October 19, 2021

Desperately Seeking Drivers: National Shortage of School Bus Drivers Impacting Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

The sign says it all.

LYME/OLD LYME — Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser sent out an email Sept. 22, to the school community in which he stated, “There is a national shortage of bus drivers.”

He went on to urge, “… individuals who would like to drive for our [the company which runs the school buses for LOL Schools] bus company, M&J Bus, Inc.,” to consider applying for a position.

Neviaser linked his email to a statement from M&J Bus Inc., which reads as follows:

The Covid 19 pandemic has ravaged the school transportation industry. There is a nationwide shortage of school bus drivers and Connecticut has been hit especially hard. We are seeking potential drivers to become licensed to transport school children. We are also seeking licensed drivers, who would like to earn up to $5000 in signing bonuses.

Many of our current employees, started out driving school buses because they were parents of pre-school or school-aged children and it was a way for them to supplement their family’s income and still be with their young children.

We also have many semi-retired persons that were originally looking for part-time work to stay busy, and college students earning money to get through school. Some of those parents are still with us after 20, 30,and 40 years or more.

Sadly, many of the semi-retired are becoming the fully retired.

We are hoping you see yourself in the descriptions of our drivers above. We offer a full comprehensive training program for those who are not yet licensed. Parents can bring their pre-school aged children (and school-aged children) on the bus with them (thereby saving on day care).

If you would like to drive for the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, please call our main office in Old Saybrook CT, toll-free at
1-877-GO-MJBUS (1-877-466-5287) or, if local to Old Saybrook, at 860-388-6782.

Editor’s Note: For more information about M&J Bus, Inc., visit their website.

Suisman Shapiro Atty. Kyle Zrenda Now a Member of Mohegan Gaming Disputes, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Courts

Attorney Kyle Zrenda of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law.

NEW LONDON/OLD LYME — Attorney Kyle J. Zrenda of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-At-Law was sworn in Aug. 11 as a member of the bar of the Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court. Atty. Zrenda is a resident of Old Lyme, Conn.

As a sovereign Indian Nation, cases related to the gaming enterprise of the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut, including claims for personal injuries that occurred at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino, often need to be brought in the Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court.

Atty. Zrenda is also admitted to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court, which is the tribal court for cases arising from personal injuries that occurred at Foxwoods.

Commenting on his recent admission to Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court, Attorney Zrenda said, “I am excited for the opportunity this new license presents to expand Suisman Shapiro’s tribal law practice and to protect the interests of those working at and visiting the Mohegan Sun.”

Editor’s Note: If you have been injured at either of Connecticut’s resort-casinos, contact Suisman Shapiro for a free consultation to help you navigate the complex legal issues involved with claims arising from injuries that occur on tribal lands.

Greg Shook, Essex Savings Bank President & CEO, to Retire July 31 After 47-Year-Career

Gregory R. Shook, who is retiring as President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, after 22 years  at the helm.

OLD LYME/ESSEX — Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, will retire after 22 years at the helm and a career spanning 47 years in banking. He is the longest serving president and CEO in Connecticut and will retire on July 31.

A Westport, Conn., native and  Madison resident, Shook began his career as a management trainee in 1974 in a  subsidiary of Philadelphia National Corporation, Signal Finance and Mortgage, Fairfax,  Va. He managed their Cleveland office and then became a Vice President at State Home Savings in Bowling Green, Ohio.

In December 1984, he joined First Federal Savings of Madison, Conn. In 1987, he joined Branford Savings Bank where he rose to  Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary and was named Interim President and CEO where he found a right’s offering used for manufacturing companies to successfully raise capital to support the bank’s continued existence via a 1991 stock offering.

Highlights of his career include being elected by his peers and serving five years as a Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, a $62 billion bank, from  2015 – 2019. He was also appointed to serve on the first two years of the Federal Reserve of Boston Community Depository Institution Advisory Committee (CDIAC)  mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act to provide input from Banks under $10 billion to the Federal Reserve system.  

Professional associations have included the Connecticut Bankers Association, legislative committee, executive committee and the American Bankers Association Mutual Institutions Advisory Committee. He serves on the Board of Essex Savings Bank and Essex Financial Services. Following his retirement, he will continue to serve on the  Essex Savings Bank Board of Directors.

He is a corporator of the Middlesex Health  Care System (parent of Middlesex Hospital). He is also on the advisory committees of  the Community Music School and the leadership counsel of the Middlesex Coalition on  Housing and Homelessness.  

In 2011 Shook received the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Distinguished  Citizen Award and was elected Chairman in 2016 and continues to serve on its Executive Committee and its Board of Directors.

He has been recognized by numerous organizations for his dedication to community service and has served on non-profit boards and advisory committees. He was a finalist in the New England Division of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program in 2009. He has been a featured speaker for a variety of seminars and radio shows.  

