June 5, 2020

Work Starts on Lyme-Old Lyme Schools’ Tennis Courts, End Date Scheduled Early August

All photos by Mary Jo Nosal.

OLD LYME — Work on the six Lyme-Old Lyme Schools tennis courts at the central campus on Lyme Street began yesterday.

Superintendent Ian Neviaser told LymeLine, “We are installing post tension concrete courts over the old courts,” clarifying,  “No paving [is] involved.”

The work is being done by Classic Turf Company, LLC and is expected to be completed by early August at a cost of  $431,772.

Take a look at this video to see the construction in action.

 

Share

Peaceful Protest Held in Old Saybrook Showed Solidarity Against Police Brutality on African-Americans

Gathered in front the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, several hundred people listened to several speakers.  All photos by Alex Kratzert.

OLD SAYBROOK — Several hundred people of all ages from the local area, including Lyme and Old Lyme, turned out yesterday evening in Old Saybrook to hold a vigil.

State Senator Norman Needleman (D-33rd) addresses the crowd from the steps of ‘the Kate.’

According to a press release from the Town of Old Saybrook, the focus of the vigil was, “To standing for justice and show solidarity with citizens from all over the country as they protest police brutality on our fellow African-American citizens.”

One man’s powerful message.

Speakers at the event included State Senator Norman Needleman (D-33rd), Paul Formica (R-20th), State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd), Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., Maryam Elahi, President of the Community Foundation of Southeast Connecticut, and the Rev. Dr. Steve Jungkeit of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Reverend Dr. Steve Jungkeit (top right, wearing hat)) of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme speaks to participants at the event.

The group marched up and down Main Street and also gathered for remarks outside the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center for the Arts, known as “the Kate.”

Marching for a cause.

Almost all participants wore masks and social distancing was encouraged.

Signs were held high as the protesters crossed Main Street in Old Saybrook.

A second event is planned this coming Sunday, June 7, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Town Green at 302 Main Street when a peaceful protest and march for Black Lives Matter is planned.

The words on the placards spelled out the intent of the event.

Share

No Memorial Day Parade in Old Lyme This Year, Just a Small Cemetery Service — But Here’s The Homily From Mervin Roberts

This wreath was placed last year in front of the Memorial Stone in Duck River Cemetery. File photo by John Ward.

OLD LYME — There will be no Memorial Day parade in Old Lyme this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In our opinion, it’s a sad but sensible decision.

A small ceremony will be held at Duck River Cemetery at 11 a.m. when local veterans, representatives of the emergency services, and town dignitaries will gather to place a wreath by the Memorial Stone, which stands in front of the flagpole at the cemetery.

Those gathered there this morning will pay their respects, “To all who served and sacrificed so we could enjoy lasting freedom.” These are the words inscribed on the Memorial Stone along with these details, “Dedicated by American Legion Post 41, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1467, and the People of Old Lyme.”

Mervin Roberts, Chaplain of the Old Lyme Fire Department since 1960.

Mervin Roberts, who has served as the Chaplain of the Old Lyme Fire Department for 50 years, normally gives the homily towards the end of the service when the cemetery is packed with parade participants and onlookers.

There will be no crowd this year but before Roberts knew the parade was going to be cancelled, he had already prepared the homily. He anticipated this might be his final homily since he is feeling a little frail — we should add that Roberts is 98-years-young!

There is a possibility he will attend the ceremony this morning and read the homily, but since the majority of townspeople will not be there, a video has been made of Mr. Roberts reading the homily, which we are proud to publish below.

We have also received a copy of the text of the homily, which we are similarly honored to publish here (in italics):

As I review my previous Memorial Day homilies, I’ve come to realize that there is a pattern unfolding.  Taken together, they help to tell us why we are here again in this cemetery. I’ve had the occasion, and the challenge, to explore with you how and why we voluntarily meet here on this designated day to celebrate the lives and mourn the passings of preachers, teachers, siblings, parents, ancestors, neighbors, heroes, government officials, duck hunters, bird watchers, conservation commissioners, friends, lovers, spouses, artists, musicians, fishermen, cow farmers and others.

Truly a web of life.

There were people I knew who sometimes quit too soon and some who might have done better if they quit sooner. Perhaps it is our very individual differences that are a clue to our overall success as a species.  Certainly we are not all alike. In this world full of predators, parasites, and unforeseen diseases, if we were all alike, we would all have succumbed to whatever it was that struck.

But that has not been the case and somehow I suspect our fate lies elsewhere.

So let’s revel in glories of our various lives, our music and other arts, our religious faiths and, high on my list, our love for each other, for certainly what others have done for us should be an inspiration to all to keep up their good work. Here in Lyme and Old Lyme we have homes or resting places of so many people who lived here and left us with something to remember them by.  Let me mention a few in no particular order:  

  • Jim Noyes, who participated in beach landings in the Mediterranean In World War II, and  
  • Belton Copp, who left an arm in the Philippines, and 
  • Silver Star awardee Jack Appleby, and
  • Ezra Lee who was esteemed by Washington, and
  • Clara Noyes who drew thousands of women into World War 1 as nurses, and
  • Roger Tory Peterson, who helped us appreciate birds, and
  • Amy Henry, who taught hundreds of our children how history matters, and
  • E. Lea Marsh, who gave us whole generations of Borden Elsies.

They are not alone. 

From my own life, I would recount just one example.  My late wife Edith and I had born to us six children, the last being William John, named for one of his grandfathers.  Billy had Down syndrome. He was loving, kind, generous, sociable, and academically very limited. We could have had him live in an institution as was the common practice at that time, but instead we kept him home.  Here the Lyme Old Lyme Board of Education provided as much help as he could benefit from and, lo and behold, limited as he surely was, we, his family and our neighbors accepted him for what he was.

Now Dick and Jane Bugbee knew us. Dick and I were both duck hunters. Dick painted houses.  Jane taught piano. Although our homes were about one-half mile apart, Billy would occasionally meander over to visit Jane.  We didn’t take him there, or even show him the way or even suggest his movement.  He just found his own way and Jane would phone Edith that her son Billy was there having a cup of tea, and when he was through, Jane would see him start on his own way back home. 

No alarm of lost child, no social worker, no emergency, just Billy Roberts visiting for a cup of tea.  This is but an example of how this web of life worked for us. We certainly owe the people of Old Lyme our gratitude for everyone’s help. 

Incidentally, Billy was a strong supporter of the Old Lyme Fire Department and was elected an Honorary Member. 

On a personal note, I’ve been a member of this same Department since 1960, but now frail in my 98th year, I can no longer remain active as Chaplain. This, then, will probably be my last homily. 

I thank you for the opportunity to serve.

And to wrap up our coverage of this strange Memorial Day, visit this link to watch a wonderful video of the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Bands playing “Taps for Band” by Thomas Knox and Jari Villanueva. We assume the video was made during the time the school was closed and the students were following a distance learning schedule — a time that continues to this day.

Many congratulations to Band Director Joseph Wilson and all the students that participated in this excellent performance!

Enjoy … and have a very Happy (socially- distanced) Memorial Day!

Editor’s Note: Visit this link to read At Age 98, Mervin Roberts Looks Back Over 50 Years of Service as Chaplain of Old Lyme Fire Department written by Michele Dickey and published May 24, 2020 on LymeLine.c0m.

