August 28, 2016

CT Port Authority Chair Tells Lower CT River Local Officials, “We’re All on One Team”

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River but still deep in discussion are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) Board Member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River, but still finding time for discussions, are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) board member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

There was an overarching message both throughout the Connecticut Port Authority’s (CPA) meeting in Old Lyme’s Town Hall Thursday afternoon and during a subsequent boat ride on the MV ‘Victoria’ for members and local officials on the Connecticut River.  It was, in the words of CPA Chairman Scott Bates, that, “We’re absolutely committed to river communities.”

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town's needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town’s needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

In addition, while sailing from Essex down to Old Saybrook and then back up to Hamburg Cove on a perfect afternoon, Bates stressed, “Part of our mission is protecting these beautiful waters … and the quality of life we have here while preserving access to the river.”

View of the Connecticut River from the "Victoria."

View of the Connecticut River from the “Victoria.”

Bates noted that to have “five local officials (Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, all of whom were on board, and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, who was unable to join the trip) “involved” was a really positive sign in terms of  “building a coalition.”  This, Bates explained, was key to the development of a strategic plan for the CPA—something the Authority has been charged with preparing with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2017.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The  CPA is a relatively new quasi-public agency created in 2014 with board appointments made in 2016.  Bates said the agency was responsible for 35 coastal communities and with this trip, he would now personally have visited 28 of them. Since the CPA has not created a strategic plan previously, Bates said he is determined, “to include everyone,” in the process, adding that he regards part of the Authority’s mission to be “getting small town and big cities together.” and, in turn, “to make great things happen for our state.”

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the 'Victoria.'

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the ‘Victoria.’

Apart from Bates and the four local First Selectmen and Selectwomen, also on board were Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) Executive Director Sam Gold, River COG Deputy Director and Principal Planner J.H. Torrance Downes, CPA Board of Directors member John Johnson and Joe Salvatore from the CPA.  Reemsnyder is also a board member of the CPA.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder and Johnson.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder, Bates and Johnson.

At the earlier meeting in Old Lyme, Downes had given a presentation to CPA members to introduce them to the Lower Connecticut River during which he had described the geography of the estuary, noting it had, “very little industry and very little commercial development.”  He described it as a “really prime area for bird migration” and highlighted numerous points of scenic beauty.

J.H. Torrance Downe, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

J.H. Torrance Downes, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

Bates noted one of the CPA’s responsibilities is to pursue state and federal funds for dredging and, while sailing under the Baldwin Bridge towards the Connecticut River’s mouth where several tributaries join the main river, Reemsnyder commented that Old Lyme had been a beneficiary of a $1.6 million state grant for dredging two of those tributaries — the Black Hall and Four Mile Rivers.  She noted that it had been a successful exercise thanks in part to Salvatore, who had, “held our hand through the whole project.”

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the 'Victoria.'

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the ‘Victoria.’ Joe Salvatore stands at rear.

Johnson, whose life and business career according to the CPA website, have “a common underlying element: the coastal waters,” also confirmed the benefits of a dredging program, saying, “There is a need for depth of water — both elements, marine and maritime, need depth of water.”  Still on the dredging issue, Bates said he had met separately with Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna and told him that he could have “whatever he needs to keep the mouth of the Connecticut River open.”

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

Reemsnyder took a minute to commend Bates for his leadership of the CPA, saying, “Scott has given focus to coastal communities,”  while Johnson added, “We are blessed with our new chairman.”

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

Glancing around at the numerous boats docked both in marinas and on the river itself,  Reemsnyder remarked, “Add up the money in these boats … [they represent] lots of economic drivers.”  On the same theme, Bates noted that the state is marketing its ports for the first time using “national expertise” in some cases with the aim of moving “more people and goods in and out of Connecticut.”  He added, “We have some great assets [in terms of ports in the state] but we could do more.”

Eyes on the Cove -- guests on the 'Victoria' gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

Eyes on the Cove — guests on the ‘Victoria’ gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

As the “Victoria’ pulled gently back into dock at Essex Yacht Club, Bates summarized the benefits of the boat trip saying that by spending time with these local leaders, he had been able to “see their waterfronts, assess their needs,“ and gain an “appreciation of the vitality of the Lower Connecticut River basin,” emphasizing one more time, “This is really about pulling together as a state … we’re all on one team.”

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Old Lyme Selectmen Host Public Hearing Monday on Whether to Join Ledge Light Health District

Ledge_Light-Health_District_logoThe Old Lyme Board of Selectmen has scheduled a public hearing next Monday, Aug. 29, at 7:30 p.m., in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium at 53 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, to receive questions and comments from the public regarding the possibility of the Town of Old Lyme becoming a member of the Ledge Light Health District.

