July 16, 2020

Join a March for Justice Tonight in Saybrook, Hear Tulimieri Speak on History of Slavery in CT

The Old Saybrook March for Justice meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in front of ‘the Kate’ in old Saybrook to hear speakers and then march down Main St.

OLD SAYBROOK/LYME/OLD LYME — The Old Saybrook March for Justice is an inclusive and welcoming coalition of friends and neighbors, who care deeply about basic human rights. The group gathers each Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. in front of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook — the Kate — where they listen to a speaker and then, immediately following the speeches, march peacefully up and down Main St. All are requested to wear masks.

Their mission statement says, ” We are outraged by centuries of structural racism in this country. We stand with Black Lives Matter. We listen, learn and act. We understand that silence is not an option and we will not be bystanders to white supremacy.”

The statement continues, “We aim to be allies and antiracist. We are respectful, nonpartisan and inclusive. We welcome all who share our values. We educate ourselves and join in weekly marches.”

Signs were held high at a previous rally as the marchers crossed Main Street in Old Saybrook.

Today, Wednesday, July 15, all are welcome to meet at the Kate at 6 p.m. for a teach-in followed by a march.

The speaker at this evening’s event will be Kevin Tulimieri on, “Histories of Slavery in Connecticut and the Story of Venture Smith.”

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‘Black Lives Matter’ Peaceful Protest, March to be Held This Afternoon in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — A peaceful protest and march for Black Lives Matter is will be held Sunday, June 7, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Town Green at 302 Main Street, Old Saybrook.

Those intending to participate in the event are asked to wear a mask as the community continues to be vigilant about protecting citizens from the spread of COVID-19.

A press release from Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr. and published on the Town of Old Saybrook website states: “This much is clear: Discrimination of any sort, racism in any fashion and/or police brutality have no place in the Old Saybrook Community, or anywhere else. I, for one, will always do my best to promote a culture of equality and justice for all in our town.”

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Peaceful Protest Held in Old Saybrook Showed Solidarity Against Police Brutality on African-Americans

Gathered in front the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, several hundred people listened to several speakers.  All photos by Alex Kratzert.

OLD SAYBROOK — Several hundred people of all ages from the local area, including Lyme and Old Lyme, turned out yesterday evening in Old Saybrook to hold a vigil.

State Senator Norman Needleman (D-33rd) addresses the crowd from the steps of ‘the Kate.’

According to a press release from the Town of Old Saybrook, the focus of the vigil was, “To standing for justice and show solidarity with citizens from all over the country as they protest police brutality on our fellow African-American citizens.”

One man’s powerful message.

Speakers at the event included State Senator Norman Needleman (D-33rd), Paul Formica (R-20th), State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd), Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., Maryam Elahi, President of the Community Foundation of Southeast Connecticut, and the Rev. Dr. Steve Jungkeit of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Reverend Dr. Steve Jungkeit (top right, wearing hat)) of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme speaks to participants at the event.

The group marched up and down Main Street and also gathered for remarks outside the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center for the Arts, known as “the Kate.”

Marching for a cause.

Almost all participants wore masks and social distancing was encouraged.

Signs were held high as the protesters crossed Main Street in Old Saybrook.

A second event is planned this coming Sunday, June 7, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Town Green at 302 Main Street when a peaceful protest and march for Black Lives Matter is planned.

The words on the placards spelled out the intent of the event.

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State Rep. Devin Carney Endorsed for Another Term in 23rd District

State Rep. Devin Carney has been endorsed by local Republicans for another term in the 23rd District, which includes both Lyme and Old Lyme.

LYME/OLD LYME — (press release from Devin Carney) On Tuesday, May 19, Republican delegates from Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook unanimously endorsed State Representative Devin Carney for a fourth term as representative for the 23rd District.

The delegates held a convention by web conference to endorse Carney, making his campaign for another two-year term as State Representative official. Delegates gave remarks on State Representative Carney’s dedicated and effective record of public service as well as being a knowledgeable and accessible legislator for the four communities.

