February 22, 2018

Open House at Lyme Local History Archives, Oct. 21, to Feature WWI documents from Lyme Families

On Saturday, Oct. 21, from 1 to 3 p.m., special displays at the Lyme Local History Archives will showcase World War I (WWI) letters,documents and photographs saved by Lyme families.  Letters now in the Archives written by five Lyme soldiers give a picture of the last years of the war in Army posts in Georgia and on the front lines in France.

Also on view will be Archives materials from 1917–1918 including Lyme Grange minutes, which record local concerns on the home front.  Resources for researching  Connecticut relatives who served in the war will be displayed.

In 2016, the Archives began a two-year project to solicit documents, letters or photographs related to World War I from Lyme families.  A number of families responded by donating WWI materials or allowing scans of documents.  The Open House will highlight these materials new to the Archives as well as WWI materials given by previous donors.

The Lyme Local History Archives are located in the Lyme Public Library at 482 Hamburg Rd  (Rte. 156) in Lyme, Conn.

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Collins of Old Lyme Named a ‘Best Lawyer in America’ … Again

Attorney John A. Collins, III of Suisman Shapiro.

John A. Collins, III of Old Lyme has again been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2018. Collins is an attorney specializing in the field of Personal Injury Litigation at Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law in New London.

Two of Collins’s fellow attorneys at Suisman Shapiro, Matthew E. Auger and Robert B. Keville , were also named in the Best Lawyers listing — Auger in the practice area of Medical Malpractice Law and Keville in the area of Workers’ Compensation Law.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore, inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”

“For more than a third of the century,” says CEO Steven Naifeh, “Best Lawyers has been the gold standard of excellence in the legal profession.” President Phil Greer adds, “We are extremely proud of that record and equally proud to acknowledge the accomplishments of these exceptional legal professionals.”

Collins has successfully obtained verdicts or public settlements up to $10 million on behalf of injured victims over a 30-year law practice. He currently serves as the Managing Partner of Suisman Shapiro. The Connecticut Bar Foundation honored Attorney John A. Collins, III, in 2005 with his selection as a Life Fellow. “Selection as a Fellow requires demonstrated superior legal ability and devotion to the welfare of the community, state and nation, as well as to the advancement of the legal foundation”. Source: Connecticut Bar Foundation.

Auger handles serious personal injury cases, including wrongful death claims, automobile collisions, slip and falls, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and product liability. Mr. Auger is a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate with the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is also a Captain in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the United States Naval Reserve and is a Judge of the Gaming Disputes Court for the Mohegan Tribe of Indians in Connecticut.

Keville is a Director who concentrates in Worker’s Compensation and Civil Litigation. Mr. Keville is a member of the Connecticut Bar, both State and Federal. He is also a member of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Keville’s practice focuses on the representation of injured workers in State and Federal Worker’s Compensation forums, as well as serious personal injury claims. He has tried numerous cases to conclusion and has appeared before various Appellate tribunals, up thru and including the State of Connecticut Supreme Court.

Editor’s Note: Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut. It is located at 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591, New London CT 06320. Phone: (860) 442-4416. For further information, visit www.suismanshapiro.com

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Rep. Carney Applauds the Passage of a New Opioid Bill Signed on ‘International Overdose Awareness Day’

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) stands at left as Governor Malloy signs the new opioid bill.

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23) attended a bill signing of Public Act 17-131, An Act Preventing Prescription Opioid Diversion and Abuse at the Hartford Public Library on Thursday, Aug. 31. Joining him were many legislative colleagues, local officials and advocates, who all stood in support of the legislation that seeks to curb the growing opioid crisis in Connecticut.

This ceremonial bill signing took place as the state took part in “International Overdose Awareness Day.”

From Jan. 1, 2015 through Aug. 2, 2016, Connecticut recorded 800 deaths due to overdose. The bill, which passed the House of Representatives unanimously expands upon legislation passed in 2016 and 2015, and includes some of the following aspects:

  • Instructs the Alcohol and Drug Policy Council to convene a working group to study substance abuse treatment referral programs that have been established by municipal police departments to refer persons with an opioid use disorder or who are seeking recovery from drug addiction to substance abuse treatment facilities;
  • Reduces the maximum opioid drug prescription for minors from 7 days to 5 days and maintains current law that allows a prescribing practitioner to exceed the limit for chronic pain, palliative care or acute pain if necessary as long as it is documented in the medical record
  • Requires individual and group health insurers to cover medically necessary detox treatment, as defined by American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) so that those looking for help cannot be turned away due to insurance issues;
  • Increases data sharing between state agencies regarding opioid abuse or opioid overdose deaths;
  • Increases security of controlled substances prescriptions by requiring scheduled drugs be electronically prescribed;
  • Allows patients to file a voluntary non-opioid form in their medical records indicating that they do not want to be prescribed or administered opioid drugs.