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Lyme DTC Invites Readers to ‘Meet the Candidates’ at Gelston House, Sept. 19

Essex First Selectman and Democratic candidate for the 33rd District, Norman Needleman

Essex First Selectman and Democratic candidate for the 33rd District, Norman Needleman

US Senator Joe Courtney

US Senator Joe Courtney

The Democratic Town Committees of Lyme, Haddam and East Haddam are jointly sponsoring a “Meet the Candidates” event with Norm Needleman and Joe Courtney at the Gelston House in East Haddam on Monday, Sept. 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  All are welcome.

Needleman (D) is challenging two-term incumbent Art Linares (R) for the position of 33rd District State Representative. Courtney is running for another term as US Representative for Connecticut’s Second Congressional District, a position he has held since 2007..

Light refreshments will be served.  A cash bar will be available.

A $10 donation is suggested.

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US Men’s Eight, with Old Lyme’s Hack as Stroke, Qualifies for Saturday’s Olympic Final!

The US Men's Eight in action yesterday morning. A determined Austin Hack is the first rower (the stroke) in the boat facing the camera. Photo courtesy of worldrowing.com

The US Men’s Eight in action Monday morning. A determined Austin Hack is the first rower (the stroke) in the boat facing the camera. Photo courtesy of worldrowing.com

UPDATE: 8/11, 12:30pm: The US Men’s Eight crushed the opposition in the repechage this morning and qualified for the Olympic final at 10:24 EST on Saturday, where they will meet Germany, England, The Netherlands, Poland and New Zealand. Go Austin! Go Team USA!

UPDATE 8/11, 6:30am: Austin’s race is currently scheduled for 9 a.m. EST this morning, but his mom, Barbara Hack, said at around 5:30 a.m. that they are, “Waiting to hear if the wind will cooperate today. Forecast is for 15-25mph though currently seems calm.”  She adds, “Will let folks know when we know!”

UPDATE 8/10, 7:40am:  We just received word from Austin Hack’s mother, Barbara, that all rowing is cancelled in Rio today due to high winds.  The Men’s Eight repechage, in which Austin will again serve as stroke, will be rescheduled. We will post details of the new date and time as soon as they are available.

The US Men’s Eight, with Austin Hack as stroke, gave a strong performance in the second heat Monday morning to achieve second place behind Germany.  Thanks to that win, Germany  — reigning Olympic champions and #2 in the world — qualified directly for the final along with Great Britain, who won the first heat.  

The US team must now row again in the repechage on Wednesday at 9 a.m. EST to secure a spot in the final. We believe the top four from the repechage go forward into Saturday’s final.

Go Austin! Go Team USA!

 

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Both I-95 Southbound Ramps at Exit 71 Closed for Two Weeks Starting 8/8, Detours in Place

Old Lyme Police patrol the currently closed entrance to the I-95 south bound on-ramp at Exit 71 on Four Mile River Rd.

Old Lyme Police patrol the currently closed entrance to the I-95 south bound on-ramp at Exit 71 on Four Mile River Rd. in Old Lyme.

Updated information from State Rep. Devin Carney:

The closure of Exit 71 on and off ramps for Four Mile River Road (Exit 71) will begin 12 a.m., Aug. 8, and is expected to be completed by Aug. 22.

The reconstruction of the southbound Exit 71 on and off ramps will involve full depth pavement replacement.

Lane Closure/Detour Information

Motorists on I-95 can expect temporary lane shifts and/or closures during the evening between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Motorists utilizing the Exit 71 southbound off ramp to access Four Mile River Rd. should use the off ramp for Exit 72 (Rocky Neck Connector) to Rte. 156 and Four Mile River Rd.

Motorists intending to access I-95 southbound should use Four Mile River Rd. to Rte. 156 to the Rocky Neck Connector and access I-95 Southbound via the Exit 72 on-ramp or use Rte. 1 or Rte. 156 to the Exit 70 on-ramp onto the Baldwin Bridge.

Motorists are encouraged to follow detour signs or use alternate routes.

Motorists are urged to obey the posted speed limit and proceed with caution when driving in this area.

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Old Lyme’s Hack Starts Quest for Rowing Gold in Rio This Morning

The US Men's Eight in action with Austin Hack as stroke. Photo courtesy of usrowing.com

The US Men’s Eight in action with Austin Hack as stroke.
Photo courtesy of usrowing.com

Update:  The US Men’s Eight came in second behind Germany in their heat this morning.  Germany has qualified directly for the final along with Great Britain, who won the first heat.  The US  team must now row again in the repechage on Wednesday at 9 a.m. EST to secure a spot in the final.

