November 18, 2018

Action-Oriented Old Saybrook Chamber Bolsters Business Environment

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The Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce building serves as a ‘gateway’ to Main Street.

OLD SAYBROOK — Founded in 1939, the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2014. The more than 500 members are the driving force behind the organization and also form its strong volunteer base. These, in turn, support the Chamber’s two full time employees, Executive Director Judy Sullivan and Member Services Manager Karen Pinette.

Sullivan explains, “Our job is to promote Old Saybrook as a place to work and live and play.” Composed of a diverse group of nonprofits, retail companies, insurance companies, banks, and more, the Chamber unites under their common goals of advancing the economic vitality and improving the quality of life in the community, as well as bringing businesses and new jobs to town.

Executive Director Judy Sullivan

Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judy Sullivan takes a brief break from her work.

With about 25 percent of Old Saybrook businesses as members, the Chamber accomplishes its ambitious goals through a variety of community events including educational programs on topics ranging from networking and email marketing software to social media publicity and customer service. The Chamber also sponsors an annual Chili-Fest to fund the college scholarship program it runs for students resident in Old Saybrook or children of Chamber members, as well as an annual Arts and Crafts Festival, which is being held this year on July 25 and 26.

In addition, the Chamber has initiated the Chamber Mail program by which every new resident receives information about surrounding businesses, and runs the Chamber Dollars program, a gift certificate program involving over 50 businesses.  The Chamber also works frequently with nonprofits on community-oriented projects.

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The smiling faces of Executive Director Judy Sullivan (left) and Membership Services Manager Karen Pinette greet visitors to the light and airy Chamber building.

An important aspect of the Chamber is that they serve as a link between businesses and governments to facilitate lines of communication. Most recently, at ‘Connecticut Business Day at the Capitol,’ Old Saybrook Chamber representatives spoke to senators and representatives about issues facing businesses in the state, such as Connecticut’s 15 percent occupancy tax.

OS_Chamber_Exterior_rearThe Chamber also helps foster inter-business relationships and once a month, a Chamber Connections event is held. These are casual gatherings at various local businesses, which facilitate networking between — and sometimes even within — businesses.

Sullivan grew up in Old Saybrook and graduated from Old Saybrook High School. When her youngest child started school, she fell into her role at the Chamber, first on a part-time basis and ultimately working her way up to executive director. Sullivan notes, “The hardest part of the job is being careful with each action because somebody might be affected. We constantly have to be aware of the impact of any actions we might take.  We always want to leave a positive impact.”

She adds, “I’m really proud of the Chamber — it’s been here a long time. I love promoting the town I grew up in. And I find it so rewarding when we see tangible success in businesses.”

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Tributary Mill Allows OSHS Interns to Experience Environmental Preservation Efforts First-hand 

Gathered for a photo are, from left to right, Tyler Clinton, Ashley Bright, Gray Tripp, Morey Tripp, and Jim Tripp.

Gathered for a photo are, from left to right, Tyler Clinton, Ashley Bright, Gray Tripp, Morey Tripp, and Jim Tripp.

The Tributary Mill has stood strong in the heart of Old Lyme since 1672. Originally used to grind grains such as corn and wheat, the mill often became referred to as Rooks Mill in honor of Edward Rooks, an American impressionist who was enthralled with the mill’s beauty, which has since been the subject of many paintings.

The Tributary Mill in Old Lyme.

The Tributary Mill in Old Lyme.

Purchased by Fran Tripp in 1981, her son Jim and his wife Sandra created the Tributary Mill Conservancy (TMC) that exists today from the original foundation. A nonprofit organization that strives to merge science and art through the conservation of the unique tributary ecosystem, the TMC has serviced its surrounding community in innumerable ways.

The waterfall at the mill.

The waterfall at the mill.

Operated by Jim, a carpenter, and Sandra, a high school chemistry teacher, as well as a variety of additional volunteers of all ages, the TMC works closely with a variety of environmentally oriented organizations such as the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Mystic Aquarium, and the Quebec-Labrador Foundation.

Smile for the camera! Ashley Bright holds a turtle.

Smile for the camera! Ashley Bright holds a turtle.

During the summer and fall seasons, the TMC focuses its energies on trapping and collecting data from snapping turtles by conducting blood tests, fecal tests, and collecting the leeches found on the turtles for further testing.

