February 24, 2018

Public Hearings Scheduled on Proposed Rate Hikes, Service Reductions for Local Bus, Rail, Ferry Services, Wednesday

The Connecticut Department of Transportation will conduct public hearings on proposed public transit fare increases for bus, rail and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit services; and proposed service reductions to the New Haven Line, New Canaan Line, Danbury Line, Waterbury Line and Shore Line East rail services.
The nearest hearing to Lyme and Old Lyme on these proposed changes will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the New London City Hall Council Chambers, 181 State St.  The snow date is Wednesday, March 7, at the same time and location.

Additionally, information meetings will be held on proposed Connecticut River ferry fare increases.  The hearing for those will also be on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Chester Town Hall Conference Room, 203 Middlesex Ave., Chester. The snow date is Tuesday, March 6, at the same time and location.

No bus or ADA paratransit services reductions are proposed at this time.

Greg Stroud, founder of SECoast.org and a key member of the successful opposition to the proposed high-speed rail-route through Old Lyme, states, “It is hardly news that Connecticut faces ongoing and significant budget shortfalls, leaving residents, taxpayers, and representatives with few easy choices.

One choice — a relatively easy one for those elsewhere in the state — is to cut back radically on Shore Line East Service, altogether eliminating weekend service, and cutting weekday service by more than half.

That’s what Governor Malloy and CTDOT Commissioner James Redeker are proposing for southeastern Connecticut beginning July 1.

In our view such cuts will weaken rather than save Shore Line East service, dooming riders from Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton, Westbrook, Old Saybrook, and New London to a spiral of declining value, ridership and economics, leaving what remains of regional train service even more vulnerable to cuts in future budgets.

So what can you do? Show up and make yourself heard.”

We heartily agree with Stroud and urge readers to attend the Feb. 28 meeting in New London from 5 to 8 p.m.

If approved, a rail fare increase would take effect in three phases:

  • 10 percent on July 1, 2018
  • 5 percent on July 1, 2020
  • 5 percent on July 1, 2021, for a cumulative total of 21.28 percent.

A 14.3 percent, or 25-cent, bus fare increase would take effect on July 1, 2018.

Rail service reductions would also take effect on or about July 1, 2018; no bus service changes are proposed at this time.

A $1 increase in the car fare for the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury and Chester-Hadlyme ferries is also proposed.

The rail service proposals include significant reductions to off-peak and weekend rail services on the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branch rail lines, and elimination of off-peak and weekend service as well as significant reductions in peak period service on Shore Line East.

Proposed Bus Fare Increases (pdf)

Proposed Rail Fare Increases

   New Haven Line Proposed Fares to/from Grand Central Terminal – July 2018 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Fares to/from Grand Central Terminal – July 2020 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Fares to/from Grand Central Terminal – July 2021 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Intermediate Station Fares – July 2018 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Intermediate Station Fares – July 2020 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Intermediate Station Fares – July 2021 (pdf)

   New Haven Line UniTicket Proposed Fares 2018-2021 (pdf)

   Shore Line East and UniRail Proposed Fares – July 2018 (pdf)

   Shore Line East and UniRail Proposed Fares – July 2020 (pdf)

   Shore Line East and UniRail Proposed Fares – July 2021 (pdf)

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2018

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2020

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2021

Proposed Rail Service Reductions

   New Haven Line and Branch Line Weekday Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

   New Haven Line and Branch Line Weekend Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

   Shore Line East Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

Proposed Ferry Fare Increase (pdf)

Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) Analysis (pdf) (available 2/20/18)

Find the dates and times of all the scheduled Public Hearings on the proposed bus and rail fare increases and rail service reductions, and informational meetings on ferry fare increases at this link.

In case of inclement weather, public hearings or informational meetings that need to be re-scheduled will be announced through local media and on the CTDOT website at www.ct.gov/dot

At these hearings, CTDOT will provide information and accept public comments about the fare and service proposals and the Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) Analysis.  The SAFE Analysis evaluates the proposed changes to determine if they will cause a disparate impact to minority populations or have a disproportionate burden on low income populations.

The proposed fare increases and service reductions may be viewed on the Department’s website at

www.ct.gov/dot/farecomments. The Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) Analysis is available for public review as of Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (Please note the SAFE will not be available until Tuesday, February 20, 2018.)

