June 27, 2017

State Budget Discussion at OL Church Draws Large Crowd With Wide Range of Concerns, Questions

Attendees at Monday night’s state budget discussion listen attentively to a speaker.  Photo by Jacob Ballachino.

About 60 community leaders and citizens, including members of the clergy from both New London and Middlesex Counties,  attended a “Conversation on the State Budget,” Monday evening at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL)

Only two state-elected representatives attended out of a total of the 55 senators and representatives invited. State Rep. Devin Carney, (R-23rd), whose district includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and the southern segment of Westbrook, and State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R- 34th), whose district includes East Haddam, East Hampton and Colchester, attended.

Carney and Ziobron answered questions from the audience carefully and thoughtfully, shedding light on how the budget process is proceeding. They also listened attentively to concerns raised by many of those who attended.

Chief among those concerns was expressing the importance of maintaining appropriate and adequate state funding for programs that are critical to those most in need throughout the state. In light of pending federal cuts to health care programs, maintaining the State of Connecticut’s support of medical care for the low-income and elderly was a constant theme of the evening.

Many of those who attended made it clear that, if the priorities and commitment to support the neediest among us were clearly articulated, paying higher taxes would seem both an appropriate and honorable response. Cutting taxes was not considered a priority. Several speakers commented how it is a privilege to live in this area and, as a consequence, there should be an expectation to pay a fair share to compensate for those who shoulder unreasonable burdens in Connecticut’s cities.

There was a lively discussion about the state pension-funding crisis during which former State Senator Melodie Peters reminded the audience that state employees had paid into those funds over many years.  She expressed her firm opinion that it is critical now to honor the state’s commitments to those people.

There was almost universal consensus that the state is in a challenging place in terms of the budget and compromise on all sides in the legislature is imperative. Frequently, questions were raised about why the two parties seem so crippled by partisanship.

A wide-ranging discussion about increasing state revenues ensued. Questions were raised regarding the possibility of re-implementing tolls and taxing sugary drinks. Another audience member asked, “Could we add a small fee onto our car registrations to fund our state parks and their employees?”  A third speaker questioned whether the state could consider raising taxes on those in upper income brackets.

The subject of the questions then moved to business with one audience member asking, “Can we incentivize businesses to come to this state?” while another questioned, “Is it possible to raise the minimum wage so that people in the state have more ability to participate in our economy?”

The Rev. John Selders of Amistad Congregational Church in Hartford, Conn., who serves as coordinator of the Moral Monday, Conn., program, and Moral Monday Board Member Pamela Selders helped to lead the discussions, along with FCCOL Senior Associate Minister Carleen Gerber

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Old Lyme First Congregational Church, ‘Moral Monday’ Group Host Community Conversation on State Budget’

State Senators and Representatives from 30 Area Towns Invited To Attend Public Forum
Event is Free and Open to the Public

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL) and the nonprofit organization, Moral Monday CT, are hosting a “Community Conversation on the State Budget” tonight at 7 p.m. to help facilitate a peaceful, respectful, community conversation on the state budget between area elected officials, nonprofit groups and members of the general public. 

The public forum hopes to inspire an insightful discussion surrounding the state’s planned cuts to health care, education and social services and their likely impact on marginalized populations.

More than 30 area elected officials have been invited to attend the public forum on the church’s front lawn, including the state senators and representatives who represent the citizens of Branford, Cheshire, Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Haven, East Lyme, Essex, Guilford, Haddam, Hamden, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown, Montville, New Haven, New London, North Branford, North Haven, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, Wallingford, Waterford and Westbrook.

In the event of bad weather, the forum will take place inside the church’s historic Meetinghouse.

Moral Monday CT is a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations – originally brought together through the Black Lives Matter movement – that fights for civil rights and social justice for black and brown people in Connecticut.  The organization was founded by Bishop John Selders, Lady Pamela Selders and Minister Cornell Lewis.

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Old Lyme Historical Society Honors Special Member, Retiring Board Members; Presents Scholarship

The Grange Hall on Lyme Street is home to the Old Lyme Historical Society.

The Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc., (OLHSI) at its annual meeting on June 12, recognized the following people:  departing Board members:  Julia Griswold, Dolores Green, Sheila Wertheimer, Martha Hansen, Jennifer Hillhouse and Tim Griswold.

Martha Hansen was recognized for her many years of service to the Board as secretary and webmaster.

Jennifer Hillhouse and Tim Griswold, founding members of the Society, were honored for their 12 years of service to the Board, Griswold having served as Co-Chairman for five years during which time he spearheaded the campaign to purchase and fund the former Grange building on Lyme Street.

The Old Lyme Historical Society Annual Meeting was held on June 12, 2017 at 55 Lyme Street. The Society elected its 2017-2018 officers (shown from left): Mark Lander, Co-Chairman, Andi Williams, Secretary, Ned Farman, Co-Chairman and Ann Marie Jewett, Treasurer.

New Board members were welcomed: Sandy Downing, Andi Williams, Nick Westbrook, Matt LaConti, John Pote and Mark Terwilliger. Officers for the upcoming year were announced: Co-Chairmen: Ned Farman and Mark Lander, Secretary: Andi Williams and Treasurer: Ann Marie Jewett.

This years OLHSI Carol Noyes Winters Scholarship recipient was Lyme- Old Lyme High School senior Rose Datum. Shown with recipient Rose Datum are her parents Michael and Jennifer Datum, Rose’s sister Chloe and OLHSI Scholarship Committee member Kevin Cole.

The Carol Noyes Winters Scholarship was awarded to Lyme-Old Lyme High School Senior Rose Datum, who will attend UConn.

This years OLHSI James Brewster Noyes Award recipient was Architect Stephen Joncus. This award honors a Society member who goes “above and beyond” in time and effort to support the Society. Shown from left are Architect Stephen Joncus and board members Martha Hansen and Mark Lander.

The James Brewster Noyes (Chairmen’s) Award was given to Society member Steve Joncus is recognition of his efforts on behalf of the remodeling of the Society Building and his work with the Tuesday Morning Work Crew.

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Lyme Farmers Market Now Open for the Season Saturday Mornings

Fresh vegetables galore will be on sale again at Lyme Farmers Market on June 4.

Fresh vegetables galore will be on sale again at Lyme Farmers Market on June 3.

The Lyme Farmers Market will re-open for the 2017 season on Saturday, June 3, from 9 a.m. through 12:30 p.m. at Ashlawn Farm in Lyme. It is the only market in New London County to be held on a working farm and its mission is to promote sustainable agriculture with locally-grown and -produced food, crafts, and specialty products.

New_logoOnce again, vendors from the past 15 years will be present, along with several new ones. Market-goers will enjoy high quality organic produce, along with baked goods, seafood, meats, wine, and handcrafts.

AS well as music, there will be live music on opening day.

Mark and Alisa Mierzejewski of Burgis Brook Alpacas will serve as Market Masters, scheduling vendors and coordinating the market field with jewelry designer Melissa Punzalan. Alisa Mierzejewski is also producing the market’s website and weekly newsletter.

The market is a non-profit entity, able to accept contributions and apply for grants to promote sustainable agriculture.

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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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The Lyme Tree Woman’s Exchange Awards Grants to Three Non-Profits

The three recipients of $1,000 grants from The Lyme Tree A Woman’s Exchange in Old Lyme,(from left to right) Kathy Allen of Thames River Community Service, Inc., Kathy Zall of the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, and Robert Wilkins of Dance With Wood, gather for a photo at last Tuesday’s ceremony.  All photos by Jacob Ballachino.

A short ceremony was held Tuesday at The Lyme Tree Woman’s Exchange of Old Lyme when grants of $1,000 each were presented to representatives of three local non-profit organizations.  The Woman’s Exchange, a non-profit gift shop featuring mostly hand crafted and artisan items made by consignors, as well as jewelry, baby and children’s clothing, antiques and collectables, donates all of its proceeds to other charities.

The three recipient organizations on Tuesday were the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, Thames River Community Service, Inc., and Dance With Wood.

