May 14, 2021

CTK Men’s Club Hosts Food Drive Next Week to Benefit Shoreline Soup Kitchens, Starts Sunday

Members of the Christ The King Church Men’s Club take a break from their work preparing for next week’s Food Drive.

OLD LYME — Christ the King Men’s Club is holding a Food Drive to benefit the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Food Pantries from Sunday, May 16, through Sunday, May 23.

The Club is offering three ways to donate as follows:

  1. Place donation into the food drive box inside the Christ the King Church entrance at 1 McCurdy Drive, Old Lyme.  Visit for details. 
  2. Stop into Nightingales Acoustic Café on 68 Lyme Street to make your donation. Visit for cafe hours. 
  3. Text Mark Gilbert at 860-598-0813 or call Peter Gallagher at 869-598-9060 to have your donation picked up from your Lyme/Old Lyme home or place of business. 

Suggested items to donate are cereal, canned goods, pastas, rice, and … more cereals!

Forgot to shop? Cash/check donations are always welcome.

The Club wishes to extend special thanks to Coffees Country Market, Foodworks Natural Market and Nightingales Acoustic Café for their generous support of this food drive.

Op-Ed: Since Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Have Been Open All Year, Why Has OL Park & Rec. Summer Camp Been Cancelled?

Editor’s Note: This op-ed was submitted by Melissa Chapps of Old Lyme. It was updated May 10, at 1:40 p.m.

Being the only school district in the region to offer full-time, in-person learning, from the start of the school year, Old Lyme chose to be “all in”. In doing so, we have been the leader in how it is possible to safely reopen. We have been the model, not only to our neighboring towns, but to the State as a whole. We were the example for other towns to follow. We understood that this was vital for our children’s educational, social, and emotional development and pledged to do whatever it took. Hence with the tremendous effort of our entire community – our citizens, administrators, teachers, parents, and, most importantly, our children – we have gone above and beyond to make it happen.

Thus, with Connecticut recording not only its lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in weeks, but also the highest vaccination rates in the country, we were going into summer with a sense of confidence and optimism. The State is reopening, school sports have resumed, restaurant and social gathering restrictions lifted, masks mandates eased. Our new normal was emerging. And after such a challenging year, and the State’s emphasis on local, affordable summer programs, and making the accessibility of such options a top priority, children were looking forward to summer day camps …well, that is, except if you live in Old Lyme.

After being the leader all school year, and after our children proving that they can succeed indoors, Old Lyme now says that the risk of COVID-19 exceeds the benefits of offering its Parks and Recreation Summer Day Camp. The reality of it is they never seriously gave it much consideration to begin with. 

This lack of endeavoring was most evident in the recent Old Lyme’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting as constituents were turned away and told that they could not physically attend a meeting that was listed as public on the town website, with the location listed as Meeting Hall on the town calendar, and verbally told by the Selectmen’s office that they could appear in person. We were shut out, left to watch from the windows, directed that we could only call in, as the Commission met inside, unmasked, in a room filled with empty chairs. To say we were bewildered was an understatement.

We were there for our children to show support in the reinstatement of the Summer Day Camp. And while we are thankful that the Commission insinuated that they are now open to entertaining ideas, it is marked by great skepticism. The fact that the Summer Day Camp program was not a top priority months ago is a shame and a true let-down by our leadership. We never imagined that our town, which proudly stood as a model all school year, would stop now, as the entire rest of the State paves the way. Our communal efforts thrown to the wayside. As parents, the thought that Old Lyme would not run its Summer Day Camp never even crossed our minds. The idea that we would abandon our “all in” philosophy just because the school year is over was unfathomable. That should have been reason enough to make sure it happened. 

While the Commission asserts that the risk of COVID-19 is far too great for the Summer Day Camp, these same concerns are obsolete when it comes to sports. The fact that so much energy has been, and continues to be, focused solely on ensuring the safe resumption of sport programs and the “fair” usage of our town facilities, from lacrosse to soccer to rowing, is hypocritical. The notion and seemingly justification, of having 225 children playing lacrosse, albeit not all together at the same time, but instead having contact with other children, from other communities, in the playing of such games, while advocating for the equal distribution of playing fields, even calling out other town’s “unwillingness”, thus necessitating us to play throughout the region, and then coming back into our schools and our community is “safer” than running our Summer Parks and Rec Day Camp is nonsensical.

And that is just one sport – it does not even take into account all the hundreds of contacts from all the other sports, from players to spectators, and consequential other points of contact from restaurants to stores, wherein the numbers in totality are virtually immeasurable. But then the Commission has the audacity to imply that contact tracing is only an impediment to the Summer Day Camp – this defies logic. It shows a true lack of rationale and undermines what is even of the Commission’s stated concern. 

The Commission then tried to briefly, and selectively, talk COVID facts, again with only reference to its effects on the Summer Day Camp, as if sport programs are somehow immune. They brought up outdated and inaccurate data, while mentioning recent articles in the paper about other towns, the same towns that we play all our sports in and vice versa. Perhaps they did not realize that in doing so they are not only undermining their agenda against the cancellation of the Summer Day Camp, but they are belittling our remarkable accomplishments, for yes, our neighboring towns have struggled, but this should only strengthen the call for our local Summer Day Camp.

And perhaps they are not aware that many of us actually work on the frontlines and know the real data firsthand. They also failed to examine the toll COVID-19 has had on our children’s mental and emotional health – and how the research overwhelming demonstrates that the continuation of social and enrichment programs, such as the Summer Day Camp, is so desperately needed throughout the summer.