During his tenure, Essex Savings Bank grew its assets from $110 million to over $525  million, expanded its physical footprint from four to six branches, participated in the  growth of assets under management or administration of Essex Financial Services from $700 million to $3.2 billion and Essex Trust from a de novo to $871 million and has  rolled out new technology and capabilities leading the Bank through the pandemic.

He  is the 17th President since 1851. The Bank is currently celebrating 170 years of service and trust to the community.  

Shook commented, “The best part of Banking is building long term relationships and I am so appreciative of  everyone’s support and trust over the years. I am extremely proud of what we’ve been  able to accomplish together for both our customers and the communities in which we serve. It has been both my great privilege and honor to work with so many dedicated  and talented people – the absolute best.”

Looking to the future, Shook said, “I am confident that Essex Savings Bank will continue to garner new relationships and remain an outstanding business serving the  personal and business banking, trust and investment needs of the community. On Aug. 1, I am pleased to turn the business over to Diane Arnold, formerly our Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer as she will be our 18th President and CEO,  who is poised to lead this business to new heights.”

During the month of July, Shook will be looking forward to wishing many of his customers, friends and colleagues a fond farewell as he embarks on his next voyage.  

Editor’s Notes: i) This article was prepared from a press release issued by Essex Savings Bank.

ii) Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with  six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Division, Essex Trust and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc.

Old Lyme Town Attorneys Suisman Shapiro Name New Managing Partner, Welcome Two Attorneys  

Atty. Eric Callahan of Old Saybrook is the newly-appointed Managing Partner of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

NEW LONDON/OLD LYME — Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law has announced that Eric W. Callahan will serve as the firm’s next  Managing Partner. Callahan joined the firm in 2004 and was elevated to Director in 2011; he was  unanimously appointed to the top leadership position by the board of directors on May 3.

The firm is also  pleased to announce the addition of two new lawyers, Laura A. Raymond and Samuel M. Nassetta, who will  practice in the firm’s litigation department.  

“Eric Callahan is a skilled attorney and demonstrated leader who embodies the institutional values of Suisman  Shapiro and will effectively lead our law firm into the next generation,” said John A. Collins, III, of Old Lyme, former Managing Partner of the firm.  

“We are pleased to welcome Laura Raymond and Sam Nassetta to our litigation team. These new hires  demonstrate the firm’s enduring commitment to outstanding client service,” Eric W. Callahan added. 

Eric W. Callahan, an Old Saybrook resident, concentrates his practice in the areas of business law, municipal law,  commercial transactions and real estate law. Attorney Callahan also practices appellate law and has successfully  briefed and argued numerous appeals before the Connecticut Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme Court.  

Since 2013, Eric Callahan has been recognized by Super Lawyers for his work in business and corporate law; no  more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected for this honor. 

Laura A. Raymond will focus her practice on general litigation including municipal, commercial and personal injury  law. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2018 where she  was the Articles Editor for the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal. Attorney Raymond resides in Norwich and  previously worked as an attorney representing clients in complex medical malpractice, products liability, multi district litigations, premise liability, workers’ compensation, and bad faith actions. 

Samuel M. Nassetta received his J.D. from the Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2020. During law school, he  served as a Legal Aid Intern for the Columbus House Shelter in New Haven, CT, where he worked with clients on  custody cases and misdemeanor charges. He also interned with the Division of Public Defender Services in New  London, Stamford and New Britain courts. Attorney Nassetta lives in New London and was admitted to the  Connecticut bar in December 2020. He represents criminal, employment and workers’ compensation clients. 

Suisman Shapiro is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut, serving the community for over 75 years with a  wide range of legal services. 

Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law is located at 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591, New London CT 06320 For more information, visit www.suismanshapiro.com or call (860) 442-4416

Big Y Withdraws Application for Gas Station/Convenience Store on Halls Rd., But Another Similar Application May be Planned Nearby

The site of the proposed Big Y Express at the western end of Halls Rd. in Old Lyme.

OLD LYME — In a letter dated May 10, addressed to Rachel Gaudio, Chairman of Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission, Ryan Scrittorale, PE, Project Manager at Benesch requested the commission to withdraw the application made on behalf of his client, Big Y Foods, Inc. for the “development at 99 Halls Rd. and 25 Neck Rd.”

The proposal was for a 2,100 sq. ft. convenience mart and a gas station on a site surrounding Essex Savings Bank that is currently vacant and partially cleared. The application stated that the fuel system consists of six dispensers under a protective canopy and two double wall fiberglass underground fuel tanks with electronic monitoring.

Scrittorale’s letter states, “Big Y Foods, Inc. has prided itself on being a Neighborhood Supermarket and is vested in the community of Old Lyme.”

