April 11, 2021

Celebrate Kick-off of Lyme Pollinator Pathway with Free Weekend Movie Streaming, Zoom Presentation, April 16-19

Hometown Habitat, Stories of Bringing Nature Home

Free Weekend Movie Streaming and a Zoom Presentation with Catherine Zimmerman

To kick-off the official launch of Lyme Pollinator Pathway, we are offering a very special Earth Day program in two parts. Register for one or both of the events: pollinatorpathway@gmail.com. You will be sent a link a few days before the program. 

Friday, April 16 through Sunday, April 18:  Over three days, you are invited to watch a free streaming of the movie Hometown Habitat, Stories of Bringing Nature Home, at your leisure. Participants can access and re-access the film throughout those three days. Through its profile of 7 hometown habitat heroes, this film shows how we can save pollinators, save water, and save the earth. The narrative thread of this 8-part documentary is provided by renowned entomologist Douglas Tallamy, Ph.D. whose research, books and lectures about increasing the use of native plants in landscaping provide solutions for habitat and species loss. Tallamy challenges the notion that humans are here and nature is someplace else. Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXbDWTfcK2s

Monday, April 19 at 7 pm: Join us for an inspiring zoom presentation by the movie’s producer/director Catherine Zimmerman. For two years, she and her film crew traveled around the country to visit hometown habitat heroes and film their inspiring stories of community commitment to conservation landscaping. Zimmerman shares these success stories and works in-progress that re-awaken and re-define our relationship with nature. The message will inspire you — all of us have the power to support habitat for wildlife and bring natural beauty to our patch of the Earth. 

Sue Cope will moderate the April 19 program and talk about the Lyme Pollinator Pathway effort. Lyme Pollinator Pathway was established February 4, 2021.  As part of a national effort, Lyme Pollinator Pathway aims to help Lyme neighbors and friends create and connect pollinator-friendly habitats with food sources for bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators. We wish to encourage as many people as possible to plant patches, big or small, of native pollinator-friendly vegetation. If we can grow enough patches, they will connect like stepping-stones to create a pollinator pathway of nutrition and protection. Even the smallest patch can create a sense of satisfaction about your participation in this vital community project. 

For more information, visit lymelandtrust.org.

Death Announced of SFC Carmen Joseph DePaulo III, 36; Member of Lyme-Old Lyme HS Class of 2002

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – SFC Carmen Joseph DePaulo III, 36, of Fayetteville, N.C. formerly of Lyme, passed away March 6, 2021. SFC DePaulo was assigned to A Company, 3d Battalion, 3d Special Forces Group (Airborne).

SFC DePaulo was born Sept. 10, 1984, in Jacksonville, Fla. He attended Lyme-Old Lyme High School in Old Lyme, graduating in June 2002 …

… SFC DePaulo’s awards and decorations include … the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (3rd Award), the Army Service Ribbon, Special Forces Tab, Parachutist badge, and Military Free Fall Parachutist badge. He was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal …

… He is survived by his wife Abigail DePaulo; and daughters, Kathrine and Alexandra of Fayetteville, N.C., father and mother Carmen and Tonya DePaulo of Lyme; …

… Burial will follow at a later date in Arlington National Cemetery.

Visit this link to view the full obituary published April 9, in The Day.

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.

Monday-Thursday
  • 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
Friday
  • 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)
Saturday
  • 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.

April 7 COVID-19 Update: Both Towns Hold at Previous Day’s Cumulative Case Totals, Lyme at 97, Old Lyme at 316

Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19. Photo courtesy of the CDC.

LYME/OLD LYME — The Daily Data Report for Connecticut issued Wednesday, April 7, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT-DPH) for data as at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, shows that neither Lyme nor Old Lyme reported any increase in new COVID-19 cases over the number reported Monday, April 5.

Old Lyme reported a total of 316 cases for the second day in a row, while Lyme had a total of 97 cumulative cases for the fifth reporting day in succession, 

These Daily Reports are not issued by CT DPH on Saturday or Sundays and therefore Monday’s data includes new cases from both weekend days.

Old Lyme – No Change in Cumulative Cases

The Daily Data Report issued Wednesday, April 7, for data as at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, shows that Old Lyme has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 308 confirmed COVID-19 cases and EIGHT probable casesmaking a TOTAL of 316 cases.

This represents NO CHANGE in the cumulative number of confirmed or probable cases compared with those reported Tuesday, April 6.

The total number of Old Lyme residents tested is 4,977, an decrease of one over the previous day’s number of 4,978.

Lyme – No Change in Cumulative Cases

The Daily Data Report issued Wednesday, April 7, shows Lyme has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 89 confirmed cases and 8 probable cases, making a TOTAL of 97 cases.

This represents NO CHANGE in the cumulative number of confirmed or probable cases compared with those reported Tuesday, April 6.

The total number of Lyme residents tested is 1,350, an increase of two over the previous day’s number of 1,348.

Two-Week New Case Rates Make Depressing News for State, Local Towns

The report issued Wednesday, April 7, by the CT DPH for the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks contains distressing news for the whole state. This report is issued daily, but only updated weekly on Thursdays. The most recent report was updated Thursday, April 1; the next updated report will be issued in the afternoon of Thursday, April 8.

There are now 146 towns in the state in the Red (highest) Zone for two-week new case rates and these include Old Lyme, which remains in that Zone for the second week in succession.

Lyme, however, is one of only 13 towns in the state in the Gray (lowest) Zone for two-week case rates, recording a third straight week in the lowest zone. (Four zones are specified by the CT DPH — see details below.)

Emphasizing the seriousness of the current situation, the Hartford Courant has today published an article by Alex Putterman titled, Seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate hits highest level in two months as variants spread in Connecticut; hospitalizations up

Overall, the state’s April 1 report contains disappointing news for the whole state with the number of towns in the Gray category staying constant and those in the Yellow and Orange Zones decreasing significantly this week (the previous week’s figures are shown in parentheses), reflecting a statewide  increase in infection rates:

  • 13 (13) towns are now in the (lowest case rate) Gray Zone
  • 2 (5) are in the (lowest but one) Yellow Zone
  • 8 (20) are in the (second highest case rate) Orange Zone.

All the remaining 146 towns are in the Red Zone, and the state as a whole is moving once again towards the map we published in November when every town in the state was in the Red Zone. The numbers are concerning in that the trend appears to be that cases are continuing to increase at this point.

Lyme joins only 12 other towns in the Gray (lowest rate) Zone: Ashford, Canaan, Chaplin, Cornwall, Eastford, Franklin, Hampton, New Canaan, Norfolk, Scotland, Sharon and Warren.

The Yellow (second lowest rate) Zone now has only two towns: Essex and Willington.

The Orange (second highest rate) Zone now has only eight towns, down from 20 in last week’s numbers: Chester, Columbia, East Haddam, East Hampton, Salisbury, Somers, Stonington, Vernon

  • The gray category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is less than five or less than five reported cases.
  • The yellow category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is between five and nine reported cases.
  • The orange category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is between 10 and 14.
  • The red category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town exceeds 15.

In all cases, this rate does not include cases or tests among residents of nursing home, assisted living, or correctional facilities.

More Detail on Two-Week New Case Rates

LLHD Director of Health Stephen Mansfield

On Thursday, April 1, Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) also issued their latest weekly report of COVID data for the municipalities within their District. Ledge Light Director of Health Stephen Mansfield prefaces the report with the comment, “We continue to see relatively steady case numbers within our jurisdiction. Our contact tracers report clusters associated with daycares, schools, and workplaces, and transmissions linked to social gatherings and sporting events.”

He stresses, however, “Although we are making great strides with our COVID vaccination program, it is still imperative that we remain diligent in our mitigation strategies.”

The latest two-week case rates announced Thursday, April 1 (from 03/14 to 3/27) have remained constant in Old Lyme and increased in Lyme.

The two-week case rates are as follows:

  • Old Lyme from 15.5 to 15.5
  • Lyme from 9.2 to 12.2

The same report shows that the case numbers in Week 1 and Week 2 respectively and recorded for the period 3/14 to 3/27  (compared with the previous two-week case rate for 3/07 to 3/20 shown in parentheses) are as follows:

  • Lyme had(1) cases in Week 1 and(2) in Week 2
  • Old Lyme had 7 (9) cases in Week 1 and (7) in Week 2

This data was updated April 1, 2021. The next Ledge Light Weekly Data Report for its District will be issued in the afternoon of Thursday, April 8.