“Today, I was proud to stand with both Republicans and Democrats alongside Governor Malloy to enact bipartisan legislation that will help in the fight against opioid addiction. Opioid addiction is something that affects every community in our state, including every town within the 23rd District,” said State Rep. Devin Carney, continuing, “While drug addiction is not new, the addition of fentanyl into the equation is causing people from across the state to lose their lives at an alarming rate.”

Carney added, “Everyone, including me, knows someone who has been affected by drug addiction, whether it’s a parent, child, grandchild, or friend and I believe our society must continue working to battle this or we will continue to see lives taken far too soon.”

He noted, “I applaud the State of Connecticut for being a leader in this area and legislators from across the political spectrum for joining together to work towards solutions in an attempt to combat this growing epidemic. I also want to thank those within my community who have worked so hard to educate, communicate, and share their stories about drug addiction.”

Connecticut is expected to see more than 1,000 accidental drug-related deaths in 2017.

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Rogers Lake Drawdown to Begin After Labor Day

Every leap year, Rogers Lake is scheduled to be lowered in the fall so that landowners can perform any maintenance at the waters edge. But this did not happen in 2016 due to the drought.

Because of this, the drawdown will take place this fall (2017) as follows:

  • The drawdown will start after Labor Day and the full drawdown of a maximum of 14 inches should occur by mid-September.
  • The drawdown will be maintained from mid-September to Nov. 1.

The Rogers Lake Authority can be contacted at Rogers-Lake-Authority@googlegroups.com

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Old Lyme Town Hall Gets a Facelift

Painters from Martinez Painting work on the upper sections of Old Lyme Town Hall.

During 2007-2008, Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall was renovated and an addition built, providing ADA accessibility and mechanical upgrades as well as expanded space. The results pleased both staff and visitors but that was nearly 10 years ago, and in some areas, the paint on the older portion of the facility failed to adhere.

It also became apparent that many of the plantings along the building were too close to the exterior siding and this, in combination with the passage of time, caused a number of areas of rot and deterioration.

The front entrance of the Old Lyme Town Hall is being refreshed with a new coat of paint.

This summer, the exterior of the building was power-washed and the deteriorated skirt and corner boards (which contained lead-based paint) were removed. These latter will be replaced with material that resists rot and is appropriate for use at or near ground level.

All remaining surfaces will be scraped, encapsulated and will receive two coats of fresh paint.

Even the flag pole gets a fresh coat of paint!

The contractor for project, which started Aug. 1 and should be completed by Sept. 10, is Martinez Painters of Clinton, Conn. 

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CT Trust Warns $1.1 Billion Susquehanna Bridge Project Might Set Unacceptably Low Bar for Environmental Protection in CT

Rendering of Susquehanna Bridge Project. Source: David Anderson, “Deadline approaches for comments on Susquehanna rail bridge replacement”, April 6, 2017, Baltimore Sun.

A June 26 announcement by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that the $1.1 billion Susquehanna Bridge Project on the Northeast Corridor in Maryland poses “no significant impact,” drew sharp comment from Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, who warned that such a decision could set an unacceptably low bar for mitigating historic, cultural and environmental resource impacts from future high speed rail projects in Connecticut.

The proposed rail bridge replacement project bisects the National-Register-listed Havre de Grace Historic District in Maryland, comprised of approximately 1000 historic structures, many from the 18th century, on the banks of the Susquehanna River, and was reported in the Baltimore Sun on June 26, 2017.

“FRA determined that the most comprehensive level of environmental review was not needed for this $1.1 billion dollar rail project in the midst of a historic coastal community in Maryland,” noted Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the Connecticut Trust. “Connecticut and Rhode Island communities caught in the cross-hairs of FRA’s bypass proposals should be concerned for the signal sent by this Maryland project – the process ahead may not yield the protections that communities want for themselves.”

Since the FRA released draft plans on November 15, 2015 to expand new high-speed railroad corridors across coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island, under a federal planning process called “NEC Future,” the Connecticut Trust, and its grassroots partner SECoast, have led a campaign to counter FRA’s insensitive approach to transportation planning for the Northeast Corridor routes through Connecticut.

“FRA’s plan represents a once-in-a-generation decision that will fundamentally shape the communities, economies and ecology of coastal southern New England,” explained Gregory Stroud, Director of Special Projects at the Connecticut Trust, and co-founder of SECoast. “The only sure way to protect our communities from these types of impacts is to fully remove these projects from the Record of Decision.”

