June 21, 2018

Lyme Farmers Market Open Saturdays for the Season with New Hours

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

Fresh vegetables galore will be on sale at Lyme Farmers Market  this Saturday.

The Lyme Farmers Market will re-open for the 2018 season on Saturday, June 16, from 9:30 a.m. through 1 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.

There will be toe-tapping, live music by the Clayton Allen Band on Saturday.

Guest vendors this Saturday include Farm True Ghee with organic butter, SkySpyders with their pottery. Melissa Punzalan, Betsy Beads and Chive Flower will be showing off their handmade, original jewelry. Vera Halina brings her massage chair and tinctures back to the market.

Herbal Deva joins the market for the first time. Treefort Naturals will be at the market with her handcrafted soaps and herbal delights. Mark Evankow will bring his bird baths.

Lyme Garden Club, Lyme Public Hall and Boy Scout Troop 26 will also all have a presence in the field.

The Clayton Allen Band will play at Lyme Farmers Market on Opening Day.

This year’s seasonal vendors include:

Dondero Orchards
Meadowstone Farm
Burgis Brook Farm
Vic’s Guac Shop
Howards Bread
Cold Spring Farm
Pursuit of Pastry
Maple Breeze Farm
Mystery Farms
Peter Giamo Olive Oil
Charter Oak Scanning
Upper Pond Farm
Best of Everything Gourmet
Sunset Hill Vineyard
The Chicken Lady

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

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Old Lyme Library Presents Information Sessions on Renovation Plans, June 20


The Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Building Committee and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder will host a final Information Session Wednesday, June 20, starting at 7 p.m.in the library’s Community Room, on plans to renovate the library. All are welcome.

The session will include:

  • an overview of how the project came about
  • planned repairs and improvements
  • associated costs and improvements

Participants will be invited on a guided tour of the building.

There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.

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Wayland’s Eagle Project to Construct Boxes for Retired US Flags in Lyme, Old Lyme Draws High Praise

Gathered for a photo after Theodore Wayland’s Eagle project presentation to the VFW Post 1467 last Monday are, from left to right, Post Commander David Griswold, Theodore, State Rep. Devin Carney and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

On Monday, May 29, Life Scout of Troop 26 Boy Scouts Theodore Wayland invited the local VFW Post 1467 to Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall immediately following the Memorial Day parade to present his Eagle project comprising three locally-placed flag repository boxes.

Edward Shyloski, a member of local VFW post 1467, which sponsored the project, congratulates Theodore Wayland on completion of the flag repository boxes,

Wayland’s project was generously sponsored by the VFW Post 1467. This allowed for Theodore and retiring Commander Edward Shyloski to develop a relationship through ongoing communication during the project. When Shyloski noted during the presentation, “He’s a boy raised right, ” it reflected the time and attention to the country’s history, veterans and the local community that Shyloski himself embodies.

From left to right, VFW Post 146 Commander David Griswold stands with Theodore Wayland, State Rep. Devin Carney and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The young scouts often offer opportunities for VFW members to reflect on their own youth and scouting experiences by sharing experiences with the scouts. An example of this occurred recently when Troop 26 hosted a dinner for the local Post, which has now become an annual tradition for the troop.

Troop 26 Scoutmaster Mark Wayland stands in the foreground with Theodore while the boys of Troop 26 stand behind.

Wayland spoke during the presentation of his goal to continue educating townspeople to dispose properly of retired flags.

Theodore’s parents, Mark and Kathryn Wayland, stand proudly with their son and other dignitaries who attended the presentation.

The photo at left show Wayland standing behind one of the three boxes constructed in which local residents can dispose of retired flags. He worked with his local troop to design and build three boxes to be placed this week at the Lyme Town Hall, Old Lyme Town Hall and the Lymes’ Senior Center.

Wayland’s troop hosts an annual flag retirement ceremony at their local campsite, Camp Emerson each spring and Wayland, along with fellow scouts, will collect flags as the boxes fill.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) both spoke in support of Wayland’s project and all the notable works local Boy and Girls Scouts accomplish in Lyme and Old Lyme.

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Attorney John A. Collins III of Old Lyme Appointed Judge of Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court

Pictured from left to right are Suisman Shapiro Paralegal Christine Gravelin, Attorney John A. Collins, III, and Paralegal Joanna Lazarus.

On May 15, Attorney John A. Collins, III, was sworn in as a Judge of the Gaming Disputes Court for Mohegan Tribal Court.

In its constitution, the Mohegan Tribe has given exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute involving or arising out of ’Gaming’ to the Gaming Disputes Court which consists of a Trial Court and a Court of Appeals. As used in the Mohegan Constitution, ’Gaming’ includes the development, construction, operation, promotion, financing, regulation and licensing issues, and includes jurisdiction over any associated hotel, resort or entertainment facility on Tribal lands.

This jurisdiction extends to actions of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and disputes involving its employees and customers. The Court may exercise jurisdiction over any person who transacts any business on or affecting the Mohegan Reservation.

Attorney John A. Collins, III, is a Director/Shareholder at Suisman Shapiro, who concentrates in the areas of Personal Injury Law and Civil Litigation. In addition to his role as Judge of the Gaming Disputes Court for Mohegan Tribal Court, Attorney Collins serves as the Managing Partner of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

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Op-Ed: HOPE Explains Background, Process to Their Affordable Housing Proposal in Old Lyme

This Op-Ed was written by Lauren Ashe, Executive Director of HOPE Partnership.

