July 7, 2022

Scouts Enthusiastically Learn About Solar System, Dark Skies from Lyme Land Trust Astronomy Members

The Scouts listened and observed attentively during the astronomy presentation.

On Friday, May 6, Alan Sheiness, Scott Mallory and Parag Sahasrabudhe, who are all members of the Lyme Land Trust Astronomy Group,  went to Camp Claire in Lyme, Conn. to introduce basic concepts of astronomy to a den of Cub Scouts. The evening program consisted of three activities.

The face says it all! This Scout was clearly amazed by what he saw through the telescope.

The first topic was an introduction to the instruments used for astronomy. The scouts were able to see through an astronomical binocular, and two types of telescopes: a refracting telescope and a reflecting Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

They learned how lenses and mirrors are used to focus and magnify the light coming from stars and planets to gain larger and clearer images of these objects. As it turned out to be a cloudy and rainy evening, the telescopes were trained on distant objects across Hamburg Cove instead of the Moon or stars.

The second activity involved creating a peppercorn model of the inner solar system at the playground with the help of some parents. The scouts gained an appreciation of the vast distances and all the empty space between the Sun and the planets. They also were able to observe the planet Venus in the model using one of the telescopes.

If Venus had been up in the sky that evening, it would have looked similar to the Venus model seen through the telescope.

The final activity required everyone to move indoors and Sheiness used a model of the Sun, the Earth and the Moon to demonstrate how the phases of the Moon appear. Each scout then had the opportunity to be the Earth and see how the Moon covers the Sun when a solar eclipse happens.

The Scouts were all eager to find out more about what they were seeing through the telescopes.

It was clear from all the questions they asked that the scouts were very interested and engaged in these activities . Some scouts mentioned that they own telescopes and Sheiness invited them to bring their telescopes to the next astronomy group outing and participate in real viewing of astronomical objects.

Editor’s Note: This article was sent to us by Alan Sheiness of Lyme. He explained that he had submitted it as part of the Lyme Land Trust’s Astronomy Group’s, “continuing goal to educate the public about astronomy and the importance of dark skies.”

It’s Prom/Summer Party Season! Let’s Work Together to Stop Teen Access to Alcohol

LYME/OLD LYME — With Prom and summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to focus awareness in Lyme and Old Lyme on underage drinking. Remember alcohol continues to be the number one substance used by youth. 

One way we can work to prevent teens from drinking is to prevent easy access to alcohol and recognizing that teen drinking is not inevitable.

The Lyme-Old Lyme 2021 Youth Survey reports that 62 percent of high school seniors do not drink alcohol regularly.

Unfortunately, 70 percent of 12th graders report that it is easy to get alcohol. Most teens who drink get alcohol without having to pay for it. They obtain it from friends (83 percent) or family members, at parties, or by taking it without permission.  

The 2021 Youth Survey shows that nearly 50 percent of students, who report drinking, take it from their parents with and without permission. Underage drinkers, who pay for alcohol, usually give money to someone else to purchase it for them.

Here’s what you can do to reduce access to alcohol:

  • At home, make sure teens can’t access alcohol without your knowledge. Unmonitored alcohol, including alcohol stored in a cabinet, refrigerator, basement or garage, can be a temptation. When in doubt, lock it up.
  • Liquor stickers can be a helpful tool and are available at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau.
  • Exercise your influence. Data shows that teens continue to care what their parents think, even while they are in high school and college – 63 percent of students choose not to drink because they feel their parents would disapprove. Let your teen know that you don’t want them to drink and that most teens, in fact, don’t drink.

  • Speak up, because silence can be misinterpreted. It may have happened already. A neighbor announces she is hosting a teen party, but you shouldn’t worry — she’s taking the car keys from every kid who comes in. Or a colleague says he’s serving alcohol to his high school son’s friends so they can “learn to drink responsibly.”
  • If you hear about a situation, say that you don’t want other people serving alcohol to your teen or condoning teen drinking. Let your friends, neighbors, and family members know that the minimum drinking age is a policy that protects teens, and that you don’t want your teen to drink.
  • Take action before a situation arises. Start talking to the parents of your child’s friends early — as early as 6th grade. Tell them about the risks of teen drinking and let them know that you don’t want anyone to allow your teen to drink alcohol.
  • Talk to adults, who host teen parties. Let them know that the overwhelming majority of parents support the legal drinking age and agree that it is not okay to serve alcohol to someone else’s teen — and not okay to turn a blind eye to teen alcohol consumption.
  • Let local law enforcement know that you encourage active policing of noisy teen parties that may signal alcohol use.
  • Tell local alcohol retailers that you want them to check ID’s before selling alcohol. Limiting alcohol sales to legal purchasers is an important goal and well worth the time it takes.
  • Consider joining the Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition.

For more information on how to help your teen make healthy choices surrounding drugs or alcohol, visit www.lysb.org/prevention or contact Alli Behnke, Prevention Coordinator, abehnke@lysb.org

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 abehnke@lysb.org or visit  www.lysb.org to become involved in this important community work.

Essex Savings Bank Announces 2022 Community Investment Program Ballot Results, High Hopes of Old Lyme Takes #8 Spot

ESSEX, CT – Essex Savings Bank has announced the results from its recent customer voting efforts in the Bank’s Community Investment Program (CIP). The balloting  portion began Feb. 1, and concluded Feb. 28.

The program, which is now in its 27th year, entitles the Bank’s customers to select up to three charities from this year’s list of 74 qualified non-profit organizations. Fund allocations are awarded based on the results of these  votes.

Since inception in 1996, the ballot portion of the Bank’s CIP has provided nearly $1.6  million to over 200 nonprofit organizations. Of that, over $628,000 has gone to the top 10 recipients, which include vital programs such as the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry (26  times) and High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. (26 times). 

According to Diane H. Arnold, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank, a total of $90,235 was  made available through this year’s CIP ballot portion. She commented, “COVID has had a detrimental effect on nonprofit fundraising efforts both locally and nationwide. It has also created and exacerbated hardships for many throughout our community and beyond.”

Arnold continued, “As such, I am especially pleased that  the Bank’s CIP is able to provide over $250,000 in total to support our local nonprofits in fulfilling  their important missions this year.”

Since inception, the program will have provided over $5.25  million to nonprofits throughout the area. 

For more information on the Community Investment Program, the annual ballot and Essex Savings  Bank, visit www.essexsavings.com. 

Results of Essex Savings Bank Customer Balloting Community Investment Program 2022

Organization  Amount Awarded 
The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Inc.  $8,203
Forgotten Felines, Inc.  $4,525
Valley Shore Animal Welfare League  $4,124
The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Meals on Wheels  $4,102
Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1  $3,009
Old Saybrook Fire Department Number One, Inc.  $2,407
Camp Hazen YMCA  $2,318
High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.  $2,251
Essex Library Association  $2,229
Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc.  $2,185
Visiting Nurses of The Lower Valley, Inc.  $1,939
The Chester Hose Company Incorporated  $1,895
Essex Land Trust, Inc.  $1,761
Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc.  $1,761
Valley Shore YMCA  $1,739
Vernon A. Tait All Animal Adoption, Preservation and Rescue Fund, Inc.  $1,739
A Little Compassion / The Nest Coffee House  $1,672
Chester Historical Society  $1,672
Ivoryton Library Association  $1,605
Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc.  $1,583
FISH (Friends in Service Here)  $1,538
Connecticut Cancer Foundation, Inc.  $1,315
Friends of Hammonasset, Inc.  $1,271
Essex Historical Society, Inc.  $1,226
Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc.  $1,204
Old Lyme Land Trust, Inc  $1,159
Deep River Historical Society, Inc.  $1,137
Lyme Fire Company  $1,048
Valley Soccer Club Inc.  $1,048
The Connecticut River Foundation at Steamboat Dock  $1,025
Tri-Town Youth Services  $959
Friends of Acton Library  $914
Friends of Chester Public Library  $892
Region 4 Education Foundation, Inc. (R4EF)  $892
Chester Land Trust  $869
Common Good Gardens, Inc.  $869
The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Inc.  $869
Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau  $869
Deep River Land Trust, Inc.  $825
Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association, Inc.  $825


