October 20, 2021

Oct. 6 COVID-19 Update: CT DPH Corrects Lyme’s Cumulative Total Back to 129, One New Case in OL Takes Its Total to 430

Photo by CDC on Unsplash,

LYME/OLD LYME — The Daily Data Report issued Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m. by the Connecticut Department of Health (CT DPH) shows one new confirmed COVID-19 case in Old Lyme over Tuesday’s number of 429, taking the cumulative total for the town to 430.

The data shows that in Lyme, however, the cumulative total of cases has been reduced from the 130 reported Monday, Oct. 4, and Tuesday, Oct. 5, to 129. This means that there have now been no new confirmed cases in Lyme since Sept. 13. We have been unable to obtain any information regarding how a previously confirmed case (the 130th) was subsequently deleted by the CT DPH.

The state does not issue reports over the weekend. Its next report will be Thursday, Oct. 7, at around 4 p.m..

On Aug. 26, Old Lyme’s cumulative case total stood at 372, meaning there have been 58 new cases there since that date. Meanwhile, Lyme’s cumulative total on Aug. 26 was 114 indicating 15 new cases have also been confirmed there during the same period.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools started the new academic year Aug. 26.

COVID-19 Cases in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

This is the latest information that we have with the most recent cases first — there may have been further updates, however, which we have not yet received.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Lyme-Old Lyme High School had been reported the previous evening.

On Thursday, Sept. 16, Neviaser informed the school community that a previously reported positive case of COVID-19 is now impacting Mile Creek School and Center School.

On Monday, Sept. 13, a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, which had been reported the previous day, was announced.

On Wednesday, Sept. 1,  a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Mile Creek School was announced.

On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Neviaser informed the school community that late on Monday, Aug. 30, a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Lyme-Old Lyme High School had been reported.

On Saturday, Aug. 28, Neviaser informed the school community that late on Friday, Aug. 27, a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Lyme School had been reported.

In all cases, contact tracing was completed and those individuals who needed to quarantine were notified. They will be able to return to school following their quarantine period. All other students and staff will continue to attend school as scheduled.

Fatalities Due to COVID-19 in Lyme, Old Lyme

There is no change in the number of fatalities reported in either Lyme (0) or Old Lyme (3).

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, which was reported in 2021, have not been made available.

Visit this link for our Sept. 30 update, which includes statewide data.

Letter to the Editor: Unaffiliated Matt Ward Endorsed for Selectman by Old Lyme Republicans Due to His Integrity, Community Involvement

To the Editor:

The members of the RTC of Old Lyme have enthusiastically endorsed Matt Ward, an unaffiliated voter, as our candidate for Second Selectman in November’s municipal election. This choice was made because we felt Matt’s values of integrity and community involvement closely matched the needs of the town. Matt’s history as a resident of Old Lyme is replete with examples of his commitment to the town. He served 3 years on the Board of Directors of the LYSB, 10 years on the LOL Little League, and many other town activities. In addition, Matt is a Planning Commission Alternate. 

Matt has recently retired after 20 years as a State Police Officer. Matt and his wife Tara, well known in the community, have five children in the school system. He is a man of great energy, integrity, and commitment to our town. I ask you to elect Matt Ward as our Second Selectman on November 2nd.

Sincerely,

David Griswold,
Old Lyme.

Old Lyme RTC Hosts ‘Sunset on the Sound’ Picnic to Kick Off Campaign Season

Special guests at the Old Lyme RTC picnic included (from left to right) Mike France, candidate for US Congress, 2nd District; State Representative Holly Cheeseman; former Connecticut House Minority Leader Themis Klarides; and State Representative Devin Carney.

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Republican Town Committee kicked off the campaign season with its annual picnic Sept. 12 at Griswold Point. A crowd of more than 200 attended “Sunset on the Sound,” which featured a barbecue dinner, live music, and a silent auction, as well as the opportunity to meet candidates for office in Old Lyme.

Former gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski (left) chatted with State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) at the picnic.

State Representative Devin Carney and State Senator Paul Formica were among the local officials at the picnic, which also welcomed special guests Mike France, the Republican candidate for the 2nd US Congressional District; Themis Klarides, the former Connecticut House minority leader; state GOP chair Ben Proto; and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski.

Republican candidates for the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen, Matt Ward (left) and Tim Griswold (incumbent First Selectman) shared a smile.

The main objective of the event was for attendees to get acquainted with the women and men, who are running for local office in this November’s election.

Board of Finance candidate Judith Read (left) and Zoning Board candidate Sloan Danenhower (center) chatted cheerfully with Barbara Crowley.

Vicki Lanier, RTC nominating chair, commented, “We are proud to put forth such a strong and diverse slate of candidates who will represent the town’s various constituent groups,” adding, “The full ticket reflects a solid mix of municipal experience, community service, and voter affiliation.”

Guests at the picnic enjoyed browsing the silent auction.

Over the next few weeks candidates and supporters will be knocking on doors and greeting voters at various locations in town.

The Republican-endorsed candidates for the Old Lyme seats on the Region 18 Board of Education gathered for a photo. From left to right are Mike Presti, Laura Dean-Frazier, Mona Colwell, and Chris Staab.

For more information about the GOP-endorsed candidates for November’s election, visit www.OldLymeRTC.org.

A la Carte: Dinner in Less Than 30 Minutes? Try Sheet-pan Gnocchi

Lee White

I have always assumed that people use coupons when they go to supermarkets. I am a newspaper and magazine freak, and I always clip coupons (and try to remember to take them with me, too.)

In my much younger days, before I knew how to cook at all, I clipped newspapers coupons not only to save money (my ex-husband was a student and I was the full-time secretary/mother/bread-winner/cook) and hoped there might be recipes in the food section of the Ithaca (NY) Journal.

We only had one car and, as I remember, we only had one supermarket. Back then, there was one lettuce (iceberg), maybe no frozen vegetables and, possibly, no plastic trays of meat in the refrigerator section.

I learned to cook from friends, my first mother-in-law, and from my first cookbook, the latter of which came free with a set of encyclopedia my ex- decided to buy.

Today I visit, on a regular basis, four supermarkets within five minutes of my house. Which ones I go to first might have something to do with coupons. I don’t clip (or use an app) to try something new, unless a friend or my daughter suggests it.

I am, however, just as likely to see something new and shiny at the market, buy it and see if I like it.

Such is the case with Giovanni Rana’s “Italy’s Most Loved, Imported from Italy” Skillet Gnocchi.