The FRA is expected to announce a long-delayed Record of Decision for NEC Future this summer, finalizing a blueprint for the Northeast Corridor which will shape infrastructure decisions and investment through 2040, or later. The current blueprint has been in place since a similar process completed in 1978. The Northeast Corridor, which connects cities between Washington, D.C. and Boston, is the nation’s busiest rail corridor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Welcome to Our Summer Intern, Jacob Ballachino

Jacob Ballachino

We are delighted to introduce our newest intern, Jacob Ballachino, to our readers.  Jacob, who lives with his family in Old Lyme, has completed two years at UMass Amherst where he is a communications and journalism major. He is going to be working for LymeLine.com throughout the summer covering news and events in Lyme and Old Lyme.

Jacob is especially interested in sports and entertainment and so hopes to be writing some stories for us focused on those areas.  He’s already written a couple of great pieces for us, one about the Tour de Lyme and the other about A Woman’s Exchange, and we think he’s off to a flying start!

Asked why he wanted to intern for LymeLine.com, Jacob responded, “I hope to gain first-hand experience in reporting and also to build personal connections with a diverse group of local community members.”

If you have any news tips or story suggestions for Jacob, you can contact him directly at jballachino@umass.edu and if you see him around town, make sure to say hi to him.

Finally,  welcome on board, Jacob — we’re so pleased you’ve joined our team!

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Sun Shines Brightly on Another Highly Successful ‘Tour de Lyme’ Cycling Event

Off they go! Bike riders start their choice of Tour de Lyme route.

Nine hundred and fifty cyclists from all around the area woke up on Sunday morning to the early spring sun shining down on the registration tables of the 5th annual Tour de Lyme. The event started and finished at the beautiful Ashlawn Farm on Bill Hill Rd. in Lyme, Conn., for the third consecutive year. Participants could choose between a myriad of different rides both through the trails of Nehantic Forest, Beckett Forest, and Mount Archer or through the winding roads of Lyme.  The event even offered an eight-mile family ride.

First started by John Pritchard five years ago, this year’s Tour de Lyme hosted by the Lyme Land Conservation Trust was a huge success and through registration fees and charitable donations, the land trust is able to maintain and expand the beauty of Lyme’s forestry and wildlife. In an effort to keep the town of Lyme as rural and well-maintained as possible, the Tour de Lyme is clear proof that a small organization can have a big impact.

Musicians entertain during the post-ride picnic at Ashlawn Farm.

The start times of each individual ride were staggered with the intention that all riders arrive back at the picnic around the same time to enjoy live music, several unique food trucks, and even physical therapy free for anyone who participated in the ride.

The 950 riders had a choice of four different routes on the road, and two routes through the woods. Brian Greenho, Tour de Lyme Mountain Bike Director and course designer, took time out from his busy schedule on Sunday to talk more with me about the event. He explained that has been heavily involved with the mountain bike aspect of the tour since its commencement, helping adapt the routes in order to make it more attractive to the riders.

Riders set off enthusiastically from Ashlawn Farm in Lyme on the mountain bike route.

Greenho noted that by obtaining one-day permission to use land from six private land owners, “The Tour de Lyme provides an opportunity for riders to get out into the trails and explore all three forests [Nehantic, Beckett, and Mount Archer] with hundreds of other riders,” adding that this is, “… something that would be inconceivable any other day of the year. Plus it gives the riders a chance to see the land that [Lyme Land Conservation Trust President] John Pritchard and the Trust itself work so hard to protect.”

Year-on-year participant growth in the Tour de Lyme can be seen through each of its first five occurrences. The Lyme Land Conservation Trust intends to keep the event going — and growing — in years to come and in a clear validation of that goal, it certainly seemed that all this year’s riders left the 2017 event enthusiastic for the next.

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Danenhower Read Announces Bid for Old Lyme First Selectwoman in November Election, Kerr to be Running Mate


Judith Danenhower Read

Judith Danenhower Read has announced that she is running for the position of Old Lyme First Selectwoman in the upcoming November 2017 election and Chris Kerr will be joining her in a bid for the post of Old Lyme Selectman.  The Old Lyme Republican Town Committee has not yet made any formal endorsements for the November elections, but Read notes that she and Kerr will be campaigning as Republicans.

In a brief press release, Read says, “Old Lyme needs an effective management / leadership team to run our community. We [Read and Kerr] bring 40 plus years of small business experience and a common sense approach.”

She adds, “We deliver results.  We have good relationships with many groups in our community and are looking forward to building more.”

