July 27, 2021

Barry of Essex Scores Her First Ever Hole-in-One

Hollis Barry, Co-Chairperson Old Lyme Country Club Women’s Golf League, scored a hole-in-one at the club on July 1.

OLD LYME — During Thursday Women’s League Play on July 1, Hollis Barry of Essex, Conn., scored a hole-in-one on the 3rd hole. Barry is co-chairperson of the Old Lyme Country Club Women’s Golf League (OLCC WGA.)

Barry’s drive on the par three hole landed on the green and rolled into the cup.  This was her first hole-in-one.

With a 16.5 handicap, Hollis has been a life-long golfer. As the new co-chairperson, Barry has advocated for making the OLCC WGA a program that fosters friendships and promotes women’s golf as a relaxing and fun activity for all levels of players.  She encourages healthy competition and the learning of all aspects of the game. 

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Greg Shook, Essex Savings Bank, President & CEO, to Retire July 31

Gregory R. Shook, who is retiring as President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, after 22 years  at the helm.

ESSEX — Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, will retire after 22 years at the helm and a career spanning 47 years in banking. He is the longest serving President and CEO in Connecticut and will retire on July 31.

A Westport, Conn., native and  Madison resident, Shook began his career as a management trainee in 1974 in a  subsidiary of Philadelphia National Corporation, Signal Finance and Mortgage, Fairfax,  Va. He managed their Cleveland office and then became a Vice President at State Home Savings in Bowling Green, Ohio.

In December 1984, he joined First Federal Savings of Madison, Conn. In 1987, he joined Branford Savings Bank where he rose to  Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary and was named Interim President and CEO where he found a right’s offering used for manufacturing companies to successfully raise capital to support the bank’s continued existence via a 1991 stock offering.

Highlights of his career include being elected by his peers and serving five years as a Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, a $62 billion bank, from  2015 – 2019. He was also appointed to serve on the first two years of the Federal Reserve of Boston Community Depository Institution Advisory Committee (CDIAC)  mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act to provide input from Banks under $10 billion to the Federal Reserve system.  

Professional associations have included the Connecticut Bankers Association, legislative committee, executive committee and the American Bankers Association Mutual Institutions Advisory Committee. He serves on the Board of Essex Savings Bank and Essex Financial Services. Following his retirement, he will continue to serve on the  Essex Savings Bank Board of Directors.

He is a corporator of the Middlesex Health  Care System (parent of Middlesex Hospital). He is also on the advisory committees of  the Community Music School and the leadership counsel of the Middlesex Coalition on  Housing and Homelessness.  

In 2011 Shook received the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Distinguished  Citizen Award and was elected Chairman in 2016 and continues to serve on its Executive Committee and its Board of Directors.

He has been recognized by numerous organizations for his dedication to community service and has served on non-profit boards and advisory committees. He was a finalist in the New England Division of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program in 2009. He has been a featured speaker for a variety of seminars and radio shows.  

During his tenure, Essex Savings Bank grew its assets from $110 million to over $525  million, expanded its physical footprint from four to six branches, participated in the  growth of assets under management or administration of Essex Financial Services from $700 million to $3.2 billion and Essex Trust from a de novo to $871 million and has  rolled out new technology and capabilities leading the Bank through the pandemic.

He  is the 17th President since 1851. The Bank is currently celebrating 170 years of service and trust to the community.  

Shook commented, “The best part of Banking is building long term relationships and I am so appreciative of  everyone’s support and trust over the years. I am extremely proud of what we’ve been  able to accomplish together for both our customers and the communities in which we serve. It has been both my great privilege and honor to work with so many dedicated  and talented people – the absolute best.”

Looking to the future, Shook said, “I am confident that Essex Savings Bank will continue to garner new relationships and remain an outstanding business serving the  personal and business banking, trust and investment needs of the community. On Aug. 1, I am pleased to turn the business over to Diane Arnold, formerly our Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer as she will be our 18th President and CEO,  who is poised to lead this business to new heights.”

During the month of July, Shook will be looking forward to wishing many of his customers, friends and colleagues a fond farewell as he embarks on his next voyage.  

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with  six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Division, Essex Trust and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc.

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Ivoryton Playhouse Reopens its Doors with ‘Murder for Two,’ July 8

IVORYTON — The Ivoryton Playhouse will open its doors for a five-play season on July 8.

Murder For Two by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian is a blend of music, mayhem and murder! In this hilarious 90-minute show, two performers play 13 roles—not to mention the piano—in a witty and winking homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries.

The New York Times calls it “Ingenious! A snazzy double-act that spins out a comic mystery animated by funny, deftly turned songs.”

Murder For Two was developed at the Adirondack Theatre Festival and 42nd Street Moon. Chicago Shakespeare Theater presented the World Premiere Production in May, 2011, which was extended four times and ran for more than six months. Kinosian and Blair were recognized with a 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical.

Everyone is a suspect in Murder For Two – Ian Lowe*, who was last seen in Ivoryton in The Woman in Black — plays the detective, and Joe Kinosian* plays all 13 suspects and they both play the piano.

A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this 90-minute whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with laughs.

The show is directed and choreographed by Wendy Seyb, the set is designed by Martin Marchitto, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Saylor.

Murder For Two opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse July 8 and runs through Aug. 1, 2021. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. There will be one Thursday matinee on July 8.

The safety of the audience is the primary concern. Face masks are required at all times in the theatre. There is no intermission and no concessions will be sold. Eating and drinking are not allowed in the theatre. Socially-distanced  seats mean there are only 96 seats in the theatre for your comfort and protection.  To view the socially-distanced seating plan, follow this link.

The second show in the 2021 Summer Season will be:

HAVING OUR SAY:  THE DELANY SISTERS FIRST 100 YEARS
by Emily Mann, adapted from the book “Having Our Say”
Aug. 12 – Sept. 5
A beautiful, funny and heartfelt family drama based on the bestselling memoir of Bessie and Sadie Delany – trailblazers, activists and best friends.

More shows will be announced soon.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, $25 for students and are available on June 14 by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318. Tickets are not available online. Visit the website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org for more information. (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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‘Crosby Fund for Haitian Education’ Changes Lives in One of Poorest Parts of Globe

The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education is guided by the deep conviction that a brighter future for Haiti depends on educating its youth and preparing them for professional careers in Haiti.

How has an idea conceived in Old Lyme, Conn. been able to grow into an organization that is making a critical difference in the lives of more than 500 students in one of the most economically-deprived parts of the Caribbean island of Haiti, which, in turn, is one of the poorest countries in the world?

The answer lies with one woman, Rebecca ‘Becky’ Crosby, who along with her husband Ted, founded the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education (CFHE) back in 2003.

How did it all begin?

Crosby explains her first trip to Haiti was in 1999 and came about through the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL) when Amy Bruch was working there as an Associate Minister. Bruch had connected with the late Dr. Wayne Southwick of Old Lyme, the retired chairman of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Yale University.

Annually, Dr. Southwick led a team of doctors from Yale to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschappelles, Haiti, where they performed surgeries round the clock and at no charge for local people. Deschappelles is located in the rural Artibonite Valley about 90 miles north of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

Inspired by Southwick’s work, Bruch decided she, in turn, wanted to take a team of volunteers to the same hospital to support his efforts. She successfully organized the trip pulling together a group through the church, one of whom was Becky Crosby. They took a sewing machine with them, Becky recalls, and their primary task was to make privacy curtains for the hospital.

Ted and Becky Crosby attended the opening of a new Medical Center in Liancourt, Haiti in May 2021. The Center was founded by one of the graduates of the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education program, Dr. James Kerby Estimé, who named the Center in Becky’s honor.

During their time on the island, Becky noticed a young man, who was regularly sitting outside the place the volunteers were staying. One day Crosby asked him why he was not in school and he explained that he had previously been fortunate to have a sponsor from the US, but that those funds had ceased. Since school is not free for anyone in Haiti, he was no longer able to attend as his family simply could not afford it, and he hoped by interacting with some of the American visitors in town that he might be able to find a new sponsor.

Becky says, “I was surprised to learn that school was not free,” and made the decision almost on the spot to pay for the young man — Oltin — to finish his high school education. Doing that turned out to be harder than she thought since there was no postal service in Haiti and the young man had no bank account. Becky, however, was determined and finally found a way to pay his tuition through an American doctor working in Haiti.

Three years later in 2002, Becky returned to Deschappelles to meet with Oltin on his graduation from high school. She recalls, “I saw him and it was a wonderful visit.” She adds significantly, “I could not believe what the gift of an education could do.”

She started to research the overall statistics for education in Haiti and was stunned to find that only 55 percent of children in the country attend elementary school, a number which drops to 15 percent for those who graduate from high school, and finally falling to a mere 2 percent, who go onto university.

Less than half of Haitian families can afford school for their children, therefore, one of the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education’s main goals is to provide full scholarships for students from Pre-K through university.

It suddenly became crystal clear to Crosby that, “If you want to build Haiti, you need to educate the youth.” At that transformative moment in her life, she made a personal commitment to try and do something to meet that almost overwhelming objective.

Returning home, she shared the idea with her husband Ted, who was supportive of the concept, and in response set off on his own fact-finding trip to Haiti in 2003.

After Ted returned and expressed his full commitment for the project, Becky returned to Haiti again and began to, “Come up with ways to create the organization” there and “Form a board to select the students [who would receive scholarships.]

Returning to her home in Old Lyme, a determined Becky started work to find donors locally, who were willing to fund students in Haiti, who would otherwise not finish high school.

Not an easy task by any standard, but a short while later, she had successfully recruited 32 people willing to do just that and thus were formed the first seeds of the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education. Becky says, “We started with 32 friends who sponsored 32 students,” adding with a chuckle, “I had no idea when I started where this was leading.”

The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education also offers a wide range of additional academic support at their Education Center in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley.