Go Austin! Go Team USA!

Austin Hack of Old Lyme, the stroke for the US Men’s Eight, has his first race at 8:20 a.m. Monday (Aug. 8) morning. The schedule had to be reconfigured after today’s racing was cancelled in Rio due to high winds.

 

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Jewett Construction to Build New Reynold’s Subaru Dealership

Designer's rendering of front aerial view of new Reynold's Subaru facility. Completion is scheduled for July 2017.

Rendering of front aerial view of new Reynold’s Subaru dealership in Lyme. Construction is scheduled for completion by June 2017.

Raymond, N.H.-based Jewett Construction Company, Inc. has been selected to design build a new dealership for Reynolds’ Subaru based in Lyme, Conn.

The Reynold’s Subaru design-build dealership involves the construction of a new 22,250 SF facility requiring careful coordination between Subaru of New England and the Town of Lyme, Conn. for incorporation of both the manufacturer’s current image upgrades and the town’s stringent zoning requirements. The new facility will combine the iconic stone veneered Subaru tower into a historic carriage house design with vertical siding, architectural asphalt shingles, gabled roof lines, and New England barn-inspired accents.

Construction of the new, ground-up, waterfront facility also includes major site improvements, demolition of two existing buildings, an elevator system, acoustic ceilings and tile flooring to match manufacturer image upgrades. A full walk-out basement opens to an IPE-clad waterfront patio with blue-stone paver hardscape facing the waterfront.

The basement level will include corporate offices, a conference room, employee and automotive tech breakrooms, and file storage space. The first floor deck has been ruggedly designed to support the Reynolds’ Subaru vehicle inventory and new showroom/office functions.

The new 5,000 SF customer-centric showroom will include a customer lounge with fireplace and coffee bar, a kid’s zone, a quiet lounge, inviting sales management offices, and a retail parts counter.

A high-end 9,400 SF service department will include a radiant heated floor slab, full-coverage automotive-grade tile flooring, a service drive and customer write-up area, a parts storage department, and 12 service bays with fully recessed in-ground lifts. All work is expected to be completed by June, 2017.

Jewett Construction, an official Butler Builder, is a family-owned design-build/construction management firm specializing in automotive, commercial and industrial projects throughout the Northeast. Its many clients include such well-known organizations as the Monarch School of New England, US Foods, LAARS Heating Systems, The Bean Group, Kennebunk Savings Bank, and the Herb Chambers Companies.

To learn more, visitwww.jewettconstruction.com.

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Local Student Named College Scholar at Middlebury College

Caius Mergy

Caius Mergy

Caius Mergy, son of Lee and Michele Mergy of Old Lyme, was named a College Scholar during the 2015 Fall and 2016 Spring terms at Middlebury College. To be named a College Scholar is the highest recognition for academic achievement at the liberal arts institution in Vermont.

A College Scholar at Middlebury must carry a full course load of four or more classes during the semester, achieve a grade point average of 3.6 (on a 4.0 scale) or higher, with no grade lower than a B–.

For more information on Middlebury College, visit www.middlebury.edu.

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Hoping for Gold in Rio, World No. 1 Women’s Cyclist Guarnier Has Old Lyme Connection

The world No. 1 women's road cyclist , Megan Guarnier, who is competing in Rio on Sunday, is the niece of Cathy Nyberg of Old Lyme.

The world No. 1 women’s road cyclist , Megan Guarnier, who is competing in Rio on Sunday, is the niece of Cathy Nyberg of Old Lyme.

We assume the whole town knows that Old Lyme’s Austin Hack is the stroke for the US Men’s Eight and will race for gold in Rio next Saturday, but did you know there’s another Olympian at Rio, also with a strong chance to win a gold, who has a strong Old Lyme connection?

Megan Guarnier, the world No. 1 women’s road cyclist, is the niece of Dr. Catherine (Cathy) Burns Nyberg of Old Lyme. Megan is the daughter of Cathy’s sister, Mary Burns, of Glens Falls, N.Y., and hot favorite to win the gold in this coming Sunday’s 80-mile race.

There’s a wonderful full-page story in today’s Wall Street Journal about Megan — she has an interesting history since she went to Middlebury College as a swimmer, but has since morphed into a world-class professional cyclist, who this year has won the famed Giro Rosa race in Italy and the Tour of California, as well as a slew of other major road races all over the world.

And is Cathy Nyberg in Rio to watch her niece?  No, she’s up in Glens Falls dutifully taking care of her elderly parents while her sister Mary (Megan’s mother) and numerous others of her seven brothers and sisters are in Rio to cheer Megan to victory.

Go Team USA! Go Megan! And of course, go Austin!