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CT Audubon RTPEC Offers Estuary Explorations Saturday Mornings

Osprey in flight. Photo by Brock Graham.

AREAWIDE — The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is offering a new program of Saturday morning field trips to natural areas along the lower Connecticut River starting May 6.

Estuary Explorations will be led by PhD ecologist Paul Spitzer, a protégé of internationally recognized naturalist and painter, Roger Tory Peterson. Each exploration will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the possibility of extending the field tripinto the afternoon, depending on the participants’ interest.

The fee for each field trip is $30 per person ($25 per student) and registration is required. To register, visit this link.

Estuary Explorations will give participants a chance to learn about the Lower Connecticut River Estuary’s ecosystems and wildlife as the year progresses from the peak bird migratory season of May, through high summer, and into the late fall.

Paul Spitzer. Photo courtesy of Paul Spitzer.

Spitzer has designed the programs to follow in the footsteps of one of the 20th century’s most famous naturalists, field guide author and illustrator Roger Tory Peterson, who spent his adult life painting in his studio in Old Lyme and examining the flora and fauna of the Connecticut River Estuary and the world.

Spitzer will showcase some of Peterson’s favorite natural sites and share his extensive knowledge of the ecology of the region. Spitzer plans to lead these explorations at a “Thoreauvian saunter,” moving slowly to appreciate many of the birds, plants, and insects that Peterson once enjoyed.

While Old Lyme tends to be recognized for its scenic views and historic artist colony and arts culture, it is also situated at an important ecological hub in New England — the meeting of the waters. In this species-rich estuary, the fresh water of the vast Connecticut River and Long Island Sound mix, resulting in a wealth of natural life.

Spitzer learned his natural history while growing up in the Connecticut River Valley. He is a graduate of Old Lyme High School and continued up the river to attend Wesleyan University. He later earned his PhD in ecological sciences from Cornell University.

More recently, he has studied the now substantial Connecticut River Estuary Osprey colony as a “biomonitor” of migratory menhaden abundance, the Osprey’s preferred food source. Spitzer advocates for sustainable management practices of this keystone fish for its ecosystem, economic, and societal functions.

Working alongside Spitzer will be Old Saybrook native, Jim Arrigoni. Arrigoni has worked as a fisheries biologist in Washington State and developed protocols to evaluate stream water quality in Hong Kong. Most recently, he has taught cultural and aquatic ecology classes at Goodwin College, and he is currently completing a PhD on the conservation value of restored wetlands.

Spitzer has studied Ospreys for 50 years, his research beginning here in the Connecticut River Estuary. By the 1970’s, the impact of DDT in the ecosystem whittled the local Osprey colony down to one active nest. Spitzer was instrumental in the recovery of this important keystone species to these waters.

“The Connecticut River Ospreys are our iconic story of revival from the brink,” said Spitzer. “These guided and educational field trips will open a world of discovery about nature’s profusion in this extraordinary bioregion.”

“Migrant and resident species of the estuary watershed are particularly exciting to observe in May. I will provide up-close and expansive views of the natural world from salt marshes to Yellow Warblers in particularly beautiful places.”

After meeting at the Old Lyme I-95 Park and Ride (Exit 70), participants will enjoy three hours of ecological exploration followed by a brown bag lunch and guided discussion in the field.  Spitzer is also willing to offer optional afternoon sessions gauged by the stamina and interest of the participants.

Beyond the four Saturdays in May, the field trips will occur monthly through November.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CT Camera Club Hosts Exhibit in Old Lyme Town Hall

‘The Beauty of Burano’ by N.B. Logan is one of the featured photos in the CT Camera Club’s exhibition currently on view at Old Lyme Town Hall.

There will be a photography exhibit by the Connecticut Valley Camera Club from May 1 to June 29, at the Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St. in Old Lyme.  A total of 30 photos are on display with an opening reception on Saturday, May 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. which is free and open to the public.

The Connecticut Valley Camera Club, founded in 2001, has a prime directive of encouraging, accommodating, and implementing multiple photographic experiences for our members. Photographers of all levels are welcome. With the overall intent of improving our skills, members share information about techniques and equipment, as well as provide mutual support in evaluation of each other’s images.

The club meets on the first Monday of each month at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme. Visitors are welcome. To learn more about the club visit their website and Facebook page

 

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I-95: Exit 70, 72 Ramp Closures Continue

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has announced the following dates scheduled for ramp closures related to Project 104-164, Safety Improvements I-95.  The CTDOT says these closures are necessary for the safety of the traveling public and the contractors work force during the milling, reconstruction and paving of the ramps due to the widths and curvatures.