Where is the organization today?

The numbers are nothing short of staggering.

A total of 523 students are now supported under the organization’s banner including 98 in post-secondary schools, 53 at university and 45 in medical technician or vocational training facilities. More than 80 schools across the Artibonite Valley are now involved in the program.

More than 90 percent of the Crosby Fund’s scholarship students advance to university or technical school and subsequently, CFHE graduates are employed at three times the national average.

Moreover, Faulkner Hunt of Lyme, who serves as CFHE’s Marketing Director, states, “Our goal is to get kids educated,” not just as an end in itself, but, “To get them to a place where they are gainfully employed.”

Has establishing the CFHE had any unexpected effects?

The project has been life-changing for Becky on a personal level in many ways.

Most significantly, when the CFHE had reached a total of around 300 students under its wing, she felt she had to step down from her role as Associate Minister at the FCCOL — a position she had taken after Catherine Zall’s departure (Zall had followed Bruch) — and devote her energies full-time to the fast-growing organization.

The Medical Center in Liancourt, Haiti, which is named after Becky Crosby.

She explains that she stepped down with three clear objectives in mind.

The first was to find or build some sort of “permanent place” for the CFHE, which could both house the staff and offer classroom space. The second was to establish an endowment fund and the third, and perhaps most important, to set up “some sort of staff in the US” to work on “succession planning” for the organization to establish continuity for it in perpetuity.

Becky says proudly, “All of this things are now in place,” which in turn has helped enormously with “Planning for the future.”

Building the Education Center in Deschapelles met the first goal. The three classrooms and and computer lab allow for a wide range of tutoring opportunities, which Becky emphasizes are extremely important, mentioning, “Math is a huge problem.”

Literacy, especially among adults, is another major challenge. “The students’ parents could not read or write … they had no idea how to read a report card,” Becky explains. The CFHE follows a state-run literacy program for adults, which currently has 56 students enrolled, but has recently adopted a youth literacy program sponsored by USAID, which had 52 students registered in January 2021.

With more than a trace of emotion in her voice, Becky said, “It is so moving to see someone my own age struggling to write their own name … and then go back [after the program has been completed] and see them writing easily. It is very, very touching.”

How are the students selected who are to receive scholarships?

Becky explains, “We have a great staff in Haiti, which includes six graduates of our program.” Using their knowledge of the community, they select candidates whom they determine will benefit from financial support. The process clearly works since the graduation rate of students supported by CFHE is significantly higher than the national average.

The 2020-2021 academic year saw 221 scholarships granted to secondary students in grades 7 to Philo (a 13th college preparatory year.) These students attend 37 schools in the region.

Apart from scholarships and tutoring, another piece of the Crosby Foundation’s work is their career development program. Becky says passionately, “Graduates need jobs … it’s tough to get a job … we’re trying to keep them in Haiti.” The program assists graduates in securing internships and jobs across Haiti, and Crosby points out it has already produced doctors, nurses, computer programmers and administrators, most of whom are now employed in Haiti.

She adds the CFHE has also helped students along other career paths including assisting four agronomy students set up a farming business.

What is the impact of donations from Lyme, Old Lyme?

An extraordinary aspect of the financial support for CFHE is that the “vast majority” comes from Lyme and Old Lyme according to Hunt. He comments it is remarkable, “These two little towns  can take up so much compassion for a little area in Haiti,” adding, “It’s such a great example of selflessness.”

Referring to all the CFHE donors, Becky says, “I wish I could bring them all to Haiti so they could see what they’re doing for the youth of Haiti. I wish I could share that experience with the people, who have helped us.”

Looking Ahead

Becky expands enthusiastically on what she calls “the real joy” of the achievements of the CFHE, saying, “When a kid you’ve picked off the streets does really well at school, even university, gets a job, gets married, has kids that go to school … Bingo, that’s the dream! This is what we are trying to do. It’s not going to happen overnight … we don’t expect miracles … but ultimately it’s nation-building one step at a time.”

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education, visit their website or follow them on their Facebook page. If you would like to donate to support the work of the CFHE, visit this link. All contributions regardless of size are gratefully accepted.

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Gardening Tips from ‘The English Lady’ for June ‘… the Month God Invented, Since Spring is a Tough Act to Follow’

“Cast ne’er a clout till May is out” is the medieval English saying means do not put away your long johns until May is over; well, we certainly have had a few very cool nights recently, which is just wonderful … allowing sleeping with the windows open.

I cannot remember the last time we had a real spring like the one we are experiencing this year, with plenty of rain. May is typically a dry month, although with the effects of global warming, no weather is typical these days. However, this beneficial rain is wonderful for all the spring plant growth happening in the beginning of the growing season.

Peonies by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash.

I am so in awe of the miracle of Mother Nature; the symbiotic relationship between plants and others of God’s creatures. As I look out of my window into my field, I can see the buds opening on my long stand of peonies, which brings to mind just one of those symbiotic relationships — the friendly partnership between ants and peonies.  

I am often asked “Maureen, should I worry about ants on my peonies?” The answer is “That’s not a problem, lots of ants on the peonies just demonstrate that you have healthy plants with big buds producing more nectar and therefore attract the ants”.

Make sure Peonies get plenty of water and after blooming, apply a light dose of organic 5-10-5 fertilizer and check the soils PH it should be between 6.5 and 7.0.  It is hard to ruin a good peony border but you can err in the fertilizing process, so go easy on the organic aged manure (never thought I would say that) and apply just the light dose of fertilizer — to reiterate apply the fertilizer after blooming.  

Now, in June, I pinch off the side-buds on my large stand of peonies, thus ensuring big blooms on the rest of the plant.  

On the subject of ants; if you see them “let them live,” because often their presence indicates that we have aphids around and ants feed off aphids; they are very useful creatures.

Another very useful creature in the pest wars; is the lowly toad so I always put out some toad houses (which you can purchase from the garden center) around and about in your borders.  You can also use an old clay pot that is cracked and make sure that the crack is two to three inches wide for the door so the toad can enter. Also put a small saucer as a floor under the pot with some rocks, which you keep damp, so that your friendly bad-bug-eater has his or her ideal home environment.

MULCH:

Mulch your gardens in June; when the ground has warmed up to about 45 or 50 degrees. When you mulch, be careful mulching around trees; do not get the mulch any closer than four inches from the trunk, as any closer it can promote rot and disease in the tree itself. Also trees that are mulched too deeply near the trunk invite mice and other rodents to come nest and then gnaw on the trunk.  

The garden as a whole can be mulched to a depth of between two and three inches. I prefer fine hardwood mulch in the dark brown color but no dyed red mulch please … keep the garden looking natural and not like a Disney theme park.

ROSES:

An ‘Evelyn’ rose by David Austin, the author’s favorite.

June is the month when Roses begin to bloom. I prefer David Austin roses that I find are the most trouble free roses, are repeat bloomers and have wonderful fragrances. Some of my favorites are A Shropshire Lad, a soft peachy pink, Abraham Darby with blooms in apricot to yellow, Fair Bianca a pure white, Heritage, a soft clear pink. My absolute favorite is Evelyn, pictured at right, which has giant apricot flowers in a saucer shape and the fragrance is second to none with a luscious fruity tone, reminding me of fresh peaches and apricots.  

Feed your roses with an organic rose food called Roses Alive, which you can obtain from “Gardens Alive” on the internet, feed them once a month until mid August, then stop feeding so they can go into a slow dormancy.

Japanese beetles are very attracted to roses, so any Japanese beetle traps should be placed far away from your borders on the perimeter of the property. Or check TheEnglishLady.com on the Organic Products page for other solutions to the beetles and other unwanted pests.    

A tip for keeping cut roses fresh: cut the roses in the morning before 10 am, just above a five leaf cluster and place stems in a container of lukewarm water.  Inside the house recut the stems under warm running water, forming a one and a half inch angular cut, then place in a vase filled with warm water.  Do not remove the thorns on cut roses, I have found this practice reduces their indoor life by as much as three days.  

HYDRANGEAS:

These need plenty of water, (in the fields they were originally found close to water being a wetland plant before they were introduced into our gardens), also organic aged manure, good ventilation, organic fertilizer and full sun.

Wisteria in full bloom is always a sight to behold. Photo by Alyssa Strohman on Unsplash.

WISTERIA:

Regular pruning through spring and summer is the main factor to help this arrogant vine to flower — and by that I mean several times during the season. Prune every two weeks at least six inches on each stem.  

CLEMATIS:

If you have a wilt problem with clematis, you notice it early because the shoots wilt and die. Unfortunately this disease is impossible to cure, as it is soil-borne. Therefore you cannot plant another clematis of that species in that area but you can plant the Viticella clematis selection; these are vigorous, free flowering blooms and are not susceptible to wilt.  Some good choices in this variety are Blue Belle, Etoile Violette (both are purple) and Huldine, which is a white,  

CONTAINER GARDENS:

If you have room for one pot, you have room for a number — placed close together in different shapes and sizes, they can create your own miniature garden. Apart from regular pots, the most unexpected objects make really interesting containers. A friend, who cut down trees this past winter, left the stumps and hollowed them out to make containers — one large and two smaller stumps together — a really interesting combo.  

At the same time look in your basement, shed or barn to see if you have an old wheelbarrow, which, even if it has a wheel missing, will present an unusual angle as a planter. Or you may come across a large chipped ceramic jar — I, in fact, have an old two foot tall ceramic vinegar container, replete with a hole where the vinegar tap was inserted, ideal for drainage, which will look great on my newly-painted blue bench next to my red milk shed.  

LAWN CARE:

Do not forget to add organic grub control through July, so that you keep down the mole infestation; remember no grubs, less food for the moles.  

