March 30, 2017

Old Lyme Churches Host Community Dinner to Raise Awareness, Support for Syrian Refugee Family Resettlement in Lyme, Saturday


The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, Christ the King Church and Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church will hold a joint community dinner – featuring a smorgasbord of traditional Syrian foods and dishes – at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, at Christ The King Church. The aim of the dinner is to help raise awareness and support for the churches’ efforts to resettle a second family of Syrian refugees in Lyme.

There is no charge to attend and enjoy the community dinner; admission is free.  An offering will be taken up during the meal to allow anyone who would like to contribute to the churches’ ongoing Syrian family relocation efforts to do so.

The meal will be prepared by members of the Hamou family – the first family of Syrian refugees that the churches helped resettle to the Old Lyme community last year – and served with the assistance of congregation members.

The churches encourage residents who would like to attend the dinner to RSVP via email to any of the church offices:  FCCOL, fccol@fccol.org; Christ the King Church, ctkoldlyme@aol.com; Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church, office@saintannsoldlyme.org.

Steven Jungkeit, Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

In announcing the community dinner, FCCOL Pastor Steve Jungkeit said, “The images of the horrific refugee crisis in the Middle East have touched the hearts of so many of us in Old Lyme.  We were proud to link arms with our friends at Christ the King Church and Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church to sponsor the resettlement of the Hamou family – to help the family into a new home, schools and jobs here in Old Lyme.”

Jungkeit continued, “It’s been a rewarding experience for everyone involved.  And now the Hamou family is joining with us to help our churches rescue another Syrian refugee family from warfare and persecution.  I am incredibly proud of the community of Old Lyme and invite everyone to join us for this fund-raising dinner.”

For more information, visit FCCOL at www.fccol.org, Christ the King Church at https://www.christthekingchurch.net, and Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church at http://saintannsoldlyme.org.

Share

Lyme Academy College Donates Historic Document Collection to Lyme Art Association

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler at work.

Yesterday, Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts made a formal presentation of a collection of historic documents and original exhibition catalogs to the Lyme Art Association at the the Association’s historic building on Lyme Street. The event took place immediately prior to the opening of the Lyme Art Association’s A Show in Four Acts exhibition.

This remarkable collection was part of the estate of Elisabeth Gordon Chandler (1913-2006), who not only founded the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, but was also previously president and a long-time member of the Lyme Art Association. The Archives Committee of Lyme Academy College has spent several years assembling and preparing this gift of history to the Lyme Art Association.

The collection being donated includes a comprehensive collection of Lyme Art Association exhibition catalogs including a 1909 8th annual exhibition pamphlet listing the artists Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf and also, a 1921 20th annual exhibition booklet, which was the inaugural exhibit in the new Charles A. Platt designed gallery. In addition, there are catalogs of the spring watercolor exhibits, which began in 1925, along with the autumn exhibitions, beginning in 1933.

Many letters and documents related to Elisabeth Gordon Chandler’s time as Lyme Art Association president from 1975-1978 and tell of her productive time during a transformative era in the Association’s history. Important documents relate to the ‘Goodman Presentation Case’ of 1928, a collection of 35 small artworks by early Lyme Art Association members. An original copy of Charles A. Platt’s “General Specifications for the Art Gallery” of July 1920 is included with this collection, which gives a detailed outline of the plans for the gallery.

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (originally named Lyme Academy of Fine Arts) was founded by members of the Lyme Art Association in 1976 during the time Chandler was President. The school was based on preserving the time-honored traditions and disciplines of training in the fine arts.  Founded as an Academy, it became an accredited College in 1996, and in 2014 became a College of the University of New Haven (UNH), when UNH acquired the College.

Lyme Art Association dates back to 1902, when a group of tonalist painters, led by the New York artist Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916), were asked to hold a two-day exhibition in August at Old Lyme’s Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library. The artwork exhibited consisted entirely of landscapes depicting the local countryside, painted while they boarded at the home of Florence Griswold (1850-1937). It is believed that Lyme Art Association is the nation’s oldest continuously exhibiting art group in the country.

A nationally recognized portrait sculptor, Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, was a regular exhibitor at the Lyme Art Association, and she became vice-president in 1974 and, president in 1975. With a goal of obtaining tax-exempt status for the association, and continuing the teaching and traditions of representational art, she set to work to create an art school in the basement of the gallery building.

