June 29, 2017

Child & Family’s Garden Tour is Today, Saturday in Old Lyme

See stunning peonies like these on the Lyme-Old Lyme Garden Tour being held Friday and Saturday.

Advance tickets are on sale through Wednesday for the 2017 Lyme-Old Lyme Garden Tour, taking place Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17.  Just in time to welcome summer, the 14th Lyme-Old Lyme Garden Tour returns to Old Lyme Village, giving visitors a chance to wander through a half dozen gardens amid some of Old Lyme’s most beautiful and historic homes.

This beautiful garden is featured on the 2017 Lyme-Old Lyme Garden Tour.

Here tour-goers will stroll Lyme Street and surrounding lanes and admire the garden spaces lovingly created and nurtured to complement a village setting:

  • The Sculpture Garden, where plantings thrive alongside works of contemporary art created by the owner;
  • The Children’s Sensory Garden, created to provide sensory and educational delights for all;
  • Peaceful Sanctuary, which offers a cool retreat amid hidden gardens dotted with gems of art;
  • The Secret Garden, that presents a glimpse of gardening in the small, discreet spaces of a village home;
  • The Village Garden, which frames an historic home with climbing hydrangeas and roses that rise from magnificent established perennial beds;
  • The Victorian Retreat, where history meets modern life in magical spaces that delight the senses.

The Agency’s informative Garden Talks return, included in the price of admission.  This year’s topics include pollinator-friendly and edible plantings, organic gardening, and more, and there will also be presentations on flower arranging and creating centerpiece arrangements with vegetables.  

Inspirational ideas like this are sure to be plentiful on this year’s Lyme-Old Lyme Garden Tour.

In addition, the ever-popular Garden Boutique will tempt visitors with gifts and wares for home, garden, and self from such vendors as Three Islands Clothing, Foxgloves, Dawn Elizabeth, and Yali boutique.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Garden Tour takes place (rain or shine) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Advance tickets for this year’s Garden Tour ($25 advance, $30 day of tour) are available locally through Wednesday, June 14, at The Bowerbird and Old Lyme Landscape in Old Lyme; Hadlyme Country Market in Hadlyme; White Gate Farm in East Lyme; and Pough Interiors in Essex.  

On the tour days, June 16 & 17, tickets ($30) may be purchased at the Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St., Old Lyme.  Take Exit 70 from I-95 (north or south) and follow the signs.

Tickets may also be purchased at the Child & Family Agency offices in New London or by sending a check and SASE to P.O. Box 324, Old Lyme, CT  06371. Online sales are available at http://bit.ly/2pP7smi. Questions?  Email lymegardentour@gmail.com.

All proceeds from the 2017 Lyme/Old Lyme Garden Tour will benefit the many services and capital projects of the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the well-being and development of all children and their families, with emphasis on the unmet needs of children lacking physical, emotional, and intellectual care and nurturing. With offices in New London, Essex, and Groton, Child & Family Agency is the largest nonprofit children’s service provider in southeastern Connecticut. For more information, see www.childandfamilyagency.org.

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High Hopes Hosts a Magical ‘Moon Dance’ Tonight


AREAWIDE — Join High Hopes Therapeutic Riding on Saturday and dance the night away to music of the Sultan’s during an inspirational and elegant evening to benefit High Hopes’ programs and participants.

Moon Dance is one of Eastern Connecticut’s premier gala events and features the toe-tapping sound of The Sultans at High Hopes’ facility, which is transformed into the ideal setting for cocktails, silent auction, sit down dinner, music and dancing.  Over 600 guests are expected.

Event proceeds benefit the programs and participants of High Hopes’ year-round equine-assisted therapy programs.

Moon Dance is a community-sponsored event with over 200 volunteers working annually to support the event and is sponsored financially by Northstar Wealth Partners, LLC and Dominion.  Other leading corporate sponsors include:

Platinum Partners
All-American Waste
Herb Chambers Companies
Julia Balfour, LLC
Lee & Bernadette Olivier
WNLC – Hall Communications

Gold Partners
AJ Shea Construction
Bob’s Discount Furniture
Geneve Corporation
Gordon ADR
Lawrence & Memorial Hospital
OverAbove, LLC
Taylor Rental – Party Plus
U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management

Corporate sponsorship is a critical portion of the funds raised, which accounts for 20 percent of High Hopes’ operating support.

For Moon Dance tickets or more information, visit www.highhopestr.org or call 860 434-1974.

High Hopes is one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding centers in the United States, operating since 1974 and accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH Intl.) since 1979.  High Hopes is committed to providing the highest quality service to all who might benefit, regardless of their financial means. www.highhopestr.org

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All Welcome This Evening at Opening Reception for Studio 80’s ‘Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017’

View of the Sculpture Grounds at Studio 80 where the Opening Reception for Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 will be hosted on June 10. Three works by Gilbert Boro can be seen in the photo.

Opening Reception Features Live Performances by GUSTO Dance & River Valley Dance Project 

Gilbert Boro, owner and sculptor at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme, is hosting an Opening Reception on Saturday, June 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. for two new exhibitions on his property, Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 and The Golden Hour. All are welcome to attend the reception at which light refreshments will be served.

During the Opening Reception, there will be two live, outdoor performances at 6 and 7 p.m. by the GUSTO Dance & River Valley Dance Project. All are welcome to attend the reception, watch the dance performances and wander the beautiful gardens and on-site gallery to view the works.

GUSTO Dance & River Valley Dance Project will present two live performances on Saturday, June 10, at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds.

Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 follows on naturally from last year’s extremely successful juried exhibition of the same name , which drew large crowds and had to be extended into October to meet public demand.  This new exhibition on the grounds adjoining Boro’s studio and inside the Emily Seward Boro (ESB) Gallery on the property features works created by 17 widely acclaimed sculptors interspersed among Boro’s own sculptures, along with works by 22 other contributing artists.  More than 30 sculptors from across the country responded to the Call for Entries submitting some 60 works.

Boro’s expansive Sculpture Gardens are located on 4.5 acres of his residence on historic Lyme Street in the heart of Old Lyme, Conn.  The beautifully landscaped grounds slope down toward the Lieutenant River offering a unique en plein air experience for the exhibition, which combines both large- and small-scale contemporary sculptures. Many of the works, which are in a variety of media, are for sale.

In Love with an Idea’ is the signature mixed media piece in Susan Hickman’s ‘The Golden Hour’ exhibition on view in the ESB Gallery at the Sculpture Grounds during Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

A second exhibition will be on view in the ESB Gallery located on the Studio 80 grounds during the Showcase. “The Golden Hour” will feature mixed media works by talented indoor artist Susan Hickman, who was born a twin in rural Ohio.  She grew up in a small town and went on to study graphic design and photography at Ohio University.

Hickman moved to New York for a year before making her way up to the New England area where she has spent the last 15 years.  She is currently a resident artist of Hygienic Gallery in New London.  An eclectic mixed media artist working with paper, acrylic, ink, oils, found objects, graphic design, clothing design, photography and more, Hickman has also owned and managed several small galleries in New London including DEW ART Gallery, TAKEOUT Gallery and Down Gallery in Mystic.

She utilizes studio waste, discarded paintings, and found textiles as well as new ones, thus creating a restorative process, making something new from the past. She enjoys experimenting with texture and color and finds making art of any kind an exploration and an escape.

The sculptors and the title(s) of their work(s) included in the Showcase are as follows:
Michael Alfano • Fox
Greg Bailey • Green Descent
Henneke Beaumont • Connected-Disconnected
Brooke Bofill • Tension, Reveal
Jerry Erlich • Third Wheel
Denis Folz • Structured Form 1

‘Amulet’ by Gints Grinbergs is the signature piece of Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

Gints Grinbergs • Amulet, Stainless Steel Globes
Deborah Hornbake • Leap
David Judelson • Pablo
Elizabeth Knowles & William Thielen • Locating
Carlin Morris • Untitled
Christ Plaisted • Victorious Vine
Marcia Raff • 3’s a Crowd
Janet Rutkowski • Cymbalic Journey
Lisa Simonds • Silueta
Matthew Weber • Cedar Shingles & Shim Stacks
Melanie Zibit • Echo

The signature piece of the exhibition is Amulet by Gints Grinbergs, who works with a variety of metals, including copper, bronze, and stainless steel, to create open forms.  Welding metal spheres and partial spheres, he creates modern structures, for indoors or out. Fascinated by pictures taken by the Hubble telescope and electron microscopes, Grinbergs makes associations with galaxies and molecular structures. The combination of a modern metal structure with rough, natural stone make these works unique sculptural forms.

Grinbergs has a BFA and a BA. in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and has studied at Massachusetts College of Art and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His work has been featured at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park; Michael Beauchemin Gallery, Boston; and Lever House Gallery, New York, N.Y. and is Included in private and corporate collections throughout North America.

‘Green Descent’ by Greg Bailey is a featured piece in Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

Greg Bailey’s Green Descent is a striking work featuring elongated cones creating a continuum in the shape of an arc.  Bailey comments, “I am more than halfway through my life and besides some fleeting glimpses of awakening, I remain to be a predominantly unconscious individual. I am surprised that I have not grown past being manipulated by advertisements, angered by the news, or frustrated by the people around me. My hope is that by the end of my days I can learn to be present and at peace.”

He adds, “The production of art offers opportunities for discovering unconscious motivations and rationalizations. In this way, working in the studio is a practice of introspection and clarification.”

Fox by Michael Alfano is a delightful, engaging study in realism.  The sculptor explains that he has been, “… sculpting figures, monuments, and philosophical pieces for 20 years,” and comments, “If the artist taps into a universal truth, the piece is felt by everyone like clear mountain air.” He first studied at the Art Students League of New York with an emphasis on life size sculpture and anatomy.

His formal education continued at Boston University, and was augmented by internships with several prominent sculptors. He continues his training with master classes, and occasionally teaches sculpture.  Alfano exhibits his work at galleries and other public venues, and he is a regular entrant in art shows, where he has garnered over 60 awards.  His sculptures are found in private collections throughout the world and can be seen in monuments and other public art on permanent display in the United States.  Alfano’s work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, books, and on television.

‘Fox’ by Michael Alfano is a featured piece in Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

The jurors for the exhibition were sculptor Gilbert V. Boro, art historian Barbara Zabel and photographer Christina Goldberg.

Boro has enjoyed an extraordinary and distinguished more than 50-year-career as a successful architect, sought-after international design consultant and an inspiring educator.  With a BFA from Duke University and post-graduate degrees from Columbia University, NYC, his work explores the interplay of space, place and scale in a wide range of media including steel, stone, wood, metal, aluminum and fiberglass.

Working in sculpture has been a compulsion rather than a possibility for Boro.  While mastering the rigors of technical competence, he developed a deep-seated passion for three-dimensional art, which continues to be the influential force behind his creations. He is both inspired and motivated by the creative freedom of sculpting, finding that abstract work is the means to fulfill his vision.  Boro’s sculptures can be found in art centers and public art venues across the US and throughout Europe; they have also been purchased by private collectors, corporations and foundations in both the US and internationally.

Sculptor Gilbert V. Boro in his studio.

Zabel is Professor Emerita of Art History at Connecticut College, where she taught modern and contemporary art.  She received her PhD at the University of Virginia and has received grants from the NEH, the Smithsonian, and the Mellon Foundation. She has written for art magazines and has published two books, the latest Calder’s Portraits, published in 2011 by the Smithsonian for the exhibition she curated at the National Portrait Gallery.

Since her retirement, Professor Zabel has taught several courses at local museums and has organized several exhibitions for the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, most recently The David Smalley Memorial Exhibition, which opens June 3 and is on view through Aug. 13.

Goldberg has worked as Exhibitions Coordinator and resident photographer for Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds for almost five years.  She is chief curator of Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 and also photographs all the works exhibited on the sculpture grounds on a revolving basis. Additionally, she builds and designs web content for a great range of social media outlets, both for Studio 80 and external clients.

With a background in visual arts and communications from the University of Hartford Art School and Suffolk University, Goldberg’s photographs have been published extensively in numerous local print and digital venues including Coastal Connecticut magazine, Middletown Press, and Events magazine. A selection of her photographs will be on display in the coming months at Paynter Fine Art Gallery, located in the heart of Old Lyme’s Historical District.

View across Gil Boro’s Sculpture Grounds looking towards Studio 80.

This Summer Sculpture Showcase offers a unique opportunity for established sculptors to exhibit their work in a different location, while also effectively creating a new exhibition within the Sculpture Gardens.  Boro comments, “I’m delighted to be able to open my grounds to these exceptional sculptors whose work intrigues me.  Each one offers original creative thinking resulting in a combination of contrasting conceptual designs in a variety of media.  I think any visitor to the exhibition is going to be thoroughly engaged by what he or she sees – including children.”

Boro is somewhat unusual as a professional sculptor in that he loves to see folk of all ages directly interacting with his sculptures, noting that he has a strong aversion to exhibitions, “… where people can’t touch my work.”  Apart from attracting visitors to see the works on his grounds, Boro is thoroughly invested in the vibrant Old Lyme arts scene and hopes this exhibition will help cement the town as a summer destination for art-loving visitors from near and far, especially during the town’s Midsummer Festival, which this year is on Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 29.

About Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds:  Located at 80-1 Lyme St., less than a minute from Exit 70 on I-95, the Sculpture Grounds are open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  Admission is free.  Children, field trips and group visits are all welcome. The Studio is open by appointment.  For further information, contact 860-434-5957, visit www.sculpturegrounds.com or email studio80sculpturegrounds@gmail.com

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Tonight, CT Valley Camera Club Hosts Director of Photography from ‘The Day’

A well-known photo by Sean Elliot, who will speak at the Connecticut Valley Camera Club, Monday, June 5.

AREAWIDE — The June 5 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will feature a presentation by Sean Elliot, Director of Photography at The Day in New London, Conn.  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lyme’s Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn.

In addition to overseeing The Day’s staff of visual journalists, Elliot retains responsibilities as a photographer, documenting life in southeastern Connecticut. He started his career at The Day as the paper’s Digital Imaging Technician (a position now titled: night photo editor) in 1993. He was hired as a staff photographer in 1994 and became Chief Photographer in 2002 and was named Director of Photography in 2016. Prior to The Day, Eliot had internships in Lima, Ohio and Brigeport, Conn.

Elliot was born in Norwalk, Connecticut but raised in Eugene, Oregon. He returned to New England where he graduated from the Boston University College of Communications with a degree in journalism.

He has won numerous awards from the National Press Photographers Association Region One, New England Associated Press News Executives Association, Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists and the New England Press Association (NEPA). In 1994 he was the NEPA Rookie of the Year and in 2000, the NEPA Photographer of the Year. In 2007 he was given the Community Photojournalism award by the New England Society of Newspaper Editors. He has served on the board of the National Press Photographers Association, including two terms as that association’s President and chairs the NPPA Ethics Committee.

You can also follow him on Twitter @seandelliot and on Instagram @sdelliot

The Connecticut Valley Camera Club is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers.  We offer a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help our members expand their technical and creative skills.  We welcome photographers of all levels of experience.  The club draws members up and down the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook;  from East Hampton to Old Lyme;  and along the shoreline from Guilford to Gales Ferry.

For more information, visit the club’s website.  CVCC meeting dates, speakers / topics and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage/

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Musical Masterworks, Community Music School Announce New Scholarship

ESSEX/OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks and Community Music School (CMS) have announced a new scholarship to honor the memory of Nancy D. Thomas.