Share

Old Lyme Board of Finance Approves $38.8 Million Budget for 2020-21, Mill Rate Up 0.79 Mills

OLD LYME — On Monday evening, the Old Lyme Board of Finance unanimously approved the proposed $38,805,674 town budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting was held virtually using a WebEx platform with members of the boards of finance and selectmen, and also several members of the public and press participating.

This year in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont in Executive Order 7I waived the requirement for towns and school districts to vote on budgets by “any in-person budget adoption requirements,” including town meetings or referenda. The board of finance was therefore able to approve the budget with a vote of their members rather than hold the traditional town meeting at which the public votes on the budget.

Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell gave a Powerpoint presentation of the budget highlighting areas of significant change in both revenues and expenditures. He noted the budget was marginally lower than the one presented at the April public hearing due to Lyme-Old Lyme Schools reducing their total budget to $34.7 million at their final presentation. Based on the respective student population percentage  in each town, Old Lyme pays $27.7 million of the LOL Schools’ budget with the Town of Lyme paying the remainder.

Stating that although the proposed mill rate for the 2020-21 fiscal year of 23.2 represented an increase over the current year’s mill rate of 22.41, Russell noted that the town would draw $800,000 from its surplus to prevent a higher increase. He pointed out that although the town’s budget has decreased slightly this year over last year, the grand list has fallen significantly due to the recent revaluation.

There were no questions asked about the budget during public comment but Russell said he had a received a question by email from a resident of Stonewood, who wanted to know how the board might deal with the financial stress on households caused by the pandemic, which, in turn, could affect their ability to pay their property taxes.

Russell responded that the budget had been developed for the most part before the pandemic struck but the board had subsequently “picked some capital items out” of the budget, but equally they “don’t want them to pile up.” He said the board would be watching the rate at which property taxes are paid and “if we have to make modifications during the budget year, then we’ll do that.”

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold reminded residents that the board had agreed to a low interest rate of 3%  as proposed in an Executive Order by Gov. Lamont on delinquent property taxes from August through October. He noted though that the interest rate “snaps back to 18%” at the end of October.

Read a detailed report on the meeting by Mary Biekert and published in ‘The Day’ May 19, at this link.

 

 

Share

Lyme Board of Finance Approves $10.7M Budget, No Change to Current Year’s Mill Rate

LYME — The Town of Lyme’s proposed 2020-21 budget of $10,688,087 was passed unanimously Tuesday evening at a meeting of the Lyme Board of Finance, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Typically a town meeting would have been required to vote on the budget, but this year, in light of the COVID-19 situation, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont in Executive Order 7I waived the requirement for voting on town or school budgets by “any in-person budget adoption requirements,” thus leaving boards of finance free to pass town and/or school budgets by a member vote at one of their meetings.

After the budget was approved, the board of finance went on to set a mill rate for the 2020-21 fiscal year of 19.95, which reflects no change from the current year’s rate.

Asked by email after the meeting how he felt about the successful passing of the budget, Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Dan Hagan said, “The Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance did a great job developing a 20-21 budget that reflects the values of Lyme – strong support for education, open space, and fiscal responsibility.”

Share

Griswold Tells BOS “Beach Closures Accomplished What We Wanted,” Hopes Beaches May Reopen May 20

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold. File photo.

OLD LYME — At last Monday evening’s Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, First Selectman Timothy Griswold discussed the subject of the Old Lyme beach closures, which had been enforced the immediately preceding weekend and met with mixed reactions. He said, “I made a decision to close the [Old Lyme] beaches to the public. In talking with the president of Miami Beach [Association], he agreed Miami Beach should be closed too.”

The meeting was broadcast live as a telephone conference.

Griswold referenced the landmark Greenwich lawsuit regarding town beaches, which he said those involved in the decision had “looked at” and concluded it meant in the case of Old Lyme that they “had to close all town beaches.”  He noted the president of White Sand Beach Association had agreed with the decision.

Recognizing it was a “controversial decision,” he said that at the meeting he called Wednesday of representatives from the beaches and emergency services, the consensus was that primarily due to the sunny weather expected, “it would be pretty unwise to have business as usual at Sound View Beach” during the coming weekend.

He reported that “things went relatively well,” with only some “very minor violations,” and a Beach Ranger worked at White Sand Beach “instructing visitors that the beach was closed.” Noting he had met with the owners of the Sound View restaurants Kokomo’s and The Pavilion, Griswold said both had agreed to serve take-out only.

He emphasized his hope that these would be short-term closures and that the beaches might re-open soon.

He summarized the results of the closures saying they, “accomplished what we wanted … it would have been a real problem if we had done nothing.”

During public comment, Susan Kneen Way of Old Lyme asked if Griswold, “Would be willing to reconsider the closure of White Sand Beach and Hains Park” since beach-goers there and at Hains Park are required to have car hang tags in order to park. She noted “Since the private beaches have been advised to govern themselves, the rest of Old Lyme should be afforded the same opportunity.”

Griswold responded, “There are certain legal issues that govern these public beaches. It would be unusual to restrict them to town residents when the public itself can’t come to the beach.” He again referenced the Greenwich lawsuit, which he explained requires a town to consider “access to public beaches as access to a park.”

Kneen Way countered, “My understanding is that White Sand Beach is for town residents only, hence the requirement for hang tags.” Griswold responded, “Non-residents can acquire a beach pass — though not at the same rate,” adding, “It’s [White Sand Beach] not the exclusive domain of town residents.”

Saying that she has seen clear evidence on the beach at the weekend of  Old Lyme residents observing social distancing, Kneen Way did however stress to Griswold, “I understand your reasons for closing Sound View.”

Griswold concurred that, “We would very much like to have these beaches open, but I think with Sound View, there’s no good way of regulating that.”

He concluded, “Maybe on the 20th of May we’ll have some good news from the Governor, but meanwhile, we have to be really careful.”

Share

This Year’s Old Lyme Midsummer Festival Cancelled Due to Safety Concerns

Every summer the Old Lyme Midsummer Festival attracts thousands of locals and visitors. The decision to cancel the 2020 festival has just been announced.

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Arts District has just posted an announcement on their website, which states, “After much consideration, and with our first concern being the safety of our community, staff, volunteers, and vendors, the Old Lyme Arts District is cancelling the 2020 Old Lyme Midsummer Festival.”

The statement continues, “We recognize the Festival is a summer tradition eagerly anticipated by so many people (including us!). Thousands of people attend the Festival every summer and come from throughout the greater region. As much as we will miss you all and the midsummer excitement, we know the most important thing is protecting the health of our friends and arts family.”

With an eye on next year, the statement adds, “We are already thinking about the 2021 Festival,” noting, “2021 will also be the 100th anniversary of the Lyme Art Colonists opening their own gallery (known to us all as the Lyme Art Association.) Those artists persevered through World War I and the Flu Pandemic, creating art and in 1921 inviting the public to their new gallery to purchase and bring home treasures for their own walls.”

Concluding on a positive note, the statement reads, “We know our participating artists are creating art as we speak and we look forward to sharing it all with you – along with music, food, and fun purchases – next year. Each of our organizations will be opening as will be recommended under the Reopen Connecticut Plan. We look forward to seeing you all very soon. Stay well and stay in touch!”

Volunteer Festival Organizer Cheryl Poirier explained exclusively to LymeLine, “We also looked at the possibility that the Governor could allow for July large outdoor gatherings assuming safety measures were used. We researched how we could provide a safe Midsummer Festival with social distancing, masks, and other safety measures.”