Deep River Junior Ancient Fife and Drum Corp. $802 

Old Saybrook Land Trust, Inc.  $780
SARAH, Inc.  $780
Madison Ambulance Assoc., Inc. Dba Madison Emerg. Medical  Svces  $758
Community Music School  $736
Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore CT  $736
Lyme Old Lyme Food Share Garden  $736
Lyme Public Hall & Local History Archives, Inc.  $713
Angel Charities, Inc.  $691
Sister Cities Essex Haiti, Inc.  $646
Essex Winter Series  $624
Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc.  $624
The Ivoryton Village Alliance  $602
Con Brio Choral Society  $557
Essex Community Fund, Inc.  $535
Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc.  $535
Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation, Inc.  $513
Sailing Masters Of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps, Inc.  $513
Vista Life Innovations, Inc.  $490
Westbrook Historical Society, Inc.  $446
HOPE Partnership, Inc.  $424
Cappella Cantorum, Inc.  $401
Lyme Art Association, Inc.  $401
Essex Elementary School PTO  $334
Lymes’ Elderly Housing, Inc. (Lymewood)  $334
Old Saybrook Education Foundation  $312
Westbrook Project Graduation, Inc.  $290
Act II Thrift Shop, Inc.  $245
E.C. Scranton Memorial Library  $245
Guilford Youth Mentoring  $245
Brazilian American Youth Cultural Exchange (BRAYCE)  $223
The Country School, Inc.  $201
CT Waverunners  $178
Sound View Beach Association, Inc.  $112
Totals  $90,235


Editor’s Note: 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., a Registered Investment  Advisor.

Death of Mary Blossom Turner Announced, Widow of Jack, Who Founded LymeLine.com; Service May 22 in Old Lyme

Mary Blossom Turner: January 1, 1932 – April 30, 2022

OLD LYME — We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Mary Blossom Turner, the widow of Jack Turner, who founded LymeLine.com. To quote from the obituary published in The Day, Mary passed, “easily in her sleep April 30, 2022, at 90 years old.”

Mary was a remarkable woman, as her full obituary published below testifies. I met her on several occasions during the time I worked for Jack as the first News Editor of his fledgling online publication, LymeLine.com. That was back in 2003 (when LymeLine.com was launched) through 2005, when Jack died. She was the most cheerful and supportive companion to Jack — and therefore, in turn, me — imaginable.

Jack and Mary’s relationship was truly wonderful in so many ways. After Jack’s untimely death, it was dear Mary with whom we negotiated the purchase of LymeLine.com — she made it quite clear that she personally had no interest in continuing its publication but was very happy to see someone else pursue Jack’s legacy.

We send sincere condolences to Mary’s children, Mariette and John, and their families. (For the record, it was Mariette, who recommended me to Jack to be his News Editor. Jack lured me away from the Main Street News … and the rest is history!)

A memorial service for Mary will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, May 22, at the Grassy Hill Church in Old Lyme.

Kindly make any memorial donations to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, at: https://curealz.org/giving/donate/.

I will never forget Mary … or Jack.

Olwen Logan, Publisher & Editor: LymeLine.com

Mary’s obituary follows:

Mary Turner was the first baby born in Port Chester, NY in 1932, to Mary Drummond and Earl Blossom. She had a pony and a dog growing up in Westport, CT where her father’s home studio smelled like turpentine. Her elder brother, David, put whiskey in the dog bowl and the dog got drunk. Mary tended to the dog while David joined the Coast Guard before becoming a commercial illustrator like their father. The dog recovered and Mary went off to Bennington College, where she learned proper grammar.

Mary met Jack Turner of Wilton CT at a party, and since they both liked cats, they decided to marry. Jack would become Mary’s lifelong hero. He joined the Marines after graduating from Colgate, but the two managed to see each other enough to produce two children, Mariette and John, one of whom turned out perfectly.

The young family moved to an apartment in Bloomfield. Mary ran shotgun while Jack and friends distilled vodka from potatoes and conceived Soundings at the dining room table. Children were to be seen and not heard, but Mary saw them as hers to sculpt—by instilling the Golden Rule and correcting grammar.

After moving to Wethersfield as Jack grew Soundings, Mary kept a successful portrait business, sold real estate, made wicked Halloween costumes, practiced yoga, shopped and prepped for Jack’s cooking, and briefly owned a bakery where she produced healthy donuts.

Frostbite sailing on Wethersfield Cove was a family affair and a social immersion—with racing and cocktails for the adults and racing to grow up for the kids. Mary kept her children grounded in an alluring, challenging world.

Block Island vacations exaggerated regular life without the work, and while packs of young cousins ran wild, Mary sojourned to paint watercolors. The children felt important and grown-up as she always took time to explain just why, or what, we might do, or to patiently describe what would be proper, or to make a sardine sandwich.

Jack and Mary gardened, cooked, leisured, and worked to assure a wholesome family atmosphere while Mariette and John tackled high school and college. Ever supporting her husband and children, Mary endured fiberglass boatbuilding in the driveway, amplified rock-n-roll, polyester fumes, milk and butter tasting of plastic, orange juice re-purposed as bong-water and rolling cohorts of teenagers, dogs, and cats in the house. As surrogate second but present authority, Mary anchored existence in Jack’s absence—rising each day to exemplify cheer, vigor, empathy, and purpose.

When Soundings moved to Essex and the family to Old Lyme, Mary continued painting portraits, working in real-estate, taking walks, and absorbing what she sensed best in life. Jack left Soundings, built another boat, and started Lymeline.

The children married and moved away to grow the tree—with three grandchildren, (Marilee Root, Brittany Figueroa and John Paul Turner IV) and five great-grandchildren, all stars in no small part due to Mary’s examples of excellent grammar, adherence to the Golden Rule, and casual parenting.

Jack died in 2005. Mary forged on without him, walking daily to the Chocolate Shell for a fix with Molly, the last of the many dogs and cats. She pursued her artwork until advancing years betrayed her capacity.

None would envy her long experience with Alzheimer’s.

We remember Mary smiling as she hummed, “Happy Days are Here Again,” or shrieking what she called the “Cry of the Happy Housewife.” If we transgressed in right and wrong, she would say: “You wouldn’t want someone to do that to you, would you?”

With a name like Mary Blossom Turner, we would expect to learn from her.

Mary leaves two children (Mariette and John); three grandchildren (Marilee Root, Brittany Figueroa, and John Turner IV), four great-grandchildren, (Tyler Root, Annabelle, Damien, and their soon-to-be little sister Figueroa), and five nephews and their families. She joins—eternally—her partner, hero and husband, Jack; her brother David; her granddaughter, Halle Root; and her eldest nephew, David Blossom.

We all miss her dearly.

April 29 & May 2 COVID-19 Update: Eight New Cases in Old Lyme Take Cumulative Total to 1117, One New Case in Lyme Takes Total There to 274

Photo by CDC on Unsplash.

LYME/OLD LYME — The Daily Data Reports issued respectively Friday, April 29, and Monday, May 2, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) show a total of eight new, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Old Lyme and one in Lyme.

These cases raise Old Lyme’s cumulative case total to 1117 and Lyme’s to 274.

Old Lyme reported two new cases on Friday and six on Monday. Lyme’s new case was reported on Monday.

The CT DPH does not issue reports over the weekend.

April 5, 2022 was the most recent day on which no new cases were reported in either town.

Prior to March 25, Lyme had gone for 23 consecutive days with no new cases being reported. Two new cases were reported in Lyme on March 25.

Prior to April 5, the most recent day on which no new cases were reported in either Lyme or Old Lyme was March 24. There were also no new cases on March 9 and 4, and Feb. 24. The previous date prior to Feb. 24 when no new cases were reported in either town was Dec. 12, 2021.

Statewide Situation – Weekly Update

This map, updated April 28, 2022 shows the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks. Both Lyme and Old Lyme remain in the Red (highest) Zone. One hundred and thirty one towns (representing a total of 77.5% of the state) are now found in the Red Zone. Only cases among persons living in community settings are included in this map; the map does not include cases among people who reside in nursing home, assisted living, or correctional facilities. Map: Ver 12.1.2020 Source: CT Department of Public Health Get the data Created with Datawrapper.

On Thursday, April 28, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) released its latest weekly COVID-19 Alert Map (pictured above), which indicates that 131 municipalities are now in the Red (highest of four) Zone for case rates. These towns in the Red Zone include both Lyme and Old Lyme.