Vaccination Rates

At the request of several readers, we have started a new section reflecting the status of community vaccination rates in Lyme and Old Lyme. The data is taken from the COVID-19 Vaccinations by Town report published by CT-DPH, which is published roughly weekly.

Lyme is now ahead of Old Lyme in terms of the percentage of its total population that have received a first dose, with 54.36 percent vaccinated compared with 48.63 percent in Old Lyme.

The percentages for both towns for the age segments 65-74 and 75+ are very encouraging with Lyme now having 105.47 percent of seniors 75 and above having received their first dose and 95.09 percent of the same age segment having received it in Old Lyme.

The detailed data below is the most recent and was updated April 1.

Old Lyme
Total population:  7,306
Estimated population age 65-74:  1,067
Estimated population age 75 and above:  794

DateTotal pop. 1st dose given1st dose given as % of total pop. 1st dose given age 65-741st dose given as % of age 65-74 pop. 1st dose given age 75 & above1st dose given as % of age 75 & above pop.
3/12,11528.95%83578%73092%
3/82,62635,94%94588.57%76496.22%
3/153,07042.02%1,02796.25%797100.38%
3/243,24144.36%99893.53%75394.84%
3/313,55348.63%1,00193.81%75595.09%
4/74,17057.08%1,078101.08%76396.1%

Lyme
Total population:  2,316
Estimated population age 65-74:  372
Estimated population age 75 and above:  274

DateTotal pop. 1st dose gven1st dose given as % of total population 1st dose given age 65-741st dose given as % of age 65-74 pop.1st dose given age 75 & above1st dose given as a % of age 75 & above pop.
3/160526.12%24466%22281%
3/876733.12%28175.54%22983.58%
3/1580134.59%26972.31%20675.18%
3/241,13549.01%36297.31%279101.82%
3/311,25954.36%372100.00%289105.47%
4/71,51065.2%414111.29%295107.66%

Three Fatalities in Old Lyme Since Pandemic Began, None in Lyme

According to the report mentioned above, there have now been THREE fatalities in Old Lyme. Asked Tuesday, Feb. 9, for details of this third fatality, Ledge Light Health Department Director of Health Stephen Mansfield responded, “We have not been notified of any recent deaths in Old Lyme. Keep in mind that that report is compiled by the Connecticut Department of Public Health; deaths are not reportable to local health districts.”

He added, “I can’t speak for their data sources.”

The two fatalities from Old Lyme previously reported in 2020 were a 61-year-old female and an 82-year-old male.

No fatalities have been reported in Lyme.

Connecticut Hospital Occupancy

At the request of several readers, we added a new report showing the respective rates of hospital occupancy at local hospitals. The data for this report is obtained from the Connecticut Hospital Occupancy Report published weekly by the CT DPH and extracted from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) facility-level data for hospital utilization aggregated on a weekly basis (Friday to Thursday).

Since the most recent report is dated Feb. 19 and no subsequent updates have been issued, we have discontinued publishing this report until a new update is issued.

Editor’s Note: The state issues a COVID-19 metric report daily around 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, which includes current data up to the previous evening. In light of the ongoing rise in Coronavirus cases, we publish a new weekday update reporting confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Lyme and Old Lyme. 

A la Carte: Smart Spice Veggie Soup Goes Easy on Calories, But Big on Taste

Lee White

I had such a lovely weekend in Newburyport, Mass., two weeks ago. My granddaughter Casey, a junior at UMass-Amherst, is still in on campus learning in-person, but Sydney, whose 26th birthday we were celebrating, was there, as was middle-granddaughter Laurel, a tennis teacher/elementary school teacher.

We all met at my daughter-in-law’s house and my son, Peter (the two are divorced, but still friendly and very involved with their daughters) was there for dinner. It seemed odd that we were all enjoying wine (if the girls are drinking, I am definitely old.) I made Bolognese, pasta, salad, dressing and garlic bread that I’d made at home. 

We waited a few hours before we dove into the red velvet cake. We each had a slice with our coffee, but I took three quarters of it home. I sent a big slice to my friend Richard and had a tiny slice on Sunday, but today I will remove the frosting, cut the rest of the cake into chunks and freeze them.

When there is another celebration, I will make a trifle, layering the cake with strawberry jam, pudding, sliced bananas and sliced strawberries, topping the trifle with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

In the meantime, I am trying to lower my pandemic 20 via intermittent fasting. For me, I can eat from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., then fast until the next day at 11 a.m. I don’t get hungry because my dinner salad takes me half an hour finish and I go to bed early.

I must lose at least those 20 pounds and there is no way I would try on my old bathing suits after 12 months of eating through pantry and refrigerator.

In addition, this week I will have my first in-person interview. For a year, my biggest decision was what to wear from the living room to the kitchen. For these interviews, sweatpants and a UConn sweatshirt will not do. 

As for the diet, this is one delicious soup and each serving is about 250 calories with the chicken, 198 without. If you don’t have kale, use any kind of lettuce, the greener the better.

Smart Spice Veggie Soup

Adapted from Power Spicing by Rachel Beller (Clarkson Potter, New York, 2019)

Yield: serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, shopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium carrot, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon red curry paste
8 cups low-sodium vegetable chicken broth
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
2 zucchini, diced
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook another minute more.

Add carrots and celery; cook 3 minutes. Add turmeric, ginger, black pepper and cayenne (or red curry paste). Stir until veggies are coated with spices.

Increase heat to medium-high, add broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add chicken (if using),  cauliflower and zucchini. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until cauliflower is very tender.

Stir in kale and beans and cook a few minutes, until kale is wilted.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years, but now lives in Groton, Conn.

COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments Can Now be Scheduled for Anyone 16+ Living, Working or Studying in CT

LYME/OLD LYME/STATEWIDE — Starting today, April 1, all Connecticut residents and all those working or studying in Connecticut age 16 and older are now eligible for vaccination appointments.

Visit this link for information on COVID-19 vaccination scheduling options. The website states that vaccine scheduling for individuals age 16-44 opens at 8 a.m. this morning.

After meeting with hospital leaders statewide, state officials have determined medically-high risk conditions including sickle cell disease, end-state renal disease on dialysis, active cancer treatment, solid organ transplant, Down syndrome and all patients of Connecticut Children’s and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital will receive priority planning in the vaccination process. Hospitals will contact patients with those conditions directly.

Additionally, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be able to receive vaccinations at dedicated clinics organized by the Department of Social Services.

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!

Towns of Lyme, Old Lyme Work to Identify Homebound Residents to Ensure They Receive COVID-19 Vaccines

To qualify for in-home vaccinations, individuals must:

•    Be homebound (unable to physically leave their home)
•    Live in geographical bounds of the Town of Lyme or Old Lyme

Vaccinations will also be provided for one primary caregiver for the eligible homebound resident. The caregiver must be in the home at the resident’s scheduled appointment time.

If you know of a homebound resident in need of this in-home vaccination service, you can help them register at https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/homebound.

For qualifying residents of Old Lyme, who do not have internet access, call the Old Lyme Emergency Management COVID-19 Help Line at (860) 572-6246 and you will receive a return call. Due to anticipated high call volume, patience is requested while awaiting the return call.

For qualifying residents of Lyme, contact Social Services Director Kathy Tisdale at 860-575-0541.

Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden, Sustainable CT Will Match Funds Raised up to $7,500

Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden President Jim Ward (second from left) talks to attendees at a site walk held Saturday of the area proposed for the new garden at Town Woods Park.

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden (LOLFSG) is moving ahead by leaps and bounds. This past Saturday, LOLSFG President Jim Ward hosted a tour of the proposed site for the garden at Town Woods Park in Old Lyme and today a major fundraising initiative to support the project begins.

The mission of LOLSFG is to establish a sustainable, organic garden to grow fresh produce for local food pantries. Ward notes that the proposed Town Woods site is, “An organically maintained recreational park with access to water, electricity, parking and plenty of sunlight.” 

He told LymeLine, “The site walk was a great success. Sixteen people attended and we met and talked for over an hour. Participants thought the location was ideal.”