She added, “We couldn’t guarantee at this time we would have available enough hand sanitizing stations, staffing to ensure frequent disinfecting of tables, handles, as well as other considerations. Realizing how difficult it would be to accomplish this, we decided the most prudent decision was to pause for a year and come back next year with the best procedures available.”

Share

Griswold Defends Decision to Close Old Lyme Town Beaches

This sign at Sound View Beach informs the public that the beach is closed. Photo by Caroline LeCour.

OLD LYME — “We don’t envision this as a long-term requirement,” stressed Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold in a phone conversation with LymeLine on Friday. He was referring to the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s decision to close all of the Old Lyme Town Beaches from yesterday and henceforward for am unspecified period of time. These beaches include Sound View, White Sand, and Hains Park.

Griswold explained the decision was taken in the middle of the week when he held a “roundtable” comprising representatives from Old Lyme Emergency Services and the Beach Associations. He noted that the matter had been discussed at the previous board of selectmen’s meeting but no vote was taken by the board at that time. Griswold added that Gary Fox, Miami Beach Association President, was involved in the discussion and “agreed it was wise to take this step.”

The view looking towards Miami Beach from Sound View Beach. Both beaches are closed to the general public. Photo by Caroline LeCour.

The consensus of the roundtable was that with “the first sunny weekend” anticipated May 2 and 3, the Town should “take a pre-emptive strike” to close Sound View primarily because it is a “destination” beach attracting many out-of-towners as well as local residents, causing it to become overcrowded.  Also, with the hot weather anticipated, Griswold said there is a likelihood that both Rocky Neck and Hammonasset State Park beaches may end up closed due to the number of visitors they receive. This frequently leads to visitors, who cannot access those parks after they have closed, “looking for somewhere else,” and coming to Sound View Beach instead.

Griswold explained the plan was to close off Swan and Portland Avenues and use them for exit only and keep Hartford Ave. open as the access road to the beach.  Saying “the town parking lot will be shut and metered parking coned off,” Griswold emphasized that the restaurants on Hartford Ave. could remain open for take-out, “provided, per the Governor’s order, customers do not consume the food on the premises.” A limited number of parking spaces for 30-minute periods will be left open for customers wishing to use the take-out option.

Police planned to place lighted message at key points on Rte. 156 and the I-95 exit ramps to advise people that the beaches were closed in advance of them arriving at the beaches.

A view of White Sand Beach in Old Lyme prior its closure this weekend in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo.

Justifying why the Town had to close White Sand Beach and Hains Park as well as Sound View, Griswold said, “If we close one beach, we couldn’t in good faith not close the others,” though he conceded, “[Old Lyme] residents would probably do a better job [of social distancing.]  He added, “There is obviously a diverse opinion about this,” noting the closures would not be necessary, “If it were not for the nature of Sound View, which is such a mecca.”

Stressing the decision to close the beaches was not a permanent one, Griswold said, “We’ll see how it goes.”

 

Share

Why Support LymeLine?




 

Olwen Logan, Publisher and Editor of LymeLine.com

LYME / OLD LYME — We have been covering community news in Lyme and Old Lyme since 2003 — that’s more than 17 years! During that time, our income has come exclusively from advertising and we thank sincerely all our advertisers over that time, but especially those who have placed their business with us on an ongoing basis for many years. These include The Ivoryton Playhouse, Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law, the Valley Railroad Company (which operates Essex Steam Train & Railboat), Lyme Art Association, and the Florence Griswold Museum.

Meanwhile, in line with our mission statement “to be an integral part of the fabric of the community that we serve,” we have never instituted a paywall on our site (unlike, for example, The Day) with the result that readers can access all parts of our site at no charge and there is no limit to the number of articles that anyone can read.

Also in keeping with our mission, we donate significant amounts of advertising to numerous local non-profits every year.

Now let’s look at the national picture for a minute — more than 2,000 newspapers have closed since 2004, including the former Main Street News and Pictorial Gazette, both of which used to serve us right here in Lyme and Old Lyme with well-researched community news. But remember you used to pay for them …

Although we do not charge to read LymeLine.com and still do not intend to introduce a paywall, it costs money to produce the news. First and foremost, reporters have to be paid. Quite simply, the more we invest in reporters, the better in every way the news is that we publish. We also have charges for software development, graphic design, marketing, web-hosting and a myriad of other operational and administrative expenses, which arise when you run a small business.

So spurred primarily by an enormous loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now turning to our readers for the very first time for financial support so we can continue our work while also expanding our pool of freelance journalists.

Please consider a donation of any size to support the continued production of Local, Independent, Online News here at LymeLine (and yes, we are members of the national LION Publishers organization!) You can make your donation a monthly contribution if you wish, in the same way that you perhaps subscribe to a newspaper.

If you prefer to send a check, then please make it payable to Shoreline Web News LLC and mail it to:
3307 Oberon Street,
Kensington, MD 20895

THANK YOU!

Share

Despite Wet Weather, Rousing Parade of Old Lyme Firefighters, Police, and Emergency Services Lifts Community Spirit

This onlooker watched intently as the firetrucks rolled by. Photo by S. Thompson.

OLD LYME — It may have been a damp afternoon but spirits were still high as Old Lyme’s Police, Fire and Emergency Service vehicles formed into a parade at Lyme-Old Lyme High School and then wound a route through the town. As one reader wrote, “The sound was deafening,” and another sent us a video to prove just how noisy (in a good way!) it all was.

The Hine family were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the parade. Photo by D. Coleman.

Horns were blaring, sirens were sounding and all the crowds gathered along the route were cheering.

Standing in the Lords Meadow neighborhood, Jay and Brandy Campbell and their children, Ryan and Emily, along with the family dog, Boomer, offered thanks to the emergency services, fire and policemen with a wonderful sign. Photo by D. Coleman.

The event gave an opportunity for reciprocal thanks from the community to the public and emergency service members for their support and vice versa. and from those latter to the community for all their support.

Old Lyme residents were out in force variously holding homemade signs of thanks, clapping and waving as the parade went by, and to quote Suzanne Thompson, who lives in Beach Farms, “Some tears were shed.”

Photo by S. Thompson.

Residents cheered enthusiastically when the emergency vehicles and fire-trucks came by on Shore Rd.

The parade moves along Ladyslipper Lane. photo by D. Coleman.

Thompson added enthusiastically, “[I’m] so glad they came by our neighborhood!”

A police car travels along Rte. 156 alongside the Beach Farms neighborhood. Photo by S. Thompson.

Watching the parade at the intersection of Sill Lane and Saunders Hollow Rd. (see photo below) were the McGlinchey family, from left to right, Tracy, Griffin, Carter and Brynn.

 Photo by D. Coleman.

Share

Happy St. George’s Day!

Today is St. George’s Day!

And for those who may not know, St. George’s Day is the equivalent for the English of St. Patrick’s Day for the Irish (and Americans!)

It has long been interesting to the author of this article (who happens to be English by birth) as to why St. Patrick’s Day is so widely celebrated in the US while St. George’s Day is just another day on the calendar.

St. George, (who incidentally is also the patron saint of Russia, Portugal, Georgia, Greece, Ethiopia and Palestine) is believed to have been born in Turkey in the third century AD and subsequently became a Roman soldier.  He rose up through the ranks of the Roman army, eventually becoming a personal guard to the Emperor Diocletian. He was executed April 23, 303 for refusing to deny his Christian faith and is buried in the town of Lod in Israel.