In addition, National Geographic recently donated a large number of cameras to put on the backs of the snapping turtles to further track them.

Ashley and Tyler work on transferring the baby salmon.

Ashley and Tyler work on transferring the baby salmon.

In the winter, the TMC turns its attention to hatching Atlantic salmon eggs given to them and regulated by the DEEP. An endangered species, the Atlantic salmon thrive in the unique ecosystem found at the TMC.

The highly efficient filtration system used by the TMC to hatch the eggs, which was engineered by Jim Tripp himself, has resulted in an 18 percent death rate for the eggs, significantly lower than the average 20 percent death rate. The eggs, once hatched, are then released into the surrounding Connecticut River tributaries.

In the spring, the TMC collects data on glass eels. Estimating the number of eels migrating up the Mill Brook as well as weighing trapped eels gives them valuable data, which they then send to the DEEP.

Eels galore!

Eels galore!

The Conservancy also focuses on educating and involving the community in their work. Along with offering tours for school groups ranging from elementary to high schoolers, the Conservancy also provides hands on learning opportunities for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students.

Old Saybrook High School seniors Ashley Bright and Tyler Clinton have been deeply impacted by their time at the preserve, which has inspired both of them to pursue careers in environmental science and engineering.

Ashley, who has been interning at the TMC since September, said, “I never expected to get so much out of a high school internship. I feel like I’ve been part of their family. It’s amazing that I’ve been able to do what I’ve done here as a high school student, and I know this experience is something I’ll always remember.”

Tyler, who has been interning at the TMC for two years, echoed Ashley’s sentiment, saying, “I have a second family here,” before going on to praise the kindness of Jim and Sandra Tripp. “They do this out of the kindness of their hearts. They really care about conserving the ecosystem and helping it thrive.”

Jim Tripp notes, “Our original goal was to make a prototype of a mill that could be emulated throughout the area because our location here on the river is such a great place to do wildlife work.”

For more information about the Tributary Mill Conservancy, visit tributarymill.org or email tributarymill@comcast.net. Donations to the nonprofit can also be made through the TMC website.

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Old Saybrook HS NHS Hosts Food Drive Today for Shoreline Soup Kitchen

OLD SAYBROOK — The Old Saybrook High School’s National Honor Society hopes to involve the town in their fundraiser for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen by encouraging Old Saybrook residents to leave a bag filled with non perishable foods at the end of their driveways on the morning of Saturday, April 11.

Students will be picking up the donations from 8 am to 9 am. All are also encouraged to drop off any additional donations at the left entrance of Old Saybrook High School any time between  8am and 10am.

Suggested items include canned tuna, jam/jelly, canned vegetables, canned foods, pasta, rice, cereal, and other canned foods.

All donations are much appreciated- be sure to try and support this wonderful cause!

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Last Chance to See ‘West Side Story’ at Old Saybrook High School Tonight

Rehearsals for West Side Story are in full swing at Old Saybrook High School.

Rehearsals for West Side Story are in full swing at Old Saybrook High School.

The Old Saybrook High School (OSHS) Drama Department is excited to welcome one and all to their production of West Side Story that will be playing Thursday through Saturday, March 26 to 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Old Saybrook High School Auditorium.

Working on costumes is a balancing business!

Working on costumes can be a balancing business!

Written and produced through the combined efforts of Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, and Jerome Robbins and set in 1950’s New York City, West Side Story is a classic tale of romance and tragedy in which the Puerto Rican Sharks face off against the all-American Jets.  It is based loosely on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and follows the story of how, amid rivalry and violence, two high ranking members in opposing gangs fall in love and ultimately hope to inspire an end to the prejudice.

Jeanne Proctor, director of the musical and head of the OSHS Drama Department, expressed her excitement for the upcoming show, commenting, “We’ve got a great group of senior leaders, and it’s also going to be my husband Dan’s last production supervising the build crew, so it’s going to be a great last accomplishment for us all.” She went on to discuss the technical aspects of the show that make it hard to pull off, including the score, rhythm, choreography, and vocal challenges it presents to the students, noting,“It’s going to require a new level of precision from us — it’s a challenge, but we’re very excited.”

Senior Kara Newell who is both playing the female lead of Maria and choreographing part of the show for her senior project said, “This show is challenging in a different way from what we are used to – it’s very dance heavy, and everyone’s really trying their best with the choreography.  I’ve never seen us be this far along in any show this early in the year.  We still have a lot to do, but I can already tell it’s going to be a great way to end my senior year.”