Ms. Thomas was a well-known and beloved piano instructor with Community Music School for 30 years and initiated the Kindermusik program and Kate’s Camp for Kids at CMS.  She influenced the lives of many young musicians and inspired their talents.  “We are thrilled to provide an additional opportunity for young people to study music through this new endeavor and are so honored to have Musical Masterworks by our side in this partnership.” said Abigail Nickell, Executive Director of Community Music School

Ms. Thomas also was on the staff of Musical Masterworks for almost 25 years.  She was fastidious in her responsibilities working with the pianists onstage and was well loved by all.  “Nancy was an indispensable part of Musical Masterworks.  We are delighted to partner with her beloved Community Music School in establishing this scholarship in her name, so that more young people can discover the power of music in their lives. We believe this would have pleased Nancy immensely,” said Alden Rockwell Murphy, President of Musical Masterworks.

Community Music School and Musical Masterworks are pleased to honor her memory with the Musical Masterworks Scholarship in Honor of Nancy D. Thomas, which will provide the tuition for a middle school student to take music lessons, 30 minutes each, for one full year at Community Music School.  The scholarship will be awarded annually for the next five years.  To be eligible, the candidate must be a student of classical voice or instrumental music and reside in Middlesex County or New London County.

Interested students must complete an application and submit an audio recording of two pieces of classical music in contrasting styles as well as a written recommendation.  A three-member jury comprised of representatives of both Community Music School and Masterworks will review applications.

The application deadline for the scholarship is June 16, 2017, and the scholarship recipients will be notified mid-summer. To learn more and to obtain an application, contact Community Music School at (860) 767-0026.

Editor’s Notes: Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 34-year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.  Learn more at www.community-music-school.org or call 860.767.0026.

Musical Masterworks brings to Southern New England world-class chamber music performances and outreach programs which attract, entertain, and educate a diverse audience. Now planning its 27th season, Musical Masterworks offers five weekends of performances from October through May in Old Lyme.  Learn more by visiting www.musicalmasterworks.org or by calling 860.434.2252.

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Free Day For All at FloGris Today

Families are invited to create hands-on crafts during Community Free Day on May 7, at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme.

Families are invited to create hands-on crafts during Community Free Day on May 7, at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme.

OLD  LYME — The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme presents its annual Community Free Day on Sunday, May 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Old Lyme. The event offers free admission to the Museum’s 13-acre campus, and includes family friendly activities and musicians Steve Elci and Friends at noon.

Museum-goers visiting the original Florence Griswold House are treated to guides sharing stories of the Lyme Art Colony artists who stayed with Miss Florence in the boardinghouse over 100 years ago. The house, decorated as it was in 1910, includes the original paintings that artists created on the door and wall panels of the house.

 On view in the Museum’s Krieble Gallery are two animal-centric exhibitions. Matilda Browne: Idylls of Farm and Garden offers new research on this American artist who specialized in landscapes, gardens and animal portraits. Beasts & Best Friends: Animals of the Lyme Art Colony showcases works of farm and domestic animals.

Free Day attendees can also visit the Chadwick Art Studio, presented as it would have looked in 1920, the Rafal Landscape Center, as well as the Museum’s gardens and grounds along the Lieutenant River. And the award-winning Café Flo will be open.

Family-Fun on Free Day

Free Day highlights family enjoyment of the Florence Griswold Museum. Family friendly entertainment with Steve Elci and Friends begins at noon.

Steve Elci and Friends will entertain at the Museum on Sunday.

Artists and adventurers of all ages can enjoy painting outside in the gardens and learning more about nature through a selection of Explorer Kits. All materials included.

 While at the Museum, families are encouraged to follow scavenger hunt cards in the Florence Griswold House, and uncover art details in the Krieble art gallery with “Can You Find Me” game cards. 

Be one of the first to pick up the newest keepsake publication, My Sticker Book Guide to the Florence Griswold Museum. The beautifully illustrated booklet tells the story of Miss Florence and her artist friends. Each time a child visits the Museum, they earn a sticker to complete one of the booklet illustrations. Those who collect all six stickers receive a gift.

On May 7, Community Free Day visitors will hear about life in an artists’ boardinghouse at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme.

On May 7, Community Free Day visitors will hear about life in an artists’ boardinghouse at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme.

A historic center for American art, the Florence Griswold Museum is considered the Home of American Impressionism. The Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, exit 70 off I-95.

For additional information contact the Museum at 860-434-5542 or www.FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org.

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Musical Masterworks Ends 26th Season This Weekend with Program of Russian Works

Violinist and two-time GRAMMY nominee Jennifer Frautschi, who plays in Musical Masterworks upcoming concerts.

AREAWIDE — Musical Masterworks will close their 26th season with a dramatic program of Russian works culminating in Tchaikovsky’s towering Piano Trio.  Pianist Andrew Armstrong, with both passionate expression and exceptional technique, along with violinist and two-time GRAMMY nominee Jennifer Frautschi, will join Edward Arron for a memorable performance.

The May performances are Saturday, May 6, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 3 p.m. at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, which is an acoustically rich and beautiful venue for chamber music.

To purchase tickets ($35 individual; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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Want to Turn Photos into Fine Art? CT Valley Camera Club Hosts Speaker Tonight to Tell You How

‘Tuliptini’ by Patty Swanson.

AREAWIDE — The next meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will feature a presentation by Patty Swanson, Fine Art Photographer from West Hartford, CT. The meeting will be held Monday, May 1, at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, CT

Swanson writes: “Get inspired! Have you considered having a gallery show of your artwork but don’t know how to go about it? Or maybe there’s a particular image you think might work nicely hanging in a gallery? Do you have a lot of landscape, animal, and still life images that need a little boost or enhancement?”

She continues, “I will talk about how to turn a photograph into fine art, how to get your work into a gallery, and how to make your artwork sellable.” Swanson’s photographic fine art has exhibited and sold in galleries around the Hartford area.”

Swanson can be reached at swannycat@sbcglobal.netwww.facebook.com/pattyswansonphotography  or through her website at www.pattyswanson.com.

‘Letting Go’ by Patty Swanson.

The CVCC is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers.  The Club offers a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help our members expand their technical and creative skills.  Photographers of all levels of experience are welcomed.

The club draws members up and down the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook;  from East Hampton to Old Lyme;  and along the shoreline from Guilford to Gales Ferry.

For more information, visit the club’s website at  http://ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com.

Connecticut Valley Camera Club meeting dates, speakers / topics and other notices are published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage/

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Acton Library Announces Annual Poetry Contest Winners

AREAWIDE — The Acton Public Library will hold Poetry Night Wednesday, April 26, at 7 p.m. concluding its 23rd Annual Poetry Competition.  Winning poets will read their compositions and receive their awards. The public is invited to attend.

The panel judges for this year’s competition were Barbara Batt of Old Saybrook, Mary Guitar of Lyme, Susan Murphy of Madison, Mary Volk of Old Saybrook, and Jane Ulrich of Guilford. Chief judges were Patricia O’Brien, Old Saybrook’s Poet Laureate, and Nancy Meneely of Essex.

The evening, celebrating National Poetry Month, and the poets’ prizes are sponsored by the Friends of Acton Library. All submitted poems will be on display in the library through May.

The library is open Monday through Thursday 10-8:00, Friday and Saturday 10-5.

Contest winners are:

ADULT PRIZES

1st PRIZE                  My Father by Mike Augusta of Deep River
2nd PRIZE                How She Left by Lorraine Riess of Higganum
3rd PRIZE                Tar by Mike Augusta of Deep River

GRADES 9-12 PRIZES

1st PRIZE                  Parental Boogie by Sophie Spaner of Deep River
2nd PRIZE                 Escape by Stefanie Guo of Madison
3rd PRIZE                 Turns Black When Wet by Julia Collins of Old Saybrook

GRADES 7-8 PRIZES

1st PRIZE                    Snowflakes by Mackenzie Kapp of Old Saybrook
2nd PRIZE                  An Alphabet of Self Reflection by Mia Katz of Branford
3rd PRIZE                   Seeds by Sophie Burdick of Deep River

GRADES 4-6 PRIZES

1st  PRIZE               Moon Haikus by Van Lampos of Old Lyme
2nd PRIZE               Rude Awakening by Sheila Northrup of Madison
3rd PRIZE TIE        Time by Margo Katz of Branford
Oak Tree by Philip Warren of Old Saybrook

GRADES 1-3 PRIZES

1st PRIZE                  Butterfly by Hannah Belknap of Old Saybrook
2nd PRIZE                Valentine’s Day by Toyba Barasz of Old Saybrook

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Con Brio’s Gala 20th Anniversary Spring Concert to be Held in Old Lyme, Sunday

Con Brio Celebrates 20 years!

The acclaimed shoreline chorus, directed by Dr. Stephen Bruce, will be joined by soloists Patricia Schuman, soprano, Clea Huston, mezzo-soprano, Steven Humes, tenor, Matthew Cossack, bass and Associate Music Director Susan Saltus, organ, with the recently augmented Con Brio Festival Orchestra. Con Brio will offer the “best of the best,” — the most beloved pieces from its twenty-year repertoire.  Don’t miss this one!

Beethoven’s Mass in C, sung by Con Brio at Carnegie Hall during its very first year, opens the program.  Composed in 1807, Beethoven was already suffering hearing problems.  And yet he produced a masterpiece, fresh, innovative. Robert Schumann wrote that this Mass, “…still exercises its power over all ages, just as those great phenomena of nature that, no matter how often they occur, fill us with awe and wonder.  This will go on centuries hence, as long as the world, and the world’s music, endures.”

Patricia Schuman, soprano.

Opening the second part of the program is a piece that will stun with its majesty:  the Coronation Anthem of Handel, Zadok the Priest. Then, in a more reflective style, Con Brio presents Brahms’ Trõste mich wieder —one of the most beloved a cappella pieces of all time, showcasing Brahms’ mastery of choral writing.

Mendelssohn’s Heilig and Lotti’s Crucifixus, other well-known motets, will be performed in the round, as has become Con Brio’s custom in the wonderful sanctuary of Christ the King Church. Et in Saecula Saeculorum, from Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus, is an exemplary fugue, even more amazing for having been discovered only in 2005.

Mascagni’s Easter Hymn, the renowned chorus from the Cavalleria Rusticana, is a world-wide, as well as a Con Brio, favorite; internationally acclaimed soprano Patricia Schuman will perform in the magnificent role of Santuzza.

In a lighter vein, Con Brio offers the Ward Swingle arrangement of Bach’s G minor organ fugue, as well as Arlen’s version of Over the Rainbow —an audience favorite since 1939, and When I Fall in Love, by Victor Young, made famous by Doris Day and Natalie Cole recordings.

Matthew Cossack, bass.

Bernstein’s Make Our Garden Grow, the radiant finale from the operetta Candide, is one of his great ensemble numbers, scored for soprano (Cunegonde) and tenor (Candide) soloists, chorus and orchestra.  Celebrating imperfect people who try to do the best they know, the piece has been sung by performers such as June Anderson, Renée Fleming, Jerry Hadley, Barbra Streisand and Judy Collins.

Over two decades, virtually every Con Brio concert has featured audience participation.  Maintaining this tradition, Dr. Bruce will ask the audience to join with Con Brio, in Hairston’s arrangement of the great African-American spiritual, In Dat Great Gittin’ Up Mornin’. Dr. Bruce has taught this to audiences all over Europe; with Con Brio featuring this ever-popular piece in all its six concert tours to Europe — and doubtless again, in its 2018 concert tour to Croatia and Slovenia.

Tickets, $30 adult, $15 student:  online at www.conbrio.org, from any Con Brio member, or by calling 860 526-5399. Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme, CT. 4 pm April 23, 2017

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The Rockfall Foundation Announces 12 Grants for Environmental Projects

AREAWIDE — The Board of Directors and Grants Committee of the Rockfall Foundation are pleased to announce that twelve environmental programs throughout the Lower Connecticut River Valley received grants in the latest funding cycle. More than $28,000 was awarded to support environmental education and conservation efforts that will have a combined benefit for nearly 2,000 students and many more adults and families in the region.

“These grants, awarded through a competitive process, support the wonderful work being done in the area of environmental education and conservation throughout our region,” said Marilyn Ozols, President of the Foundation. “We are grateful that the generosity of our donors makes it possible for us to support so many worthwhile programs.”

Environmental education is a priority area for the Foundation and programs that serve and engage children and youth represent the several of those receiving grants. Public schools and non-profit organizations will provide hands-on environmental education programs in Middletown, Durham, Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. Additionally, several conservation projects and public events will present residents throughout the Lower Connecticut River Valley with information on urban farming, removal of invasives, and tree identification, as well as provide volunteer opportunities.

Grantees include:

Indian Hill Cemetery Association – “A Celebration of the Trees of Indian Hill Cemetery” will encourage visitors to utilize Indian Hill Cemetery as a place where they can learn about trees, be inspired by trees, enjoy the view and walk quietly. Tree identification activities, school programs, and the addition of signs will support this effort. $1,000

Van Buren Moody Elementary School – “Moody School Courtyard Nature Enrichment Programs” will train teachers to use the school’s courtyard gardens for education enrichment, thereby increasing the amount of time students spend outside learning about the environment. The program will also involve students and families in maintaining and managing the gardens to create a sense of ownership and connection to the courtyards and the natural world. $1,030

Regional School District 13 Elementary Schools – “Taking the Next Generation Science Standards Outside” will encourage elementary students to engage in the Science and Engineering Practices emphasized in the Next Generation Science Standards, while exploring the nature trails near their schools and noting problems that could be investigated and addressed. $1,100

Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District – “Urban Farm-Based Education Programs at Forest City Farms: A Farm Days Pilot Project” will promote an ongoing urban agriculture initiative in Middletown focused on improving urban farming conservation practices, building community interest and engagement in farming, developing farming/gardening knowledge and skills, and helping address food insecurity. Hands-on activities will take place at Forest City Farms. $1,500

Middlesex Land Trust and Everyone Outside – “Middlesex Land Trust Preserves: Great Places to Spend Time Outside” will revive and foster an interest in nature by connecting children and families with their local environment through field trips and public trail walks, helping them gain an understanding and appreciation of nature in order to become future stewards of the environment. $1,500

Snow Elementary School – “Outdoor Explorations at Snow Elementary School” will provide students and teachers with hands-on science and nature programs, including teacher training, mentoring and curriculum development leading to greater interest in science and stewardship of the natural world. $1,900

Lyme Land Conservation Trust – “The Diana and Parker Lord Nature and Science Center” to support the planning and development of educationally-focused content that is directed to all ages and will engage school-age children, and to support a unique and interactive interpretive trail within the Banningwood Preserve. $2,000

Valley Shore YMCA – “Farm to Table Specialty Camp,” an innovative new program that will teach children the important life skills of gardening, harvesting produce for themselves and others, and environmental sustainability. $2,225

Macdonough Elementary School – “Macdonough School Takes the Classroom Outside” will provide hands-on science education for K through 5th grade students, including an understanding of the natural world and the local ecosystem, to enhance students’ connection with nature. $2,570

Connecticut River Watershed Council – “European Water Chestnut Strategy for the Connecticut River Watershed” will directly educate more than 250 individuals on how to identify, manage and report European Water Chestnuts; educate thousands of residents about the plant and its threat to our waterways; and involve volunteers in hand removal of documented infestations. $3,500

Connecticut Forest and Park – “Highlawn Forest Invasive Removal and Education Program,” part of a strategic Forest Management Plan, to use the property as a recreation and education asset through careful timbering and an invasive removal process. The program will be a model for environmental planning and will offer a unique opportunity for hands-on environmental education for landowners and municipalities. $4,000

SoundWaters – “Coastal Explorers: A Bridge for Sustainability for Watershed Exploration for Middle School Students” will provide students from Middlesex County with hands-on science education focused on their local estuarine habitats and watershed to encourage a deeper understanding of the natural world via a combination of study and stewardship activities. $6,000

Founded in 1935 by Middletown philanthropist Clarence S. Wadsworth, the Rockfall Foundation is named for the large waterfall in Wadsworth Falls State Park. In addition to its grants, the Foundation sponsors educational programs and owns and maintains the deKoven House Community Center. The Rockfall Foundation awards grants annually through a competitive process that is open to non-profit organizations and municipalities located in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. For additional information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please visit www.rockfallfoundation.org  or call 860-347-0340.