Centuries later, St. George’s emblem, a red cross on a white background, was adopted by Richard I (Richard the Lionheart) of England, who only reigned for 10 years from 1189 to 1199. St. George officially became the patron saint of England around 1348, after King Edward III established the Order of the Garter in his name.

But as every English schoolchild learns, St. George is most famous for slaying a dragon. The irony of George being both the patron saint of England and famous for slaying a dragon is that it is highly unlikely the gentleman ever visited England and almost certain that he never fought a dragon!

According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon. In order to get water, the inhabitants of the town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person to be sacrificed was chosen by lots. On the day that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed. However, he killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave the people of Silene access to water. In gratitude, they converted to Christianity. It is thought that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that included the sacrifice of human beings.

The English are not generally regarded as a very patriotic nation and in a recent poll, England was found to be the least patriotic country in Europe with only one in three citizens knowing the date of St.George’s Day. The St. George’s cross has, however, experienced something of a resurgence recently with the flag being used as a national symbol by fans of the English national football (soccer), rugby and cricket teams. At international matches, flags and scarves bearing this cross are worn and people paint it on their faces.

The red cross on the white background has been the official flag of England for centuries, but the Union Flag — more commonly known as the Union Jack — is a combination of St George’s cross, St Andrew’s cross (of Scotland), and St Patrick’s cross (of Ireland), is the national flag of the United Kingdom. Notably, Wales has no representation on the Union Jack.

April 23 is also supposedly both the birth (1564) and definitely the death date (1616) of the world-famous playwright William Shakespeare.  This day is also the anniversary of the death of the great English poet William Wordsworth (of “Daffodils” fame) on April 23, 1850.

Visit this link if you would like to hear the rousing battle cry from Shakespeare’s Henry V, which mentions St. George, and this one if you would like to learn more about St. George’s Day.

Share

Letter from the Editor: Big Changes at LymeLine with New Pricing, Ways to Donate, E-Newsletter Launch & More

To Our Readers:

Olwen Logan, Publisher and Editor of LymeLine.com

These are challenging times and our business — like so many others — is feeling the effects of major revenue losses due to advertising cancellations. We are therefore making some changes, which we hope will benefit all of us.

First, we are drastically reducing our advertising prices through June 30 for commercial businesses and changing the pricing structure completely for local non-profits. The reduction for commercial businesses is a full 50 % making our lowest rates just $25 per week or $75 for a month … plus we’re starting something completely new for non-profits.

See our New Pricing at this link.

Second, we have created a mechanism for readers to support our local, independent, online news business directly. Over the years, many readers have been kind enough to suggest we should do this but we have resisted. Now, however, in light of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our revenue and the fact that the online news landscape has changed dramatically in recent years with the vast majority of sites offering membership schemes and/or donation plans, it is time for us to change.

Find Out More About Why People Are Supporting LymeLine at this link.

DONATE HERE

Third, we are expanding our pool of freelance journalists. If you would like to join them, then email us with a summary of why you would like to write for us and a few writing samples.

Apply to be a freelance reporter for LymeLine.com here.

Finally, we have started an e-newsletter to deliver our Top Stories into your Inbox three times a week. The newsletter will be a work in progress — it will start fairly short but we’ll see how it evolves. Do join us on that journey …

Sign up for our newsletter here.

Thank you. Stay safe, stay home and remember, we’re all in this together!

Warmly,

Olwen Logan,
Publisher, LymeLine.com

Share

Lyme-Old Lyme BOE Agrees to Move Vote on $34.9M Budget to Next Meeting, Referendum Not Required This Year

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser. (File photo)

LYME/OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Board of Education (BOE) met last Wednesday in a virtual meeting to host a District Budget Hearing regarding the 2020-21 budget. This would normally be the final meeting at which the public could comment on the budget prior to it be the subject of district-wide referendum in early May. (There is a meeting the night before the referendum, but that one traditionally is a formality at which the budget is officially continued to a referendum the following day.)

As with so many things this year, the scenario described above has been changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Executive Order 7I, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont waived the requirement for towns and school districts to vote on budgets by “any in-person budget adoption requirements,” including town meetings or referenda.

The board of education can therefore vote on — and potentially pass — the proposed 2020-21 District budget at their next regular meeting scheduled for May 6, which will be held virtually. The boards of finance of the Towns of Lyme and Old Lyme can similarly vote on — and potentially pass — their proposed 2020-21 town budgets at a scheduled virtual meeting.

The LOL Schools BOE had scheduled a referendum for May 5 and the towns were planning Town Meetings later in May. The referendum has been cancelled and the town meetings will no longer be required in order to vote on each town’s budget.

The April 6 District Hearing was held as a Zoom meeting with all the board members online and members of the public also able to participate. It began with LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser making a presentation on the LOL Schools’ proposed $34,909,697 budget, which reflects a 0.5 percent decrease over the 2019-20 budget of $35,084,758 2020-21.

He stated the goals of the budget were to support the objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan by:

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

Neviaser ran through an Overall Budget Summary noting that the major significant decrease was in debt service, which is down 18.57 percent, while other decreases were present in employee benefits (5.36 percent), special education (5.5 percent) and administrative services (6.36 percent.) He said, “the budget pie looks like that of previous years,” with 40.8 percent of the budget allocated to Certified Staff, adding, “the breakdown has not changed drastically.”

Commenting, “We’ve been back to 1998,” Neviaser proudly stated, “This is the lowest budget increase on record.”

He summarized the major proposed program improvements as musical instrument replacement, social-economic learning (SEL) programming, updated materials for Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for Kindergarten through fifth grade and Smartboard replacement in the high school.

Finally he mentioned that proposed facility projects included in the budget were the replacement of three high school tennis courts ($240,000) and renovation of the Lyme School gymnasium ($435,000) and a special project to install a solar electric system at Center School, which would be funded by a Purchase Power Agreement. He also noted that he had recently heard it may be possible to add Mile Creek School to the project.

Old Lyme resident Mona Colwell had submitted seven written questions in advance, the first seeking clarification as to why the Per Pupil Expenditure had increased. Neviaser responded that this was a function of the drop in enrollment by 50 students between the 2016-17 and 2018-19 budgets. Colwell also asked why LOL Schools published rating had decreased. Neviaser said he assumed she was referring to the ‘Great Schools’ ranking and said it was “not accurate” and his staff were investigating the issue.

The third question related to pupil transportation costs and why they had increased by 26.9 percent. Neviaser noted the school district had previously benefitted from a $170,000 transportation grant which was no longer received, but also was about to start a new bus contract.

Colwell’s remaining questions related to why the board of education was allocated $400,000, why the expenditure on the tennis courts was higher this year, why non-certified salaries had increased and why $18,000 was being spent on a program to promote and enable foreign students to attend Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.

In response, Neviaser gave a detailed breakdown of BOE expenditures, which included $130,000 for purchased services, absence management, recognition banquets and background checks, and $85,000 for attorneys and licensing fees.

He noted the tennis courts was a planned expenditure and that there has been a change in the classification of non-certified staff, which affected that number. Regarding the amount planned to be spent on the foreign student program, Neviaser said unequivocally, “We will make money on that,” as a result of the tuition fees the district will receive from enrolled students.