This number has increased by 23 over the 108 towns recorded in the Red Zone last week, thus increasing the number of towns in the Red Zone to over three-quarters (77.5%) of the state.

Although this total of Red Zone towns reflects a dramatic increase over last week’s number, it still shows a reduction in the number of Red Zone towns since  Jan. 27, when the total was 168 out of 169 towns.

As of April 21, 2022 all nine towns in the Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) are now in the Red Zone.

The LLHD is no longer issuing reports with updated Case Rates and other metrics.

The CT DPH will issue an updated map of the zones Thursday, May 5 — the map is updated weekly on Thursdays.

The color-coded zones are:

Red: Indicates case rates over the last two weeks of greater than 15 per 100,000 population
Orange: Indicates case rates between 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population
Yellow: Indicates case rates between 5 and 9 per 100,000 population
Gray: Indicates case rates lower than five per 100,000 population

Statewide Situation – Daily Update

The state’s COVID-19 Daily Positivity Rate rose to 9.42% on April 29 and fell to 8.85% on May 2. It was 8.92% on April 28.

Friday’s rate of 9.42% is the state’s highest recorded COVID-19 Daily Positivity Rate since Jan.28, 2022 when the Rate stood at 9.73%.

On April 29, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations decreased by 21 to 212 from 233 on April 28. On May 2, the number rose by 18 to 230.

In contrast, on Jan. 12, 2022, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations was 1,939.

Of those hospitalized on April 29, the number not fully vaccinated was 62 (representing 29.25%). On May 2, the number not fully vaccinated was 68 (representing 29.57%).

The total number of COVID-related deaths in Connecticut increased 10,850 on April 29, according to The New York Times, and then to 10,851 on May 2.

The next Daily Data Report will be issued by CT DPH Tuesday, May 3, around 4 p.m.

Increase in Cases in Lyme & Old Lyme Since August 2021

The cumulative total of confirmed cases for Old Lyme has now increased by 674 since Wednesday, Nov. 10, when the total stood at 443 — that number had stood unchanged for a week since the previous Thursday, Nov. 4.

On Aug. 26 — which was the day Lyme-Old Lyme Schools started the new academic year — Old Lyme’s cumulative case total stood at 372, meaning there have now been 745 new cases there since that date.

Meanwhile, Lyme’s cumulative total on Aug. 26 was 114 indicating 160 new cases have also been confirmed there during the same period.

Ledge Light Health District Update

The LLHD is no longer issuing weekly updates unless there is, “any significant change in case rates, hospitalizations, etc.”

On April 14, LLHD sent LymeLine.com this press release issued by CT DPH the same day. It begins: With the current uptick of COVID-19 cases—coupled with the upcoming schedule of spring holidays and family gatherings—the Connecticut Department of Public Health is reminding residents of the tools currently in place to help contain the spread of the virus. 

The new Community Levels tool created by the CDC can be viewed at this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html

Ledge Light Health District continues to focus its vaccination efforts on homebound populations and providing initial vaccinations and boosters to individuals, who were vaccinated previously. Information about vaccination opportunities can be found at https://llhd.org/coronavirus-covid-19-situation/covid-19-vaccine/.

An explanation of the new CDC Community Levels tool by Thomas Gotowka can be found at this link.

COVID testing opportunities can be found at COVID-19 Testing | Ledge Light Health District (llhd.org)

The following link provides centralized access to Connecticut COVID data: https://data.ct.gov/stories/s/COVID-19-data/wa3g-tfvc/

Fatalities Due to COVID-19 in Lyme, Old Lyme

There has been one COVID-related fatality of a Lyme resident: a 57-year-old male passed away Nov. 16, 2021. On Nov. 30, the state finally included this fatality in its data

Four COVID-related fatalities have now been reported in Old Lyme. The first two fatalities from Old Lyme, which were reported in 2020, were a 61-year-old female and an 82-year-old male.

Details of the third and fourth fatalities, which were reported respectively in 2021 and on Feb. 4, 2022, have not been made available.

COVID-19 Situation in LOL Schools

Under new state protocols for schools, Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools are no longer required to carry out contact tracing.

LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained the latest developments in LOL Schools COVID protocols in an April 1 email to the school community, saying, “As noted in my email of February 17, 2022, beginning April 1, 2022 we will no longer report daily COVID-19 cases in the schools.”

He then stated, “For the remainder of this school year, that information will be complied on a weekly basis and will be available on our website at the following link: https://www.region18.org/parents/covid-data.”

Details published to date show the following number of positive cases in LOL Schools by week.
April 3-9: 0
April 10-16: 0
April 19-23: Spring Break
April 24-30: 7

For a summary of cases in LOL Schools between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2022, visit this link.

View a full listing of cases between 8/26/21 – 12/23/21 at this link.

PARJE Celebrates Unveiling of New ‘Welcome’ Mural at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold stands with the mural’s lead artist Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal after the mural had been officially unveiled on Wednesday at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School. All photos by K. Monson except where indicated.

OLD LYME — UPDATED WITH FULL STORY: Around 40 members of the community along with several Old Lyme and Lyme-Old Lyme Schools dignitaries joined some 200 Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School students and faculty on Wednesday to celebrate the unveiling of a new Welcome mural, which had been sponsored by Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE) and created in the school.

The completed mural shows students from many nations holding hands to cross a bridge.

The mural is part of the Sister Murals Project sponsored by Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE), which was officially launched March 1, 2021. PARJE utilizes the broad appeal of art and education to confront racial injustice.

One mural has already been unveiled in Norwich and now murals are being worked on concurrently in Old Lyme and New London. Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal, who is an alumna of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, is the lead artist of the new Welcome mural in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School (LOLMS.)

In addition to her role as lead artist, Oyola-Blumenthal worked with school faculty to develop student workshops, which coordinated with the project.

Oyola-Blumenthal and her counterpart, Marvin Espy, in New London were selected from a field of nearly 20 applicants. In her application, Oyola-Blumenthal had described art as, “a neutral vessel,” contending that [it], “Can bring forth conversations that can be uncomfortable and promote opportunities to open dialogue on racial justice and education.”

Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal, lead artist for the ‘Welcome’ mural, addresses the audience at Wednesday’s ceremony in Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School to celebrate the unveiling of the mural. Photo by S. Hayes.

Superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Ian Neviaser opened the ceremony and then a number of speeches were made including one by Kimberly Monson, a professional artist, who studied at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, and subsequently became one of its faculty. She, in fact, had taught lead artist Oyola-Blumenthal when the latter was a student at the same college.

Monson noted, “An artistic legacy is passed from instructor to student and is a direct line to the artists and instructors before them. Therefore, with her training, Jas’s [Jasmine’s] pedigree can be traced back to artistic behemoths such as Saint Gaudens and Gerome.”

Monson then commented on Oyola-Blumenthal’s own legacy and its relevance to the project, saying, “Jas also has a legacy in her heritage. She holds within her … the hopes and dreams of embracing diversity, which, in addition to her talent, give her an insightful perspective to this Mural project … [She carries] the legacy, of not only the Artists housed and trained here, but also [in her role] as the voice of collaboration with our kids.”

Monson spoke warmly of Oyola-Blumenthal’s skills saying, “Jas’s sense of design was always powerful. She knows how to arrange a picture to tell a story and she has a strong command of color and pattern that celebrates her contagious optimism,” emphasizing, “All of this shows itself beautifully on the Mural painted in your hall.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School students hard at work on the mural.

Three LOLMS eighth grade students read their poems related to the Witness Stones project in Old Lyme, in which houses where enslaved people were kept in town have been identified by engraved stones placed in front of them. The students were Maggie Thuma, Thomas Kelly and Anne-Marie Hinkley.

Thelma Halloran, who is the LOLMS art teacher also spoke during the ceremony. She had collaborated with Oyola-Blumenthal on many parts of the mural project. She explained how she had become involved with, “a new group in Old Lyme created by the Rev. David W. Good, Minister Emeritus of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.”

This group, which became PARJE, was created more than a year ago in response to tragic events in the news like the death of George Floyd. Halloran said, “David wanted to remind everyone in Old Lyme that the town has a history of welcoming people – all kinds of people.”