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Malloy, Wyman Congratulate CT Athletes Competing in Olympics; OLRA to Host Viewing Party in Lyme for Austin Hack’s Race, All Welcome

The US Men's Eight in action with Austin Hack as stroke. Photo courtesy of usrowing.com

The US Men’s Eight in action with Austin Hack as stroke. Photo courtesy of usrowing.com

Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman yesterday congratulated the Connecticut athletes competing in the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and are wishing them the best in their competitions.  The list of athletes competing includes Austin Hack of Old Lyme, who is the stroke for the US Men’s Eight.  Hack graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School in 2010.

His parents, Dr. Gregory Hack and Dr. Barbara Hack,  and sisters Olivia and Molly, along with other family members, left today to travel to Rio, hopefully to watch Austin win a gold medal!

The Old Lyme Rowing Association (OLRA) is hosting a breakfast reception for Austin’s Rio race on Saturday, Aug. 13,  from 9 to 11 a.m. in the barn at 325 Grassy Hill Rd. in Lyme. Enjoy this opportunity to watch the race on a big screen TV with friends and family.  All are welcome. Space is limited. A $10 donation to OLRA is suggested. Contact Jane Montanaro for more information and to RSVP at janemontanaro@aol.com.

In his message to the athletes, Governor Malloy said,”We are honored to have a group of internationally recognized athletes who call Connecticut their home and will represent our state and our nation in one of the most prominent sporting events in the world,”  adding, “We wish all of the Team USA athletes the best in this year’s Olympic Games, but in particular you can guarantee that there will be a strong contingent of us back home in Connecticut cheering for our hometown stars.”

“Congratulations to our Connecticut Olympians – we’re thrilled to be represented on Team USA,” Lt. Governor Wyman said.  “These men and women are tremendous athletes, and their commitment to excellence makes them great role models for all of us back home.  I wish them good luck and urge them to enjoy every minute of the Games.”

The Governor and Lt. Governor also expressed their best wishes to Team USA Women’s Basketball head coach Coach Geno Auriemma and several Huskies, who will be competing on the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team.

Members of the U.S. Olympic team who are from Connecticut include:

o    Donn Cabral – Track and Field (Glastonbury, CT)
o    Andrew Campbell, Jr. – Rowing (New Canaan, CT)
o    Charlie Cole – Rowing (New Canaan, CT)
o    Thomas Dunstan – Water Polo (New Canaan, CT)
o    Austin Hack – Rowing (Old Lyme, CT)
o    Michael Hartfield – Track and Field (Manchester, CT)
o    Devin McEwan – Canoe/Kayak (Salisbury, CT)
o    Alyssa Naeher – Soccer (Seymour/Bridgeport, CT)
o    Chris Wyles – Rugby (Stamford, CT)
(Note: This list was compiled by the U.S. Olympic Committee and is based on the athletes’ hometowns, not their current residence.)
 Go Austin!  Go Team USA!
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Midsummer Memories of a Magnificent Day … and Night

Old Lyme’s Midsummer Festival 2016 began Friday evening when the sun came out after torrential rain earlier in the day …

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Concert-goers gathered on the grounds on the Florence Griswold Museum to picnic, visit and await the performance by ‘The Voice’ finalist Braiden Sunshine …

Watching_concert_from_Lieutenant_River

Some decided the Lieutenant River was the perfect spot to listen the music …

Braiden_Sunshine

The aptly-named Braiden Sunshine and his band gave a terrific performance …

Hawaii_5.0_start_of_race

And then it was on to Saturday, which kicked off with the Hawaii-5.0 road race. Almost 300 runners competed in the 5K event, despite the intense heat and humidity …

weavers_on_large_loom

All along Lyme Street, there were things to see —  including these weavers at the Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc.

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… things to do … Scout Cushman posed delightfully in front of the community sculpture at Studio 80, on which people were adding their own designs …

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… and things to eat and drink — the lemonade stand at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds was a happy family affair.

LOL_Chamber_vendors

A new feature at the Festival this 30th anniversary year was the more than 30 vendors and a stage on which numerous youth musicians played in the field across from Lyme Academy College.  The vendors and performances were hosted by the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce.

Veggies_at_FGM

The en plein air market at the Florence Griswold Museum was full of everything you can imagine, from flowers and fruit …

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… to jewels and jewelry.

Reggae_at_LACFA

Reggae music was the order of the day outside the John Sill House at Lyme Academy College …

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And down on the lawn in front of Center School, the fence artists displayed their work and drew customers galore.

Dancers_on_Gils_sculptures

Back at Studio 80, another new two-part event happened, first a fashion show by designers Susan Hickman and Anna Lucas followed by an incredible dance/acrobatic display by The Magnaterrestrials.