As such, we would like to offer some viable options to implement to ensure the successful and safe reopening of our Summer Day Camp. We can look at the actions our schools and of our children who have proven they can do it – and no, we do not have to worry about them “hugging” as one Commission member tried to use as an excuse. Our children have exemplified all school year they have what it takes to make this possible. We can also look to how our neighboring towns, who once looked to us, are running their programs. We present these options as a starting point and welcome the Commission to build upon them:

  • Push back start date and end date by 1 week
  • Reduce/Limit the number of attendees
  • Restrict residency in that Old Lyme Parks and Rec. Summer Day Camp would be for Old Lyme residents only, and Lyme Parks and Rec. would have to run their own program separately for their residents
  • Use cohorts wherein children are grouped together by grade groups with limited number of children per group
  • Utilize all the town facilities, not just the high school, but all schools and parks
  • Have a large pavilion-style tent for rainy days activities while splitting/rotating gymnasium usage at said locations
  • Require that all employees must be vaccinated
  • Utilize and collaborate with the Ledge Light Health District for contact tracing and inquire about PPE needs and availability
  • Require not only that all children wear masks, but they must provide backups
  • Increase enrollment cost – even though our surplus from last year should cover much of any added expense
  • Ask for volunteers and community involvement of participating families; The residents of Old Lyme have a strong communal foundation, and many would happily give their time and/or resources, donate PPE and cleaning supplies, and more – this is supported by the over 130 signatures collected in support of running our Summer Day Camp 

In closing, we think it is important to note that we are in no way trying to suggest that sport programs should not run, but instead we are trying to uphold equality for all programs. The Parks and Recreation Summer Day Camp was the only safe, affordable, and consistent program for the children within the community, to stay within the community all summer long. And the only sustainable option of those children who do not play sports. By sending our children to different weekly camps throughout the region, it is not only significantly more costly, but we are also expanding our exposure and putting our children, their families, and the community at undue risk

As a community we should stand together and acknowledge the social, emotional, and psychological impact that all our local programs have on our youths. They need this now more than ever. 

It is our hope that we can work together for the betterment and empowerment of our collective community.

Let us be “all in” together.

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.


Old Lyme EDC Recommends Declaration of Zoning Approval Moratorium on Halls Rd. Projects

OLD LYME — The following resolution was approved by seven members present at the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission’s regular monthly meeting held Wednesday, May 5. One member, Margaret Jane DeRisio, abstained citing a possible conflict of interest.

The Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC) is tasked with supporting and encouraging a vibrant and sustainable business climate in Old Lyme, scaled to the resources and needs of the town. We seek the optimum development of business opportunities in Old Lyme. The mix of businesses in a particular area such as Halls Road can have a significant impact on the climate for all businesses there, current and future. Planning, therefore, becomes important. 

Because Halls Road connects the northbound and southbound halves of Exit 70 on I-95, its current commercial-only zoning makes it most attractive (in the current business climate) to regional and national chains whose businesses are aimed at highway traffic, and not at the needs of our small town. 

For decades Old Lyme’s planning documents have explicitly said the town should give preference to businesses that support the needs of the town and discourage those aimed at servicing I-95 traffic. They have sought to prevent Halls Road from becoming a series of truck stops and fast-food venues. 

Halls Road has only a limited space that can ever be developed. The town should do what it can to ensure that this limited area is developed in such a way as to best serve the needs of the town and its businesses, present and future. Each new development has an impact on the range of possible future developments. If the Halls Road plan calls for mixed use in a walkable, bicycle-friendly, town-center environment, then each new development in that area must support that long-term goal. Any step in a contrary direction (e.g. toward truck stops, warehouses, factories, big-box stores, etc.) works to prevent the accomplishment of the long-term goal, and should be prohibited or strongly discouraged in this area. These contrary developments are not just sub-optimal uses of a limited resource (buildable land). Their presence significantly reduces the chance of getting the investments we do seek in that area: a mix of smaller-scale market-rate housing combined with shops and restaurants that serve the population of Old Lyme. 

The Halls Road plan is near completion. The next phase includes changing the zoning along Halls Road to reflect the goals of the plan. This will give future investors a clear sense of what types of development are encouraged along Halls Road and which types are not. Clarity is good for business. If Old Lyme does the planning and zoning work correctly, it will attract the kinds of investment we want, and help transform Halls Road into a sustainable, mixed-use, commercial area more in keeping, both visually and functionally, with the small town feel of Old Lyme. Bad developments today obstruct more and better investments in the future. Today, investors interested in mixed-use developments like those envisioned in the town’s plan cannot consider Halls Road because it is zoned “commercial-only.” They are not allowed to compete with truck stops or storage warehouses for the limited property there.

We think it would be wise to declare a moratorium on zoning approvals for projects along Halls Road, effective immediately, pending the completion of the Halls Road plan and any new zoning regulations based on it. It is not fair to our town or to investors to move forward with projects while the rules are in flux. We cannot support near-term projects that would work to prevent or degrade future developments of higher long-term value.

In It Together: Understanding Critical Connections Between Drug Use/Abuse and Mental Illness

As we recognize both National Prevention Week this week (May 9-15) and National Mental Health Awareness Month during the whole month of May, the Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition is actively working to educate the community about substance abuse, our youth, and the role of prevention. 

Understanding how substance use and abuse before the age of 25 has a profound impact on our youth is a critical step in preventing adolescent alcohol and drug use.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug addiction is classified as a mental illness because addiction changes the brain in fundamental ways, disturbing a person’s normal hierarchy of needs and desires, and substituting new priorities connected with procuring and using drugs. The resulting compulsive behaviors that override the ability to control impulses, despite the consequences, are similar to hallmarks of other mental illnesses.