“Representing the 23rd District – the place where my family lives, where I was raised, where I went to school, where I work and volunteer – has truly been the honor of a lifetime,” said Carney.  “I am proud to be your voice in Hartford to advocate for fiscal responsibility, small business growth, our wonderful public schools, and our precious shoreline coast. We are facing an uncertain future and need experienced leaders who put people over politics – something I have always done.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education Member, Dr. Mary Powell-St. Louis, nominated Carney.“Devin has done a wonderful job representing people here in the 23rd District. He listens, cares, and is a real voice of reason”, said Powell-St. Louis. “As a Region 18 parent and Board of Education member, I was particularly pleased with how hard he worked against state forced expanded school regionalization last year.”

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna seconded Carney’s nomination.

“It has been a pleasure working with Devin over the past several years. He has been a strong advocate for small towns and small businesses and has worked diligently to ensure our needs are met,” Fortuna said. “His knowledge of state and local issues, active community outreach, and his legislative experience are exactly what we need as the state works through the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath.”

Judy Tooker, Old Lyme’s Tax Collector, added, “Devin understands the unique needs of our community members, from healthcare and transportation to employment and jobs, and he will focus on the district – not partisan politics. We need his strong voice in Hartford now more than ever.”

In addition to receiving the Republican nomination on Tuesday, Carney reported that he had raised the necessary contributions to qualify for the state’s Citizens’ Clean Election Program.

Carney, who works in finance and real estate, was first elected to the legislature in 2014. He was born and raised in Old Saybrook and lives in Old Lyme with his significant other, Lisa. He currently serves as Ranking Member of the Transportation Bonding Subcommittee and serves on the legislative committees overseeing Transportation, Planning & Development, and Finance, Revenue, and Bonding. He was named a 2019 Environmental Champion by the League of Conservation Voters for his work supporting renewable energy and received the Legislative Service Award from the Connecticut Counseling Association for his work on mental health issues and opioid addiction.

In district, he serves on the Boards of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Saye Brook Senior Housing. He is also an active member of the Old Saybrook Rotary Club, both the Lyme-Old Lyme and Old Saybrook Chambers of Commerce, and with Grace Church in Old Saybrook. In addition to his duties as State Representative, he serves as an alternate to the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals.

 

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Human Rights Attorney Dave Rubino Nominated to Challenge Carney for 23rd House District Seat

Dave Rubin is the endorsed candidate nominated by local Democrats to contest the 23rd District seat.

OLD LYME — (Press release from Rubino 2020) On Monday night, the 23rd House District Democratic Convention in the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook nominated Dave Rubino to challenge State Representative Devin Carney for the 23rd District House Seat. Rubino has spent most of his career promoting American democratic values abroad, and his campaign says his skill set will be invaluable in these difficult times.

“Rebuilding and preserving our economy and regional treasures will require real leadership, creative ideas and an understanding of what the stakes are,” said Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal. “Dave is a successful small-business owner and lawyer. His wife is a teacher. He is navigating the distance-learning of two young children. He has decades of practical, real-world experience overcoming adversity, with positive outcomes that bring people together.”

Rubino’s campaign will focus on addressing the repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis while planning a future that keeps the area attractive to businesses and supports working families. He advocates for a minimum wage that can provide for a family, an overhaul of our toxic student debt system, a functioning and affordable public healthcare system, and environmental policies that reflect a realistic understanding of the risks and challenges we face.

But these solutions, he says, will require true collaboration across the aisle.

“We can’t function with this level of polarization,” said Rubino.  “Although I am a progressive Democrat, all of my international work has been bipartisan in nature – supported by funding from the Bush administration, then the Obama administration, and finally by the Trump administration. I have helped draft laws for various countries on issues of national and international import. I know how to bring people to the table when it counts.”

According to campaign manager Anna Reiter, “Dave believes in an inclusive democracy and an equitable economy. But first and foremost he’s a professional who knows how to get things done with integrity and leadership. He will stand up for our values. That’s what we need right now.”

“I’m proud to stand with someone whose values I believe in,” said former Secretary of the State Miles Rapoport. “I have known Dave for years, and I’ve watched his work with great admiration.  Dave has litigated national voting rights cases, fought against government corruption, supported the rights of women, and been effective on every issue he has worked on. He is just the kind of person we need in the Connecticut legislature in these challenging times.”