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And this very special day in the Old Lyme calendar ended with a bang when — despite the threat of rain —  the Town hosted another spectacular fireworks display for all to enjoy!

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Carney Achieves 100 Percent Voting Record in 2016 Legislative Session

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

State Rep. Devin Carney registered a 100 percent voting record during the 2016 legislative session and was present for all 313 votes taken on the House floor, according to recently released data from the House Clerk’s office. Perfect attendance is very difficult to achieve, with only 32% of legislators able to do so this year.

Carney, serving his first term representing the 23rd General Assembly District, is among just 49 members of the 151-member House of Representatives to achieve the 100 percent score and has maintained a100 percent voting record since being elected into office.

“It is simply my duty as the representative for the people of the 23rd District,” said Carney, whose district covers Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook. “I take this responsibility very seriously and I wouldn’t be able to accurately represent the district without being present for every vote; the people count on me to ensure our district’s voice is heard. It has been an honor and a privilege representing the people of the 23rd and I look forward to continue advocating on their behalf.”

Carney, who is the House Republican Chair of the Young Legislators Caucus, serves on the Environment Committee, and also on the Transportation, and Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committees in the General Assembly.

For an overview of legislation passed this year, visit the Office of Legislative Research website: https://www.cga.ct.gov/olr/Documents/year/MA/2016MA-20160610_Major%20Acts%20for%202016.pdf

The next regular session of the legislature will convene in early February 2017.

Anyone with questions, ideas or concerns about state-related issues can contact Carney’s office at Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov or 800-842-1423.

Carney represents the 23rd District communities of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

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Old Lyme Woman Takes a Personal Adventure to Row Irish in Ireland in Preparation for Currach Regatta in New London, Saturday

Curach rower Maureen Plumleigh stands in front of Old Lyme's Congregational Church wearing one of her delightful, signature hats.

Curach rower Maureen Plumleigh stands in front of Old Lyme’s Congregational Church wearing one of her delightful, signature hats.

During the month of June, I had a personal adventure.

In past summers, I typically have been a member of a team in New London, which rows a currach.  This is a traditional Irish fishing boat, and teams in the Northeast region compete during the summer months.  New London Currach Rowers will host its annual regatta for currach rowing teams throughout the Northeast Region on Saturday, July 30 at the Custom House pier in New London.

For the past six years, I have rowed regularly in the summer in order to make an acceptable showing against teams in the North American Currach Association (NACA) from Albany, Annapolis, Philadelphia, Boston, and Pittsburgh.

A currach is a traditional Irish boat, used both for transporting goods and animals to islands as well as for fishing on rough and stormy seas, now used in competitive Irish events.

A currach is a traditional Irish boat, used both for transporting goods and animals to islands as well as for fishing on rough and stormy seas, now used in competitive Irish events.

I row reasonably well, but anecdotes from the Albany team about participating in an event in Ireland consistently captured my attention   Each year, it was one of those things I longed to try, but always had a good reason to let the event go past.

This year, however, I talked back to the tsk-ing voices, which tossed very good reasons at me of why I should not go.  Why spend the money?  Why go alone?  What if I can’t make the distance?  I couldn’t possibly prepare my body when our New London team had not yet even begun to row for the summer!

But, ultimately, I admitted, I simply wanted it. So, I had to face, and then overcome the resisting voices in my head.  “I’m too old!” was one voice in my head that I couldn’t silence, so I chose to fight back.  Joining a gym and working a tailored plan daily for the month preceding the race taught me that my attitude was more of a problem than my body!

In “three-hand” currach as member of Kildysart Team of Ireland, Plumleigh rows center seat in Ocean to City Festival in early June in Cork, Ireland.

In “three-hand” currach as member of Kildysart Team of Ireland, Plumleigh rows center seat in the ‘Ocean to City’ Festival in early June in Cork, Ireland.

So I went alone, and rowed with a team from Ireland, in the ‘Ocean to City’ Regatta of Cork, Ireland’s river festival on the southern coast of the country.  Our event was a seven nautical mile distance, up the river to its conclusion in Cork’s downtown area.  Many friends and family of the rowers lined the beautiful paths along the river.  Many tourists joined the cheers and shouts of support.

Taking this trip gave me opportunities to learn more about my Irish heritage, to test my energy and my endurance, but, most of all, to simply admit to, and then fulfill, a dream.  This challenge had been on my “Bucket List” for about four years, so I felt a great deal of satisfaction in my successful trip.

Now I’m focused on rowing my best in Saturday’s Regatta of the New London Currach Rowers!  

For more information about rowing, contact Plumleigh at row.currach.nl@gmail.com, or visit Facebook.com/New-London-Currach-Rowers-220649084637574.