The ceremony commemorating the transfer of historic archives will take place at Lyme Art Association, 90 Lyme St. Old Lyme, CT at 1:30 p.m., just prior to the opening of the exhibition A Show in Four Acts at LAA.

Share

Sinatra Revue, ‘My Way,’ Opens 2017 Ivoryton Playhouse Season

Rick Faugno* plays Frank Sinatra in ‘My Way’ opening at the Ivoryton Playhouse, Mar. 22.

The Ivoryton Playhouse opens its 2017 season with a treasure-trove of hits by the Chairman of the Board himself – Frank Sinatra. The musical equivalent of a soothing hot toddy on a cold winter night, this trip down memory lane includes such Sinatra signatures as “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” and “Fly Me to the Moon”

Conceived by Todd Olson and David Grapes, this revue, performed by a cast of two men and two women, pays homage to America’s all-time coolest crooner by trotting out a few dozen of the more than 1,300 songs Ol’ Blue Eyes recorded in his unbelievably prolific career. This musical revue recalls the essence of the man through the glorious music he sang – a celebration of Sinatra’s mystique, and his myth, through the music he loved best ­- the American standard.

The show is co-directed and choreographed by husband and wife team Rick Faugno and Joyce Chittick. Playhouse audiences will remember their phenomenal performances in the 2014 production of Fingers and Toes. Their brilliant tap routines and heartfelt musical numbers endeared the pair to everyone that saw them.

Chittick is currently working on the Broadway musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, but she is joining her husband to help direct and choreograph.

Rick Faugno* was the original Frankie Valli in the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys for three and a half years, receiving multiple awards for his performance. Also in Las Vegas, he created and starred in three one-man shows, winning awards for Best Vegas Lounge Act. He recently won a Fred Astaire Award for his work in On the 20th Century on Broadway. Joining Faugno in this production are Lauren Gire*, Josh Powell* and Vanessa Sonon*

The production is co-directed by Joyce Chittick and Rick Faugno, musical directed by Andy Hudson, set design by William Russell Stark, lighting design by Christopher Hoyt and costumes by Elizabeth Cippolina.

My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on March 22and runs through April 9, 2017. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., along with Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

Share

Stella Swoops in with Heavy Snow, High Winds … and then Rain?

First snow plow of the day … there surely will be many more.

Winter Storm Stella is here.

The Governor has declared a State of Emergency meaning a statewide travel ban is in effect. Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, Lyme and Old Lyme Town Halls and Libraries, the Lymes’ Senior Center and many businesses from the size of Pfizer, Inc. downwards are closed.  Events galore have been cancelled, including recycling and trash pick-up in Old Lyme. A parking ban is in effect on all town roads from 6 a.m. to midnight today.

To reach the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Old Lyme, call 860.598.0120.

The Respite Center at the Lymes’ Senior Center on Town Woods Road and/or the regional Emergency Shelter at the East Lyme High School will be opened if necessary. Information will be available through the EOC and on LymeLine.com, and also will be reported on the Town of Old Lyme’s website and Facebook/Twitter.

State and local officials urge residents to stay off the roads during the storm … and stay safe.

Latest weather reports, however, predict Southeastern Connecticut will not now experience the brunt of the storm with the snow turning first to sleet and then rain later this morning.

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watching the sunset from on board the “Massachusetts.”

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

Seeing first hand the power of the battleship guns.

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

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

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

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

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

Aerial view of Battleship Cove.

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

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

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

Share

Town of Old Lyme Sends 82 Pages of Comments on High Speed Rail Proposal to FRA

This past Monday, Feb. 13, Bonnie Reemsnyder, Old Lyme First Selectwoman, sent comments to the NEC Future Policy Advisor, Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, opposing the Old Saybrook, CT to Kenyon, RI bypass. The comments include in-depth remarks about many areas of concern, including

  • Environmental Issues
  • Geologic Features
  • Noise and Vibration
  • Artistic Significance of Old Lyme
  • Old Lyme Historic District
  • Historic Structures
  • Economic Issues.