She then listed some of those who had been welcomed into the town mentioning four refugee families from Laos, a refugee family from Rwanda, and another from Syria. She also recalled a family from the Congo, who lived in a refugee house bought by the Congregational church and families from Pakistan, Guatemala, Burma, and South Africa. In addition, she mentioned a family, whose home was destroyed by a hurricane in Puerto Rico, who also found a home in Old Lyme.  

No space was left unpainted as the mural takes form.

Halloran noted, “This history of hospitality to all who come to Old Lyme has evolved through time. It has not always been perfect. This is why there is a continued effort to strive to be a better community, including in our schools.”

She continued, “Let the message of this mural continue to be a reminder of the values we share in the town of Old Lyme, and as a community in our schools. Make the message of this mural come to life in your words and your actions with everyone you encounter, not just student to student, not just student to teacher, and not just the new faces you see.”

Urging the students to, “continue to show your kindness” to everyone in school including such people as custodians, security guards, secretaries, and paraprofessionals, she then told them also to, “Show your kindness to the student, who looks like you, but doesn’t think like you.” explaining firmly, “This is what we mean when we say welcome.” 

The intensity given to the project is clear on the faces of the students.

Halloran concluded by quoting the words of the 2021 US Presidential Inauguration poet Amanda Gorman, who said evocatively,
“The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Editor’s Note: Visit this link to see the video NBC TV posted about the event.

Lyme Public Hall Hosts Open Jazz Jam Session, Tonight

LYME — On Wednesday, April 27, from 7 to 9 p.m., Lyme Public Hall will host another Open Jazz Jam session.

All are welcome to come and participate or just listen.

This is a BYOB event and admission is free.

Lyme Public Hall is located at 249 Hamburg Rd. in Lyme.

Happy St. George’s Day 2022!

The 16th century Parish Church of St Mary in Morchard Bishop, Devon, England proudly flew the St. George’s flag on April 23 2021. Photo by R. Fogg.

UPDATED 4/24: In response to our article about St. George’s Day published yesterday, LymeLine reader Russell Fogg kindly sent us the photo above from his 2021 travels in England.

While he was visiting the village of Morchard Bishop in mid-Devon, he spotted the flag of St. George flying atop the 95 ft. tower of the 16th century Parish Church of St Mary. Interestingly, although the village has a population of only 975, it is home to two churches!

Yesterday was St. George’s Day!

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

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

St. George, (who incidentally is also the patron saint of Russia, Portugal, Georgia, Greece, Ethiopia and Palestine) is believed to have been born in Turkey in the third century AD and subsequently became a Roman soldier.  He rose up through the ranks of the Roman army, eventually becoming a personal guard to the Emperor Diocletian.

George was executed April 23, AD 303 for refusing to deny his Christian faith and is buried in the town of Lod in Israel.

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

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

This painting by Raphael depicts Saint George slaying the Dragon. It is part of the Google Art and is a Public Domain image.

According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon. In order to obtain water, the inhabitants of the town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person to be sacrificed was chosen by lot.

On the day that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed. However, he killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave the people of Silene access to water. In gratitude, they converted to Christianity.

It is generally thought that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that included the sacrifice of human beings.

The English are not generally regarded as a very patriotic nation and in a recent poll, England was found to be the least patriotic country in Europe with only one in three citizens knowing the date of St. George’s Day.

One might say, to quote from the famous lyrics of the song titled, “A Song of Patriotic Prejudice,” and written by the acclaimed duo of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann back in 1977:

“The English are moral, the English are good
And clever and modest and misunderstood …”

This famous (in England) song explains (almost) everything about the English and is performed in this video by the King’s Singers. And many thanks to Peter Ewart for providing this memory!

The St. George’s cross has, however, experienced something of a resurgence recently with the flag being used as a national symbol by fans of the English national football (soccer), rugby and cricket teams. At international matches, flags and scarves bearing this cross are worn and people paint it on their faces.

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

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

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

Editor’s Note: Parts of this article were first published April 23, 2020 on LymeLine.com.

Ledge Light to Hold Vaccine Clinics Throughout April, May, Early June

Photo of COVID-19 vials by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash.

LYME/OLD LYME — Ledge Light Health District will be holding vaccination clinics throughout April and May.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free and currently available for people 5 and up.

People aged 50 years and older, who had their first booster four months ago, are now eligible for second boosters.

First and second primary series and first boosters will also be available.

Registration, ID or insurance are not required. Bring your vaccination card if you have one already.

  • Tuesday, April 12, 1-7pm, Ages 12+Foxwoods Bingo Hall, 350 Trolley Lane Boulevard, Mashantucket
  • Tuesday, April 12, 4:30-7:30pm, Ages 12+New London High School, 490 Jefferson Avenue, New London
  • Wednesday, April 13, 1-7pm, Ages 5+, Church of the City, 250 State Street, New London
  • ThursdayApril 14, 10am-4pm, Ages 12+, SCADD Outpatient, 923 Bank Street, New London
  • ThursdayApril 14, 3-6pm, Ages 5+, St. John’s Church, 346 Shennecossett Road, Groton
  • Tuesday, April 19, 1-7pm, Ages 12+Foxwoods Bingo Hall, 350 Trolley Lane Boulevard, Mashantucket
  • ThursdayApril 21, 10am-4pm, Ages 12+, SCADD Outpatient, 923 Bank Street, New London
  • Saturday, April 23, 11am-4pm, Ages 5+, Crystal Mall, 850 Hartford Turnpike, Waterford
  • Sunday, April 24, 12-3pmAges 5+, Walk to End Homelessness, Parade Plaza, New London
  • Tuesday, April 26, 1-7pm, Ages 12+Foxwoods Bingo Hall, 350 Trolley Lane Boulevard, Mashantucket
  • Wednesday, April 27, 4-7pm, Ages 5+, Isaac School Gymnasium, 190 Governor Winthrop Boulevard, New London
  • ThursdayApril 28, 10am-4pm, Ages 12+, SCADD Outpatient, 923 Bank Street, New London
  • Saturday, April 30, 11am-4pm, Ages 5+, OIC/Step Up New London, 106 Truman Street, New London
  • Tuesday, May 3, 1-7pm, Ages 12+Foxwoods Bingo Hall, 350 Trolley Lane Boulevard, Mashantucket
  • Wednesday, May 4, 4:30-7:30pm, Ages 12+New London High School, 490 Jefferson Avenue, New London
  • Thursday, May 5, 3-6pm, Ages 5+, St. John’s Church, 346 Shennecossett Road, Groton
  • Saturday, May 7, 10am-1pm, Ages 5+, Huntington Street Baptist Church, 223 Huntington Street, New London
  • Tuesday, May 10, 1-7pm, Ages 12+Foxwoods Bingo Hall, 350 Trolley Lane Boulevard, Mashantucket
  • Saturday, May 14, 10am-2pm, Ages 5+, Groton Public Library, 52 Newtown Road, Groton
  • Tuesday, May 17, 1-7pm, Ages 12+Foxwoods Bingo Hall, 350 Trolley Lane Boulevard, Mashantucket
  • Tuesday, May 24, 1-7pm, Ages 12+Foxwoods Bingo Hall, 350 Trolley Lane Boulevard, Mashantucket
  • Tuesday, May 31, 1-7pm, Ages 12+Foxwoods Bingo Hall, 350 Trolley Lane Boulevard, Mashantucket
  • Saturday, June 4, 10am-2pm, Ages 5+, Groton Public Library, 52 Newtown Road, Groton

You can also call 1.877.678.4455 or visit nutmegpharmacy.com to make an appointment with Nutmeg Pharmacy or visit the Connecticut Vaccine Portal to find an appointment anywhere in Connecticut.


With Current Uptick of COVID-19 Cases, CT DPH Stresses Residents Should Utilize Available Tools to Prevent Virus Spread

Editor’s Note: This press release from CT DPH was forwarded to us by Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) for publication. Both Lyme and Old Lyme are members of LLHD.

NEW LONDON/LYME/OLD LYME — With the current uptick of COVID-19 cases—coupled with the upcoming schedule of spring holidays and family gatherings—the Connecticut Department of Public Health is reminding residents of the tools currently in place to help contain the spread of the virus. 

DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD, said the United Kingdom — which tends to precede COVID-19 trends in the United States — began to see an increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the BA.2 subvariant in late February. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BA.2 currently makes up more than 85 percent of U.S. cases.

“BA.2 has been spreading faster than the original omicron variant and that state’s test positivity has continued to increase over the past seven days,” Commissioner Juthani said. “DPH has been ramping up for this increase in terms of readying our statewide testing program and deploying messaging about second boosters and the availability of COVID-19 therapeutics.”

Commissioner Juthani noted that some of the COVID-19 tools in place include:

  • Second booster doses: In late March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendations regarding a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for those 50 and older or immunocompromised individuals.
    During the recent omicron surge, those who were boosted were 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated and seven times less likely to be hospitalized.
    Individuals who are eligible for this booster are encouraged to visit ct.gov/covidvaccine to locate a site near them.
    Nearly 800 locations are available to administer boosters.
  • Test to Treat: As part of the newly launched nationwide Test to Treat initiative, residents can get tested for COVID-19, and if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them, can obtain a medication from a health care provider, all in one location.
    Connecticut currently has more than 40 Test to Treat sites, which are located at select pharmacies, urgent care centers and federally qualified health centers throughout the state.              

Residents also may visit their primary care provider who also can prescribe a COVID-19 therapeutic.  A web-based site locator is now available to make it easier to find Test to Treat locations. Those who may have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support locating a Test to Treat site can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8 am to midnight ET, seven days a week. 

  • COVID-19 Self-Test Kits: For those looking for access to more self-test kits, visit the federal website https://www.covid.gov/tests to order free at-home testing kits. As of March 2022, households are eligible to order a total of eight kits. If you already ordered four kits in January and/or February, you are eligible to order four more.
  • State Supported Testing Sites: There are currently 23 State Supported COVID-19 testing sites located throughout Connecticut. These testing sites are drive-through and/or walk up and no appointment is needed. Additionally, there is no cost for the testing. Commissioner Juthani said that DPH and its testing partners can quickly increase up the number of sites in the coming weeks if the need arises. The locations and hours of each State Supported testing site can be viewed at ct.gov/coronavirus

Commissioner Juthani added that it’s important to understand and follow proper protocols for those who believe they have contracted COVID-19 or are not fully vaccinated and have had a close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

CDC guidelines recommend that if you develop respiratory or other symptoms associated with COVID-19, or test positive for the COVID-19 virus, that you stay away from gatherings or public places and avoid travel for at least five days and isolate from others in your household to the extent you can.

Also, remember to wear a well-fitting mask that completely covers your nose and mouth if you must be around others indoors.

The CDC also advises that you should take further precautions, including masking, through at least day 10 after testing positive for COVID-19.

Gillette Castle Sign Honoring William Gillette Restored by Lyme-Old Lyme HS Alumna Schillawski

Former Old Lyme resident Lauren Schillawski confirms that the sign she crafted is hung correctly with the assistance of board member George Mattern (center) and park supervisor John “Jack” Hine (right.) Schillawski created the sign as an advanced woodworking project when she was a student at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.  The post and armature were installed by the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park.

EAST HADDAM, Conn. – Several years of planning by supporters of Gillette Castle State Park — in combination with a young woman’s talents — have restored a much-missed piece of park nostalgia.

It is a tall wooden post sporting a large sign paying homage to actor William Gillette, who is shown in silhouette in a deerstalker cap, the emblem of his most famous theatrical role — Sherlock Holmes. Beneath Gillette’s name are the years of his lifetime, 1853-1937. 

The sign was installed recently near Gillette’s century-old fieldstone mansion by a team of volunteers overseen by park supervisor John “Jack” Hine and Friends of Gillette Castle State Park Board Member George Mattern of Baltic, Conn. 

The sign replaces one that stood for many years along the path leading visitors to Gillette’s home, and had been a favored spot for photographers. However, that sign fell victim to structural decay and accident, even collapsing at one point.

“The sign’s removal several years ago left a void that’s now filled because of the generous help of talented volunteers,” said Lynn Wilkinson, president of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park. “The process took time, because it was clear that long-term structural integrity and ease of repair were absolutely crucial.”

An initial effort to replace the sign about seven years ago prompted instructors at Lyme-Old Lyme High School to work with shop students on the project. One of those students was Lauren Schillawski, then an 11th-grade student of advanced woodworking.

Using images of the earlier sign as a template, Schillawski worked with the school’s computer-aided drafting (CAD) software to design and eventually construct a replica of the original hard-carved sign. 

Now a resident of Skaneateles, N.Y., working in dairy management, Schillawski credited her shop instructors — Jonathan Goss and William Derry — for their trust in approaching her with the project, and for guiding her through the difficult construction process. 

“My main interest in the project was the challenge,” she said. “Living in town, I was already familiar with Gillette’s Castle and grounds. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to make a sign that everyone could enjoy that would be around for many years.”

The armature to support the sign was designed more recently by George Mattern and approved by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in late 2021. That set the stage for the sign’s base to be installed and the supporting post erected earlier this year. 

“It’s a beautiful sign and we’re all thrilled to see this effort finally come to fruition,” said Wilkinson.

She continued, “Our deepest thanks go to Lauren for her design work, to George Mattern for his persistent support and to all of the hard-working volunteers who made themselves available — even during the winter — to make certain that this project was completed.”

The late Connecticut stage actor’s century-old mansion is nestled atop the “Seventh Sister” hill in the towns of East Haddam and Lyme along the Connecticut River. 

The structure is scheduled to open to the public on Memorial Day weekend.

In the meantime, the park at 67 River Road in East Haddam remains open and visitors may stroll around the grounds during regular hours, which are from 8 a.m. until sunset daily year-round. Trail maps and videos of the estate may be found on the Friends website at www.gillettecastlefriends.org.

Gillette was the first actor to become internationally-famous for his performances as Sherlock Holmes. The Hartford native died in 1937 after a long theatrical career and the state eventually took over ownership of his home and surrounding estate. 

Those interested in becoming a Friends member may sign up online or download a mail-in application form at www.gillettecastlefriends.org/joinsupport, or direct their questions to info@gillettecastlefriends.org or (860) 222-7850. 

The organization’s mission includes the preservation, restoration and conservation of the historic and unique structure and its scenic grounds.

The all-volunteer, nonprofit group works in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Memberships help to finance park and structural improvements while preserving the estate and Gillette’s legacy.

“Star of Freedom” Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse

This lively scene from ‘Star of Freedom’ features (from left to right) actors Danny Adams, Ayla Stackhouse, Richard E. Waits, and Ben Hope. Photographs courtesy of Jonathan Steele.

IVORYTON — Last Thursday, April 7, a new musical written by Connecticut writers took the stage in Ivoryton, sparking laughter, cheers and a standing ovation.

Star of Freedom, with music and lyrics by Jeff Blaney and book by Lawrence Thelen, opened the Playhouse’s 2022 Season.

Based on Blaney’s concept album Exodus, Star of Freedom takes the audience on a journey with Sean and Chloe as they search for the meaning of home in 1860s America.

The two come from completely different worlds – one an Irish immigrant, the other an African-American slave – but when the Civil War forces their lives to intersect, they demonstrate what it means to be American during the 19th century.

At a time when America is struggling with its identity, it is worth looking back to another difficult time in history that ultimately led to a stronger and more unified nation. Though today, the flaws and scars that this history left behind are still visible, Star of Freedom offers a ray of hope through the lives of these two very different characters.

Star of Freedom is at times funny and whimsical, while at other times painfully sad, yet it never loses its focus as a love story in a time of strife.

Blaney’s intimate and refreshing score (played by the actors on stage) is steeped in Irish and Southern traditions, making it both contemporary and nostalgic at the same time; while Thelen’s book is timely and theatrical.

Conceived and directed by the Playhouse’s own Artistic Director, Jacqueline Hubbard, this world premiere musical features a strong line-up of actor/musicians, including Danny Adams as Sean, and Ayla Stackhouse as Chloe.

The nearly 30 other characters in the story are handled by Brian Michael Carey*, Luke Darnell*, Richard E. Waits * and Ben Hope,* who also musical directs. Karilyn Ashley Surratt joins the creative team as choreographer.

The show has sets and lights designed by Marcus Abbott; costumes by Elizabeth Saylor; and sound by Adam Jackson.