POWDERY MILDEW:

Keep an eye open for powdery mildew, especially after a rain and the humidity returns.  In a sprayer, mix two tablespoons of baking soda, two tablespoons of vegetable or horticultural oil in a gallon of water and spray the mildew.  Summer phlox is particularly prone to this affliction; I recommend Phlox Miss Lingard or Phlox David, white ones of the species, these are the most mildew resistant.  

Monarda, commonly known as Bee Balm, is also affected by the mildew; the one I have found to be the most resistant is Cambridge Scarlet. Do be careful when introducing Monarda into the garden; they, like Purple Loosestrife and Evening Primrose are extremely invasive and can take over your entire border.  

On the subject of invasive plants, if you plant mint, plant it only in containers, otherwise mint will spread throughout your borders.  

I hope these tips are useful to you in this busy time of year in the garden and I’ll see you in the garden or on my website next month.

Contact Maureen at maureenhaseleyjones@gmail.com

About the author: Maureen Haseley-Jones, pictured left, is a member of a family of renowned horticultural artisans, whose landscaping heritage dates back to the 17th century. She is one of the founders, together with her son Ian, of, The English Lady Landscape and Home Company. Maureen and Ian are landscape designers and garden experts, who believe that everyone deserves to live in an eco-conscious environment and enjoy the pleasure that it brings. Maureen learned her design skills from both her mother and grandmother, and honed her horticultural and construction skills while working in the family nursery and landscape business in the U.K. Her formal horticultural training was undertaken at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in Surrey.

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Ivoryton Playhouse Hosts Free Concert at Westbrook Outlet Mall, Saturday

Ryan Bloomquist and Morgan Morse. Photo by Brief Cameo Productions.

IVORYTON – The Ivoryton Playhouse presents a free concert at Six Summit Gallery in the Westbrook Outlet Mall on Saturday, June 19, at 1 p.m. All are welcome.

A collaboration between the Ivoryton Playhouse and Brief Cameo Productions, Songs From The Elephant’s Trunk is a celebration of live performance, featuring concert selections both honoring the Playhouse’s past successes and looking ahead to a bright and hopeful future.

Featuring nine professional singers and musicians, the concert will include songs from Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, Oliver, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and many more.

This concert is made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County.

Visit the Playhouse website or Facebook page for more information.

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Opening Reception for Studio 80’s ‘Summer Sculpture Showcase’ to be held Saturday, All Welcome

‘Yes’ by Joe Gitterman is one of the featured works in this year’s Summer Sculpture Showcase.

OLD LYME — An Opening Reception for Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds’ 7th Annual Summer Sculpture Showcase will be held Saturday, June 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. to celebrate the artwork on display … and a much-anticipated return to socialization! All are welcome.

The event will feature a live performance by Ramblin’ Dan Stevens and Steve Sigel.

Ramblin’ Dan Stevens will be playing with Steve Sigel during the Opening Reception.

Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds is a vibrant community environment dedicated to arts education and appreciation on the Connecticut shoreline. Its mission is to create a bond between art, nature and community by inspiring and promoting participation in the arts.

The exhibition provides a unique opportunity for artists to showcase their sculptures in a wonderful environment specifically designed to nurture the creative arts.  This year, the Showcase features sculptural works by 20 selected artists.

Take the opportunity to wander around Gil Boro’s Sculpture Grounds and see the more than 100 sculptures on display,

In an effort to keep everyone safe and healthy, masks will be mandatory for all and social distancing measures will be practiced. If you have not been vaccinated, you are requested to consider not attending the event.

The health and well-being of the community is of paramount importance. It is for this reason that the event will be held exclusively outdoors, weather permitting, and no refreshments will be served this year. Guests are, however, welcome to BYO!

‘Sticky Chromosome’ is one of the sculptures juried into the Showcase.

Parking is available next door at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. Handicapped parking is available at the Sculpture Grounds.

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After Year of Closure, Gillette Castle Interior Re-opens to Public 

Harold “Tyke” and Theodora “Teddie” Niver – appearing as William and Helen Gillette – stand on the terrace overlooking the Connecticut River at the century-old home of the late Connecticut actor. After a year of pandemic-imposed closure, the structure has re-opened for the 2021 season. Photo courtesy of Kelly Hunt, Capture the Moment Photography.

EAST HADDAM, Conn. – For the first time since late 2019, Gillette Castle has re-opened and will be available for public visits during Gillette Castle State Park’s regular opening hours, park officials said. 

Because of the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mansion built a century ago by the late stage actor William Gillette remained closed throughout 2020 in accord with Connecticut’s official policy for all indoor facilities associated with state parks. 

The park’s grounds are open from 8 a.m. until sunset daily, offering visitors a chance to use the park’s varied hiking trails, stroll around Gillette’s unique home and perhaps spot the eagles that frequently nest with their young along the river at many times of the year. 

Self-paced tours of the structure are to be conducted from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily, with each day’s final tour starting at 4 p.m. After Labor Day, tours will be conducted only on weekends through Columbus Day. Tickets are $6 and may be obtained at the Castle entrance on the day of visit. 

State officials report that ticket sales will also be available for pre-purchase for up to 12 individuals for specific time slots at 15-minute intervals. To guarantee a slot, advance purchase is recommended. To pre-reserve, guests in time will be able to check online at the Reserve America website (tinyurl.com/4ty5e59p) under “Gillette Castle State Park Tours.” 

In anticipation of the official opening May 29, a limited “soft opening” of the structure’s interior one week earlier allowed park officials and tour guides to practice their presentations with members of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park, who received a “sneak peek” in exchange.

Most Connecticut state park buildings, museums, nature centers and other enclosed structures were opened on Memorial Day weekend. Under the state’s guidelines, six feet of social distancing must be maintained at all times while inside park buildings. Masks will be required inside the structure, regardless of vaccination status.

“The home of William Gillette is the true centerpiece of this wonderful park, and it was frustrating for us not to be able to share this jewel’s inner beauty and wonders with everyone,” said Lynn Wilkinson, president of the Friends organization. “Now, thanks to a lot of hard work by many people, we’re excited to say that it’s ready to go back on display.”

The park is nestled between the towns of East Haddam and Lyme. Many of its trails follow a former railroad bed created for a narrow-gauge track installed by the late Connecticut stage actor, who built his castle-like home atop one of the Seven Sister Hills along the river. 

Trail maps and videos of the estate may be found on the Friends website at www.gillettecastlefriends.org. Those interested in becoming a Friends member may sign up online or download a mail-in application form at the website, or direct their questions to info@gillettecastlefriends.org or (860) 222-7850. 

The organization’s mission includes the preservation, restoration and conservation of the historic structure and its scenic grounds. The all-volunteer, nonprofit group works in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Memberships help to finance park and structural improvements while preserving the estate and Gillette’s legacy.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Annual Concert in the Park, Saturday

ESSEX — Need an outdoor outing to leave the COVID-19 confinement behind?

The Essex Land Trust is hosting a live music concert Saturday, June 12, from 5 to 7 p.m.  at the Main Street Town Park in Essex. The concert will feature Melaena, a band that has been built on a foundation of musicianship, showmanship and professionalism mixed with raw talent.

The event is intended as a BYO picnic and concert.  Bring chairs, blankets. Relax or Dance! 

Melaena is a 6-piece cover band based out of Norwich, CT whose sole mission is to execute music that “makes you want to dance.” For over 30 years, Melaena has been performing songs from every decade, from Top 40 to Motown to classic rock to current hits; ranked as one of the top covers and wedding bands in the area. 

While the concert will be outdoors, it is asked that participants maintain social distance throughout the event.

Bad weather cancels. 

For any additional information, email info@essexlandtrust.org.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Canoe/Kayak Trip to South Cove, Saturday

ESSEX — Want to explore Essex’s South Cove?

On Saturday, June 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. take the opportunity to bring your kayak or canoe for an early summer trip to South Cove, led by the Essex Land Trust’s Jeff Croyle.

Meet at the public boat launch below Essex Town Park, on Main Street Essex. No advance registration required but participants need to sign a waiver starting at 12:30 p.m. and launch their own boats prior to the 1 p.m. departure.

A safety boat will accompany.

Bad weather cancels.

As the event will be exclusively outdoors, COVID regulations are not in force and facemasks are optional.

For any additional information, email info@essexlandtrust.org.

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High Hopes Hosts a Big Barn Tailgate, June 12

OLD LYME — With the development of multiple vaccines to aid in the fight against the pandemic and a sense of renewed hope, High Hopes is hosting their traditional annual gala Saturday, June 12, as a socially-distanced Big Barn Tailgate at their location at 36 Town Woods Rd. in Old Lyme.

It will be a celebration of the vibrant, philanthropic community, whose support makes it possible for High Hopes to provide a place where horses and humans together improve lives.

Don your dancing shoes or cowboy boots and kick up your (socially-distanced) heels to the extensive music repertoire of local sensation Sugar.

Enjoy gourmet boxed dinners with dessert, bar service, and VIP packages.

E V E N T   T I M E L I N E

6:00–7:30 p.m. Gates open for dinner and beverage pickup
7:30 p.m. Sugar’s 1st Set
8:30 p.m. Video Presentation & Scholarship Drive
9:00 p.m. Sugar’s 2nd Set

For more information regarding the event and all the exciting ticket options, visit this link.

LymeLine.com is proud to be a sponsor of this event.

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Rep. Carney Co-Sponsors Bill to Remove Race Designation from Marriage Licenses, Land Records

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd)

OLD SAYBROOK/LYME/OLD LYME – State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd), whose district includes both Lyme and Old Lyme, voted Tuesday, May 11, in favor of a proposal to prohibit restrictive covenants based on race.

The proposal, HB-6665, An Act Concerning the Removal of Restrictive Covenants Based on Race and Elimination of the Race Designation on Marriage Licenses, would prohibit restrictive covenants – defined as “an instrument affecting the title to real property that purports to restrict ownership or occupancy of such real property on the basis of race.”