Diane Linderman, BOE Chair, expressed her appreciation to all those involved in preparing the budget saying, “The administration has done an excellent job.”

The meeting closed with the board voting unanimously to move the vote on the proposed budget to their May 6 meeting.

Share

Car Parade During Shutdown Demonstrates Strength of Student, Teacher Bonds at Lyme School

The “Teacher Parade” comprising 35 vehicles winds its way through the streets of Lyme.

LYME — Describing it as “one of the most heart-lifting events that I’ve ever been a part of,” Lyme Consolidated School music teacher Melissa Rostkoski explained that the inspiration for the 35-strong car parade that wound through the streets of Lyme on Tuesday afternoon lay in social media.

She had seen a video-clip of a motivational car parade being held “nowhere round here” shortly after Lyme-Old Lyme Schools were closed March 13 due to the COVID-19 crisis and it started her thinking about trying to do the same thing in Lyme.

Rostkoski said she shared the video with her colleague and friend, Lyme School’s Physical Education teacher Bonnie Ambruso, and together they rapidly agreed, “We should do this.”

From there, the two teachers set out to enlist broad parental and faculty support for the idea and gain all the necessary approvals from the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, Police and Fire Departments. Rostkoski noted that after, “lots of back and forth,” a date was set and then the detailed planning really started.

Emily Reynolds, who has two girls at the school and also runs Lyme School’s Facebook page, was soon involved. She said, “I looked at all the Lyme School bus routes and developed a master route,” adding with a smile that it turned out to be an exercise that, “required a PhD in logistics!”

Another parent, Adam McEwen was soon on board and, in Reynolds’ words, “He tested the route,” and moreover, “… it worked!”

Stacey Leonardo, who is president of Lyme School’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and also a Region 18 Board of Education member, joined the effort and Reynolds described how Leonardo, “Put her graphic designs skills to work and developed a flier which we posted to the Lyme PTO pages and shared to all room parents to disseminate to the families.”

Fourth grader Lillian Reynolds expressed one of her concerns regarding the current school closure situation!

Reynolds said that, at that point, the parade concept had “really created a movement within the town.”

A few days prior to the event, Reynolds said, “Old Lyme Fire Department member Jarrod Flagg, who has children at Lyme School, reached out and wanted to help coordinate fire department support.

The Lyme and Old Lyme Fire Departments then went to work, and got drivers and firetrucks ready for the event.” She noted, “Jarrod was really committed to making this a special event for the kids.”

 

Keeping things in the family, so as to speak, the Lyme firetruck driver was Lyme School alumnus Will Firgelewski, pictured above, who graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School in 2005.

Finally, in the true spirit of community, the Old Lyme Resident Trooper contacted Rostkoski March 30 and said he too “wanted to be part of it” and would help take care of the safety aspects of the parade.

And so it came to pass that all the Lyme School teachers, Instructional Assistants and nurse, along with Principal Jim Cavalieri gathered in the Rogers Lake parking lot a little before 4 p.m. last Tuesday in preparation for the parade. The route had taken McEwen around a little over an hour when he tested it — this time it took more than twice that length of time.

The streets were filled — but always at a safe social distance — with children and parents holding wonderful, often amusing homemade signs, waving and cheering as the parade of cars filled with their teachers and support staff drove past.  In many cases, the cars were bedecked with balloons and the drivers regularly blew their horns.

Rostkoski said, “It made everyone incredibly happy.  There were definitely some tears.  It was very therapeutic for everyone. We wanted the kids to know that we miss them terribly and would much rather be in a building with them than driving by them.”

Reynolds added, “The turnout was extraordinary. The goal [of the parade] was really to remind all of these young people that even though we are all apart, the amazing teachers of Lyme School are here for them, care about them and will support them through this challenging time. It’s all about connection – we are wired to be connected and this parade achieved that; it made everyone feel part of this special community.”

Cavalieri commented, “My staff wanted to bring a little “normal” back into the students lives. Hopefully this was accomplished as we drove by the smiling faces of the students and parents. We wanted to give them hope during this time of uncertainty. All of the students want to be back in school with their teachers and friends. They just want life to be back to normal.”

Rostkoski was anxious to express her thanks to, “Everyone that made the parade flow so beautifully and kept it safe.”  Cavalieri similarly wanted to give, “A big thank you to the Lyme and Old Lyme Fire and Police for their support and guidance in making this parade so fabulous,” concluding, “We all want to be safe and remain healthy, but we all want to get back to what we do best … being in our classrooms and teaching the kids.”

Editor’s Note: We apologize that we do not know the names of all the students, teachers and parents in these photos. Please send us those details if you wish us to add them. And we received so many wonderful photos from the parade that, contrary to our normal policy of only publishing a limited number of photos with an article, we have published almost all of them!

 

Share

Old Lyme Board of Finance Denies Lyme Academy’s $15K Budget Request, Seeks More Info

File photo of the Chandler Academic Center, which comprises part of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. The France Foundation now rents 40,000 s.f in the buidling.

OLD LYME — At its regular meeting this past Tuesday (March 24), Old Lyme’s Board of Finance considered a budget request for $15,000 from the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. The meeting was held in the town hall but most board members called into the meeting, along with member of the press and public, to avoid the dangers of convening in person and spreading the coronavirus.

It soon became clear that board members were facing a problem in determining whether to approve the request because there was minimal supporting information explaining why the Academy needed the funds and how they were going to use them.

Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell noted that the only documents received by the board were a Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss statement for the Academy, each for a nine-month period. He mentioned that these showed total assets and endowments at $8.6 million with $1.8 million potentially owed to the University of New Haven (UNH).

Finance Director Nicole Stajduhar noted the Academy’s endowment was listed at $7.4 million of which only $1 milion is unrestricted and that, “The $1.8 million note [to UNH] is still there.” although Russell had commented, “There is an idea it may be forgiven if the property is sold outright.” Stajduhar also highlighted that it appeared the Academy’s $800,000 mortgage had been paid off, though it was not clear by whom.

Board member Bennett (BJ) Bernblum opened discussion of the request saying, “There are lots of questions in my view. These numbers don’t show an entity in dire trouble,” and concluding, “I personally am reluctant to make an award at this point.” He added, however, that he would be willing “to reserve the right” to allocate some monies to the Academy at a later date if more information were presented.

Alternate member Judith Read agreed with Bernblum, saying, “There’s not enough information to justify handing out a $15,000 grant to them.”

Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold was more conciliatory towards the Academy reminding the board the institution was no longer a college and its revenue would consequently be impacted by that situation. He noted the Academy was engaged in an ongoing process of developing a strategic plan, which was,”really a road map going forward,” and commented, “The burn rate through their funds must be extensive.”

Griswold mentioned that the Academy had leased part of its property to The France Foundation, but the Academy’s ability to enter into any further leases was restricted by Old Lyme’s Zoning Regulations, which require the Academy only to lease to educational institutions. He also pointed out that the Academy, like other non-profits, “May need an indication of our support,” in order to apply successfully for grants and other funds, but he conceded, “I guess we need to await something more concrete,” from the Academy in terms of supporting information for the request.

Board member Janet Sturges said she had met with Lyme Academy Interim Director Frank Burns and in the interview, he had conveyed, “Lots of promise … lots of hope,” causing Russell to remind the board, “They’re asking for $15,000. We could give them less.”

Bernblum followed up, saying, “One of the concerns is whether they’re staying in business,” but added, “I think it’s politically wrong to deny them. I would rather postpone.”