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Trump & North Korea: War or Peace in Asia? Gordon Chang Presents at SECWAC Meeting, June 6

Tickets $20 for General Public, Free for Students

Gordon G. Chang. (Photo from gordonchang.com)

AREAWIDE – The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) has announced that author and political commentator Gordon G. Chang will present an address entitled “Trump and North Korea: War or Peace in Asia?” at the upcoming SECWAC meeting at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School on Tuesday, June 6, at 6 p.m. 

His speech will address the current situation in volatile North Asia where four nuclear powers – North Korea; its traditional friends, China and Russia; and the United States – are confronting one another. 

For decades, there has been an uneasy peace on the Korean peninsula, yet the reasons for this stability are disappearing.  The regime in Pyongyang is increasingly shaky and prone to taking risky actions; Washington no longer believes it has the time to tolerate North Korea’s weaponization program; and it appears that, in a few years, the North will be able to mate a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile that will be able to strike the lower 48 states. 

Chang is the author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World.” He contributes regularly to the “Daily Beast,” Forbes.com and the World Affairs Council blog.  His writings on China and North Korea have appeared in the “New York Times,” “Wall Street Journal,” “Far Eastern Economic Review” and many other news publications. He has appeared in interviews on CNN, MSNBC, BBC and PBS – among numerous other media outlets.  He has also been called upon to brief the CIA, the State Department, the Pentagon and other government agencies and committees.

SECWAC meetings are free to members. Tickets are $20 for the general public, free for area students, and can be obtained at info@secwac.org. (Ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.)  Chang’s speech at 6 p.m.will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception at at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

The presentation is a part of the SECWAC Speaker Series.  SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America.  Its mission is to foster an understanding of issues related to foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate and educational programming. 

Through its annual Speaker Series, SECWAC arranges up to 10 presentations a year that provide a public forum for dialogue between its members and experts on foreign relations.  Membership information is available at www.secwac.org

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Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeffrey Andersen to Step Down After Successor is Chosen

Jeff Andersen, Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, will step down from the position he has held for more than 40 years when a successor has been selected.

After over 40 years of service to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Conn., Director Jeff Andersen is planning to step down after a new director is appointed. Ted Hamilton, President of the Board of Trustees, announced that a comprehensive national search will be undertaken in the months ahead, overseen by a committee of trustees and coordinated with an executive search firm.

“Jeff Andersen has guided the growth of this museum with equal measures of vision and attention to detail,” Hamilton said. “He sees things clearly and stays focused on long-term goals.  Jeff charted a course for the Florence Griswold Museum to become a singular American art institution based on its history as an artist colony.  He inspired our trustees, staff, and volunteers to dedicate themselves toward this mission. Under his leadership, the Museum has become known for its compelling exhibitions and innovative educational programs.”

A fifth-generation native of Northern California, Andersen began his career at the Museum after completing his M.A. in Museum Studies from Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, N.Y. During his tenure, the Florence Griswold Museum evolved from a seasonal attraction with one staff member and fewer than 1,000 visitors per year to an accredited art museum with 20 staff members, 225 dedicated volunteers, nearly 80,000 visitors annually, and over 3,000 members.  Early on, Andersen helped establish an endowment fund for the institution, which now funds one-third of the Museum’s annual operating budget of $2.6 million.

Working closely with teams of trustees and professional colleagues, Andersen led a transformative, decades-long campaign to reacquire the original Florence Griswold property with the goal of creating a new kind of American museum based on the site’s history as the creative center of the Lyme Art Colony.  Reunifying the historic estate, much of which had been sold during the 1930s, took seven different real estate transactions, culminating in 2016 with the purchase of the last private parcel of the original estate.

Supported by capital campaigns that raised over $20 million collectively, the Museum implemented master plans to reconstruct historic gardens, relocate the William Chadwick artist studio, build education and landscape centers, and open the Robert and Nancy Krieble Gallery, an award-winning modern exhibition, collection, and archives facility designed by Centerbrook Architects.  In 2006, the Museum completed the restoration of the National Historic Landmark Florence Griswold House (1818) as a circa 1910 boardinghouse of the artists’ colony.  Located along the banks of the Lieutenant River, the Museum’s 13-acre historic site now forms an essential part of a visitor experience that integrates art, history, and nature.

As part of his duties, Andersen has organized exhibitions for the Museum and written extensively about American artists in Connecticut. For a museum of its size, the Florence Griswold Museum has been active in publishing scholarly books and catalogues to accompany many of its exhibitions.  Beginning in 1983, Andersen established a close relationship with The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company on behalf of the Florence Griswold Museum, assisting the company in assembling a major collection of 190 paintings and sculptures by American artists associated with Connecticut.

In 2001, Hartford Steam Boiler donated the entire collection to the Museum, where it serves as a centerpiece of ambitious collection, exhibition, and education programs revolving around diverse expressions of American art from the eighteenth century to the present day.  Works from this collection by such artists as Ralph Earl, Frederic Church, Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, and others have been lent to over forty museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The National Gallery, London.

Over the years, Andersen has been a leader in the cultural community, serving on numerous non-profit boards, such as Connecticut Humanities and the New England Museum Association, and working as a peer accreditation reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums. In 2004, he received the Public Service Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  In 2016, Andersen was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New England Museum Association (NEMA).  “Throughout his career, Jeff has been an inspirational leader at the Florence Griswold Museum, on the NEMA board, and through all of his community service,” said NEMA Executive Director Dan Yaeger.

“It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to be a part of this Museum,” Andersen reflected.  “What I am perhaps most proud of is the deep sense of loyalty and camaraderie that is felt amongst our staff, trustees, volunteers, and members. In many ways, it echoes what Florence Griswold and the original Lyme artists had with one another. In this spirit, I know that everyone will give their full support to the next director to help the Museum flourish in the years ahead.”

Andersen, who lives in Quaker Hill, Connecticut, is looking forward to spending more time with his family in California and traveling with his wife, the artist Maureen McCabe, who was a longtime professor at Connecticut College. Andersen intends to stay active in the art world and in the community at large.

The Florence Griswold Museum has been called a “Giverny in Connecticut” by the Wall Street Journal and a “must see” by the Boston Globe.  Its seasonal Café Flo was just recognized as “best hidden gem” and “best outdoor dining” by Connecticut Magazine. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Connecticut.   Visit www.FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org for more information.

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Lyme Academy College Donates Historic Document Collection to Lyme Art Association

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler at work.

OLD LYME — Yesterday Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts made a formal presentation of a collection of historic documents and original exhibition catalogs to the Lyme Art Association (LAA.) The event took place at the LAA’s historic building on Lyme Street immediately prior to the opening of the Association’s A Show in Four Acts exhibition.

This remarkable collection was part of the estate of Elisabeth Gordon Chandler (1913-2006), who not only founded the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, but was also previously president and a long-time member of the Lyme Art Association. The Archives Committee of Lyme Academy College has spent several years assembling and preparing this gift of history to the Lyme Art Association.

The collection being donated includes a comprehensive collection of Lyme Art Association exhibition catalogs including a 1909 8th annual exhibition pamphlet listing the artists Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf and also, a 1921 20th annual exhibition booklet, which was the inaugural exhibit in the new Charles A. Platt designed gallery. In addition, there are catalogs of the spring watercolor exhibits, which began in 1925, along with the autumn exhibitions, beginning in 1933.

Many letters and documents related to Elisabeth Gordon Chandler’s time as Lyme Art Association president from 1975-1978 and tell of her productive time during a transformative era in the Association’s history. Important documents relate to the ‘Goodman Presentation Case’ of 1928, a collection of 35 small artworks by early Lyme Art Association members. An original copy of Charles A. Platt’s “General Specifications for the Art Gallery” of July 1920 is included with this collection, which gives a detailed outline of the plans for the gallery.

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (originally named Lyme Academy of Fine Arts) was founded by members of the Lyme Art Association in 1976 during the time Chandler was President. The school was based on preserving the time-honored traditions and disciplines of training in the fine arts.  Founded as an Academy, it became an accredited College in 1996, and in 2014 became a College of the University of New Haven (UNH), when UNH acquired the College.

Lyme Art Association dates back to 1902, when a group of tonalist painters, led by the New York artist Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916), were asked to hold a two-day exhibition in August at Old Lyme’s Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library. The artwork exhibited consisted entirely of landscapes depicting the local countryside, painted while they boarded at the home of Florence Griswold (1850-1937). It is believed that Lyme Art Association is the nation’s oldest continuously exhibiting art group in the country.

A nationally recognized portrait sculptor, Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, was a regular exhibitor at the Lyme Art Association, and she became vice-president in 1974 and, president in 1975. With a goal of obtaining tax-exempt status for the association, and continuing the teaching and traditions of representational art, she set to work to create an art school in the basement of the gallery building.

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Lyme Art Association’s ‘Exhibition in Four Acts’ Now on View

Alan James, Essex Steam Train Sketch, watercolor (Industrious America)

Four new exhibitions, each with a different theme, will be on view in the Lyme Art Association (LAA)’s beautiful historic galleries from March 17 through April 28.  A Contemporary Look, Holding Still, Industrious America, and LAA Faculty run concurrently.  An opening reception for all four exhibitions will be held on Sunday, March 26, from 2 to 4 p.m.

The Exhibition in Four Acts is one of the most dynamic and exciting exhibitions that the LAA , bringing together four distinct types of representational art.  Industrious America showcases the work of talented artist members who set out to celebrate American industry and the man-made landscape.  A Contemporary Look is an exhibition of abstracted, yet still representational work.

Jerry Caron, By Way of Bejing, oil (Holding Still)

Holding Still features still life works in all mediums …

Hollis Dunlap, A Day at Ashlawn Farm, oil (LAA Faculty)

and LAA Faculty features work by our outstanding and talented studio instructors. Each exhibition is shown in one of the four skylit galleries in our historic building.

Spring Burst, mixed media (Contemporary Look)

“A visit to the Lyme Art Association to see the Exhibition in Four Acts feels like visiting four different galleries.  There is a variety and a shift in mood as you move from one gallery to the next,” states gallery manager, Jocelyn Zallinger.  “This show also allows a visitor to focus on each genre in a way that is not possible in other exhibitions.”

The opening reception for all four exhibitions is free to the public, and will be held on Sunday, March 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the gallery, located at 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Conn.

The Lyme Art Association was founded in 1914 by the American Impressionists and continues the tradition of exhibiting and selling representational artwork by its members and invited artists, as well as offering art instruction and lectures to the community. The Association is located at 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, in a building designed by Charles Adams Platt and located within an historic district.

Admission is free with contributions appreciated. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday12 to 5 p.m. or by appointment.

For more information on exhibitions, purchase of art, art classes, or becoming a member, call 860-434-7802 or visit www.lymeartassociation.org

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High Hopes Offers “VetTogether” Family Day Open House, Sunday

AREAWIDE — High Hopes, IAVA, Equus Effect and Team RWB Groton are hosting a “VetTogether” Family Day Open House at High Hopes on Sunday, March 26, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

High Hopes will present an introduction to the Equus Effect Program  during which attendees will spend around 90 minutes interacting with the horses and enjoying time with fellow Connecticut veterans and families.

This program, which takes place on High Hopes’ 120-acre property in Old Lyme, introduces veterans, families and High Hopes supporters to working with horses and will be followed by lunch.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding is located at 36 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme CT  06371

RSVP at the IAVA Event Page

For more information, contact Megan Ellis at mellis@highhopestr.org

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High Hopes Hosts Chili Open House Tomorrow

High_Hopes_Chili_Open_HouseOLD LYME — Looking to get involved, make new friends and make a difference?

Join High Hopes Therapeutic Riding for their Chili Open House on Saturday, March 25, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their facility in Old Lyme.  The event is open to members of the community to give them an opportunity to learn about one of the top therapeutic riding centers in the nation, while enjoying chili with all the fixings.  Bring a buddy and meet High Hopes’  “Buddy”, the horse.

This open house is informal, child-friendly, and your visit can be as long, or short, as your schedule allows.

Those looking to make a difference in the lives of High Hopes’ participants can learn about volunteer opportunities. There are frequent openings for sidewalkers, office help, barn assistance, special event planning and more..

It’s not too early to think about summer and camp staff will be on hand to talk about the High Hopes range of 2017 summer camp programs, which start in July.

High Hopes is located at 36 Town Woods Road in Old Lyme.  RSVP to 860-434-1974 to help us in chili-making planning.

For more information and directions call 860-434-1974 or visit www.highhopestr.org.

High Hopes is one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding centers in the United States, operating since 1974 and accredited by PATH Intl. (formerly the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association) since 1979.

Annually, High Hopes serves over 1,700 individuals. Assisted by over 675 volunteers and a herd of 27 horses specifically trained for therapeutic riding, High Hopes is committed to providing the highest quality of services to the community. Of the more than 800 programs that are members of PATH Intl., High Hopes is one of only six centers in the United States approved by PATH Intl. to provide their training courses in therapeutic riding instruction and has trained instructors from all over the world.

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SECWAC Presents UConn Professor Pieter Visscher Tonight Speaking on ‘Lithium in the Andes’

Professor Pieter Visscher

OLD LYME — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) presents Pieter Visscher — professor of marine sciences at the University of Connecticut and director of the university’s Center for Integrative Geosciences — speaking on “Lithium in the Andes” at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School on Tuesday, March 21, at 6 p.m.

His presentation will explore the ecological, economic and geopolitical impact of the world’s largest lithium mines – which are located in the Andes and provide more than 600,000 tons of this metal annually for use in lithium batteries.  Mining of these lithium reservoirs makes a significant impact on the fragile Andean ecosystem.

The mining process requires substantial amounts of water, yet many of the mines are located in the Atacama Desert, the driest place on the planet.  While the Chilean government works with mining companies and local populations on conservation efforts, significant socio-economical, ecological and political tensions remain.

Tickets are $20 for the general public, and free for area college and high school students and SECWAC members; tickets can be obtained at info@secwac.org. (Ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.)  Reporters are welcome to attend as guests of the SECWAC Board.  (Interested reporters should contact Paul Nugent at info@secwac.org or 860-388-9241.)

The event will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception.  Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC members with reservations (made at least 24 hours in advance) will reconvene for dinner ($35) at the Old Lyme Country Club.

Prior to joining the university, Visscher worked for Hawaii’s Oceanic Institute, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School and the US Geological Survey.  He is a founding member of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute.

Funders of his research have included NASA, NSF, NIH, EPA and DOE. His current research focuses on biosignatures (changes in rock or atmosphere that provide evidence for life).

Visscher holds graduate degrees in chemistry, environmental law and microbiology from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.  He is currently a Fulbright Specialist and travels extensively to Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, where he is involved in conservation issues.