Star of Freedom runs through Sunday, May 1, 2022. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm; evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

There will be one Thursday matinee on April 7 at 2 p.m. and one Saturday matinee on April 9 at 2 p.m.

This season, the Playhouse is back to full capacity for the first time in two years, yet audience safety remains the primary concern. Masks are no longer required, though recommended, and patrons must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result for admittance. Knowing all audience members are COVID-free will provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $25 for students. Tickets go on sale beginning March 1 and are available online at ivorytonplayhouse.org or by calling the box office at 860.767.7318.

For information on group rates, call the box office.

For more information on the entire 2022 season, visit ivorytonplayhouse.org. The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*Denotes a member of Actors Equity.

Death Announced of Martha Rita (Schaefer) Ames of Old Lyme, ‘Ruler of the Roost’

OLD LYME — Martha Rita (Schaefer) Ames, 73, born Jan. 6, 1949, passed away April 8, 2022, at home peacefully after a brief illness.

Marty, as most called her, worked as the office manager of Speirs Plumbing for 28 years, but the better title would have been “Ruler of the Roost.” …

Predeceased by husband Robert (S.P.L.O.M.F.L.) in 2000. She is survived by her daughter Michelle and husband Kieran Walker; …

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 12, in Christ the King Church, 2 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme. The Mass will be followed by a private burial in Duck River Cemetery …

Visit this link to read the full obituary published April 10, on TheDay.com

Lyme-Old Lyme Students Present Findings from Community Survey at Forum

These Lyme-Old Lyme students led the 2022 Community Forum, which presented the findings of the 2021 Community Survey.

LYME/OLD LYME — On March 29, results from the 2021 Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB)/Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition (LOLPC) Youth Survey were discussed at a Community Forum at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

This survey was conducted in December 2021 with 662 students in 6th through 12th grade reporting on behaviors and trends related to alcohol, marijuana, vaping, other substances, and mental health.

Eight Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) High School students participated in a youth panel to offer parents and other community members an opportunity to learn directly from them what it is like to be a teenager in Lyme-Old Lyme.

Highlights from their well-spoken, direct dialogue with the audience included kids growing up much too fast in a time of easy access, reduced perception of harm of substances, perfectionism, being over-scheduled, and being inundated with social media platforms from a very young age.

The Youth Survey reported that alcohol is still the number one substance used by LOL students with average age of first use being reported at 14.0 years old. Lifetime and recent use trends of alcohol have reduced since 2019, but national trends advise that we should understand that a “COVID Effect” might be in play resulting from isolation and lock-down.

An alarming statistic shows that the number of students, who think drinking every day is harmful, decreased from 50.9 to 27.7 percent in just two years. Similar numbers were reported for binge drinking (five or more drinks at a time) and using marijuana one to two times per week. 

The panel of students offered some insight for this drop in perceived harm. 

One reason they provided is that during isolation kids turned to their phones and social media for entertainment and communication. They explained that Snap Chat, TikTok, and Instagram normalize drinking and drug use, and kids don’t actually realize the amount of danger they can be put in with substance use. 

Social media also supports a climate for bullying, social influencing, negative mental health and self-image. The Youth Panel reported feeling that kids aren’t ready for today’s social media in Middle School or younger. Panel members encouraged parents to educate themselves and think about their own choices for their young children when it comes to phones and social media.

Survey data revealed that the mental health of our youth has followed national trends and reduced over the past two years. 

Of the students surveyed, 70 percent reported feeling stressed, 60 percent reported feeling anxious, 28% reported feeling so sad over the past two weeks that it limited daily activity, and 21 percent reported thinking about suicide. The Youth Panel agreed with these numbers and strongly encouraged audience members to understand the challenges of growing up as a teenager right now.  

Teens are inundated with pressures, intense schedules, social media influences, and the connection with drugs and alcohol plays a definite role. The survey data shows that youth, who reported marijuana use, identify coping with stress and other challenges as a primary reason they use. 

The survey also showed that only 40-60 percent of students (grade-dependent) feel that their families have clear rules around alcohol and drugs. This is an important statistic because the October LOLPC Community Survey showed that 100% of participating parents reported clear rules around alcohol. 

This is an opportunity for parents to recognize the importance of early, consistent, and on-going conversations around drugs and alcohol. The Survey and Youth Panel identify parents as role models with parental disappointment being one of the main reasons kids choose not to drink or use drugs.

The panel reported that kids are watching their parents and how they deal with stress, cope with life around them, and how they role model substance use. One student said “That’s what we are going to absorb and see as normal. My advice is to keep talking and to do the kinds of things that are healthy and good because kids are watching.”

Marijuana use, perception of harm, and its connection to our kids’ mental health was also discussed at the Forum  

The survey data shows the average age of first use of marijuana in LOL is 14.1, and by 12th grade, 19 percent of students reported trying marijuana, but the Youth Panel felt that number was under-reported.  

They also shared that teens acknowledge drinking and driving is very dangerous, but that “smoking weed” and driving is something that “kids do all the time.” This is another area for us to keep discussing with our kids and each other, with recent adult-use cannabis legalization and its impact on our communities.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition is a DFC grant-funded community organization dedicated to prevention and supporting all youth and families. 

For more information about this survey, LOLPC campaigns and programs, or to become involved, visit www.lysb.org/prevention or contact Alli Behnke, MSW at abehnke@lysb.org

Editor’s Note: Alli Behnke, MSW is the LYSB Prevention Coordinator.

Has the Pandemic Affected You or Your Business? Old Lyme Opens Applications for ARPA Grants to Businesses, Nonprofits, Town Entities

UPDATED 12:15pm — see changes in red: The Town of Old Lyme has formally announced two new ways for Old Lyme small businesses and nonprofits to seek American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

Today the Town released two grant applications, in which organizations can either seek economic recovery or create community initiatives to address the negative impact of the pandemic.

The deadline for application submissions to either grant is May 2, 2022.

Applicants for the “Economic Recovery Grant” will submit information substantiating any pandemic-related economic losses between March 3, 2021 and April 1, 2022 per the restrictions of the Federal funding. The Economic Recovery application is for small businesses and for 501( c)-3 or 501( c)-19 nonprofit organizations located in Old Lyme.

The maximum amount granted under the Economic Recovery Grant will be $10,000.

A separate grant will be available for businesses and nonprofit organizations, who wish to apply for a “Community Initiative Grant.” This grant is for those organizations seeking funding for programs and initiatives that will help address the negative impact of the pandemic and create new transformative opportunities in Old Lyme.

Initiatives can address issues such as mental health, early childcare, infrastructure, and tourism & business patronage, among others. Funds must be expended and final reports submitted to the Town prior to Dec. 31, 2026.

The Community Initiative Grant is also open to Town of Old Lyme Government Boards, Commissions, and Departments with initiatives that meet the objectives of the funding.

Small businesses and nonprofits can apply for both an Economic Recovery Grant and a Community Initiative Grant.

Outside of these two grants, all pandemic relief services for individuals and households will continue to be coordinated through the Town of Old Lyme Social Services Office.

Old Lyme residents who have suffered economic loss due to the pandemic are encouraged to contact the Town of Old Lyme Social Services Office at 860-434-1605 x228 or socialservices@oldlyme-ct.gov. 

The Economic Recovery Grant applications will be assessed by an outside consultant, who has been hired to oversee the grant process. The consultant has provided a similar oversight process to other Connecticut towns including East Windsor and Somers. 

The Town’s ARPA Committee will finalize the recommendations for both grant categories and submit them to the Town’s Board of Selectmen for approval. The Town will share its grant decisions on its website. 

The two grant programs are just one aspect of the Town’s total spending of the $2.162 million received in ARPA funds. The remaining funds will be allocated to town projects in the coming months. The Town’s ARPA Committee will assess the total volume of requested small business and nonprofit grants before voting on the funding cap for each category.

“The results from last December’s community survey indicated that many Old Lyme organizations had been impacted financially by the pandemic,” said Thomas Gotowka, Chairperson of the Town’s ARPA Committee.

He continued, “We now want to identify those small businesses that were hit the hardest, and those organizations that re-directed their resources in order to help us get through the crisis; and assist them with funds from Old Lyme’s grant programs.”

The fillable-pdf applications are now available at www.OldLyme-ct.gov.