As a co-sponsor of the bill, Rep. Carney said, “This bill is long overdue in creating a process to strike racist language from our covenants and marriage certificates and I was thrilled to see it pass unanimously.”

According to the bill, by Dec. 1, 2021, the Office of Policy and Management must develop a standardized form to report unlawful restrictive covenants, town clerks must make such forms available on a municipality’s websites where land records are kept, along with posting a notice informing the public of the provisions of this section in the town clerk’s office where land records are kept.

Current state law requires applicants provide their race or face having their application denied.

Despite the Department of Public Health collecting this information, it does not serve any intended purpose. HB-6665 would therefore eliminate applicants from being required to provide race as a requirement for approval.

Connecticut is only one of eight states that requires couples to identify their race before obtaining a marriage license.

The bill received unanimous support from the House and will now move onto the Senate for further action.

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Enjoy ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling during ‘First Friday.’

CHESTER, CT — The downtown Merchants of Chester host another family-friendly First Friday tomorrow evening, Friday, May 7, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Enjoy live music, great shopping and dining, and gallery-hopping!

The organizers of this family friendly event are aiming to keep everyone extra-safe so masks must be worn at all times while in town for ‘First Friday’ and all attendees are requested to stay socially distant, especially if they are enjoying one of the music performances taking place throughout town.

Visitors that feel unwell are asked to stay home

Also, attendees are requested to respect the stated capacity of each space as noted at the entrance, especially if they are enjoying the music performance happening downtown at Leif Nilsson’s Spring Street Studio & Gallery.

Shops will all be open late and many will offer special sales or featured artists.

May First Friday happenings include:
  • Honeycone Craft Ice Cream will feature a one-night-only First Friday Flavor
  • Arrowhead and Friends will play on the porch of Lief Nilsson’s Spring Street Studio
  • The Hive will feature an artist pop up exhibition
  • Lori Warner Gallery will feature new jewelry by Adorn and ceramics by Florence Penault
  • Chester Gallery hosts a new show titled ‘New York in Chester’.

Also, representatives from Essex Auxiliary’s Child & Family Raffle will have a table set up downtown where you could win big! Support local restaurants in Chester, Deep River and Essex and help jumpstart their revenue flow by participating in their “win-win” fundraiser.

Raffle ticket buyers win great prizes, the restaurants increase income, and the Auxiliary uses net proceeds to benefit the capital projects and services of Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut.

Learn more at http://letsEATOUTraffle.org.

Downtown restaurants are booking up fast, so make your reservation now!

Don’t forget to pick up some Chester Merch (T-shirts, handmade leather key chains and more!) at the Hive during First Fridays and all the time at www.visitchesterct.com

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, at 20 Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by emailing chestermerchants@gmail.com.

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Drive-Thru Vaccination Clinic in Old Saybrook This Afternoon; No Appointment Required

Photo of COVID-19 vials by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash.

OLD SAYBROOK — Still not vaccinated against COVID-19?

Help achieve immunity in the community by going to a drive-through vaccination clinic at Old Saybrook Middle School (OSMS), Thursday, May 6, from 3:30 to 8 p.m. You will not need to exit your car to receive the vaccine.

No appointment is required and you can choose which vaccine to receive: Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

You can even choose which snack to enjoy — a hot dog or a hamburger!

The OSMS is located at 60 Sheffield St., Old Saybrook.

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Tickets on Sale for Musical Masterworks’ Final Virtual Concert of Season; Tessa Lark Plays Mendelssohn & More

Tessa Lark

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks presents its final concert video of its 30th Season, which will be filmed from the stage of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme in early May.

The concert video will feature the music of Handel, Ives and a grand finale for the season with Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D Minor.

The musicians will be Tessa Lark on violin, Gilles Vonsattel on piano, and Edward Arron on cello.

Tickets are on sale through May 14. The link to the virtual concert will be made available to ticket buyers on May 15.  The video can be enjoyed for three weeks and watched as many times as one wishes until June 5. 

Ticket holders are able to experience Musical Masterworks as never before with the audio-video production team creating an intimate concert experience, providing a virtual front row seat to the performers’ artistry.

To purchase individual video tickets ($40 each), or student tickets ($5 each), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or email admin@musicalmasterworks.org

Musical Masterworks looks forward to returning in October 2021 with its 31st season.

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See a Bounty of Boats, Coastal Exhibitors at CT Spring In-water Boat Show at Essex This Weekend

ESSEX — The 5th Connecticut Spring Boat Show will take place April 30, May 1-2, at Safe Harbor Essex Island, located in Essex, CT.  The in-water boat show will raise funds for Sails Up 4 Cancer (SU4C), a non-profit organization supporting cancer care, education, prevention and research.  Sails Up 4 Cancer will benefit from 50% of ticket sales proceeds.

This boat show brings together members of the boating industry to share some of the latest innovations in boating while supporting a great cause.  Show attendees will have an ideal opportunity to compare different boats, dealers and options in one beautiful location.

A unique feature of the in-water show offers interested boat buyers select opportunities for sea trials throughout the weekend; thus, giving prospective buyers a unique ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience. The show will follow all state and local guidelines to ensure a safe experience when visiting the show, rain or shine.

Visitors will enjoy seeing a wide range of new and brokerage, power and sail models of all sizes, 20ft to larger than 65ft from Azimut, Brig, Burger, Chris Craft, Destino, Duffy Snug Harbor, Eastern, Everglades, Excess Catamarans, Grand Banks, Hinckley, Island Packet, Jenneau, Jupiter, Limestone, Nordstar, Oceanis, Ocean Master, Sea Hunt, Southport, USMI 11 Meter Naval Special Warfare RIB, Viking, and many other leading boat brands!

In addition to boats on the docks, the show will have yacht brokers, gear, artists, accessories, and service companies on the lawn.

Exhibitors include: Boatique USA, Brewer Yacht Sales, Candock Modular Docks/Suzuki Marine, Captain Morgan’s Boat Training and Charters, LLC, Caryn B Davis Photography Connecticut Waters, Conversations with Classic Boats, Chester Point Marina, Chestnut Health Navigation, Current Boating Education, Eastern Yacht Sales, Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, Hook’d Fishing Gear Co., Hydrangea Blue Design, InnSeason Resorts, Ipswich River Craft, McMichael Yacht Brokers, Ltd., Ram Jack, Renewal by Andersen of Southern New England, Sails Up 4 Cancer, Windcheck Magazine, Yelena Talamekki Designs and more.

Safe Harbor Essex Island Marina is located on a 13-acre private island, accessed by a complementary ferry service, and offers 125 slips accommodating vessels up to 200’. The resort marina is family friendly and offers food and beverages, along with live music throughout the weekend.

Historical Downtown Essex is located on the Connecticut River, a few short miles from Long Island Sound. The small waterfront town is a boating, sailing and tourist destination featuring quaint shops, markets, and restaurants. Bring your family and friends out to enjoy this sea-side boat show.

The show is a production of WindCheck Magazine and hosted by Essex Island Safe Harbor Marina.  Show sponsors include BMW, Essex Boat Works, Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, Gowrie Group, Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA).  Visit www.ctspringboatshow.com for specific event details. Contact Ben Cesare of WindCheck Magazine at ben@windcheckmagazine.com for dealer and vendor application information.

Three-day tickets will be offered at $20 per adult and free for children 13 and under, granting access to the show all weekend long.  Fifty percent of the proceeds will benefit Sails Up 4 Cancer, a non-profit organization and local charity who distributes funds to families impacted by cancer.  Advance tickets can be purchased by visiting:  https://www.windcheckmagazine.com/shop/.

Free parking is available.

Sails Up 4 Cancer (SU4C) is a non-profit organization based in Mystic, Connecticut. SU4C has been dedicated to supporting cancer care, education, prevention and research along the Shoreline and Southeastern regions of Connecticut. To learn more, go to SU4C.org.

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Lyme Academy Announces Spring, Summer Youth & Adult Programs, Registration Now Open 

Courses galore — both online and in-person — for both young and old are being offered this spring and summer by Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

OLD LYME — Spring programming at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is starting online with introductory landscape painting essentials, which prepare students for practicing their craft in the great outdoors.  

Youth Academy Offers Summer Workshops for Pre-College and Middle School students

A student develops her painting skills in the Youth Academy at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

Lyme Academy is also accepting registrations for an onsite Youth Academy with summer workshops for Pre-College and Middle School students. “We are very happy to provide exceptional art courses to pre-teens and teens that legitimately prepare them with practical skills that artists actually use. We are more than a camp, we are a training ground for artists,” explains Kimberly Monson, Director of Pre-College and Youth Programming.  

The Academy’s Middle School Program takes lessons from the master artists of the past to demonstrate their significance in history. Through engaging projects, students learn to appreciate the featured artist’s unique style, but filter it through their own creativity.

The Pre-College Program assumes that all students are serious artists in-the-making and trains them accordingly. The academic curriculum is taught by experienced professional artists and college professors, making it as sophisticated as any program offered at the college level.

Monson adds, “The skills and practices learned will prepare students for the rigors of a true studio environment, which easily transfers to both college and work environments as well. Artists are self-motivated, innovative, analytical and creative problem-solvers and our program builds confidence by bringing out those qualities in our students.” 

For more information on the Youth Academy and to register for programs, visit this link or call 860-434-5232.

American Academy of Landscape Painting Presents Courses for Beginner, Advanced Students

Lyme Academy’s American Academy of Landscape Painting offers six online courses and 10 in-person courses beginning in April to prepare students for the transition to live courses outdoors.

The foundations are essential to success as an artist, and to that end Lyme Academy’s online foundation classes include Foundational Drawing with Zufar Bikbov, Perspective in the Landscape with Peter Van Dyck, Elements of Form with Jacqueline Jones, and Color for Landscape and Still Life with Eileen Eder. 

Peter Van Dyck, pictured above working on one of his original paintings, will be teaching Perspective in the Landscape as part of the American Academy of Landscape Painting program.