Rendering for planned development at 16 Neck Road, also referred to as River Oak Commons I & II. Photo submitted by HOPE Partnership.

As many are aware, HOPE Partnership with Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development, our development partner, is in the process of seeking the necessary approvals to develop new, affordable housing communities on Neck Road in Old Lyme.  We are writing today to share the story of HOPE and the path that brought us to this point.

In 2001, a group of local faith leaders became aware of a growing problem in the community, children in their homework clubs living in hotels or academic rentals without safe and stable homes.  This realization prompted a call to action for community and faith leaders to provide housing options for the families in the community.   HOPE Partnership, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, was formed  in 2004 with the mission of developing affordable housing  in lower Middlesex County and surrounding towns.  In 2012, HOPE, in partnership with the Women’s Institute, opened Ferry Crossing, an affordable development made up of 16 townhomes, located in Old Saybrook and since that time it has been fully occupied and has a waiting list for individuals hoping to make it their home.

While HOPE was working in Old Saybrook, Old Lyme Affordable Housing (OLAH) was making similar efforts in Old Lyme.  Old Lyme Affordable Housing was also formed by concerned community members with support from the faith community and the town of Old Lyme.  In 2015, OLAH merged with HOPE Partnership to ensure their work would continue.  With this combining of efforts, HOPE pledged to make developing affordable housing in Old Lyme a priority.  As part of HOPE’s efforts, we actively pursued opportunities to meet with community groups to educate and advocate for affordable housing.  We had a table at both the Lion’s Club Car Show and the Mid Summer’s Festival in 2017. Focusing on the need in Old Lyme, we met with members of three Old Lyme churches; Christ the King, Saint Ann’s and the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme as well as the Old Lyme Lions Club.

Every year HOPE hosts a “Friendraiser” to share our efforts in the communities we serve.  In 2016, it was there that the owner of property on Neck Road learned of our work and approached us to discuss working together to solve the issue of the lack of affordable housing in Old Lyme.  Once discussions began it was HOPE’s task to determine the viability of building a community at the location.

Working with local engineers, architects and housing consultants, HOPE and the owner of the property applied for and received a subdivision of the property  into four separate lots in October 2017 from the Town of Old Lyme’s Planning Commission.  HOPE’s plans include the two ”front lots” on Neck Road, while the owner will retain the two “rear” lots closer to the River .  In November 2017, the team invited neighbors as well as stakeholders in the community to discuss the preliminary plans for the properties.

During HOPE’s feasibility process a Phase I Environmental Study and a Hazardous Material Survey were conducted with satisfactory results.   HOPE has conducted multiple soil tests to ensure that septic and water capacity are sufficient to meet the needs of the development and all regulations.  An archeological study was conducted as well as discussions with the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation which  determined there was nothing of historical value in need of protection.   A traffic study was conducted in October 2017. The study is being updated using more current data now available, and an additional study will be conducted over Memorial Day weekend to determine the traffic impact on the area. This impact study will be provided to the Town’s own independent Traffic Engineers in sufficient time for review.  The Town’s Inlands Wetlands and Watercourses unanimously approved HOPE’s application for Lot 1 on May 22nd, with stipulations to add rain gardens in between buildings to capture more water onsite; to require owner to clean and inspect wetlands area and to have a plan to treat invasive species.

With preliminary studies and test results in hand, HOPE and its development partner, Women’s Institute, determined that the property would be a suitable location for affordable housing this past spring.  HOPE officially announced its intention to move forward at its annual Friendraiser at the Old Lyme Country Club in April 2018.  We continue to meet with community groups and have shared our plans with the Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club, the Mentoring Corps for Community Development (MCCD), representatives from the school district, Christ the King Church and First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. What we heard from these organizations was a need to serve incomes of households that would meet community needs – such as young adults who grew up in Old Lyme but cannot afford to move back after college, the volunteer firefighters in the community, or the families sending their students to school in Old Lyme.

We also heard the importance to preserve the cultural entranceway to Old Lyme. We have responded with a design that is set back the length of a football field from the road, mirrors the road patterns of the adjacent neighborhoods, has space for a community room and on-site property management to oversee the ongoing maintenance of the grounds and building, and building designs that reflect the historic aesthetic of Old Lyme.  This new neighborhood will serve to convert an underutilized parcel to a tranquil neighborhood for 37 families, supported by public transportation and contributing to nearby commercial activity.

Affordable housing provides a solid foundation for a strong community.  Residents who live in a home that is affordable have funds to purchase food, provide health care and satisfy other living needs.  Residents of affordable homes also have the economic means to purchase goods and services in their communities creating economic stability.

The exact mix of unit rents and income limits is still being finalized for a number a reasons.  Because we restrict the rents of our housing to ensure that it remains affordable to households who can’t afford a home at market rate in Old Lyme, we need to leverage a variety of private and public sources to provide a mix of debt and equity that will sustain the project for decades to come. Each one of these sources will have different financial and policy goals.