Two weeks later, I found a recipe that called for shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi. So I made this recipe. The dish was delicious and the recipe so simple and quick that even a full-time worker, mother, bread-winner or cook can get this dinner done in less than half an hour.

Sheet-Pan Gnocchi
(possibly from Bon Appetit, clipped the recipe, page didn’t include magazine name)
Yield: 4 servings

½ large red onion, cut into ½-inch-thick wedges
2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 package shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more
Freshly grated black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups baby arugula
1 cup basil leaves, large leaves torn
2 ounces Parmesan, shaved

Place rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425 degrees. Toss onion, garlic, tomatoes, gnocchi, 3 tablespoons oil and ¾ teaspoons salt in a rimmed baking sheet to coat. Season generously with pepper and toss again to combine.

Roast, stirring once or twice, until gnocchi are golden and start to crisp, most of the tomatoes have burst and onion is golden 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove garlic from baking sheet, peel and place in a small bowl. Mash with ¼ teaspoon of salt (garlic should be very soft.) Whisk in lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoons oil, dressing with pepper and more salt if necessary.

Add arugula, basil and parmesan to baking sheet and drizzle dressing over; toss to combine.

Divide among plates and drizzle with more oil, 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. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.

High Hopes’ Holiday Market Returns In-Person to Old Lyme, Nov. 14; Tickets for Horse Chip Raffle On Sale Now


OLD LYME —
After a hiatus last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular High Hopes Holiday Market will be be held once again this year from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14.

The indoor arena at High Hopes on Town Woods Rd. will be transformed into a vibrant, experiential holiday marketplace. Readers are invited to connect and celebrate in this specialized shopping setting with a group of diversified local artisans, craftsmen, and designers, while also raising awareness for High Hopes’ equine assisted therapies.

The High Hopes Holiday Market on Nov. 14 offers a great venue for early holiday shopping.

Items on sale will include scarves and wraps from local spinners, handcrafted soaps and skincare, pet accessories, floral design, upcycled finds, wellness teas and tonics, unique handmade jewelry and delectable sweet treats.

A selection of food trucks around will also be on-site.

For more information about the event and how to apply to be a vendor or have a food truck on-site, visit this link.

High Hopes is also hosting its annual Raffle for a Cause again, but this year the organizers have changed it quite significantly.

You can win the first prize of $5,000 cash (after withholding) based on where the horse … well, you know! On Nov. 14, at the Holiday Market, a member of the High Hopes herd will “choose” the lucky winners.

The second prize (which has no cash equivalent) is an NYC Overnight at the Penn Club, Broadway Tickets and Dinner at the Capital Grill for two.

Only 600 tickets (squares) will be sold at $50.00 per ticket.

Visit this link for more information and to purchase your raffle ticket.

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

The sign says it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Registration Open at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts for Wide Range of Continuing Education Programs

OLD LYME — The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts has announced a full schedule of Continuing Education programs beginning Sept, 27. Both part-time and full-time programs and classes are available, with enrollment beginning immediately.

The part-time Continuing Education classes are open to the community throughout the year and will follow an 11-week trimester. These classes are intended for students of all ages and abilities, who will benefit from skills-based art instruction, led by professional artists.

The three- or four-hour classes will run on weekdays and Saturdays from Sept. 27 through Dec. 11, and range in cost from $500 to $850 per class.  Classes are offered in:

  • Drawing
  • Life Drawing
  • Sculpture
  • Printmaking
  • Oil Painting
  • Content and Composition
  • Figure Painting.

A course in Oil Painting will be offered as part of Lyme Academy’s Fall 2021 Continuing Education program.

The full-time ‘Requisite Program’ is a one-year portfolio preparation program designed to provide a solid, skills-based visual education to develop an individual’s portfolio and abilities under the leadership of professional artists. The program consists of five main courses including Drawing, Sculpture, Painting, Synthesis Composition and Printmaking along with access to lectures, demonstrations, and critiques from Master Artists.

The full-time curriculum classes are conducted five days per week, approximately six hours per day for 11-week trimesters, beginning Sept. 27, with the the trimester school year ending June 10, 2022. The full-time Requisite Program tuition costs total $7,350, which includes the annual tuition of $6,000 and mandatory annual studio fee of $1,350. Scholarships are available.

All classes will be led by professional artists as follows:

  • Kimberly Monson, Drawing, Life Drawing and Sculpture
  • Paul Michael, Printmaking
  • Justin Wiest, Oil Painting
  • Jon Sideriadis Content and Composition
  • Jerry Weiss, Figure Painting.

For more information and to register for any of these classes, visit www.lymeacademy.edu.

Founded in 1976 by the sculptor Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts was created as an institution dedicated to a traditional, skills-based education.

Subsequent to a period as an accredited college, Lyme Academy, a non-profit educational organization, is now returning to its founding roots to offer foundational skills in the fine arts; providing a curriculum which combines rigorous studio instruction in drawing and painting with anatomy, sculpture, and the history of art.

The Academy affirms its legacy and commitment to the community of Old Lyme by providing a vibrant schedule of lectures, exhibitions, workshops, and part-time programs.

Located midway between Boston and New York, Old Lyme, Connecticut has been a site of artistic congregation for over a century, becoming the heart of the Lyme Art Colony and the Home of American Impressionism.

Learn more by visiting www.lymeacademy.edu.

Old Lyme Boys Pull Off Decisive First Win of Season After String of Losses

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme boys notched their first win of the season with an impressive 8-1 victory Thursday afternoon over North Branford,

Goal-scorers for the Wildcats were Liam Celic, Gavin Biega, Mason Wells and Brenden Landry with one goal each and Anders Silberberg and Mason Bussman with two goals apiece.

North Branford’s lone goal was scored by Aleksander Guerrero.

Jonah Lathrop and Aidan Russell defended Old Lyme’s goal with a total of three combined saves.

The Thunderbirds goalie was Lucas Deantonio, who made a remarkable 23 saves.

After an opening loss to Ledyard in a scrimmage, the Wildcats continued to lose successively to Morgan (0-3), East Lyme (1-3), Portland (1-7) and Old Saybrook (1-4). Old Lyme is now 1-4-0 overall and 1-3-0 in the Shoreline Conference.

GO WILDCATS!

Letter to the Editor: Multiple Reasons to Support Halls Rd. Master Plan, Improvement Committee Commended for its ‘Thoroughness’, ‘Clarity’

To the Editor:

We are writing to express our interest and support for bringing the Halls Road Master Plan to fruition. We reviewed the Plan and had attended one of the recent information sessions.