Asked why a fundraising campaign is necessary at this point, Ward explains, “Our immediate priority is to fund and install an 8′ deer/rodent fence to protect future plants.  Additionally, we are in need of equipment and tools to assist in bed preparation, garden development and ongoing tasks.”

He adds, “A successful campaign will allow us to procure and install the deer fence in June,” pointing out that, “With the area secure, we can move forward with the garden design and preparation of the planting beds for our initial planting in the Spring of 2022.

Ward says enthusiastically, “This will enable us to begin delivering fresh produce to local pantries in the summer of 2022.”

The project’s organizers are asking the community to support this initiative by donating to a crowdfunding campaign or volunteering in the effort.  If the campaign reaches its $7,500 goal by its fundraising deadline of May 24, 2021 the project will receive a matching grant of $7500 from Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund, which is an innovative funding resource for public, community-led sustainability projects.

“I am very excited, as a successful campaign will put us months ahead of our original projections and allow us to install a fence and prepare all garden beds this summer. This will allow us to begin planting and growing fresh healthy produce in the entire garden next spring. Realistically, we can begin delivering fresh produce to local food pantries next summer,” comments Ward

It is anticipated that the garden project will have a long-lasting impact on the community.  The LOLFSG plans to incorporate educational opportunities around subjects such as composting, rain barrels, and sustainable gardening. 

One opportunity will be for volunteers to expand their knowledge of organic farming through formal and informal collaboration with veteran and master gardeners.  For example, a master gardener mentor has agreed to share his expertise in composting while establishing the garden’s compost system. 

The LOLFSG is also partnering with the Pollinate Old Lyme organization to provide a venue for a local pollinator species walkway outside the garden fence.  

The installation of the fence and acquisition of tools and equipment will complete the first phase of the garden. 

The second phase consists of the installation of an irrigation system and a tool shed.  We are in the process of writing grants and seeking other funding to accomplish this phase of the project. With the completion of both these phases, Ward expects annual expenditures to be approximately $3.000 to $5,000.

Sustainable CT is an initiative of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy that inspires, supports, and recognizes sustainability action by towns and cities statewide.

The Community Match Fund — supported by the Smart Seed Fund, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Connecticut Green Bank —provides a dollar-for-dollar match to donations raised from the community, doubling local investment in projects. Anyone can lead a project and ideas can be proposed at any time. 

“Through the Community Match Fund, we aim to put residents at the forefront of creating positive, impactful change,” said Abe Hilding-Salorio, community outreach manager for Sustainable CT.

He adds, “Match Fund projects are community-led and community-funded, demonstrating the power of people working together to make change in their communities.”

Editor’s Notes: i) For LOLFSG project details and to donate, visit: Patronicity.com/LOLFSG and visit this link to read our first article on the project.
ii) If you have a great idea for a public project in your community, contact Sustainable CT at hildingsalorioa@easternct.edu.

With Rise in COVID-19 Case Rates, CT DPH Urges Residents Not to Travel; Continue Mask-Wearing, Social Distancing

CT DPH emphasizes Continued vigilance and adherence to mitigation measures, including masks and social distancing, is key.

HARTFORD, CT – The State Department of Public Health (DPH) is reminding residents to remain vigilant against COVID-19 as case rates have risen over the last two weeks.

Connecticut DPH has moved several Connecticut towns, including Old Lyme, that had been seeing falling or stable COVID-19 case rates back into Red Alert status, as the average daily case rate for COVID-19 has increased statewide to 25 cases/100,000 residents per day.

Over 90 percent of the Connecticut population, including the residents of Old Lyme, live in a town with an average daily case rate of over 15 cases per 100,000 residents (e.g. red alert towns). It is estimated that 40 percent of these new cases are the B.1.1.7 variant.

While case rates have decreased among persons age 70 and older, they have plateaued or increased among all other age groups. The age group with the highest case rates are 20– to 29-year-olds.

The county with the highest case rate is New Haven County at 31.8/100,000. The towns with the highest case rates are located in the Waterbury/Naugatuck Valley area; Waterbury has the second highest case rate in the state at 43.4/100,000.

For the latest town map and other COVID-19-related data, click here.

For the latest article on LymeLine.com, which reports the numbers for Lyme and Old Lyme in detail, visit this link.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased over the last week with 456 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 as of today.

Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including those known to be more transmissible, are circulating in Connecticut and put people, who are not fully vaccinated, at increased risk of infection, serious illness, and death.

Continued vigilance and adherence to mitigation measures, including masks and social distancing, is key.

In addition, Connecticut residents considering travelling during the upcoming spring break season are urged to review CDC’s travel guidance, which continues to recommend against traveling at this time.

Connecticut DPH urges residents to get vaccinated if eligible or when you become eligible. The department also reminds residents that you are not fully vaccinated until 14 days after the entire vaccination regimen.

Editor’s Note: This report is based on a press release issued by CT DPH and distributed by Ledge Light Health Department.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Halls Rd. Improvement Committee Requests Withdrawal of Proposed Gas Station/Convenience Store in Old Lyme

An example of a Big Y Express gas station/convenience store similar to the one planned on Halls Rd. in Old Lyme. In its statement of opposition to the project, the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee (HRIC) says the proposed project, “… is essentially a truck stop.” Photo courtesy of the HRIC.

OLD LYME — We have been asked to publish the following statement from the Halls Road Improvement Committee regarding the proposed gas station/convenience store at the western end of Halls Rd.

Members of the Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) have heard from many Old Lyme residents opposed to the building of another gas station along Halls Road. HRIC is also opposed to this project, and we hope this posting will clarify the committee’s position on the matter. 

HRIC has no authority to approve or forbid particular projects. The committee is working with BSC to create a new master plan that will guide future development along Halls Road. When it is complete later this spring, its findings must be reflected in new zoning ordinances in order to become enforceable by the zoning board and other town agencies. These changes will also open up new opportunities for investment in mixed-use projects along Halls Road. 

In the interim, developers who wish to build good will in Old Lyme should recognize the chief findings and broad outlines of the preliminary plans to date as a fair proxy for the general will of the town. Chief among these findings is that future development along Halls Road should be more in keeping with the look and feel of Old Lyme (taking Lyme Street as an example), and that future development along Halls Road should help to make that area more of a mixed-use town center in a village setting, as appropriate to our small town and its needs. We believe the land earmarked for the new gas station could be put to better and more profitable use under the forthcoming Halls Road plan. 

HRIC believes the proposed “Big Y Express” clashes with the town’s stated development aims on several fronts.

It is essentially a truck stop, aimed at drawing its revenue chiefly from through traffic on I-95. The chain’s promotions to trucking fleets are just one indication of this aim. Town planning documents from as far back as the 1970s have expressly opposed such highway-focused development. HRIC also opposes it, favoring businesses that cater primarily to the needs of local residents. 

There is an existing gas station (now Mobil, formerly Shell) a few hundred feet from the proposed site of the Big Y Express. When this existing station recently applied to add a convenience store to their business, they were turned down. The arguments against that expansion must surely apply with more force to the proposed Big Y Express, whose business model relies heavily on a convenience store. 

The rapid rise of electric vehicles means the days of the gas station are numbered. To build a gas station on a greenfield site in this day and age seems a waste of scarce resources. The burdens of safe demolition and remediation make former gas stations very hard to repurpose or sell. They can linger for many years, as the unused gas station on Rte. 156 has done. The few charging facilities planned for the Big Y Express do nothing to remove these burdens, as its primary business remains selling gasoline and diesel. 

If the proposed project thrives, it becomes a busy truck stop; a thing totally against the town’s aims for Halls Road. If it fails, an important location along Halls Road will have been significantly burdened by remediation costs that may prevent appropriate development there for years. For the town, this is a lose/lose proposition. 

The proposed project would significantly reinforce the 1950s strip center character of Halls Road today. That is exactly the opposite direction from the future development envisioned in the Halls Road plan. We hope instead to make Halls Road a mixed use area in which people live, work, and shop. We want the area to be friendly to pedestrians and cyclists as well as cars, and to present an image of our town that invites the visitor to stroll and browse the shops. A truck stop or a line of gas stations works against realizing that vision. 

The Big Y is a valued part of this community. Their actions to date have built considerable good will in Old Lyme. In the interests of the future of Halls Road, we ask them to withdraw their proposal to build a Big Y Express there.