When determining the rental and income limits in a project, we take a three tier approach.  1) We determine the greatest community need, based on local engagement and formal market studies, and examine how this need aligns with the mission of HOPE and our partners; 2) We determine how much income the property will need to make through rents to pay for ongoing expenses, maintenance, and capital improvements so that the development is fiscally responsible and sustainable for the duration of the deed restrictions; and 3) We must meet the various needs of lenders and funders in the project that all have different policy requirements for how they want funds to be used and who they are aiming to serve.  This approach will impact how many apartments will be set aside for families earning very low incomes to meet community or state policy goals, versus how many might be left at market rate to ensure there is greater revenue to offset lower rent limits.  Until all financing is fully committed, these projections will be re-examined continuously.

Thanks to a financial commitment received through Guilford Savings Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston on April 30, 2018, the project will have access to a reduced rate mortgage, which at this time should allow us to preserve 100% of the units as affordable. Affordable is defined by HUD as spending no more than 30% of their income on housing costs.  For these units, the household income ranges will be from $20,000 to $71,000, all based on the area median income in Old Lyme. The remainder of the development will be funded through a variety of sources, private investor equity through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC), energy efficiency rebates through the utility companies, and CT Dept. of Housing bond financing.

River Oak Commons I will consist of 7 residential buildings (23 affordable units) and 1 pump house.  River Oak Commons II will consist of 4 residential buildings (14 affordable units) and 1 community building, including an office for an onsite property manager.

Our next step in the process is to obtain approval for our applications from the Old Lyme Zoning Commission.  The public hearing is set for June 5th at 7:30pm at the Old Lyme Town Hall.

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Op-Ed: SECoast Questions Proposed HOPE Development in Old Lyme

Organization Stresses Support of Affordable Housing

This Op-Ed was written by Gregory Stroud, Executive Director, SECoast

This photograph shows a representation of Hope Partnership’s ‘model’ Ferry Road development six years after completion.  Photo by Gregory Stroud.

No doubt by now, most of you have heard of the Hope Partnership housing development planned for 16 Neck Road. It’s a subdivided property tucked in beside the northbound I-95 exit 70 into Old Lyme, a wooded 12.5 acre lot with a steep entrance road, and a long stretch of deep-water access to the Long Island Sound. The property once assessed for $1.2 million, was purchased by a local developer on December 31, 2015 for a relative song—$455,500.

As things stand today, our expectation is that the purchaser, Graybill Properties, will keep and develop the back two lots for private houses, with river views and water access, and will sell the front two lots facing Neck Road for development as “affordable housing,” all told perhaps 37 or 41 two- three- and four-bedroom units, twelve buildings, and 113 parking spaces.

The development falls under a state law, commonly known as 8-30g, which doesn’t exactly give for-profit and non-profit developers carte blanche, but it does place a heavy burden of proof on local government to stop them, if a town fails to meet a very narrowly-tailored threshold of 10 percent deed-restricted affordable housing stock. Old Lyme currently stands at 1.56 percent, and by this method of counting, it’s not at all clear that the town can or will ever meet or sustain the minimum threshold of affordability.

To be sure, affordable housing has a checkered 30-year history in Connecticut, with often wealthy enclaves successfully gaming the system to shirk their statutory responsibilities, and sometimes unscrupulous developers gaming the system to build luxury apartment complexes, and harvest tax advantages, wherever profitable. In our particular case, we feel confident in saying that neither is the case, but that does not mean our current debate has not been colored on various sides by these broader frictions and frustrations.

Proponents of the project have at times avoided a serious discussion of the project by out-of-hand dismissing legitimate local concerns as NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard)—a form of name-calling rather than logical argument. Opponents of the project have frequently suggested darker motives for the development, without evidence. Town leaders have pitched the project as an effective defense against less scrupulous developers, despite the obvious truth that this project will not nearly allow Old Lyme to meet its near-impossible 10 percent obligation. There has no doubt been anger and ugliness, and more than a few transitory facts and figures in and around the project. We can do better.

Although we have significant and still unaddressed questions concerning the genesis of this project, the methods for choosing and advancing this project, how it fits into broader unstated plans of profit, funding, and development for Old Lyme, nevertheless we are confident that the two primary organizations behind it—Old-Saybrook-based Hope Partnership, and their statewide partner The Women’s Institute—are motived not by profit, but by a genuine, if perhaps overriding, philanthropic mission.

Nor does Old Lyme—despite its reputation among some as a haven of wealth and privilege—have a history of skirting the law or blocking affordable housing projects. In fact, in this case First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, have invited and actively encouraged the development of this project in Old Lyme. We have little doubt that many in Old Lyme will bend over backwards to help see this project to completion.

But now putting all that aside, we are left with two basic questions: Is this a ‘good’ project? And do our concerns about health, safety, or other legally reviewable matters, clearly outweigh a need for affordable housing?

To the first question, we say largely not. To the second question, we say that it remains unresolved. For this reason, while we have decided to remain neutral at present on this project—we will neither promote, nor actively endeavor to block it—it is our view that the project leaves such substantial details and questions unresolved that it would constitute an act of negligence for zoning, planning, wetlands, or other town commissions to give this project approval, or even conditional approval, without significant additional scrutiny and assurances.