That compromise was well received but Stajduhar pointed out the board needed to award something at this point to be what Russell later described as “a placeholder.” Member David Kelsey proposed the board should award $1,000 to the Academy for the 2020-21 financial year and Russell emphasized, “There could be an additional amount,” if more information about the request were presented.

The motion was passed unanimously.

 

 

Share

Teleconference Explores How Lyme-Old Lyme Towns, Non-Profits Can Best Help Families in Need During COVID-19 Outbreak

LYSB Director Mary Seidner

Old Lyme Social Services Coordinator Jen Datum.

LYME/OLD LYME — UPDATED MARCH 19, 11:50am: In response to the current Coronavirus situation, Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) Director Mary Seidner and Old Lyme Social Services Coordinator Jen Datum hosted a teleconference Wednesday morning with all the non-profit organizations and social services in Lyme, Old Lyme and the local region involved in helping families in need during the widespread shutdowns prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The aim of the teleconference was to give the organizations an opportunity to discuss their current operations, needs, and concerns. After gathering the information shared during the teleconference, Seidner and Datum’s plan is to compile a resource directory for the citizens of Old Lyme and Lyme with the intent of sharing it widely.

Present at the meeting were representatives from:

  • Ledge Light Health District
  • Thames Valley Council of Community Action
  • Lymes’ Senior Center
  • Town of Old Lyme
  • Town of Lyme
  • Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church
  • Christ The King Church
  • First Congregational Church of Old Lyme
  • First Congregational Church of Lyme
  • Lyme-Old Lyme Schools
  • Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce
  • Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library
  • Mentoring Corps Community Development
  • 9-Town Transit
  • Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

LymeLine.com was also invited to join the teleconference.

Each agency or organization gave an overview of how its operations have been affected by the enforced and/or elective shutdowns due to the virus and how it is responding in the sense of adding or changing its services. A summary of the reports given by the individual agencies/organizations is at the foot of this article.

Old Lyme Emergency Services Director David Roberge then summed up all the responses, saying “There is a lot of commonality here,” noting that areas in which support was being given fell into five broad categories. These were

  • mental/emotional/spiritual support
  • logistical issues such as picking up prescriptions, groceries, meals, etc.
  • transportation challenges, i.e., getting to and from appointments, from one location to another, using buses, etc.
  • providing economic support to businesses suffering financial hardhip due to either enforced closure or a serious drop in traffic as a result of people either staying at home or being financially challenged
  • clear and comprehensive communication to Lyme and Old Lyme residents and businesses.

He proposed that all the organizations should “start co-ordinating, combine resources, and minimize duplication,” and went on to say that an email would go out after the end of the teleconference asking each organization to confirm details of what had been discussed. Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau will process all those responses to combine them into both written information and a website for general release to the public.  It is hoped that the website will be up and operational Wednesday or Thursday.

Seidner mentioned during the teleconference that some substantial philanthropic donations had been made to support individuals or groups that are experiencing hardship from the Coronavirus pandemic. She said a fund would be set up that she and the First Selectmen of Lyme and Old Lyme would manage in association with the Social Service Directors of each town. Details of the fund and how to donate to it will be given on the new website.

In a phone conversation after the meeting, Roberge expressed how pleased he was to LymeLine.com that three disparate groups, namely the Towns of Lyme and Old Lyme respectively, the youth of the two towns, and local non-profits have now all been successfully brought together through this teleconference. He noted that prior to this, each group, Town, or organization had been acting independently but now areas in which they can work together more effectively and efficiently will be identified and a plan implemented for those areas.

Roberge said he saw it as the first seeds of “creating a Task Force for the two towns that would serve the needs of the whole Lyme-Old Lyme community,” during this time of coping with the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Updates reported by each organization present at the teleconference:

  • Kris Magnusson of Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) reported that, as at the time of the teleconference, no cases of Coronavirus have been reported in New London County. LLHD has increased communications by phone and mail. LLHD has been maintaining situational awareness through weekly teleconferences with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CT Department of Public Health (DPH). They are conducting countless activities related to preparedness and communicating regularly with town leaders and community partners. Drive-through testing starting at L+M but only for those referred by their family physician.
  • TVCCA mentioned fuel assistance benefits have been extended through the spring. Utility shut-offs have been postponed indefinitely. Tax assistance is postponed for the moment.
  • Meals on Wheels continues.
  • Stephanie Gould reported that Lymes’ Senior Center is closed. All groups, programs, and activities at the Lymes’ Senior Center are canceled until further notice. The nurse will hold her regular 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Monday to Friday schedule to address senior needs. If readers call the Estuary by 11 a.m. on a Monday, they can pick up five frozen meals curbside at the Senior Center — no need to get out of the car. A donation of $3 per meal is requested and can be left in the trunk where it can be picked up by the volunteer placing the meals there. Frozen meals can also be picked up two at a time at The Estuary on Tuesdays/Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Amy Hollis from Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries has closed all meal sites but maintained their food pantry pick-up service. No registration is required – groceries will be brought outside to client.
  • Superintendent Ian Neviaser reported that Lyme-OldLyme Schools are closed for two weeks, though he anticipates the closure to last much longer based on the latest information he has received. The state of Connecticut gave permission Monday for schools to move to online distance learning.  LOL Schools are surveying parents to determine internet access/device availability and also lunch needs. Lunches will be available where needed from Thursday. LOL Schools are working to distribute devices to all 7-12 graders so that they can participate in distance learning. Neviaser noted things are moving very fast and the schools are keeping everyone informed as rapidly as possible.
  • Town of Old Lyme – all town buildings closed. Town hall operations are still functioning. Information is on the Town website about how to contact whoever you need in town government.  More at this link. 
  • Kathy Tisdale reported for the Town of Lyme – Town website has been reorganized around the Coronavirus emergency. All town buildings will be closed.  Selectmen have encouraged all meetings be postponed. More at this link. 
  • Joe Comerford said 9 Town Transit is still running a regular service.  Ridership was normal last week but is down 50 percent this week. May require service to be reduced, but Demand Response will continue regardless.
  • Bill Archer said Lymes’ Senior Center is empty, clean and ready to be used as a respite center.  A plan is in place to serve community members over 60 and/or those with special needs.
  • Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association has cancelled all visits. They are calling through their phone lists to check on people. Call Cindi Taylor at 860-876-0456 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. if you would like prescriptions picked up.
  • Local churches:
    • Christ the King – Bishop mandated that no further public masses should be held from Tuesday. The church is always open and updates are given on the website.
    • Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church – The office is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and the church is focussing on online resources.  The Priest-in-Charge said she thought it highly unlikely any Holy Week services wuld be celebrated this year.
    • Senior Minister Steve Jungkeit reported that First Congregational Church of Old Lyme has moved everything online, including giving services, having meetings, etc. , via Zoom. Teams of callers are calling each person in the congregation to reach out and “see what needs there are.”
    • Lyme First Congregational Church said all Sunday worship services are cancelled from March 22 onward. The pastor will post a modified worship service online on March 22.
  • Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Director Katie Huffman stated that the library is closed as is the book drop.  She requested patrons keep their currently borrowed books at home. Staff are working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and available for research needs, educational resources by phone.
  • Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce President Rich Shriver noted that some local restaurants have started take-out services and “certainly could use all of our support.”