Written comments on the proposed fare changes must be received by March 9, 2018 at COMMENT ON PROPOSED FARE AND SERVICE CHANGES, Bureau of Public Transportation, P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546 or via e-mail to dot.farecomments@ct.gov

The meeting facilities are ADA accessible. Language assistance may be requested by contacting the Department’s Office of Rail at (203) 497-3374 at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting. Persons with a hearing and/or speech disability may dial 711 for Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). Language assistance is provided at no cost to the public, and efforts will be made to respond to timely requests for assistance. 

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Enjoy ‘Dinner & a Show’ Tomorrow at Old Lyme Inn, Benefits High School’s New Show Choir

As a result of the wonderful performance that Kristine Pekar’s new Lyme-Old Lyme High School Show Choir group Amped Up gave at the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday Dinner in December, Ken and Chris Kitchings prompted the group to perform a benefit concert to raise funds for the choir and generously offered The Old Lyme Inn as a venue for the show.

This concert will take place on Sunday, Feb. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m.  All are welcome and tickets are $40 per person payable at the Inn by check to Friends of Music.

Entree choices are: hanger steak, stuffed chicken or pasta primavera.

This is the start-up year for this new high school group and the members have been competing all winter long and achieving significant success.  The group is very excited for their upcoming performance at the Old Lyme Inn and the hope is that their first local show is a sell-out.  The show has limited seating of 100 and there are only 17 tickets remaining at the time of writing.

So if you’d care to dine out on Sunday while also catching a great show, go down to the Old Lyme Inn as soon as possible and buy your ticket!

The poster to the left was created by Jared Ritchie and the Amped Up logo designed by Skyelar Shaw.

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UConn Professor Discusses ‘Puerto Rico: Wrecked by Storms and Politics’ at SECWAC, March 5

Professor Charles Venator-Santiago

The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) will host Charles Venator-Santiago, Associate Professor of Public Law and Latino/a Politics at the University of Connecticut, to speak at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 5, at Crozier Student Center at Connecticut College in New London.

Venator-Santiago will discuss how Puerto Rico’s constitutional status informs the U.S. response to the devastation of the island’s infrastructure by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which also caused a humanitarian crisis. This catastrophe has been exacerbated by both the federal and island government’s response to the crisis. This talk will provide an overview of Puerto Rico’s territorial status and examines the island’s future.
A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the main event will begin at 6 p.m. The presentation is a part of the SECWAC Speaker Series. SECWAC meetings are free to members (half-year membership February-June is $37.50/year; $12.50/year for young professionals under 35).  Walk-ins are $20 for the general public (non-members; the $20 cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership). SECWAC membership is free for area college and high school students.
Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC meeting attendees have the option for $35 to attend a dinner with the speaker at Connecticut College.  Reservations are required by Friday, March 2, at 860-912-5718.
Charles R. Venator-Santiago is a Associate Professor of Public Law and Latino/a Politics at the University of Connecticut with a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and El Instituto. He has earned a Ph.D. in Political Science at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and has researched the history of U.S. territorial law and policy with a primary focus on Puerto Rico.
His most recent book is Puerto Rico and the Origins of U.S. Global Empire: The Disembodied Shade (Routledge 2015) (Reviewed and Recommended by CHOICE: http://bit.ly/1Qh9frH). He is also the author of Are Puerto Ricans Really American Citizens?March 2, 2017; The Conversation (reprinted in The Observer, TIME, U.S. News and World Report, Univision, Salon, AP and other venues) (280,000+ reads). Available at: https://theconversation.com/are-puerto-ricans-really-american-citizens-73723
Professor Venator-Santiago has provided research and academic support to Puerto Rican and Latino/a organizations in Hartford and Connecticut during the past decade. He is currently working on a series of projects to provide support to Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans migrating to Connecticut. He is the Secretariat of the Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA) at El Instituto, University of Connecticut.

SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange 8-10 Speaker Series meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings range in foreign affairs topics, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.

SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policy makers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at http://secwac.org.
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Reading Uncertainly? ‘Patrick O’Brian: A Life Revealed’ by Dean King

This is a confession of an addict.

In early 1993, I was urged by a long-time sailing friend to begin reading a series of novels by Patrick O’Brian about an English skipper and his shipboard surgeon set in the Napoleonic Wars.

I did.

By now I’ve read – three times, no less –all 21 of the famous Jack Aubrey-Stephen Maturin novels, plus six of his other books, plus King’s 2000 biography. And I’ve just finished a second read of this biography, learning even more about a compelling writer, now acknowledged by many as one of the two best 20th Century tellers of sea stories (Joseph Conrad being the other.)