Kathy Zall, Executive Director of the New London Homeless Hospitality Center (third from left) accepts a grant check as she stands with (from left to right) Hilde Reichenbach, Sandy Dowley, and Joan Culbertson, all of The Lyme Tree, A Woman’s Exchange..

The New London Homeless Hospitality Center provides basic necessities such as underwear, socks and toiletries as well as shelter to the homeless.

Kathy Allen of Thames River Community Service, Inc. (second from left) receives her check from The Lyme Tree A Woman’s Exchange.

Thames River Community Service, Inc., supports individuals and families, particularly single mothers, who are moving from shelters into more permanent quarters providing them with start-up packages of dishes, kitchen items, bedding, linens, and so forth.

Robert Wilkins accepts a grant on behalf of Dances with Wood, presented by (from left to right) Hilde Reichenbach, Sandy Dowley, and Joan Culbertson.

Dances with Wood provides wooden kits to seriously ill children in hospitals; the kits include all the parts, tools, and instructions to make boats, boxes, barns, trucks and cars with the aim to empower creativity within hospitalized children.

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Potapaug Presents ‘Bears in CT’ at Old Lyme Town Hall, June 1

Potapaug Audubon presents “Bears in Connecticut” on Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at the Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St, with guest speaker Paul Colburn, DEEP, Master Wildlife Conservationist.

This talk will focus on the natural history, habitat, diet, behavior, population and reproduction of bears, plus the current research efforts and practical recommendations for coexistence between the black bear and humans.

Black bear artifacts will be on display.

For more information, call 860-710-5811.

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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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Lyme Girl Scout Troop #63632 Celebrates Installation of ‘Little Free Library’ for the Community

The Girl Scouts involved in the creation of the Little Free Library, all of whom attend Lyme School, gather for a group photo. From left to right, Hoshena Gemme, Emma Rose Arelt, Ella Keim, Ava Gilbert, Jen Datum, Chloe Datum and Christy Cooper.  Photos by Barbara Arelt unless otherwise stated.)

A dedication ceremony was held Sunday, April 23, for a Little Free Library that has been installed in the side courtyard of the Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) courtesy of local Girl Scout Troop #63632.  The new Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange.

The Girl Scout Troop, which is primarily comprised of girls currently in 4th grade at Lyme Consolidated Elementary School, earmarked annual cookie sale profits to design, build, install and maintain a Little Free Library at their host site, the LYSB on Lyme Street.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

If you take a book (or two) from a Little Free Library, you do not need to return that specific book. However, in order to keep the Little Free Library full of good choices for the whole neighborhood, the next time you swing by the Library, bring a few books to share.  Little Free Library book exchanges function on the honor system; everyone contributes to ensure there are always quality books inside.

Last fall the Girl Scouts and their troop leader, Jennifer Datum, voted to proceed with the Little Free Library project to demonstrate the Troop’s appreciation for their community and to build teamwork skills. The Library will be stocked initially with books from Troop members’ personal collections. The girls will also be responsible for its monthly maintenance.

Chris Arelt (right), owner of Nautilus Architects, who donated the design of the Library, stands with his wife Barbara and daughter Emma Rose in front of the newly-installed Library. Emma Rose is a member of Troop #63632.

Because LYSB is located in the village of Old Lyme, the Little Free Library design needed to be reviewed and approved by the town’s Historic District Commission.  Two Troop members, Chloe Datum and Ava Gilbert, presented the Commission with a classic design donated by Old Lyme architect Christopher Arelt of Nautilus Architects, father of Troop member Emma Rose Arelt.

Construction of the library included quality materials generously donated by Rings End in Niantic. The design was built and installed by Gary Lankerd, a master carpenter based in Waterford.  Additional details were implemented by Philip Schaller, owner of Signs & Digital Graphics in Deep River.

Many of the people involved in the project attended the dedication ceremony. From left to right, Gary Lankerd (Lankerd Custom Carpentry), Christopher Arelt (Nautilus Architects), Bonnie, LYSB Director Mary Seidner, Jen Datum (Girl Scout Troop leader) and John Forbis (Old Lyme Historic District Commission.) Photo by Mary Seidner.