To this end, we spent more than two hours on May 2 with board and staff members of Hope Partnership, and The Women’s Institute, which was followed by numerous hours reviewing evident and serious issues of pedestrian and traffic safety, fire code, environmental, and other concerns. We followed up with an additional nearly hour-long conversation with Kristin Anderson, the development manager for the project, as part of The Women’s Institute. We remain deeply, and sincerely troubled by the project, and the feasibility of addressing these concerns.

We leave our detailed criticism to later public comment, but that said, it is telling we think, that the bulk of assurances which we did receive, regarding the goodness, the compliance with fire code, and the traffic and pedestrian safety of the project, are premised on a series of troubling and doubtful assumptions as follows:

  • that some un-proposed and unfunded redevelopment of Rte. 156 and Halls Road may in the future allow for safe pedestrian access between the development and the nearby Halls Road Shopping District;
  • that the 2018 State Building and Fire Safety Codes would drop a mandate for sprinklers by a vote in the legislature on July 1;
  • that CTDOT will alter the traffic signs and the terminus of Exit 70 in a manner, and time, which will allow for safe vehicle access to the site.

To be frank, all that we are really sure of here, is that this project has sailed through a number of planning, zoning, and wetlands meetings, with the strong backing of elected local officials, an array of ephemeral facts and arguments, an ever-growing scope, and a heck of a lot of good intentions.

But for all the good intent, the stubborn present reality of this project remains an essentially regressive model of suburban tract housing, with no clear safe access on foot, by bicycle, school bus, or public transit, awash in blacktop, skirting requirements of septic within the watershed and at the mouth of the Connecticut River, exempted from requirements of open space for land which will later be developed, and by an Old Lyme Plan of Conservation and Development, which is two sentences from nonexistent.

This is a project, as currently drawn, which reaches toward a lower common denominator of fire code. If requirements for sprinklers are dropped, should we cheer? It’s a plan at present, which encourages children to play inside, and burdens struggling families with the necessity of two cars.

Of course, no project can meet every ideal measure, and many families happily live out their days without sidewalks and within suburban tract housing. Should we hold affordable housing to a higher standard? Aren’t affordability and good intentions, reason enough? It’s an argument more often we’ve seen used for hot dogs and hamburgers in school lunches.

The reality is that 16 Neck Road is not just a housing development, it’s the entrance to the town. 16 Neck Road is the first step, a driving force, a funding source and point of leverage for a much larger unspoken and questionably-coordinated redevelopment of Old Lyme. Are we in such a rush, that without any real detail, this is how we choose to begin? 

Believe me, the public hearing on May 14 isn’t just another hoop, it’s the moment when Hope Partnership and the Town of Old Lyme decide whether to pull the trigger.

We say, yes to affordable housing in Old Lyme, but only with a better affordable plan.

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Own a House in the Old Lyme Historic District? Nominate it for “Homes for the Holidays” Tour, Raise Funds for OLCLC

Calling all homeowners in the Old Lyme Historic District: Does your home have historic significance? Is your home architecturally interesting?  Do you have a knack for interior design? Are you interested helping a valued community non-profit in raising funds?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, then nominate your home to be featured in “Homes for The Holidays,” The Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center’s (OLCLC) biennial fundraiser on Dec. 8, 2018!

The OLCLC is now accepting applications from Old Lyme Village homeowners who are interested in learning more about this important fundraiser and would like their home to be considered for this year’s tour.

In order for the Home Tour to be a true walking tour, homes should be located on Lyme Street or on any of its side roads north of Rte. 156 between Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts and Johnnycake Hill Road (including Elizabeth Lane, Library Lane, Dunns Lane, Elm Street, Lee Street, Beckwith Lane, Academy Lane, Ferry Road, Lieutenant River Lane, Bittersweet Lane, Duck River Lane, McCurdy Road, Lyme Street, and Johnny Cake Hill Road near McCurdy Road).

Additionally, OLCLC Home Tour search committee members will be visiting Village home owners in May to hand out applications and to solicited homes.

Share your community spirit and help make this year’s Home Tour the best ever by nominating your distinctive home today.

For more information, contact Alison Zanardi at (860) 434-1728, ext. 1 or email alison_baasp@comcast.net.

Editor’s Note: The Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center is a non-profit NAEYC-accredited early childhood school and child care center. OLCLC seeks to provide a secure, safe, and happy environment that fosters the natural development of the whole child from 6 weeks of age to grade five for families in the Lyme/Old Lyme and surrounding communities. For more information visit www.olclc.com.

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District 18 Budget Passes Easily in Both Towns

Voters approved the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools proposed $33.3 million budget by a substantial margin in both Lyme and Old Lyme.  In Lyme, there were 141 Yes votes and 21 No votes while in Old Lyme, 267 residents voted Yes and 90 voted NO.

The total number of votes across both towns supporting the budget was 408 while a total of 111 rejected it, which represents a 78.6 percent majority in favor of the budget and 21.4 percent voting against it.

Ian Neviaser, Superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, stated via e-mail, “We appreciate the continued support of both towns and will continue to work to provide a top notch educational experience for all the students in our district.”

Turnout was exceptionally low in both towns.  In Old Lyme, where there are 5,639 registered voters according to the Democrat Deputy Registrar of Voters Sylvia Peterson, a total of 6.33 percent of registered voters turned out to vote.