A re-read is often even more enlightening than the first, and so it was this time.  For Patrick O’Brian was a consummate “storyteller” in both senses of the word. First, he was not “Patrick O’Brian”, an Irish novelist. He was Richard Patrick Russ, the grandson of a German who moved to London in 1842 to seek his fortune as a furrier. He served in the ambulance corps during World War II and divorced his first (Welsh) wife immediately thereafter, taking his new wife Mary (English, but divorced from her Russian husband) first to Wales and then to southern France, as his writing career blossomed.

Patrick was indeed a well-read and curious man, whose “ … love of nature, literature, and writing arrived early, whose love of solitude would endure, and whose obsession with privacy would infuse his eventual literary tour de force, the Aubrey-Maturin novels.”

But his worlds were mostly vicarious, experienced through his reading, not through actual sea experience. While his stories give us detailed and factually-correct stories of the sea and many of the battles, skirmishes, and life at sea during the wars between 1800 and 1820, plus the intrigues of life in England at that time, they were a result of his reading and research plus his remarkable memory.As far as we know, O’Brian never went to sea in any sort of vessel!

O’Brian avoided publicity whenever he could: As he had his alter-ego, Stephen Maturin, say in Truelove: “Question and answer is not a civilized form of conversation … It is extremely ill bred, extremely unusual, and extremely difficult to turn aside gracefully or indeed without offense.”

But he was, above all, a writer: “ … he found his most life-affirming moments in this fluid act of creation … For him, the creative process was largely an inexplicable one, some magical combination of conscious, and subconscious, of instinct and intellect, all clicking at once.” In addition to his English, he was fluid, “to some extent, in Italian, French, Spanish, German, Catalan and Irish and had a good background in Latin and Greek.” He also, “possessed extraordinary powers of retention and integrated this information into his lively ken.” King concludes that O’Brian had “ … an ego of iron beneath a surface of humility.”

My connection with O’Brian’s work goes beyond his novels and biographies.  Two of us went to the Princeton Club in New York City in the fall of 1993 to hear O’Brian talk about his novels and read from one of them. Mesmerizing, but the high point was when we asked him to autograph copies of his latest work. With an impish smile he proceeded to do so: one with his right hand and the other with his left!

Most of his novels have beguiling conclusions, somewhat abrupt, if only to lead the reader toward the next “installment.” But he explained his endings in a conversation about writing with Maturin and a friend one evening on the rail of a ship in the Pacific in the Nutmeg of Consolation: “La betise c’est de vouloir conclure (the absurd thing is the desire to come to a conclusion.) The conventional ending, with virtue rewarded and loose ends tied up is often sadly chilling; and its platitude and falsity tend to infect what has gone before, however excellent.”

I noted that passage when I first read it and used it for the end of my own autobiography.  King also cites it.

Mary O’Brian died in France in March 1998. Patrick O’Brian died, incongruously, in Dublin, Ireland, in January 2000. But his stories live on …

Editor’s Note: ‘Patrick O’Brian: A Life Revealed,’ by Dean King is published by Henry Holt & Co., New York 2000.

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year-resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction that explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farms Coffee. His wife, Ann, is also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a bubbling village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visit every summer.

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Old Lyme Celebrates Renewal of ‘HEARTSafe Community’ for 7th Year

As the Town of Old Lyme enters its 7th year of certification as a HEARTSafe Community by the State Department of Public Health (DPH), citizens and visitors can view the red and white HEARTsafe road signs proudly proclaiming the award throughout town.               

“The HEARTSafe Communities program is designed to increase the awareness of the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac events by ordinary citizens,” according to the DPH. “Old Lyme has demonstrated its commitment toward ensuring that its residents and visitors receive the early lifesaving response proven to increase the chances of survival”

A HEARTSafe Community promotes and supports cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in the community, public access to defibrillation through strategic placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for use by public safety professionals and other community members and early advanced care.

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder notes, “Not only have most of our Town employees received certification, but other organizations like the OL-PGN Library, Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) and many local businesses and civic groups have endeavored to certify as many individuals as possible. I applaud all of their efforts on behalf of the citizens of Old Lyme.”

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) Colleen Atkinson and Doug Lo Presti, responsible for the training and organization of the town’s effort for the award, credit the Selectwoman’s dedication and commitment to the program for their training of more than 1,000 rescuers in Old Lyme, far in excess of the state requirement. “The recent addition of more defibrillators in our town, bringing the total to 24, greatly increases the odds that one will be available to a member of the public at large when needed,” notes Lo Presti.