Editor’s Note: Boats will launch in Saturday’s Currach Regatta from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in various combinations of rowers from the Custom House Pier on New London’s Waterfront Park. We plan to do a follow-up story with Maureen after this Saturday’s event to find out how she fared in the regatta.  Good luck, Maureen!

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The Blue Oar: Enjoy a Tropical Feel at River Eatery in Haddam

Looking across the vibrant patio of 'The Blue Oar' towards the Connecticut River.

Looking across the vibrant patio of ‘The Blue Oar’ towards the Connecticut River.

The soft sunlight of a warm summer evening glistens off the gently flowing river as you sip wine at a pastel-colored picnic table while awaiting your Cajun catfish dinner. No, you’re not in Louisiana; you’re alongside the Connecticut River at the Blue Oar Restaurant in Haddam.

Now enjoying its 20th summer, the Blue Oar resembles more of a summer camp than a restaurant. Built on stilts to protect the kitchen from river floods, the yellow and white wooden structure resembles a children’s treetop playhouse. A trademark of the expansive dining grounds is the colored chairs and tables – pastels of lime green, melon, sky blue, tangerine and creamy yellow.  “It reminds people of the Caribbean or Florida,” says co-owner Jody Reilly. “There’s a relaxed vibe.” 

You can bring your own wine or beer, have a cheeseburger or hot dog with kraut, but your options go far beyond that.  The most popular sandwich is “the chicken, roasted pepper and cheddar,” says Reilly. “They seem to fly out of here. And also the ribs, chowder, and lobster rolls.”

A staple of fixed offerings is supplemented by a number of daily specials. Dinner entrees range from grilled salmon to Jamaican jerk BBQ pork loin. A recent Saturday night featured grilled Cajun catfish with black bean salsa and strips of grilled summer squash. The large fillet was just spicy enough and sat on a generous bed of cool black bean salsa that blended perfectly on the palate. A chilled Italian pinot grigio was the perfect accompaniment.

Appetizers are plentiful and varied. Sautéed mussels, seared scallops and fresh guacamole with house-made tortilla chips are just a few examples. If you’re looking for fried seafood, this isn’t your spot.

A view of 'The Blue Oar' from the Connecticut River.

A view of ‘The Blue Oar’ from the Connecticut River.

With docks along the river, arriving by boat is an option. “We’re a destination,” says Reilly. “A lot of people on boat trips for the day pull in from Sag Harbor or Greenport.”

On a bright, sunny evening, the Blue Oar has a distinct tropical feel. A good weather weekend can bring in up to 600 diners a day, says Reilly. There may be a line, but it moves along and provides conversation and entertainment. As waiters exit the tight kitchen, it resembles a bumper car arcade as they bob and weave through the order line that meanders out the door.

The Blue Oar is open seven days a week from Mother’s Day weekend through September, serving lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Water and soda is available but all alcohol is BYOB.

Note: it is cash only. Credit and debit cards are not accepted. The Blue Oar is located off Rte. 154 about a mile-and-a-half north of exit 7 off Rte. 9. Look for the turn sign.

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“Celebrating Lyme’s Beauty” on View at LAA Through Aug. 26

“Reeds Landing” by George F. Bottume c.1850.

“Reeds Landing” by George F. Bottume c.1850.

The 4th Annual “Celebrating Lyme’s Beauty” exhibition, sponsored by the Lyme Land Conservation Trust and the Lyme Art Association (LAA), will be shown in the Goodman Gallery of the LAA

On view will be landscapes created in June 2016 during the “Celebrating Lyme’s Beauty” Paint-Out. The Paint-Out event continues the en plein air tradition established by the early American Impressionists, who founded the Lyme Art Colony over one hundred years ago.

The landscapes will highlight the historic and natural beauty of the Hamburg Bridge Historic District, and the Lyme Preserves that surround it, namely, the Hemlocks and the Czikowsky Preserve

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All Three Items Approved at Old Lyme Special Town Meeting; Sound View Construction to Start Later This Year

From left to right standing, Rob Pinckney of the BSC Group, meeting moderator Attorney Marylin C. Clarke and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder listen attentively to a question from the floor.

From left to right standing, Rob Pinckney of the BSC Group, meeting moderator Attorney Marylin C. Clarke and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder listen attentively to a question from the floor.

More than 200 people crammed into the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium Monday evening for the Old Lyme Special Town Meeting called by the board of selectmen to consider three agenda items. Under presiding moderator Attorney Marylin C. Clarke, all three were subsequently passed on voice votes, but not without leaving some residents questioning the result of the first motion.