Rubino will be funding his campaign via public financing through Connecticut’s Clean Elections Program. People wishing to support his campaign can  donate or volunteer at www.rubino2020.com.

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Estuary Regional Senior Center Closed Through April 30, But Still Providing Critical Meal Service; Number of Clients Has Doubled

OLD SAYBROOK/LYME/OLD LYME — The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. (ECSI) announced last Thursday that, although the senior center building will remain closed through the end of April, the organization will continue providing Meals on Wheels uninterrupted.  A Grab and Go service was also introduced for seniors who are not homebound, but who are self-isolating and avoiding crowded grocery stores.

As it responds to this unprecedented situation, ECSI is nearing capacity with a major influx of new clients. The number of seniors using the Meals on Wheels program has doubled in the last two weeks, rising from 100 clients a day to 200 clients a day. The Grab and Go service is providing meals for an additional 50-75 clients. 

ECSI’s Executive Director Stan Mingione says that providing this critical nutrition service will remain a priority despite the difficulties.  He explains, “Encouraged to stay at home, we are experiencing a wave of homebound seniors who may not know where their next meal will come from. Our communities are counting on us. We remain committed to serving as many seniors as possible.”  

ECSI has also begun assembling shelf-stable meals to provide to Meals on Wheels clients.  These meals will give every current client one to two weeks’ worth of meals in the event deliveries are interrupted due to an emergency. 

This project led to a recent Facebook campaign to collect donations from the community. ECSI says that the response and the general support it has received from the communities it serves have been energizing for the remaining staff, who are still on site working tirelessly to keep up with the growing demand.   

The ECSI serves the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme, along with Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. 

For more information on ECSI’s meal program or if you have a question, call 860-388-1611, visit www.ecsenior.org ,and/or the Estuary Facebook Page at Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. 

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Closures & Cancellations: Latest News

We are being inundated with closures and cancellations, and so will run all the new ones together in this post and then prepare a summary at the end of the day.

Ivoryton Playhouse: Opening of Forbidden Broadway Comes to Ivoryton scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, has been postponed.

Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, “The Kate”: All performances through April 30 are postponed.

South Lyme Union Chapel: Lenten Soup Night, scheduled for Monday, March 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. is cancelled

SECWAC (Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council): March 20 and 26 programs cancelled.

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‘Common Good Gardens’ Needs Volunteers, Details on ‘CT Outdoors’ with Suzanne Thompson this Weekend

‘CT Outdoors’ host Suzanne Thompson of Old Lyme stands with Linda Clough of Common Good Gardens at the WMRD/WLIS radio studio where Thompson interviewed Clough for this week’s program.

OLD SAYBROOK/OLD LYME — Do you have a few hours each week to help grow nutritious produce for Shoreline Kitchens and Pantries patrons?  Common Good Gardens welcomes potential volunteers to attend its annual Pot Lunch Brunch on Saturday, March 21, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, at Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, to learn more about the garden and how members produce and collect thousands of pounds of vegetables every year for families in need along the Shoreline.

On this week’s CT Outdoors radio show, Suzanne Thompson talks with CGG president Linda Clough about the non-profit organization and the garden behind Grace Episcopal Church that provides fresh produce for the SSKP patrons who come to the food pantries in Old Saybrook, Old Lyme and East Lyme.

CGG volunteers grow and harvest three to four tons of fresh produce each year at the Old Saybrook garden and pick up thousands of pounds of donated produce from farm stands. Organizers are looking for more volunteers in the coming growing season, everything from diggers, weed pullers and waterers to vehicle drivers, bookkeepers and publicists.  

The 30-minute show airs at 1 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, March 7, and 7 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, on WLIS 1420 AM/Old Saybrook & WMRD 1150 AM/Middletown and streaming at www.wliswmrd.net

To play back this CT Outdoors show at any time from your PC, MAC or laptop, go to www.wliswmrd.net, click the On Demand icon, look for pop-up screen from radiosecurenetsystems.net, and scroll to CT-Outdoors-30320—The-Common-Good-Gardens.