Death Announced of George Moore, Lyme Land Trust Director Emeritus

George Moore

LYME — The death of Lyme Land Trust Director Emeritus George Moore has been announced by Lyme Land Trust Executive Director Kristina White.

In an email sent March 25 to Lyme Land Trust members and friends, White states with “deep regret” that Mr. Moore, “… passed away recently.”

She notes, “He leaves behind his wife, Rosemary, two sons, John and Chris, daughter Joanna and their families. George and Rosemary were planning to move shortly to Chester Village, and Rosemary is living there now.”

Commenting that, “George’s love of Lyme and its people will always be remembered. He gave his time to something he deeply believed in and dedicated his last 17 years to making the Land Trust what it is today.”

White gives a history of Mr. Moore’s involvement in the Lyme Land Trust, explaining, “He was elected to the Land Trust Board as a volunteer Director in 2003. In 2007, he was elected Board President, and in 2013 the Board appointed him as its first Executive Director. Through his vision and effective management, George has helped transform the Lyme Land Trust into one of the most active and successful in the state.”

She says, “Among his many accomplishments – in addition to the day-to-day management of the Land Trust – are:

  • building the Land Trust’s membership to comprise half the households in Lyme; assisting in acquiring numerous preserves, including Chestnut Hill, Walbridge Woodlands, Banningwood and Brockway-Hawthorne;
  • assisting with securing the coveted national accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance;
  • initiating the President’s Circle, composed of the Land Trust’s most generous supporters;
  • arranging for the production of the PBS film on the Land Trust and conservation in Lyme, as well as its sequel, The Rest of the Story (both of which can be viewed at lymelandtrust.org);
  • organizing and managing our highly successful annual fundraiser, a regionally recognized, fun and scenic biking event for all ages and abilities: the Tour de Lyme.”

White concludes, “In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the Land Trust, the Board elected George as its first Director Emeritus and named a nine-mile loop in four Preserves, The George and Rosemary Moore Trail, Rosemary having been a great help to George in all of his Land Trust activities.”

There will be a private family service held at a future date.

To send condolences: Rosemary Moore, Chester Village West, Chester, CT 06412.

Old Lyme Basketball Girls Fall to East Hampton in Shoreline Semifinal

EAST HAMPTON — Don Bugbee’s girls put up a valiant fight against unbeaten East Hampton (14-0) in Wednesday’s Shoreline League Conference (SLC) Tournament semifinal, but ultimately could not get past the top-seeded Bellringers to achieve a win.

The final score was 40-33 in East Hampton’s favor. The Bellringers now face #2 seeds Morgan in the Championship game this evening at 5 p.m.

Old Lyme ended the season with a commendable 10-4 record.

In her final game, senior Emily DeRoehn had 10 points and eight rebounds.

After the game, Bugbee commented, “Although we were disappointed that we were unable to get the win and advance to the SLC league Championship game, our season was very successful overall. We were all fortunate that we were even able to get an abbreviated season in during a pandemic.”

He concluded on a positive note, saying, “Surely, there is a lot to be thankful for.”

A la Carte: Crepes Cake is Beyond Delicious

Lee White

I guess I thought, once I had had my second dose of COVID vaccine, plus waited the two-plus week to make sure I was safe from the infection and to be around people, but still safely masked most of the time, friends old or older than I could go out to dinner, in a restaurant.

I was wrong. Nobody wanted to go out and play.

I am still reading two to three books a week, watching too much television, finishing Sunday’s New York Times often by Monday night and still tired of my own food. Both UConn basketball teams have made the NCAA brackets (the men by a hair’s breadth, the women one of four in the highest bracket), but there is no college basketball this week.

I called my friend Nancy Trimble and she said there is America’s Cup sailing from New Zealand but says I don’t stay awake long enough to watch it. She is right, but I can DVR the finals and I have NBCSN. 

But am I that bored? Yup.

While a friend of mine once said watching sailing is like watching paint dry, Nancy promised me it isn’t these days. Is it multihulls? I asked. To me, that is not sailing. She said these are single-hulled boats and each of the finals last around 25 minutes. She is right. These boats are fast, we can watch it from four different angles (three different cameras and one digitized), it is exciting and, for a woman of any age, the men are gorgeous.

The boats are, too. 

I still am reading a lot, writing a lot, watching too much television (my latest is the Morning Show, on Apple TV) and still a bit tired of my own cooking. But I haven’t made crepes in years and they freeze easily, layered with piece of waxed paper.

They are great for savory or sweet leftovers and I love a crepes cake. You can layer the crepes with chopped walnuts, maple syrup, bitter or sweet jam or even orange butter. I made the crepes in under half an hour and had them in the freezer in no time.

They are so delicious. Your first or second crepe might not look good. On the other hand, they taste delicious. Eat them. Your new ones will be gorgeous. 

Grand Marnier Crepe Cake

From Gourmet magazine, March, 2008
Yield: at least 24 to 40 crepes, depending on size of pan

6 eggs
1 cup of whole milk (2 percent is fine)
3 cups chilled heavy cream, divided1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
2 teaspoons grated orange zest, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Cointreau

Blend eggs, milk, one-half cup cream and one-half teaspoon vanilla with flour, salt, one-quarter confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon zest in a blender until just smooth.

Brush a 10-inch nonstick skillet lightly with some of the melted butter, then heat over medium-high heat until hot. Pour in a scant one-quarter cup of batter, immediately tilting and rotating skillet to coat bottom. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crepe.)

Cook until underside is golden and top is just set, 15 to 45 seconds. Loosen edge of crepe with a heatproof rubber spatula (I used my finger nails), then flip crepe over with your fingertip and cook 15 seconds more. Transfer to a plate. Continue making crepes, brushing skillet with butter each or every couple of times and stacking crepes on plate.

Beat remaining 2 and one-half cup of cream, one-half teaspoon vanilla, three-quarters cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon orange zest and Grand Marnier in a large deep bowl with an electric mixer until cream holds stiff peaks.

Center a crepe on a serving plate and spread with one-quarter cream. Continue stacking crepes and spreading with cream, endings with a crepe. Chill, covered, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve with fresh berries for garnish, if you like.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years, but now lives in Groton, Conn.

Old Lyme Planning Commission Opposes CT Bills on Affordable Housing Currently Being Considered by Legislature

OLD LYME — The following is the text of a letter being sent to various Connecticut House Representatives and State Senators by the Old Lyme Planning Commission. These include State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) and State Senator Paul Formica (R-30th), both of whose Districts include Old Lyme.

Dear Legislator: 

The Old Lyme Planning Commission supports the development of Affordable Housing (AH) in the town of Old Lyme.  This has been stated in the Town’s Plan of Conservation & Development. Zoning regulations must be modified and developed to support affordable housing yet maintain the rural and historic character of the Town.

There are unidentified affordable housing units in Town which qualify as affordable but do not have deed restrictions. Prior to any new legislation being considered, it is necessary to redefine affordable housing to ascertain what already exists in each community but is not identified under the current definition. Enacting legislation without regard to what could currently be considered to be existing affordable housing is premature and unrealistic.

Currently, two bills being considered by the Connecticut legislature (SB-1024 and SB-804) are intended to promote the construction of affordable housing in all Connecticut municipalities.  The bills would eliminate local control over most accessory dwelling units and over most multi-family housing.  If adopted, these bills would limit local control to only single-family homes.  Local municipalities would have no authority to influence the affordable housing process, including the preservation of the town’s historic appearance and rural character. 

As written, the two pieces of legislation are a one-size-fits all scenario.  The character of shore-line communities are in sharp contrast to communities in the middle of the state and also to communities in the northeast and northwest corner of the state.  Anyone making decisions concerning affordable housing that does not live within the community will not demonstrate ownership toward the character of the town.  Therefore, residence will likely be left with a housing structure based on a contractor’s priorities that will not reflect the local character of the community.  

The timing of the bills is suspect.  Available information indicates that the bills were drafted in January but not released until recently.  This appears to be an attempt to push a bill through legislation while “while under the radar.”  This commission considers this to be a disingenuous attempt by some in the legislature.  

It should also be noted that the Chairman of the Planning Commission is also a member of an Affordable Housing Task Force that has provided guidelines to the Selectman’s office for the creation of an Affordable Housing Commission that will facilitate the development of affordable housing on currently available property and the development of additional housing where feasible. 