We want to acknowledge the thoroughness of the analysis completed by the Halls Road Improvement Committee [HRIC]; and the clarity of both the recommendations and the thoughtful vision for the future.

The Plan seeks to develop Halls Road into a district that would “resemble the small-town, mixed-use neighborhood that Lyme Street was before 1960”.

We applaud the HRIC in prioritizing improvements to roadways and sidewalks required for the safety of walkers and bikers.  The team’s vision is to create pedestrian and bicycle connections amongst Old Lyme’s town center, the “Arts District”, and the proposed “Halls Road “Village District”.

We are walkers, and crossing Halls Road towards the Lyme Art Association can be very perilous. Creating this “safe and attractive pedestrian and cyclist route” will be a daunting challenge. Halls’ position between and amongst four exits and entrances to Interstate 95 North and South will require creative traffic management. Certainly, speed and traffic jams on Rt 156 and Boston Post are good barometers for issues on the interstate.

That said, we are also excited about the reconstruction of the Bow Bridge and access to some new green space along the Lieutenant River. That could provide an historic connection to, or at least a reminder of, the American Impressionists residing and working at Miss Florence’s boarding house.

In closing, we want to congratulate the team’s proposal for the creation of Design Guidelines that will help ensure that new development along Halls Road is required to go beyond the “nuts and bolts” of zoning regulations to assuring the “look and feel” is compatible with Old Lyme’s “small town feel”.

We are very glad that the team recognized that the residential aspects of the “Village District” will not only provide options for those moving into the community, but also enable older residents’ attractive opportunities to remain in Old Lyme.

It’s time to put a Halls Road, whose primary goal is to serve as an interstate service area pit stop, in our rear-view mirrors.

Sincerely,

Christina J. Gotowka and Thomas D. Gotowka,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: This is a shortened version of a letter submitted by the authors to the HRIC in support of its Master Plan.

Melissa Fournier Named Director at Lyme Public Library

The new director of Lyme Library is Melissa Fournier.

LYME — The board of the Lyme Public Library has announced that Melissa Fournier has been named as its new Library Director.

According to a press release issued by the library, Fournier, who will take up her new position in early October, will lead the way in helping the library accomplish its goals of providing innovative programming, services, and collection development.

Fournier sees the Library Director’s role as impacting the entire community, commenting, “My goals would include expanding the reach of the library.”

She is no stranger to libraries, as she has managed several in the public, private, and corporate sectors for more than two decades. With extensive expertise in library restoration and renovation, Fourier enjoys creatively evolving library spaces to improve service to their patrons.

She holds a BFA in design from Pratt Institute in communications design and a MLS from Simmons College in library and archives management. She loves creating library programs that serve patrons from infants to seniors and has won a nationally-recognized award for such work.

Fournier explains, “I feel I can bring my skills to the Lyme Public Library to expand programming for children by working closely with the local elementary school by focusing the library’s programs to work hand-in-hand with helping children to build their understanding of the core curriculum skills they are learning at school.”

She also sees opportunities to create fun and informative programs for older children and adults.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Fournier both understands and loves the Lyme area. A devoted mother to
two adult children, she enjoys reading, drawing, painting, and lively conversations.

“Melissa has a lot to offer our library,” says Jack Sulger, chair of the Lyme Public Library Board of Directors, adding, “I’m certain she will do great things. We look forward to seeing the positive changes she has in store for us.”

The board encourages residents to come to the library and meet Fournier starting in early October.

The library is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 8 pm, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm The library is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

For more information, visit the Lyme Public Library website or call 860-434-2272.

A la Carte: Roasted Chicken Under Garlic Bread Offers Taste of Autumn, Hint of Winter Meals to Come

Lee White

Oh, no, it’s chicken again, I thought, as I looked at the last column I wrote weeks before I left to see my daughter in California.

But during the many days I spent there, I thought about all she’d cooked for me—tacos on Thursdays and nachos on Friday (both made with a roasted chicken she’s bought at Costco.) 

I guess the acorn doesn’t fall from the tree. In addition to the splash pool at her town’s pool, dips in the Pacific Ocean with her friend, Elizabeth, who lives steps from the ocean in Long Beach, a movie with Darcy starring Matt Damon (Stillwater, don’t miss it!) and a cookout on Labor Day, her food was incredible, as always.

But on the flights home (and the long drive home from Bradley), I was thinking I’d like to get a roasting chicken. While I ask the post office to hold my mail when I travel, I ask my neighbor to keep my The Day newspapers. As I read the news the next morning, the advertising pages included Perdue roasting chickens for $0.99 a pound at Stop & Shop. I bought three and froze two.

I remembered a recipe by cookbook writer Melissa Clark for roast chicken under bread. I grabbed the last frozen half baguette I’d slathered with butter, oil and garlic from last winter. So, on the first day of 2021 football, the final US Open tennis final and a Connecticut Sun game I’d DVR’d the night before, I roasted one of those chickens under the garlic bread.

My yummy dinner included three sliced local heirloom tomatoes and savored the beginning of autumn and winter meals to come.

Roasted Chicken Under Garlic Bread
Yield: Serves 4, plus leftovers

8 ounces good white dry wine (never cooking wine, of course)
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter
1 good-sized roasting chicken (about 5 to 6 pounds), gizzards removed, chicken patted dry and salt and pepper tossed into the cavity
Garlic bread (recipe below)

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, allow butter and wine to reduce for 15 minutes.

Turn oven to 350 degrees. In a roasting pan, place garlic bread, cut-size up. Top with chicken. Place the chicken in the oven for about 20 minutes, then pour the wine/butter over the chicken. Roast the chicken until crispy (temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit, at the thickest part of the thigh, without touching a bone).

The garlic bread should be crispy and soft at the same time. Serve within 10 minutes, with bread cut into croutons around the chicken. 

Garlic Bread

Yield: A large baguette will feed at least 6 people; if using it under the bread, open the loaf and place under the chicken, cut side open; otherwise, freeze it in foil. 

1 large baguette, sliced through horizontally

In a small food processor (or processed with a small mixer), add 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted softened butter, 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 6 to 8 garlic cloves — minced, and chopped parsley. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Slather each half of the loaf with the garlic mixture and put the slices together if not using immediately.

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. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.

Halls Road Improvement Committee Seeks Letters of Support for Project to Use in Village District Rezoning Application

The view looking up Halls Road today. The HRIC Master Plan Report offers a vision for its future.

OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvement Committee (HRIC) is asking local residents and interested parties, who support the Halls Road Master Plan Report compiled by the BSC Group, to indicate their support by submitting a letter to Town Hall.

Edie Twining, HRIC Chair, explains that the committee is hoping that a substantial show of support will be generated in this way. She says, “This will then be used for both the HRIC rezoning application to create a Halls Road Village District as well as in upcoming HRIC grant applications.”

A sample letter is printed below, which can be printed, signed, and mailed to Town Hall at the address shown. Supporters are naturally welcome to compose their own letters and mail them to the same address.

Twining notes, “The HRIC has also met with many local organizations and businesses to walk through the Master Plan findings and answer questions one-on-one. Committee members have enjoyed great support from everyone they have met with.”

She adds, “The committee is ready and willing to continue this presentation process for any groups looking for more information.”

Editor’s Note: Here is the sample letter:

Support for Halls Road Master Plan

Halls Road is our town’s main retail/commercial center. Going forward, it should be developed with the aim of making it look, feel, and function as a pedestrian-friendly town center. It should have safe and attractive pedestrian and bicycle connections with the historic town center and ‘Arts District’ on Lyme Street. Halls Road in the future should more nearly resemble the small-town, mixed-use neighborhood that Lyme Street was before 1960.

The limited build-able land along Halls Road should be developed in such a way as to serve the particular needs of Old Lyme. Under the current commercial-only zoning, Halls Road’s location along I-95 means new investment is almost entirely limited to either chain stores (viewing Old Lyme as no more than Exit 70), or truck stops serving highway traffic. This is not what we want for Old Lyme’s future.

The current housing stock in Old Lyme is overwhelmingly (over 92%) of one kind: a single-family home on its own lot. Halls Road is an appropriate location in which to add other, smaller-scale types of market-rate housing, such as an apartment above a shop, or a condominium in a town house. These options are particularly attractive to the younger and older cohorts of current (or prospective) Old Lyme residents.

Allowing this kind of mixed-use development along Halls Road has other important advantages for the town. First: a living neighborhood with foot traffic is far better for retail trade, and helps retail businesses resist the growing competition of online commerce. A mixed-use neighborhood along Halls Road improves the chances that Old Lyme will continue to have the convenience of in-person retail shops in 2050. Second, because these housing types are currently scarce in Old Lyme, pent-up demand makes such developments highly attractive to investors. We believe developers would be willing to build some new retail and office space if it were a part of a larger mixed-use (residential and commercial) area. New investment along Halls Road will also increase the town’s tax base and revenues.

The Halls Road Master Plan Report, prepared by BSC, is a road map to these changes.

It proposes the Town design and build (with aid from available grants) a safe and attractive pedestrian and cyclist route from Lyme Street to the heart of the Halls Road district, and to make other significant improvements for the safety of walkers and bikers in the area along Halls Road.

It also proposes the creation of a Halls Road Village District that would allow mixed use to achieve the goals mentioned above. It would also allow the town to establish Design Guidelines to help ensure the “look and feel” of new development along Halls Road is more in keeping with that of historic Lyme Street.

I/We support the Town’s initiative in creating the Master Plan, and look forward to a Halls Road that will become a new, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly Town Center for Old Lyme in the Mid-21st Century.

Name____________________________________________________________________

Signed_________________________________________________      Date_____________
Organization_______________________________________________________________
 
Please return by mail to: HRIC chair Edie Twining c/o Memorial Town Hall, 52 Lyme St. Old Lyme CT 06371

Reading Uncertainly? ‘Seven Brief Lessons on Physics’ by Carlo Rovelli

Is it really possible to describe the mysteries of physics in 81 pages?

Richard Feynman tried it in the 140 pages of Six Easy Pieces, published in 1994, but some afterwards described it as “Six Difficult Pieces.” Carlo Rovelli, the Italian theoretical physicist, has raised the ante. His work is a jewel of both brevity and clarity, especially to my curious mind that barely made it through Physics I at college.

The seven lessons begin with Einstein and the Theory of Relativity. Much has been written and expressed about this work, but Rovelli’s 11 pages are a precise summary. And he reminds us that, like Einstein, we “… don’t get anywhere by not ‘wasting’ time.”

That reminds me of the 1957 lesson offered by Robert Paul Smith’s famous Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing:” exploration and curiosity are essential to progress.

Rovelli then discusses quantum mechanics and the questions of Bohr, Planck, and Heisenberg, all summarized by the phrase “And to the very last, doubt.” And uncertainty.

From the “microcosm of elementary particles” he then moves to the cosmos, the “macrocosmic structure of the universe.” Our Sun is an, “… infinitesimal speck in a vast cloud of one hundred billion stars – our Galaxy” and our Galaxy is, “… itself a speck of dust in a huge cloud of galaxies.”

Back then to the smallest particles, including the unseen but acknowledged varieties of quarks and the confirmation of the Higgs boson.

Then Rovelli moves to the “swarming cloud of probability: quantum gravity. He acknowledges that we know more now than we did 50 years ago, “so we should be quite satisfied. But we are not.” Forever the curious species, our “ … science becomes even more beautiful – incandescent in the forge of nascent ideas, of intuitions, of attempts. Of roads taken and then abandoned, of enthusiasms. In the effort to imagine what has not yet been imagined.”

The seventh lesson concerns Black Holes. We live, we think, in a world of “sheer chance,” in which “probability is the heart of physics … I may not know something with certainty, but I can assign a lesser or greater degree of probability to something.”

And Black Swans, too? How many “dimensions” really exist?

Dr. Rovelli wraps up this engaging and challenging set of lessons with – what else? – more questions. “What are we?” and should not we be aware, “… that we can always be wrong, and therefore ready at any moment to change direction if a new track appears?”

“To be free doesn’t mean that our behavior is not determined by the laws of nature. It means that it is determined by the laws of nature acting in our brains.”

“We live in “inextricable complexity,” and this means, “… we are a species that is naturally moved by curiosity … ”

Rovelli’s brief synopsis of what we think we know about the physical world and universe challenges us to renew our study and our search.

That conclusion reinforces the haiku I wrote for myself many years ago (with apologies to Robert Frost):

Pause for a moment:
Doubt, then curiosity,
Try another path.

Editor’s Note:  ‘Seven Brief Lessons on Physics’ by Carlo Rovelli was published by Riverhead Books, New York in 2016.