5/12 UPDATE: We are now hearing via a social media post that a Letter of Intent has been signed for the purchase of 100 Halls Rd. with a view to submitting a proposal to construct a gas station/convenience store on that site  We contacted the person, who wrote the post, to verify it. The person does not wish to be identified in this article but states their  source is ‘reliable.’

100 Halls Rd is immediately opposite the 99 Halls Rd./25 Neck Rd. discussed above. If traveling up Halls Rd. from Lyme St., 100 Halls Rd. is the blue building on the left-hand-side of Halls Rd. where it meets Neck Rd. The Big Y proposal was for the right-hand-side of Halls Rd. at the same location. 

We will publish more information as we obtain further details.


Registration Open at Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center for Variety of Summer, Fall Programs

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center (OLCLC) at 57 Lyme St. is opening enrollment for the following programs:

Preschool/Kindergarten Summer Experiences: (June 28 -Aug. 6)

A six-week summer program open to children ages 3-6. Families can sign up for any amount of weeks, but programs are limited to 16 per week.  

Each week has a different theme, and events and activities will revolve around that theme.  Themes include: gardening, camping, construction, water fun, zoo and the Olympics. Reading and mathematics are built into all themes, and younger students will be provided with a rest time each day. 

There is also an option of before and/or after care for families who work. 

Programs are filling up quickly, so send your registration paperwork in ASAP. The cost per week is $300.00 for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. care.  


Registration is now being accepted for enrollment into the following programs:

Infant Program:  Six (6) weeks to twelve (12) months

Transition program:  Twelve (12) months to two (2) years

Toddlers:  Two (2) years to four (4) years

For more specifics and to receive OLCLC registration forms, email: office.olclc@gmail.com

Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands Commission Continues Public Hearing on Big Y’s Controversial Gas Station/Convenience Store Proposal to Next Month

The site of the proposed Big Y Express at the western end of Halls Rd. in Old Lyme. Map courtesy of the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee.

OLD LYME — Around 50 people joined Tuesday’s Public Hearing for the proposal presented by Big Y Foods for a gas station/convenience store at 99 Halls Rd. and 25 Neck Rd., which was hosted Tuesday via Webex by the Old Lyme Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission (IWWC).

According to the application submitted to the IWWC, the proposal is for a 2,100 sq. ft. convenience mart and a gas station on a site surrounding Essex Savings Bank that is currently vacant and partially cleared. The application states that the fuel system consists of six dispensers under a protective canopy and two double wall fiberglass underground fuel tanks with electronic monitoring.

The IWWC’s role is to assess whether there is potential for significant impact to the watercourses located on the property proposed for the development. Commission Chairman Rachael Gaudio stressed both at the Feb. 23 meeting of the IWWC and at this meeting that it is not under this commission’s purview to consider zoning, planning or traffic matters.

The Commission had received written responses from the project engineer for the applicant, Ryan Scrittorale, PE, of Alfred Benesch & Co. to comments by the IWWC engineer Thomas Metcalfe and soil scientist Eric Davison of Davison Environmental. These have been published on the Town website at this link.

Since Martin Brogie, of Martin Brogie, Inc., the applicant’s soil scientist, was not able to attend the meeting due to being hospitalized for COVID, the applicant’s attorney, Robin Pearson, requested that the hearing be continued until next month.

The commission heard testimony from Dr. Michael W. Klemens, who has a PhD in Ecology/Conservation Biology. He was introduced by Marjorie Shansky, the attorney representing the intervenor at  85 Halls Road, LLC.

Krewson said that a major problem he was facing in terms of assessing the environmental impact of the proposed project was that “We don’t know where the boundary of the vernal pool is … we need to understand where the vernal pool is … to determine what is present in the vernal pool.” He noted that the most recent data available is from 2006, but emphasized, “There needs to be a lot more detail.”

He noted, “Wood frogs are a unique and special case. They are actually involved in nutrient recycling,” adding, “We need to see robust data on biodata.” Klemens said he would assume, “The majority of the migration comes from the north,” but stressed again, “We need to know [what is at the vernal pool.]”

The owner of the adjoining property Brain Farnham at 29 Neck Rd. responded to comments that he was not permitting access to his property to inspect the vernal pool. He said, “There are diucks in that pond. It’s their breeding season. That’s why I’m resisting people walking on my property.”

Gaudio countered that, as someone who had obtained two bachelor’s degrees, one in Biological Sciences and the second in Wildlife Conservation and Mangement, prior to attending law school and receiving a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy, she understood Farnham’s concerns. She stated, however, “I don’t think a scientist would go out and be a big impact [on the property or duck nests],” noting the inspection would primarily involve walking around the edge of the pool and looking for evidence of wildlife.

Chairman Gaudio agreed to continue the hearing until Tuesday, April 27, at 6 p.m., when it will be held again via Webex. She urged all parties, including members of the public, to submit any further comments by the end of the day on April 26.