Printed applications are available at the reception desk in the Old Lyme Town Hall foyer entrance.

Applications can be submitted online, postal mailed, or brought to the Town’s secured lockbox via the instructions on the application.

A complete set of rules and regulations governing the funding can be found on the application.

For more information, contact ARPA@oldlyme-ct.gov.

After Two Year COVID-Enforced Hiatus, Old Lyme Church’s White Elephant Sale is Back!

The annual White Elephant Sale will be held again this year. By long-established tradition, it always starts on the first strike of 9 a.m. on the designated Friday.

OLD LYME — The ministers of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme have announced that the universally popular White Elephant Sale will return again this year on Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9. The Sale is run by the church’s Ladies’ Benevolent Society.

The annual Sale had been hosted continuously for 83 years prior to 2020, but then was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hours for the sale are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday.

Intake will take place for six days only beginning Thursday, June 23, and continuing through Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25. Intake will then resume Tuesday, June 28, and continue Wednesday, June 29, and Thursday, June 30.

A delighted Bob Davis, who has been chairing the White Elephant Sale for more than 20 years, commented, “It is wonderful to bring back one of the major annual events on both the church and town calendars.”

For more information on the sale and guidelines for intake, visit this link.

Volunteers are needed in every area of the sale. If you would like to volunteer, call the church office in June at 860-434-8686, select option 5, leave your name and phone number, and the organizers will respond promptly.

Help Clean Up Roadsides in Lyme Through April 22

Many hands make light work … this was the 2019 Rte. 82 volunteer, clean-up crew.

LYME — In honor of Earth Day, the Town of Lyme and the Lyme Public Hall & Local History Archives are sponsoring a town-wide annual clean-up of local roadsides, from Friday, Apr. 1, through Friday, Apr. 22.

On Saturday, April 2, there will be a Lyme Public Hall Open House from 12 to 3 p.m. — bags will be available for pick-up.

Free trash bags, recycling bags and gloves will be available at Lyme Town Hall, Lyme Public Library and the Hadlyme Country Store.

Full bags of litter or recyclables may be left by the side of the road — the Lyme Town Crew will pick them up. Be sure to wear bright clothing and only pick up litter during daylight hours.

For more information, contact Chris McCawley at 860-575-7741 or email info@LymePublicHall.org.

Old Lyme’s EDC Offers Congratulations to ‘The Stumble Inne’ with Celebratory Ribbon-Cutting

Celebrating the ribbon-cutting at The Stumble Inne are (front row, from left to right) Selectman Matthew Ward, EDC Chair Cheryl Poirier, Cyndie Caramante, Kaisea Caramante, Jim Caramante, Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker, First Selectman Tim Griswold, and EDC Member MJ DeRisio. Standing in the back row are (from left to right) EDC Members Wendy Russell and Mona Colwell, and (far right) John Stratton. All photos by Alan Poirier.

OLD LYME — The luck of the Irish held back the rain for Thursday’s ribbon cutting at The Stumble Inne on Halls Road. The Caramante family, who own the sports bar and grille and its new expansion, were celebrated for their investment in the Old Lyme community with their second food establishment in Old Lyme’s business district.

The ribbon cutting was conducted by the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC), who have begun the program to bring attention to new business in town.

First Selectman Tim Griswold and EDC Chair Cheryl Poirier both made short remarks as part of the program, each highlighting the contribution owners Jim and Cyndie Caramante make to the community. Griswold noted the many quiet days the Caramante’s stayed open for “take-out service only” at their restaurant, The Hideaway, during the height of the pandemic.

Owner Jim Caramante prepares to cut the ceremonial ribbon at The Stumble Inne with members of his family, the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen and members of the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC) in attendance. Cheryl Poirier, EDC Chair, holds the Certificate of Appreciation from the EDC that was subsequently presented to the Caramante’s.

Poirier also noted during her remarks that the day marked both the Caramante’s commitment to Old Lyme, as well as the patrons’ commitment to supporting Old Lyme businesses such as The Stumble Inne. “It’s also a testament to all of you here today, supporting our small businesses.”

The Caramante’s have been Old Lyme business owners almost 20 years since they first purchased The Hideaway from the retiring owner, Carl Lutender. Jim worked for the Lutender’s at The Hideaway a number of years before the ownership transition.


Cyndi and Jim Caramante pose for a photo with their daughter Kaisea, who is holding the certificate presented by the Economic Development Commission. Mona Colwell, who is a member of the EDC, stands in the rear.

Jim and Cyndie became residents of Old Lyme when their oldest child was just becoming school-aged. “We moved to Old Lyme for the school system, and I started to work for the Lutenders, who were just great people. Now my kids are grown and live here in Old Lyme. We’ve grown roots here. I’ll never leave Old Lyme.”

And when the town went quiet during the long 2020 pandemic shutdown, the Caramante’s experienced the gratitude of the community that they have nurtured here over the years. “Customers were coming in buying thousands of dollars in gift certificates just to show their support,” Jim said. “People would come in just to sit with Cyndie and do puzzles with her while she waited for take-out orders to come in.”

The newly-opened pool room at The Stumble Inne.

When The Public House closed on Halls Road during the pandemic, the Caramante’s saw it as a chance to create a place for a younger crowd than is represented by their loyal customer base at The Hideaway. They soon opened The Stumble Inne featuring live music on the weekends, karaoke and trivia nights, and now a brand new pool room. “It’s a different vibe from The Hideaway and so there is something for everyone, “ Caramante said.

Caramante added, “Everyone’s been so supportive in town of The Stumble. The first night here was madness — it was packed.”

Following the official remarks of the day, a group of about 30 people including the Caramante’s daughter Kaisea and other extended family and friends moved outside for the official ribbon-cutting with Jim Caramante holding the ceremonial scissors. Cyndi then accepted a certificate of appreciation from the EDC.

“The EDC is committed to supporting our businesses in Old Lyme,” said Poirier. “We’re hoping to continue to highlight new businesses with ribbon-cuttings, and are excited to highlight all of our businesses on our new website ExploreOldLyme.com. We are a group of volunteers, appointed by the Town, and will do our best to support our business community.”

Editor’s Note: For more information about The Stumble Inne, visit https://www.restaurantji.com/ct/old-lyme/the-stumble-inne

Free Community Mapping Sessions Contrasting Old Lyme with New London Offered Saturday

Briana Harlan

OLD LYME — On Saturday, March 19, Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE) hosts a free Community Mapping workshop in three sessions, which will look at opportunities and resources in Old Lyme and New London with an emphasis on equity.

Community engagement specialist Brianna Harlan will lead three sessions to discuss in-depth how the town of Old Lyme (a homogeneous, primarily white community) contrasts with New London (its neighboring, culturally-diverse city).

The first session is from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and is for New London residents.

The first session is from 12 to 1 p.m. and for Old Lyme residents. Register for this free, virtual session here. In this event, participating residents will identify assets and opportunities in their neighborhoods, create “maps” of their community, and discuss hyper-local examples of racial inequity. This event is specifically for Old Lyme community mapping.

Th final session is from 1 to 2 p.m. and will bring all the participants together in a virtual environment.

These sessions will foster a deep understanding of where attendees live in relation to their neighbors. Local residents will gain a sense of responsibility for their resources and become informed advocates for equitable communities.

Harlan is an artist and activist best known for her work Black Love Blooms, which she performed at last year’s New London Dream Market. She is also a trained community leader, working with AmeriCorps, NeighborWorks America, Creative Capital, and Adobe.

Harlan currently works as a creative, community organizer and strategist for several community initiatives around the country including City University of New York’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Incubator.

For more information, visit www.racialjusticeart.org/map

Biega Builds as a Job, But Also as a Valued Volunteer on Numerous Old Lyme Projects

Project Construction Manager Ken Biega (left) stands with the Valley Shore-YMCA Director of Operations Tony Sharillo in the recently opened Brady Wellness Center in the ‘Y’ at Westbrook. Biega has served as a volunteer on numerous building committees in Old Lyme and consistently received high praise for his invaluable work on them. Photo submitted.

OLD LYME/WESTBROOK — You may not have heard the name Ken Biega, but metaphorically speaking, his fingerprints are all over numerous buildings in and around Old Lyme.