The two EMTs, also American Heart Association Instructors, state Emergency Medical Services Instructors and founders of Critical Skills Education & Training, once again taught CPR with the use of an Automated Electronic Defibrillator (AED) s0 to the entire junior and senior classes at LOLHS in January. Atkinson comments that the result will produce hundreds of graduates who enter their community knowing how to give a victim of Sudden Cardiac Arrest the best chance of survival.

With the renewal comes the commitment to continue to increase the number of CPR-trained community rescuers and AEDs throughout Old Lyme. Anyone interested on learning, renewing or sponsoring CPR or willing to install an AED in their place of business can contact the EMTs through the Selectwoman’s office in Old Lyme Town Hall or call 860-304-8471 directly.

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Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber Hosts ‘Business After Hours’ at Lyme Academy Tomorrow, All Welcome

The 2018 Student Art Exhibition will be on view at Lyme Academy College, where the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber will hold its ‘Business After Hours’ on Wednesday.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce holds its next ‘Business After Hours’ on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven.

It is expected to be a wonderful evening with Coffee’s catering the event and plenty of time to view the outstanding 2018 Student Art Exhibition, network with business friends and colleagues, as well as hear the latest Chamber news.

The College will be giving an update on all their news and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder​ will also be speaking about an important new initiative that the Town of Old Lyme has just joined.

All are welcome and there is no admission charge, but RSVP’s to email@lolcc.com are requested for catering purposes.

For more information, visit the Chamber’s website at VisitOldLyme.com

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9 Town Transit Faces Drastic Funding Cuts From State, Seeks Help From Readers to Prevent Them

For decades, transportation programs in Connecticut have been funded by a tax on gasoline and diesel fuels that goes into the Special Transportation Fund (STF.)  The 25 cent gas tax has not changed since 2000, while vehicles have become more fuel efficient, both of which combined have resulted in a significant decrease in revenues.

Without action from the legislature, the Connecticut Department of Transportation warns that there will not be enough funding coming into the STF to cover the expenses of the state’s transportation system.  As a result, 9 Town Transit would see a 15 percent reduction in funding in 2018 and a 50 percent reduction of funding in 2019.

An Estuary Transit bus awaits its passengers.

9 Town Transit has asked LymeLine.com to let its readers know that a 15 percent reduction of state funding beginning July 1, 2018 would result in changes such as fare increases, elimination or reduction of bus routes and reduced Dial-A-Ride service.  In addition, a 50 percent reduction of state funding beginning July 1, 2019 would result in changes such as additional fare increases, elimination of most bus routes, elimination of Saturday service and elimination of Dial-A-Ride service.

These changes would have a significant impact on the more than 100,000 trips made each year on these services.  Hundreds of area residents would be stranded, and unable to get to work, school and medical appointments.

9 Town Transit is therefore asking our readers who are transit users and/or supporters to let their state representative and senator know how important 9 Town Transit, Shoreline East and/or other public transit services are to them. We urge our readers to support all these transportation programs in those ways and also to share this message with others, who may not read LymeLine.com.

More information about the possible service reductions and ways to help prevent the funding cuts can be found at www.9towntransit.com/fundtransit

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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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Lyme Ambulance Association Donates AED to Lyme Library

Andy Smith (left) President of the Lyme Ambulance Assoc. Board of Directors, presents an AED machine to Jack Sulger of Lyme Library. Photo by Frank Yaskin, 2017.

Lyme Ambulance Association Board of Directors President Andy Smith (left) recently presented an Automated External Defibrillating (AED) machine to Jack Sulger, President of the Lyme Library Association, for use in the Lyme Public Library.

Automated External Defibrillating machines are now found in most public buildings as they are simple to use and can prevent sudden cardiac death.

This donation program is part of Lyme Ambulance Association’s commitment to the Lyme community.