For more information on Common Good Gardens, visit www.commongoodgardens.org and RSVP for the March 21 free brunch by emailing commongoodgardens@gmail.com

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State Rep. Carney, OS First Selectman Fortuna Host Morning Coffee Hour Today; All Welcome

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr.

OLD SAYBROOK/LYME/OLD LYME – State Representative Devin Carney (R-23) will host a Morning Coffee Hour with Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr. in the Parthenon Diner, Thursday, Feb. 20, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. All are welcome.

The diner is located at 809 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook.

This event is designed to provide residents with a forum to hear about issues most likely to be taken up during this legislative session, ask questions about state and local government, or other issues affecting their communities.

If you are unable to make the event but would like to contact State Rep. Carney, email him at Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov, or call him at 800-842-1423.

If you would like to follow State Rep. Carney’s legislative activity, sign up to receive his newsletter at www.RepCarney.com.

If you are unable to make the event but would like to contact First Selectman Fortuna, visit OldSaybrookCT.gov or call him at 800-395-3123.

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Celebrating ‘the Kate’s’ 10-Year-Anniversary, ‘On Golden Pond’ Runs Through Sunday


OLD SAYBROOK —
On Golden Pond” opens tomorrow at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center – the Kate — in old saybrook as part of the Kate’s 10-year-anniversary celebrations.

The Saybrook Stage Company will be performing this poignant and comedic piece by Ernest Thompson, which inspired the Hollywood blockbuster movie. Appropriately, in light of the theater’s namesake, On Golden Pond  was not only one of Katharine Hepburn’s most cherished performances but also earned her a fourth Academy Award for Best Actress.

On Golden Pond is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the 48th year. He is a retired professor, nearing 80, with heart palpitations and a failing memory—but still as tart-tongued and witty as ever. Ethel, 10 years younger, delights in all the small things that have enriched their long married life together.

They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her new fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son, Billy, behind for the summer.

Billy quickly becomes the “grandchild” the couple have longed for and Norman revels in taking him fishing and inspiring him with the classics. Norman, in turn, learns some new language and perspectives from Billy and the comedy ensues.

In the final, deeply moving moments of the play, Norman and Ethel are brought even closer together as they find themselves alone again on Golden Pond. 

The play originally opened on Broadway in 1979 and then was made into a movie in 1981 starring Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda – both actors won an Academy Award for their respective performances. Jane Fonda played the couple’s daughter.

Thompson was only 28-years-old when he wrote On Golden Pond; he also won a the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1981.

The cast includes Ralph Buonocore and Mark Gilchrist of Madison, Terri Corigliano of Old Saybrook, Jim Hile of Clinton, Amy Kirby of New London and Jake Totten of Granby.

Performances are Jan. 16, 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinée Saturday and also Sunday, Jan. 19. 

Tickets  can be purchased directly at www.TheKate.org or  by calling  860.510.0453

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Celebration of the Life of Michelle Friel to be Held This Morning at ‘The Kate’

Michelle Friel

OLD LYME/OLD SAYBROOK  — A Celebration of the Life of the late Michelle Friel of Old Lyme will be held this mprning, Saturday, Jan. 11, at 9:30 a.m. at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook.

All are welcome to attend this celebration of Michelle’s life. She was a much beloved and highly respected resident of Old Lyme, who passed away Oct. 4, 2019 at her home.

Michelle’s obituary can be found at this link.

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Old Lyme Town Band Performs Holiday Concert at ‘The Kate’ Tonight

OLD LYME / OLD SAYBROOK — The Old Lyme Town Band, under the direction of Carolyn Whinnem, will perform three hour-long holiday concerts this season.

The first is on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 6:30 p.m., at Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Rd., Old Lyme. Admission is free.

The following day, Sunday, Dec. 8, at 2 p.m. they will perform at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd. in Old Lyme. Admission is free.

On Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m., they will perform at “The Kate,” 300 Main St., Old Saybrook Tickets for this only concert  are $7 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under, and can be purchased online at this link or at the door.

Numbers for all performances may include Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”; “A Christmas Festival,” by Leroy Anderson; “And All the Bells Shall Ring”; “Merry Christmas, Darling”; “Festive Sounds of Hanukah”; and “A Tribute to Judy Garland.” The 40 band members range in age from 10 to 80+ and come from several towns along the shoreline.