The Public hearing will likely be closed on April 27, but the IWWC will not necessarily vote on the proposal at that meeting.

Editor’s Note: The full Minutes of the meeting have now been published on the Town of Old Lyme website at this link.



Old Lyme Brokerage Manager Heather Gagnon Named William Pitt–Sotheby’s Realty ‘2020 Manager of the Year’

Heather Gagnon of Old Lyme has been named William Pitt-Sotheby’s 2020 Manager of the Year.

OLD LYME — William Pitt – Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty today announced that Heather Gagnon, manager of the firm’s Old Lyme, Conn., brokerage, has been named the company’s 2020 Manager of the Year.

Gagnon was chosen from among 17 brokerage managers for the honor, winning the award for the first time in her career with the firm and after only one year in the role of Brokerage Manager.

“I am proud to announce Heather Gagnon as our Manager of the Year, an honor well deserved,” said Paul Breunich, President and Chief Executive Officer of William Pitt – Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.

He continued, “Her skillful approach to disciplines such as training, coaching, business development and social media has enabled her to offer unparalleled support to her agents, helping them in turn to provide the highest level of service to buyers and sellers, as well as target high net worth clients.”

Asked how she felt about receiving the award, Gagnon told LymeLine.com exclusively, “This is such a great honor.”

With 20 years of expertise in real estate, Gagnon took over the position of Brokerage Manager in Old Lyme in March 2020. Since that time she has grown the office by attracting top talent in New London County, including some of the highest producing agents by dollar volume county-wide.

Gagnon first joined William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in 2016 as the Director of Business Development for the firm’s Connecticut Shoreline offices, specializing in training and coaching agents to increase their production levels.

She was promoted to Assistant Manager for the Essex and Old Lyme brokerages in 2019. In that role she helped grow market share and developed a new agent training program that resulted in the offices achieving status as the top producing brokerages company-wide for new to business agents for two years in a row.

Gagnon additionally owns a real estate school in Connecticut that focuses on educating future real estate professionals throughout the state.

Editor’s Notes: i) This is article is based on a press release issued by William Pitt – Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.
ii) Founded in 1949, William Pitt – Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty manages a $5.9 billion portfolio with more than 1,100 sales associates in 26 brokerages spanning Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Westchester County, N.Y. The company is one of the largest Sotheby’s International Realty(R) affiliates globally and the 37th-largest real estate by sales volume in the United States. For more information, visit williampitt.com.

Kristi Kelly of Old Lyme Named a Director of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys

Attorney Kristi D. Kelly of Old Lyme.

OLD LYME — Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law has announced that Attorney Kristi D. Kelly of Old Lyme has been named a Director of the Firm, effective Jan. 1, 2021. Roger T. Scully, III, of East Lyme was also named a Director in the same announcement.

“We congratulate our new Directors on this well-deserved professional achievement,” said Robert G. Tukey, Managing Director of Suisman Shapiro. “Hard work and dedication deserve recognition; both Kristi and Roger have demonstrated commitment and leadership within the firm and throughout the eastern Connecticut community.”

Atty. Kelly focuses her practice on labor, employment, and municipal law, as well as assisting veterans in their claims for VA disability benefits.

She regularly advises and represents numerous public and private clients in all areas of state and federal labor and employment law, including, for example, collective bargaining, internal investigations, discipline, grievances, and arbitration. Other areas include prohibited practice charges, family and medical leave compliance, discrimination and harassment claims, compliance and violations of state and federal wage and hour laws, and wrongful termination matters.

Atty. Kelly is the 2020 Recipient of The Honorable Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Service Award presented by the Connecticut Bar Association in recognition of those who tirelessly fight for fundamental fairness, championing the legal rights of the poor and accused, and who consistently go beyond the “call of duty” and inspire others to do the same.

She serves as President of Higher Edge, Inc., a non-profit organization providing college access services to low-income and/or first-generation college students.

Atty. Scully’s practice focuses on civil litigation with a concentration in personal injury law. He also represents individuals and businesses in a variety of complex legal matters. Since 2018, Attorney Scully has been named to the Connecticut and New England Super Lawyers lists as a Rising Star.

He has also been recognized by U.S. News & World Report‘s Best Lawyers in America – Ones to Watch for 2021. Attorney Scully serves on the Connecticut Bar Association’s 2020-2021 Board of Governors representing District No. 16. He is also a board member for the New London County Bar Association.

Suisman Shapiro is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut, providing residents and businesses along the coast from New Haven to Providence with a full range of legal services. The firm was established more than 75 years ago and is firmly rooted in the community.

Editor’s Note:

Jack Collins of Old Lyme Presented With Lifetime Achievement Award by CT Law Tribune

Atty. John “Jack” A. Collins III has been presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Connecticut Law Tribune.