As the proposed bypass can cause irreparable harm to the economic, cultural and environmental resources of Old Lyme and the other towns along its route, a strategy team was formed that tapped experts on all of these concerns.  The team comprised:

  • Bonnie Reemsnyder, First Selectwoman, Town of Old Lyme
  • Bennett J. Bernblum, Resident and Attorney (Old Lyme Board of Finance)
  • Michael Brown, Resident and Attorney
  • Jack Collins, Resident and Attorney (Town Attorney)
  • Catherine Frank, Executive Assistant to the First Selectwoman
  • Susan Saltonstall Duncan, Resident & Consultant (Rain Making Oasis)
  • David Duncan, Resident and Architect
  • John Forbis, Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center
  • Sam Gold, Executive Director, Lower CT River Council of Governments
  • Russ Todd, Acoustical Scientist and Engineer, A∙ʹku∙stiks Consulting
  • Claudia Weicker, Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

The document includes a lengthy list of references to acknowledge these experts.

Read the cover letter from the Old Lyme First Selectwoman at this link.

Read the 82-page supporting report at this link.  Regarding the report, Reemsnyder notes, “We believe that this document will be a guide for the FRA and NEC Future Team to assure that all areas of concern are fully addressed in Tier 2 of the process.”

Share

Local Lawmakers Urge State to Support ‘The Kate’ with Tourism Signage on Rte. 9 and I-95

Rep. Carney (left), The Kate’s Director of Development Dana Foster (center), and Paul Formica (right) at the Jan. 29 public hearing on the proposal to install signs for The Kate on local highways.

Local lawmakers are urging the state legislature to help support the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (‘The Kate’) by passing legislation that would allow tourism signage for the center to be placed on Rte. 9 and I-95.

Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th), Sen. Art Linares (R-33rd) and Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) submitted testimony in favor of House Bill 5574 and spoke before the Transportation Committee to urge fellow lawmakers to support the local theater. ‘The Kate’ is a theater in the Town of Old Saybrook that provides entertainment for the region and is named for Connecticut Hall-of-Famer, multiple Academy Award winner, and former Old Saybrook resident Katharine Hepburn.

“We believe that ‘The Kate’ deserves to have signage along both I-95 and Rte. 9 because it will attract tourists to the theater and create an interest for those passing by the signs,” the lawmakers said in their written testimony, adding, “Similar theaters have signage along various highways throughout the state due to their importance and popularity and ‘The Kate’ is no different.”

They continued, “It is a cultural hub with entertainment that draws people from across the state and the country. It is an economic engine, not only for Old Saybrook, but for the region as a whole and helps nearby businesses like the many restaurants and shops in town. Signage along the highway will only improve the number of tourists to town and we believe it is in the state’s best interest to promote this important theater with the signage suggested.”

Sen. Formica and Dana Foster, Director of Development and External Relations at The Kate, testify before the Transportation Committee in favor of House Bill 5574 An Act Concerning Signs Indication the Location of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

Sen. Formica testified in person with Dana Foster, Director of Development and External Relations, at ‘The Kate,’ on Jan. 31, before the Transportation Committee on which Rep. Carney is a ranking member.

Foster explained the importance of signage along the highways, saying, “Signage would help our growing audiences navigate the multiple exits to Old Saybrook and help to further attract additional tourists and others to our historical building, great exhibit, and incredible arts and programming.”

Share

Around 200 Attend Protest Rally Held in Mystic Against Proposed Saybrook-Kenyon Rail Bypass

Around 200 people turned out yesterday despite the dismal conditions to join a protest rally in Mystic against the Tier 1 proposed high speed rail bypass.

MYSTIC — Standing within the pathway of the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposed high speed bypass, more than 200 people gathered Saturday near the red caboose in Olde Mistick Village to speak out against the plan.

The bypass is part of a $130 billion project that is intended to increase capacity, reliability, and speed along the Northeast Corridor …  Click this link to read the full story by Catherine Hewitt and published today on thewesterlysun.com.

Share

Reemsnyder Speaks Against Proposed High Speed Rail Route at Hartford Hearing

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder testified Monday at a state Transportation Committee hearing on three motions prepared by State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) and State Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th) to oppose the Federal Rail Authority’s proposal to build a bypass through southeastern Connecticut that includes a tunnel under the Connecticut River from Old Saybrook to Old Lyme.

Read a full report of the hearing by Kimberly Drelich and published Feb. 6 on theday.com at this link. 

Share

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools 2017-18 Proposed $33.6M Budget Approved Unanimously by Board, Reflects Lowest Increase on Record

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser

At a Public Forum held Wednesday evening, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser presented a budget for the 2017-18 school year of $33,634, 371 reflecting a 0.49 percent increase over the current year.  The Region #18 Board of Education subsequently approved the budget unanimously at their regular meeting, which followed immediately after the forum.