The Old Lyme Planning Commission opposes bills SB-1024 and SB-804 in their current form. The Old Lyme Planning Commission is of the opinion that local review of any new construction is paramount to maintaining the character of the local community. 

Sincerely,

Town of Old Lyme Planning Commission,
Old Lyme.

Old Lyme Boys Win Shoreline South Indoor Track Championship, Girls Take Second

Sophomore Jacob Rand tied for second place in the high jump in Saturday’s Indoor Track Shoreline Championship. All photos by David Walker.

OLD LYME — Competing in what was effectively their Shoreline Championship this past Saturday, the Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) Indoor Track teams achieved commendable results with the boys’ team coming in first and the girls taking second.

Due to COVID precautions, the meet had a very different look from usual. To reduce the number of competitors at any time, the traditional All-Shoreline meet was divided into two separate events with one being held for Northern Shoreline schools and the other featuring Southern Shoreline schools.
Old Lyme hosted the Southern meet in which six teams participated, namely Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Valley, Hale Ray, and Morgan.

Senior Aidan Powers, who was one of the boys’ captains, gets the team pumped up in a pre-meet huddle. Powers also placed first place in the 600 meters and was part of the winning 4×200 relay.

There were three different meet slots to further reduce the number of people on the track so from 9 to 11 a.m., Westbrook competed against Valley; from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Old Lyme and Morgan faced off; and from 1 to 3 p.m., Old Saybrook and Hale Ray took their turn.
At the end of the day, the results were compiled and winners announced.
Old Lyme had 13 first-place finishers, which also garnered each winning student the accolade of “First Team All-Shoreline.”

Senior Paige Kolesnik won the shotput and was also part of the winning sprint medley relay team.

The first-place winners were:
  • the girls’ sprint medley relay team of Bianca DaSilva, Paige Kolesnik, Alyssa Spooner, and Kelly Walsh
  • the girls’ 4 x 400 relay team of Alyssa Spooner, Gretchen Burgess, Hannah Britt, and Lyla Powers
  • the boys’ 4 x 200 relay team of Ashton Gratton, Nevin Joshy, Jesper Silberberg, and Aidan Powers
  • Paige Kolesnik in the girls’ shotput
  • Jesper Silberberg in the 55-meter dash
  • Aidan Powers in the 600 meters
  • Drew St. Louis in the pole vault and long jump
  • Harry Whitten in the shotput.
A number of other runners, jumpers and throwers also achieved significant success.
Asked his thoughts on both the results and the season in general, first-year coach Nick Walker (LOLHS Class of 2012) commented, “I couldn’t be prouder of our athletes. They have dealt with so much adversity this year: having normal high school landmarks canceled, being unable to hang out with friends, having to keep distance from one another, quarantining and missing weeks of school and sports at a moment’s notice … the list goes on.”

The boys’ and girls’ teams gather for a photo to celebrate their respective results.

He noted that although the season technically should have started in late November, “That was when we were going through that massive COVID-19 spike and so all winter sports were postponed.” Walker added, “It seemed unlikely at that point that we’d ever be able to have a season, but we were able to finally start in late January while taking lots of precautions.”
Noting that even when training started in January, the idea that the team would ever have any competitive meets seemed unlikely, Walker said, “These kids have had to be so patient, so willing to face whatever happens with equanimity.”
He continued, “Yet from the start of the season I was blown away by their work ethic and good cheer during a season that could have also been seen as a let-down and full of limitations. They were out there practicing on windy days in the mid-20s, bundled up as they were running track repeats and freezing their hands off throwing the shotput.”
“To come from such a situation to now having competitive competitions and placing so well at our final meet,” Walker said, noting, “I feel very glad for them. I think it goes to show the strength of their commitment to the team and sport, and also the lightness and playfulness of their spirit that they could enjoy what this season had to offer while pushing themselves to improve and learn more.”
Walker explained that many athletes tried out new events for the first time, such as the long jump, hurdles, pole vault, and high jump, and ultimately ended up placing in the tournament and contributing key points for the team.

Senior and a girls’ team captain Bianca DaSilva runs the 200-meter leg of the winning sprint medley relay team.

He also shared that he felt senior class also played, “A huge role in our successful season: first off by contributing so much hard work and athleticism in their events, but even more so by the positive and welcoming and fun atmosphere they helped foster on the team. They will certainly be very missed come next year.”
Pointing out that he looked forward to welcoming most of them back to Outdoor Track this spring, he noted, “We will lose some very strong runners and throwers to other spring sports.”
Walker concluded positively, “Overall, it’s been a real joy to coach these athletes alongside my co-coaches Alyssa Mercaldi and Garreck Seales. We’ve been continually impressed by this group of kids and are so glad for them that they have this fantastic performance to celebrate.”

A View from My Porch:  Is it Time for Americans to Acknowledge Climate Change?

Last April, LymeLine.com published a “Primer on Global Warming and Climate Change

Since that time, there has been a change in Presidential leadership; and, in January, the United States transitioned from a science-averse, to a science-centric Executive Branch, which may have an impact on how the Country views climate change. 

This essay is a “refresh” of the April essay, and reviews a few recent weather events, in light of the consequences predicted by climate scientists; and lays out the climate priorities proposed by the Biden Administration. My goal in this essay is logically and concisely to present the issue of climate change for the reader’s consideration. 

The Fundamentals:

Global warming is one symptom of the overarching phenomenon of climate change. The “side effects” of that warming include some significant shifts in weather patterns, and an increase in the frequency of abnormal and severe weather events. 

The Paris Carousel:

In 2015, representatives of 196 nations negotiated the Paris Climate Agreement under the auspices of the United Nation’s Convention on Climate Change. The goal, when signed in 2016, was to strengthen the international response to climate change mitigation. 

The Obama Administration pledged that, by 2025, the United States would cut carbon emissions by 26 percent below 2005 levels. He hailed our leadership in developing this Agreement as one of his major accomplishments.

His successor, Donald Trump, announced, in mid-2017, that the United States would terminate all participation in the Paris Agreement. He stated, “The climate deal was less about the climate, and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States. We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore.” 

As the first and only country formally to pull out of the Agreement, his decision stunned our allies. He also then went on to roll back or loosen many of America’s key environmental policies and regulations.

President Biden signed an Executive Order soon after his inauguration that initiated the process for the United States to reenter the Paris Agreement. In February, Secretary of State Tony Blinken called it, “A good day in our fight against the climate crisis,” and promised that the United States would, “Waste no time in engaging our partners around the world to build our global resilience.”

The Focus on Fossil Fuels:

Burning carbon-rich fossil fuels produces water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), and trace gases like methane and nitrous oxide, which are collectively referred to as “greenhouse” gases, Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash.

Since the mid-20th century, human activities have had an extraordinary impact on the Earth’s climate; and scientists have concluded that burning carbon-rich fossil fuels, like oil, coal, and natural gas, is the largest driver of that impact.

When they burn, fossil fuels produce water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), and trace gases like methane and nitrous oxide, which are collectively referred to as “greenhouse” gases.

Their accumulation in the atmosphere is responsible for the “greenhouse effect”, which is the warming that occurs when these gases trap heat in the lower atmosphere; i.e., in a manner that’s similar to the heat-trapping glass on a greenhouse.

The most important of these gases is CO2. Although it absorbs less heat per molecule than methane or nitrous oxide, it is remarkably more abundant and remains in the atmosphere much longer. 

Data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory show that we now add about 40 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year, mostly by burning fossil fuels. Scientists estimate that this increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is responsible for about two-thirds of the total energy imbalance that is causing the Earth’s temperature to rise.

In 2019, coal accounted for 40 percent of global CO2 emissions, oil for 34 percent, and natural gas, 20 percent. Note that, worldwide, China and the United States rank first and second, respectively, in annual volume of CO2 emissions. 

Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in recorded history. According to Princeton University-led research published in the journal “Nature Climate Change,” even if we immediately stop all new CO2 emissions, the carbon dioxide that is already in the Earth’s atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years. 

It’s been well said by Theodor Geisel: “How did it get so late so soon?”

Recent Unusual Weather Events:

I have selected a few events to illustrate the outcomes predicted by climate scientists.