The Troop’s dedication and reception ceremony was for everyone involved in this project, including leaders from the Old Lyme community and the Girl Scout Council. The Troop also expressed their thanks to Mary Seidner, Director of LYSB, who was instrumental in supporting both the Troop and this community service project.

Under the direction of Troop leaders, the Girl Scouts will be submitting the Little Free Library project for the Girl Scouts Bronze Award, which is the highest award a Junior can earn.  Working toward obtaining this award demonstrates their commitment to helping others, improving their community and the world, and becoming the best they can be.

For more information about Girl Scouts of Connecticut, visit www.gsofct.org

For more information about the Little Free Library program, visit LittleFreeLibrary.org

For more information about Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, visit lysb.org.

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A Little Humor in Celebration of The Bard’s Birth- and Death-Day

Today is not only St. George’s Day (the equivalent for England of St. Patrick’s Day for Ireland) but also both William Shakespeare’s birth- and death-day. Well, to be honest, the latter is a definite while the former is one which, to quote from Wikipedia, “has proved appealing to biographers.”  It is known for sure that Shakespeare was baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon in England on April 26, 1564, and so the April 23 date has simply been deduced from that.

In honor of the great Bard, we are delighted to publish this delightful submission from our good friend and book reviewer Felix Kloman and his wife Ann of Lyme.  This is sure to put a smile on the faces of all our Shakespeare-ophiles!

Memories of Yorick

Late last fall, a scrawny young mouse named Yorick politely asked to spend the winter with us, providing entertainment and conversation in return for a modest meal each day. We greeted him with enthusiasm, and shared stories . But, of late he has seemed much fatter and far hungrier. We fed him more and, of course, warned him not to go into the pantry, where we had set a trap for some rapacious relatives. He didn’t follow our advice.

Alas, poor Yorick!

 

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Shining a Light on a Humble Hero: Success of Stroud’s Grassroots Efforts Against High Speed Train Proposal Highlighted

Greg Stroud

The CT Mirror has published an article today by veteran journalist Ana Radelat, titled His grassroots rebellion stops a federal railroad plan in its tracks, which looks at Greg Stroud of Old Lyme as an individual and the impact of his campaign regarding the northeastern section of the proposed high-speed railroad route from Washington DC to Boston — an impact that is looking increasingly likely to result in the removal of the Old Saybrook-Kenyon bypass from the proposed route.

In response to Radelat’s question in the article, “It seems the Federal Railroad Administration is going to change its plan. Are you confident you have won this battle over the bypass?” Stroud responds, “I’m cautiously optimistic and increasingly confident about the Kenyon to Old Saybrook bypass.”

Keep everything crossed at this point, dear readers!

Read Radelat’s full article at this link.

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Overeaters Anonymous Sponsor Workshop on ‘Twelve Steps to Recovery,’ April 29

Overeaters Anonymous of Southeastern Connecticut Intergroup is sponsoring a workshop on the Twelve Steps to Recovery Saturday, April 29, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Saint David’s Episcopal Church, 284 Stoddards Wharf Road in Gales Ferry.

The workshop leader will guide participants through the Twelve Steps, focusing on the first 164 pages of the Big Book.  Overeaters Anonymous is based on the steps, principals, and program of Alcoholics Anonymous, substituting the word “sober” for “abstinent.” The workshop is open to anyone who wants to refrain from compulsive overeating behaviors and choices.

There is no registration necessary and no fee for this program, but a goodwill offering will be accepted.  Participants should bring their own bag lunch and their own Big Book. Additional Big Books will be available for purchase or loan for use during the workshop. 

For more details, contact maren@snet.net.

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Remembering Walter Kaylin: “Already a Legend”

Walter Kaylin, 95, a 52-year-resident of Old Lyme, died peacefully Feb. 15, 2017, at Apple Rehab in Guilford, Conn., after a long period of declining health. His two daughters were by his side. We published Mr. Kaylin’s obituary at this link. This column by Randall Beach, Walter Kaylin’s son-in-law, was first published March 11 in the New Haven Register and on the NHRegister.com at this link, “Randall Beach: The amazing Walter Kaylin, already a legend,” We are pleased to republish it here with the permission of the New Haven Register.