The now approved budget for the 2018-19 school year is $34,298,528 representing a 1.97 percent increase over the current year.

Neviaser and LOL Schools Board of Education Chair Mimi Roche stated in the March Focus on Education newsletter to the community that this budget allows for a significant increase in the cost of employee health insurance, “… yet continues to maintain all of our award-winning academic and extracurricular offerings, which are commensurate, and oftentimes superior, to both public and private schools throughout Connecticut.”

Neviaser and Roche said, “This budget supports our commitment to:

  • Continued adherence to class size guidelines. •
  • Reduction of staff to account for an enrollment decline at the elementary and middle school levels. •
  • 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.

Three facilities projects are included in the budget:

  • gaining commission approvals for an artificial turf field
  • replacing the Center School gymnasium floor
  • replacing the Mile Creek fuel oil tank.

Similarly, two program improvements are included:

  • Next Generation Science Standards curricular support/training
  • technology infrastructure advancements.

For further information on the proposed budget, visit this link for a copy of the 2018-19 budget.

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Courtney Comments on Trump’s Decision to Pull Out of Iran Nuclear Deal

Rep. Joe Courtney (D)

Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) made the following statement after President Donald Trump announced he would be unilaterally imposing sanctions on Iran in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action:

“Despite repeated confirmation that Iran is following the nuclear deal from UN weapons inspectors on the ground, to the President’s own Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, and our closest allies, President Trump has recklessly decided to pull the U.S. out of the agreement,” said Courtney.

He continued, “This isolates our nation at the very moment we should be rallying international support to denuclearize North Korea. I will support every option possible in Congress to reconstruct and strengthen the progress we have already made toward keeping nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands. Unfortunately, the President has seriously undermined that effort today.”

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2018 Senior Studio Exhibition on View at Lyme Academy College Through May 11

The signature work of the 2018 Senior Studio Exhibition is ‘The Watcher’ by Rani Rusnock, who will graduate with a BFA in Illustration in May.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven hosts an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. this evening in the Chauncey Stillman Gallery for its 2018 Senior Studio Exhibition.  All are welcome.

The seniors whose work is featured in the exhibition are studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and will graduate in May 2018.

The Senior Studio experience at the College allows students to refine their vision and develop a skill set in order to create a body of work that exemplifies their individual interests, talents, and artistic sensibilities.

The 2018 Senior Studio Exhibition reflects the culmination of this project.  Students will be present at the opening reception and available to discuss their work.

The exhibition will be on view in the gallery through May 11.  Admission is free Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The sponsors of the exhibition are Overabove and Saybrook Point Inn/Fresh Salt.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven is located at 84 Lyme St. in Old Lyme.

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Hosts Spring Lecture Series; Next Lecture is May 3

The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is hosting a three-part Spring Lecture Series from April 19 through May 17.

The second lecture in the series will be held Thursday, May 3, at 5 p.m. at Essex Meadows and is titled The Remarkable Edward Lear.

Edward Lear (1812-1888) is best known and much loved for “The Owl and the Pussycat.” But he was also a fine painter of birds, mammals, reptiles, and landscapes, and an adventurous, world-wide traveler.

Lear’s paintings of parrots, macaws, toucans, owls, and other birds are among the finest ever published. Often compared to his friend and contemporary, John James Audubon, the two men are considered among the greatest natural history painters of the age. Using slides of Lear’s extraordinary work, Robert Peck will describe his career in natural history. He will show how he compares to and differs from Audubon, and discuss his lasting influence today. RSVP here

The third and final lecture in the series will be held Thursday, May 17, at 5 p.m. at Lyme Art Association and is titled Creation of a Genius: Roger Tory Peterson.

Roger Tory Peterson made his home and, as an adult, found inspiration for his monumental work on the banks of the Connecticut River Estuary. But the seeds of his passion for art and conservation were sown in his youth. Twan Leenders, President of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, N.Y., will focus on Peterson’s early years, his youthful explorations, and how the hidden treasures of his hometown, were to become a passion and eventually lead to inspiring amateur and professional naturalists through generations and throughout the world.  RSVP here.

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Old Lyme Church Offers Sanctuary to New Britain Couple Facing Deportation

Malik Nayeed bin Rehman and Zahida Altaf and their daughter.

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL) has agreed to offer sanctuary to Malik Nayeed bin Rehman and Zahida Altaf, a married couple from New Britain – working in close conjunction with two human rights organizations, the Keep Rehman & Altaf Home Advocacy Team and the Connecticut Immigrants Rights Alliance (CIRA).

The church issued a statement today, which was signed by Senior Minister Steve Jungkeit, senior Associate Ministers Carleen Gerber and Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager, which opened, “As a community of faith, we have core theological values that unite us.  These include an affirmation of the dignity and worth of each individual; a commitment to caring for the most vulnerable in our midst; and an emphasis upon the importance of hospitality.  Those values are at the very heart of the Bible, but they also form the beating heart of our democracy.  These are values that bind and animate us.”