The presentation is a part of the SECWAC Speaker Series.  SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America.  Its mission is to foster an understanding of issues related to foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate and educational programming.

Through its annual Speaker Series, SECWAC arranges up to 10 presentations a year that provide a public forum for dialogue between its members and experts on foreign relations.  Membership information is available at www.secwac.org.

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Musical Masterworks Mixes Mozart Originals with 20th Century Adaptations

Edward Aaron and Jeewon Park

Musical Masterworks favorites Jeewon Park, Tessa Lark and Dimitri Murrath join Edward Arron in a performance of Mozart’s piano quartets this afternoon at 3 p.m. in the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Before each quartet, a late twentieth century work by a Soviet era composer will be performed

The concert opens with Mozart’s String Trio fragment in G Major, K. 562e, Anh. 66, followed by Arvo Pärt’s haunting Mozart-Adagio for Piano Trio (1992/1997), arranged from the slow movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata, K.280.

This precedes Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478.

Then Alfred Schnittke’s humorous salute to Mozart in Moz-Art à la Haydn for Violin and Viola (1977) is the prelude to Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493.

For more informatiion and to purchase tickets, visit http://musicalmasterworks.org/concerts/march-11-12-2017/

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Join a ‘Building Bridges for Justice Activism Teach-In’ Today in Hadlyme


AREAWIDE — It is said that “knowledge is power,” that facts matter, and that for all of us to be effective activists, we need to enhance our knowledge and build our skills.  Therefore, Together We Rise – Building Bridges for Justice, is hosting an Activism Teach-In on Saturday, March 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Hadlyme Public Hall.

Experts from across Connecticut will speak from their experience and speak on the following topics:

  • How to Talk to Your Legislator &  Make An Impact- Michele Mudrick
  • The Lives of Undocumented Kids in CT & How to Help- Edwin Colon
  • Demystifying the State Budget & Fight for Children- Derek Thomas
  • Intersectionality 101

Parking will be available on the street near the Hadlyme Public Hall.  No handicap access available.  An ALS interpreter will be present.

A lunch break is scheduled and it is suggested that participants bring a bagged lunch. Bagged lunches may be ordered from the following:  Two Wrasslin’ Cats at (860) 891-8446, Grist Mill Market at (860) 873-3663, and Higher Grounds at (860) 615-6112.  Place your order by March 3 and let these partnering businesses know that you will be attending the Activism Teach-In when you place your order. Coffee, tea, and water will be available during the Teach-In.

To register (space is limited) and for more information, visit: Together We Rise – Building Bridges for Justice at togetherwerisect.com

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CT Trust for Historic Preservation, SECoast, Submit Lengthy Comments Opposing FRA’s Proposed High Speed Railroad Route, Criticizing Planning Process

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, their special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, have submitted 41 pages of comments to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the  Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which presents the Preferred Alternative of the Old Saybrook – Kenyon, R.I. bypass that runs through Old Lyme.

The powerful cover letter to the comments, the text of which is given below, summarizes the organization’s major ongoing concerns as follows: “We … remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.”

The cover letter concludes: “No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative … directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.”

The full text of the cover letter reads as follows below:

The full text of the 41 pages of comments can be read at this link.

Dear Federal Railroad Administration and NEC Future Project Team:

On behalf of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, our special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, we submit the following comments to provide feedback on the Preferred Alternative and the contents of the Tier 1 Final EIS for NEC Future. These comments are provided during the Waiting Period prior to development and issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD) for this project.

Since January 2016, the Connecticut Trust and SECoast have worked diligently and effectively to direct significant public attention to the NED Future Tier 1 EIS process. We did so out of grave concern for the impacts of proposed planning on the historic, cultural and environmental resources of Connecticut’s coastal communities. An education campaign that initially centered on Old Lyme, the western gateway of the proposed Old Sayrbook to Kenyon bypass, soon expanded region wide, jumped states to Rhode Island, and now includes Fairfield County communities in western Connecticut as well.

We have organized a notable volume of informed commentary on the NEC Future Plan, but remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.

No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative identified in the Tier 1 F-EIS directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.

Regards,

Daniel Mackay                                                                  Gregory Stroud 
Executive Director                                                           Director of Special Projects 
CT Trust for Historic Preservation                              CT Trust for Historic Preservation

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Connecticut Fund for the Environment Send Strong Letter to FRA Opposing Their ‘Preferred Alternative’ High Speed Rail Route

We have been invited to publish the text of a letter sent Feb. 23 from the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE) to the Federal Rail Authority (FRA), which, while supporting the principle of high speed rail, clearly states the CFE’s opposition to the FRA’s Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the following two headings:

  1. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative
  2. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment is the premier Connecticut-based legal defense for environmental actions. It also has the embedded bi-state organization, Save the Sound.

The letter reads as follows:

RE: Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement for NEC Future High Speed Rail Improvements Through Coastal Connecticut

Dear Acting Administrator,

Connecticut Fund for the Environment (“CFE”) and its bi-state program Save the Sound respectfully submit the following comments on the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) for the NEC Future high speed rail project, specifically those portions of the EIS detailing anticipated impacts to coastal Southeastern Connecticut. CFE is a state and region-wide nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental protection and advocacy that represents more than 4,700 members in both Connecticut and New York.

I. CFE is Major Supporter of High Speed Rail and its Numerous Benefits

High speed rail is critical to the transportation future of both the Northeast region and the country. CFE is a longtime supporter of high speed rail service in the Northeast. High speed rail must be an integral component of our nation’s transportation infrastructure as the United States moves further into the Twenty-First Century. In addition to making long distance travel faster and more convenient, high speed rail can serve as a major economic driver both as the result of its construction and implementation and the transport efficiencies it will provide to business and private citizens. Accessible high speed rail is not only an efficient mass transit alternative for many citizens, but an effective way of decreasing carbon emissions produced by the transportation sector. This is of particular importance to states such as Connecticut, where the largest increasing portion of the state’s greenhouse gas output originates from motor vehicle transportation.(1) Many of Connecticut’s major highways, including I-95 and I-84, become clogged with traffic during normal commute times, increasing the potential for excessive greenhouse gas emissions and inefficient use of fossil fuels. Accordingly, alternative means of transport that would decrease congestion on Connecticut’s highways in major travel corridors are a necessary and much needed public objective. Given the environmental benefits of high speed rail overall, CFE strongly supports proposals to make high speed rail a reality for commuters along the Northeast Corridor. It must, however, been done properly. The current NEC Future EIS provides such scant detail about potential site-specific environmental impacts that CFE is compelled to request that Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) conduct a much more thorough analysis prior to making any committed decisions regarding the NEC Future project. In its current form, the EIS fails to provide any substantive information from which citizens can draw conclusions regarding the potential environmental impacts of the preferred alternative.

II. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative

As a threshold matter, CFE questions whether FRA and the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) have conducted a sufficient analysis in making the determination that the preferred alternative evaluated the Tier 1 EIS is the most feasible alternative to be pursued in order to increase rail speed along the Northeast Corridor. In regard to Connecticut, the preferred alternative entails following the existing rail corridor with a new track segment from Old Saybrook, Connecticut to Kenyon, Rhode Island and rail improvements to existing track from New Haven, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts. Without meaningful environmental analysis, however, it is impossible to evaluate whether the preferred alternative is, in fact, the best alternative.

In selecting a preferred alternative so early in the process, FRA risks committing a large volume of resources to pursuing an alternative that may, ultimately, be impractical or unduly expensive to implement on the ground. This is particularly so given the preferred alternative at issue, which entails routing a new section of rail through a densely populated portion of the state and includes formidable infrastructure elements, such as a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River, discussed in greater length below. In electing to proceed along the existing coastal rail corridor, CFE is concerned that FRA may have selected convenience at the expense of overall benefit. Although FRA presumably conducted these analyses, the Tier 1 EIS contains very little comparative evaluation of the preferred alternative against the details of some of the other proposed routes through Connecticut. For example, there is no comparison between the Hartford route and the coastal route. Likewise, the EIS does not explore potential issues that may arise in regard to each alternative, such as the difficulty of blazing a brand new segment of rail through rural eastern Connecticut or the potential for the Connecticut River tunnel to be unworkable and replaced with the earlier proposal of an elevated rail bridge. As FRA prepares its final record of decision, CFE urges FRA to seriously explore the pros and cons of the preferred alternative against the routes in some of the other proposals.

III. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

In regard to the preferred alternative as it stands in the Tier 1 EIS, CFE expresses serious concerns about the level of analysis conducted with respect to the proposed new rail bypass between Old Saybrook and Kenyon.(2) In addition to constructing a new segment of rail through a heavily populated and historic portion of the state, the EIS proposes constructing a rail tunnel beneath the Connecticut River estuary.(3) The EIS, however, is devoid of any details or feasibility analyses of such a tunnel. Indeed, there is little that can be determined from the EIS beyond the fact that the preferred alternative contains a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River in Old Lyme, Connecticut. There is no information concerning the design of such a tunnel, whether a tunnel is even feasible in the proposed location, how the tunnel will impact the Connecticut River riverbed, or the presumably extensive environmental impacts that will occur when constructing a subsurface tunnel beneath the largest river estuary in the region. Although the tunnel was ostensibly proposed in order to ameliorate the concerns that the public had with an elevated rail bridge being constructed through the heart of a historic downtown area, as the NEC Future project originally proposed, the lack of meaningful detail about the impacts of constructing such a tunnel leaves open the possibility that will ultimately prove so burdensome and destructive that FRA will fall back on its original rail bridge proposal.

CFE recognizes that the current document is programmatic in scale,(4) yet the analysis of the preferred alternative provides the public with no information other than the fact that FRA anticipates constructing a tunnel and a line on a map where the tunnel will ostensibly be located.(5) Although site specific impacts are relegated to Tier 2 in a tiered EIS process, the decision to do so in the present case leaves numerous communities and citizens in utter uncertainty as to the specifics of FRA’s exact plans in regard to the Old Saybrook-Kenyon bypass. As courts have recognized in the context of other Tiered EIS projects, the broad nature of review at the Tier 1 stage can result in serious ongoing implementation and impact problems at Tier 2 and thereafter.(6) Given the lack of precise detail about the proposed tunnel at this stage, there is a risk that when rigorous analysis of the tunnel occurs during Tier 2, FRA will encounter potential impacts that would have best been evaluated—and perhaps avoided—earlier.

For example, given the information present in the current EIS, it is impossible to know the exact manner in which the tunnel will affect the immediate river environment. The EIS does not state whether the tunnel will be through bedrock below the river or a structure along the river bottom or some other alternative. The Connecticut River estuary is unique among the region’s estuaries because of its extensive wetland and habitat resources.(7) A tunnel has the potential to seriously disrupt the Connecticut River’s natural flow into Long Island Sound and will likely affect the deposition patterns of nutrient rich sediments that flow into the estuary from further upstream. Likewise, if the proposed tunnel’s construction will disrupt the layers of sediment already present on the river bottom, such disruption will have the inevitable effect of unearthing pollutants that have become sealed off by more recent sediment deposition and reintroducing them into the water column, in effect repolluting the ecosystem with old pollutants. Yet none of these details or contingencies are addressed in the Tier 1 EIS, but relegated to later analysis at Tier 2.

Similarly, the Tier 1 EIS does not adequately address the physical impacts that would presumably occur on lands adjacent to the tunnel beneath the Connecticut River. The EIS, for example, is bereft of any meaningful analysis of the potential impacts on the invaluable wetlands that flank the Connecticut River estuary. As previously mentioned, the installation of a rail tunnel on the bottom of the river could, depending on its design and depth, potentially disrupt the historic flow patterns of the Connecticut River, which in turn could lead to the loss of wetlands. Likewise, the actual construction of the tunnel descent on the lands abutting the riverbank could negatively impact or destroy wetlands. Losing wetland acreage in a high population area such as coastal Southeastern Connecticut is a dangerous proposition, given the increased risk of shoreline flooding as climate change ushers in rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events. Given the level of detail in the EIS, however, it is uncertain as to whether any such impacts will occur or how extensive they may be. Due to the high risk that harm to wetland resources may ensue, such analysis should not be delayed to a subsequent stage of the administrative process.

Additionally, the Tier 1 EIS delays appropriate analysis of potential impacts to endangered and threatened species until the Tier 2 stage.(8) As is widely recognized, the Connecticut River estuary serves as invaluable habitat to a large number of species. For example, the estuary is noted as possessing one of the highest diversities of fish species in the Northeast.(9) Likewise, the estuary and river corridor serve as an important resource for numerous migratory bird species.(10) As the EIS notes, many federally endangered species are currently present in the very local ecosystem to be affected, including the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii), Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), and several species of sea turtle.(11) As a practical matter, putting off the site specific analysis of impacts to endangered species can result in numerous problems either at Tier 2 or during project implementation, should an endangered species stand in the path of the tunnel’s proposed route.(12) The risk of such an occurrence is high, for as the EIS recognizes, Connecticut contains the highest number of endangered and threatened species of all states impact by the overall project.(13) At that point, irretrievable resources and time will have been needlessly spent in vain when an earlier analysis could have avoided such a problem while safeguarding habitat.

CFE also notes its grave concern regarding the earlier proposal for an elevated rail bridge over the Connecticut River that would direct the route of the new spur through the heart of historic Old Lyme and nearby cultural sites such as the Florence Griswold Museum. As the preparation of an environmental impact statement requires the sponsoring agency to consider the effects on the “human environment,” the health and quality of life in communities directly affected by a massive project such as NEC Future should be of paramount importance in FRA’s decision making. Should the Connecticut River tunnel ultimately prove unworkable or overly expensive, CFE shares the concerns of many citizens that FRA will implement the original rail bridge proposal instead, thereby subjecting a historic town center to irreparable damage and a diminution in aesthetic and environmental value. If there is even a remote possibility that FRA may ultimately implement a rail bridge over the Connecticut River as an alternate aspect of the new spur, it must fully present and analyze the expected environmental impacts at the current stage of the process so that the public may be fully and adequately informed of such a possibility.

Overall, CFE recognizes that the NEC Future project is one of enormous scale. Although a Tier 1 EIS is intended to be programmatic in scale, the current document provides directly affected communities and stakeholders with only the merest indications and suppositions as to what actual impacts will entail. In terms of the preferred alternative’s Old Saybrook-Kenyon spur and the subsurface tunnel included therein, the lack of concrete detail leaves local communities in a state of uncertainty as to what such a massive infrastructure project will mean in terms of impacts on the human environment and nearby ecosystem resources. As it is entirely possible that a yet unforeseen environmental impact will prevent actual implementation of the preferred alternative as presented, affected communities and the public are justly concerned that a subsequent, on the ground decision will result in earlier aspects of the proposed project being spontaneously resurrected as a means of quickly avoiding a major environmental impact and moving ahead with the project without additional delay. Given the importance of high speed rail to the future, it is necessary that the environmental impacts of any proposal are fully evaluated and understood by all stakeholders prior to moving forward.