Asked via e-mail Thursday morning for his thoughts on the budget, Neviaser told LymeLine.com, “We are proud to present the lowest budget increase on record for Region #18.  While the increase is exceptionally low, this has been achieved through savings that do not impact any of our existing programs or services. ”

He added, “Detailed information will be available in the upcoming budget edition of the Focus on Education newsletter, which will be delivered to homes as an insert in The Lyme Times in early March.”

At Wednesday’s forum, Neviaser explained the budget was set to support the objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan by:

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

He noted that budget increases include certified and non-certified salaries, instructional programming, and administrative services while decreases include costs for benefits, special education and debt service.

Neviaser stressed that while showing only a minimal increase, the operations/program budget still reflects:

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

He also highlighted that, again despite only a marginal increase in the overall budget, several new programs were being implemented and a selection of facilities being upgraded. Program improvements include a new/updated elementary math program, technology infrastructure advancements and replacement of staff computers.  

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

Further presentations of the budget will be held in the upcoming months, during which time the public can submit comments on the budget to the superintendent. A district budget hearing and referendum are tentatively set respectively for Monday, May 1, and Tuesday, May 2.

Share

Old Lyme Author Jen Petty Hilger Launches Her First Book, “Thisbe, Queen of Adventure”

This Saturday, Feb. 4, Lyme Public Library will be celebrating Take Your Child to the Library Day. Join the fun between 12 and 2 p.m. when local author and Old Lyme resident Jen Petty Hilger will be signing copies of her first published picture book, Thisbe, Queen of Adventure.

We spent a little time with Jen Petty Hilger to find out why she wrote her first book about chickens. She explained, “Last spring I decided I’d lived long enough without chickens. Always wanted them … not really great on Park Avenue in New York City, but now the time was right.”

She continued, “We took all six kids and picked out six chickens … Thisbe, Henrietta, Georgie, Molly, Charlotte and Europa. All girls.” adding that the brood comprised, “Two Buff Orpingtons. Two silver- laced Wyandottes and two Cuckoo Morans.”

Checking on the chicks.

Hilger says emphatically, “It was love at first sight. They were three-days-old and lived inside in a box for nine weeks, adding, “When they were old enough we built a beautiful coop but they still came in for visits and I started thinking about how fast they were growing up and how much fun they had roaming around.”


Then, just like that, she says,”One day the whole story of their sweet little childhoods popped into my head and I wrote Thisbe.”


“Who is Thisbe?” we asked, and Hilger patiently explained, “Thisbe is an egg who dreams of adventure. She is the Queen of Adventure. As she grows, her mama takes her on little adventures about the yard. She is delighted by her world. The flowers and bugs and other birds. She is awestruck by the wonders of her surroundings.”

Is this ‘the Queen of Adventure’?

What happened next?  Hilger says she started on the illustrations (see below) and then put together a dummy of her children’s story.”

And how did she come to be a published author?  “Well …” Hilger says with a broad smile, “After months of back and forth with the publishers, we had a mock-up … and then the book!”

To add a personal note here, Jen Petty Mann (as she was then) wrote book reviews for us for years.  She was an extraordinarily talented writer from that side of the book cover, if you’ll forgive the expression, so it comes as no surprise to us that she’s now gone inside and written her own book.  We just can’t wait to get our hands on a copy … and review it ourselves!

Many congratulations, Jen!

Share

Old Lyme Selectmen Announce LOLHS Life Skills Program Members as 2016 Citizens of the Year

Citizens of the Year 2016 (students, aides and teacher Leslie O’ Connor at right) gather for a photo in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium with former Citizens of the Year Jeff Sturges (2011), Lynn Fairfield-Sonn (2014) and Mary Seidner (2015) (second, third and fourth from right respectively), Peter Cable (2013 – second from left) and the board of selectmen (Selectman Skip Sibley, Selectwoman MaryJo Nosal and First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, first, third and fourth from left respectively.)

Noting that the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen was doing “something just a little bit different,” this year in terms of the Citizen of the Year announcement, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder introduced the 2016 recipients as not one person in the traditional manner, but rather a group of people.   She went on to name Lyme-Old Lyme High School’s (LOLHS) Life Skills & Transition Program Teachers, Aides & Students as the 2016 Citizen of the Year at the Old Lyme Annual Town Meeting held last night in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School (LOLMS) auditorium where around 50 people had gathered.