Emphasizing, “It is in recognition of those values,” that the church offered sanctuary to the New Britain couple, the statement continues, “It is our shared belief that immigration law, as it is being applied in this couple’s particular circumstances, is unjust. The couple came to the U.S. legally in 2000 on non-immigrant visas, according to federal authorities, but stayed past their visas’ expiration dates.  The couple tried for years to extend their visas and become U.S. citizens, but were misled by an immigration attorney who was later jailed for swindling other clients.”

Noting, “Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, the New Britain city council, the New Britain Democratic Town Committee – as well as human rights organizations that include the Keep Rehman & Altaf Home Advocacy Team, CIRA, Students for a Dream, Action Together and CHANGE – have all joined in the call for federal authorities to postpone the couples’ deportation while lawyers appeal their case,” the statement adds, “Our goal in offering sanctuary to the family is to help slow the deportation procedure down, give the appeals process a chance to work, and provide immigration authorities with an opportunity to recognize the injustices and flaws of the law as it is being applied in this case.

The concluding paragraphs of the statement read: “We believe that, with time and reason and compassion, the couple can receive the full, fair hearing and consideration they deserve – and that justice will prevail and they will be allowed to remain in the U.S. with their five-year-old daughter Roniya (who is a U.S. citizen) and extended family members. Deporting the parents would needlessly tear the family apart. In the meantime, we will be offering a safe, private apartment within our church where they can live while their legal team helps them pursue all avenues of appeal with legal and regulatory authorities.

The final sentences state resolutely, “As a community of faith, we have core values that bind us together.  The practice of hospitality is one such defining value.  We’re proud that our community can enact its commitment in a public manner, demonstrating who and what God calls us to be in this moment.”

 

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And the Winner is … Trivia Bee Creates a Big Buzz in Town!

2018 Trivia Bee champions RTC Elephants, (from left to right, Atty. Mike Miller, LOLHS Class of 2013 alumnus Sam Stadnick, State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) and Cliff Johnson) proudly pose with their coveted Bee Trophy.

UPDATED 11:34am: It was a hotly-contested event with brainpower being tested to the extreme.

The 2018 Trivia Bee organized by the Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation (LOLEF) was held Friday evening in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium and saw more than a dozen teams doing battle over challenging questions posed by WFSB News Anchor Eric Parker.

The 3-PEAT team played hard to the bitter end taking the RTC Elephants to three rounds of play-off questions in the ‘Sting Off’ before finally succumbing to the runner-up position.

There were three ‘swarms,’ which involved all the competing teams in a 10-question play-off situation to identify the three finalists, who ultimately were the All-Pro, 3-Peat and RTC Elephant teams.

Concentration was intense among this team’s members whilst working on their answers.

With tension rising in the final round, All-Pro fell out of contention fairly rapidly but 3-Peat and the RTC Elephants kept going neck-and-neck question after question. When finally the last available question was posed, the RTC Elephants secured the win with the correct answer while 3-Peat had to settle for second place after a valiant effort.

Question master and Channel 3 news anchor Eric Parker (standing) and timekeeper Rob Roach kept things under control at all stages.

All funds raised at the event benefit programs and equipment selected by LOLEF for Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.

After the winners were declared, the judges, (second from left to right, Martha Shoemaker, and LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser) posed with LOL Education Foundation Board member Liz Rubitski (extreme left.)

The Old Lyme Historical Society’s (OLHS) team, some members of which are pictured below, came dressed in wonderful costumes (but surprisingly did not win the Best Costume award) and also put up a valiant fight in the quiz section to no avail.

And we just had to include a full-length photo of this dashing gentleman …

So to the OLHS team, better luck next year … and to all the competitors, sponsors and the LOLEF, thanks for making an otherwise cold and dull Friday evening into a fun-filled night at which everyone learned something and funds were raised for a worthy cause.

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D18 Board of Education Meeting Rescheduled to Wednesday, March 14

The Regular Region 18 Board of Education Meeting, which should have been held March 7, has been rescheduled to next Wednesday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m. due to the anticipated inclement weather.

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Town Halls, Senior Center, Lyme Transfer Station Closed Today for President’s Day; No Change to Trash/Recycling Schedule in Old Lyme

Both the Lyme and Old Lyme Town Halls will be closed today, Monday, Feb. 19, in honor of President’s Day.  The Lymes’ Senior Center will also be closed.

In addition, the Lyme Transfer Station will be closed, but in Old Lyme, there will be no change to the trash or recycling pick-up schedule.

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Atty. Kelly of Old Lyme Succeeds in Appeal for US Veteran Denied Benefits

Attorney Kristi D. Kelly

Attorney Kristi D. Kelly, who works for Suisman Shapiro of New London and is an Old Lyme resident, recently prevailed in an appeal on behalf of a client for Veterans Disability Benefits filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The veteran applied for service-connected disability benefits in 2014 and was denied service-connection for his claimed ailments at that time.

The denial was appealed in 2015 and has been pending for approximately two years. Attorney Kelly successfully obtained service-connection for all of his ailments and recovered $166,248.13 in back benefits previously denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This successful appeal and recovery of retroactive benefits, as well as monthly benefits going forward, is truly life-changing for this veteran.

For more information about or to contact Atty. Kelly, visit her webpage at this link.

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The End of an Era … but the Journey Continues: Jeff Andersen Retires From the FloGris Museum After 41 Years

Retiring Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeff Andersen stands between State Senator Paul Formica (left) and State Rep. Devin Carney holding the State Citation with which the two legislators had presented him.