In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the definitive resource of diagnostic criteria for all mental disorders, includes criteria for drug use disorders, distinguishing between two types: drug abuse and drug dependence.

Drug dependence is synonymous with addiction.

By comparison, the criteria for drug abuse hinge on the harmful consequences of repeated use, but do not include  compulsive use, tolerance (i.e., needing higher doses to achieve the same effect), or withdrawal (i.e., symptoms that occur when use is stopped), which can be signs of addiction.

Many people, who regularly abuse drugs, are also diagnosed with mental disorders and vice versa. The high prevalence of this comorbidity has been documented in multiple, national population surveys since the 1980s. Data shows that persons diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely to suffer also from a substance use disorder (abuse or dependence) compared with respondents in general.

The same is true for those diagnosed with an antisocial syndrome, such as antisocial personality or conduct disorder. Similarly, persons diagnosed with substance use disorders are roughly twice as likely to suffer also from mood and anxiety disorders.

Adolescence – A Vulnerable Time

Although substance abuse and addiction can happen at any time during a person’s life, drug use typically starts in adolescence. Photo by Gras Grun on Unsplash.

Although substance abuse and addiction can happen at any time during a person’s life, drug use typically starts in adolescence, a period when the first signs of mental illness commonly appear. It is therefore not surprising that comorbid disorders can already be seen among youth.

Significant changes in the brain occur during adolescence, which may enhance vulnerability to drug use and the development of addiction and other mental disorders. Drugs of abuse affect brain circuits involved in learning and memory, reward-comprehension, decision-making, and behavioral control, all of which are still maturing into early adulthood. 

One of the brain areas still maturing during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that enables us to assess situations, make sound decisions, and keep our emotions and desires under control. The fact that this critical part of an adolescent’s brain is still a work-in-progress puts them at increased risk for poor decision-making (such as trying drugs or continuing abuse.)

Thus, introducing drugs while the brain is still developing may have profound and long-lasting consequences. This is especially true as we see a rise in marijuana use and the extremely high amounts of THC found in today’s cannabis market.  

The more we learn, the better we understand the abilities and vulnerabilities of teens, and the significance of this stage for life-long mental health. The fact that so much change is taking place beneath the surface may be something for parents, family members, and others to keep in mind during the ups and downs of adolescence. 

Research has shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse.

For more information about the work of the Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition, visit   

The Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition also hosts a Community Podcast:  L-OL:In it Together where you can find episodes related to prevention. Find links to the show at             

(Source: NIDA)

Alli Behnke

About the Author: Alli Behnke, MSW, MA is the Prevention Coordinator at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau. She has been a Social Worker for 20 years working in the fields of prevention, therapy, youth leadership, and health coaching. Alli believes strongly in providing accurate information, education, and tools for success when empowering the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition and REACH Youth Coalition to work together on strengths-based campaigns. The Coalitions address substance abuse and other risky behaviors challenging our youth and families. Contact her at or visit to become involved in this important community work.

Griswold Says Old Lyme’s Memorial Day Parade is “a Go” — No Parking on Street; Cemetery Ceremony Now Confirmed

Traditionally, the Lyme-Old Lyme High School leads Old Lyme’s Memorial Day Parade. File photo.

OLD LYME — UPDATED 4/21: At Monday’s Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, First Selectman Timothy Griswold confirmed enthusiastically that the town’s annual Memorial Day parade would be held this year.

He had titled the agenda item regarding the parade, “It is a Go!”

Griswold said no parking would be permitted on Lyme St. or McCurdy Rd. to allow the bands and marchers to spread out more, but apart from that, planning would for the parade would now continue in the normal manner.

Griswold anticipated that individuals watching the parade would take the necessary action to maintain social distancing protocols.

We are still trying to confirm whether the traditional ceremony will be

4/21 UPDATE: First Selectman Griswold has now confirmed to us that the traditional ceremony held at the conclusion of the parade in Duck River Cemetery will take place this year. He also noted that, as usual, the May 31 parade will start at 11 a.m. 


Lyme’s 2021 Hamburg Fair Cancelled

The ferris wheel at the Hamburg Fair is always a popular attraction.

LYME — We are hearing that the 2021 Hamburg Fair has been cancelled.

Our sources say that there were too many unknowns, additional expenses and insufficient volunteers.

It is hoped the Fair will be held again in 2022.

Old Lyme Church’s 2021 White Elephant Sale Cancelled, “the Prudent Thing to do” (R. Davis, WES Chair)

Potential buyers at the White Elephant Sale will now have to wait until July 2022 for the bell to chime signaling the start of the sale.

OLD LYME — Last Friday, the ministers of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme and the church’s White Elephant Sale (WES) Board made the final decision to cancel this year’s White Elephant Sale. Up until this point, planning was continuing in the hope that the 2021 sale was held.

An e-mail sent out yesterday by Bob Davis, who has chaired the sale for some 20 years, says “Regrettably … there were just too many variables since we start staffing in May and set up begins in mid June.”
He explains, “We looked at a myriad of issues including our ability to enforce the CT restrictions in place on large gatherings. [crowd size, masks, distancing ….] [and] the fact that the church was currently planning for only outdoor services through late Summer at least.
Davis also notes that, “The safety of our volunteers and shoppers in close quarters” was paramount and, “The possibility of folks coming down with Covid during intake or the sale” had to be considered.
He points out, “Given that most other major July events have been cancelled, it was the prudent thing to do.”
Striking a positive note, Davis says, “We are eagerly looking forward to next year’s sale when vaccinations should be widespread, heard immunity has taken hold and we will have learned to live with Covid.”
He concludes, “Mark your calendars for July 8-9, 2022 when we will [finally] have our 84th WES!”