“With people getting vaccinated, we anticipate renewed vigor and interest in our programs. Our extraordinary faculty want to provide our students with the comfort and instruction to create effectively,” says Executive Director Mora Rowe. 

For students with more experience, two online courses at the intermediate level provide more challenge: Design and Composition Outdoors with Morgan Samuel Price and Going Beyond Theory of Color to Application with West Fraser.

“These courses provide the opportunity to  study on a mentor level with instructors from far away. West is from South Carolina and we are so lucky to have him extend his expertise for longer durations through Zoom” notes Eileen Eder, Lyme Academy Board member and instructor in the program.

She adds, “We cannot encourage the foundations enough, especially drawing.”

The Landscape Academy continues into summer with a wide array of onsite courses, beginner to master, celebrating the out of doors and social  distancing.  

For more information on the Landscape Academy and to register for programs, visit this link or call 860-434-5232.

In-person courses will be held at the Lyme Academy campus in Old Lyme.

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts was founded in 1976 by esteemed sculptor Elisabeth Gordon  Chandler and is located in historic Old Lyme, Conn., which has been a vibrant center for the arts and artists in southeastern Connecticut for more than 100 years. The Lyme Academy upholds the standard of a classical fine arts education, offering a variety of programs under the guidance of master artists, who share a deep respect for both traditional and innovative forms of teaching. The Academy has been providing students with the necessary foundation and skills to develop their own unique visual expression for almost 50 years.

For more information on Lyme Academy, visit the Academy website or call 860-434-5232.

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Letter From Paris: Restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral Symbolizes Hope for France, the World

Nicole Prévost Logan

April 15, 2021 was the second anniversary of the fire, which ravaged Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, and also the day when France reached 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. President Emmanuel Macron of France stressed that the reconstruction of the cathedral will be the symbol his country’s rebound from the pandemic.

Before giving the latest update of the most recent restoration process, here is a recap of what has been achieved over the past two years. The scope of the work is enormous.

For a long time, whenever I used to walk around the church prior to the 2019 fire, I had noticed that there was always scaffolding somewhere on  the church. It was a reminder for visitors that the cathedral was very old and fragile.

Throughout the centuries, it had suffered many fires and disasters. But the 2019 fire was the most catastrophic of all. It was a miracle that the cathedral survived that last tragedy.

After the fire, with hardly a square inch of the stone building still visible under so much scaffolding, wooden frames, plastic wrapping, tarp covers, and other protective contraptions, it was almost no longer recognizable. It ended up looking like a sick old bird.

View of the cathedral showing some of the extensive scaffolding. Photo by Nicole Prévost Logan.

The gables and pinnacles at the end of the north and south transepts were in danger of toppling over with the force of the wind. Workers, dangling in the air like alpinists were doing their perilous job of wrapping the carved stones. Hovering over the cathedral cranes and other heavy machinery made the church look as if it was under perfusion.

The stained-glass windows were taken down and replaced by what looked like giant French doors. The collapse of the 19th century spire over the nave had left an enormous gaping hole at the crossing of the transept. Water – regardless of whether it is rain or the power spray used by firefighters – can cause lots of damage. It penetrates the stones, destroying the mortar between them .

The fire obliterated the roof. The lead dripped, spread and left a thick layer of toxic dust everywhere. For months, no one could go inside the cathedral because of the danger from the lead dust and also from the debris falling from the broken vault. A lonely robot, directed by remote control, was able to clear up the charred remains.

The organ and the three rose windows were thankfully preserved, but they will, however, require  lengthy restoration. The 7,800 pipes of the largest organ in the word have been pulled apart and so have been all the stained-glass pieces.

The stunning South Rose window in the cathedral. Photo by Nicole Prévost Logan.

It is particularly comforting to know that the Rose Window at the south end of the transept is intact. Given the light of the sun throughout the day, it is the Rose Window, which gives the cathedral its beautiful warm glow. Notre Dame would not be the same without the scenes of the triumphant Christ depicted through that magnificent window. In 1250, Louis IX, or Saint Louis, donated it after the end of the second crusade.

The April 15, 2019 fire left the cathedral in danger of collapse — in fact, it was a touch-and-go situation. The most urgent step was to consolidate the structure

A gothic cathedral is like a house of cards:- if one side weakens, the whole thing collapses. Because of its daring height and the fact that the outside walls are weakened by several tiers of windows, the structure is fragile.

The medieval master carpenters were real geniuses when they designed the 28 flying buttresses to reinforce the strength of the walls. An arch or beam extends from the walls of the church to a pier against the lateral forces arising from the roof and pushes the walls outwards.

Ken Follett in his 2002 book, The Pillars of the Earth, wrote a gripping story of the 12th century monks attempting to do something never done before, failing many times and starting all over again.

The earliest buttresses of Notre Dame date from the 12th century. They are massive and fairly close to the main structure. Later, during the flamboyant gothic period in the 14th century, the spans of the flying buttresses are longer and more decorated.

The first phase of the restoration — preservation and protection — lasted 15 months. President Macron appointed General Jean Louis Georgelin, former chief of staff under President Sarkozy, to supervise the work.

This photo shows the cathedral’s 14th  century flying buttresses prior to the fire. File used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The 28 damaged buttresses were reinforced by fitting custom-made wooden “centering frames” under each one of them. Each one of the buttresses had different dimensions, hence the fitting required utmost precision.

Then started the most difficult and dangerous operation: dismantling the scaffolding, which had been erected in May 2018 to repair the crumbling spire created by 19th century architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

That scaffolding had melted, creating an ugly- and mean-looking black mass of 40,000 metal pieces glued together. Rope access workers (called cordists in French) had to pick the pieces by hand one by one, hanging from ropes high in the air. Sensors were placed under that unstable mass.

At one point the alarm sounded. Everybody fled. To disentangle that mass was like playing a giant pick-up sticks game, which involves removing sticks without disturbing the rest of the pile.

Twice the restoration work on the cathedral was interrupted: first when the scare caused by the lead contamination forced all activities to stop. Workers had to wear white haz-mat suits with masks connected to supplies of filtered air. They looked as clumsy as moon walkers.

Subsequently, the lock-down caused by the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 shut down operations for three months.

Five days before the fire, as a result of a near-miracle, the 10 ft. tall copper statues of the apostles and evangelists, climbing up the bases of the spire were air-lifted for restoration. Parisians enjoyed watching the ballet in the sky.

The statues are being restored in two workshops located near Perigueux. It takes four month to restore one statue. Pending the completion of the cathedral, all these art works will be exhibited  at the museum of architecture on Place du Trocadero.

This rooster was on top of the spire. It is now exhibited in the Museum of Archaeology. Photo by Nicole Prévost Logan.

The rooster, pictured left, which used to sit at the top of the spire, will remain in the museum.  A replica will replace it.

Late in June 2020, chief architect Philippe Villeneuve climbed on an inspection tour of the cathedral. He was able to access the top of the vaults, which by then had been cleared of most of the debris.

Villeneuve was pleased to see that the limestone of the vault had resisted the damage caused by the fire itself as well as the water to extinguish the fire. For him, it was a milestone and he declared that the structure was now safe.

The first phase of conservation was over and one could look forward to the restoration to be launched at a later date.

In July 2020 came the decision everybody was waiting for. After months of deliberation and heated discussions between architects, historians and restoration professionals across the globe about how the future Notre Dame would look, a consensus was reached.

Based on a 300-page paper presented by Villeneuve and with the support of the public opinion, it was decided that the cathedral would be returned to its original appearance:- a spire identical to 1859 Viollet-le-Duc’s creation; a lead roof; and a wooden framework to support the roof.

A large part of the restoration work will be carried out using the methods of 13th century builders. Fortunately this type of savoir faire is kept alive in France thanks to a guild of crafted artisans, who are trained as Compagnons du Devoir.

All restoration will be done respecting the safeguards established by ICOMOS (the International Council for Monuments and Sites) founded by the Venice Charter of 1964 to protect historic monuments.

In 1991, UNESCO placed Notre Dame and the banks of the Seine within the area considered as part of the world heritage.

Within 24 hours of the fire, pledges to pay for the restoration poured in and reached close to one billion Euros. The two richest men in France raced to be the highest bidder. François Pinault pledged 100 million and refused to accept tax deductions. Bernard Arnault beat him with a sum of 200 million.

Arnault is the head of the LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) luxury goods and champagne empire. The readers of this area might be interested to know that Antoine, one of the Arnault’s five children, is building a “cottage” in the Fenwick peninsula in Old Saybrook. He is married to Russian super-model Tatyana.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris prior to the fire. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

At the two year mark since the fire, it is fitting to give the most recent update on the restoration process of Notre Dame. The task concerns the strengthening of the cathedral’s vault and the preparation of the future wooden framework, which will support the roof.

The scope of this phase to secure the building should be completed by next summer. It is just gigantic.

Most of the cathedral’s interior is now encased in metal scaffolding. An umbrella-like tarp has been installed above the gaping hole, where the spire once stood, for protection against the rain.

The vaults connecting the crossing of the transept were covered with platforms to enable rope-access workers to complete their job of removing the last fallen debris. This operation is still ongoing.

Most of those debris — stone, metal, glass — have been cleared up, analyzed, and used toward the creation of a 3D model, which is a replica of the original architecture and guiding the restorers in their mission.

Wooden scaffolding is being installed to stabilize the fragile areas of the cathedral’s vault, particularly the vaults adjacent to the crossing of the transept. Stonemasons apply plaster to the gaps and the exposed ends of the stones. They reinforce the most damaged areas with fiberglass.

The next step will be the insertion “of half-hangers” (also called “centring frames”)  under the six-rib vaults in the choir, the north transept and the nave. Note that the spire  crashed toward the West, onto the nave.