There wasn’t a parking spot to be found Sunday afternoon at the Florence Griswold Museum, nor come to that at the Lyme Art Association. And the reason?  Despite torrential rain, it seemed as if the whole town had come out to say a fond farewell to Jeff Andersen, the much beloved Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, who was retiring after an amazing 41 years in that position.

Jeff Anderson stands with Charter Trustee George Willauer and New York Times best-selling author Luanne Rice alongside the Willard Metcalf painting, “Kalmia,” which the board has now dedicated to Andersen in honor of his 41 years service.

The Museum hosted a wonderful party to celebrate Jeff and his wife, Maureen McCabe, and both Marshfield House and the tent situated in the courtyard outside were packed almost to capacity. Federal, state and local dignitaries were there along with Museum trustees, staff, volunteers, friends and pretty much anyone who had ever had a connection with Jeff, Maureen or the Museum — well over 400 people in total.

The formal segment of the event was emceed by Charter Trustee Jeff Cooley, who opened the proceedings by introducing Senator Richard Blumenthal. Describing the Florence Griswold as “a world-class Museum,” Blumenthal went on to present Andersen with a Certificate of Recognition from the US Senate, which he noted to considerable laughter, “was approved by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote.” He thanked Andersen warmly for, “Your immense public service … and your values.”

State Rep. Devin Carney says, “It all started with just one … and that was, you, Jeff.”

State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) stepped up next the podium and Carney noted poignantly, “It all started with just one … and that was you, Jeff.”  Carney was referring to the fact that 41 years ago, Andersen was the Museum’s first — and only – employee whereas now the Museum has 20 staff, 255 volunteers, 3,000 members and 80,000 visitors annually.

Saying, “I truly want to thank you, Jeff, for doing so much good for the economy as a whole,” Carney pointed out that many of the visitors to the Museum, “come, stay and shop,” in Old Lyme and the surrounding area, adding, “You did a great job at the Museum … but you also stopped a train!”  This latter was a reference to the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposal to route a high speed train through the center of Old Lyme, which Andersen actively worked to defeat.

State Sen. Paul Formica reads the Citation from the state in honor of Jeff Andersen.

Formica then presented Andersen with a Citation from the Connecticut House and Senate, which recognized Andersen for his “passionate dedication directing, restoring and revitalizing the Florence Griswold Museum,” noting, “For 40 years you shared your vision and inspired countless volunteers and workers to help fulfill this vision expanding exhibits, gardens and collections making it into the reputable attraction we know today.” The Citation concluded, “We want to thank you for your tireless leadership and congratulate you on your retirement.”

Following the legislators was Old Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who immediately confessed, “Frankly, I have to say I didn’t think there would ever be a time when Jeff wouldn’t be here.”  She continued, “It’s good for him [Jeff] and all of us to be aware of all you have done.  You’re part of our DNA, you’re the heart of our culture,” and then announced that the Town of Old Lyme was declaring Feb. 11 as “Jeff Andersen Day,”  adding to loud applause and much laughter that it was a unanimous vote.

Andersen mingled freely with the more than 400 guests gathered to say their goodbyes.

She read a Proclamation from the Town which stated, “Since he began working with the Museum in 1976, the Florence Griswold Museum has grown from a small seasonal house museum where he was the only staff member to a nationally recognized center for American art.” The Proclamation also noted that, “Jeff is recognized today as the pre-eminent scholar on the historic Lyme Art Colony … and has helped grow the Museum’s modest collection of works of American Impressionism into a deep and distinguished regional collection of American art.”  Describing Andersen as a “visionary Leader,” with a “thoughtful devotion to excellence,” Reemsnyder concluded, still reading from the Proclamation, that Andersen’s, “tireless advocacy for the Museum and its uniquely Connecticut story has transformed the Florence Griswold Museum into one of the state’s most important and beloved cultural destinations.”

Jeff Cooley (center) emceed thw formal proceedings at the party. His wife Betsy stands to his left.

Charter Trustees George Willauer and Cooley then unveiled the beautiful 1905 painting titled, “Kalmia,” by Willard L. Metcalf to which a plaque had been attached stating that it now honored Andersen’s 41 years of service during which he “transformed” the Museum “through his unswerving devotion to preserving the legacy of the Lyme Art Colony.”

Jeff Andersen addresses the at capacity audience.

A clearly emotional Andersen then addressed the audience, which by now was overflowing the tent, saying simply, “We are feeling the love …”  He gave a long list of thank you’s, noting that he and his wife had, “felt such affection and regard since announcing his retirement.” Andersen then shared his opinion that, “whatever you give to the Museum – whether time, talent or money – it is returned to you many fold.”  He said, “Not many get the opportunity to have a career in one place [in his case, from age 23 to 64] and for that I am deeply grateful and humble.  Stressing, “Be assured the future is bright,” he commented almost wistfully, “What an incredible journey this has been … but the journey continues.”

Jeff Andersen and his wife Maureen McCabe applaud the pianist after he played a tune to which they had danced together at the very end of the party.

And with that, Cooley proposed a toast to Jeff and Maureen, glasses were raised, Prosecco was drunk and then vigorous applause and loud cheers erupted all around.