Walter Kaylin 06.28.1921 – 02.15.2017

When I picked up the ashes of my father-in-law, Walter Kaylin, last Monday morning at the crematorium in Wallingford and drove back to New Haven with him beside me, I thought about his wonderful life and his never-ending stories.

Listen, you would have to expect vivid, funny stories from a guy whose wild tales were in anthologies entitled “He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos” and “Weasels Ripped My Flesh.”

Walter wrote those during the late 1950s and ‘60s for pulp magazines such as “For Men Only,” “True Action” and “Stag.”

He spun sagas of macho men on dangerous tropical islands rescuing damsels and plugging the bad guys. Many of them were war-related. Check out the title of his contribution to “Men” magazine, July 1966: “The Black Lace Blonde, the Yank Jungle Fighters and the Chicom Plot to Grab the Mid-Pacific.”

Walter’s colleagues in that New York City office were other tough-nut writers such as Mario Puzo, who would go on to write “The Godfather” and Joseph Heller, who later wrote “Catch-22.”

Bruce Jay Friedman, another of Walter’s peers, noted Walter was nothing like the characters he concocted.

“He looked like a divinity student, always buttoned up,” Friedman recalled on the backside of one of Walter’s anthologies. “Then the stories would come in. They were special — seamless and outrageous and wonderful. I think of him as a treasure.”

But Walter didn’t achieve the literary fame later accorded to those other writers. His two books, “The Power Forward” and “Another Time, Another Woman,” didn’t sell and quickly went out of print.

But at the age of 92, when he was living at Apple Rehab in Guilford, unable to walk, Walter saw those two anthologies get published, thanks to pulp fiction enthusiasts Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle.

“It means a lot to me,” Walter told me when I asked him how it felt to finally get such recognition.

But he never took himself too seriously. He added with a sly smile, “I was reading those stories in bed last night and I was shocked at how savage they were. I was thinking, ‘My God! Could this be me?’”

Walter got a lot of his source material during World War II, when he was a radio operator in the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army, stationed in the Philippines. He didn’t see much combat but he met a lot of unforgettable guys and “dames.” He recalled they were gorgeous, “all of them with mouthfuls of gold teeth.”

Because Walter grew up in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium, he watched Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in action. When Gehrig was mired in a batting slump, Walter wrote him a letter, telling him not to worry, the hits would soon start coming again. Gehrig wrote back, thanking him. I wish Walter had held onto that reply. But he certainly remembered it well.

Even when he was in his 90s, in a bed or his chair at the Guilford rehab center, he could still recall seeing those fabled Yankees and others of that era — Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays — playing for the local ball clubs. He also told us he saw Satchel Paige pitch after that star in the Negro leagues finally got a chance to play in the majors.

Walter and his wife, Peggy Kaylin, loved living in New York but they also enjoyed getting out of town with their young daughters, Jennifer and Lucy. In the late 1950s, they began spending weekends in a beach-side cottage in Old Lyme. Eventually, they got weary of the Sunday night drives back to the city and they moved to Old Lyme to live there year-round.

But Walter never stopped writing. Jennifer, the woman I married, recalls hearing him typing away in a room adjacent to the kitchen and later in his office upstairs, where he had an expansive view of the shoreline.

When he wanted to take a break from his writing, he walked into the sun room on the first floor, sat down at the piano and played in his unique style: a rolling, rollicking, free-wheeling boogie woogie outpouring that was delightful.

During his four years at Apple Rehab, he kept a succession of typewriters in his room and he was constantly thinking of story ideas, then getting them most of down on paper.

We have been sorting through his many correspondences and story fragments and came upon a letter he wrote to an editor at “The New Yorker” magazine.

