “For decades, we’ve talked about this [Sound View] being a ‘diamond in the rough.’ People are tired of talking about it – they want to see some action.”

The theme that the groundbreaking represented the culmination of years of work by many people was echoed repeatedly with Sound View Commission Chairman and SVIC member Frank Pappalardo saying, “It’s been a long time coming … it’s tremendous that we’re actually starting the project.”  He noted that the project represented, “A lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people.”

From left to right,Ken Golden from B&W Paving and Landscaping, Sound View Commission Chairman and SVIC member Frank Pappalardo, Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, Kurt Prochorena Principal and Civil Engineer from the engineering design firm The BSC Group, Stuart Greacen and Ed Steward from WMC-the project inspection firm.

The design and construction project personnel gathered for a photo, from left to right,Ken Golden from B&W Paving and Landscaping, Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, Kurt Prochorena, Principal and Civil Engineer from the engineering design BSC Group, and Stuart Greacen and Ed Steward from WMC, the project inspection firm.

The project’s designer was the BSC Group of Glastonbury, Conn., and its principal Kurt Prochorena, a civil engineer, also noted the evolution of the project had taken a long time but pointed out, “It’s going to really improve the character of the area.”

Recalling that the eight-member SVIC had started meeting every two weeks back in 2014, SVIC Chairman and Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal said, “I am extremely gratified by all the efforts of the [SVIC] committee, the Sound View Commission, residents, town officials and the BSC Group, who have brought this project to fruition. It’s hopefully the start of other great things in this area.”

Sound View residents (from left to right) Frank and Patty Pappalardo, Shirley Annunziata and Joann Lishing are all smiles at the conclusion of the groundbreaking ceremony.

Sound View residents (from left to right) Frank and Patty Pappalardo, Shirley Annunziata and Joann Lishing are all smiles at the conclusion of the groundbreaking ceremony.

Sound View residents Shirley Annunziata and Joann Lishing, who have both lived in Sound View for many years, were on hand to enjoy the celebrations.  Annunziata mentioned that her family has owned in property in Sound View for some 95 years and was the first of Italian descent to buy in the area. Lishing repeated the much used phrase of the day, “This has been a long time coming,” before noting with a broad smile, “I’m so excited. It’s going to be beautiful!”

 

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Lyme-Old Lyme HS Alum’s Work Tracking Only Wild Jaguar in US Featured in Current ‘Smithsonian’ Magazine

Cover of the October issue of The Smithsonian magazine featuring Lyme-Old Lyme High School alumnus Chris Bugbee and his wife Aletris Neils in a story about tracking the only jaguar living wild in the US.

Cover of the October issue of The Smithsonian magazine featuring Lyme-Old Lyme High School alumnus Chris Bugbee and his wife Aletris Neils in a story about tracking the only jaguar living wild in the US.

Chris Bugbee, a member of the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Class of 1997, and his wife Aletris Neils are featured in a major news story published in the current (October) issue of The Smithsonian magazine and on Smithsonian.com at this link. The story by Richard Grant with photographs by Bill Hatcher is titled, “The Return of the Great American Jaguar,” with a sub-title, “The story of tracking a legendary feline named El Jefe through the Arizona mountains.”

Bugbee is the son of Old Lyme’s Parks and Recreation Director Don Bugbee and the Rev. Rebecca Crosby, Minister for Haitian Outreach at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Chris Bugbee obtained a Bachelor’s degree majoring in Biology at St. Lawrence University and a Master’s degree majoring in Interdisciplinary Ecology at the University of Florida.

The Smithsonian piece makes compelling reading and we urge you to take the time to read it.

We ran an article on Chris Bugbee and Neils on Feb. 4, 2016, which we are pleased to republish below.  It includes a link to a short piece of video showing the elusive jaguar, which is now also featured in The Smithsonian piece.