Old Lyme Historical Society Presents Lecture Tonight on Life, Challenges of CT Dairy Farmers Through Generations

OLD LYME — On Wednesday, April 14 at 7 p.m., the Old Lyme Historical Society hosts the second lecture in its Spring Series when Markham Starr presents via Zoom, “Down on the Farm: The Last Dairy Farms of North Stonington.’

At the end of WWII, there were over 4,000 dairy farms in Connecticut. Currently there are less than 100 farms still making milk commercially. This talk follows the operation of four family-owned farms though the course of a year.

The earliest farm dating back to 1791 is now in its eighth generation, while the youngest two are both over 100-years-old.

The talk covers what it takes to get a gallon of milk onto the store’s shelves and the particular challenges of dairy-farmers face today in Connecticut.

For log-in information to this virtual presentation, email the OLHS.

SECWAC Presents Notre Dame Professor Hunt Botting on ‘The Politics of Epidemics’ in Zoom Presentation, Tonight; All Welcome, Pre-registration Required

Eileen Hunt Botting (Photo by Peter Ringenberg/University of Notre Dame)

LYME/OLD LYME — On Wednesday, April 14, at 6 p.m., the Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts Eileen Hunt Botting of the University of Notre Dame, who will discuss, “The Politics of Epidemics, from Thucydides to Mary Shelley to COVID-19,” in a Zoom presentation.

Registration required. The link to join the program will be emailed with your registration confirmation.

Botting will review our perceptions of pandemics through the writings of Greek historian and general Thucydides (of “The History of the Peloponnesian War” fame), Mary Shelley (of “Frankenstein” and “The Last Man” fame), and more contemporary writers like Mike Davis (“The Monster at Our Door” and “The Monster Enters”).

In her recent essay in “Current History”, Professor Botting points out that plague has been “depicted as escalating within wider and deeper patterns of human social and political conflict”, arguing that “we ought to pause and consider the responses of past thinkers to the contagions that beset them”.

In this way, perhaps, we may, to paraphrase Georges Santayana, avoid repeating past mistakes by learning from history, rather than being condemned to repeat it.

You can access her essay HERE.

Cost: Free for members, guests $20.

SECWAC will be using Zoom meetings for this presentation.

If you are new to Zoom virtual meetings and would like to learn more about how to join SECWAC, visit for more information. Also, feel free to call 860-912-5718 for technical advice prior to the event. SECWAC will not be able to resolve issues during the meeting. A link to the recording will be shared via email following the meeting.

Old Lyme’s PGN Library Transitions to Hybrid Service Model

The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library has transitioned to a hybrid model of service.

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library has now transitioned to a hybrid model of service as outlined below.

  • 9am-1pm: Walk-Ins Welcome
  • 1pm-5pm: Appointments required (45 minute appointments are offered at the top of the hour at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm)
  • 5pm-7pm: Walk-Ins Welcome
  • 9am-1pm: Walk-Ins Welcome
  • 1pm-5pm: Appointments required (45 minute appointments are offered at the top of the hour at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm)
  • 9am-1pm: Appointments required (45 minute appointments are offered at the top of the hour at 9am, 10am, 11am, and 12pm)
Ongoing Covid-19 Safety Measures 
  • Patron visits and appointments will be limited to 45 minutes per day. Patrons will be issued a card upon entry noting their visit end time.
  • Meeting rooms will remain closed, but public seating will open. Tables will be limited to 1 person, and all soft seating will be rearranged to comply with social distancing protocols. 1 study room will be available for individual use (e.g. a zoom interview).
  • Masks are required for all patrons over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status. Any child under the age of 2 may visit without a mask provided that they are secured in a stroller or carrier throughout their visit and the accompanying parent/guardian must social distance on the child’s behalf. Parents/children who are unable or unwilling to do this will be asked to use curbside service.
  • All patrons are required to comply with social distancing requirements.
  • All patrons will be required to wash or sanitize their hands prior to entry.
Capacity Limits
  • Young Adult Room: Limited to 2 patrons or 1 household
  • Children’s Room: 6 patrons or 2 households
  • Adult Space: Staff will monitor the space and limit entry when patrons are not able to comply with social distancing guidelines
Future Service Changes
The Library plans to maintain this level of service until all staff have been given the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Old Lyme BOS Say Yes (Hopefully) to Memorial Day Parade, No to Midsummer Fireworks

Will there be a Memorial Day Parade in Old Lyme this year?

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen engaged in a lively discussion at their regular meeting yesterday regarding whether the town’s traditional Memorial Day parade should proceed this year. It was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 pandemic.

First Selectman Timothy Griswold noted the Governor’s current Emergency Order regarding the number of people that can gather at an event expires on May 20. Regarding the current situation, he said, “I think they’re talking about a wedding or a sporting event … when you march [in Old Lyme], they’re not packed shoulder to shoulder.”

He noted that the Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Middle School Band had indicated a willingness to participate this year but that he had not heard from the LOL High School Band. He also said he had heard that the Boy Scouts would like to march.

Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal commented, “I’m offended that you didn’t ask the Girl Scouts.”

Indicating general support for having the parade, Griswold added that he was happy to, “Leave it up to individuals to be smart [in terms of masks and social distancing.]”

Selectmen Christopher Kerr stated, “I think the town needs the parade.”