OLD LYME — John ‘Jack’ A. Collins III of Old Lyme has been honored by the Connecticut Law Tribune with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

As Managing Partner of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law for more than 20 years, Atty. Collins was primarily responsible for the evolution of the business from a small practice to the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut. He has mentored many young lawyers to become leaders in their fields.

Suisman Shapiro serve as the Town Attorneys for Old Lyme. Atty. Collins frequently represents Suisman Shapiro in that capacity at both Town meetings and in giving legal advice to the Town.

View Collins’s’s award at 38:30 on this virtual broadcast at https://bit.ly/3cQJ75K .

Here at LymeLine.com, we send heartiest congratulations to Jack!


Diebolt Clarifies His Plans for 220 (Approx.) Apartments on Hatchetts Hill (Includes 70 Affordable Housing Units); Says “It’s 100% Good for the Town”

The boundary marked on this map indicates the perimeter of the 20.6 acres owned by Mark Diebolt, which is the proposed site of a housing development. The site is already zoned for multi-family housing.

OLD LYME — Describing his proposed housing development off Hatchetts Hill Rd. in Old Lyme as, “A one hundred percent good thing for the town,” Mark Diebolt went on to give an detailed outline of the ambitious proposal during a phone conversation with LymeLine last Monday (Sept. 22.)

The plan, which is still in draft form and has not yet been released, calls for construction of 11 buildings, which will offer a total of between 216 and 224 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The precise number is not yet finalized but Diebolt anticipates it will be around 220.

The intention is for roughly a third of the apartments — between 70 and 75 — to be made available as ‘Affordable Housing,’ which means the plans can be submitted under the state’s 8-30g regulations that facilitate the process of obtaining approvals.

Diebolt described his vision for the development, which, apart from the apartments, is also slated to include a pool, gym. movie theater and clubhouse, as being, “Somewhere people want to live” and “Having the feel of its own little community.” He believes, “A diverse group of residents” will be attracted to the community, which will be both attractive and “completely safe.” and emphasized, “There will be ways for people to interact and socialize, if they wish.”

Drawing a comparison with the recent Saybrook Station development in Old Saybrook, he said he similarly envisaged, “New England-style building … and making it like a small village.” He emphasized, however, a significant difference between the Saybrook project and this one in Old Lyme in terms of the building density. Diebolt pointed out, “They have a lot less land,” noting that the former has 186 units in nine buildings on 1o acres whereas in Old Lyme, he is looking at 220 units in 11 buildings on just over 20 acres.

Noting it is a “unique location,” and “all rural around that area,” Diebolt explained that the uneven topography, which includes “lots of rock,” allows opportunities “to use the natural contours of the property” both for underground parking and also, in some cases, to offer views of Long Island Sound from the apartments. The parcel of land comprising 20.6 acres, which he has owned for many years and is already zoned for multi-family use, lies at the eastern end of Hatchetts Hill and is bordered to the north by Hatchetts Hill Rd. and to the east by Four Mile River Rd.

Diebolt stressed several times during the conversation, “This is not low-income housing,” adding, “There is a real misconception about it [Affordable Housing.]” He noted that the developers would be following the state rules for the number of units that would be offered at different percentages of the median income for the town. Significantly, the apartments designated as affordable housing will be intermingled with all the other units in this development and built to exactly the same standard.

Pointing out that the investors in the project will likely become, “One of the largest taxpayers in town,” Diebolt noted that, at the same time, he does not expect, “Too many kids,” to be entering Lyme-Old Lyme Schools as a result of the development due to the size of the individual apartments being offered.

Diebolt also notes another positive for Old Lyme is that the development will roughly double the amount of affordable housing in the town. Currently Old Lyme has around 1.5 percent of affordable housing and this project will take that percentage to around 3 percent. The town is under a long-term, statewide mandate to achieve a goal of having 10 percent of its total housing as affordable housing.

Asked the names of his fellow investors, Diebolt, who acknowledges he is, “The face of the project,” said they did not wish to be named at this point, but commented they are, “Connecticut residents and professionals,” adding, “I’m not a land developer.”

Questioned as to the intended name of the development, Diebolt chuckled and said that, as with the investor names, it was still under wraps. But he then shared that he is an amateur ornithologist and said that might possibly impact their choices as they, “Play around with names.”

In terms of location, Diebolt notes the site is extremely conveniently situated for on- and off-ramps going in both direction at Exit 71 of I-95. He also remarks that the single exit from the project will be onto Hatchetts Hill Rd. and will only allow a right-turn — there will be no exit onto the much busier Four Mile River Rd.