Old Lyme Residents Approve $42K Related to Police, Ranger Hours at Special Town Meeting; Some Reimbursement of Amount by Federal Government Anticipated

OLD LYME — UPDATED 9/15: More than 100 people attended an Old Lyme Special Town Meeting held last night in the auditorium of Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School. Those present approved by a voice vote the single item on the agenda regarding whether to appropriate $42,000 in connection with Old Lyme Police overtime and Ranger time incurred during the fiscal year 2020-21.

Some of the $42,000 was incurred in connection with the Town’s response to the COVID-19 virus and the Town expects that amount to be partially reimbursed to the Town by the U.S. Federal Government.

This was the second time this motion had been brought to a vote after failing to pass at an Old Lyme Special Town Meeting held Aug. 16.

Editor’s Note: Visit this link to read a related Letter to the Editor from Kathleen Tracy.

A la Carte: Two Columns This Week and a ‘Nibbles’ Too! Enjoy Eggplant Parm Panini, Clam Chowder with Corn & Chorizo

A la Carte-1: Creamy Corn and Clam Chowder with Crispy Chorizo

Lee White

It was a really nice week. My oldest Troy childhood friend in the world visited for two days. (Her name is Rosalie. She is about a year older than me and, no, I was not named after her.) We ate lobster rolls at Captain Scott, I grilled steaks on the grill and we had sweet corn and a big salad, and the last night we ate not-great pizza and Coca-Cola, like we did a gazillion years ago.

I also had a nice coffee chat with David Collins at Mystic Depot and we talked for almost an hour. He suggested I stop at Sea Well on Masons Island and buy a pint of the scallop and bacon soup he thinks is incredible. I did and he is right; see the Nibbles* column below.

Best of all was I got my COVID booster shot. The day before the storm, I stopped at Stop & Shop to pick up a few things (not toilet paper or a gallon of milk). I went to the pharmacy on-site and asked if I could get the booster. I filled two forms and got my shot. Sunday I ran a fever for about 14 hours, during which I took a couple of ibuprofen. Today I am fine.

Oh, yes, Bon Appetit magazine came in the mail. There were nice ideas for autumn meals, but I saw a recipe (below) that required sweet corn. Our local sweet corn will probably be available for at least another month. I love clam chowder and this recipe uses the blended corn as a thickener. But feel free to add a soupcon of heavy cream or a pat of butter when you serve it!

Creamy Corn and Clam Chowder with Crispy Chorizo

Photo by Kevin Lanceplaine on Unsplash.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, September, 2021
Yield: 4 servings

5 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
4 ounces fresh chorizo, preferably Mexican, casings removed (any dry sausage will do)
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika or regular smoked paprika
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
24 littleneck clams (about 2 pounds), scrubbed
4 ears of corn, kernels removed (about 4 cups)
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Kosher salt (I use fine sea salt)
Cilantro leaves with tender stems (for serving, optional)

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-heat. Add chorizo and cook, breaking up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon and stirring every minute or so, until browned and crisp. About 5 minutes. Sprinkle in paprika and stir to combine, then scrape chorizo and all into a small bowl. Wipe out pot.

Pour remaining 2 tablespoons oil into same pot . Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, and adding a splash of water if starting to brown, until softened but not browned, 10-12 minutes. Add clams and toss to combine. Cover pot and cook until clams open, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncovered and transfer opened clams to a medium bowl, leaving liquid behind. If any clams are still closed, cover pot again and cook remaining until opened, about 4 minutes more. Transfer open clams to bowl, discard any that have not opened at this point. Tent bowl with foil.

Pour 3 cups water into pot and bring to a simmer. Add corn kernels and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat and puree one third of chowder in a blender until very smooth. Return puree to pot and mix well. (Or use an immersion blender, if you have one and blend directly into the pot until you have blended about one-third and chowder is partly thickened.) Stir in lime juice, taste and season with salt if needed.

Divide chowder among shallow bowls and add clams. Spoon chorizo and oil over and scatter some cilantro on top (if you are using cilantro; I know some people hate it!)

A la Carte-2: Eggplant Parm Panini

One of the many vegetables I never tasted growing up was eggplant. As I have mentioned before, the only veggies I grew up with were canned green beans, canned peas and canned corn. We didn’t have a garden, but in the summer we would have fresh sweet corn and local tomatoes. If we had salad, it was iceberg lettuce, anemic tomatoes, maybe a few chunks of cucumber and a choice of bottled dressing. 

I love everything about eggplant—its shiny exterior, its gushiness in a ratatouille, roasted in the oven or the whole eggplant charred on the grill. Eggplants are best when they are young. They do not need to be peeled. They are watery, so you can slice them, salt them a bit and allow the slices to dehydrate between paper towels. 

In my newest issue of Real Simple magazine, I cut out four recipes, one for eggplant on a panini. The next morning I looked at a shelf in my kitchen and saw my panini press. Why had I not used it during the pandemic? Or even before it?

This recipe can be made in a panini press or in a skillet pressed down by another. The recipe calls for roasting the eggplant in the oven, but you could do it on your grill. You don’t need to fry it in a lot of oil. It is particularly delicious while tomatoes are still luscious and local.

Eggplant Parm Panini

Photo by Huzeyfe Turan on Unsplash.

From Real Simple, September, 2021
Yield: makes 4 sandwiches

1 eggplant, cut into 8 1-inch rounds
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1-pound ciabatta, split horizontally and quartered (8 slices total)
1 big tomato, cut into 8 thick slices
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
¼ cup marinara sauce 

Place a large, rimmed baking sheet in oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss eggplant with oil in a large bowl until fully coated. Arrange eggplant evenly on preheated baking sheet; roast, flipping halfway through, until tender and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over high (or heat a panini press).

Season eggplant with ½ teaspoon salt. Place 2 eggplant slices on each of the 4 bread slices. Top eggplant with tomato slices; season with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Top with basil and mozzarella; sprinkle with Parmesan. Portion each with marinara. Top remaining 4 bread slices with marinara and form 4 sandwiches.

Place two sandwiches on grill pan and top with another heavy pan, pressing down to flatten sandwiches. Cook, flipping once, until cheese has melted and bread is crispy and browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. (Or cook all 4 sandwiches in a panini press.)  

*Nibbles:  Sea Well Seafood Mystic Scallops and Bacon Chowder

David Collins has written for The Day for as long as I have. Now he has a column but when he was a reporter, he did some good restaurant reviews. So he suggested I try Sea Well’s scallop and bacon chowder, I drove the few minutes to Masons Island by 9:45 a.m. but it didn’t open until 10, so I sat in my car, windows open to the sea air and read on my Kindle.