Recognizing general safety concerns and the possibility of a Governor’s order prohibiting the parade due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases, Nosal said, “I’m neutral at this point.”

Griswold then proposed that the board should ask parade organizer Anthony “Tony” Hendricks to ask, “The usual people,” if they are willing to participate and, “Check with the state.” On condition that affirmative responses are received from a majority of the participants and also from the state, he made a motion that the parade should go ahead.

The board of selectmen approved that motion unanimously.

The Town of Old Lyme’s fireworks display traditionally rounds off the Saturday when the Midsummer Festival is held in late July.

The next item on the agenda was whether to have the fireworks display traditionally held at the end of the Old Lyme  Midsummer Festival. The festival itself has already been cancelled by the organizers.

Griswold opened by saying, “I don’t think it’s a good idea. The festival has been cancelled and it’s a lot of money.”

Kerr asked, “Why have the the fireworks if we’re not having the Midsummer Festival?”

Nosal noted that the Hawks Nest neighborhood was considering a fireworks show on a barge and wondered f the Town was supporting that in a monetary fashion. Griswold said the organizers would need to make a specific request to the Old Lyme Board of Finance if they wish to seek town funding.

Nosal also questioned whether the other selectmen had reviewed her proposal made some six months ago for a drone firework display as an alternative to the ‘live’ display, especially since in future years the LOL High School’s new turf field might preclude having the firework display located there.

The selectmen agreed they needed to review the situation for 2022, but voted to cancel the fireworks for this year.

USPS Carrier, Old Lyme Resident Parrack Receives OL Kindness Committee’s March Award

Heather Parrack is the recipient of Old Lyme’s Kindness Award for March.

OLD LYME — Based on an anonymous submission, the Town of Old Lyme Kindness Committee has selected Heather Parrack, an Old Lyme resident, for their March 2021 Kindness Award.

Heather is a USPS mail carrier with a route through Old Lyme. She makes special trips to the doors of elderly residents who are unable to walk to their mailboxes. She stops and picks up the newspaper for one particular elderly resident, and for another, she brings in her trash cans. As she goes throughout her day making her deliveries, she is always looking for ways to help.

She takes pride in her job and always gives people a smile and wave. While on maternity leave last year, she left a birthday gift for a resident turning 93 and visited with her through the door with her new baby because the resident had been isolated for so long due to the pandemic. 

She also looks out for the children on her route. Several love to see her truck go by and she makes sure to give them a wave. She even had small replicas of mail trucks that she gave out to some of the small children on her route during the holidays. Her nominator said, “She is the sweetest, most kind person, trying to make people feel cared for while delivering much needed gifts, household supplies, and essentials!”

When asked why she goes out of her way to spread cheer on her route Heather said, “I like to brighten people’s days and put a smile on their faces. There are still people in the community who have been so isolated due to COVID that I am often the only person they see. It’s important to me to help them feel less alone.”

Thank you for looking out for the Old Lyme community, Heather. Keep spreading kindness wherever you go!

Ward Continues Efforts to Start Lyme-OL Community Share Garden, Visit to Proposed Site Scheduled This Morning

OLD LYME — Continuing his efforts to start a Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden (LOLFSG), Jim Ward hosted an introductory meeting March 15, for everyone interested in the project. More than 30 people attended the Zoom meeting, which Ward hosted at both midday and 6 p.m., to enable maximum participation.

He noted that anyone who wishes to view the proposed site for the Food Share Garden at Town Woods Park can join a tour this coming Saturday, March 27, at 9 a.m.

The presentation can be viewed in its entirety on the LOLFSG website. A great deal of additional information about the project is also available on the site.

Ward’s carefully organized agenda covered his vision for the garden, the phases he envisioned in development of the garden, and the committees he believes need to be set up to achieve his objectives. These latter included

  • Fundraising
  • Garden design/plan
  • Publicity/ website/social media
  • Tools/equipment
  • Volunteer organization, i.e. schedule, weekly needs, etc.

He elaborated on ways anyone interested in the project can help, identifying various opportunities as follows:

  • Join a Committee
  • Join the Board of Directors
  • Donations can be sent to LOLFSG, PO Box 395, South Lyme, CT 06376
  • Stay tuned for SustainableCT matching funds
  • Direct friends to the website and Facebook page
  • Stay tuned for notification that LOLFSG can accept online donations and spread the word!
  • Site layout – Date to be determined
  • Volunteers to take soil samples for testing

There was clearly a great deal of enthusiasm for the project among those attending and Ward has already been able to form a board of directors for the LOLFSG.

Asked Thursday how the project was taking shape in general terms, Ward said in an email, “Things are progressing nicely,” adding enthusiastically, “It’s supposed to be great weather Saturday, so it would be nice to see and meet people [during the visit at  9 a.m. to the proposed site] and have some conversations about the garden.”

For more information on the project, read the article Initial Planning Meeting Scheduled Today at 6pm via Zoom for Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden, All Welcome, published in March 15, and/or  contact Jim Ward at

New Columnist Joins Us, Alli Behnke is LYSB’s Prevention Coordinator

LYSB Prevention Coordinator Alli Behnke

LYME/OLD LYME — Today is the start of National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week, which runs through March 28. We are also delighted to announce that today, Allison (Alli) Behnke, MSW, MA, who is the Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) Prevention Coordinator, will join our stable of our talented columnists.

Her column will be titled, “In It Together,” which alludes to a recognition that supporting students as they negotiate their middle and high school years is a community responsibility. This, in no way, detracts from the critical role of parents and caregivers in the process but rather amplifies the way the broader community can assist in that effort.