Regarding next steps, the plan has already been presented in a preliminary fashion to the Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA). This was, in Diebolt’s words, to let them know that, “Basically our [Diebolt’s] professional engineers are in discussion with East Lyme WPCA engineers about connecting to water and sewer lines on Colton Rd. in East Lyme.” The property being proposed for development is only approximately 100 meters from those East Lyme  water and sewer lines and the possibility of connecting to them seems likely to be critical to the project moving forward.

Following that, Diebolt expects to submit a formal plan to Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands Commission in December or January, which will kick off the official approval process with the Town.

Last Monday, Diebolt discussed the project with the Old Lyme Affordable Housing Committee (OLAHC), again for information purposes. After giving a brief overview of the project, Diebolt answered questions from the committee ranging from how many stories would the buildings have (Diebolt said a maximum of three) and would all the units be rented (yes – there will be no opportunity to purchase apartments) to whether pets will be allowed (yes, definitely – Diebolt again stressed the developers wanted these to be, “Homes people are proud to have” adding, “Pets are part of our culture.

Committee member Karen Winters spoke positively about the fact that, “The work force is intermingled,” so, as Diebolt clarified, “No one will know who’s who,” meaning those renting under Affordable Housing policies will not be identifiable from those who are not. Winters said, “I think that’s a win.”

Tom Ortoleva, another committee member, asked how many acres of the total were buildable. Diebolt responded, “It’s a tough site. One of the more expensive items [in the project] is site work.” He emphasized, “We have it all laid out. We could have put 274 units on the site … but we didn’t want it crowded.”

Committee member Tammy Tinnerello and Ortoleva questioned why Diebolt was not planning any three-bedroom units to which Diebolt replied, “Our market research indicates there is no demand for them,” or only minimal demand, but he also noted the developers would be willing to look into the matter further.

Overall, in Diebolt’s opinion, “The project was well received,” [by the committee] and, “The members seemed encouraging,” but prior to entertaining questions OLAHC Chairman Michael Fogliano had emphasized to committee members that they were there, “To listen and learn,” and not to consider a formal application nor take a vote.

Diebolt ended his session with the committee saying optimistically, “A thing of this magnitude is going to take a while to get going … but hopefully it will come to fruition.”

Old Lyme Land Use Official Confirms Diebolt Has Discussed 200+ Apartment Proposal Off Hatchetts Hill

OLD LYME — Old Lyme Land Use Coordinator Dan Bourret confirmed to LymeLine.com by phone Thursday that he has had a, “Very preliminary discussion,” with Mark C. Diebolt about the proposal Diebolt is planning to submit for a development of apartments on a substantial piece of land off Hatchetts Hill Rd. towards the eastern perimeter of the Town of Old Lyme.

Asked how many units were being proposed, Bourret said he believed it was, “A low 200’s number of apartments.”

Bourret stressed, “I don’t know much. I only have a little bit of an overview. There are no plans submitted at this point.” He emphasized he would know much more about the project, ” … when we get an application.”

Responding to a question regarding whether Zoning would be the first Commission to receive the application if it is ultimately submitted, Bourret explained it would have to be reviewed by the Old Lyme Wetlands Commission initially if the proposed development were within 100 ft. of an Upland Review Area. Without an application, Bourret said he did not know at this point whether that would be the case, though he was aware, “There is a stream to the west of the property.”

Bourret noted that Diebolt had indicated the proposal would be submitted under Connecticut’s 830-g Affordable Housing Statute, which can, “circumvent the zoning process” and therefore how the application would move forward is “a little bit of an unknown.”

Stating that Diebolt is the contact for the proposal, Bourret said he did not know the names of any other investors in the project. Asked when he anticipated receiving the application, Bourret replied that he had, “No indication of when plans are coming.”

The next meeting of the Old Lyme Affordable Housing Committee is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m. in Old Lyme Town Hall.  The agenda for that meeting has not yet been published, but a member of the committee has confirmed to LymeLine.com that Diebolt plans to discuss his proposal at that meeting.

Editor’s Note: Mark C. Diebolt is the President/CEO of Diebolt & Company, manufacturers and designers of Specialty Hose Products since 1991. The Connecticut Corporate Headquarters are located at 18 Riverview Drive, Old Lyme, CT 06371. For more information, visit this link.




Two Old Lyme Residents, Collins & Berryman, Named ‘2021 Best Lawyers’

Attorney John A. Collins III

NEW LONDON/OLD LYME: Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law has announced that five of their lawyers have been included in the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.

Two of those honored, John A. Collins and James P. Berryman, are Old Lyme residents. Atty. Collins specializes in Personal Injury litigation for plaintiffs and Atty. Berryman’s specialty is Workers’ Compensation Law for claimants.

The Best Lawyers list has been published for over three decades, earning the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Their first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 75 countries.

Attorney James P. Berryman

Best Lawyers was founded in 1981 with the purpose of highlighting the extraordinary accomplishments of those in the legal profession. After three decades, we are proud to continue to serve as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals worldwide,” says CEO Phillip Greer.