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LOL Education Foundation’s Annual Trivia Bee Will ‘Buzz’ Again, March 16

full_5738The Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation’s (LOLEF) 6th Annual Trivia Bee will be held Friday, March 16, at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.
Local businesses, community organizations and neighborhoods are invited to enter teams of four into this adult trivia contest, arguably the most “bee-dazzling fun-draiser” in The Lymes! Admission is $200 for each team.  Full details of the contest and rules are at this link.
Each team will be given a list of trivia topics in advance of the Bee. Teams are encouraged (but not required!) to choose a fun team name and dress in costume. The evening will be hosted by LOLEF and there will be entertainment and prizes galore for the audience between rounds.
The winning team from each round will participate in a championship round. Teams will compete for the Honey Cup, a perpetual trophy, as well as the honor of being crowned Lyme-Old Lyme’s Trivia Bee Champion. Prizes will also be awarded for the Best Team Costume and Best Team Name.
Spectators are encouraged to cheer on their favorite teams in person. Audience admission to the Bee is free.
Refreshments, local honey and tech-raffle tickets will be available for purchase.
The LOLEF supports innovative educational initiatives throughout our schools and community. Thanks to community support, the LOLEF has donated over $160,000 since its inception in 2006. The LOLEF works closely with, but is independent of, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.
The LOLEF counts on the success of fundraisers such as the Trivia Bee to keep the Foundations’ grants program vibrant.
Businesses and organizations are invited to enter a team of their own or, if they prefer, to sponsor a team made up of teachers and or students from our local schools.
If you would like to participate in the Bee or become a corporate sponsor, contact Nicole Wholean at 860-434-6678. The registration fee is $200 per team. Click here to register online.    Click here to download a registration form.
Anyone participating is encouraged to upload one of these pictures to their Facebook profile or timeline cover. The organizers would like to have the whole town buzzing!
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CT Valley Camera Club Presents Talk on How to Photograph National Parks, Mar. 5

Photographer Chris Nicholson at Acadia National Park (Photo courtesy of Steven Ryan)

The guest speaker at the Monday, Mar. 5 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be the acclaimed photographer and author Chris Nicholson, who will give a presentation titled “Photographing National Parks.”  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. All are welcome and there is no charge for admission. Potential members are especially welcome.

Chris Nicholson is a photographer and writer based in southern Connecticut and New York City. Formerly a magazine editor for ten years, he has worked on a freelance basis since 2004, with his camerawork focused primarily on the travel and sports genres. His writing and photographs have been published in over 30 magazines and several books.

Nicholson works in a primarily conservative style, believing that ideal composition is simple, strong and powerful. He has covered locations in Australia and throughout the continental United States (especially in New England, which he considers to be one of the most aesthetically unique regions of America).

Throughout his career he has studied the American national parks. Whether for assignments, publishing projects or personal work, Nicholson travels to national parks several times per year for photography. Over the past two decades he has paid particular attention to Acadia, Everglades, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains, Olympic, Shenandoah and Yellowstone, visiting and photographing those seven a combined 26 times.

The CVCC is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers. The group offers a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills. Photographers of all levels of experience are welcomed.  The club draws members from up and down the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook; from East Hampton to Old Lyme; and along the shoreline from Guilford to Gales Ferry.

For more information, visit the club’s website at https://ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com/. CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage.

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Lyme-Old Lyme High School Students Win Major Awards at CT Scholastic Art Contest

This incredible work by Claudia Mergy was awarded a Gold Key in the Connecticut Scholastic Art Awards.

Four Lyme-Old Lyme High School students were recognized at this year’s Connecticut Scholastic Art Awards. In the painting category, senior Claudia Mergy of Old Lyme received two Gold Keys for individual works and a Gold Key for her portfolio.  She also received generous scholarship offers from both the University of Hartford Art School and Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven in recognition of the quality of her portfolio.

Senior Emily Archer won a Gold Key in the printmaking category for the excellent work shown above.

Junior Mya Johnson won a Silver Key in the Ceramics category for this exceptional piece.

Junior Kathryn Atkinson earned an Honorable Mention for the alluring work shown above in the Drawing category. 

Works that are awarded Gold Key will now go forward to be juried at the national level.

Many congratulations to all these talented artists!

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Talking Transportation: “Getting There” Malloy’s Transportation Cuts

Fare hikes, rail service cuts and a freeze on transportation projects.  As he promised in December, Governor Malloy announced them all in January.  Rail commuters and highway drivers are justifiably outraged, but they should direct their anger not at the Governor or CDOT but at the legislature.

WHY NOW?
This funding crisis has been years in the making, exacerbated 20 years ago when lawmakers’ political pandering saw them lower the gasoline tax.  Coupled with better gas mileage and increased use of electric cars, the Special Transportation Fund (STF), which pays for our roads and rails has been running out of money.  By next year, it will be in deficit.