The band will welcome new members without audition when rehearsals start again in January. The band rehearses at Christ the King Church Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m.

Visit the band’s website at http://www.oldlymetownband.com or speak to the band’s director, saxophonist Christine Repasy, at any concert to add your name to their mailing list.

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Enjoy ‘French Fries for Felines’ at Five Guys in Old Saybrook This Evening, Benefits Old Lyme Animal Control

OLD SAYBROOK/OLD LYME — Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club (LOLJWC) hosts ‘French Fries for Felines’ on Thursday, Nov. 14, from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Five Guys in Old Saybrook will be donating 20 percent of all sales made during this period when you mention this fundraiser to Old Lyme Animal Control’s Spay and Neuter Fund.

The key is that people need to mention the fundraiser at check-out!

The LOLJWC will be holding their November General Meeting at 7:30 P.M. at Five Guys — new members are always welcome.

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Final Performance of Salt Marsh Opera’s ‘Pagliacci’ to be Presented This Afternoon in Westerly, RI

WESTERLY, RI– Salt Marsh Opera presents Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci Saturday, Oct 19, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m. at the George Kent Performance Hall, Westerly, R.I. starting at 7 p.m.

Based on a case of true crime, Pagliacci tells the riveting tale of a man swallowed by feelings of love, betrayal and jealousy. Set in the late 19th century, actor Canio and his wife Nedda lead a band of traveling carnival players across Southern Italy. Canio may play a clown on stage, but when he discovers evidence of his wife’s affair, it’s only a matter of time before his ferocious anger boils to the surface.

Pagliacci features one of the greatest tenor arias of all time, “Vesti la giubba,” so although you may not know the opera, you will almost certainly recognize that song.

A few tickets are still available at $20 (balcony) or $50 (table seating.) To purchase or reserve tickets, call 860.535.0753.

 

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Old Lyme Boys Still Unbeaten After Tying Tough Game Against Old Saybrook

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme boys retained their unbeaten record Tuesday afternoon after battling to a 1-1 draw against defending Class S state soccer champions Old Saybrook.

Jack Colella scored an unassisted goal first for the Rams and Avery Welch equalized for the Wildcats with an assist from Michael Milazzo.

Ryan Tetreault was in goal for Old Lyme and made a total of 12 saves, while Matthew Rothman, in goal for Old Saybrook, only had to make one save.

Ally Gleason, in her first year as varsity coach, has now taken the boys to 3-0-1 overall and 1-0-1 in the Shoreline Conference.

Read Vickie Fulkerson’s article published on TheDay.com at this link for a full report with photos of the game.

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Old Lyme Girls Retain Unbeaten Record Against Shoreline Rival Old Saybrook in Local Derby

OLD SAYBROOK — Playing away yesterday at Old Saybrook High School, Paul Gleason’s  Old Lyme girls defeated the home team 2-0 in a local soccer derby.

Lydia Tinnerello and Kaylee Armenia scored for the Wildcats, with both goals unassisted.

Sam Gray was in goal for the Wildcats and made four saves, while Sophia Barker was in net for Old Saybrook and notched 11 saves.

Old Lyme is now 4-0-0 overall and 3-0-0 in the Shoreline Conference.

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Summer Sing “Rutter’s ‘Magnificat’ in Old Saybrook Tomorrow, All Welcome

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash.

OLD SAYBROOK — Summer Sing “Rutter’s “Magnificat”on Monday, Aug. 12. Registration is at 7 p.m. and the sing begins at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 56 Great Hammock Road, Old Saybrook.

This session will be conducted by Russ Hammond of The Shoreline Chorale.

All singers are welcome to perform in this read-through of a great choral work. Professional soloists often participate.

The event is co-sponsored by Cappella Cantorum and Con Brio.

A $10 fee covers the costs of the event. Scores will be available, and the church is air-conditioned.