That motion was to authorize approval for the construction cost of Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements Project in the amount of $877,000.  This total comprised $595,000 for construction; $151,000 for a combination of inspection and municipal services, plus a contingency amount; $65,500 for Department of Transport materials testing, administrative costs and audits; and an additional amount of $65,000 as a buffer to allow for higher than expected bids.

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder explained that a federal grant being administered by the State Department of Transportation will cover 80 percent of the project construction costs of approximately $701,600, leaving a total cost to the town of $175,400.

In a presentation preceding the vote, Rob Pinckney of the BSC Group that served as project designers, noted the project would “employ the ‘complete street’ concept to accommodate all users and enhance safety.” He said it would provide 6 ft. wide sidewalks to the south of the bocce court on Hartford Ave., which are both safe and ADA compliant, adding that it would also allow for improved stormwater drainage and inclusion of “Sharrow BikeWays” for the whole length of Hartford Ave. These latter are lanes on which road markings are used to indicate a shared lane environment for bicycles and automobiles, which indicate, in Pinckney’s words, that “a bicycle has the right to be on the road.”

Pinckney said the proposal also provides for bumpouts, landscaping, banner poles, benches and bike racks.

Reemsnyder stressed that if the project were not approved, the Town would then be responsible for reimbursing $108,000 for charges the Town had already incurred for planning and design work on the project.  The Town had received a grant from the state that reimbursed 80 percent of these costs, but it was contingent on the project being passed.  She noted that if the project were approved, construction would begin in the fall of 2016.

When the moderator opened the floor to questions, the first was whether the project still included a bike route on Rte. 156.  Reemsnyder said that was not the case. The second question was how the implementation of sewers would affect the project. Reemsnyder replied that “new technology” would allow sewers to be installed without damaging the upper surface and that the engineer responsible for their implementation would “have to get the road back to how it was.”

Another questioner asked whether bathrooms were included.  Reemsnyder responded, “We thought they were when we started,” but she went on to clarify that it had transpired that the grant did not cover them to the extent originally envisaged.  Reemsnyder confirmed the committee was still “trying to find ways to address the issue,” which included discussions with the private beach associations.

A question was raised as to whether the vote would be by paper ballot or hand-count, to which no response was given. There were further questions regarding speed limits on Rte. 156 and Hartford Ave. and then Barbara Crowley asked, “What is the town going to do to encourage growth [in Sound View]?  Are there going to be any incentives to promote businesses?” Using the example of a recent report in Mystic where changes to sidewalks have promoted business growth, Reemsnyder stated, “I think this is supporting a better environment down there — both business and environmental.”

Some confusion reigned when the moderator took a voice vote on whether to call the question while a resident was indicating she still wished to ask a question.  With the voice vote approved to call the question, Clarke then rapidly moved to a voice vote on the proposal, which she immediately deemed a victory for the “Ayes.”

A significant number of those present left after the first vote, many pleased with the result but some unhappy about how the voting process had been handled.

The other two motions on the agenda — to authorize the acceptance of Queen Anne Court as a Town road and to appropriate an amount not to exceed $60,000 to cover excess costs of the Resident Trooper Department from the already approved municipal police budget — were both passed by voice votes.

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Acclaimed Local Contemporary Artist Judy Friday Opens Gallery in Old Lyme

'February Sunrise' by Judy Friday.

‘February Sunrise’ by Judy Friday.

One of the area’s best known contemporary artists has opened her own gallery in Old Lyme. Judy Friday Gallery, full of Friday’s paintings, photography, weavings and sculptures, can be found at 10 Lyme Street.

Friday, a resident of Old Saybrook, explains that she opened the new gallery for a number of reasons, noting, “The first is that the space is so perfect for a gallery and studio combined.”

She says the second reason for opening her own gallery is, “… that I had too much work accumulating in my studio at home and I love organizing paintings and my hooked rug pillows in a clean, organized way.”

Friday adds, “The third reason is that I wanted to be able to show my work year-round versus one month here and there,” commenting, “I appreciate all the shows I’ve been given over the years.”

Judy Friday Gallery is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by chance or appointment. The phone number is 860.581.0116.

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‘Touching Water’ Exhibit by Roxanne Steed on View at Old Lyme Library Through August

'Looking South on the Connecticut River at Old Lyme' is the signature painting of the 'Touching Water' exhibition opening Friday at the Old Lyme Library.

‘Looking South on the Connecticut River at Old Lyme’ is the signature painting of the ‘Touching Water’ exhibition opening Friday at the Old Lyme Library.

The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library is currently hosting a new exhibition titled Touching Water featuring artwork by Roxanne Steed.