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew W. Minikowski, Esq.
Legal Fellow Connecticut Fund for the Environment
900 Chapel Street, Upper Mezzanine
New Haven, CT 06510
203-787-0646 ex. 108

Supporting notes referenced by number in the text:
1 Acadia Center, “Updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for Connecticut: Recent Increases and Underlying Factors,” (June 13, 2016), available at http://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CT-GHG-EmissionsInventory-Report-2.pdf (last visited Sept. 9, 2016).
2 Federal Railroad Administration, “Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement,” Appendix A, 40–41 (Nov. 2016), available at http://www.necfuture.com/pdfs/tier1_deis/appendix/app_a.pdf (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
3 Id. at 7.5-7.
4 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, “Guidelines on the Use of Tiered Environmental Impact Statements for Transportation Projects,” 3 (June 2009); see Ilio’ulaokalani Coalition v. Rumsfeld, 464 F.3d 1083, 1094 (9th Cir. 2006).
5 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2.
6 See Hoosier Environmental Council v. U.S. Dept. of Transp., 2007 WL 4302642, *7 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 10, 2007).
7 Jenna Pirotta, “Connecticut River Estuary: Haven for Juvenile Fish and Migratory Fish Highway,” N.O.A.A. FISHERIES GREATER ATLANTIC REGION, available at https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2012/haven_for_juvenile_fish_and_migratory_fish_highway.h tml (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
8 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-9.
9 Glenn D. Dreyer and Marcianna Caplis, “Living Resources and Habitats of the Lower Connecticut River,” 56 (Dec. 2001), available at http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1037&context=arbbulletins (last visited Jan. 26, 2017).
10 Id. at 48.
11 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-5.
12 See generally Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 98 S.Ct. 2279, 57 L.Ed.2d 117 (1978).
13 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-3.
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US Institute for Peace President Nancy Lindborg Speaks This Evening on ‘Building Peace in a Fragile World’

USIP President Nancy Lindborg

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts the president of the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Nancy Lindborg on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. She will speak on “Building Peace in a Fragile World” at the Saybrook Point Inn   USIP is an independent institute founded by Congress in 1984 to provide practical solutions for preventing and resolving violent conflicts around the world.

Tickets are $20 for the general public and free for area college and high school students, and SECWAC members; tickets can be obtained at info@secwac.org. (The ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.)

The event will take place at 6 pm, Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Saybrook Point Inn in Old Saybrook. It will be preceded by a 5:30 pm reception.  Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC members with reservations (made by Friday February 10th) will reconvene for dinner ($35) at the Inn.

Lindborg has spent most of her career working in fragile and conflict-affected areas around the world. Prior to joining USIP, she served as the assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) at USAID. There, she led DCHA teams that responded to the Syria Crisis, the droughts in Sahel and Horn of Africa, the Arab Spring, the Ebola outbreak and other global crises.

Prior to that, Lindborg was president of Mercy Corps, the globally respected organization known for its innovative programs in the most challenging environments. She has held a number of leadership and board positions, including serving as co-president of the board of directors for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition; and cofounder and board member of the National Committee on North Korea.

She is a member of Council on Foreign Relations. She holds a B.A and M.A. in English Literature from Stanford University, and an M.A. in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

The presentation is a part of the SECWAC Speaker Series.  SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America.  Its mission is to foster an understanding of issues related to foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate and educational programming.

Through its annual Speaker Series, SECWAC arranges up to 10 presentations a year that provide a public forum for dialogue between its members and experts on foreign relations.  Membership information is available at www.secwac.org.

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‘Stop The Bypass’ Rally in Mystic Today; Blumenthal, Courtney, Formica and Carney All Slated to Attend

Photo courtesy of Robin Breeding.

AREAWIDE — A protest rally against the Federal Rail Administration’s proposed high speed rail route through southeastern Connecticut will be held this Saturday, Feb. 11, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Olde Mistick Village, 27 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT.  The meeting point for the rally is the Caboose in the north end of the parking lot.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal, US Representative Joe Courtney (2nd District), State Sen. Heather Somers (R-18th), State Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th), State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd), Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Stonington First Selectman Rob Simmons, and Greg Stroud of SECoast and CT Trust are all planning to join the protest.  Stroud is the founder of the non-profit SECoast, which has worked tirelessly to research all aspects of the proposed bypass and campaign objectively against them.

Organizers of the rally include Olde Mistick Village, Westerly Chamber of Commerce, Mystic Chamber of Commerce and many more.

For more information, contact Stephenbessette@gmail.com

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CT Camera Club’s Next Meeting on Monday Features Presentation by William Canosa

A striking photo of an osprey by William Canosa.

AREAWIDE — Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will host its next monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. at Lymes’ Senior Center, Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme.  All are welcome to attend the meeting regardless of whether or not you are member of CVCC.

The meeting will feature a presentation by local photographer, William Canosa.  He will present and discuss how he captured his landscapes, plants and animals, insects, birds, and macro photography photos. Canosa will also discuss how to print what you see on your screen.

‘Turret Arch’ by William Canosa.

More examples of his photography can be viewed on his website at www.canosaphotography.net.

In addition to his presentation, Canosa will display some print photos from an upcoming show in Milford where there will be a reception May 2, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Cafe Atlantique in Milford CT.

The Camera Club’s meeting dates, speakers / topics and other notices are published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage/.

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SECoast, CT Trust for Historic Preservation Request 60-Day Extension to NRA Waiting Period

We have just received the text of a letter sent by SECoast and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation to the Federal Railroad Administration requesting an extension of the 30-day waiting period to 60 days. It reads as follows::

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and SECoast, our regional partner on high-speed rail planning issues, are writing to ask for your assistance to extend the current 30-day waiting period for the NEC Future Final Environmental Impact Statement by 60 days. Given the enormous size of the planning document, its release just one week before end-of-year holidays and the extreme concern for the preferred alternative route now expressed in communities throughout Connecticut (and additionally Rhode Island) we believe there is a strong argument that such an extension is in the public interest.

The current deadline of January 31, 2016 marks the end of the Tier 1 planning process for the Northeast Corridor (NEC), an early but critical step in the overall implementation of a master plan for the corridor. Finalization of this document will commit the plan to a single corridor through Connecticut rather than from the three corridors under study in the DEIS. Finalization of this document will replace the corridor’s current master plan, dating to 1978,  for rail travel and investment along the Northeast Corridor with a new Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (P-EIS) with a 25-year horizon of 2040.

To be clear, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. Both the public and the NEC Future plan deserve the benefit of a thorough final public review and opportunity to comment. We believe an extended comment period would also offer the best opportunity to avoid unnecessary legal action by providing the Federal Railroad Administration an opportunity to correct evident errors in the planning process and resulting NEC Future plan.

Such an extension is both a commonsense and commonplace. Indeed, a similar extension was granted to review much less extensive plans for the “All Aboard Florida” high speed rail planning initiative in Florida. The Federal Railroad Administration has enjoyed flexible deadlines throughout the planning process, most recently missing an intended late summer/early fall release date of the Preferred Alternative and FEIS documentation. Surely, the people of Connecticut deserve an equivalent opportunity to provide informed and meaningful comment before this critical document is finalized.

We appreciate, in advance, your continuing efforts to advocate for communities in the state of Connecticut and for our joint efforts to develop rail-travel along the Northeast Corridor in a way that recognizes and respects the unique historical, cultural and environmental attributes of Connecticut communities.

More to come.

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FRA Endorses High Speed Rail Route Through Old Lyme, But With a Tunnel; Courtney, Malloy, Blumenthal, Murphy Express Strong Opposition to Plan

AREAWIDE — The Federal Rail Authority (FRA) today released the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Final EIS) for NEC FUTURE and it is now available for download at www.necfuture.com.

The preferred route includes the controversial Old Saybrook to Kenyon, R.I., by-pass which runs through Old Lyme, and a tunnel in the same area.

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the following statement after the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released their Tier 1 final environmental impact statement for the Northeast Corridors FUTURE plan:

“The FRA’s report released today continues to ignore strong and consistent concerns expressed by the State of Connecticut and local citizens about the eastern shoreline realignment plans. We specifically asked FRA to limit the NEC Future Tier 1 EIS to identify a service and investment strategy to achieve state-of- good repair and maximize the capacity, frequency and speed of existing rail lines.

By continuing to include plans to bypass the current route, the FRA has enflamed impacted communities stretching from Fairfield County to Stonington where the proposed alignment will eviscerate neighborhoods, historic landmarks, and real estate values.

As the FRA itself has confirmed, this new proposed alignment cannot ultimately receive the permits, rights of way and other critical elements without the support and approval of the State of Connecticut.

To this end, we will continue to do all we can to remove this bypass from the final FRA plan in order to provide our communities with the certainty they deserve. Should the FRA continue in its pursuit of its proposed alignment, we will work to ensure that Connecticut exercises every tool at its disposal at the state and federal levels to stop any effort to move forward with this misguided plan.”

A press conference will be held at 2 p.m. this afternoon at which Rep. Joe Courtney, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, and Old Lyme First Seletwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder will discuss the announcement by the FRA.

Greg Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast.org, has released the following statement:

“We have been working full-time on this issue since January, and we have yet to find a single resident, local, state or federal representative, or group, actively supporting the idea of a tunnel under the Connecticut river and Old Lyme.

Why? Even if a tunnel could better preserve the immediate historic downtown of Old Lyme,  it would no doubt be much worse for the environment, and would simply shift the historic and economic impacts onto the communities to the east, whether East Lyme, New London, Mystic, Stonington or Westerly. We find that unacceptable.

A tunnel does nothing to remedy the impacts to the broader region. And as was obvious at the August 31 meeting in Old Lyme, the entire region really is adamantly opposed to the Kenyon to Old Saybrook bypass. Every single town official from Old Saybrook to Westerly, Rhode Island is on record opposing the plan. That doesn’t happen very often.

At some point, you would hope that the federal government would realize this isn’t NIMBY, this is roughly 1/4 of a state, for good reason, refusing to bear the burdens of plan, without the benefits (if there are any to speak of). In the case of Old Lyme, this is a question of survival, and I believe that Mayor Passero in New London, feels almost as strongly.

On an environmental level, a tunnel would very likely require extensive “dewatering” given the routing, the extensive marshes, the lack of bedrock, and a local geology characterized by glacial drift.  In a community of wells, surrounded by marshes, at the mouth of the Connecticut river — one of the only major rivers in the hemisphere lacking an industrialized mouth and port — we believe a tunnel is a nonstarter.

And frankly, given past history, and private discussions with transportation officials, I’d go further and question the seriousness of the offer. When pressed in public and by the press, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has repeatedly refused to rule out a return to a much-less-expensive bridge option through Old Lyme.

If you recall, the FRA was forced to issue three or so clarifications and retractions when questioned by the press on this issue just after the meeting on August 31 —
ctmirror.org/2016/08/31/federal-rail-official-no-elevated-track-in-old-lyme-spokesman-backpedals/

The FRA still hasn’t responded to straightforward Freedom of Information requests filed on April 4, 2016. The FRA claims that these requests are filled on a “first come first served” basis, and refuses to explain the delay. That’s no way to win support in the region for a tunnel, or any other plan.”

Don Stacom of The Hartford Courant published a piece titled, “Railroad Officials Full Speed Ahead on Controversial New Amtrak Northeast Corridor Bypass“a short time ago, in which he states, “Old Lyme is the center of opposition: Critics fear hulking, industrial-looking elevated tracks ruining the New England charm of their village. Museums, schools, environmentalists and historic preservationists all denounced the idea this summer.”

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‘Con Brio’ Turns 20, Gives Christmas Concerts This Afternoon

Terence Fay

Terence Fay

OLD LYME — On Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m., Con Brio Choral Society will produce two Christmas concerts with full orchestra in Old Lyme at Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Lane.

Con Brio, the shoreline’s renowned all-auditioned chorus, is celebrating its 20th birthday!  This year Con Brio remembers its past with much loved pieces and looks forward with new ones to the years to come. 

The opening chorus of the Christmas Concert’s featured work, J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, includes the words: Cease to be fearful, forget lamentation, Haste with thanksgiving to greet this glad morn!  And indeed Con Brio will … 

Directed by Dr. Stephen Bruce, the Con Brio Choral Society, Con Brio Festival Orchestra, soloists: Terrence Fay, tenor and Christopher Grundy, bass, promise a memorable concert. In the beautiful sanctuary of Christ the King Church in Old Lyme on Friday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m., Con Brio’s chorus, orchestra and soloists will fill the church with Christmas music. 

Christopher Grundy

Christopher Grundy

Con Brio opens this year’s concert with one of the most celebrated Christmas pieces, performing portions of J. S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, first performed over the six weeks of the Christmas season in 1734. Con Brio will present several of the well-known choruses; several chorales, (prototype of the Lutheran hymn); as well as the famous aria, Mighty Lord.

Among the variety of familiar and new pieces celebrating the season is Mark Reise’s arrangement of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen followed by its companion piece, I Saw Three Ships. Con Brio’s by now traditional practice of singing “in the round” will this year feature the Gloria from Rheinberger’s Mass in E-flat, the Kyrie of which moved audiences several years ago.

Two of the Sechs Sprüche of Mendelssohn will be followed by three new arrangements of familiar melodies: Forrest’s He is Born, Halley’s What Child is This? and Wilberg’s Masters in This Hall. Z. Randall Stroope’s powerfully moving Winter, first introduced to audiences a few years ago, is followed by Courtney’s highly entertaining and witty Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas.

As always there will be familiar Christmas carols for the audience to sing: We Three Kings and Joy to the World.

In addition to Con Brio’s two Christmas performances, the Spring Concert offers the opportunity to hear the magnificent Beethoven Mass in C and Patricia Schuman sing, once again, perhaps Con Brio’s most popular piece: The Easter Hymn.

Con Brio thanks its loyal audience members, sponsors and advertisers, for faithful support over 20 years.

The 70-member audition-only Con Brio Choral Society draws its members from Connecticut shoreline towns extending from Mystic to Guilford and north along the Connecticut River including Essex, Deep River and Chester, East Haddam and Moodus.  The group rehearses in Old Saybrook Tuesday evenings at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and performs at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme.
Of the regional group’s 70 members, 11 come from Essex, 5 from Deep River, 4 from Chester; 7 from Old Saybrook, 4 from Westbrook, 2 from Clinton; 7 from Madison  and 8 from Guilford. From across the Connecticut River, members are drawn from Old Lyme (1), Niantic (1), Mystic (3), East Haddam (2), Groton (2), and Moodus (1).
For more information about Con Brio’s concerts visit www.conbrio.org  or email dramy2000@yahoo.com.
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Reynolds Subaru Presents NADA ‘Ambassadors Grant’ to Estuary’s MOW Program in Memory of Gary Reynolds

Kathryn Wayland, Owner Reynolds Subaru, is pictured presenting Paul Doyle, Estuary Council Executive Director, with a check for $1,000. Standing to the left is G. Hayden Reynolds, Owner Reynolds Subaru.

Kathryn Wayland, Reynolds Subaru owner, is pictured presenting Paul Doyle, Estuary Council Executive Director, with a check for $1,000. Standing to the left is G. Hayden Reynolds, Reynolds Subaru owner.

AREAWIDE — The Estuary Council of Seniors recently received, through Reynolds Subaru, the Ambassadors Grant from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) in memory of Gary Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Garage & Marine Inc. in Lyme, CT.  Gary Reynolds was well known for his distinguished career in the automotive retail industry and his generosity in our local communities.  He served on the board of directors of the NADA, representing franchised new car and truck dealers in Connecticut until his passing in 2013.

The Reynolds family designated the Estuary Council of Seniors to be the recipient of the Ambassadors Grant in memory of Gary and in addition to the award of $500, the Reynolds family matched the grant with an additional $500.