Measuring carefully to set the stage.

Measuring carefully to set the stage.

As for what you should expect if you go see West Side Story, Jeanne Proctor added, “We’re embracing the challenge to make it uplifting. Our goal is for the audience to be in cathartic tears by the end of the show.”

Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the door or through the school at (860) – 395 – 3175.

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Old Saybrook’s Troop 51 Welcomes Four New Eagle Scouts

 

Celebrating their accession to the rank of Eagle Scout are (from left to right) Reggie Walden, Eric Mitchell, Will Burton, and Robert O'Shaughnessy.

Celebrating their official induction to the rank of Eagle Scout are (from left to right) Reggie Walden, Eric Mitchell, Will Burton, and Robert O’Shaughnessy.

During a ceremony held March 13, at the Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, Boy Scout Troop 51 celebrated their four newest eagle scouts: Old Saybrook High School seniors William Burton, Eric Mitchell, Robert O’Shaughnessy and Reginald Walden (pictured above.)

To earn the prestigious title of Eagle Scout, the four Boy Scouts earned a wide variety of merit badges over a span of many years. The final requirement was to complete a culminating project that gave back to the community; each went above and beyond, committing over 100 hours of work to their respective projects.

William Burton’s Eagle Scout project was making flag retirement boxes. The wooden reciprocals were placed at the Acton Library, the Elks Club, and the Submarine Veteran’s Club in Groton for people to dispose of the ashes of flags that have touched the ground or been otherwise disrespected. “I’d like to thank the Boy Scout leaders and all of those who helped me with my project, especially my mother and father,” said Burton.

Eric Mitchell decided to build a pergola for the Old Saybrook Historical Society outside the General William Hart House for his Eagle Scout project. The aim of constructing the pergola was to help beautify the town. Mitchell commented, “I was really excited to learn about carpentry, and for that and all of the other skills I’ve gained through Boy Scouts, I’m really thankful.”

Robert O’Shaughnessy chose cleaning up several locations around town and then placing geocaches in them as his Eagle Scout project. Locations include other scout’s Eagle projects, as well as three in the town park. O’Shaughnessy’s goal was to promote ecotourism in Old Saybrook, as well as bring attention to the scouting program. An appreciative O’Shaughnessy said, “The scout leadership in our troop is incredible, and I’d like to thank them for all of the really cool opportunities I’ve had thanks to Boy Scouts.”

Reginald Walden refurbished the area around the Grace Episcopal Church where attends church and also his scout meetings are held. For his Eagle Scout project, he planted bulbs, replaced unsafe playground equipment, built a bench, and more. Walden explained, “I’ve learned a lot about teamwork, and I know that without boy scouts, I would not be the same person I am today.”

Many congratulations to these fine young men!

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Old Saybrook Student Takes First Place in Southern CT Science & Engineering Fair

Andrew Pan (right) stands on the podium with the other winners at the Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair.  Photo credit: www.scisef.org

Andrew Pan (right) stands on the podium with the other winners at the Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair. Photo credit: www.scisef.org

In a remarkable achievement, Old Saybrook High School senior Andrew Pan won first place in the Health and Medicine category at the Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair on Feb. 7 for his research project entitled, “Elevated Levels of Interleukin-8 in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers induce Cell Survival During Chemotherapy.”

Pan’s first research experience was the summer before his junior year when he went to intern with the drug development company his father works for in Shanghai called Astrazeneca.  “It was my first exposure to research,” said Pan. “It was a lot of fun and it really intrigued me.”

After his summer with Astrazeneca, he knew he wanted to continue on with his scientific research the summer before his senior year.  “One of my friends who is a year above me had done research at Yale over the summer the year before and recommended it, so I contacted Professor Rong Fan because his work looked really interesting to me.”  Professor Fan’s work, which has been garnering a lot of attention, involves helping to detect variations between various cells to help aid the diagnosis of diseases like cancer.  Pan added, “Cancer is really fascinating scientifically because it’s a very complex, intricate micro environment working together against yourself – I’m curious about these types of things.”