1. Southbound Exit 72  Off Ramp  – April 24 & 25, 2017 *
2. Southbound Exit 72 On Ramp –  April 24 & 25 ,2017 *
 
*These two ramps will not be closed concurrently, but as Exit 72 Off opens then Exit 72 On will close.
 
3. Southbound Exit 70 Off Ramp – May 1, 2017
4. Northbound Exit 70 On Ramp – May 12, 2015
5. Northbound Exit 71 On Ramp – May 15 & 16, 2017
6. Northbound Exit 71 Off Ramp – May 15 & 16, 2017
7. Northbound Exit 72 Off Ramp – May 17 & 18, 2017  
 
Detours for all ramps will be posted and signed so that the minimum inconvenience to the traveling public will occur.  All closures will be between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
 
The project does not foresee the need to close the Northbound Exit 70 Off Ramp or Southbound Exit 70 On Ramp as the widths will allow milling operations with traffic access.
 
These dates may change as conflicts arise or due to weather related issues. Emergency vehicle access will be given the highest priority in these locations.
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Guilford Savings Bank Supports Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries with ‘Green for Greens’

From left to right, front row, Guilford Saving Bank Branch Manager, Dave Carswell, SSKP Board Member Rick Westbrook, SSKP Executive Director, Patty Dowling, and Guilford Saving Bank Community Development Officer, Lisa La Monte. (back row) Guilford Saving Bank Assistant Branch Manager, Sandra Miller, and Guilford Saving Bank tellers Ryan Donovan and Brandy Reilly.

AREAWIDE — Guilford Savings Bank has awarded a $4,000 grant to Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) to purchase fresh produce for needy residents of the shoreline. The grant, called “Green for Greens”, helps assure that local families who come to SSKP’s food pantries will be provided with fresh fruit and vegetables, in addition to non-perishable foods.

Lisa LeMonte, Marketing and Community Development Officer at Guilford Savings Bank, shared, “I know I speak for everyone at GSB when I say how proud we are to provide “Green for Greens” that allows The Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries to supplement their budget with funds to purchase additional fresh produce.”

“The support of Guilford Savings Bank and their generous “Green for Greens” is truly a gift to those we serve at our 5 food pantries.  We all know the feeling of eating a fresh crisp apple, or finding a banana in our lunch bag when we are hungry midday.  Because of GSB, those in need will share in that feeling, and on behalf of those we serve, I sincerely thank Guilford Savings Bank for their commitment to providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Patty Dowling, Executive Director.

Founded 28 years ago, The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River.

Guilford Savings Bank has been serving the financial needs of the Connecticut shoreline for over 140 years.  Recently named the #1 Community Bank in Connecticut, it is the premier relationship bank, providing banking, lending, wealth management and life insurance solutions for personal, small business and commercial customers. For more information visit www.gsbyourbank.com

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With Final Decision on NEC Future Near, CT Trust Pushes CT DOT for Clear Statement on Elimination of Rail Bypasses

With just weeks remaining before the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) completes a five-year NEC Future planning process, finalizing a ‘once-in-a-generation’ blueprint for rail travel and investment along the Northeast Corridor, advocates of historic, cultural and environmental resources in Connecticut are responding warily to recent statements from Connecticut DOT and FRA officials.

“Connecticut DOT now refers to ‘aspirational recommendations’ for the high-speed rail corridor in Connecticut,” noted Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the Connecticut Trust. “As this process nears completion, it is critical that the public and municipal officials realize that any language in the Record of Decision which references proposed bypasses in New London and Fairfield counties, as well as in Rhode Island, leaves the door open for these projects in the next stages of planning. It is imperative that FRA and Connecticut DOT permanently bar the door against these destructive bypass proposals.”

The Trust released a copy of a Feb. 10 email to Richard Andreski, Bureau Chief for Public Transportation, calling for state and federal agencies to remove all references to the proposed Old Saybrook to Kenyon (RI) from the forthcoming NEC Future Record of Decision. The Trust also asked for a commitment from both FRA and CT DOT that the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass not be reconsidered or reintroduced as planning for NEC Future moves forward. The Trust further warned that the proposed New Rochelle (NY) to Greens Farms bypass in Fairfield County requires a separate Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which should only be amended to NEC Future if warranted following more careful consideration.

In an April 12 letter to FRA Acting Administrator Patrick Warren, Senator Richard Blumenthal drew attention to fresh public concerns regarding previously-overlooked plans by FRA to double to four tracks the existing rail footprint between Branford and Guilford, east of New Haven. Senator Richard Blumenthal urged the agency to “engage in thorough discussions and dialogue” with impacted residents, warning that “it is imperative that these concerns be addressed immediately” given the expected release of the NEC Future Record of Decision.