We are pleased to support the work of LYSB and the Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition by publishing monthly columns written by Behnke, which we believe will reach many readers, who do not currently have children in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.

Both the leaders of LYSB and we here at believe that accessing that audience is another vital piece in the puzzle of helping Lyme-Old Lyme youth navigate many of the challenges they face — or will face — in their lives.

Behnke has been a Social Worker for 20 years working in the fields of prevention, therapy, youth leadership, and health coaching.

She believes strongly in providing accurate information, education, and tools for success when empowering the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition and REACH Youth Coalition to work together on strengths-based campaigns. The Coalitions address substance abuse and other risky behaviors challenging our youth and families.

Contact her at or visit to become involved in this important community work.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Remembering St. Paddy’s Day in the City

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all our readers and may the Luck of the Irish be with you!

Editor’s Note: Linda Ahnert lives in Old Lyme now, but for more than 30 years she lived and worked on Manhattan. In this time of COVID, we are especially pleased to republish her personal recollections of this memorable day in New York City. It not only reminds us of the joys of that day pre-COVID, but also hopefully of their return in years to come.

This article was first published on on March 17, 2008.

green_shamrockI was a New Yorker for 30 years and, although I love living in a quiet Connecticut town today, there are still aspects of city life that I miss.  There are the small things like being able to walk everywhere – to the supermarket, to the dry cleaner, to the movies.  And then there are the big things…

One of those is a grand old New York tradition – the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day.  I’ll bet there are not many ex-New Yorkers (and there are a number of us in the area) who don’t get a little farklempt when calling to mind March 17ths spent in the city.  After all, is there any better place to toast the Emerald Isle than on the island of Manhattan?

In the lyrics of the Irish-American showman, George M. Cohan, “every heart beats true for the red, white, and blue.”  But in New York, on Saint Paddy’s Day, the city goes all out for the wearing of the green, starting with the green stripe painted on Fifth Avenue.

As nice as it is to wake up in a New England village on March 17, it could just as easily be February 17 or April 17.  In New York, as soon as you walk out the door on St. Patrick’s Day, there is absolutely no mistaking which day of the year it is.

There’s always electricity in the city air, but on March 17, there is a festival mood along Manhattan’s avenues and streets.  There are vendors selling green and white carnations, businessmen on their way to work sporting green ties, and teenagers with shamrocks painted on their cheeks or with shocks of hair dyed green for the day.  In short, it’s easy being green.

And the great thing about New York is that whether you’re full-blooded Irish, a little bit Irish, or nowhere near being Irish … it makes absolutely no difference.

Everyone loves a parade.  And as you get close to Fifth Avenue, you see families on their way to the parade and you start seeing parade participants.Oh, those kilts and tartans and tam-o’-shanters!

It might be a long way to Tipperary but on the streets of New York, I learned the names of many of Ireland’s counties.  These names are emblazoned on banners carried at the head of each county society.  Counties Cork, Clare, and Kilkenny were already familiar to me.  But I soon discovered that there are other counties with the names like Armagh, Donegal, Mayo, and Sligo.

New York City Holds Annual St. Patrick's Day ParadeUnlike New York’s other great processional, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, there are no floats and balloons, no vehicles or commercial aspects to the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.  It is truly a “people parade” with about 150,000 participants marching up Fifth Avenue.

The parade steps off at 11 a.m. from Fifth Avenue and 44th Street and, generally, the last of the groups pass by Rockefeller Center and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral around 5 p.m.  The marchers include military units, top high school bands, drum and bugle corps, members of Eire-based societies, New York’s finest and New York’s bravest … and, of course, any politician who is running for office in the tri-state area.

A fun thing to do is to walk along the side streets off Fifth Avenue where the various groups are whiling away time as they wait their turns to fall into the parade route.  Many of them are practicing and drilling and it’s like attending a giant muster on the city sidewalks.


And, when those units step out on Fifth Avenue and begin the march uptown, there is nothing like the sound that they make.  The skirling of the bagpipes and the percussion of the drums echoing off the buildings thrills and stirs the soul.  Spectators give appreciative cheers as a band plays a rousing version of “McNamara’s Band” or break into spontaneous song when they hear “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”

There were years when I spent hours at the parade and other years when I could only spend a few minutes, but it was always a special time.

If many New Yorkers are tucking into dinners of corned beef and cabbage or lamb stew on Saint Patrick’s night, I’ll always associate the holiday with another Irish specialty.  In my early years in the city, a woman I worked with always brought Irish soda bread to the office on Saint Paddy’s Day.

Kay was from an Irish family in Brooklyn and when she served the bread, she always put out a crock of butter with it.  I can still remember my first taste of that bread.  And today, even though I bake a mean loaf of Irish soda bread myself, nothing can ever quite compare with Kay’s.

StPattysDayBeerThe Irish pubs and saloons in the city are, of course, packed to the gills on the holiday.  And that is another great thing about New York – each neighborhood has its own Irish watering hole.  On my block of East 34th Street, the pub was Brew’s and it was where we ate at least twice a week.  It was the kind of place where you didn’t have to order your drinks because the wait staff already knew what you drank and automatically brought a round to the table when you came in the door.  Richie Brew, the pub’s owner, was warm-hearted and gregarious and called most of his customers by their first names.

We spent many memorable Saint Patrick’s nights at Brew’s.  One time, as we were arriving, a contingent of bagpipers, who had marched in the parade, were getting into formation and tuning up on the sidewalk.  Then, kilts swirling and bagpipes wailing, they marched themselves into Brew’s to the cheers of all the patrons.