The remaining three Suisman Shapiro lawyers named in Best Lawyers are:

Two Suisman Shapiro attorneys have been included in the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch, Roger T. Scully and Kyle J. Zrenda. This publication recognizes associates and other lawyers, who are at an early stage of their careers, for their outstanding professional excellence in private practice in the United States.

Atty. Scully specializes in Personal Injury Litigation for plaintiffs and Atty. Zrenda’s specialty is Insurance Law, Medical Malpractice Law for plaintiffs, and Personal Injury Litigation, also for plaintiffs.

Best Lawyers was founded in 1981 with the purpose of recognizing extraordinary lawyers in private practice through an exhaustive peer-review process. Nearly 40 years later, we are proud to expand our scope, while maintaining the same methodology, to recognize a different demographic of talented and deserving lawyers in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch,” says Phil Greer, CEO of Best Lawyers.

Lawyers named in The Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing.

Editor’s Note: Suisman Shapiro is located at 75 State Street, New London, CT 06320. For further information, visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Millennial Money: How to Move Safely During a Pandemic

Moving is stressful enough without throwing a pandemic into the mix.

Many Americans may be forced to consider moving as federal foreclosure and eviction moratoriums expire. In the first week of July, 32% of Americans did not make a full, on-time housing payment, according to a nationally representative survey by the website Apartment List. Others may relocate to save money, be closer to loved ones or simply leave a densely populated area.

If you’re considering moving, here’s what to know from a financial standpoint, as well as tips to make moving day safer …

Visit this link to read the full article published Aug. 9, on theday.com. Jean Wilczynski, a certified financial planner and senior wealth advisor at Exencial Wealth Advisors in Old Lyme, and also a resident of Old Lyme and Region 18 Board Member, is quoted in the article.

Vitality Spa Reopens Aug. 1 with New Protocols in Place, Now Taking Appointments

The welcoming exterior of Vitality Spa at 14 Lyme St. in Old Lyme. The spa reopens Aug. 1.

OLD LYME — “We’re so excited to be reopening our doors on Aug. 1,” Vitality Spa owner Lindsay Eisensmith says enthusiastically. Her business on Lyme St. in Old Lyme has been closed since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but reopening the spa was not simply a matter of changing the sign on the door.

Eisensmith explained that in order to reopen safely and in accordance with the Governor’s guidelines, the spa has found it necessary to make a significant number of changes.

Pointing out, “When a client enters, the spa will have a very different look since we have streamlined our space and put new protocols in place,” she adds,”We’re following the State-mandated guidelines and the American Massage Therapy Association recommendations to protect our clients and our staff.”

Although the spa is currently closed, appointments can still be made either online at vitalityspa.com or by phone at 860-434-1792.

Some of the changes that have been implemented involve a client’s arrival. Under the new arrangements, a client must call from outside the spa to say he/she has arrived and once inside the building, spa staff will carry out a symptom review and temperature check at the door. Eisensmith stresses, “We will not be applying any cancellation penalty if an appointment must be cancelled at that point.”

Staff will wear masks at all times when working with clients under the new protocols.

There will no longer be a reception area inside the spa and, in light of the current news, it will come as no surprise that face masks are required for all clients, while staff wear masks and goggles or a face shield.

Precautions regarding the use of rooms include a system whereby they are alternated so that no two clients are treated in the same space consecutively. Similarly, room recovery time has been extended to allow all surfaces to be sanitized/disinfected thoroughly after every use.

Eisensmith also mentions that HEPA filters are in operation during treatment sessions for air purification and also that massage tables and face cradles will have plastic protective covers beneath the sheets to allow for thorough disinfecting between clients.

In terms of general cleanliness for both the staff and clients, touchless soap and towel dispensers. and sanitizing stations are now provided.

Business Manager Jill Stranger stands behind the new plexiglass shield at the Vitality Spa front desk.

Finally, Eisensmith notes that a plexiglass shield has been installed at the reception desk to ensure personal protection during the check-out process.

With all these changes now in place, Eisensmith is excited to greet her clients again and says that, despite all the new protocols, “They can be assured that not only are our services still outstanding, but our therapists remain as skilled as ever.”

Vitality Spa Set to Reopen Aug. 1, Appointments Being Taken Now

Vitality Spa owner Lindsay Eisensmith

OLD LYME — Vitality Spa owner Lindsay Eisensmith has shared with LymeLine.com that she plans to reopen her spa on Lyme St. Aug. 1.  The spa has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic was first announced.

Numerous changes in protocols and decor have been implemented. We will be publishing an extensive article on how the spa has responded to the health situation next week

Meanwhile, appointments can be booked either online at vitalityspa.com or by phone at 860-434-1792.