“At age 90 I’m working on a highly unusual novel,” he wrote. “‘Hear the Chant of the Jungle’ centers on the relationship between 23-year-old Paulie Ohlbaum of the Bronx and a considerably older, incredibly tall Watusi woman, Roz, who emerged from Rwanda (Congo) to take care of him for the first two years of his life, then disappeared and has rematerialized 20 years later. By this time Paulie and his older brother, Luther, own and run a motel, Owl’s Eye, in Connecticut, on the Sound.”

Walter went on for a couple of pages, continuing to weave the imaginative scenario. He concluded the letter: “Does this interest you? If so, I’d be happy to send you the first section, which concludes with Roz getting set to meet Paulie for the first time in 20 years.”

We couldn’t find the editor’s response, if there was one. But it didn’t matter much to Walter. He kept writing anyway, up until the final week or two of his life. That’s an inspiration for all of us to keep going.

He also kept playing the piano. Apple Rehab has a community room where residents gather and there’s a piano in the corner. Walter spent a lot of time seated there in his wheelchair, entertaining everyone within earshot.

Over the last year or two, Walter would sometimes hold up the bent, arthritic fingers of his right hand and complain he couldn’t play piano as freely as he had in previous years. But that never stopped him.

He loved movies, especially the classics from his prime. A month or two ago, my wife and I went to Best Video and rented “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” for him. We watched it together at Apple. After it ended, Walter exclaimed, “That was some picture!” It would be the last one he ever saw.

We also supplied Walter with Heaven Hill, his favorite Bourbon whiskey. He always enjoyed a little glass of it just before dinner time.

That community room, and I’m sure all of Apple Rehab itself, is quieter now, some of the life gone out of it. There are many people, besides us, who miss hearing Walter play and miss his stories.

His four grandkids, who he was so proud of, also dearly miss him. My younger daughter Charlotte posted a message that ended: “Papa, the world is already a little less cool without you.”

He made it to 95. As he often told us in his final year, he had done enough. He was ready to go. His wife had died in 2010.

Walter had few regrets; he didn’t dwell on such stuff. He had enjoyed life. For many years, he had sat with Peggy on the beach, sipping cocktails while listening to his jazz records playing from inside their home. As he watched the sun slowly set over the water, Walter always said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

One day this spring we will scatter his ashes in that idyllic playground where life couldn’t get any better.

Contact Randall Beach at rbeach@nhregister.com or 203-680-9345.

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Visgilio of Old Lyme Wins Silver, Bronze Medals in Vermont Special Olympics

Evan Visgilio of Old Lyme stands on the podium proudly wearing the silver medal that he won in the Vermont Special Olympics.

Evan Visgilio of Old Lyme returned from the Vermont Special Olympic Winter Games held this past weekend (March 3-6) in Woodstock, Vt., with a fourth place ribbon, along with a Bronze and a Silver Medal.

Suicide Six located in Woodstock, Vt., hosted the Vermont Special Olympics Winter and Visgilio, who was a member of the Hermitage at Haystack Team, participated in his first ever Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G events. By the end of the competition, Visgilio had won an impressive collection of awards taking fourth place in Slalom, and winning a Bronze Medal in the Giant Slalom and a Silver Medal in the Super G.

Evan, who is 13-years-old, lives in Old Lyme with his parents John and Wendy Visgilio, along with his siblings Brenna, Will and John. Evan attends Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School where he is in  seventh Grade.

Evan was born with Down Syndrome and has been skiing for seven years. This was Evan’s first year competing in the Vermont Special Olympics. He trains at The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain in Wilmington, Vt., with his coaches Scott Serota, Corey Robinson and Kate Riley.

Many congratulations to our friend and neighbor, Evan, from all of us at LymeLine.com!

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9 Town Transit Partners with Google Maps for Online Trip Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Health, Happiness and the Benefits of Volunteering; Join the ‘Common Good Gardens’ to Discover Them!

Each year, the Common Good Gardens in Old Saybrook raise nearly four tons of fresh vegetables and fruit, and then then donates them to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries  And they do it entirely with volunteers – volunteers who have kept it going and improved it for 15 years.