RAIDS ON THE STF:
His critics are quick to blame Malloy, correctly noting that he raided the STF for money to balance the state’s budget.  But so did Governors Rell and Rowland.  Blaming their past mistakes doesn’t answer the question of what we do now.

FARE HIKES:
Metro-North riders already pay the highest commuter rail fares in the US.  The proposed 10 percent hike in July, while unpopular, will be absorbed by commuters, who have no real choice in how to get to their jobs in NYC … assuming they don’t move.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:
Required by law 90 days before they go into effect, the public hearings on fare hikes will be cathartic but meaningless.  Think of them as political theater.  The CDOT will present the numbers, explain why the STF is running out of money and sit patiently as commuters yell and scream.  Then they will do what they must:  raise fares.

RAIL SERVICE CUTS:
Why is Malloy cutting off-peak weekday and all weekend service on the New Canaan, Danbury, Waterbury and Shore Line East lines?  Because, unlike the mainline, these lines are subsidized 100 percent by Connecticut, have lower ridership and are much more expensive to operate.

ECONOMIC IMPACT:
While higher fares are never popular, cuts in train service can be economically devastating.  Without daily trains, houses in communities like Wilton and Redding will be less desirable.  Property values will decrease, affecting local taxes.  Transit-oriented development dreams for communities in the Naugatuck Valley will be dashed.

FUTURE PROJECTS:
Not only is the Governor threatening fare hikes and service cuts, he’s freezing $4.3 billion worth of transportation projects across the state.  Forget about the new Stamford rail garage, Route 8 – I-84 “mixmaster” in Waterbury, the Barnum rail station in east Bridgeport, and hundreds of other projects.  There may even be a 15 perent staff cut at CDOT.  That means months or years of delays on these projects if and when money is ever found, making our state even less desirable for new business investment.

ROAD MAINTENANCE:
These cuts may even affect CDOT’s ability to plow our roads in the next blizzard, let alone fix the potholes and our aging bridges.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?:
It will be up the legislature to finally address STF funding.  None of the alternatives will be popular, especially in an election year.  But I’d expect tolls, taxes, and yes, fare hikes … all predicated on passage of a true STF “lock box” in November’s referendum.

If you’re as angry as I am, do something.  Call your state representative and senator and demand that they vote on new funding sources for the STF to stop these service cuts and project delays.  They created this problem.  Now they’ll have to solve it.

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media

Jim Cameron

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

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Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation Announces Scholarship Awards to 26 Lyme-Old Lyme Students

The Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation (RAHMF) has recently awarded scholarships to 26 Lyme-Old Lyme students.

As one of many supporting organizations in our towns, the RAHMF awards scholarships to instrumental students participating in Lyme-Old Middle and High Schools band programs. The 501(c)3 non-profit foundation was formed in 1999 after the retirement of Ruth Ann (King) Heller, who had a long-lasting impact on the district’s band program that continues to thrive today under the dedicated and talented efforts of Jay Wilson at the high school and Carrie Wind at the middle school.

Scholarships are exclusively for private lessons and paid directly to student-selected teachers. One-on-one instruction time provides a valuable opportunity for the students to develop their musical skills and subsequently enhance the quality of the band performances.

The RAHMF is celebrating 15 years as a non-profit organization. Over $50,000 has been granted to 310 students since its inception. These awards are merit-based.

The Foundation welcomes reader’s interest and, if possible, donations in any amount.

For more information, visit www.rahmf.org or email info@rahmf.org.

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Hear Sen. Formica, State Rep. Carney, Lyme & OL Town Leaders Speak at Business Breakfast Tomorrow

The Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Old Lyme are hosting a Business Breakfast tomorrow in Lyme-Old Lyme High School starting at 7:45 a.m.

State Senator Paul Formica, State Rep. Devin Carney, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Lyme Selectman John Kiker will be speaking on Behind the Headlines: What’s Happening in our Towns and State?  Each speaker will make a short presentation and then there will be a Question and Answer session.

The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Club at the high school will host the event at which a light breakfast will be served.

All are welcome and admission is free.  Please RSVP to email@lolcc.com or selectmansoffice@oldlyme-ct.gov so that the organizers have an idea of numbers.

 

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Welcome to Betsy Groth, our new ‘Family Wellness’ Columnist!