Saint Ann’s Nearly New Shop in Old Lyme Reopens for Sales

The Nearly New Shop of Saint Ann’s Parish.

OLD LYME — The Nearly New Shop of Saint Ann’s Parish will start accepting consignments again Monday, June 22. The Shop will be open every day next week through Friday, June 26, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Shop will reopen for sales starting Wednesday, July 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Henceforward, it will be open every Tuesdays through Saturdays at the same time.

Clothes for consignment should be clean, wrinkle free, and on hangers. Forms should be filled out with item detail or can be provided at the time of your visit.

All customers are reminded that properly worn face masks must be worn at all times while visiting the Nearly New Shop and similarly social distancing must be practiced at all times.

The Shop is located  at 70 Shore Rd. (corner of Shore and Mile Creek Rd’s.)

The Shop management says, “We are beyond excited to be opening our doors once again. Although you won’t be able to see our smiles when you walk in the door, know we’ll be grinning ear to ear under our masks!”

Exencial Wealth Advisors To Acquire $800M Willingdon Wealth Management; No Plans to Close Old Lyme Office

Tom McGuigan is Principal/Wealth Adviser at the Exencial Old Lyme office.

OKLAHOMA CITY/OLD LYME — Leading independent wealth management firm Exencial Wealth Advisors (Exencial) has announced its agreement to acquire Willingdon Wealth Management (Willingdon), a North Carolina-based registered investment advisor (RIA), according to a press release issued April 30.

Exencial is based in Oklahoma City, Okla. and has offices in Old Lyme, Conn., along with Frisco and San Antonio in Texas.

Expected to close on June 1, 2020, the deal would add $800 million in assets to Exencial’s book of business and deepen its talent pool with 16 new employees, including five CFA charterholders.

Asked his reaction to the acquisition, Thomas P. McGuigan, CFP®, who serves as Principal/Wealth Adviser at the Old Lyme office, told LymeLine in an email, “We are excited by the acquisition of Willingdon Wealth Management,” noting, “The Old Lyme office of Exencial Wealth Advisors was the first office outside of the Oklahoma City main office to join Exencial Wealth Advisors. That was accomplished in 2006.”

He explained, “We were the experiment to see if offices separated by distance, but unified in mission and values, could operate efficiently on behalf of clients. That experiment was a success, and we have since added offices in Frisco and San Antonio, Texas. Willingdon will further expand our reach to the southeastern states.”

On inquiring whether  the acquisition would affect the day-to-day operation of the office in Old Lyme, McGuigan responded, “There won’t be significant changes in the operations of the Old Lyme office. I do anticipate synergy between the Willingdon team and the rest of Exencial,” adding, “This has occurred each time a new office has been added.

He concluded, “That will work both ways. The Exencial team in Old Lyme has expertise that our other offices have tapped into, and we have benefited by the expertise of other offices.I expect that to continue with the Willingdon team.”

There is always a risk of consolidation when a merger of any sort occurs. We asked McGuigan whether there is any likelihood the office In Old Lyme will either be closed or moved to a new location. He replied, “No, that is not in the plans. We intend to grow the Old Lyme office. Just last year Exencial Wealth Advisors purchased the Old Lyme practice of Deborah A. Welles, CPA, and we have integrated their team into our operations.”

Willingdon specializes in investment management and develops personalized investment portfolios for each of their clients. They also provide a wide range of other services, including holistic financial planning, estate planning, trustee services and guidance on charitable giving.

Mike Kayes, Founder and President of Willingdon, commented in the press release, “Exencial’s tax planning capabilities in particular will greatly benefit our clients.”

In addition to its headquarters in North Carolina, Willingdon has satellite offices in Connecticut, Ohio and California.

Editor’s Note: Exencial Wealth Advisors is an independent registered investment advisory firm offering fee-only, objective financial planning, investment management and tax planning counsel to senior corporate executives, institutions, entrepreneurs and their families. The Old Lyme office is located at 83 Halls Rd., Ste. 205, Old Lyme CT 06371. For further information, call 860.434.5999 or visit their website.

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 over 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 …

In 15 years, one-fourth of newspapers nationwide were forced to close, according to a 2020 study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At least 1,800 communities that had a local news outlet in 2004 were without one at the beginning of 2020, the UNC team found.

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 Local, Independent, Online News (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


Nine Acres Zoned for Light Industrial Development on Hatchetts Hill in Old Lyme Sold to Private Investor

OLD LYME — RebusinessOnline.com reports that Gofsco LLC has sold nine acres zoned for light industrial development in Old Lyme at 50 Hatchetts Hill Rd. The site was vacant at the time of sale and offers convenient access to I-95.

A private investor purchased the property for an undisclosed price.

Read the full article at this link.

We’ll be following this story and will publish more information as it becomes available.