Lyme-Old Lyme HS Alum Chris Bugbee Captures Video of Only Known Wild Jaguar in US

Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity released new video today of the only known wild jaguar currently in the United States. Captured on remote sensor cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains just outside Tucson, the dramatic footage provides a glimpse of the secretive life of one of nature’s most majestic and charismatic creatures. This is the first ever publicly released video of the jaguar, and it comes at a critical point in this cat’s conservation.

El Jefe video

The camera project is part of ongoing efforts to monitor mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona for endangered jaguar and ocelot. Chris Bugbee, a graduate of Lyme-Old Lyme High School and now a biologist with Conservation CATalyst, has been collecting data on the Santa Rita jaguar for the past three years (formerly through the University of Arizona).

“Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the U.S. is especially challenging,” said Bugbee. “We use our specially trained scat detection dog and spent three years tracking in rugged mountains, collecting data and refining camera sites; these videos represent the peak of our efforts.”

“These glimpses into his behavior offer the keys to unlocking the mysteries of these cryptic cats” said Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst. “We are able to determine he is an adult male jaguar, currently in prime condition. Every new piece of information is important for conserving northern jaguars and we look forward to building upon on these data so that we can collectively make better decisions on how to manage these fascinating and endangered cats.”

“Jaguars have always occurred in Arizona and yet we know so little about them in the northern portion of their range. Arizona should be poised to harbor and protect both jaguars and ocelots as they continue to disperse out from Sonora,” said Bugbee, who now lives in Tucson, Ariz.

Bugbee was featured in an article about the video of the jaguar by William Yardley titled, “He roams alone: El Jefe may be the last wild jaguar in the U.S.” and published in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

“Just knowing that this amazing cat is right out there, just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, is a big thrill,” said Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center. “El Jefe has been living more or less in our backyard for more than three years now. It’s our job to make sure that his home is protected and he can get what he needs to survive.”

El Jefe, as he has come to be known in Tucson, has been photographed repeatedly by remote sensor cameras in the Santa Ritas over the past few years. He is the only verified jaguar in the United States since Macho B was euthanized as a result of capture-related injuries in March 2009. “Jaguars are solitary cats that only tolerate each other for reproduction,” said Neils.

But a huge conflict is brewing that threatens to destroy El Jefe’s home. A Canadian mining company is pushing to develop a massive open-pit copper mine right in the middle of the big cat’s territory. The mile-wide open pit and 800-foot-high piles of toxic mine waste would permanently destroy thousands of acres of occupied, federally protected jaguar habitat where this jaguar lives.

“Clearly, the Santa Rita Mountains are a vital part of this cat’s home range,” said Bugbee. “This jaguar has been photographed in every month of the year in these mountains — there are more than 100 detections of him in the Santa Ritas since 2013 — how could anyone argue the importance of these mountains?”

“The Rosemont Mine would destroy El Jefe’s home and severely hamstring recovery of jaguars in the United States,” said Serraglio. “At ground zero for the mine is the intersection of three major wildlife corridors that are essential for jaguars moving back into the U.S. to reclaim lost territory. The Santa Rita Mountains are critically important to jaguar recovery in this country, and they must be protected.”

In October the rare cat was named “El Jefe,” which means “the boss” in Spanish, after a vote by Tucson school kids and others. The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity has been working for decades to save jaguars in the United States, with the hope that El Jefe will soon be joined by more jaguars that wander up from Mexico. In 2014 the Center secured more than 750,000 acres of federally protected critical habitat for U.S. jaguar recovery.

Jaguars — the third-largest cats in the world after tigers and lions — once lived throughout the American Southwest, with historical reports on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the mountains of Southern California and as far east as Louisiana. Jaguars disappeared from their U.S. range over the past 150 years, primarily due to habitat loss and historic government predator control programs intended to protect the livestock industry. The last verified female jaguar in the country was shot by a hunter in 1963 in Arizona’s Mogollon Rim.

This research builds upon a three-year project (2012- 2015) from the University of Arizona surveying jaguars and ocelots throughout southern Arizona and New Mexico.

Editor’s Notes: i) The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

ii) Conservation CATalyst is a Tucson-based nonprofit organization specializing in conducting scientific research on cats that are in conflict with people.

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