Above the vault and under the roof, other major work is in progress. The reconstruction of the 12-14th century wooden framework, called “the forest” is being prepared. Made-to-measure “half-hangers” and large-size triangular frames are being wedged under the roof to support it.

One thousand of the best oak trees have already been picked out in several French forests. A CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) study of the use of timber led to surprising conclusions. Those conclusions differ from what one often reads in non-scientific publications.

The 13th century trees were much younger and smaller than often stated:  60 years, 39 ft. in height, and 12 ins. in diameter. Furthermore, the trees were not left to dry for 18 months but were used while still green, after being felled.

From the top of the cathedral, President Macron, accompanied by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot expressed huge thanks to the hundreds of people involved in the restoration: carpenters, scaffolders, rope access technicians, crane operators, master glassmakers, restorers, stonemasons, archaeologists, researchers and donors.

Macron reiterated his vision of the cathedral reopening to worship by 2024 in time for the Olympic games, while acknowledging the fact that the complete restoration will probably take several years longer.

A glimmer of hope is much needed for the weary French population. The latest curfew at 6 p.m., which applied to the whole country, should be lifted in early May, with café and restaurant terraces reopening by mid-May — that should really boost morale!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Explore Vernal Pools, See Emerging Life in ‘The Preserve,’ Saturday

Jim Russo helps a youngster identify a find from a vernal pool in The Preserve.

ESSEX, OLD SAYBROOK — Essex Land Trust hosts a hike Saturday, March 27, in The Preserve to explore, ‘Vernal Pools and Emerging Life.’

Bob Russo, ecologist and Ivoryton resident, is once again leading a hike in the Preserve to help you search for salamanders, frogs and plants emerging from the long winter. He will describe the biological and geological features that make the vernal pool areas unique and bountiful. 1½ hours duration.

Russo is a soil scientist, wetland scientist and ecologist who frequently played in swamps while growing up.

Meet at 10 a.m. at The Preserve East entrance parking lot, off Ingham Road.

Easy to moderate terrain.

Bring tall waterproof boots and nets if you have them. 

Open to all ages.

Bad weather cancels.

For further information, contact Jim Denham at 860-876-0306 or jgdenham@gmail.com. 

 

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Chester-Hadlyme Ferry Opens; Friends of Gillette Castle Plan Celebration at Hadlyme Landing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ferry ‘under sail’ from Chester to Hadlyme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Musical Masterworks Presents Mozart, Bach & More in March Concert, Tickets to View Video on Sale Now

Randall Scarlata

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks welcomes Randall Scarlata, baritone, along with Jeewon Park, on piano and Edward Arron on cello for their March concert video, which will be filmed on the stage of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

The concert video will feature the music of Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Schumann.

This performance will be filmed in mid-March and the link to the virtual concert will be made available to ticket buyers on March 27.  The video can be enjoyed for three weeks and watched as many times as one wishes. 

Ticket holders will be able to experience Musical Masterworks as an intimate concert experience, providing a virtual front row seat, featuring the excellence of the performers’ artistry.

Musical Masterworks season finale performance will be filmed in May when will welcome back favorite artists, Gilles Vonsattel on piano and Tessa Lark on violin.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs through May 2021.  To purchase individual video tickets ($40 each), or student tickets ($5 each), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or email admin@musicalmasterworks.org.

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Applicants Sought for Award Supporting Young Adults with Autism, Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities

Alexandra Dilger

AREAWIDE — An annual award for young adults who have faced challenges while working toward a personal goal is being offered by A Little Compassion, Inc., an area non-profit that works to change the lives of individuals with autism, intellectual, and developmental disabilities.

The organization operates The Nest Coffee House in downtown Deep River, providing employment and social opportunities for young adults with disabilities and increasing public awareness that they are vital and valuable community members. 

The Alexandra Dilger Award provides support for recipients aged 18 to 30 from a Lower Connecticut River Valley community, helping them continue to progress toward the attainment of their goals, such as becoming an illustrator or musician, attending college or starting a small business.

The application process includes the completion of a brief nomination form by the individual themselves or an adult community member. Finalists will participate in a friendly conversation with the nomination team.  

The award was established by Gale and Patrick Dilger of Deep River in memory of their daughter, Alexandra, who lived a rich and full life despite struggles with depression and anxiety throughout her teenage years and into her early 20s.  At the time of her passing at age 21 in November, 2018, Alexandra was working on her undergraduate degree at Landmark College in Vermont, with the intention of progressing to graduate school. 

“Our hope is that this award will represent a step toward greater independence and accomplishment for young adults who, like Alexandra, have wrestled with personal challenges, but have a goal in mind and are determined to achieve it,” the Dilgers said. 

Last year’s inaugural Alexandra Dilger award was presented to three young area adults: Jillian Noyes, of Old Saybrook, seeking to become an independent filmmaker, received specialized driving lessons, courtesy of Next Street Driving School.  Andre Foristall of Higganum received a laptop to help him with his computer science studies at Middlesex Community College and Evan Merenda of Madison also received an upgradable computer that will assist him to study bioinformatics at Landmark College, Vermont.

The deadline for nominations for the 2021 award is April 23 and the award recipients will be notified in May. More information and nomination forms are available at www.alittlecompassion.org or call 203 641-8656.

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

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

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

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

The Fundamentals:

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

The Paris Carousel:

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

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

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

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

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

The Focus on Fossil Fuels:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Unusual Weather Events:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least one elected official decided to flee to Mexico.

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

The Administration’s Climate Agenda:

President Joe Biden

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the opinion of Thomas D. Gotowka.

Tom Gotowka

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

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

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Coral Reefs are Topic of Opening Virtual Lecture in RTPEC’s 2021 CT River Series, Tomorrow

AREAWIDE  — Throughout the past challenging year, the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC), which is is part of Connecticut Audubon Society, has still found many ways to continue its work in environmental education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

It has offered small group programs like bird walks and owl prowls, a virtual Connecticut River ecology course, seasonal nature crafts for kids via Zoom, and more.

The RTPEC continues its mission with the announcement of their Spring 2021 Connecticut River Lecture Series.

A mainstay of the organization’s adult programming, the Connecticut River Lecture Series introduces scientists, researchers, writers, and artists who inform us about the biodiverse coastal and estuarine ecosystems of our region and planet.

In 2021, the RTPEC will celebrate the series’ seventh year with Zoom presentations from three prominent scientists, each focusing on a critical environmental issue. The programs are free, but registration is required and space is limited.

All the programs start at 6 p.m.

Thursday, March 11
Coral Reefs: Rainforests and Canaries of the Sea
Mark Hixon, Ph.D., Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Dr. Mark Hixon

A leading expert on coral reefs, Dr. Hixon will discuss what is happening to them, why they are important, and how we can help preserve them.

Mark Hixon is the Sidney and Erika Hsiao Endowed Chair in Marine Biology and Chair of the Zoology Graduate Program at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. His research analyzes what determines the number of fish in the sea, how so many species naturally coexist, and how marine reserves and artificial reefs help conserve sea life and enhance fisheries.

A Fulbright Senior Scholar, Aldo Leopold Fellow, and Fellow of the International Coral Reef Society, Dr. Hixon serves on the editorial boards of multiple scientific journals. Past chair of both the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee for NOAA and the Ocean Sciences Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation, Mark has given TED talks and appeared on the PBS TV show “Saving the Oceans.”

Details of the second lecture are as follows:

Thursday, April 8
Butterflies: Monarchs, Migrations, and Conservation
Robert Michael Pyle, Ph.D., conservation biologist and author of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, will be interviewed by Evan Griswold.  

As a foremost authority on butterflies and other invertebrates, in 1971 Dr. Pyle founded The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an international nonprofit organization that protects the natural world through the conservation of butterflies and all invertebrates and their habitats.

Evan Griswold will interview Dr Pyle about his life’s work on invertebrates and monarch butterfly migration and conservation.

Robert Michael Pyle grew up and learned his butterflies in Colorado. He earned his Ph.D. in butterfly ecology at Yale and worked as a conservation biologist in Papua New Guinea, Oregon, and Cambridge, England.

He has written 22 books including The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, winner of the 1987 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing and the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award. His book about Pacific Northwest forests and origins of the legends of Sasquatch was recently made into a movie.

Dr. Pyle has also published a book of poetry and his newest book, Nature Matrix, is a collection of essays, expressions of a life immersed in the natural world.

Evan Griswold, a Yale School of The Environment/School of Forestry classmate of Dr. Pyle’s, is a former Executive Director of the Connecticut Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and a prominent Connecticut conservationist.

Details of the third and final lecture are as follows:

Thursday, April 29
The Secret Life of Plankton: The Base of the Marine Food Web
Hans Dam, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Connecticut

Plankton, a single cell organism, is the base of the marine food web. Hans Dam will speak about the evolutionary ecology of plankton and its vulnerability to climate change. He will describe the macro-power of its micro-organisms and his efforts to better understand the invisible life teeming in a tablespoon of river or Sound water.

Hans Dam is a biological oceanographer interested in the ecology and evolution of planktonic organisms: tiny creatures that control the biology of the sea. His current research focuses on how copepods, the most abundant animals on Earth, adapt to the ocean’s warming and acidification.

Another area of work is the evolutionary “arms race” between grazers and toxic plants. Dr. Dam has published more than 100 papers and trained a generation of oceanographers. He has also spent 20 years advising the State of Connecticut about water quality in Long Island Sound.

This year’s Lecture Series includes a special offer: a dinner available for pick-up on the day of the event prepared by renowned chef Ani Robaina, formerly chef to the Gates foundation, and currently owner and chef at Ani’s Table. The cost is $75.

For additional information and Zoom registration, visit https://www.ctaudubon.org/rtp-programs-events/ or call 860-598-4218.