The coda to the day’s festivities was watching “The Quiet Man” on TV.  One of the local New York stations (Channel 9 or 11) always screened this movie on Saint Patrick’s night.  (It was akin to airing “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Christmas.)

The movie, which stars John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald, is a valentine to Ireland.  With its stunning scenery and depiction of life in the village of Inisfree, the movie always had me longing to jump on the next Aer Lingus flight back to the old countryThis Saint Patrick’s Day, I won’t be in New York.But I’ll still bake Irish soda bread and put on a CD of “The Irish Tenors.”  I’ll listen to songs about sweet Molly Malone, Dublin in the rare old times, and the last rose of summer.

And I’ll drink a toast to the green isle of Erin … and to the great island of Manhattan.

Gov. Lamont Announces Accelerated Schedule To Provide COVID-19 Vaccines To CT Residents; Scheduling for Ages 45-54 Opens March 19, Ages 16-44 Opens April 5

HARTFORD, CT – (Based on a Press Release from the Governor’s Office) Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is accelerating Connecticut’s age-based rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to proceed on a quicker schedule than was originally anticipated when it was announced last month.

The revised schedule, which tentatively plans for the vaccine to expand to all adults over the age of 16 by April 5, comes as the state was informed by the Biden administration that it should anticipate receiving a significant increase in supplies of all three federally authorized vaccines over the next several weeks.

Connecticut continues to rank among the top five states in the nation in the percentage of population that has been vaccinated.

“We have some of the best and most dedicated providers in Connecticut who have been working around-the-clock to create the infrastructure that will provide vaccines to as many residents as we can as quickly as possible,” Governor Lamont said.

He continued, “Based on our discussions with the federal government regarding vaccine allocation, we anticipate receiving more than 200,000 first doses per week by early April. This allotment, combined with our state’s strong execution over the past several weeks, allows Connecticut to significantly accelerate the schedule so that we can equitably and efficiently vaccinate as many residents as possible. It’s still going to take some time to get the vaccine to everyone who wants it and I urge patience to the greatest extent possible, but over these next several weeks I anticipate that we will have an opportunity to considerably increase the amount administered each day.”

“Thanks to the tremendous work of our vaccine providers, the efforts of the federal government to increase the supply of vaccines to the states, and the decision of the governor to stick with an age-based system, Connecticut has made tremendous progress in vaccinating our residents quickly, efficiently, and equitably,” Connecticut Acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said.

She continued, “As we continue to focus on equity in our vaccination program, this more rapid expansion to younger age groups will give vaccinators, and local health and community organizations even more flexibility to reach out and connect with our high-risk communities to improve access. As we approach opening our vaccine program to all individuals over the age of 16, it remains important that everyone continue to wear masks, social distance, avoid large gatherings, practice good hand hygiene, and isolate and get tested if sick.”

Individuals who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine in Connecticut include:

  • All individuals age 55 and older;
  • Healthcare personnel;
  • Medical first responders;
  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities;
  • Residents and staff of select congregate settings; and
  • PreK-12 school staff and professional childcare providers.

Going forward, Connecticut’s rollout of the vaccine will proceed on the following schedule:

  • March 19: Scheduling opens to all individuals age 45 to 54
  • April 5 (tentative): Scheduling opens to all individuals age 16 to 44

The state will work with providers and the Department of Developmental Services to accelerate access for the most medically high-risk individuals under 45 during the month of April.

All eligible individuals in Connecticut who would like to receive the vaccine must make an appointment in advance. Information on making an appointment and finding the closest available clinic can be found online at

Those without access to the internet can call Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224. The assist line is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Applicants Sought for Award Supporting Young Adults with Autism, Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities

Alexandra Dilger

LYME/OLD LYME — An annual award for young adults who have faced challenges while working toward a personal goal is being offered by A Little Compassion, Inc., an area non-profit that works to change the lives of individuals with autism, intellectual, and developmental disabilities.

The organization operates The Nest Coffee House in downtown Deep River, providing employment and social opportunities for young adults with disabilities and increasing public awareness that they are vital and valuable community members.

The Alexandra Dilger Award provides support for recipients aged 18 to 30 from a Lower Connecticut River Valley community, helping them continue to progress toward the attainment of their goals, such as becoming an illustrator or musician, attending college or starting a small business.

The application process includes the completion of a brief nomination form by the individual themselves or an adult community member. Finalists will participate in a friendly conversation with the nomination team. 

The award was established by Gale and Patrick Dilger of Deep River in memory of their daughter, Alexandra, who lived a rich and full life despite struggles with depression and anxiety throughout her teenage years and into her early 20s.  At the time of her passing at age 21 in November, 2018, Alexandra was working on her undergraduate degree at Landmark College in Vermont, with the intention of progressing to graduate school. 

“Our hope is that this award will represent a step toward greater independence and accomplishment for young adults who, like Alexandra, have wrestled with personal challenges, but have a goal in mind and are determined to achieve it,” the Dilgers said. 

Last year’s inaugural Alexandra Dilger award was presented to three young area adults: Jillian Noyes, of Old Saybrook, seeking to become an independent filmmaker, received specialized driving lessons, courtesy of Next Street Driving School.  Andre Foristall of Higganum received a laptop to help him with his computer science studies at Middlesex Community College and Evan Merenda of Madison also received an upgradable computer that will assist him to study bioinformatics at Landmark College, Vermont.

 The deadline for nominations for the 2021 award is April 23 and the award recipients will be notified in May. More information and nomination forms are available at or call 203 641-8656.