Editor’s Note: Kudos to Mary Seidner and Jen Datum for getting everyone together at such short notice and also to all participants for the strong spirit evident universally to help and support all members of our Lyme-Old Lyme community to the greatest extent possible in this time of crisis. Many remarked on how forward-thinking and pro-active it was to hold the teleconference and move forward positively and efficiently from there.

 

Share

Selectmen Declare State of Emergency for Old Lyme

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold

OLD LYME — Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold called this morning to let us know that, at their meeting yesterday evening, the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen approved the declaration of a State of Emergency for the Town of Old Lyme. The immediate effect of the declaration is in Griswold’s words, “to keep the public at bay” [from town hall] meaning that the public will no longer have access to Memorial Town Hall from tomorrow onward.

Town hall staff will still be working, however, and reachable by phone and email.  People who need to conduct face-to-face business with a department must call that department to discuss whether they can schedule an appointment.

Griswold said tonight’s scheduled Old Lyme Board of Finance meeting would go ahead as planned but noted that the selectmen are looking into “a service to enable some meetings to be held probably telephonically,” in the future. He explained “the recording of the meeting could then be put online,” and that would “satisfy [Governor] Lamont’s recommendations” regarding not getting together in person for meetings. Griswold stressed, however, that boards, commissions and committees are being “encouraged to postpone” whenever possible unless “there is something they really need to meet for.”

Responding to a question as to why the State of Emergency was justified, Griswold said it gives the board “more flexibiility” and “the ability to take action without a meeting … more quickly and more unilaterally.” He added that it also enables volunteers, who becomes ill [from the virus] to claim Worker’s Compensation and significantly, allows the Town to have a “higher chance of reimbursement” if it spends any unanticipated monies during the crisis.

Asked what his message was to the residents of Old Lyme, Griswold urged them to “follow all the advice we’ve been hearing,” by “being sensible,” and “minimizing social contact with other people.” Saying, “I feel for small businesses and we’re really hoping there will be some relief for them from the Feds or the state,” he noted, “LYSB is going to assist where needed,” and stressed, “We’re all doing the best we can.”

Share

CANCELLED: Musical Masterworks to Present Complete Cycle of Beethoven’s String Quartets; Opening Concerts in Old Lyme This Weekend

The Ehnes Quartet will perform all 18 of Beethoven’s String Quartets over six concerts starting with three this weekend and three more in early May.

OLD LYME  — We have just learned from Musical Masterworks that out of an abundance of caution and concern for the wellbeing of their patrons, volunteers and staff, the board has made the difficult decision to postpone their Beethoven concerts originally scheduled for March 13, 14 and 15.

The board is in the process of scheduling postponement dates. Tickets for the March concerts will be valid for the new concert dates — to be determined and announced soon.

2020 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of  the remarkable, influential and prolific German composer Ludwig van Beethoven. 

To celebrate this major milestone, Musical Masterworks will present the complete cycle of Beethoven’s String Quartets in six concerts over two extended weekends in March and May at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. The first weekend will feature performances this coming Friday, March 13, Saturday, March 14, and Sunday, March 15, while the second weekend of performances will take place on Friday, May 1, Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 3. Each of the six concerts will include three of the 18 quartets that Beethoven composed meaning that every concert will have a different program.

Asked in an exclusive telephone interview with LymeLine.com why he had chosen these works to honor Beethoven’s 250th birthday, Musical Masterworks Artistic Director and acclaimed cellist Edward Arron responds, “These string quartets — 18 in all — are considered by many to be one of the most pivotal and profound body of work in the history of western art.” Describing them as, “a deeply rich body of work,” Arron explains that composition of the quartets spans Beethoven’s musical career, “dating back to when he was a young, robust composer in his late twenties to some of the very last pieces he wrote,” prior to his death at the age of 56 in 1827.

Arron notes that the complete cycle of quartets represents, “The arc of Beethoven’s storied life — both compositionally and personally — with each quartet being a marvel in its own right.” adding, “Each quartet takes on a life of its own,” while at the same time, “… revealing something about Beethoven’s life.”

The Musical Masterworks’ concert series celebrates the 250th anniverary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, pictured above.

Arron explains that the quartets divide into three different periods with the early group composed when Beethoven could hear clearly, the middle segment being the pieces written when the composer had suffered significant hearing loss and the late works comprising those composed when Beethoven was effectively completely deaf. It is believed he could only hear, in Arron’s words, “certain very loud noises and some [musical] notes.”

Emhasizing that these late works were “the group that changed the course of musical history,” Arron states emphatically, “Given what he was doing” combined with his physical challenges, Beethoven’s achievement with these quartets was, “an almost impossible feat.”

Asked to elaborate on the significance of these later compositions, Arron notes that, in many ways, they represent the critical transition between the classical and romantic eras of music. In this late period, he points out that Beethoven “abandoned the formal structures of Haydn, Mozart” and became “unconcerned with the conventions of harmony and phrase length,” creating “surprises” throughout the quartets.

Variously describing the works from Beethoven’s late period as “utterly sublime,” “compositionally marvellous,” and “filled with incredible components,” Arron went on to say he felt they were composed out of Beethoven’s “stream of consciousness” rather than any sort of “formulaic measure.” The composer added movements to the traditional four movements and created “purely masterful” music ranging from the “whimsical to the absolutely profound.”

How is Arron feeling about the challenge of presenting all of Beethoven’s String Quartets? He answers animatedly, “I’m incredibly excited about just living inside these pieces with an audience that I know and have a relationship with,” adding that he is fulfilling, “A long-time dream to do the complete cycle.”

Arron also comments that the First Congregational Church is “one of his favorite places to make music,” since its acoustics are “so warm, so precise,” and “Every detail we put across can be heard by the audience.” He says the stage fits a string quartet “perfectly” and due the intimacy of the space, “There is a palpable interaction between the musicians and the audience … an electricity.”

Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Edward Arron says that playing the complete cycle of Beethoven’s String Quartets is “a long-time dream.”

The cycle will be performed by the renowned Ehnes Quartet, which is comprised of Arron, and his internationally acclaimed colleagues, violinist James Ehnes (a two-time GRAMMY winner), violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti, and violist Richard O’Neill.  Arron describes the group as “the string quartet of my dreams,” noting, “We all share a deep passion for the [Beethoven] quartets.” The Ehnes Quartet is also performing the cycle at the Seattle Chamber Music Society: the first group of three concerts was performed in January and the second will be given in July.

In a departure from Musical Masterworks usual Saturday (5 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.) performances, Arron has added a Friday (7 p.m.) performance to both the March and May concert weekends.  The six concerts will not be presented in strict order of composition, but rather in a manner that, as far as possible, includes a quartet from each period in every concert.

When he took over as Artistic Director 11 years ago, Arron inherited a tradition of “Talking from the stage [immediately prior to a concert],” by way of giving an introduction to the upcoming music to the audience. He plans to do that before each quartet in these six concerts, but says, “My real goal is to create a bit of context,” adding with a chuckle, “I promise I’ll be a concise tour guide!”

Editor’s Note: To purchase a mini subscription ($100 each), a subscription to the Beethoven concerts or individual tickets ($40 adult; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

Share

‘After Alex’ by Boro of Old Lyme Selected for Inaugural ‘New Canaan Sculpture Trail’ Featuring Eight Outdoor Works

Gilbert Boro’s ‘After Alex 1/14’ has been selected from a large field of entries as one of the eight sculptures comprising the New Canaan Sculpture Trail.