Betsy Groth

We are delighted to welcome Betsy Groth to our stable of writers today. She is an APRN, PMHS – BC and a pediatric nurse practitioner with advanced certification in pediatric mental health.  She is a counselor, mental health educator and parent coach in Old Lyme and will be writing a monthly column for us on ‘Family Wellness.’  

In this introductory column, she explains the background to her column and some of the subjects she will be covering. 

For more information about Betsy and her work, visit Betsy’s website at betsygroth.com

Family is defined by Merriam Webster as, “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also: any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family.” But we all know in today’s society, family is defined more broadly both theoretically and practically speaking.

Wright and Bell (2009) define family as a group of individuals bound by strong emotional ties, a sense of belonging and a passion for being involved in one another’s lives. There is usually a generational aspect to our definition of family and a sense of development over time. We think of families that are couples, families with young children, families with older children, families that have launched the younger generation, and families caring for aged members.

There is no universally accepted definition of wellness. It has been described as “… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” This state of being is a lofty goal for any individual or family!  But it can be a sought after goal, the “ball” on which we all keep our eye.

Development as an individual and as a family has some built-in challenges to wellness, in addition to the joys to be found at each stage. There are also some often unexpected challenges and struggles, such as illness in a family member, academic struggles, financial difficulties, strained relations within the family.

This monthly column will explore factors in family and individual wellness, and approaches to maintain the goal of optimal wellness. Topics will include stress and anxiety in children and adolescents (next month), caring for aging parents, coping with chronic illness, raising children in a competitive society, and adjusting to first time parenthood.

And of course, I am always listening to families and the areas that they would like addressed in these columns, so please drop me a line at betsy.groth.aprn.pmhs@gmail.com if there’s anything in particular you would like me to discuss.

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Republican Ziobron Joins Race for 33rd State Senate Seat, District Includes Lyme

State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) who has announced her candidacy for the State Senate 33rd District seat.

Republican State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) has announced her candidacy for the 33rd State Senate District a day after Democratic Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman (D) had announced his campaign for the same district. which includes the Town of Lyme.  This is Ziobron’s first run for a State Senate seat while Needleman ran unsuccessfully in 2016 for the 33rd District seat against then incumbent State Senator Republican Art Linares.

Linares is not seeking re-election in 2018 and has announced his candidacy for State Treasurer.

Ziobron is in her third term as State Representative for the 34th District comprising East Hampton, East Haddam and part of Colchester. Needleman is in his fourth as Essex First Selectman.

Ziobron explains in a letter to her supporters that her decision to run for the Senate seat represents, “a change in course,” so that she can rise to , “the greater challenge of serving as State Senator in the 33rdDistrict.” She notes, “This larger, 12-town district includes three towns I’ve been honored to represent — East Hampton, East Haddam and Colchester – and nine more in the Connecticut River Valley that I will be spending many hours meeting new friends and voters this spring.”

Ziobron says in her letter that the reason why she is running is simply, “Because I love the 34th State House District, and the CT River Valley Towns of the 33rd State Senate District, and our entire state – I want to see all of our friends and neighbors prosper.”  She mentions the challenges of the current budget situation and states, “It’s no secret we urgently need to address the state’s chronic over-spending!”

Laying out what she sees as the requirements of the incoming 33rd District State Senator, Ziobron writes, “We need a strong voice in the State Senate who: 1) is a proven fighter and has a reputation for putting their constituents first, fighting full-time for their small town communities, and 2) can immediately and effectively navigate the difficult legislative landscape, with the proven and dedicated commitment needed to focus on the budget, and 3) fights for fiscally conservative policies and has a record of implementing them, with bipartisan support, at the Capitol.”

Ziobron comments that she has, “thought a lot about one question,” which is, “How can I best help my state first survive over the near term, and then thrive over the long term?” She responds to her own question, “No matter which legislative chamber I serve, I will work to protect my district and offer the same high level of constituent service, and active community involvement – along with a laser-like focus on reducing wasteful and unneeded state spending,” concluding, “The bottom line: I can help more people in our state in service as your State Senator.”

Noting how well she knows the 33rd State Senate District, Ziobron describes it as, “an amazing treasure,” saying, “I’ve never imagined myself living anywhere else,” adding, “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to expand my many years of dedicated public service to this beautiful part of the state, I love.”

For more information on Ziobron, visit www.melissaziobron.com

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Host Budget Forum This Evening

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools are hosting a Budget Forum this evening, Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Education Conference Room at Center School.

All members of the public are invited to attend this forum and ask questions on the proposed 2018-2019 proposed school budget.