You’re probably thinking, “How unselfish … doing all that work to benefit other people,” and they are for sure.  But, according to new research, volunteers are also on the receiving end of some amazing benefits; and most likely, they don’t even know it.  They just know that they feel better when they leave the garden.

Never too young … all ages can volunteer at the Common Good Garden.

Solid data on the benefits of volunteering has appeared in a variety of current publications, ranging from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health Letters, to a review from the Corporation for National & Community Service, which states,

On average, volunteering 40 to 100 hours per year increases personal satisfaction and happiness, decreases depression, improves functional capacity; and results in fewer illnesses and a longer life span.

Similar articles from the Huffington Post, Atlantic Monthly as well as research released by Johns Hopkins, The London School of Economics and University of Exeter Medical School have all told a similar story.

Greatest Gains for Seniors

Volunteering has health benefits — especially for seniors!

While there are potential gains to be had for high-schoolers and middle-aged persons, the greatest gains related to volunteering are for those 65 and older.  Some researchers suggest this greater gain for seniors may be because they start out lower before volunteering. Their health may not be as good as that of younger people or they may have lower self-esteem and more social isolation due to retirement.  Even if that proves true, starting to volunteer at an earlier adult stage seems to correlate with fewer health issues later in life.

Regarding functional capacity, the Hopkins study showed improved brain function associated with activities that get you moving and thinking at the same time.  As for happiness, though some of the happiness data is based on self-reporting alone, other data show hormone levels and brain scan activity consistent with physiologic changes associated with happiness.

Studies in UK

In addition to the improvements shown above, a large review of nearly 25,000 articles in the UK notes increased coping ability, better parenting skills and richer personal relationships.

Impact on Chronic Illness and Longevity

Several studies examined in particular the impact for those with chronic illness. They found that these volunteers reported decreased pain and depression. People with a prior heart attack also had lower incidences of depression after volunteering.

A United Health Group survey showed these striking figures:

  • 25% reported volunteering helped them live better with chronic illness
  • 76% reported feeling healthier
  • 78% reported lowered stress levels
  • 94% reported improved mood
  • 96% reported an enriched sense of purpose

Finally U.S. census data confirms that those states with high volunteer rates show greater longevity and lower rates of heart disease.

Come Join the Common Good Gardens

There’s always room for an extra pair of hands …

Come join us at the Common Good Gardens.  Whatever your age, level of health, or skill set, there’s a way for you to contribute while benefiting from volunteering.

Yes, gardeners are needed to plant, weed and harvest, and beginners are always welcome. But also needed are people with computer skills, carpentry skills, writing and speaking skills;   people who can drive a car to deliver produce; leaders to organize small groups and work with public schools; people who love nature or are excited about nutrition, and folk who want to help experiment with natural ways to deter pests or make soil richer.

Common Good Gardens by the numbers

  • 14: Number of years garden has been in existence (2002-2016)
  • July 7, 2011: Date the garden incorporated and received non-profit 501(c)3  status
  • 10: Number of Board members
  • 220,000: Total pounds of produce grown, collected and delivered 2004-2016 through garden volunteer efforts
  • 50: Number of core active volunteers (gardeners, drivers, other)
  • 3,000: Number of volunteer hours donated annually
  • 1/2 acre: Size of garden located at rear of Grace Episcopal Church, 336 Main Street, Old Saybrook
  • 22: Number of different varieties of fruits and vegetablesgrown at the garden during 2016
  • 6,900: Pounds of produce grown at the garden in 2016 season
  • $17,200: Dollar value of produce grown at the garden in 2016 season
  • 7: Number of farm stands that donate excess produce to garden for distribution to pantries in 2013.

Many hands make light work at the Common Good Gardens.

Current volunteers at the Common Good Gardens encourage you to get involved so that together, a healthy future for the garden, ourselves, and our shoreline community can be created.

If interested, contact Common Good Gardens at PO Box 1224, Old Saybrook, CT 06475 or call Barbara Standke at 860-575-8645 with questions, or to sign up for the annual new volunteer orientation on March 11.