For more information call (860) 767-9409 or (203)530-0002 or visit www.cappellacantorum.org or www.conbrio.org

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Last Chance to See State Rep. Devin Carney Stars in Saybrook Stage’s ‘Romantic Comedy’ at the Kate Today, 2pm

Jason Carmichael (Devin Carney) contemplates the situation while Phoebe (Shannon Keagan) sleeps on his lap in this scene from ‘Romantic Comedy’ which runs at the Kate from July 18-21.

What better way to spend a summer night than watching a funny, heartwarming romantic comedy?

Step back into the world of the 60s and 70s and laugh at the way things used to be. Witty writing and clever comedic timing makes a production of Romantic Comedy the perfect summer night out. This fast-paced, hilarious play by Bernard Slade (author of Same Time, Next Year) will be brought to life by the Saybrook Stage Company at the Kate from July 18 through July 21, and is sure to provide a night of laughter and love.

This light-hearted, period piece first opened on Broadway in 1979 and tells the story of arrogant, self-centered and sharp-tongued Jason Carmichael, successful co-author of Broadway romantic comedies. But real-life romance doesn’t come easy for Jason and comedy ensues when he finds himself confronted with two momentous events — he is about to marry a society belle and his longtime collaborator is retiring.

Enter Phoebe Craddock, naïve Vermont schoolteacher and budding playwright – and Jason’s world is turned upside down. The two embark on a fresh, new journey of collaboration and take the theater world by storm. Fame and success are theirs for over a decade and then real-life suddenly changes for both of them – but for better or worse?

Can two writers of romantic comedies make real-life just as exciting? Can everyday life measure up to the perfection of on-stage romances and fairy-tale happy endings?

This is a special summer as the Kate celebrates its 10-year-anniversary and Saybrook Stage is delighted to celebrate along with the entire community.

This production will feature our own State Representative and the Kate Board Member Devin Carney. Carney will bring the leading role of Jason Carmichael to life — he is excited to be portraying such a dynamic, funny character while supporting both local theatre and the Kate. He has been in other Saybrook Stage productions over the years including The Farnsworth Invention and Twelve Angry Men.

The Saybrook Stage Company is delighted to be returning to the Kate for their 18th production, having performed Other Desert Cities this past January.

Visit www.thekate.org or call 860.510.0453 and reserve your tickets now. Also, visit www.SaybrookStage.org for more information about the Saybrook Stage Company.

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Carney Hosts Office Hours Thursday Evening in Westbrook

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Reps. Devin Carney (R-23rd) and Jesse MacLachlan (R-35th) along with State Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th) will hold Office Hours throughout the 23rd District on various dates between June 10 and 27.

These events will provide constituents with an opportunity to ask questions or share their ideas and concerns about state government, local issues and the 2019 legislative session which will come to a close on June 5.

The remaining Office Hours schedule is as follows:

Westbrook
Thursday, June 27, from 6 – 7 p.m.
State Rep. Carney & State Rep. McLachlan
Westbrook Public Library
Community Room
61 Goodspeed Dr.

Anyone unable to attend, but who would like to speak to Rep. Carney may contact his office at 800-842-1423 or by email at: devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov.

Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District, which includes the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and a portion of Westbrook.

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Legislators, Superintendents, Residents Express Universal Opposition to Forced School Regionalization

Special to LymeLine.com

Sitting in the front row of the audience at Monday night’s forum on school regionalization were local school superintendents (from right to left) Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) and Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook.)

Over 100 people turned out for an Education and Regionalization Forum at Old Saybrook Middle School on Thursday, April 11. The event was hosted by Rep. Devin Carney, (R-23rd), with Senators Paul Formica, (R-20th), and Norm Needleman, (D-33rd).

While the two parties differ on Connecticut road tolls, all three local officials said they are against forced regionalization of school district bills proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Senators Bob Duff and Cathy Osten, Deputy President Pro Tempore, and by Governor Ned Lamont.

Rep. Carney said there was an enormous public outcry by small towns and school districts, thousands of pieces of testimony received and hundreds of people, including students from Region 18 schools, who testified in March hearings.  While this probably means that the idea of aligning school districts with recently consolidated probate districts is not advancing, the matter of reducing and reallocating education costs is very much still alive, and pieces of proposed legislation could still become law.