You might argue that these examples do not really reflect climate change, but are more akin to changes observed by, and often attributed to, Mark Twain: “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”

The Lefthand Canyon fire, pictured above, started on Oct. 18, 2020. The fire burned 460 acres of brush and timber approximately one mile west of the town of Ward in the area of Lefthand Canyon and Spring Gulch in Boulder County, Colorado.

Last year, five of the six largest fires in California history, and three of the four largest in Colorado history, all burned.

By the end of the year, more than four percent of California’s landmass had been consumed by fire, making 2020 the worst wildfire season in California’s modern history. The U.S. Forest Service observed that California’s mean air temperatures have risen since 1980, resulting in increased evaporation, drier brush, and, with concomitant reductions in rainfall through recent decades, had generated one of the worst “megadroughts” in California history. 

A “perfect storm” of weather events, which included a prolonged heat wave followed by a remarkable and unprecedented lightning siege of over 10,000 strikes over several days, finally precipitated the conflagration. 

Earlier this year, the Texas “deep freeze” brought the coldest temperatures in over a quarter century to the state. Most of the state was covered with snow, a freak event, and their under-prepared and poorly-designed power grid was brought down for almost 4.5 million Texans, many of whom were forced to remain in poorly insulated, freezing homes for more than a week.

At least one elected official decided to flee to Mexico.

Extreme weather events have also been on the increase in the northeastern United States. Major winter storms impacted the region in both December 2020 and February 2021; and a study recently published in the journal, “Nature Climate Change”, reported that the 27 major Northeast winter storms that occurred in the decade spanning the winter of 2008-9 through 2017-18, were three to four times the totals for each of the previous five decades. 

The Administration’s Climate Agenda:

President Joe Biden

In January, President Biden said, “We’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis, we can’t wait any longer. We see it with our own eyes. We know it in our bones, and it’s time to act,” (Come on, Jack!)

He ordered a pause on new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters, setting a goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and ocean waters over the next 10 years. He also added new regulations targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and directed federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

He reiterated his daunting climate goals. I’ve listed the highlights of his $2 trillion plan in the following:

  1. Achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. (i.e., we can still produce some emissions, as long as they are offset by activities that reduce greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere (e.g., planting new forests.)
  2. Make the electricity sector free of carbon pollution by 2035.
  3. Make all new U.S.-made buses zero-emissions by 2030.
  4. Create jobs for construction workers, scientists, and engineers to build electricity-producing sources from wind and solar. 
  5. Develop an Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard for utilities and grid operators.
  6. Create a climate research agency that works to make nuclear reactors safer and more efficient.

Final Thoughts:

The issue of mitigating climate change will be very contentious, and it appears that Republicans are already digging in against the President’s plans. 

For example, Wyoming’s Senator John Barrasso (R) has said, “I’m not going to sit idly by, or my colleagues, if this administration enforces policies that threaten my State’s economy …” As a point of reference, Wyoming produced 102.1 million barrels of crude oil in 2019, up from 87.9 million barrels in 2018.”

In contrast, the President insists that a shift to clean energy will create better paying jobs, saying, “We can put millions of Americans to work modernizing our water systems, transportation, and our energy infrastructure.” 

I just don’t know, after more than a year of dealing with COVID, whether a divided United States will have the mettle for climate. The biggest hurdle I see is transportation. Americans are buying more cars and driving more miles. We’ll soon be flying more. Prior to the pandemic, air travel had been up 5 percent a year over the past few years. 

Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular, but there is no equivalent for air travel. Photo by Ernest Ojeh on Unsplash.

Unlike the promise of electric cars, there is no electrical alternative for long distance air travel. 

Further, in Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and Our Energy Future, the authors observe, “Many Americans view the findings of climate science through a partisan or ideological lens. For those who reject the scientific consensus, their views are based more on emotional reactions than rational responses. It is of course also true that some people who accept the consensus are doing so for reasons that are not exclusively rational.”

I mentioned “planting new forests” above. I realize that climate mitigation efforts like planting trees may be a long-term and certainly idealistic solution, but there is also the option of slowing down or putting a halt to deforestation. We should probably do both.

In closing, my next essay considers the epic poems of folk and rock music.

In starting the transition, I wonder how Dylan would revise the lyrics of Subterranean Homesick Blues to reflect climate change. Would he still say, “You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows”?

This is the opinion of Thomas D. Gotowka.

Tom Gotowka

About the author: Tom Gotowka’s entire adult career has been in healthcare. He’ will sit on the Navy side at the Army/Navy football game. He always sit on the crimson side at any Harvard/Yale contest. He enjoys reading historic speeches and considers himself a scholar of the period from FDR through JFK.

A child of AM Radio, he probably knows the lyrics of every rock and roll or folk song published since 1960. He hopes these experiences give readers a sense of what he believes “qualify” him to write this column.

Gardening Tips for March from The English Lady: Spring is in the Air, Making it a Busy Month in the Garden

Spring has sprung! Let Maureen Haseley-Jones guide you through your many tasks in the garden during March.

March is a month of ‘wait and see’ as we anticipate walking around our gardens. This morning I walked outside, into a southwesterly breeze and a pleasantly warm sun. I took a deep breath and as I did, I caught the rich fragrance of the soil beginning to awaken.

All of us are itching to get into the garden and I believe that foray will be earlier than last year owing to our mild winter and the fact that frost did not penetrate deep into the ground.

The sodden soil will dry out in the next few weeks however, I urge you to tread gently as you tend our precious commodity of Mother Nature – soil. In that regard I am asking that you do not till the soil as tilling damages soil structure and can break friable root systems.

I am asking you to be patient right now and I know it’s not easy after being house-bound for so long with the pandemic. However, patience is what is necessary for ‘dyed in the wool’ gardeners for the next few weeks as all of us are chafing at the bit to get hands into the soil.

In the meantime, I suggest you go full steam ahead with planning for the upcoming season. Planning means organizing, which prevents gardening mistakes that can occur later in the season if you do not plan.

TREES

For example, let’s look at your trees – check the trees in your garden to evaluate any work that needs to be accomplished. It is less expensive for arborists to do tree work before the foliage appears and when the branches and the overall shape of the trees can be seen more clearly, the labor goes quickly and is less expensive with less strain on your budget.

What to look for:

  • Are there broken or dead limbs?
  • What branches require cabling?
  • If a tree appears to be 50% dead or unhealthy looking then it should be removed.

Also, think about whether

  • To change a medium shade area into a dappled shade area, allowing more sunlight in by thinning out the upper tree branches or tree canopy.
  • To remove a tree to transform a shade area into a sunny spot, which allows for a larger choice of plants available to you.

I always hesitate to remove a healthy tree but sometimes a tree may have been planted too close to the house and consequently the roots have undermined your home’s foundation and the shading over the roof has resulted in mold and mildew. If you need any of the above work to be done, please contact a licensed arborist.

There is an art to tree work knowing how, when and why to cut. Tree work  should to be carried out by a professional so that at the completion of the work, the effect is both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

An experienced arborist will also take into consideration the health of the trees. Having the work done by an arborist also avoids injury to yourself from falling from ladders or perhaps tree branches or trees falling on you.

PRUNING TASKS THAT YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH NOW

March is the month to prune evergreens before the new growth appears.

Hedges can be sheared for shape, so that any stubby ends will be concealed by new spring growth.  Please keep to the natural shape of the shrub – no round balls.

Prune Spirea to six inches from the ground.

In April, prune Lavender to three inches.

In late March, prune Sweet Pepper Bush (Clethra), cutting out the oldest branches.

Lilac – Prune back all old branches to various lengths before leaf growth begins, from two to five feet, retaining a natural shape. Sprinkle lime around the base of the Lilac and add manure in May.  Lilacs enjoy alkaline soil benefitting from lime.

Prune Butterfly Bush to two feet from the ground and in May apply composted manure around the base.

Prune Forsythia (pictured above) after it has bloomed, pruning out sparse flowering old wood.

Prune roses when the forsythia blooms.  If the roses have only been in the ground for one year, do not prune, wait until October.

Do not remove the protective mulch from around the base of the roses, wait until mid May, and then apply a dressing of manure and fine bark mulch.