The chowder must be lots of people’s favorite because the nice clerk pointed to plastic containers in the cooler. I took one home. That night I had it with a salad. It was thick with milk or cream or butter, or all three; the scallops were chunky and really tender, and the bacon was a splendid, salty counterpoint to the excellent soup. 

There is another Sea Well in Pawcatuck at 3 Liberty St. (860-599-2082). When we lived in Canterbury, I drove 40 minutes there to buy fish. On my first visit, a chalk board said they had cod pieces. I laughed and laughed, but no one there thought it was funny. I guess you had to read about Shakespeare plays in the 15th and 16th century! 

Sea Well Seafood Mystic
106 Masons Island Road
Mystic, CT 06355
Tel: 860-415-9210

Alberio, Andromeda, Milky Way & More: Super Sights on Most Recent ‘Dark Skies’ Night in Lyme

The Milky Way rising like steam from the teapot of Sagittarius. Photo by Roger Charbonneau Jr.

LYME — As the setting sun dipped below the horizon on the evening of Sept. 3, the quick cooling gave a hint of the damp night to come. Indeed, our equipment was already showing bits of moisture as the wet air let go of its precious cargo.

Unlike previous sessions, the moisture-laden air belied the towns and cities nearby as their unshielded light fixtures reflected against the water vapor in the atmosphere. With this unmistakable glow, we all became aware first-hand of the insidious effects of light pollution.

Despite that, we were ready to observe whatever this evening’s skies were ready to reveal.

Early in the evening, we had reviewed what a Dobsonian telescope is all about, and how it differs in form and function from the other telescopes on hand, namely, Schmidt Cassegrain reflectors.

We also did a quick review of how to locate the Summer Triangle, Polaris, the Little Dipper, and the handle of the Big Dipper. The bowl of the Big Dipper was below the tree line all night, as it will be for several months to come. 

Most striking of the early ‘stars’ to shine in the night sky was the great planet Jupiter and its four brightest moons. Throughout the night we checked back in on Jupiter, and by night’s end it was readily apparent that those little dots of light had actually moved in their orbits around Jupiter.

Up and to the right of Jupiter, we also trained our telescopes on Saturn and its glorious rings. The next few months will afford ongoing opportunities to see both of these gas giants all night long.

With the sky darkening more slowly than usual because of the high humidity and resultant glare of city lights, we challenged ourselves to observe the Milky Way. Lyme skies are pretty dark, and it became easier and easier to discern the Milky Way as the dusk turned to night. Even in the poor seeing conditions that night, everyone was able to see the obvious ‘steam rising from the teapot’ of Sagittarius. At the zenith, the Great Rift of the Milky Way was visible to all. 

From there, we checked in on the globular cluster M13 in Hercules and the open cluster M25 in Sagittarius. Later in the night, we brought M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, into view in Scott Mallory’s 12” Dobsonian.

Despite being almost 3 million light-years away, Andromeda is our home galaxy’s nearest neighbor. It can be observed in binoculars, and on a dark night, it can even be discerned with the naked eye.

To learn how to spot Andromeda, we traced out the Great Square of Pegasus, and then learned how the right-hand triangle of the “W” of Cassiopeia points to Andromeda, and how to star-hop along the lower left corner of Pegasus’ Great Square to the precise location of that great galaxy.

The binary star Alberio. Photo by Alan Sheiness.

At the end of the evening, we observed Alberio, the nose of Cygnus the Swan, and we could all see that it is actually a beautiful binary pair of stars of contrasting colors.

The Lyme Land Trust will continue to hold monthly dark sky observing sessions, usually on the Friday night closest to new moon. As always, first-timers without any equipment are welcome to share the evening with us.

We also highly encourage those with telescopes to bring them out, even if it has been a while since they were taken through their paces. This way, our debutantes will be able to spread out and share the views from more telescopes. Scott and I will be happy to help with setup if your skills have become rusty.

Our observing site is likely just what you have been hoping for. We have acres of open field, with the east and south tree lines well off in the distance, and Polaris visible above the tree line to the north. And we have two other prepped sites in the same large field to allow a setup that better favors the west or the north, if need be.

Learn more about our upcoming astronomy sessions at lymelandtrust.org.

And most of all, come on out!

About the author: Alan Sheiness is a 10-year resident of Lyme, CT, and treasurer of the Lyme Land Trust (LLT). A life-long astronomy enthusiast and astrophotographer, Sheiness is a promoter of dark skies and along with Lyme resident Scott Mallory has established a new astronomy program as part of LLT’s public offerings. Contact them at alan.sheiness@icloud.com and scott.mallory@gmail.com .

Op-Ed: Lampos Makes His Case, ‘I’m Not Running “Against” Anyone, But Rather “For” Old Lyme’

Jim Lampos

Editor’s Note: This op-ed was submitted by Jim Lampos, who is the Democratic-endorsed candidate for Old Lyme Selectman and also for one of the two seats on the Old Lyme Planning Commission.

I am honored to be on the ballot for Old Lyme’s Board of Selectmen this November 2nd.  The Board of Selectmen has been meeting since our town’s founding over three hundred years ago, and our democratic institutions predate the founding of our nation by over a century.   Indeed, Old Lyme has one of the oldest continuous forms of democratic government in the world.  As a historian, when I read meeting records in our town hall archives I am struck by the degree to which decisions made long ago continue to resonate and influence our daily lives. From mundane tasks such as building roads and bridges to the pressing issues of the day, addressed in the Lyme Resolves of 1766 which outlined principles that still guide us, one thing is clear: Things we do and say in our civic life matter. And sometimes, it’s the things we don’t do or say that matter even more.  

Our times call for a broad perspective, and a willingness to listen, learn, and adapt.  As a small businessman who has successfully navigated the challenges of the Great Recession, the early days of the pandemic, and now the disruptions of the re-opening—I know that each day will present a new set of challenges that will call upon all of my skills and life experience. 

The education and training that has served me well as a businessman is even more applicable to the job of selectman. I received my B.A. in political sociology from Brandeis University, graduating Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. I was awarded a Kaplan Fellowship to attend the New School where I received my M.A. in policy analysis and was inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha, the national honor society for public affairs and administration. I worked on various urban renewal and planning projects in New York City, such as the successful redesign of Union Square Park, and served as Director of Development for Community Access, a nonprofit agency building housing for the homeless and mentally disabled. I am currently serving as an alternate on Old Lyme’s Planning Commission, and along with running for selectman I am also running for a full term on the Planning Commission.