Reemsnyder explained, “A wonderful thing happens regularly in town hall,” and then added, reading from the 2016 Citizen of the Year citation, “Members of our community may be unaware of the important role played in our community by the teachers, assistants/job coaches, and especially the students from Regional District 18’s Life Skills program.”

She continued, “It has been nearly 10 years since the Town first began working with student interns from Lyme-Old Lyme High School. The relationship has been considered a success for the students and has proven invaluable for the Town.”

Adding, “Historically, Regional District 18 contracted with outside agencies to provide vocational experiences and transition services to students with Individual Education Plans,” Reemsnyder noted, “The decision made a decade ago to bring vocational experiences “home” to Old Lyme meant significant financial savings to the district and created a unique opportunity for our community. The Town Hall internships alone represent over 3,000 work hours.”

Old Lyme resident and LOLHS Special Education teacher Leslie O’Connor was coordinator of the Life Skills program when the Town Hall internship program was developed. Pointing out that, “The program was considered a chance for our community to really be a community,” Reemsnyder commented, “And, because of the success of the Town Hall internships, many other organizations and businesses have also welcomed Life Skills interns: OLPGN’s Book Cellar, the Big Y, Lyme Academy College, the Nearly New Shop, Elements florist, Old Lyme Veterinary Clinic, Bee & Thistle Inn, Rivers End Bait &Tackle, and Gladeview among them. Local attorney Greg Carnese has offered to develop a job in his office for interns.”

Reemsnyder added, still reading from  the citation, “Students have worked alongside the Regional District’s maintenance staff as landscapers. In the Life Skills program, students work as the High School’s recycling technicians, and have run small businesses including making and selling gift tags, dog treats, and jars of tomato sauce and soups. They have also catered staff luncheons and meetings. According to Leslie, our community has supported them by buying every product offered.”

Reemsnyder cited one task that has stood out in terms of the award saying, “With the help of job coaches Elaine Niles, Gina Wohlke, and Elizabeth Watrous Stopa, Town Hall interns Taylor Saunders, Kelly Mastrianna, Leah Migliaccio, and Alexa Agostine took on the mammoth, ongoing task of converting paper records into electronic ones.”

A delighted Bilal Mahal receives his Citizen of the Year award from Selectwoman MaryJo Nosal

Bilal Malik was also given high praise by Reemsnyder for performing an ADA accessibility assessment of the Town Hall. Reemsnyder described this project as, “work that continues to guide us through necessary changes to the building.” 

Reemsnyder also acknowledged the exceptional role that her Executive Assistant Catherine Frank had played in both the establishment of the program in town hall and in its ongoing support and management.

In conclusion, Reemsnyder stated, “The students have gained vocational skills, practiced invaluable social and communication skills, and been able to create some impressive resumes,” while at the same time, “Through our work with the young interns, we have gained an appreciation for the dedication and caring of their teachers and job coaches, and a life-changing awareness of the limitless potential of our most exceptional citizens.”  

The students present were given flowers and a certificate each and along with their job coaches and teacher Leslie O’Connor, they were all given a standing ovation.

O’Connor graciously spoke on behalf of the students and the coaches thanking the board of selectmen for the award.  She also thanked all the businesses and organizations that have welcomed interns from the program into their places of work, adding with a smile that she would be happy to welcome any new businesses or organizations into the program immediately

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More signs …

… and another …

… and another …

… and another …

David Brown with coffee and a sign …

A previous presidential campaign slogan refocused …

Share

FRA Extends Deadline for Comments on High Speed Rail Proposal

SECoast.org made the following announcement at 6:09 p.m. this evening: Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island has just issued a press release announcing that the Federal Railroad Administration has agreed to an extension of “at least several weeks.”  SECoast.org quotes Sen. Reed directly from his press release as follows,

” I am pleased the FRA is extending the deadline to help ensure that all voices are heard and all options are considered.  This must be an open, transparent process.  This extension will give citizens more time to offer input and it will give the FRA more time to carefully study the data and make informed decisions.  I am glad the FRA is not trying to rush the process, and I hope the incoming Trump Administration will honor that commitment,” said Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing & Urban Development”

More information is available at here, at the Charlestown Citizens Alliance Webpage. 