You may be asking, ‘Why wait until May to apply manure’ The answer is that the soil needs to warm up to 55 degrees otherwise the nutrient benefits of the manure bacteria working with plant roots and soil organisms are not activated. I suggest you invest in an inexpensive soil thermometer to check the soil temperature. At soil temperature of 55 degrees apply a three- to four- inch layer of composted manure.

When April arrives, carefully begin to clear away winter debris, treading carefully on the soil to avoid damaging soil structure and friable root systems. When you have carefully cleared away the debris, make a clean edge to the borders with a sharp spade; this makes a pleasing effect on the look of your garden.

The best tool to use is a sharpened lawn edger, the blade is a half circle 9 inches wide and 4.5 inches deep with a flat top – this tool creates a deep edge. Face the bed and thrust the edger down to its full depth and push the cut soil into the bed. Continue along and then remove the spade and surplus clumps of soil and grass.

Edging was one of the first lessons I was taught at our family nursery in England; my great- grandfather was a strict taskmaster standing over me for quite a few days until I got the edging correct.

If you are contemplating the location of a new planting bed or expanding an existing one, here are some tips:

  • Think in terms of where you spend your leisure time outdoors where you can sit in close proximity to the new bed in order to enjoy the bloom, fragrance and structure of your plantings.
  • From indoors are you able to view and enjoy the new border?
  • Is it an area where there will not be drainage problems, erosion concerns or water pooling?
  • Is it convenient to tend and enjoy where you can place a bench or chair?
  • Will you be abler to water it with relative ease?

For an informal garden I prefer a curved bed – a curved line gives grace and fluidity. I lay out a garden hose in the desired shape and size of bed, adjust the hose until you are satisfied with the gentle curves.

As previously mentioned, the best tool to use to edge or cut out a new bed is a sharpened lawn edger, the blade is a half circle 9 inches wide and 4.5 inches deep with a flat top – this tool creates a deep edge. Face the bed and thrust the edger down to its full depth and push the cut soil into the bed. Continue along and then remove the hose and surplus clumps of soil and grass.

Manure – do not apply manure until the soil temperature has reached 55 degrees which is usually in May, but with a soil thermometer you can check earlier. Many of you who have been my radio listeners and lecture audiences know how I feel about that wonderful natural product.

Manure is not a fertilizer – it builds soil structure, aids in drainage and its bacteria encourages the millions of soil animals below the surface to come alive and work with the manure bacteria to produce nutrients for the roots of the plants.

TYPES OF MANURE:

Poultry manure – I know the odor can be rather objectionable, however, this manure contains about 2% nitrogen, one of the highest levels in any manure. If you have access to poultry manure, allow it to age for two months and then add it to the garden.

Horse manure is about 0.5 % nitrogen. If you obtain horse manure from a stable, which has sawdust on its floors – it should be pretty weed free. What I have done in the past is obtain horse and cow manure from stables and farms in April.  When you get it home, spread manure out in a flat area (not in a planting bed) then cover it with a tarp for a month.  This method will suffocate the weed seeds and encourage the manures to continue to decompose. A week before using horse and cow manure remove the tarp to allow the sun to further decompose it.

Cow manure is 0.25 % nitrogen and is the most available manure.  If you get horse and cow manure from the farm, ask the farmer to give you manure from the bottom of the pile so that it is already partially decomposed.

Compost pile:

If you do not have a compost pile, maybe it could go on your list for this season. Vegetable waste from the kitchen plus grass clippings, and wood pruning can be added to the pile. The high temperature in the compost kills the weed seed and cooks all those other necessary ingredients.  The ratio of compost and manure for your garden is 1 part compost to 3 parts manure – but if you do not have compost – manure will do the trick

**DO NOT apply fresh manure to the garden, as it will burn the plants.  If you do not have a source of manures from a farm, purchase composted manure in bags from the garden center.

To produce the best-planting environment, resulting in a soil that is ‘black gold’ apply 3 inches of composted manure to all planted areas in May, July and October.

Natural fine bark Mulch can be added later in May. Do not use buckwheat mulch as it flies everywhere. Do not, I repeat do no use cocoa mulch, which is poisonous to dogs and cats and please do not use the chemically colored red mulch.  The benefits of natural fine bark mulch is that mulch helps to retain the beneficial moisture in the soil and also aids to retard weeds as does Bradfield organics, a corn gluten based weed pre emergent.

THE HUMUS COMPONENT:

I know I have written about the importance of the Humus component for the soil but I feel I must continue to stress this fact.

In 1937 Franklin D Roosevelt told us ‘that the nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.’

Unfortunately, America has not heeded that warning. Precious soils in this country and around the world are being destroyed by dangerous practices used in industrialized agriculture as well as poisonous chemicals, which completely disrupts our eco system and poisons all living things.

In your own garden you can build and retain a rich growing environment by building the Humus component -We are all carbon-based creatures as is all life on earth. Not only humans but also our soil microbes need carbon to flourish. To attract carbon from the atmosphere into your soil you need to build the humus component.

HOW TO BUILD THE HUMUS COMPONENT:

Do not till soil – tilling breaks up soil structure.

First step – Add composted manure three times – in spring when the soil has reached a temperature of 55 degrees.  If the soil has not reached that temperature, the soil organisms are not able to work with the bacteria in the manure to produce nutrients for the roots of the plants.

This year, as we have not experienced deep frost therefore, the soil temperature may reach 55 degrees by the end of April or early May.  Add the manure again in July to continue to nourish your growing plants and again in October to protect and nourish your plants and roots through winter.    Manure is not a fertilizer; it builds soil structure and works with all the soil animals to keep a healthy disease- free growing environment.

Second step – Add wood chips in the form of brown fine bark mulch or wood chips that you produce from your garden;  these are aged wood chips combined with leaves, twigs and branches.

These two major steps build the humus component. If you do this in your own garden – not only will you be  helping to heal the planet but also produce the healthiest of gardens.

A question I am often asked is ‘can I put manure over mulch for example in my July garden’? The answer is ‘yes’ – the manure together with nature’s moisture and your own irrigation enables the manure to find its way easily into the soil and the roots of your plants.

WHAT EXACTLY DOES HUMUS DO?

Humus acts like a sponge and can hold 90% of its weight in water.

Because of its negative charge – plant nutrients stick to humus for nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus and minerals, which prevents these from washing away and acts as nature’s slow release fertilizer throughout the year.

Humus improves soil structure making it loose and friable, which helps plants to root in this soil to get better access to nutrients, water and oxygen.

Humus also helps’ filter’ toxic chemicals from the soil, mulch like carbon-based water filtration systems filter toxins from your water.

We are not able to control industrialized agricultural practices – but in your own garden you can make a difference. Feed the soil and it will feed the plants.

Once again, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. So back to a cloudy day at the end of March, at this time you can gradually begin to remove protective covering from shrubs and small trees. In exposed garden areas, where wind is a problem, leave the covering on until mid April. Cold wind is more damaging and drying to plants than extreme cold and frost.

FROST HEAVE:
If some perennials, trees and shrubs have heaved out of the ground, cover the roots with fresh topsoil or mulch until mid May when they can be settled back in place.

I just walked around the corner of my house to check on my trellis on the chimney where I have roses and clematis planted together. Roses and clematis are a delightful combination in a companion planting.

A companion  planting means the rose and the clematis planted together have the same growing needs, ‘feet in the shade and heads in the sun’. Each month beginning in May, add manure and mulch around the base of both. Discontinue feeding roses and clematis in mid August; this enables both plants to go into a necessary slow dormancy.

BACKSCRATCH:

When the lawn has dried out in April, rake lightly and remove excess debris such as leaves and dead twigs.  Raking gently raises the mat of the lawn, which enables the emerging grass to breathe again.

Aerating machines are useful to develop a healthy lawn.  Puncture holes with the aerator and pull out plugs of soil every four to six inches; following this treatment, root development takes off and thatch is reduced.  Do not use the large thatching machines, as these machines damage the grass.

GRASS FERTILIZER:

In April apply an organic fertilizer and organic grub control before the grass begins to grow.

Reseed bare or sparse spots after gently loosening the soil, liming and fertilizing, then cover the seed with salt hay to keep the seed warm and to prevent wind from blowing the seed away.  Water the seed for the first three weeks. Do not blast the area with water, which will scatter the seeds. As with lilacs, grass enjoys alkaline soil which is why we use lime for this purpose.