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Norm Needleman Announces Campaign for State Senate, 33rd State Senate District Includes Lyme

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman who yesterday announced a second run for the 33rd State Senate District.

Yesterday, Essex First Selectman and successful businessman Norm Needleman announced his campaign as a Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, promising to use his business and small town leadership experience to bring people together to get Connecticut back on track.

The seat will be vacant due to the incumbent Senator Art Linares (R) moving out of the District and announcing his candidacy for State Treasurer.

“Leading a small town and building a business taught me that the best way to get things done is to put people and their needs ahead of party politics,” said Needleman. “I respect taxpayers’ dollars because I know how hard you’ve worked to earn them.”

He continued, “That’s why as First Selectman, I brought Democrats and Republicans together, found consensus, solved problems, and kept property taxes among the lowest in the state without cutting services. If elected State Senator for the 33rd District, I will make a clean break from the decades of bickering and harmful policies that have come from Hartford, and I will get Connecticut working for the towns in our district.”

“As an elected town official, I’ve seen the work Norm does as the First Selectman of Essex,” said Colchester Selectman Rosemary Coyle. “Norm governs in a fiscally responsible manner, making sound decisions. His hands-on, small town government experience in the legislature will benefit our communities and help us build a brighter future for our children and families.”

Needleman, who campaigned for the seat in 2016, is currently in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman. He has over 20 years of experience advocating for his small town, having previously served as an Essex Selectman, a member of the Essex Zoning Board of Appeals, and a member of the Essex Economic Development Commission.

Needleman is also a member of the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, helping the 17 member towns coordinate various government functions. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Building a company from the ground up has given me invaluable experience on how to grow jobs and create a region where businesses want to start and thrive,” said Needleman. “I will be a State Senator who will create good-paying jobs in our towns and throughout Connecticut.”

Needleman founded Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company, 38 years ago. The company has grown to become a leader in its field, employing over 250 people. As a leading CEO in the region, he serves as a board member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Norm asks the right questions, and is willing to listen to all options,” said Centerbrook businessman and Clinton resident Gary Stevens. “I believe that with Norm’s insight into the way that a successful business (his) is run and considering the wasteful and unnecessary spending habits of the State, he could go a long way to make the government a more responsible entity.” Stevens, an unaffiliated voter who has known Needleman since the 1980s, owns Stevens Excavating, Inc. and has worked with Needleman on numerous projects.

The 33rd State Senate District consists of the Town of Lyme along with the Towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and a portion of Old Saybrook.

Needleman lives in Essex with Jacqueline Hubbard, the Executive Director of the Ivoryton Playhouse. His two sons and their families also live in Essex.

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Lyme-Old Lyme Lions Host Super Bowl Scholarship Breakfast This Morning, Features Braiden Sunshine

Old Lyme’s own Braiden Sunshine will perform at the Lions Scholarship Breakfast on Superbowl Sunday.

The annual Super Bowl ‘Scholarship Breakfast’ hosted by the Lyme-Old Lyme Lions promises yet again to be a lively and delicious event this year.

Scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 4, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. at the Lyme-Old Lyme High School cafeteria, this year’s breakfast hosts ‘The Voice’ superstar Braiden Sunshine, who will provide musical entertainment during the event.  Enjoy the Good News Clowns and their balloon creations, face painting and silly antics.

Meanwhile, the school’s award winning Techno Ticks FIRST Robotics Team 236 will also be on hand to demonstrate their new robotic creations up close … and personal!

pancake_breakfast

Feast on a hearty menu of blueberry pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, tater tots, fresh fruit, coffee and OJ. Door prizes include restaurant and salon certificates, and other items donated by local businesses.

During the event, the Lyme-Old Lyme Lions will conduct free, quick, non-contact eye screenings for people 2 to 92 years of age, using “Spot,” an instrument resembling a Polaroid camera. From a distance of three feet, “Spot” checks for six eye diseases, and within seconds it produces a detailed test report.  This state-of-the-art equipment is used in the new Lions’ PediaVision preschool eye screening program.

The Lyme-Old Lyme community is invited to participate in this fun event.  The annual breakfast is the Lions’ primary fundraiser for four $1,500 Lions’ scholarships awarded each year to deserving high school students resident in Lyme or Old Lyme.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $5 for children under 12.  For more information on Lions’ scholarships and the PediaVision program, visit www.lymeoldlymelions.org.

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