“Researching under Professor Fan’s direction was great – he’s a very relaxed and quiet person.  I worked with Jonathan Chen, a grad student who was studying non small cell lung cancer for his thesis project and under his direction, I was investigating a variant of lung cancer which affects smokers and nonsmokers equally,” said Pan.  Specifically, he focused on a type of protein called interleukin-8 which affects how cancer cells move and grow.

Pan continued, “At first I was assigned a small sub project.  It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to study, but while Jon was gone for a couple weeks working with a lab from another school, I started to focus on a sub-population of cells emitting comparatively higher rates of interleukin-8 by comparing 2,300 individual cell samples – it was really tedious, but fun.”

Andrew Pan (left) stands with his mentor on his winning project, Yale graduate student, Jonathan Chen.

Andrew Pan (left) stands with his mentor on his winning project, Yale graduate student, Jonathan Chen.

He continued, “What I found was that the high producers of interleukin-8 were potentially serving as tumor drivers, something several other studies have confirmed experimentally.”  He went on to explain that blocking interleukin-8 in particular cells had the potential to help prevent cancer and improve upon the current delivery method so that treatments would work faster.  “I’m hoping  my research will help to identify targets for treatment,” said Andrew.

It was this research that he presented to the judges of the Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair.  “I had a poster, and I talked for 15-30 minutes about my research and answered some of the questions the judges had,” said Pan.  “The whole process was a lot of fun, but I never thought I’d win.  There were so many great projects, and it was so interesting seeing the research other students were doing.”

As for winning, he said, “It was really fun to present to the judges; my favorite part of the whole process was presenting my research and being able to share and learn – and it was nice to get recognition not just for myself, but for Old Saybrook High School as well.”

“On its own, my research is one small factor and won’t revolutionize anything, but hopefully building on it will help cancer research progress in the future,” said Pan, adding, “I’m really thankful to my friend for mentioning his research and encouraging me to try it, to the Professor for allocating time and resources for me, to my teachers for letting me leave school early so I could get to the lab on time, and especially to Jon for letting me tag along on his project – he used a lot of time to train me.”

As for what he’ll do next, Pan noted, “I’m going to present my research again at UConn, as well as Quinnipiac University for the next portion of the competition called the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair that’s statewide, and I’m planning on either writing a research paper or co-authoring one with Jonathan.”

He is also starting a Research Initiative Program to encourage rising juniors and seniors in Old Saybrook High School who are interested in experiencing hands-on experience scientific research.  “Everyone else at the competition came from schools with established research teams, so I’d love to be able to set something up like that for Saybrook so more people can have the experience I had,” said Pan.

Pan’s longer term plans involve him continuing to research a wide variety of things.  “I’m really interested in engineering – specifically, nanotech applied to medical technology, as well as designing devices for microfluidic platforms for the detection and diagnosis of cancer.  I’m also interested in drug development, and potentially tissue engineering or ophthalmology, but the main diseases I’d like to focus on are cancer, HIV, and neurodegenerative diseases because my family has been personally impacted by them.  I’d also love to work with Jon again and investigate some questions previous research brought up.”

Laughing, he added, “It’s really hard to condense everything I’m interested in into a short list.”  One is left with the clear impression that this extraordinary young man will have a long ‘To Do’ list for quite a while!

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Oh, What a Winter … and More on the Way!

Old Saybrook Town beach

Old Saybrook Town Beach.  All photos by Adina Ripkin.

After a snowless first half of winter, the weather finally seemed to catch up with itself as recent snow storms have swept through the northeast.

Piles of cleared snow at the junction of Main Street and Pennywise Lane in Old Saybrook

Piles of cleared snow at the junction of Main Street and Pennywise Lane in Old Saybrook

Storms on Jan. 26 and 27 and then again during the first weekend in February have left snow accumulated throughout Connecticut, especially along the shoreline.

A snowy scene in Saybrook

A snowy scene in Saybrook

Although we dodged the most recent storm, which hit much harder in inland Connecticut and neighboring Massachusetts, bitterly cold weather is just around the corner according to the weather forecasters.

Footsteps_to_the_church_OSIt may seem to have been an endless winter, but no records have been broken here to date — unlike in Boston, Mass., where snowfall accumulation totaled well over 70 inches in January alone!

With more snow and freezing temperatures expected over the next couple of weeks, Shoreline residents are bracing themselves once again for more shoveling, hot chocolate, and picturesque drives!

Stay safe … and warm … and enjoy!

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