OLD LYME — The New Canaan Land Trust (NCLT) and the Carriage Barn Arts Center recently announced the eight artists whose work has been selected for their ‘first of a kind’ outdoor public art exhibition, the New Canaan Sculpture Trail. One of those selected from the more than 70 submissions made is Gilbert Boro, whose residence and studio are both located on Lyme St. in Old Lyme.

Asked how he felt about his selection, Boro told LymeLine, “We are excited and, of course, honored to be participating in the New Canaan Sculpture Trail. Their goal is to connect audiences in a united call for creativity, innovation, and ambition as a way of recognizing the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.” He added, “Considering the environmental, social and political disorder all about us, I believe that these public art displays bring some semblance of beauty to all of us who take the time to look.”

Sculptor Gilbert V. Boro in his Old Lyme studio.

Boro’s work selected for the Sculpture Trail is After Alex I/14, which Boro describes as, “a hanging, kinetic sculpture made of welded stainless steel and highly-polished stainless steel spheres.”  He notes that the piece is inspired by the works of Alexander Calder and “is one of a series created during a surge of activity titled, “Balls, Beams, and Curves.”

Expanding further on the series, Boro explains that these sculptures were designed and fabricated in his studio over a period of nine to 10 years and can be installed indoors or outdoors.  He points out, “These kinetic sculptures are constructed to take advantage of the principle of equilibrium – a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced,” adding, “The mirrored spheres have many meanings for me as an artist.”

A firm believer that “three-dimensional art should be handled, touched, and experienced in three dimensions,” Boro’s four-and-a-half-acre sculpture grounds adjacent to his studio at 80-1 Lyme Street, known as Studio 80 +Sculpture Grounds, offer free admission to the public year-round and offer the opportunity for all visitors, in Boro’s words, “to not only view my art, but touch and explore it.”  He says with passion, “It brings me great joy to watch people of all ages interacting with my sculptures.”

When asked to comment further on the specific piece chosen for the New Canaan Sculpture Trail, it is therefore no surprise in light of his personal philosophy that Boro says, “Most importantly, the viewers of the sculpture become part of the spheres, and thus, in turn, become a dynamic part of the space and subject material.”

The New Canaan Sculpture Trail will feature the selected outdoor sculptures at six New Canaan Land Trust preserves, the front lawn of the New Canaan Town Hall, and the courtyard of the Carriage Barn Arts Center. The four-month exhibit will run from April 1 through July 31, 2020, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which takes place on April 22. An Opening Celebration for the New Canaan Sculpture Trail will be held Saturday, April 25, at the Carriage Barn Arts Center.

The Exhibition Advisory Committee evaluated the submissions on their ability to respond to the scale, geography, and context of the properties and meet the criteria of being visually engaging, interactive, and distinctive. The committee included Hilary Wittmann, Executive Director of the Carriage Barn Arts Center, Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Thea Lanzisero, President of the Sculptors Guild, and Aaron Lefland, Executive Director of the New Canaan Land Trust.

“We are thrilled by the caliber and number of the submissions that we received,” commented Wittmann. “We believe the Sculpture Trail’s range of works and artists will draw both New Canaan residents and visitors alike to this inaugural exhibition.”

Artists throughout the New York metro area, New England, and as far as Illinois submitted the selected sculptures. The mediums of the planned sculptures range from a series of steel frames holding acrylic sheets, welded steel, wood, rocks, and even a fallen, “upcycled” tree harvested from one of the Land Trust’s preserves.  

Aaron Lefland elaborated: “Connecting audiences to art and nature on our preserves is a wonderful way to recognize the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. We are overwhelmed by the number of submissions and the diversity of the sculptures.”

Apart from Boro, the artists selected to participate are Thomas S. Berntsen of Norwalk, CT; Joe Chirchirillo of North Bennington, VT; Carlos Davila of Bridgeport, CT; Christopher Kaczmarek of New York, NY; Elizabeth Knowles of New York, NY and William Thielesen of Illinois; Anthony Heinz May of Brooklyn, NY; and Matthius Neumann of Brooklyn, NY.

The New Canaan Sculpture Trail has been made possible by the generous support of Harlan and Lois Anderson Foundation, who serve as the lead sponsor for the exhibition. Their sponsorship, along with three contributing sponsors — Stuart Higley Family Foundation, AP Construction, and the Town of New Canaan — will help cover the costs of artist stipends, property preparation, maintenance, and promotional expenses.

Editor’s Notes:
For more information about Gil Boro, visit www.gilbertboro.com  For more information about the New Canaan Land Trust, visit www.newcanaanlandtrust.org  For more information about the Carriage Barn Arts Center, visit https://carriagebarn.org

 

 

Share

See “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” Tonight at Lyme-Old Lyme HS

In this rehearsal photo, J. Pierrepoint Finch, played by Tova Toriella, plans her strategy on a swing. All reheasral photos by B. Cheney.

LYME-OLD LYME — Lyme-Old Lyme High School’s (LOLHS) talented students will perform the musical, “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” by Frank Loesser this evening, Thursday,Friday and Saturday (Feb. 6, 7 and 8) with shows at 7 p.m. and a matinée on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Brian Cheney is serving as Stage and Music Director for the production.

Professional opera tenor Brian Cheney, who lives with his family in Old Lyme where his daughters attend Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, directed last year’s show, Anything Goes, but this year is serving as both Stage and Music Director of the production. He kindly took time out of his hectic schedule to talk with LymeLine about the upcoming show.

Asked first to describe the show, he said, “It’s a great musical comedy with an unbelievable score, adding, “I am thrilled with the work the students have put into the show.”

Cheney noted “It’s a very special production with some surprises. One is that we have a local celebrity making a cameo appearance as the Book Voice, LOLHS’s very own Bill Rayder!” Physical Education teacher Rayder is in his 45th year at the high school but Cheney commented, “This show actually marks his musical theater debut of his multi-decade career!”

Apart from the involvement of Rayder, the LOLHS version of “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” has a few other twists compared with the original show, which was launched on Broadway in 1961 and garnered numerous awards.

Cheney described how, “J. Pierrepont Finch (played by Tova Toriello), a young but bright window-cleaner buys a book titled, “How To Succeed In Business,” and, following its advice, joins the multi-national but poorly-connected World-Wide Wicket Company (WWWC). Starting from the mail-room, she rises to Vice-President in Charge of Advertising using sneaky and dubious ways so that the person immediately senior to her is either fired or moved to another section of the company.”

An all-action shot from one of the many rehearsals.

Cheney noted that, to complicate matters, Finch also starts slowly falling in love with secretary Reginald Pilkington (played by Michael DeGaetano.) Meanwhile, the president of the WWWC, J.B. Biggley (Jonathan Hamilton), in Cheney’s words, “tries to have an affair with the drop-dead gorgeous bubble-head Hedy LaRue (Jacqueline Malizia.)”

Trouble starts though, says Cheney, “… when LaRue becomes a weapon used both by Finch and Bud Frump (Biggley’s brattish and annoying nephew played by Jean-Luc Buldoc), who firmly believes that he should get all the breaks … and not Finch.”

Members of the cast rehearse one of the musical numbers.

So what happens? Does Finch rise to the top or does it all go down in flames?

Well, you’ll have to see the show to find out — no spoilers here! Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and can be purchased at this link or at the door … if there are any remaining.

Share