Lyme’s AHC Publishes Online Quiz to Engage Residents on Needs, Benefits of Affordable Housing

AHC Seeks to Increase Awareness, Understanding of Affordable Housing as Part of its Efforts to Develop a State-Mandated Affordable Housing Plan in Lyme

LYME – As part of its efforts to develop an Affordable Housing Plan for the Town of Lyme by early next year, the Town of Lyme’s Affordable Housing Commission (AHC) has published an online quiz aimed at engaging residents in a thoughtful discussion of how affordable housing might take further shape in the Lyme community and how it might benefit the Town and its residents.  

The link to the quiz, “Home Sweet Affordable Home: Test Your Knowledge of Lyme,” can be found here:  The five-question quiz seeks to engage Lyme residents by allowing them to test their knowledge of existing affordable housing in town, and by addressing some common misperceptions about what affordable housing actually is.

The AHC is charged with developing an Affordable Housing Plan for the Town of Lyme – a task which is required to be completed by the Spring of 2022 by Connecticut statute §8-30j.  Through the development, community review and approval of this plan, the commission hopes to one day bring more affordable units to Lyme in a way that preserves the Town’s bucolic nature.

The commission is also seeking to engage residents in the issue of affordable housing by:

  • Inviting them to attend its monthly meetings, which currently take place on Zoom on the first Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m.  (Agendas for each meeting are published on the Town website, along with Zoom invitations.  Meeting minutes are also published on the website.)
  • Publishing information on the Town website that lists resources for residents interested in creating affordable housing options through the use of accessory-apartment construction loans and mortgage programs available from the State.  (That information can currently be found here:

Initial Planning Meeting Scheduled for Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden, All Welcome

Jim Ward tends the Community Garden at Clinton. He hopes to set up a similar venture in Old Lyme and invites other volunteers to join him at an initial planning meeting. Photo submitted.

OLD LYME — Do you believe that access to healthy food is important? Do you believe that a community should support members in need? Do you have an interest in growing food and cultivating relationships between neighbors, friends and community members?

If your answer to any or all of those questions is, ‘Yes,’ then you might wish to consider joining a discussion today to plan a community food garden to support the nutritional needs of the shoreline community by providing local food pantries with fresh produce.

During this virtual, kick-off planning meeting, Jim Ward, who conceived the idea of the community garden, explains, “We will discuss organization of a non-profit, fundraising, sustainability, outreach, education and community engagement.” There are two options timewise for the meeting, 12 noon or 6 p.m. and those wishing to attend are welcome to join either meeting.

To register for the meetings and obtain the Zoom log-in information or raise any questions, email Ward at​.

All are welcome and Ward stresses, “Differing viewpoints, experience, backgrounds and ages are encouraged. No gardening experience is required.”

Ward is a resident of Old Lyme since 2006 and his wife attended Old Lyme schools, then subsequently taught in the district. Asked how he came up with idea for the garden, he explained, ” While I have always been interested in gardening and landscaping, my interest in the garden was initiated while I was participating in the 2020 UCONN Master Gardening Program.’

Ward continued, “As a participant in the program you are responsible for a certain amount of outreach hours and I volunteered and continue to volunteer at the Food for All garden in Clinton.”

Noting, “The atmosphere at this very successful Food Bank garden was one of a small community,” he pointed out that there were always plenty of volunteers, who between them had, “A broad range of gardening skills, from no gardening experience to master gardeners.”

Moreover, Ward emphasized, “Everyone shared their knowledge of gardening and cooking … along with local and national political conversations.”

The catalyst for trying to start the endeavor in Old Lyme was simply, in Ward’s mind, the type of community found in Lyme-Old Lyme, which Ward felt, “Would be very supportive of this type of initiative.” He therefore set out, “to replicate the Food for All garden project.’

His plan was not only wholeheartedly supported in principle by the volunteers of the Clinton garden, but he noted that in addition, “They gave me access to their records and provided advice on the daily and annual demands of the garden.”

Finding a location for the garden in Old Lyme did not prove quite so straightforward, however. Ward said, “My wife and I researched town-owned lands defaulted to the Town, but didn’t find any that were suitable and could see why many were defaulted.”

Proposed site of the Lyme-Old Lyme Community Share Garden at Town Woods Field. Photo submitted.

Finally, the seed of an idea evolved, when, in Ward’s words, “We thought of Town Woods as it had water, electricity, parking, restrooms, proximity to the Senior Center and it served as a hub of activity for many residents.”

Asked what has happened since the potential site was identified, Ward explained, “Through generous cooperation of the Parks and Recreation Commission and with site approval by the Old Lyme Inland Wetlands Commission, a parcel of land behind the Field House at Town Woods Park has been secured.”

He added enthusiastically, “The location, amidst the park’s organically-managed fields, with access to water, electricity and parking, is ideal.”

The timeline for starting the project is, according to Ward, “Totally dependent on funds.” he states, “With the generous assistance of the Parks and Recreation Commission, we have cleared the large hurdles of land and water, so the next big hurdle will be the fencing for the garden.”

What is his best guess for how things will progress? Ward responds, “With that being said I would love to see a fence up, some site prep, and soil testing by this fall with a small planting next spring.”

The proposal was mentioned at the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting last Tuesday, Feb. 16, when Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal described the project as, “A really neat thing,” and “Pretty exciting.” First Selectman Timothy Griswold felt the board needed one of their members to “Prepare a checklist of what we [the board of selectmen] need to do,” and coordinate the effort between all the town boards and commissions involved. Selectman Chris Kerr agreed to take on that role.