Soft-spoken and with a cheerful disposition, Biega has served as a volunteer on numerous building committees in Old Lyme including the construction of the Hains Park Boathouse at Rogers Lake and the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library renovation and expansion project.

He is currently a volunteer member of the Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee.

Meanwhile, in a professional capacity as both the co-owner of Noble Construction & Management in Essex and a building construction manager with more than 30 years of experience, he has for the past six months been spearheading the extensive construction project for the Brady Wellness Center at the Valley-Shore YMCA — commonly known as the ‘Y’ — in Westbrook, Conn.

Biega, who has lived in Old Lyme since 1990, graduated from Wentworth College with a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction and has been in the construction business ever since. He joined O & G Industries in Torrington more than  32 years ago as a junior project engineer and steadily advanced through its ranks, rising to a manager, and then a senior executive in the firm.

In May 2021, Biega took a giant leap towards becoming his own boss when he joined Noble Construction. The founder, Ed Noble, was looking to retire and seeking someone to take over the successful business he had created. Biega stepped into that role as co-owner and the two men worked out all the financial arrangements for Biega to take full ownership over an agreed period in a series of steps.

While working at O & G, Biega was involved in numerous local school building projects including East Lyme High and Middle Schools, and all the schools in both Waterford and Westbrook. Further afield, he has taken on projects at Yale University, Wyndham High School and the Gunn School at Litchfield, Conn.

His first encounter with his hometown was when O & G was awarded the Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) High School construction project that was ultimately built after the initial proposal had been defeated at referendum. Wearing his O & G hat, Biega became an ex officio member of the Region 18 Building Committee in 2009 and played a significant part in guiding its members through the complexities and controversies of the high school project, which lasted through 2012 .

The exterior of the Fred Emerson Boathouse at Hains Park on Rogers Lake. Ken Biega was a key member of the building committee that oversaw its construction.

Shortly after the conclusion of that project, the Town of Old Lyme’s plan to construct a new boathouse at Hains Park on Rogers Lake began to take shape. Recalling Biega’s calm expertise throughout the lengthy LOL High School project along with his careful eye on costs, Mary Jo Nosal, who was serving as an Old Lyme Selectwoman at the time, asked Biega if he would be willing to serve on the boathouse committee.

He agreed … and in many ways, the rest is history.

Asked how Biega contributed to the boathouse project, Nosal replied, “[He] is a dependable and modest community asset, who never fails to respond with a self-effacing “Sure,” when asked to volunteer. Ken is an effective collaborator, who shares his deep expertise to ensure that every aspect of the project is addressed in the most cost-effective manner.”

She added, “Ken’s nature makes him approachable and respectful of others’ questions and opinions. His record of volunteerism includes leadership roles on [numerous] projects. He has been instrumental in building these gems in our community.”

Katie Huffman, Director of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, welcomes guests to the inaugural event for the library’s new patio. Biega chaired the building committee for this project.

After the boathouse project, Biega became involved in the now-completed building and renovation project at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library in Old Lyme, which has totally transformed the facility. Library Director Katie Huffman explained his role saying, “Ken served as the Renewal Building Project Committee Chair from 2017 through 2021. Last fall, we retired the Renewal Building Project Committee and reinstated the Library Building Committee of which Ken is the chair.”

Describing how the project progressed, she said, “Working with Ken has been fabulous. He brings so much knowledge about the construction process to the table. I’m confident that his expertise has saved the library both time and money, and it’s freed up my time to focus more on library services.”

In further recognition of his service to the library, Biega was elected Vice-President of the Library Board for the current financial year.

The Lymes’ Senior Center on Town Woods Rd. in Old Lyme is the focus of an ongoing building committee, which is determining the future renovation design and possible expansion of the Center. Biega serves as volunteer on the committee and is an ‘incredible asset’ according to its chair, Jeri Baker.

The library project was hardly finished when Biega was asked to join the Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee,  which had the charge to research the optimum way to renovate and possibly expand the Center. Jeri Baker of Old Lyme is both the chair of the Lymes’ Senior Center Board of Trustees and also head of its building committee. The project may still be in its infancy, but Baker already has a clear impression of the skills Biega is contributing to the project as a volunteer committee member.

She commented, “Ken is an incredible asset to the Senior Center Building Committee. His depth of knowledge and expert skill set makes him a valuable member of yet another effort to improve the lives of both the communities of Lyme and Old Lyme.”

Baker concluded succinctly — and with a chuckle, “He is such a team player on the committee … and also has a great sense of humor!”

The front entrance of the Valley Shore-YMCA in Westbrook. Photo by T. Sharillo.

As mentioned above, Biega’s most recent project in a professional capacity has been the construction of the Brady Wellness Center at the Westbrook ‘Y.’ This came about after the Prymus Pool suffered a catastrophic failure in 2015 that ultimately caused the permanent closure of the pool.

Immediately following the closure, the ‘Y’ conducted a community-wide needs assessment study to determine how it could best serve the community. Based on the survey data collected, the ‘Y’s’ Board of Directors decided to renovate the damaged pool area and transform the space into a state-of-the-art wellness center for community members of all ages to utilize.

Tony Sharillo, Director of Operations at the ‘Y’, explains the board’s vision was, “To create a Wellness Center that generated excitement and which the community could be proud of — the ‘Crown Jewel of the Shoreline’ in terms of wellness centers — with the immediate intention of enticing people to get back to being fit and healthy after all the challenges of the pandemic.”

Another view of the Brady Wellness center at the Y in Westbrook. Photo courtesy of the Valley Shore-YMCA.

To fund the renovations, the ‘Y’ set a capital campaign goal of $5.5 million, and despite the unexpected and severe impact of COVID-19, a remarkable $4.2 million has already been raised. This has been possible in part because, after its humble opening in 1974, the ‘Y’ has undergone four facility expansions and now serves more than 10,000 members each year, who make over 10 million visits.

The fundraising was kicked off by Robert “Bob” Brady, after whom the Center is named, with a major gift of $1.5 million from the Brady Family Foundation. Brady is the founder and former CEO of BLR® – Business & Legal Resources of Old Saybrook, and, according to Sharillo, “… believes in the Y and its impact on the community. Having experienced the importance of fitness in his own life, he wanted to share that belief with the community at large.”

The ‘Y’ set a challenging construction schedule back in July 2021 when Noble Construction was selected as the contractor, but, thanks in many ways to Biega’s guiding hand, the new Brady Wellness Center opened on both time and budget a few weeks ago.

There is no shortage of exercise machines on offer. Photo by K. Biega.

The Center offers a complete line of new cardiovascular equipment, free weights, selectorized equipment, a functional training area, and a sophisticated circuit training system, called MX4.

Asked how the project has progressed under Biega’s watchful eye, Sharillo replied, “ We’re very fortunate to have Ken as part of the team. He has been wonderful. We had a really aggressive timeline and he did everything he could to ensure that high quality was maintained… costs were managed effectively and all the sub-contractors held up their ends [in terms of their commitments.]”

In summary, Sharillo said of Biega, “I couldn’t have asked for a better contractor to work with. He really cared about the project. He was so hard working and incredibly generous with his time.”

The Center opened Feb. 21 this year, but an official ribbon-cutting is planned in a few months when all the final punch-list items have been completed. Sharillo noted that all donors to the Capital Campaign will be invited to the ceremony.

He also stresses that there is no additional charge to members of the ‘Y’ to use the new Brady Wellness Center, noting, “It’s all part of the package.”

The Brady Wellness Center offers a wide range of exercise equipment. Photo courtesy of the Valley Shore-YMCA.

The Center is now open for business and Biega will soon be working on another project. But he will doubtless continue his volunteer activities in Old Lyme, especially as the Lymes’ Senior Center project is in its very early stages.

Asked why he carries on with his significant volunteer work when he is not only about to become the sole owner of a thriving business but also has a wife and three children to consider, he says simply, “It makes me a part of the community and allows me to give back.”

Nosal puts it another way saying Biega has become such an asset to the Old Lyme community that, “Suffice to say, for any building project in Old Lyme, the common thinking is, ‘What would Ken do?'”

Editor’s Notes: i) For more information about the Brady Wellness Center, visit this link.
ii) For more information about Noble Construction & Management of Essex, visit this link.
iii) For more information about the Valley Shore-YMCA, visit this link.