Editor’s Note: The authors of this piece, Kate Wessling and Barbara Standke, are respectively Common Good Gardens President and Common Good Gardens Volunteer Coordinator.

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Literacy Volunteers Seeks Tutors, Registration Open Now for Next Training Program

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization.  Its mission is to train tutors to help residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills.  This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a 14-hour program conducted over seven sessions held each spring and again in the fall of every year.  The next training session begins March 23 and runs through May 9. Literacy Volunteers Workshop Leaders have developed a comprehensive program that provides prospective tutors the skills and resources to help them succeed. A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to helping a student improve their skill in basic literacy or English as a Second Language over the period of one year after the completion of training.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, contact the LVVS office in the basement of Westbrook’s Public Library by phone at (860) 399-0280 or by e-mail at jferrara@vsliteracy.org Literacy Volunteers are registering for the spring session now and the deadline for applications is March 2, but only a few more slots are available.

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Can You Help? Rob Wallace of Old Lyme Urgently Needs O+/- Living Liver Donor

Gathered together in this photo are Rob Wallace and his wife Lori (center and second from left respectively) and their three children.

As the creator of specialized glassware for scientific research, Rob Wallace has used his unique talents to contribute to over 30 years of medical breakthroughs. The Old Lyme resident now finds himself relying on the medical community – and his own community – to help him overcome his battle with liver cancer.

Doctors have told Wallace that his best chance for a healthy future is a liver transplant from a living donor, and his family is searching for someone who can give them that gift. Though doctors had him placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) in the summer of 2016, it is unlikely Wallace’s condition will remain stable long enough for him to receive a donation that way.

Wallace and his wife, Lori, are asking their community to help them find a living donor with Type O blood, either positive or negative. Doctors will transplant a section of the donor’s liver, and both the donor’s and Wallace’s liver will grow back to normal size within a few weeks. Potential donors are urged to contact the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center to find out if they may be a match.

Since his diagnosis, Wallace has channeled the resulting anxiety into his glass blowing, establishing the artistic studio Arch One Design in Old Saybrook. The jewelry and decorative pieces he creates are both a creative outlet and a way to fund the research with which he is so familiar. “I want to help support the research,” Wallace said, “Not only by making the glass researchers need, but also by contributing part of the proceeds of my art to the American Liver Foundation.”

The couple has three children in the Lyme-Old Lyme School system, and Lori Wallace is a 500-hour registered yoga teacher.

For more information on becoming a living donor for Rob Wallace, visit the family’s website at www.robsjourney.com or call the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center at 866-925-3897.

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Victims Involved in Stabbing at Big Y Identified

Lifestar lands in the Old Lyme Marketplace Sunday afternoon after a stabbing at Big Y.

 

Updated 1/11/17: The Hartford Courant has released the names of the two people involved in the fatal stabbing incident at Big Y on Sunday afternoon.  One of the victims subsequently died from his injuries and the other, who is from Old Lyme, is in Yale-New Haven Hospital with serious injuries.

The Courant’s story by Kathleen McWilliams is at this link: http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-old-lyme-fatal-stabbing-big-y-0110-20170109-story.html

Published 1/8/17:  WFSB News Channel 3 is reporting that one person is dead and another injured following an incident inside the Big Y store in Old Lyme earlier this afternoon.  Lifestar was called to transport the injured victim.

News anchor Kevin Hogan’s story is at this link.  Follow Kevin on Twitter @newspeddler

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Estuary Center Seeks Volunteers

Volunteers are needed at the Estuary Senior Center, 220 Main St, Old Saybrook. The Center has a variety of opportunities for volunteers.

Join the Thrift Shop team, pack or deliver Meals on Wheels, drive someone to a medical appointment, or greet guests at the Welcome Desk.

The Estuary’s Volunteer Coordinator will meet with you to discuss your interests and availability and find the best fit for you. Even a few hours a week can make a big difference.

The Estuary’s many vital services and programs would not be possible without the volunteers who donate their time and talent to us. Community service hours can be fulfilled by volunteering with the Estuary.

For more information, call Judy at 860-388-1611 x203 or visit www.ecsenior.org

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