Following a pattern repeated in other communities in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the proposed Branford to Guilford rail expansion came to the attention of residents in the region, only after the release of finalized maps of the FRA’s ‘Preferred Route’ on Dec. 16, 2016. In recent weeks, six preservation and environmental groups have written to the FRA to express concern, including the Branford Historical Society, Branford Land Trust, Stony Creek Association, Guilford Preservation Alliance, Guilford Land Conservation Trust, and Hyland House.

Despite these concerns, Gregory Stroud, Director of Special Projects at the Connecticut Trust, made clear that he is hopeful for a positive outcome after nearly 16 months of advocacy on the issue. “On the merits, we believe we’ve made a compelling case that FRA delivered a terrifically flawed plan, with too many impacts, and too few benefits for Connecticut.” Stroud pointed to strong bipartisan support from representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, in both Rhode Island and Connecticut, for dropping planned bypasses, and for investments in the existing Northeast Corridor.

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Potapaug Sponsors Hike in Nehantic State Forest, May 7

Potapaug Audubon is sponsoring a “Hike at Nehantic State Forest” on Sunday, May 7, with leader Leader Fran Zygmont from Litchfield Hills Audubon Society. This is a follow up to his Bird Migration program at Old Lyme Town Hall.

Meet at commuter parking lot at Exit 70 off I-95 on Rte. 156 in Old Lyme between 7  and 7:15 a.m. to carpool. Groups leave promptly for Nehantic at 7:15 a.m. to start the walk at 7:30 a.m. 

Zygmont will demonstrate a few of his amazing bird song imitations.

The rain date for the  walk is May 13.

For more information, call 860-710-5811.

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Column: Connecticut Charity Devoted to Uplifting African Villages

Editor’s Note: Local resident Tom Soboleski has written several great stories exclusively for LymeLine.com and ValleyNewsNow.com, so when we saw this compelling story by him in the New Haven Register on March 24, we requested their permission to republish it. Having received that permission, we are now pleased to republish this important story here.

Gathering water in Africa. Courtesy Water Works for Africa

Imagine you could not take a shower every day – because there is no water.

Imagine brushing your teeth without water.

Imagine you had no faucet in your house – because there is no water nearby.

Gathering water in Africa. Courtesy Water Works for Africa

Imagine walking two miles and standing in lines with fights breaking out to obtain whatever water you could. Then carrying it back home in jugs weighing 41 pounds. And the water is dirty and likely has bacteria.

You might say you’d never live there. But some people have no choice. This is their homeland. You might ask why don’t they move. To understand, you’d have to be in their shoes.

These are the conditions in villages of the Chikwawa district, in southern Malawi, Africa. There are numerous villages throughout Malawi in the same circumstances. The time and energy required to obtain life’s most basic need consumes daily life. It is traditional in their culture for women and children to fetch the water. This typically can take four to five hours a day. Men stay home to tend their meager gardens and livestock.

The water, when it’s available, is in shallow wells about 5 to 6 feet square and of similar depth. Because it’s basically in open pits, livestock and wild animals also drink from it. They have no other source. They may also urinate or defecate in or near it. So any water collected has to be boiled before it can be used for drinking, cooking or bathing.

A charity based in New Haven, Malawi Farmers Inc., has dedicated itself to bringing reliable, clean water to the villages of Chikwawa. Formed last year, MFI’s core mission is to help lift these villagers out of poverty. Providing them a source of sustainable, safe water would have a huge impact on village life. Drinking, cooking and washing would no longer be risky. It would allow kids to stay in school and fathers to get jobs. It would mean plentiful crops and healthier livestock. It would mean they could sell crops and create better living conditions.

“You can’t do anything without water,” says Sam Powell, president of Malawi Farmers Inc. The villagers of Chikwawa “are stricken not only with a drought,” he says, “but when they have water, it’s unreliable in terms of it’s not always available or only in limited amounts. The surface water is contaminated. They don’t have deep-water wells. The water’s unhealthy, there’s no sanitation there. There’s animal refuse and human waste.”

There is ample clean water deep underground, but the lack of technology and economic wherewithal prevents it from being tapped. “The water is there,” Powell says. “They can’t access it.”

MFI is working with another non-profit, Water Wells for Africa, or WWFA, based in California, which will identify well locations and hire contractors in Africa to do the drilling and installation. “We’ve partnered up with them,” Powell says, “because they have the expertise in the drilling, the topography, the government’s situation.”