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Lyme Academy Enters New Era, Names Mora Rowe as Executive Director to Launch Programs, Re-engage With Community

Mora Rowe is the new Executive Director of Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

OLD LYME — Lyme Academy of Fine Arts (LAFA) in Old Lyme is on the brink of an exciting new era — and yet, at the same time, it is, in essence, a renaissance of the principles on which the Academy was founded.

After 18 months of strategic planning and a recent change in leadership on the board of trustees, the LAFA Board of  Trustees has structured a new plan reflective of the Academy’s original mission and hired both an Executive Director and an Artistic Director in anticipation of reopening with new programming in September 2021.

On Feb. 8, 2021, Mora Rowe joined Lyme Academy as Executive Director for the school. Most recently, she served as the director of economic development for the City of Auburn, Calif., and was previously the executive director and chief executive officer of Placer County Visitors Bureau in Auburn, Calif. She relocated to Essex in December 2019. 

Rowe spoke with LymeLine yesterday saying, “It’s been a wonderful, though somewhat exhausting, week. The staff has done a fantastic job [during the period since the University of New Haven withdrew from its relationship with LAFA], but now we will be working rapidly to reengage with our stakeholders and the community. We are fortunate to  have an active, passionate board that is ready to go.”

Asked how she felt about her appointment, Rowe responded, “I am honored and excited for the role,” adding that she was eagerly looking forward to, “Implementing the Board’s plan for LAFA and supporting the artistic vision of our new Artistic Director, Jordan Sokol.” 

She added, “I have many ideas for community engagement and look forward to working with the other established organizations in the region.” 

In terms of her management style, Rowe explained, “I’ve always looked at management and leadership as a servant role,” noting, “Instead of people working to serve a leader, the leader works to serve the organization.”

The Board has developed a 10-point manifesto for, “The revival of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts as it plans for its 50th anniversary in 2026,” said Michael Duffy, who was elected board chair in December. 

The plan includes adhering to the mission of founder Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, an acclaimed sculptor, who founded the school in 1976 based on her philosophy that artists needed to be educated in the fundamentals of representational and figurative art forms, a curriculum she believed was in danger of disappearing in contemporary art education.

“There is a need for Lyme Academy’s mission today, as an academy, not a college,” said Duffy.  These are the first two points of the manifesto and reflect the board’s desire to reestablish the academy model at LAFA rather than an accredited College.

A delighted Duffy, who lives in Old Lyme, commented on Rowe’s appointment, saying exclusively by email to LymeLine, “[She] is exactly the right person to lead the Lyme Academy: she is hard-working, brimming with ideas and passionate about the Academy’s mission.”

He expanded on that mission, saying, “Our vision is that by Lyme Academy’s 50th anniversary in 2026, it will be known nationally and internationally for the excellence of its teaching and that it will once again become a beloved and vibrant hub of the Old Lyme community.”

Duffy concluded, “Working with our Artistic Director, Jordan Sokol, Mora’s leadership will help to bring that vision to life.”

Laura Lee Miller of Lyme, LAFA Board of Trustees Vice Chair, continued Duffy’s positive theme in an email saying enthusiastically, “With energetic new leadership and a fully engaged Board of Trustees, Lyme Academy of Arts is prepared to relaunch with robust art programming in fall 2021 and with a renewed commitment to the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme and our cultural partners in the community.”

She added, “We want to re-activate our campus as a center of fine arts education and a community hub and we welcome ideas from our neighbors in Lyme and Old Lyme.”

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is entering an exciting new era with the appointment of Executive Director Mora Rowe and Artistic Director Jordan Sokol. File photo.

The new LAFA program will look to enroll full-time students each year in what is expected to be a two-year core program. As the exact programming evolves, the tuition will be determined.  

Other goals in the manifesto include “serving the needs of many kinds of students,” which will include young artists programs and classes open to the public, reconnecting with the Academy alumni and investing in career development for graduates of the Academy. 

Rowe added, “We are interested in ideas and activities that could transform the LAFA campus into a vibrant community hub. This might include a seasonal Farmer’s Market, concerts on the green, or an invitation to read a book while sitting in one of our colorful Adirondack chairs on campus. There are so many possibilities for our campus in town.”

Standing together in the Sculpture Studio at Lyme Academy are noted painter Jordan Sokol (right) and his wife, Amaya Gurpide, an acclaimed artist. Sokol is the new Artistic Director and Deane Keller Chair at the Academy and Gurpide will serve as the Academy’s Director of Drawing. Photo by Rick Lacey III.

Jordan Sokol, a painter, is the newly appointed Artistic Director for the school, and his wife, artist Amaya Gurpide, will serve as the director of drawing at the school. The couple have a four-year-old son and have relocated to Old Lyme from Jersey City where Sokol served as academic director of The Florence Academy of Art and also an adjunct professor at the New York Academy of Art.

Sokol said that when he was a student, the model of an academy — as opposed to a college — fulfilled the type of education for which he was looking. Having  studied at the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy, and taught there after he graduated. he noted, “I find that a lot of my students are not interested in the degree, they’re interested in learning how to paint so that they can pursue their dream and so [a degree] is not as important as the skills they acquire.”

Rowe added that the academy model reflected trends in the marketplace. “So many industries are going back to the crafts and trades, learning a set of skills,” she said. “This is foundational, and I don’t think that goes out of style. It is becoming more popular and it is more affordable.”

She concluded emphatically, “The fact that you are working with exceptional artists in their own right — I don’t think that’s a hard sell.”

About the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts: Founded in 1976 by esteemed sculptor Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is located in historic Old Lyme, CT, which has been a vibrant center for the arts and artists in Southeastern Connecticut for more than 100 years. Lyme Academy upholds the standard of a Classic Fine Arts education offering a variety of programs under the guidance of master artists, who share a deep respect for both traditional and innovative forms of teaching. The Academy has been providing students with the necessary foundation and skills to develop their own unique visual expression for nearly 50 years. 

Lyme Academy of Fine Art is located at 84 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Connecticut.

For more information about Lyme Academy’s past, present and future, visit lymeacademy.edu or call 860.434.5232.

Editor’s Note: This article is based in part on a press release issued by Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

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Musical Masterworks Video of February Concert Now Available for Viewing

Rieko Aizawa plays the piano in the February ‘Musical Masterworks’ concert.

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks welcomes Rieko Aizawa on piano, Todd Palmer on clarinet and Edward Arron on cello for their concert video, which was filmed from the stage of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

The concert video features the music of Mozart, Bernstein, Kenji Bunch and Brahms

This performance was filmed in mid-February and the link to the virtual concert is now available to ticket buyers.  The video can be enjoyed for three weeks and watched as many times as one wishes. 

Ticket holders can experience Musical Masterworks in a whole new way: the audio-video production team creates an intimate concert experience, providing a virtual front row seat, featuring the performers’ exceptional artistry.

In March and May, Musical Masterworks will feature a selection of favorite artists, including baritone Randall Scarlata, Gilles Vonsattel and Jeewon Park on piano and Tessa Lark on violin, performing music from Bach to Corigliano.

The Musical Masterworks season runs through May 2021. 

To purchase a video mini-subscription ($100 each), individual video tickets ($40 each), or student tickets ($5 each), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call

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Enjoy ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight, ‘March Magic’ Scavenger Hunt to be Launched During Event

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling tomorrow evening during ‘First Friday.’

CHESTER, CT — The downtown Merchants of Chester are host another family-friendly First Friday tomorrow evening, Friday, March 5, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Join the March Magic Scavenger Hunt that will run all month long. Pick up a game card at Lark, collect stickers and win prizes! Learn more here: https://www.visitchesterct.com/march-magic

The organizers of this family friendly event are aiming to keep everyone extra-safe so masks must be worn at all times while in town for ‘First Friday’ and all attendees are requested to stay socially distant, especially if they are enjoying one of the music performances taking place throughout town. Visitors that feel unwell are asked to stay home

Also, attendees are requested to respect the stated capacity of each space as noted at the entrance, especially if they are enjoying the music performance happening downtown at Leif Nillsson’s Spring Street Studio & Gallery.

A new exhibition will be on display at The Chester Gallery. Also featured at the gallery will be sculptures by Gil Boro’s ‘After the Race-in Blue’ (see image at left in collage below) and ‘Family of Wo(man)’.

A selection of the sculpture on display at The Chester Gallery.

Shops will all be open late and many will offer special sales or featured artists.

Other restaurants and shops will most likely offer specials and sales.

Downtown restaurants are booking up fast, so make your reservation now!

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, at 20 Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by emailing chestermerchants@gmail.com.

 

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Feb. 23 COVID-19 Update: Lyme, Old Lyme Report One New Case Each; Cumulative Total in Old Lyme is 278, Lyme at 87

LYME/OLD LYME — The Daily Data Report for Connecticut issued Tuesday, Feb. 23, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) for data as at 8:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 22, shows that cumulative cases (confirmed and probable) since the pandemic began are up one in Old Lyme at 278 (from the numbers reported for Sunday, Feb. 21) and also up one in Lyme at 87.

It should be noted that Monday’s data always includes numbers from Friday through Sunday since reports are not issued over the weekend.

Lyme – Cumulative Cases Up One

Lyme now has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 79 confirmed cases and EIGHT probable cases, making a TOTAL of 87 cases.

This represents an INCREASE OF ONE in the cumulative number of confirmed cases and NO CHANGE in the cumulative number of probable cases over those reported Monday, Feb. 22.

The total number of Lyme residents tested is 1,244, an increase of one over Monday’s number.

Old Lyme – Cumulative Cases Up One

Old Lyme now has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 272 confirmed COVID-19 cases and SIX probable casesmaking a TOTAL of 278 cases.

This represents an INCREASE of ONE in the cumulative number of confirmed cases and NO CHANGE in the number of probable cases compared with those reported Monday, Feb. 22.

The total number of Old Lyme residents tested is 4,656, up 20 from the previous day’s number.