Florence Griswold Museum docent Linda Ahnert points out a detail from the newspaper cutting to fellow doscents.  The cutting announced Andersen’s arrival as the Museum’s first director — and then only employee — 41 years ago.

We here at LymeLine.com can only add our deep and personal thanks to Jeff and Maureen for an extraordinary career in which so much given with such incredible warmth and humility.  Rep. Carney said it best so we’ll end by echoing his words, “The Florence Griswold is truly a treasure, but so are you … Miss Florence would be really proud of you.”

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Body Washed up on Old Lyme Shore Now Identified

State police identified the man whose body washed up on a local shore Monday as a 44-year-old New Britain resident reported missing last year …

Read the full article at this link, Missing New Britain man found dead in Old Lyme. It was written by Lisa Backus and published today on www.newbritainherald.com

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Volunteers Needed to Help Valley Shore Residents With Literacy Challenges

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, 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 22 and runs through May 15. 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 Literacy Volunteers office in the lower level of the Westbrook Public Library by phone at (860) 399-0280 or by e-mail at jargersinger@lvvs.org .  Registration for the spring session is open now.

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A Rally to Remember — Women (Mostly) Gather to Call Attention to Power of Peaceful Protest

Three generations fighting for freedom: from left to right, Dale Griffith of Ivoryton takes time out from the rally for a photo with her five-year-old granddaughter, Eva Levonick, and her daughter (Eva’s mom) Becky Petersen, both of Old Lyme.

More than 400 warmly dressed people gathered Saturday morning under clear skies on the forecourt of the Two Wrasslin’ Cats cafe in East Haddam to stand in solidarity with all the other Sister Marches taking place all over the country … and beyond.  The event was organized by Together We Rise CT (TWRCT) and facilitated by Theresa Govert, founder and chair of TWRCT.

Govert, pictured above, spoke passionately to the assembled crowd, which spanned both age and gender, reminding members that it was precisely one year since President Trump took office and to look back on all the things his presidency had changed and to be cognizant of all the things that are in line for change.  She emphasized the need at all times for peaceful protest and was emphatic about never responding to violence.

Govert is a recently returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer. She served for three years in Botswana, where she worked with her community to organize thousands for a national campaign to end gender-based violence, started a small business as an alternative economic employment opportunity for female sex workers and presented to participants of the White House Mapathon on the importance of free, accessible data.

In 2016, she was selected to receive the prestigious John F. Kennedy Service Award, awarded every five years to six individuals.

Christine Palm gave an impassioned speech to the attentive crowd.

The keynote speaker was Chester resident Christine Palm, who is Women’s Policy Analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors and also principal of Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC.

Palm opened by reminding those gathered that, “One year ago, many people predicted the Women’s March would fizzle out — that we couldn’t sustain the momentum,” but then pointed out that, in fact, the opposite has happened, and, “In this past year, it’s only grown broader and deeper and more ferocious and more inclusive, and now nothing coming out of Washington escapes our notice, or our resistance.”

Noting, “It has not escaped our notice that this administration is defunding programs for veterans, kicking brave transgendered soldiers out of the military, and attacking women’s reproductive rights  that have been in place for decades,” Palm added, “We have paid attention to the fracking, back-stabbing … money-grubbing and gerrymandering,” before declaring, “The Women’s March has grown to encompass it all.”

Recalling the words of the renowned African-American civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley, who lived locally in Chester, Palm said, “There appears to be no limit as to how far the women’s revolution will take us,” pointing out, “That’s why we’re all still here, a year later.”

After thanking all those attending for “paying attention to what’s going on in our fractured, frightened world,” and acknowledging the work of all “the new, well organized progressive groups,” Palm expressed her gratitude to, “the hard-core folks who have kept vigil at this enlightened business, Two Wrasslin’ Cats, through rain and sweltering heat, every Saturday, for a year.”

Palm urged everyone not to give up, commenting on the fact that for the older people present, “it seems, we’ve been boycotting, and protesting, and working to right what is wrong,” for a very long time, but she noted, “We are buoyed not only by one another, but in remarkable new ways, by a smart, hardworking and committed group of young people.”  She thanked the Millennials for their “passion and energy,” which she determined, “cannot be overestimated.”

Palm gave a list of practical steps out of which she proposed everyone present could find at least one to follow.  Her suggestions included, “If you’re old enough to vote, do it. Don’t forget the municipal elections, which  have been lost and won by a handful of votes. If you are unaffiliated, please consider registering with a party so you can vote in the primary,” and “If you have a driver’s license and a car, offer to drive an elderly voter to the polls in November.”

She continued, “If you have any disposable income, support candidates you believe in. If you can walk, knock on doors. If you can hear, make telephone calls. If you like to cook, make food for a house party. If you speak a language other than English, offer to translate for an immigrants’ rights group. If you can write, pen an op-ed or a letter to the editor. If you teach, welcome difficult conversations in the classroom.”

Finally, she offered the idea, “If you can speak into a mic, testify at the Capitol,” before closing with the rousing call to all to, “Stay vigilant.  But stay hopeful, too,” and …

Pink “pussy” hats were much in evidence at the rally.

… “Above all, stay together.”

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