WWFA has been installing wells in Africa for 20 years. Once a well is installed, they will also train local villagers on how to maintain and repair it. Designing it to be rugged enough to not break down is a prime consideration, given that parts would not be readily available in a remote village. “The type of well we want to drill is deep, it’s sustainable,” Powell says. “It’s mechanical, it’s not digital, it doesn’t require any electricity.”

Powell became aware of the water crisis in southern Malawi through his work at the Connecticut Hospice in Branford, where he’s been volunteering for several years. Three years ago a new chaplain, the Rev Austin Phiri, was assigned to the hospice. Austin is a native of the village of Chokani and came to the U.S. six years ago, he says, “because I wanted to experience a different way of doing ministry.”

Father Austin says the water crisis in his country is acute but the Malawi government provides little help. “Every day in my country the people complain we have no running water. The government depends on donors from outside,” to address infrastructure problems, he says. “At the moment there are a number of problems the government is facing. The government is completely broke.”

Appeals to the United Nations have been unsuccessful, Austin says. Proposals have been submitted but the response is always that the UN is involved in innumerable projects and it is unable to help.

Malawi is a land-locked country about the size of Pennsylvania, with a population of nearly 13 million. Annual per capita income was $340 in 2015 according to the World Bank. “In these desperately poor areas of low density and subsistence farming,” Austin says, “it’s less than that. A dollar a day is a lot of money there.”

People begin standing in line at 3 a.m.. “We are so hopeful that there will be a day when things will be improved in my home village,” he says. “They won’t be fighting to get water. There’s always fighting because everybody wants to get good water.”

During the dry season from May to October, there is virtually no rainfall in Malawi. Contaminated water is a leading cause of diarrhea, dysentery and cholera, contributing to nearly 9,000 deaths per year, including 4,500 children under 5, according to the World Bank. Worldwide, diarrhea diseases contribute to more than a million deaths per year of children under 5, according to UNICEF.

Powell says that working with Austin at the hospice and listening to his stories inspired him to do something. “For several years we have been talking about how desperate the plight of those people are. A lot of families are occupying hours and hours and hours of their day just sourcing out water and not doing anything else that’s productive. The infusion of a few dollars in Malawi to drill a simple well – so people can at least water their gardens and drink a glass of clean healthy water – will have a startling effect.”

MFI’s ambition goes well beyond a few wells. It has partnered with a farmer’s group in Malawi to coordinate efforts and identify the most acute needs. Once villages have sustainable healthy water, MFI plans to advise villagers on ways to become more efficient and productive with their farming and upgrade their tools and methods. “This will allow for marketing their crops to produce income,” Powell says. “Right now it’s subsistence farming. Eventually, hopefully with a rich water supply, they will be able to generate income so that their standard of living will rise.”

Through appeals to friends and family, MFI has raised enough money to drill its first well in the village of Chokani during the upcoming dry season. The average cost of a deep water well is $7500, but that can vary widely depending on the local geography, the depth, and the underground geology. The group is holding its first fundraiser, an Italian dinner with entertainment, on March 19 at St. Paul’s Church Hall in West Haven, CT. Tickets can be purchased directly from their website through this link.

Water is something the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens take for granted. With a twist of your hand, it’s there on demand. For people in the villages of Chikwawa, that would be a luxury. Just installing a permanent well to pump clean water on demand, “will change their whole standard of living,” Powell says. “Their health, their longevity, their prospects for the future. You’ll be able to see the effects; you’ll be able to feel the effects, almost immediately. We have no paid staff. Every dollar that comes in to us will be for drilling.”

MFI is a 501c3 charity recognized by the state of Connecticut and the federal government.

For more information, go to www.malawifarmersinc.org.

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Rockfall Foundation Announces 12 Grants for Environmental Projects, Recipients Include Lyme Land Conservation Trust

The Board of Directors and Grants Committee of the Rockfall Foundation are pleased to announce that twelve environmental programs throughout the Lower Connecticut River Valley received grants in the latest funding cycle. More than $28,000 was awarded to support environmental education and conservation efforts that will have a combined benefit for nearly 2,000 students and many more adults and families in the region.

“These grants, awarded through a competitive process, support the wonderful work being done in the area of environmental education and conservation throughout our region,” said Marilyn Ozols, President of the Foundation. “We are grateful that the generosity of our donors makes it possible for us to support so many worthwhile programs.”

Environmental education is a priority area for the Foundation and programs that serve and engage children and youth represent the several of those receiving grants. Public schools and non-profit organizations will provide hands-on environmental education programs in Middletown, Durham, Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. Additionally, several conservation projects and public events will present residents throughout the Lower Connecticut River Valley with information on urban farming, removal of invasives, and tree identification, as well as provide volunteer opportunities.