Steed has lived in some of the most beautiful towns on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as traveled to Hawaii, Singapore, Italy, France, England and Ireland.  Always in pursuit of new challenges, her works explore the local waterways painted en plein air.

Steed pursued her formal art education along the way at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Conn.; The Art League School in Alexandria, Va.; and Watts Atelier in Encinitas, Calif.  Recent studies with colorists Leif Nilsson, and Camille Przewodek, students of renowned teacher Henry Hensche have enabled her to pursue the ever-intriguing study of the effects light on color.

The works of the American Impressionists have had a great influence on her work, particularly those of New England and California. Steed says, “There is nothing quite so satisfying as painting from life in the great outdoors. I find the textural quality of paint an exciting element of painting as much as design, composition, and color. Evoking an emotional response to a ‘sense of place’ is a great thrill; that connection with my viewer is priceless.”

Steed’s professional affiliations include Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society, Lyme Art Association, Mystic Art Center, CT Plein Air Painters Society and DailyPainters.com.

Her paintings are in private collections across the United States, as well as Canada, Ireland, UK, Germany, South Korea, Australia, and Dubai. Her most recent corporate collector is Bank of Hampton Roads (Virginia).

The exhibition will run until Aug. 31.

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State Troubadour Performs at Lyme Library This Evening

Connecticut State Troubador Kate Callahan gives a concert at Lyme Public Library Friday evening.

Connecticut State Troubador Kate Callahan gives a concert at Lyme Public Library Friday evening.

Friends of the Lyme Public Library will sponsor a concert presented by Connecticut State Troubadour, Kate Callahan, this evening, Friday, July 15, at 6 p.m., at the Lyme Public Library at 482 Hamburg Rd./Rte. 156, Lyme.

The concert will be outdoors on the lawn area near library patio.  Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets.  This is a family program and all are invited.

In the case of inclement weather, the event will be held at the Lyme Public Hall, 249 Hamburg Rd./Rte. 156, Lyme.  Refreshments will be available for a small fee.

As Connecticut’s 16th State Troubadour, Kate Callahan gives a concert of compelling original music plus songs by the Beatles, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan.  Connecticut is one of the only states that honors a singer-songwriter with a formal position.

Callahan serves as an ambassador of music and song and promotes cultural literacy among Connecticut citizens.  She has shared stages with songwriter legends Judy Collins, Noel Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul & Mary) and Aztec Two Step.

Callahan has been  awarded the prestigious United Arts Campaign’s Featured Artist of the year in 2014 and named Connecticut’s Best Singer-Songwriter.  She has also received Hartford’s Woman of Character Award and has five albums including her 2014 release Two Doors, which was featured on WNPR.

The Boston Globe says “Kate has garnered an appreciative audience with her easy going vibe and mystical lyrics.”  She lives in Connecticut where she also leads a vocal improvisation workshop she created, called the Miracle of Melody.

For more information visit:  http://www.kate-callahan.com/#!home/mainPage andhttp://music.lafamos.com/katecallahan.

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House Approves Courtney-Sponsored Amendment Restricting Sale of Plum Island

Representative Joe Courtney

Representative Joe Courtney

Local Congressional Representative Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced Thursday (July 7) that a bipartisan amendment he had led, along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Peter King (R-NY), to prohibit the sale of Plum Island was passed by the House of Representatives.

The amendment, which will prohibit the General Services Administration (GSA) from using any of its operational funding to process or complete a sale of Plum Island, was made to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2017..

In a joint statement, the Representatives said, “Our amendment passed today is a big step toward permanently protecting Plum Island as a natural area. Plum Island is a scenic and biological treasure located right in the middle of Long Island Sound. It is home to a rich assortment of rare plant and animal species that need to be walled off from human interference.”

The statement continued, “Nearly everyone involved in this issue agrees that it should be preserved as a natural sanctuary – not sold off to the highest bidder for development.”  Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump had shown interest in the property at one time.

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In 2008, the federal government announced plans to close the research facility on Plum Island and relocate to Manhattan, Kansas. Current law states that Plum Island must be sold publicly to help finance the new research facility.

Aerial view of Plum Island.

Aerial view of Plum Island.

The lawmakers  joint statement explained, “The amendment will prevent the federal agency in charge of the island from moving forward with a sale by prohibiting it from using any of its operational funding provided by Congress for that purpose,” concluding, ” This will not be the end of the fight to preserve Plum Island, but this will provide us with more time to find a permanent solution for protecting the Island for generations to come.”

For several years, members from both sides of Long Island Sound have been working in a bipartisan manner to delay and, ultimately, repeal the mandated sale of this ecological treasure. Earlier this year, the representatives, along with the whole Connecticut delegation, cosponsored legislation that passed the House unanimously to delay the sale of Plum Island.

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