“Nothing is truly ever dead until we gavel out at midnight on June 5,” Rep. Carney said, explaining the state legislative process and timelines of the ongoing session in Hartford. 

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) addresses the audience Monday night while (left) State Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th) awaits his turn to speak. Almost hidden from view, State Sen. Norm Needleman (D-33rd) stands to Rep. Carney’s right.

Of the six bills introduced that address regionalization of schools or services, three have been passed by the Education Committee and further action could be taken on them:

  • Governors Bill 874 establishes an appointed Commission on Shared School Services that is charged with developing shared school services recommendations, requires boards of education (BOEs) to report on currently shared school services and requires regional BOEs to post online monthly current and projected expenditures and to submit information to their town’s legislative body. The commission would issue a report in December 2020, recommendations could be binding on towns and districts. Because of costs of setting up a commission, the bill has been referred to Appropriations Committee;
  • HB 7350 requires regional education service centers (RESCs) to distribute an inventory of goods and services to member BOEs, and the Department of Education (DOE) shall develop a report of best practices by RESCs for regional cooperation. (LEARN, at 44 Hatchetts Hill Road in Old Lyme, is a RESC);
  • SB 1069, proposed by Sen. Needleman, which allows the DOE to study the effects of towns working together as Local Education Agencies, is intended to encourage voluntary regional cooperation and maximize efficiencies and cost savings without being mandated to become regional school districts.

Superintendents Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook), and Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) addressed how their districts have been sharing services and resources to reduce costs while maintaining the quality of curriculum along with educational, extracurricular and sports activities and programs.  Standard practices include health and dental insurance, energy, financial software, food service and supplies, plus student transportation for specialized programs.

Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Region 4 (Chester, Deep River and Essex plus the three elementary schools for each of those towns, which are not part of Region 4) school districts already share staff, Perruccio said, in an arrangement that has the flexibility to change yearly based on each districts’ demographic needs.

Perruccio said she was alarmed that the forced regionalization bills showed a lack of regard and understanding of how school districts are already sharing resources with a focus on quality of education.

Ciccone cited how the districts are coordinating to provide professional development for their teachers, and how Westbrook’s school facilities, sports programs and fields are utilized by the Town Parks and Recreation Department and local YMCA. The schools and town share legal and financial services support, as well. 

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser stands at the podium during Monday evening’s forum.

“There is a money issue here, we need to be frank about it,” said Neviaser, pointing out that significant redistribution of wealth from school districts with higher property values and tax base already occurs. 

Fifty-one percent of New London’s school budget is paid by the state, he said., as is over 60 percent of Norwich’s, 33 percent of Montville’s and 14 percent of East Lyme’s school budgets. Meanwhile, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools receive less than one percent of operating expenses from the state.

“There was no mention of improving educational outcomes in these regionalization proposals,” commented Tina Gilbert of Lyme. “It is because of our school district’s focus on that, we are in the top four in the country in education.  There is no discussion of parent involvement in schools; we are not wealthy or privileged people, we chose to live in this school district for our children.  What it takes to build [highly performing schools] is parent involvement, working with parents.”

When asked if they moved to their town because of the quality of the schools, a high number of people in the audience raised their hands.

While the majority of questions and comments addressed specifics of proposed legislation, the overarching issue of state fiscal problems and how to address government spending arose. Lyme and Old Lyme residents were some of the most vocal about the impact of proposed legislation on property values, taxes and the quality of local school districts.

“The majority of the state doesn’t have a problem, town government works in Connecticut, but Hartford is not responsible,” said Curt Deane of Lyme, pointing out a seven-page summary of education service-sharing produced by LEARN in February.  “The initial [regionalization] proposals would have raised my property taxes by 50 percent overnight. Taxes go up, property values go down. People have to understand, this is going to hit our property taxes and hit hard. This isn’t going to go away.” 

“We can’t be a state with only great little towns and not great cities,” Sen. Needleman said, citing imbalances of health care outcomes and school performance between wealthier communities and the state’s large cities. He continued, “While we don’t want to mess up what we have, we can’t turn our backs on the disparities.”

The legislators encouraged voters to speak up, write letters, follow grassroots organizations such as Hands Off Our Schools or form their own group to express concerns to elected officials.

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