I was born and raised here in Southeastern Connecticut, and have been living in Old Lyme for over 40 years—first as a summer resident, and since 2005 as a full-time resident with my wife Michaelle and our children Phoebe and Van. We chose to live in Old Lyme for the same reason so many others do: the transcendent beauty of our natural environment, our excellent school system, great institutions such as the Florence Griswold Museum and cultural events such as the Musical Masterworks concerts, and most of all, the proud tradition of our civic life. I’m not embarrassed to say that I love our town, and I’m not speaking rhetorically when I say that I’m not running “against” anyone, but rather “for” Old Lyme. In that spirit, I am reaching out to all residents regardless of party affiliation and asking for your vote.  

In the coming years, we will be facing challenges that we’ve never faced before. The “disruptive” technologies that have upended so much of our economy and daily lives will soon be transforming real estate and development. Climate change will be placing much of our low-lying coast in peril and testing our infrastructure. These challenges will require creative, forward-thinking solutions, backed by the support of informed and unified residents if we are to maintain our treasured small-town ambience and sense of place. We must look to the future, respect the past, and work to preserve our natural environment and natural resources. We must support our arts community and all of our businesses, including the farms which were so invaluable to us during the pandemic. We must continue to invest in our schools and find ways to develop new housing opportunities in neighborhood-appropriate ways so that our young families can stay here and our older residents can retire here in comfort and security, and we must do all of these things while being mindful of social equity and justice, because that is who we are as a community. I believe that my running mate, first selectwoman candidate Martha Shoemaker, and myself, along with the entire Democratic ticket, are uniquely qualified to guide us through the coming decade and make our town an even greater place to live. 

I look forward to seeing everyone on the campaign trail, and to serving our town on the Board of Selectmen and Planning Commission. 

Remembering Sept. 11, 2001 …

Photo by Ellen Cole.

OLD LYME — UPDATED 9/13 with additional photos. The Old Lyme Fire Department commemorated the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the United States of America that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, by flying the Stars and Stripes prominently on a fire truck parked in front of  their building on Lyme Street.

Photo by Ellen Cole.

Meanwhile, down at the Old Lyme Police Department building on Shore Rd., the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen held a ceremony at 9 a.m. recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Photo by Old Lyme Fire Department/Town of Old Lyme.

 

Photo by Old Lyme Fire Department/the Town of Old Lyme.

 

Photo by Old Lyme Fire Department/the Town of Old Lyme.

 

Photo by Ellen Cole.

Thank you to the OLFD for this poignant and so important reminder of such a tragic day and thank you to the OLPD for hosting the commemorative ceremony.

Many thanks also to Ellen Cole for sending us the OLFD photos and also to the Old Lyme Fire Department/Town of Old Lyme for those taken at the ceremony at the OLPD.

Letter to the Editor: Shoemaker Explains Decision to Run for Old Lyme’s ‘Top Job’ + BOE, Seeks Broad Support From Voters

To the Editor:

An Open Letter to the Residents of Old Lyme:

I am running for First Selectwoman of our town and I hope to earn the support of all our citizens whether they be Democrat, Republican, or Unaffiliated.  Old Lyme residents deserve a leader who will listen to their concerns, create sound fiscal budgets, and bring consensus among diverse groups working toward the common goal of improving our town.  I will prepare this town for the challenges of the future. My decision to run was prompted by overwhelming resident concerns that these critical responsibilities were not being met. I am confident that my skill-set and prior experience will enable me to address these issues

During my 35-year career as a public-school teacher I worked collaboratively with fellow teachers, administration, and parents to provide a quality education for students.  I served as the union president for the last twelve years of my tenure.  Mediation, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills are tools that I incorporated to bring consensus between people.  These experiences will be crucial as First Selectwoman.  I am currently Co-Chair of the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition (LOLPC) and President of the Friends of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library. I am passionate about public service and believe there is a benefit for the entire Old Lyme community in being able to integrate activities, align networks and identify compatible and complementary opportunities among organizations.  

I am also running for re-election to the Region 18 Board of Education. I was first elected to the Board for a four-year term in 2017 after retiring from teaching.  Public education has been and is an integral part of my life and is critically important to the residents of Old Lyme.  I have enjoyed working on the Board of Education and look forward to contributing to the Regional District 18 Strategic Plan beginning in the fall of 2021.

The role of First Selectwoman is to serve the community of Old Lyme and to maintain, and where appropriate improve, the quality of town assets and services for our citizens.  I will respect the trust you place in me to lead our town.  If also re-elected to the Board of Education, I will continue to collaborate with the other eight members of the board to make the best decisions we can for the public education our students deserve. 

I look forward to meeting you on the campaign trail.

Sincerely,

Martha H. Shoemaker,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is the Democratic-endorsed candidate for Old Lyme First Selectwoman and also one of the four Democratic-endorsed candidates for the Region 18 Board of Education, on which she currently serves.

A View from My Porch: Not Your Grandma’s Community Hospital

Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash.

The healthcare landscape has changed remarkably in Connecticut.

You may have noticed some name changes, new signage, and that “opportunities” for care have increased to a level that rivals access to coffee. In this essay, I’m going to review this new landscape, and consider why it developed. My goal is to help the reader make sense of Connecticut’s new, and still evolving, hospitals roster.

I begin this review in Hartford, where healthcare system changes are really representative of the industry’s overall transformation. In addition, because I was a member of Saint Francis Hospital’s attending and management staff for 10 years in an earlier part of my life, I know the players.

In the mid-1970s, Hartford was well-served by three independent hospitals in, what appeared to be, a stable healthcare environment. The oldest, Hartford Hospital, was founded in 1854 by the local medical society, actually in response to an industrial accident — a steam boiler explosion. Saint Francis Hospital, which was established in 1897 by the “Sisters of Saint Joseph”, is now the largest Catholic hospital in New England. A third, smaller hospital, Mount Sinai, was founded in 1923 to provide a facility for Jewish doctors, who were unable to obtain staff privileges in the other two.

Then, an extraordinary makeover of that local system of independent hospitals began in1995 when Mount Sinai merged with Saint Francis, which was one of the first occasions in the United States of a formalized relationship between stand-alone Catholic and Jewish hospitals. The facilities that once housed Mount Sinai became the Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital.

By 2015, Saint Francis had already become part of Trinity Health of New England, an “integrated health care delivery system”, with five hospitals; which, in turn, is a member of Trinity Health, a Catholic health system with 93 hospitals in 22 states! 