The Estuary is pleased to accept this wonderful grant from the NADA and gift from the Reynolds family in memory of Gary Reynolds in continuing support of the Estuary’s Meals on Wheels program.  This past fiscal year the Estuary delivered over 70,000 meals to Meals on Wheels recipients in the nine town Estuary region including Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook & Westbrook.

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Essex, Old Lyme Churches State Clearly That All Parishioners are Welcome

sign

 ESSEX and OLD LYME — A new sign (see above) in front of the First Congregational Church of Essex, a member church of the United Church of Christ, includes the usual notation for the church with its name, year of formation — in this case — 1852, and then these words, “An Open and Affirming Church.”

The final words on the church’s new sign indicate that the church welcomes all parishioners, regardless of their age, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme goes a little further in its signage, as can be seen in the photo below right.affirming_sign

Our unscientific poll suggests there have been a few objections in both churches to the signs, but most parishioners seem comfortable with them.

It is interesting that both churches have chosen to present their respective new signs at a similar time.

We can only speculate on the catalyst for the timing since we have not investigated it.

Whether or not these “open and affirming” statements made by two Congregational churches in relatively close proximity with one another will now be adopted by other Congregational churches across the country remains to seen.

Dear readers, as always, we welcome your thoughts …

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Musical Masterworks Concerts Feature ‘Brooklyn Rider’ This Weekend

Brooklyn Rider will perform at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme in the next Musical Masterworks concert on Dec. 3.

Brooklyn Rider will perform at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme in the next Musical Masterworks concerts on Dec. 3 and 4

OLD LYME — In December, Musical Masterworks welcomes back the popular ensemble Brooklyn Rider, performing works by Boccherini, and pairing Beethoven’s pivotal “Serioso” String Quartet with a new work by their own violinist/composer Colin Jacobsen. The musicians will also perform a set of folk-inspired works by four exceptional composers of our time.

The December performances are Saturday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, an acoustically rich and beautiful venue for chamber music.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs from October 2016 through May 2017.  To purchase a series subscription ($150 each) or individual tickets ($35 individual; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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SECWAC Presents Talk by Former Defense Department Official on ‘Start, End & Aftermath of Cold War,’ Jan. 24

Former US Department of Defense official Dick Shriver will speak at the next SECWAC meeting, scheduled for Jan. 24 at the Old Lyme Country Club.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) has announced that resident local author and former U.S. Department of Defense official Dick Shriver will deliver remarks based on his upcoming book, “Glimpses of an Uncharted Life,” at Old Lyme Country Club on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Shriver’s address will provide a compelling review of the Cold War – highlighting its start, end, aftermath and relevance to today.  His presentation is expected to be particularly timely, given the resurgence of Russian nationalism under Vladimir Putin and other recent international developments.

SECWAC meetings are free to members.  Tickets are $20 for the general public and free for area college and high school students; and can be obtained at info@secwac.org. (The ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.)

The event will take place at 6 p.m. at Old Lyme Country Club in Old Lyme.  It will be preceded by a 5:30 pm reception.  Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC attendees with reservations (made at least 24 hours in advance) will reconvene for dinner ($35) at the country club.

Shriver is a former director of Telecommunications and Command & Control Systems for the Office of the Secretary of the Defense; he is also a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  After the collapse of the U.S.S.R., he began a career in economic and legal development in the newly freed republics of the former Soviet Union, as well as in other countries in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan. He lived in the Soviet Union and Ukraine for eight years.

Shriver has received the U.S. Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s highest award, the Alexander Hamilton Medal.  He is also provost emeritus of Bard College Berlin, a university in Germany.

The presentation is a part of the SECWAC Speaker Series.  SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America.  Its mission is to foster an understanding of issues related to foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate and educational programming.

Through its annual Speaker Series, SECWAC arranges up to 10 presentations a year that provide a public forum for dialogue between its members and experts on foreign relations.  Membership information is available at www.secwac.org.

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High Hopes Hosts Sixth Annual Holiday Market Today from 11am-4pm, Offers 60+ Local Vendors, Car Raffle

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-8-30-10-amOLD LYME — High Hopes Therapeutic Riding is transforming its indoor arena into a holiday marketplace on Sunday, Nov. 13, for the Sixth Annual Holiday Market sponsored by Reynolds Subaru. The event begins at 11 a.m. and will feature more than 60 local vendors and exhibitors, as well as activities for the entire family including hayrides, a kids’ scavenger hunt, face painting, door prizes and raffle for a 2016 Subaru IV Crosstrek 2.0i.

Last year more than 2,000 visitors attended the event on High Hopes’ 120-acre facility to start their holiday shopping and enjoy popular area food trucks. Items for sale include hand-made jewelry, holiday décor, pottery, crafts, skin care products, organic produce and more.

This year’s gourmet and specialty food truck line-up includes Flanders Fish Market, The Rolling Tomato, The Whey Station, FryBorg, Munchies Food Truck and for dessert, Meriano’s Bakery and Cannoli Truck.

For the first time at the event, attendees can see a glassblowing demonstration by Arch One Glass, and meet Garbanzo, a nine-month-old Mongolian Bankhar Dog who is trained to help nomadic Mongolian families by protecting their livestock from predators.

Raffle and event beneficiaries

High Hopes will hold a raffle drawing at 3:45 p.m. at the Holiday Market for a 2016 Subaru IV Crosstrek 2.0i, an Apple Watch Sport, a New York City overnight with dinner and Broadway show tickets, and a pair of Sorrel Cowboy Boots. The cost of a raffle ticket is $50, with only 1,500 being sold.

Visitors are encouraged to attend the Holiday Market which raises funds that directly support the 1,538 children and adults who are served annually by High Hopes’ programs.

Admission to the Holiday Market is free with a suggested donation of a nonperishable food item for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries. Last year, more than 2,400 pounds of food was donated to help local families who struggle with hunger.

For more information about the event and to see a list of vendors, visit www.highhopestr.org, or contact Trudy Burgess at tburgess@highhopestr.org or call 860-434-1974, ext. 123.

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Musical Masterworks Opens 26th Season

Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Edward Aaron leads the opening concert of the 2016-17 series.

Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Edward Aaron will perform in the opening concert of the 2016-17 series.

AREAWIDE — As Musical Masterworks opens its 26th season of exceptional chamber music, it seems only appropriate to begin the next quarter of a century of chamber music on the shoreline with the music of J.S. Bach.  Flutist Tara Helen O’Connor and pianist Adam Neiman will perform along with cellist and Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Edward Arron.

The season’s first concerts are Saturday, Oct. 22, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 23, at 3 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, an acoustically rich and beautiful venue for chamber music.  Arron described how special the series is to him, “I am gratified to know that Old Lyme, Connecticut, has become a secure and distinguished sanctuary for the art of chamber music, and a destination for renowned musicians from all over the world. Every year, I relish the opportunity to plumb the rich depths of the chamber music repertory in order to create five dynamic musical journeys.“

Musical Masterworks’ season runs October 2016 through May 2017.  To purchase a series subscription ($150 each) or individual tickets ($35 individual; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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Republican State Sen. Linares, Democratic Challenger Needleman Spar in 33rd Senate District Debate

A view of the debate stage from the rear of the Valley Regional High School auditorium

A view of the debate stage from the rear of the Valley Regional High School auditorium

AREAWIDE — Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook and his Democratic challenger, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, sparred Monday in a public debate for the 33rd Senate District contest.

More than 150 voters from the 12 district towns turned out for the 90-minute debate held in the auditorium at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, with the question of which candidate represents the “political class” in Connecticut overshadowing the specific issues where the candidates differed, or nearly as often, concurred.

The session was moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conroy, who selected questions that had been submitted in advance by district voters.

The debate began with a walk-out by Green Party candidate Colin Bennett of Westbrook. Bennett, who has run previously for the seat and participated in all debates during the 2014 campaign, began with an opening statement where he said his goals are to end hunger, provide access to health care, protect the environment and affirm that black lives matter.

Bennett then claimed that Conroy had attempted to exclude him from the debate based on comments at an Oct. 5 debate in Westbrook where he criticized Needleman and urged people not supporting him to vote for Linares. “I don’t want to be where I am not wanted,” Bennett said before walking off the stage. Linares said later he had told Conroy he would not participate in the debate if Bennett was arbitrarily excluded from the outset.

The term political class entered the discussion soon after the opening statement from Needleman, where the three-term first selectman said he had been urged to run the seat this year by the Senate Democratic leadership because they wanted a candidate with experience in business and municipal government. Needleman said he told party leaders he would not be a rubber stamp, and could become their “worst nightmare,” if elected.

Linares, who was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014, scoffed at the claim, questioning why the Senate leadership would provide Needleman with a full-time campaign manager on leave from the caucus staff if they believed his election would be a nightmare. Linares contended Needleman has been a loyal supporter of Democratic “Governor Dan Malloy and the political class,” contributing funds to Malloy’s two gubernatorial campaigns in 2010 and 2014.

Needleman said Linares is the “career politician,” running for the senate seat at age 23 and laying the groundwork for a future campaign for the 2nd District congressional seat or statewide office.

But despite the sharp exchange, the two rivals agreed on several issues, including support for recently approved incentive package for Sikorsky in Stratford, providing some degree of contract preferences for in-state companies, and reducing, or for Linares eliminating, the estate or inheritance tax. The candidates agreed state employee unions would have to make contract concessions on both wages and pensions if the state faces another large budget deficit in 2017.

From left to right, Norman Needleman (D), incumbent Sen. Art Linares (R) and Colin Bennett (Green Party) make their opening statements at Monday night's debate.

From left to right, Norman Needleman (D), incumbent Sen. Art Linares (R) and Colin Bennett (Green Party) make their opening statements at Monday night’s debate.

Needleman said his experience negotiating contracts with public employee unions in Essex would be helpful in any discussions with state employee unions, though he questioned whether unions could be forced into concession talks. Linares called for mandatory legislative votes on all union contracts, and suggested a need for “additional leverage” to bring unions to the table. “The unions have not come to the table, we’ve tried that, everyone has tried that,” he said.

The candidates differed somewhat on the question of welcoming refugees from war-torn Syria to Connecticut. Needleman said while “vetting is critical,” an arbitrary exclusion based on a refugee’s country of origin or religion is “un-American.” Linares, whose family fled Cuba in the early 1960s, said he would insist on “clearance from the FBI,” because the United States does not have intelligence capabilities in Syria to screen refugees, including those who reach Europe before possible entry in to the United States.

The candidates also differed on possible increases to the state minimum wage, and gun control measures. Needleman said he supports measured increases in the minimum wage, but believes a hike to $15 per hour, as advocated by some Democrats, “is a very bad idea.’ Linares said he favors a national standard for the minimum wage, suggesting that further increases at the state level would hurt small businesses and cost the state jobs. He said the earned income tax credit is a better way to provide assistance to low income workers.

On gun control, Needleman said he is a “2nd Amendment Democrat,” but favors some additional gun control measures. He criticized Linares for opposing legislation approved earlier this year that allows guns to be seized from persons who are subject to a court restraining order where domestic violence is a factor.

Linares said Needleman is “trying to take both sides of the issue,” by referring to gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment. Linares said he opposed the temporary restraining order gun bill because it was an “overreach” that takes away due process for gun owners, and discretion for judges.

The 33rd Senate District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.
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Go Boldly Where No Opera Has Gone Before! See ‘The Abduction From the Seraglio’ This Weekend

Brian Cheney of Old Lyme is the lead tenor in the performance.

Brian Cheney of Old Lyme , pictured standing above, is the lead tenor in the performance.

It’s warp speed ahead in this exuberant production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. Recast as a Star Trek parody, this grand opera plays this October in Old Saybrook and Mashantucket, CT.

Stardate 14-20.27. The beauteous Konstanze and her lovely maid, Blonde have been whisked away by pirates to the Klingon slave markets. Captain Belmonte and crew track their beloved companions to a harem, but how will they ever steal the women away from the now enraptured Selim and slave master, Osmin?

Director Simon Holt says, "'The Abduction from the Seraglio' is a perfect opera to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th anniversary!”

Director Simon Holt says, “‘The Abduction from the Seraglio’ is a perfect opera to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th anniversary!”

Commissioned by the Emperor Joseph II, The Abduction from the Seraglio premiered in July 1782 to wide acclaim. The new translation―heavy on laughs and iconic lines―was written by stage director Josh Shaw and premiered in March 2015 to sold-out audiences. Along with Klingons and alien slave girls, favorite characters from the much-loved original series sing and dance their way through Abduction accompanied by a 21-piece orchestra.

The opera is full of action of every kind!

The opera is full of action of every kind!

The Abduction from the Seraglio brims with vocal fireworks featuring some of the most thrilling arias and ensembles in all of opera,” explained Salt Marsh Opera Artistic Director Simon Holt. “No substantial knowledge of either opera or Star Trek is required. It’s a perfect opera for first timers and a perfect way to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th anniversary!”

Sung in English, the opera will run just over two hours with an intermission.  The leading man in the performance is tenor Brian Cheney of Old Lyme, who on the rare weeks home from his professional singing career that takes him all over the country, sings in the choir at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

A scene from 'The Abduction of Seraglio.'

A scene from ‘The Abduction of Seraglio.’

The Abduction from the Seraglio is playing at The Pequot Museum Auditorium (110 Pequot Trail Mashantucket, CT) on Friday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at www.saltmarshopera.org or by calling Salt Marsh Opera at 860.535.0753.

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CT Animal House Hosts Fundraiser Today at Fox Hopyard

high-res-2016-fox-hopyard-posterThe CT Animal House is hosting its annual fundraiser Sunday, Oct. 9, from 2 to 6 p.m. at Fox Hopyard Golf Club, 1 Fox Hopyard Rd., East Haddam.

It will be an afternoon of live music starring Essex Animal Control Officer Jae Wolf with DJ Renee DiNino as Master of Ceremonies.  There will be great wine and craft beer tasting, delicious bites, and great raffle items.

Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased online at www.ctanimalhouse.org or at the door.

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Walk This Morning to Raise Awareness, Promote Early Detection of Breast Cancer in Developing Countries

Last year, participants gathered together to hear a speaker prior to starting their walk

Last year, participants gathered together to hear a speaker prior to starting their walk

AREAWIDE — This Sunday, Oct. 9, The Maina Foundation is hosting a three-mile-walk in Rocky Neck State Park to raise funds for its critical work increasing breast cancer awareness and promoting early detection to women in need of financial assistance. By working at a grass roots level, the foundation devotes the majority of the funds raised to hospitals and clinics for furthering the cause of early detection.

The incidence of breast cancer is rising globally, especially in developing countries such as India where 1 in 28 women develop the disease.  Unfortunately, because of the social taboo associated with breast cancer, almost 80 percent of patients reach an advanced stage before medical care is obtained.

The Maina Foundation hosts breast cancer awareness classes in India.

The Maina Foundation hosts breast cancer awareness classes in India.

By supporting awareness programs and providing mammogram units, The Maina Foundation wants to bring breast cancer discussion to the forefront and encourage women to seek preventative care.  Since its inception in 2008, Maina has donated mammogram units, set up awareness programs and helped with patient care.

Onsite registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m.

Refreshments will be provided after the walk.

The Maina Foundation is a non-profit organization with an office in Old Lyme.  For more information, visit The Maina Foundation’s website at mainafoundation.org.

Directions to the walk are as follows: 

Exit 72 off I-95: Follow the turnpike connector south to Route 156.  Turn left and take Route 156 east for 1/4 mile to the park. The park street address is 244 West Main Street (Route 156).

After entering the park, go towards the West side towards the Administrative building.   Registration desk will be located near the building.  