Grantees include:

Indian Hill Cemetery Association – “A Celebration of the Trees of Indian Hill Cemetery” will encourage visitors to utilize Indian Hill Cemetery as a place where they can learn about trees, be inspired by trees, enjoy the view and walk quietly. Tree identification activities, school programs, and the addition of signs will support this effort. $1,000

Van Buren Moody Elementary School – “Moody School Courtyard Nature Enrichment Programs” will train teachers to use the school’s courtyard gardens for education enrichment, thereby increasing the amount of time students spend outside learning about the environment. The program will also involve students and families in maintaining and managing the gardens to create a sense of ownership and connection to the courtyards and the natural world. $1,030

Regional School District 13 Elementary Schools – “Taking the Next Generation Science Standards Outside” will encourage elementary students to engage in the Science and Engineering Practices emphasized in the Next Generation Science Standards, while exploring the nature trails near their schools and noting problems that could be investigated and addressed. $1,100

Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District – “Urban Farm-Based Education Programs at Forest City Farms: A Farm Days Pilot Project” will promote an ongoing urban agriculture initiative in Middletown focused on improving urban farming conservation practices, building community interest and engagement in farming, developing farming/gardening knowledge and skills, and helping address food insecurity. Hands-on activities will take place at Forest City Farms. $1,500

Middlesex Land Trust and Everyone Outside – “Middlesex Land Trust Preserves: Great Places to Spend Time Outside” will revive and foster an interest in nature by connecting children and families with their local environment through field trips and public trail walks, helping them gain an understanding and appreciation of nature in order to become future stewards of the environment. $1,500

Snow Elementary School – “Outdoor Explorations at Snow Elementary School” will provide students and teachers with hands-on science and nature programs, including teacher training, mentoring and curriculum development leading to greater interest in science and stewardship of the natural world. $1,900

Lyme Land Conservation Trust – “The Diana and Parker Lord Nature and Science Center” to support the planning and development of educationally-focused content that is directed to all ages and will engage school-age children, and to support a unique and interactive interpretive trail within the Banningwood Preserve. $2,000

Valley Shore YMCA – “Farm to Table Specialty Camp,” an innovative new program that will teach children the important life skills of gardening, harvesting produce for themselves and others, and environmental sustainability. $2,225

Macdonough Elementary School – “Macdonough School Takes the Classroom Outside” will provide hands-on science education for K through 5th grade students, including an understanding of the natural world and the local ecosystem, to enhance students’ connection with nature. $2,570

Connecticut River Watershed Council – “European Water Chestnut Strategy for the Connecticut River Watershed” will directly educate more than 250 individuals on how to identify, manage and report European Water Chestnuts; educate thousands of residents about the plant and its threat to our waterways; and involve volunteers in hand removal of documented infestations. $3,500

Connecticut Forest and Park – “Highlawn Forest Invasive Removal and Education Program,” part of a strategic Forest Management Plan, to use the property as a recreation and education asset through careful timbering and an invasive removal process. The program will be a model for environmental planning and will offer a unique opportunity for hands-on environmental education for landowners and municipalities. $4,000

SoundWaters – “Coastal Explorers: A Bridge for Sustainability for Watershed Exploration for Middle School Students” will provide students from Middlesex County with hands-on science education focused on their local estuarine habitats and watershed to encourage a deeper understanding of the natural world via a combination of study and stewardship activities. $6,000

Founded in 1935 by Middletown philanthropist Clarence S. Wadsworth, the Rockfall Foundation is named for the large waterfall in Wadsworth Falls State Park. In addition to its grants, the Foundation sponsors educational programs and owns and maintains the deKoven House Community Center. The Rockfall Foundation awards grants annually through a competitive process that is open to non-profit organizations and municipalities located in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. For additional information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please visit www.rockfallfoundation.org  or call 860-347-0340.

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The Very Latest … and Most Important … News to Date on the Proposed High Speed Train Route

Amtrak’s ‘Acela’ passes through Rocky Neck State Park on a recent morning.

In a major news story published today in the CT Mirror, veteran journalist Ana Radelat summarizes the significant impact that opposition in Connecticut to the proposed high-speed rail route has already had — and is continuing to have.  Radelat quotes Old Lyme’s Greg Stroud, founder of SECoast and now director of special projects for the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, who has been at the forefront of this opposition, as saying, “Opposition is growing along the entire shoreline.”

Read Radelat’s story titled, CT rebellion against federal rail plan grows — and may have impact, at this link.

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