Share

Application Deadline for Environmental Leadership Scholarship is Feb. 1

logoApplications are now being accepted for the Virginia R. Rollefson Environmental Leadership Scholarship, a $1,000 award to recognize a high school student who has demonstrated leadership and initiative in promoting conservation, preservation, restoration, or environmental education.

Students residing in Middlesex County, Lyme or Old Lyme are eligible to apply.

The scholarship is presented by the Rockfall Foundation and applications must be submitted by noon on Wednesday, Feb. 1. For a copy of the application or for more information, visit www.rockfallfoundation.org or call 860-347-0340.

The Rockfall Foundation supports environmental education, conservation programs and planning initiatives in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. Established in 1935, it is one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations whose mission is to be a catalyst– bringing people together and supporting organizations to conserve and enhance the county’s natural environment. Rockfall awards grants each year to organizations, schools and municipalities, and sponsors educational programs and symposia.

Share

$16 Million Gift From Old Lyme Sisters Benefits Birds, Animals and Environment

Sisters Mary Janvrin (right), who had lived in Old Lyme prior to her death in Chester, Conn., and Natalie Janvrin Wiggins of Old Lyme, whose $16 million bequest to two Community Foundations will benefit birds, animals and the environment.

Janvrin sisters’ legacy leaves $8 million each to two community foundations.

Mary Janvrin and Natalie Janvrin Wiggins shared a life-long love of ornithology and nature that eventually turned into a tremendous legacy.

Natalie, 88, who lived in Old Lyme, passed away in May 2010.  Mary, 91, had also previously been a resident of Old Lyme but was living in Chester, Conn., at the time of her death on Sept. 29, 2016. Upon Mary’s passing, her trust set into motion the establishment of two funds that will make lasting contributions to bird and animal welfare, and the preservation of their natural environment.

The Mary Janvrin and Natalie Janvrin Wiggins Fund for Birds, Other Animals and Nature will bring $8 million each to the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut (CFECT) and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC). For generations to come, these funds will amplify the wildlife and environmental conservation efforts supported by these grantmakers.

“I greatly enjoyed working with Mary Janvrin, and also with her sister, Natalie Janvrin Wiggins, who passed away in 2010,” reflected attorney Suzanne Kitchings of Kitchings & Potter. “I feel privileged to have helped Mary create this important plan, which will carry out the sisters’ wishes to benefit birds, animals and the environment in perpetuity.”

Janvrin’s gift is the second largest for CFECT. Its largest gift was a $10 million bequest from Peter Letz in 2014, also to benefit animal welfare and the environment. Preserving the environment and advancing animal welfare are two of CFECT’s four strategic focus areas.

“Mary Janvrin’s generous bequest will help us have greater impact on the well-being of our region,” explained Maryam Elahi, President and CEO of CFECT. “Because this new fund covers all of Eastern Connecticut, we will be able to forge partnerships and tackle critical projects throughout our region, as well as in collaboration with CFMC.  

“Mary and her sister Natalie cared deeply about preserving the species and spaces that make Connecticut a wonderful place to live,” shared Moira Martin of Essex Savings Bank’s Trust Department, which serves as the executor of the Janvrin estate. “We in the Trust Department are tremendously proud to have been given the opportunity to work with such generous and passionate clients as Mary and Natalie, whose gift will both stimulate new conservation efforts and energize existing conservation programs for the wildlife, lands and people in our region.”

“For professional advisors like Suzanne and Moira, serving the interests of their clients is at the heart of the matter. When those interests include a generous legacy like the Janvrin sisters’, what an honor and delight for community foundations to put that thoughtful vision into action,” concluded Elahi.

Editor’s Note: Serving 42 towns and comprised of 465 charitable funds, the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut (CFECT) puts philanthropy into action to address the needs, rights and interests of the region. CFECT stewards an endowment of more than $60 million and has awarded more than $39 million in grants and scholarships to area nonprofits and students since its founding in 1983. To learn more, visit cfect.org.

Share

High Speed Train Route Dominates Our 2016 Stories. LymeLine Opinion: Now It’s 2017, What Happens Next?

Rendering by Robin Breeding of the high-speed train in Old Lyme drawn/created to scale.

It’s a New Year, which brings an opportunity to review and reflect on the previous year, and to make plans for the new one. We have covered so many topics throughout 2016 that we decided to enlist the help of Google Analytics to determine which have generated the most interest among our readers.