Drivers of Mergers and Affiliations:

Such deals are growing across the United States. Some of the motivation can be attributed to the hospital industry’s response to healthcare reform and managed care, both of which often involved negotiated reimbursement schemes and utilization review programs. Clearly, larger hospital groups are in a stronger position to negotiate compensation rates with payors and regulators. 

In addition, smaller independent hospitals may also consider some sort of affiliation with a larger organization to both improve their capacity to secure capital for programs and facilities, take advantage of resultant economies of scale; and to attract and retain, or simply get access to, physicians in some of the more arcane medical specialties.

Although I had knowledge of the events discussed below, as they occurred, reviewing them as a continuum is really stunning and demonstrates the great breadth and scope of the two major Connecticut hospital groups.

The Hartford Juggernaut: 

The front entrance of Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, United States. Public Domain photo by Elipongo.

In 1994, Hartford Hospital began its transformation from local independent hospital into a “statewide, integrated health system”, when it merged the venerable Institute of Living — founded in 1822 as a private, residential psychiatric hospital — into the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry. The Institute had gained some international notoriety for its treatment of silent movie stars like Clara Bow, errant clerics, and an early adoption of a science-based model of care.

Further, in 1996, pediatric patients from Newington Children’s Hospital, the University of Connecticut Health Center, and Hartford Hospital were all relocated to the new Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, constructed contiguous to the Hartford Hospital campus. 

Planning for this new hospital had actually begun in 1986, when Newington and Hartford agreed to construct a new facility. Extraordinarily, this new alliance was designed to span care from infancy, through childhood, adolescence and young adulthood; and finally transitioning to adult care.

Last October, the Hartford Courant reported that the Hartford HealthCare system now, “… serves 185 towns and cities and is within 15 miles of every Connecticut resident.” It includes seven hospitals, roughly stretching diagonally across the state from Windham and Backus Hospitals in the northeast to St Vincent’s in the southwest.  The data are daunting: almost 30,000 employees, nearly 2,500 licensed beds, and operating revenue of $4.3 billion. 

The Yale Dreadnought:

Aerial view of the campus of Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, including Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven and Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. Photo taken in 2010 by YNHHEditor. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Development of the “grandmother of all CT hospitals” began in 1826, when the Connecticut General Assembly authorized 10 incorporators to establish the General Hospital Society of Connecticut, which was chartered as the first Connecticut hospital in New Haven, and the fourth voluntary hospital in the United States. (i.e., a private nonprofit hospital.)

A new 13-bed hospital opened in 1833; and served as the primary teaching hospital for the Yale medical school, which was founded in 1810 as the Medical Institution of Yale College.

In 1884, the hospital’s name was changed to New Haven Hospital, reflecting the name that was commonly used at the time; and then, in 1945, Grace-New Haven Hospital, to acknowledge an affiliation with neighboring Grace Hospital. And finally, in 1965, as the relationship with the University became more formalized, Yale New Haven Hospital. 

Now moving forward, perhaps Al Jolson described it best in the 1927 film “The Jazz Singer” … “you ain’t heard nothing yet”. 

In 1996, the hospital began its transformation into the “Yale New Haven Health System” (YNHHS), when it entered into a partnership with Bridgeport Hospital; and further expanded in 1998, with the addition of Greenwich Hospital. 

In 2012, they acquired the assets of the Hospital of Saint Raphael, which was founded by the “Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth” in 1907, and also located in New Haven. 

In 2016, ownership of New London’s Lawrence and Memorial Hospital was assumed by YNHHS, which also included L&M’s earlier acquisition of Westerly Hospital, consummated in 2013.

The Yale data are equally daunting: a year ago, YNHHS reported 2,681 licensed beds, 28,589 employees, and total assets of $6.5 billion. The system now includes five acute care hospitals, the Smilow Cancer Hospital, Yale New Haven Children’s, and Psychiatric Hospitals, and a multispecialty medical group with more than 1,000 physicians; yielding a sphere of medical influence along the shoreline from Westchester County to Westerly, RI. 

Independent Stand-Alone:

Middlesex Health, which is centered around Middlesex Hospital and an extensive network of community-based outpatient services, remains independent. Middlesex joined the Mayo Clinic Care Network in 2015, which enables their medical staff to easily consult with and take advantage of the broad expertise of the Mayo Clinic in diagnosing complex cases. The relationship with Mayo Clinic is not an acquisition or a merger, but an intellectual partnership (my words).  They are the first hospital in CT and only the second hospital in New England to join the network. 

Satellites:

Most patient encounters with these hospital systems will occur in outpatient settings outside the hospital campus. These can include urgent care centers, blood draw and diagnostic imaging centers, group practices; and more comprehensive sites like the Pequot Health Center (L&M/YNHHS) in Groton, which provides primary care services on a walk-in basis. diagnostic imaging, blood tests, and same day surgery (e.g., cataracts).

The growth of these outpatient sites has been facilitated by electronic medical records and digital radiographs. These records can be shared across different health care settings. via secure enterprise-wide information systems. This technology would also enable the type of relationship that Middlesex has with Mayo. 

I was surprised that Hartford Healthcare has opened eighteen “Go Health” urgent care centers from Montville to Torrington. Go Health Urgent Care is a national company headquartered in Atlanta; with nearly 200 urgent care centers in AK, CA, CT, DE, MO, NY, NC, OK, OR, and WA “through partnerships with market-leading health systems”.

Author’s Notes: Hospital mergers and acquisitions show no signs of slowing down in the United States., and, as economic, regulatory, and operational challenges continue, many community hospitals will consider whether or not they should remain independent, or affiliate with another hospital or health system. 

There are a range of affiliations that a hospital’s leadership can consider, from a fairly simple cooperation agreement among hospitals for group purchasing, to an acquisition of one facility by the other, in which all control is surrendered to the acquiring entity. In the above, I used news reports from the “Hartford Courant”, “New Haven Register”, the “Providence Journal”, and information published by the hospital group, to define the type of affiliation. 

In closing, there is an additional wrinkle to hospital transformation. This morning, while watching the News, Dr. James Cardon came on and did a commercial for CarePartners of Connecticut, a Medicare supplemental insurance company formed in 2018, by two leading organizations; Hartford Healthcare and Tufts Health Plan. “When doctors and a health plan work together, it simplifies patients getting the care they need. That’s what CarePartners of Connecticut is committed to.”

For me, this addition is beyond “stunning.”

Editor’s Note: 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.