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‘Children of the Stone/Dal’Ouna Ensemble’ Performs in Old Lyme Tonight as Part of National Tour

Ramzi Aburedwan (third from right) stands with the other members of the Dal'Ouna Ensemble that will be performing in Old Lyme on Sept. 30.

Ramzi Aburedwan (third from right) stands with the other members of the Dal’Ouna Ensemble that will be performing in Old Lyme on Sept. 30.

OLD LYME — The Tree of Life Educational Fund presents a performance by Ranzi Aburedwan and his Arabic-French Dal’Ouna Ensemble in a program of music and book-readings on Friday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

This event is part of the national concert and book tour of Children of the Stone/Dal ‘Ouna, which celebrates Palestinian musician and educator Ramzi Aburedwan and his belief in the power of music and culture to transform lives and resist oppression. The tour corresponds with the paperback release of Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land (Bloomsbury, April 2015/paperback March 2016) by Sandy Tolan, author of the international bestseller, The Lemon Tree.

Featured in concert will be the powerful music of Ramzi Aburedwan and his Arabic-French Dal’Ouna Ensemble and the Lebanese singer, Abeer Nehme : a dynamic fusion of Palestinian Arab folk, classical, jazz and world music.   Ensemble members include renowned composer, violist and buzouk player Ramzi Aburedwan and percussionist Tareq Rantisi from Palestine, oud player Ziad Ben Youssef from Tunisia, Edwin Buger from Yugoslavia on accordion. Michael Dabroski will join the group with his Palestinian violin, and there will be readings from Sandy Tolan’s book, Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land.

Children of the Stone tells the dramatic story of Ramzi Aburedwan’s life growing up in an occupied Palestinian refugee camp and his transformation from a stone throwing youth of the first intifada, to a talented musician studying at the Edward Said Palestine National Academy of Music and a French Conservatory and his final return to Palestine to realize his life’s dream of founding a music school, Al-Kamandjati that has centers in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. He views Al-Kamandjati and related projects with international musicians as a combination of safe haven, creative resistance, and trauma therapy for the least fortunate Palestinian children, many living in refugee camps.

World-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma said this about Sandy Tolan’s book:“In a world where so much popular fiction depicts life in a dystopian world, it is refreshing to have this non-fiction account that reflects one individual’s belief in the power of music and culture to transform lives. Congratulations to Sandy Tolan for bringing us the story of Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, his philosophy and his personal mission to make a difference.  His story is proof of the famous words of Margaret Mead –‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has’”.

All are welcome to attend this concert and book-reading.  General admission is $10 at the door.  Admission is free to students and those aged under 21.

The concert and book tour features two additional locations in Connecticut as follows:

Saturday, Sept. 24; 7 pm Yale University, CT

Monday, Sept. 26; 7 pm UConn, Storrs, CT

For more information, visit www.tolef.org or call the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme at 860.434.8686

The Tree of Life Educational Fund (TOL) a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation was established by The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme to provide cross-cultural and transnational travel experiences, interfaith conferences and educational opportunities to help participants to become more enlightened and more engaged in making this a more just and peaceful world in which to live.

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The Movie Man: ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is an Unexpected Delight

kubo-main_0Truly, if you enjoy learning about ancient mythology, you will enjoy watching Kubo and the Two Strings, brought to you by Laika, the filmmakers behind Coraline and The Boxtrolls. With an all-star-studded cast that includes Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, and Star Trek actor/turned social media personality George Takei, this stop-motion animation film does not disappoint.

We are told the story of Kubo, a young one-eyed boy, who cares for his ill mother by transforming paper into origami masterpieces through his shamisen (a string instrument indigenous to Japan). After staying out past dark (as he was warned against many times), his mother’s sisters destroy his village and attempt to take his remaining eye.

Upon escaping the terror of his aunts, Kubo comes across the incarnate version of his wooden monkey (voiced by Ms. Theron) brought to life by his own mother’s magic, and eventually Beetle (Mr. McConaughey), who join him on a quest to retrieve the armor worn by his father, a Samurai warrior.

The film often invoked reminders of ancient mythology, in which the character is forced to embark on a quest, accompanied people who are both reasonable and unreasonable, in which the protagonist must locate something precious in regards to the parent he never knew, who was a great warrior and up to whose image he seeks to live. This ranges from classical mythology to modern entertainment (think of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, prior to learning his father was the enemy he was fighting all along [not spoiling anything about this film, disclaimer] or even Telemachus, son of Odysseus in The Odysessy.)

Perhaps what is most rivaled by its story and performances is its original score, which I have no doubt will at least be nominated by many award shows this upcoming season.

It was released in 3D, a trend in movies that I do not understand. Despite being a family-friendly film, I would caution those who have very young children from seeing this. One of the main themes revolves around the title character missing an eye and his grandfather and aunts seeking retribution on his life or his remaining eye, as well as there being some frightening images and scary scenes.

But anybody above the PG-warned audience will find this movie to be an ultimate delight.

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

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Linares, Needleman to Debate Tonight at Lyme-Old Lyme HS in Hotly Contested 33rd State Senate Race

Essex First Selectman and Democratic candidate for the 33rd District, Norman Needleman

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman (D)

State Senator Art Linares (R)

State Senator Art Linares (R)

AREAWIDE — The Day and the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut are hosting a debate from 7 to 8 p.m. this evening, Thursday, Sept. 22, between the candidates running for the 33rd State Senate District — incumbent Senator Art Linares (R) and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (D).

Needleman, who is in his third term as first selectman of Essex and was first elected as a Selectman in 2003, is challenging incumbent State Senator Art Linares, who is running for a third term.

Linares was first elected in 2012 to the 33rd State Senate District seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote.

The 33rd State Senate District consists of the Town of Lyme along with the Towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

Questions for the debate may be submitted in advance to p.choiniere@theday.com. To watch the debate, visit www.theday.com. It will be live streamed and available for viewing until the election. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

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Lyme First Selectman Eno (R) Endorses Needleman (D) for State Senate

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno (left) today endorsed Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman for State Senator.

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno (left) today endorsed Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman for State Senator.

LYME – Today, Lyme Republican First Selectman Ralph Eno endorsed Democratic State Senate Candidate Norm Needleman.

“Although I generally try to avoid all things political, given the state of affairs at the state level, I’ve decided to be more public in terms of of the upcoming state senate race,” said Eno. “Norm has my unequivocal support.”

Eno, a Republican, has served as the first selectman of Lyme since 2007 and, with a brief interlude, for 10 years prior to that.

“Norm has the chief elected official experience at the town level that is crucial to being an effective representative,” Eno continued. “We need more small to mid-level town CEOs in the legislature to stand up to laws in Hartford that have terrible unintended consequences for our towns. His work in the public sector paired with his experience as a tried and true business person gives him a leg up to make sure we have the best possible representation given our state’s budget problems.”

“I am endorsing Norm, who is far and away the most qualified candidate for State Senate,” said Eno. “I know him as a man that is collaborative instead of adversarial. He will not be tethered to his political party. He will work on both sides of the aisle and be a team player. And he will be honest with you even when you disagree.”

Norm Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business over the past 37 years to become a leader in its segment, employing 150 people at facilities in Essex and Clinton.

“Ralph has been a great example for me on how to run a small town,” said Norm Needleman. “He’s hands on, hard-working, honest, and always involved. He knows what it takes to run a municipality. It means a tremendous amount to me to receive this endorsement from a man I have viewed as a mentor in so many ways.”

Needleman is in his third term as first selectman of Essex and was first elected as a Selectman in 2003.

“This district has 12 towns with a lot in common and Ralph and I share a common perspective,” continued Needleman. “We both understand the perspective of small towns, the importance of home rule, and that we need fewer mandates and rules from Hartford.”

Needleman is challenging incumbent State Senator Art Linares, who is running for a third term and like Eno, is a Republican. Linares was first elected in 2012 to the 33rd State Senate District seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote.

The 33rd State Senate District consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

Click here for audio of the event: http://norm.vote/eno.mp3.

Click here for photos of the event: http://bit.ly/2bZWKDT.

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World Renowned Horse Whisperer, Animal Communicator at East Haddam This Weekend

Anna Twinney with her own rescue, Aria, at her home in Elizabeth, Colo.

Anna Twinney with her own rescue, Aria, at her home in Elizabeth, Colo.

EAST HADDAM — Everyone talks to their dog. Those of us with pets, have had casual “conversations” with our furry, feathered, or even finned friends. It’s human nature to chat. We’ve likely bent Rover’s ear too long over trivial irritations that happened at work or lamenting the tedious commute home. Our pets have long been victims of our mindless self-talk and keepers of our deepest secrets.

But what if you could have a real conversation with your animal companion?  What if you knew what they were really thinking or saying …

World renowned animal communicator and horse whisperer, Anna Twinney would say, “The only thing stopping you is your own beliefs of what is truly possible. You absolutely can know.”

On Sept. 9-11, Twinney will lead a group of animal lovers at Ray of Light Farm in East Haddam on a journey to tap into their inherent abilities. Animal Communication is not supernatural, but a natural way of communicating with animals and even people.  Animals communicate telepathically with one another all the time — we just need to reawaken those intuitive senses to explore this extraordinary skill.

Twinney is sought out all over the world by concerned pet and horse owners hoping to find answers to behavioral issues, health problems and other mysteries.

Her own journey into animal communication began over two decades ago.  Having unlocked this missing piece of the puzzle, Twinney knew that she had to share her knowledge. Now known the world over for her exceptional abilities, specific, verifiable methods and extensive knowledge of horses, Twinney often found animal communication techniques helpful during her work with horses as well.

“The language of the horses, called Equus, is almost completely non-verbal. While horses have the ability to vocalize and they do use it … the nuances of their language is in the subtitles only seen by those fluent in the language,” Twinney explains.

The “Evening of Animal Communication” workshop is truly a step through the wardrobe into a world that most people only dream of.

To learn more about Animal Communication, Twinney and the event at Ray of Light Farms, visit ReachOuttoHorses.com or to learn more about Ray of Light Farms and the rescue efforts there, visit www.RayofLightFarms.org.

A portion of the proceeds from Twinney’s workshops will be earmarked to support the ongoing horse rescue and rehabilitation at Ray of Light.

Anna Twinney with her own rescue, Aria, at her home in Elizabeth, Colorado
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FRA to Host Public Meeting Today in Old Lyme on Proposed Rail Route; Submit Questions, Comments in Advance

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is planning to host a meeting in Old Lyme regarding the proposed high-speed rail route next Wednesday, Aug. 31, at 4:30 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme High School auditorium, 69 Lyme St., Old Lyme, CT.  It will last about 1.5 to 2 hours, and the FRA will give a short presentation to clarify the process and address misstatements.

Then the FRA representatives will have a roundtable discussion about the NEC Futures Draft EIS with local and state leaders. The meeting will be open to the public in an effort to allow residents and businesses to hear the discussion.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, along with local selectmen and elected officials, have been invited to the meeting.  Congressman Joe Courtney is able to attend until 5 p.m. and CT Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker will be there for the entire meeting.

The Town of Old Lyme requests that comments and questions be submitted to selectmansoffice@oldlyme-ct.gov prior to the meeting so that they may be addressed at the roundtable discussion.  It will also be possible to submit questions at the meeting for discussion by the participants.

Reemsnyder recommends arriving early since the meeting will begin promptly at 4:30 p.m.

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CT Port Authority Chair Tells Lower CT River Local Officials, “We’re All on One Team”

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River but still deep in discussion are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) Board Member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River, but still finding time for discussions, are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) board member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

There was an overarching message both throughout the Connecticut Port Authority’s (CPA) meeting in Old Lyme’s Town Hall Thursday afternoon and during a subsequent boat ride on the MV ‘Victoria’ for members and local officials on the Connecticut River.  It was, in the words of CPA Chairman Scott Bates, that, “We’re absolutely committed to river communities.”

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town's needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town’s needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

In addition, while sailing from Essex down to Old Saybrook and then back up to Hamburg Cove on a perfect afternoon, Bates stressed, “Part of our mission is protecting these beautiful waters … and the quality of life we have here while preserving access to the river.”

View of the Connecticut River from the "Victoria."

View of the Connecticut River from the “Victoria.”

Bates noted that to have “five local officials (Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, all of whom were on board, and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, who was unable to join the trip) “involved” was a really positive sign in terms of  “building a coalition.”  This, Bates explained, was key to the development of a strategic plan for the CPA—something the Authority has been charged with preparing with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2017.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The  CPA is a relatively new quasi-public agency created in 2014 with board appointments made in 2016.  Bates said the agency was responsible for 35 coastal communities and with this trip, he would now personally have visited 28 of them. Since the CPA has not created a strategic plan previously, Bates said he is determined, “to include everyone,” in the process, adding that he regards part of the Authority’s mission to be “getting small town and big cities together.” and, in turn, “to make great things happen for our state.”

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the 'Victoria.'

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the ‘Victoria.’

Apart from Bates and the four local First Selectmen and Selectwomen, also on board were Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) Executive Director Sam Gold, River COG Deputy Director and Principal Planner J.H. Torrance Downes, CPA Board of Directors member John Johnson and Joe Salvatore from the CPA.  Reemsnyder is also a board member of the CPA.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder and Johnson.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder, Bates and Johnson.

At the earlier meeting in Old Lyme, Downes had given a presentation to CPA members to introduce them to the Lower Connecticut River during which he had described the geography of the estuary, noting it had, “very little industry and very little commercial development.”  He described it as a “really prime area for bird migration” and highlighted numerous points of scenic beauty.

J.H. Torrance Downe, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

J.H. Torrance Downes, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

Bates noted one of the CPA’s responsibilities is to pursue state and federal funds for dredging and, while sailing under the Baldwin Bridge towards the Connecticut River’s mouth where several tributaries join the main river, Reemsnyder commented that Old Lyme had been a beneficiary of a $1.6 million state grant for dredging two of those tributaries — the Black Hall and Four Mile Rivers.  She noted that it had been a successful exercise thanks in part to Salvatore, who had, “held our hand through the whole project.”

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the 'Victoria.'

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the ‘Victoria.’ Joe Salvatore stands at rear.

Johnson, whose life and business career according to the CPA website, have “a common underlying element: the coastal waters,” also confirmed the benefits of a dredging program, saying, “There is a need for depth of water — both elements, marine and maritime, need depth of water.”  Still on the dredging issue, Bates said he had met separately with Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna and told him that he could have “whatever he needs to keep the mouth of the Connecticut River open.”

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

Reemsnyder took a minute to commend Bates for his leadership of the CPA, saying, “Scott has given focus to coastal communities,”  while Johnson added, “We are blessed with our new chairman.”

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

Glancing around at the numerous boats docked both in marinas and on the river itself,  Reemsnyder remarked, “Add up the money in these boats … [they represent] lots of economic drivers.”  On the same theme, Bates noted that the state is marketing its ports for the first time using “national expertise” in some cases with the aim of moving “more people and goods in and out of Connecticut.”  He added, “We have some great assets [in terms of ports in the state] but we could do more.”

Eyes on the Cove -- guests on the 'Victoria' gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

Eyes on the Cove — guests on the ‘Victoria’ gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

As the “Victoria’ pulled gently back into dock at Essex Yacht Club, Bates summarized the benefits of the boat trip saying that by spending time with these local leaders, he had been able to “see their waterfronts, assess their needs,“ and gain an “appreciation of the vitality of the Lower Connecticut River basin,” emphasizing one more time, “This is really about pulling together as a state … we’re all on one team.”