MOLES:
To keep the mole population at a minimum in your garden; apply organic grub control once a month from March for two months; less grubs, less food for the moles. When you see signs of moles, find the mole holes and insert Exlax which contains Senna, an organic herb. The moles eat the exlax, become dehydrated from defecation and die.  Apply organic Pre-emergent crabgrass killers in March and April.

VOLES:
Spread castor oil around the base of plants and keep mulch away from the base of the plants so that voles, which are canny little creatures are not able to hide there and gnaw on plants and roots.

DEADHEADING:
Do not cut off the leaves of the crocus as they bloom; the leaves make food for the bulbs for next season’s bloom.

DAFFODILS:
When the green shoots emerge; spread composted manure around the plants.

‘A host of golden daffodils.’ Photo by Sarah Mitchell-Baker on Unsplash.

CUTTING  DAFFODILS FOR DISPLAY INDOORS:
The stems release a sap like “goop” that harms other flowers.  Before adding Daffodils to an arrangement, cut the stems at an angle, and leave them in a vase half filled with lukewarm water for a couple of hours.  Discard that water and add the Daffodils to the other flowers.  If you recut the stems you will need to repeat the process. Change the water in the vase often.

PERENNIALS:
When perennials are about four inches above soil level, in May when soil is 55 degrees, apply composted manure around them to further encourage healthy growth.

DIVIDING PLANTS:
At the end of April or beginning of May, you can divide late blooming perennials that have been in the ground for four years or more; these divisions encourage stronger bloom.

Discard the older, inner parts of the clumps and plant the new outside portions.  Do not plant the new divisions any deeper than they were originally in the ground.

When dividing irises, barely cover the root system so they do not fall over – if Irises are planted too deep they will not bloom.

Pansies: pick the flowers regularly to encourage more bloom.

March is the time to plant the following seeds indoors: gaillardia, salvia, marigold, zinnia, petunia, snapdragon, stock and verbena. Before planting these seeds, soak seeds in warm water and plant them in sphagnum moss or coir. Coir is the outer shell or fiber of the Coconut, either of these two mediums prevents a disease called “damping off”, which can cause seeds to rot before germination.

Cover pots and seed trays with plastic wrap, which creates a mini-greenhouse, which provides moisture that seeds need to germinate.

Note: Remove the plastic once the seeds have germinated, as the soil needs to drain and needs air circulation around the emerging stems.

If you are going away on business, or on vacation reapply the plastic wrap over the pots and trays and prop some sticks or skewers in the corners. While you are away the seedlings will stay moist, make sure the seedlings do not come in contact with the plastic.

Start tuberous begonias, and caladiums indoors.

DORMANT SPRING SPRAYING of fruit trees, flowering cherry, crabapple, hawthorn, mountain ash and lilac can be done before the leaf buds open.

Call in a professional company and request that they use only organic products.

Houseplants – repot them if they need repotting in April.

GERANIUMS:

The plants that you brought indoors at the end of last season check them and when the new side shoots appear, cut them back to four inches and repot them in clean pots about and inch and a half larger with fresh potting soil.

Well, fellow gardeners I know you are getting excited to be in your gardens this season and I hope that these tips have given you plenty to think about to keep you busy for a while. Enjoy photo of lovely gardens that my son Ian and I have designed on Facebook and if you wish I suggest you contact Ian for a consultation and enjoy the photos on his website LlandscapesbyIan.co.

Enjoy being outdoors in spring sunshine and I look forward to seeing  you in your garden in April!

Chester-Hadlyme Ferry to Open Thursday; Friends of Gillette Castle Plan Celebration at Hadlyme Landing, All Welcome

Gillette Castle can be seen in the background on a foggy morning as the 65-foot diesel-run Selden III prepares to depart the Chester ferry landing. The Chester-Hadlyme ferry, which is scheduled to re-open April 1, is one of the oldest continuously operating ferries in the United States. All photos except the final one in this article are courtesy of Kelly Hunt, Cherish the Moment Photography.

HADLYME — 3/30 UPDATE: The ‘First Ferry’ on Thursday at 7 a.m. event will be held “rain or shine.” State Representatives Palm, Haines, and Devlin are expected to join the celebrations. When the ferry lands, at approximately 7:05 a.m., there will be a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony (weather permitting.)

If you decide to visit, remember the Chester side of the ferry has extremely limited parking, so the Hadlyme side is a much better plan.

When the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry makes its inaugural 2021 round trip across the Connecticut River at 7 a.m. Thursday, April 1, its supporters intend to make the occasion festive.

“We’ve all missed the view from the river during the long winter, so we want to hold a ‘First Ferry Celebration’ to rejoice in its return and admire the state’s recent improvements to the landing area near Gillette Castle,” said Lynn Wilkinson, who chairs the communications committee for the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park.  

“Several members of our organization plan to make that morning’s first round trip together, and we imagine others might want to join us,” she added. 

The Chester-Hadlyme ferry sits at the Chester Landing dock.

John Marshall, the ferry’s master captain, said the boat will load first on the Chester side and make its five-minute run east to the Hadlyme landing adjacent to the park, where the Friends’ group will gather. 

“Free refreshments will be served, and we can promise convivial conversations with members of the Friends,” Wilkinson said. “They’ll be eager to talk about the castle, its history and our own activities.”  

“This winter was tough on everyone,” Marshall said. “Even though we still have to be careful, the ferry opening is a celebration for everybody. It’s like turning a page. People will be able to get outside more, and I look forward to it.” 

The ferry ‘under sail’ from Chester to Hadlyme.

Access to the western landing is on Rte. 148 at Ferry Rd. in Chester. The eastern landing is on park property at the base of Seventh Sister Hill, with a road and footpath leading up to the castle, the eccentric, century-old home of the late actor William Gillette. 

The park itself is in the towns of East Haddam and Lyme along the Connecticut River, and is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset.

“In addition to being a continuation of scenic Rte. 148, the initiation of ferry service is an important lifeline between Chester and Hadlyme,” said John “Jack” Hine, supervisor of Gillette Castle State Park. “It also gives castle visitors a really fun and ‘photo-friendly’ way to get to the castle.” 

View of the Chester Landing with the ferry in the foreground.

The Friends’ celebration is being held free of charge. Ferry passengers will be charged current rates to ride the 65-foot diesel-run Selden III, which include a walk-on charge of $2 to pedestrians and bicyclists, $5 for vehicles on weekdays and $6 for vehicles on weekends. A $3 commuter rate requires pre-purchased coupons priced in a book of 20 for $60.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the boat will begin the season with a five-vehicle capacity, an increase since last year when the boat was allowed to carry three vehicles at a time.

“That very well may change,” Marshall said. “We’ll watch what the Centers for Disease Control and the governor say and we’ll figure out if we can change that.” Under normal conditions, the boat has a nine-vehicle capacity. 

Because the boat is a public conveyance, federal law requires all persons to wear a mask when boarding, disembarking and for the duration of travel on the vessel. Face shields are not compliant under current law.

Recent improvements to the eastern landing include new benches and fencing, a newly leveled parking area and a historic display describing the river and its cleanup, undertaken by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation, Hine and Marshall said. 

A view of the Hadlyme-Chester ferry on the Connecticut River taken from the ramparts of Gillette Castle. Photo courtesy of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park and DEEP.

“The landing has been renovated with upgraded materials to match the esthetics of the castle,” Wilkinson said. “It was a thoughtful and wonderfully collaborative effort that has made the landing welcoming for visitors, and now seems like a special entrance to the castle grounds.” 

The Chester-Hadlyme Ferry began service in 1769 as Warner’s Ferry, and is one of the oldest continuously operating ferries in the United States. It is also Connecticut’s second-oldest ferry service, after the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry, which began in 1655. 

A steam-powered barge began to serve the ferry crossing in 1879 and was named the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry in 1882 while it was operated by the town of Chester. In 1917, the Connecticut Department of Transportation took over the service, and the current boat has been in operation since 1949. 

The ferry is expected to operate through Nov. 30. Additional ferry information may be found at this link

The Friends of Gillette Castle State Park is a nonprofit, all-volunteer group dedicated to the preservation, conservation and educational activities of the building and its grounds. For further information, visit www.gillettecastlefriends.org