Our ‘Top 20’ of “Most Viewed Stories” included those covering

But far and away the highest number of pageviews generated in 2016 came from stories related to the proposed high speed rail track. Seven of our ‘Top 20’ stories in 2016 were about one aspect or more of the Federal Rail Authority’s (FRA) high speed train proposal with our 2016 #1 story being Greg Stroud’s Op-Ed piece back in January, which, in our mind, really sparked the whole general awareness of the situation.  That single story generated almost 6,000 pageviews.

This widespread interest in the high speed train route culminated on Dec. 19, 2016 with the announcement by the FRA that, despite more than 1,000 letters of protest from residents of Old Lyme, their Preferred Route was, after all, through Old Lyme … but now in the form of a tunnel. The FRA has, however, also refused to eliminate the possibility of the aerial track that it originally proposed, which seems a likely fall-back position for the FRA since the organization, as far as we know, has done no — yes, that’s zero — research into the practicalities of digging a tunnel under the Connecticut River estuary.

The announcement of the Preferred Route on Dec. 16, 2016 brought with it a 30-day deadline for raising comments, but unlike the comment period that accompanied the initial draft proposal announced back in December 2015, the FRA has no obligation to respond to any of the comments raised.

We know that SECoast.org, the non-profit “organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley,” and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation have together filed for an extension of the 30-day Comment Period by an additional 60 days taking it from Jan. 31 to April 1.  The extension is critical to allow more people to contact the FRA to express their concerns about the route and for more detailed analysis of the proposal to take place.  It is patently clear from the timing of the announcement of the Preferred Route (nine days before Christmas) that the FRA is hoping only a very limited number of people will bother to file comments this time, especially since the FRA is not required to respond to them.  Then they (the FRA) can argue that Old Lyme is not only placated but probably supportive of the proposal.

We also know that our elected representatives US Sen. Richard Blumenthal, US Congressman Joe Courtney, State Sen. Paul Formica (R- 20th), and State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) have all been fully supportive of efforts to persuade the FRA to reconsider the Preferred Route and we are greatly appreciative of their actions.  Similarly, the first selectmen of Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and East Lyme along with some other local state senators and representatives have all publicly denounced the proposal and we much appreciate that too.

There has also recently been a considerable surge of interest and active concern expressed by organizations in Rhode Island.  These include The Nature Conservancy of Rhode Island and the Westerly (R.I) Land Trust.

But what has happened here in our own backyard in terms of specific actions to express concern to the FRA regarding the Preferred Route?  We are fully aware that a great deal is surely happening below the radar regarding train route negotiations and respect the need for that, but in the interests of our readers, we have some questions.

  • Have the boards of selectmen of Old Lyme, East Lyme and Old Saybrook also filed for a 60-day extension to the Comment Period and/or approved motions expressing their deep concerns about the proposed route?
  • Have the Connecticut branches of The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Society, the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center or the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and the Old Lyme Land Trust issued any sort of statement regarding the proposed route and/or requested an extension to the Comment Period?
  • And what about the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce and the numerous art and other non-profit organizations in town — have they each written and requested an extension to the Comment Period?

We do know that a team has been appointed by the Old Lyme First Selectwoman to study the impact of the Preferred Alternative, but we do not know who its members are or the nature of their work. We sense a Town Meeting in Old Lyme might be helpful for residents to come together and hear from the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) about the work currently being undertaken by the team and how the BOS intends to respond to the FRA Preferred Alternative.

We continue to be passionate supporters of high-speed rail but each one of us is currently watching as, to quote State Rep. Carney, “a dark cloud” hangs over our beautiful and irreplaceable environment, our property prices drop and our town population declines. Therefore our overarching hope for 2017 is that we all pull together to defeat the current route proposal by openly sharing information and acting as a cohesive, effective force against what Sen. Richard Blumenthal has so aptly described as a, “frankly half-baked, hare-brained notion.”

Share

Editorial by The Courant: CT Needs Alternative To Feds’ Shoreline Rail Route

The Hartford Courant published a strong and insightful editorial yesterday about the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposed high speed train route yesterday, which begins, “The Federal Railroad Administration needs to rethink its proposal to build new high-speed rail lines through parts of Connecticut, and local leaders should help federal officials come up with a better plan.”

Read the full editorial at this link: http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-rethink-shoreline-rail-plan-20161227-story.html

Share