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Reading Uncertainly? ‘House of Lost Worlds’ by Richard Conniff

House_of_Lost_WorldsFor this month, a local author! Richard Conniff is a science writer, a contributor to The New York Times, and a resident of Old Lyme. He’s also a graduate of Yale University, one reason for his interest in the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, which is now celebrating its first 150 years.

It is the story of a museum and its directors, explorers, paleontologists, ecologists, anthropologists, biologists, ornithologists, primatologists, plus a few reactionaries and, of course, 14 million specimens. It is also the story of large egos listening to “the mute cries of ages impossible to contemplate”(some 50 million years).

He explores five themes: (1) a teaching dream of leaders at the start (George Peabody, the original donor, for whom “education was (his) Rosebud”), (2) the “grandiose personality” of O. C Marsh, its first director, (3) the demolition and movement of the original building in 1905 and its effects, (4) the rise of anthropology and ecology as sciences, and (5) the invitation to go see for yourself.

So how should we pronounce the name: “Pee-body” as Yalies and the donor said it, or “Pee-buh- de” as denizens of Cambridge slur the word?

The egos predominate, highlighting the single-mindedness and secrecy of many collectors.  Hiram Bingham, the sleuth of Machu Picchu, the “lost” Incan city, was one of the most notable. As the author notes, “if paleontologists were as aggressive as brontosauri they would have eaten each other.” In many respects they did: “Maybe academic life merely gives its verbally inclined thinkers the freedom to brood about it for too long, speak it too loudly, and pursue vengeance with wrath-of-God vigor.” They make this history continually exciting and amusing.

The Peabody Museum has expanded into a teaching, research, and study institution, whose practitioners take isolated pieces from the past (human, animal, mineral) to create a logical “story” to help guide us toward the future. But today they face modern visitors, “jaded and smartphone-addled, (who) expect special effects and instantaneous answers almost everywhere.”

In 1866, when the Peabody was created, there was no sign of a “Sixth Extinction” (now forecast by Elizabeth Kolbert), no “climate change,” only 32 million people in these United States (versus 320 million today), and only 1 billion on this earth (now 7.4 billion.)  Can the interest in and funding for museums like the Peabody, their teaching and research, help us alter our behavior for a more favorable future?

Like Alice, I am “curiouser and curiouser,” so I am off to the corner of Whitney Avenue and Sachem Street in New Haven to explore for myself …

Editor’s Note: House of Lost Worlds by Richard Conniff is published by Yale Univ. Press, New Haven 2016.

Felix Kloman_headshot_2005_284x331-150x150About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction that explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farms Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His wife, Ann, is also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a bubbling village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visit every summer.

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Blumenthal Discusses Proposed High Speed Rail Route with Community Leaders Friday Morning in Old Lyme

Senator Richard Blumenthal (File photo)

Senator Richard Blumenthal (File photo)

OLD LYME — Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder issued the following announcement Thursday, Aug. 11:
Senator Richard Blumenthal will be meeting in the Old Lyme Town Hall Meeting Hall, Friday, Aug. 12, at 10:30 a.m. This will be a roundtable discussion with community leaders from area towns, though the public is welcome to attend.

“After recent issues raised by the USDOT’s concept for future rail service in Connecticut and the operation of rail service by Amtrak, Senator Blumenthal will meet with municipal leaders to hear their concerns and ideas for the future of rail service along the shoreline from the Connecticut River to the Rhode Island border. This discussion will help inform Senator Blumenthal on the impact of federal policies on local communities and determine how he may assist the town leaders.”

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Essex Library Hosts Local Author James Benn to Discuss his Latest Novel, ‘The Blue Madonna’, Sept. 29

bluemadonnaESSEX — The Essex Library is honored to welcome back James Benn in celebration of the release of his 11th Billy Boyle mystery that Lee Child declares “is a must-read series.”

Publishers Weekly says of Blue Madonna: “The suspenseful story line, set on the eve of the Normandy invasion in 1944, will keep readers turning the pages … Benn movingly depicts Nazi cruelties that Boyle and his comrades witness.”

On Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library, Benn will describe fascinating details from the actual events that he researched for the book’s plotlines and more about the upcoming books in the Billy Boyle series.

James Benn

James Benn

Benn, a resident of Hadlyme, CT, worked in the library and information technology field for more than thirty-five years before he started writing full-time. One lesson he says that’s helped him greatly as an author is a quote from Oscar Wilde: “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one’s pants to a chair.” Copies of his books will be available for purchase and signing.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560.

The Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex.

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Old Lyme’s Midsummer Festival Kicks Off With Concert by Braiden Sunshine Tonight, Multiple Events on Lyme Street Tomorrow

The crowd settles in to enjoy the Friday night concert at the Florence Griswold Museum.

The crowd settles in to enjoy the Friday night concert at the Florence Griswold Museum.

The 30th anniversary of the Old Lyme Midsummer Festival, a summertime favorite for thousands that has now become a signature event in the lower Connecticut River Valley, takes place Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30. The event opens with a Kickoff Concert Friday, July 29, and follows up with daytime festivities Saturday, July 30, on Lyme Street in the historic Old Lyme village center. The Festival promotes the arts, music, and culture, drawing on Old Lyme’s history as a home to a number of artists including those in the original Lyme Art Colony.

Art exhibitions, art demonstrations, and musical performances are just part of the celebration, with specialty shopping, children’s activities, and a wide variety of food vendors rounding out the offerings.

The Midsummer Festival was first held in 1986 as a way to celebrate the local arts during the height of the summer season. Jeff Andersen, Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, approached institutional neighbors including the Lyme Art Association, the Bee & Thistle Inn, the Old Lyme Inn, and the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, to provide a festival that included art shows, a “Stars and Stripes” concert, artist demonstrations and a “Turn of the Century Fair” complete with lawn games and a Victorian ice cream cart.

Now in its 30th year, the Midsummer Festival has 13 community partners, including the Town of Old Lyme. “Even as the festival has grown in visitation and offerings, it has stayed true to its mission of highlighting the cultural identity of Old Lyme,” notes Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeff Andersen. “There is always a great mix of new events with everyone’s favorites.”

Visitors to this year’s festival will find perennial festival favorites including art sales, hands-on activities for children, a dog show, and musical performances, while enjoying new offerings including a vendor market by the Chamber of Commerce, a fashion show in a sculpture garden and a guided tour of the Town Hall’s art collection.  A full schedule of events and list of vendors can be found at OldLymeMidsummerFestival.com

Friday, July 29 festivities

Old Lyme's own Braiden Sunshine will perform in the Festival's free Kick-off Concert at the Florence Griswold Museum on Friday, July 29.

Old Lyme’s own Braiden Sunshine will perform in the Festival’s free Kick-off Concert at the Florence Griswold Museum on Friday, July 29.

The traditional kickoff concert takes place Friday, July 29, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Florence Griswold Museum. This year’s concert features The Voice sensation 16-year old singer/song writer Braiden Sunshine and his band Silver Hammer. With a national following as a semi-finalist on Season 9 of NBC’s The Voice, Sunshine brings to the stage his version of much-loved rock classics as well as his own original compositions.

Visitors can find their spot on the lawn along the Lieutenant River and enjoy an evening of free music. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner or purchase food from Rough House Food Truck and NoRA Cupcake Truck, both on-site for the evening. The concert is sponsored by All Pro Tire Automotive and the Graybill Family.

Prior to the concert, the Florence Griswold Museum is open for free from 5 to 7 p.m. Visitors can enjoy the summer exhibition, The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement and tour the historic Florence Griswold boardinghouse.

Saturday, July 30 festivities

There's always a vast array of flowers, fruit and vegetables at the 'En Plein Air' market on Saturday at the Florence Griswold Museum.

There’s always a vast array of flowers, fruit and vegetables at the ‘En Plein Air’ market on Saturday at the Florence Griswold Museum.

On Saturday, June 30, the festival spans 11 locations along Lyme Street, the heart of Old Lyme’s historic district – the Florence Griswold Museum, the Lyme Art Association, the Old Lyme Inn, the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven, Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds, the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce vendor fair at 77 Lyme Street, the Old Lyme Historical Society, Patricia Spratt for the Home, the “Plein Air Fence Painters” on Center School lawn, Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall, Inc., and the Old Lyme-PGN Library.

Festival Partner High Hopes Therapeutic Riding will be at the Museum’s site providing an educational, equine-themed arts and crafts children’s activity. Festival Partner Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau will be the host site for a morning 5K run.

Sponsors of the Festival include premium sponsors Essex Savings Bank/Essex Financial Services, Pasta Vita, Inc., and Yale New Haven Health/Yale New Haven Hospital. Media sponsors include The Day Publishing Company and Shoreline Web News, LLC, publisher of LymeLine.com and ValleyNewsNow.com.

Enjoy the artwork of the 'Plein Air' artists in front of Center School.

Enjoy the artwork of the ‘Plein Air’ artists in front of Center School.

Each location will offer a variety of events and activities. In addition to art exhibitions and art sales at six of the locations, food vendors and specialty food trucks will provide a wide-range of options at each location. Artisans will market their wares at locations including the OL-PGN Library, the Chamber of Commerce vendor market, and the traditional French-styled market and artisan fair at the Florence Griswold Museum. New partner Patricia Spratt for the Home will offer its popular warehouse sale of table linens and pillows.

Children’s activities are a popular way for families to stop and enjoy the festival offerings, and can be enjoyed at multiple locations. There will be musical performances at the Chamber’s music stage, Lyme Academy and at the Old Lyme Inn where Mass-Conn-Fusion will perform with refreshments for sale under the tent.

New events this year include a fashion show by Hygienic Art resident artist Susan Hickman and acclaimed designer Anna Lucas at Studio 80, tours of Town Hall’s art collection, weaving demonstrations at the Old Lyme Historical Society, a visit from Rey to meet future Jedi-in-training at the OL-PGN Library, and a display of snakes and turtles by Linda Krulikowski (known as Old Lyme’s “Snake Lady”) at the Lyme Art Association.

Meet the oxen from Cranberry Meadow Farm on the lawn of the Lyme Art Association.

Meet the oxen from Cranberry Meadow Farm on the lawn of the Lyme Art Association.

Art demonstrations including sculpture and painting will take place throughout the day at Lyme Academy. Details and times for special events including a dog talent show, and an impressive roster of musical performances throughout the day can be found at www.OldLymeMidsummerFestival.com.

Most activities begin at 9 a.m. and continue through 4 p.m. Parking is available at Old Lyme Marketplace (46 Halls Rd.), Florence Griswold Museum (special festival parking entrance at 5 Halls Rd.), and the Lyme-Old Lyme High School (69 Lyme St.) Two shuttle buses run between these locations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit  www.OldLymeMidsummerFestival.com.

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Closed-Door Meeting on High Speed Rail Proposal Held July 7 in Old Lyme; Update From SECoast

The following was posted July 10 on the SECoast (the non-profit fighting the high-speed rail proposal that impacts Old Lyme) Facebook page:

Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker

Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker (Photo from ConnDOT)

“Thursday, July 7th, from 1:30 to 4:00 pm, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker held a closed-door meeting at the Old Lyme Town Hall. The invitation list included: First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, State Rep. Devin Carney, State Sen. Paul Formica, Rod Haramut for RiverCOG, Gregory Stroud for SECoast, James Redeker, Pam Sucato, Legislative Director at the Connecticut DOT; Tom Allen, for Sen. Blumenthal’s office; Emily Boushee for Senator Murphy; John Forbis and BJ Bernblum. Despite requests by SECoast, statewide partner Daniel Mackay of Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation was not invited to attend. Officials from the Federal Railroad Administration, and project consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff did not attend.

Prior to the meeting, Stroud circulated a series of questions for Commissioner Redeker and a request for a public meeting to be held in Old Lyme. These questions are included below.

In over two hours of talks, Commissioner Redeker claimed little knowledge of current FRA planning. Redeker declined to explain mid-February internal emails between Redeker and aides, uncovered through Freedom of Information laws, indicating knowledge of such plans in mid-February. Redeker also declined to host or request a public meeting in New London County, and referred such requests to the FRA.

Asked by SECoast if he would agree to provide responses or follow-up answers to the submitted questions, Redeker replied, “Nope.” Asked whether this refusal was a matter of willingness or a matter of ability, Redeker suggested both. Asked whether he could answer any of the questions, Redeker responded yes to only Question 9.

During discussion, Redeker did indicate a slightly more accelerated decision-making process at FRA. He suggested a mid-August announcement of FRA plans, and a Record of Decision that would formalize plans by the end of 2016. Redeker also emphasized the importance of FRA plans, including the coastal bypass, to insure funding and to maximize future flexibility for state and federal officials. Redeker held out the possibility of significantly expanded commuter rail service, but when given the opportunity, made no assurances that an aerial structure through the historic district in Old Lyme was off the table.

Tom Allen, representing Senator Blumenthal’s office, gave a formal statement. Allen explained that the evidence uncovered in mid-February email came as “a surprise,” and promised to “push” for a public meeting by the end of the month, and if not, by the end of the year.

Earlier in the day, Redeker attended a large gathering of state and local officials in New London in recognition of the newly-created Connecticut Port Authority. This gathering carried over into the smaller closed-door meeting in Old Lyme, referenced above.

Questions:

1. In response to the release of internal Conn DOT emails, Spokesman Judd Everhart stated that “the DOT still is awaiting a decision from the FRA on a ‘preferred alternative’ for an upgrade of the corridor.” Should we conclude from this statement that the SECoast press release is incorrect? To your knowledge, has Parsons Brinckerhoff or the FRA either formally or informally “selected a vision, or even potential routes, for the Northeast Corridor”? And if so, when?

2. What is the current time frame for selecting a preferred alternative, preparing the Tier 1 Final EIS, the formal announcement and securing a ROD? And where are we, as of 7/7, on this time line?

3. If a Kenyon to Saybrook bypass is selected as part of the preferred alternative, and subsequent study concludes that a tunnel is infeasible, will the FRA and Conn DOT rule out any possible reversion to a bridge or aerial structure at or near Old Lyme?

4. Given that the Kenyon to Old Saybrook bypass is usually understood as the defining feature of Alternative 1, what is the significance of placing this bypass instead into an Alternative 2 framework? To your knowledge, has Parsons Brinckerhoff or the FRA, either formally or informally, selected Alternative 2 with modifications as the preferred alternative?

5. To your knowledge, does Parsons Brinckerhoff, the FRA or Conn DOT have more detailed maps of the proposed Kenyon to Saybrook bypass? And are you willing to provide them to us?

6. In your discussion of “4 track capacity to Boston,” should we understand this to mean a 2 track bypass in addition to the 2 lines existing along the shoreline?

7. Given that the Kenyon to Saybrook bypass was a relatively late addition to the NEC Planning process, do you feel comfortable that the bypass has received sufficient public and professional scrutiny to be included as part of a preferred alternative? Can you explain the genesis and inclusion of the bypass after the original 98 plans had been pared down to 3 action alternatives?

8. Conn DOT email released as part of a FOI request suggests a lack of formal and informal outreach to Old Lyme and RiverCog prior to the close of the initial comment deadline, when compared to formal and informal outreach statewide to nonprofits, mayors and Cogs. Please clarify the timing and extent of outreach to the region impacted by the proposed bypass, and to Old Lyme in particular.

9. What can we do to help you in the ongoing NEC Future process in southeastern Connecticut and to prevent these sorts of difficulties from cropping up in the future?”

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