Old Lyme Moves Down into Orange (Second Highest) Zone for Two-Week New Case Rate, Lyme Moves Back into (Highest) Red

The weekly report issued Thursday, Feb. 18, by the CT DPH for the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks shows that Old Lyme has finally moved into the (second highest) Orange Zone — down from the state-identified Red Zone, where it has been since early December 2020. Unfortunately, Lyme has moved back into the ‘Red Zone’ with the highest rate of new cases.

Overall, the report contains good news with 10 towns now in the Gray Zone, four in the Yellow Zone and 16 in the Orange Zone.  This is a far cry from the map we published back in November when every town in the state was in the Red Zone.

As of the Feb. 18 report, Old Lyme now joins 16 other towns — Essex, Deep River, Kent, Sherman, Goshen, Granby, Winchester, New Hartford, Canton, Farmington, Portland, Haddam, Hebron, Lebanon, Bethany and Southbury — in the Orange Zone.

Redding, Woodbury, Pomfret and Salisbury are in the Yellow Zone.

The Gray Zone includes Bridgewater, Canaan, Cornwall,  Norfolk, Scotland, Hartland, Barkamsted, Eastford, Franklin and Warren.

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

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

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

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

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

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

No fatalities have been reported in Lyme.

More Detail on Two-Week Case Rates

On Thursday, Feb. 18, Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) also issued their latest weekly report of COVID data for the municipalities within their District. Ledge Light Director of Health Stephen Mansfield prefaces the report with the comment, “We are encouraged to see a moderate decrease in cases for the 4th consecutive reporting period, and are hopeful that this trend will continue.”

The latest two-week case rate announced Thursday, Feb. 18, for the period 1/31 to 2/13 per 100,000 population (compared with the previous two-week case rate for 1/24 to 2/06) has fallen in Old Lyme but increased in Lyme.

The two-week case rates are as follows:

  • Old Lyme from 25.2 to 11.6
  • Lyme from 12.2 to 21.4

The same report shows that the number of cases in Week 1 and Week 2 recorded for the period 1/31 to 2/13 (compared with the previous two-week case rate for 1/24 to 2/06 shown in parentheses) are as follows:

  • Lyme had 2 (2) cases in Week 1 and 5 (2) in Week 2
  • Old Lyme had (17) cases in Week 1 and 3 (9) in Week 2

This data was updated Feb. 18, 2021.

Connecticut Hospital Occupancy

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

[table id=10 /]

Editor’s Note: The state issues a COVID-19 metric report daily around 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, which includes current data up to the previous evening. In light of the serious rise in Coronavirus cases, we publish a new weekday update reporting confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Lyme and Old Lyme. The next CT DPH Daily Data Report for Connecticut will be issued in the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 24.

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New PARJE Organization Plans to Confront Racial Injustice with Public Art


AREAWIDE —
 A new group has been formed with a mission of employing public art to spark conversation and stimulate education on what it means to be engaged in antiracism

Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE) is a broad-based, interracial, non-partisan, non-sectarian group consisting of volunteers from various communities around the shoreline region. These communities include Old Lyme, Lyme, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Essex, Deep River, Norwich and New  London.

Building partnerships with surrounding communities is an additional focus of the group’s stated mission.

The origins of the group can be traced back to the tragic killing of George Floyd last May. Shortly after that, when the nation was still reeling from the tragedy, Rev. David Good, Minister Emeritus of the First Congregational  Church of Old Lyme and Rev. Jack Madry of the Madry Temple in New London started to discuss ways to bring communities together to address the scourge of racial injustice.

Commenting on the use of public art to help achieve this goal, Rev. David Good explains, “Public art will not solve systemic racial injustice, but it would be a public affirmation that, on the one hand, this is the country we are, and, on the other, this is the country we are endeavoring to become.”

Public Art for Racial Justice Education is working with educators, museums, civic groups, faith communities, art galleries, and concerned citizens to concentrate on providing opportunities for community engagement. Numerous virtual meetings have been held bringing together a diverse group of artists, activists, administrators and more, who share a common goal and are systematically working through a complex series of steps to make it a reality.

The group believes very strongly in the ability of public art to educate about the history of Black,  Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). There will be a high priority on selecting BIPOC artists while also working side-by-side with others, trained and untrained, and those of all generations, races and ethnicities.

PARJE is committed  to commissioning artists to create public art appropriate for each site and locality selected, beginning with Old Lyme and New London.

Thanks to the fiscal sponsorship provided by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut and a groundswell of support from many individuals and groups, PARJE is advancing its goal of bringing together the sometimes disparate communities of Old Lyme and New London with art. The intent is to provide conversation and education on what it means to be engaged in antiracism.

Short-term plans include renovating underused public spaces with murals. Two artists are currently working to create a diptych (a two-panel painting intended to function as a traveling exhibition), which is slated for completion in May and will be used in schools, or any public space, to tell the controversial story of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama.

The diptych project also intends to illustrate the possible future of the bridge supporting efforts currently underway to rename it after civil rights activist, John Lewis, who would have been 81 this February.

PARJE has begun working with elected officials from both Old Lyme and New London to consider public programs  that would enhance the function of the public art. This involves presenting the full history of this area by exploring the connections to racial injustice throughout its own local past.

New London City Councilman Curtis  Goodwin, an advisor to the Public Art for Racial Justice Education group, comments, “As people around the world demand the  dismantling of racist systems, this project is timely and colorful. Art remains an underutilized and underfunded vehicle that can spur change and build future leaders needed in the world.”

He adds, “I am encouraged by witnessing two  towns of contrasting makeups take an intentional approach to use art to join the call for racial justice.”

From the displacement of indigenous communities to the use of slave labor in the whaling industry, PARJE leaders point out that the the local region, along with many others across the nation, has been actively complicit in – and not passively just home to – various racial injustices.

Public Art for Racial Justice Education aims to provide opportunities to examine or reexamine some of these events. As the US struggles to confront systemic racism, PARJE will focus on engaging artists from all disciplines to create public art aimed at addressing not only contemporary issues but also their origins.

The decision to prioritize hyperlocal examples of racial injustice is a considered decision by PARJE in the hope it will encourage communities to take ownership of their involvement in some of these incidents and also celebrate their locally-based, lesser-known BIPOC historical figures.

Editor’s Note: For more information about Public Art for Racial Justice Education, visit their website follow PARJE on Facebook at Facebook.com/Public Art for Racial Justice Education and Instagram @racialjusticeart. To inquire about joining PARJE, email racialjusticeart@gmail.com.

This article is based on a press release from PARJE.

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Basketball Update: Boys, Girls defeat H-K, Boys Lose to Hale-Ray

LYME/OLD LYME — The Old Lyme girls continued their winning streak winning a fifth game in succession Thursday when they trounced Haddam-Killingworth (H-K) 51- 25. Old Lyme advanced to a 5-1 record while H-K fell to 0-6.

Senior Emily DeRoehn had 15 points, including going 11-15 from the Foul Line, six rebounds and two assists while Emma McCulloch scored 10 points and had 12 rebounds. Other contributors were Ali Kyle with 8 points, Sam Gray also with 8 and Grace Lathrop with seven.

After the game, Coach Don Bugbee commented on his girl’s performance, saying, It was a very nice team win for the girls. We got contributions from everyone on both the offensive and defensive ends of the game.”

In the Junior Varsity game, Old Lyme defeated Haddam-Killingworth 40-24. Alexis Fenton scored 16 points, Ali Kyle 10 and Melanie Warren six.

The girls meet Morgan in an away game, Monday, March 1, with the JV game tipping off at 4 and Varsity at 6 p.m.

Kirk Kaczor’s boys made up for a mid-week 42-57 home loss to Hale-Ray on Wednesday with a convincing 64-50 win over H-K on Thursday. 

After the H-K game, Kaczor commented, “[This was] a good win for us.” noting that Jacob Ritchie had scored 18 points and Frank Sablone 16.

Playing at home, the Old Lyme boys meet Morgan Monday, March 1, with the JV game tipping off at 4 and Varsity at 6 p.m.

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Feb. 26 COVID-19 Update: No Change in Cumulative Cases in Lyme at 86, Down One in Old Lyme to 279

LYME/OLD LYME — The Daily Data Report for Connecticut issued Friday, Feb. 26, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health(CT DPH) for data as at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25, shows that cumulative cases (confirmed and probable) since the pandemic began held at the previous day’s numbers in Lyme at 86 and decreased by one in Old Lyme to 279.

The next CT DPH Daily Data Report for Connecticut will be issued in the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 26.

Old Lyme Now in Yellow (Second Lowest) Zone for Two-Week New Case Rate, Lyme Remains in (Highest) Red Zone

The report issued Friday, Feb. 26, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) for the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks contains good news for Old Lyme … but not Lyme. This report is issued daily, but only updated weekly on Thursdays. The current report was updated Thursday, Feb. 25.

It shows that Old Lyme has moved from the (second highest) Orange Zone down into the (lowest but one) Yellow Zone reflecting an even lower case rate than the previous week. Unfortunately, Lyme remains in the ‘Red Zone’ — the category with the highest rate of new cases. (Four zones are specified by the CT DPH — see details below)

Overall, the report contains more good news for the whole state with the following data for this week (the previous week’s figures shown in parentheses):

  • 15 (10) towns are now in the (lowest case rate) Gray Zone
  • 7 (4) are in the (lowest but one) Yellow Zone
  • 28 (16) are in the (second highest case rate) Orange Zone.

All the remaining towns are in the Red Zone. This is, however, a dramatic improvement from the map we published back in November when every town in the state was in the Red Zone.

This report shows that Old Lyme now joins six other towns — Middlefield, Waterbury, Burlington, Bolton, Tolland and Granby — in the Yellow (second lowest rate)  Zone.

The Gray (lowest rate) Zone includes Bridgewater, Canaan, Cornwall, Goshen, New Hartford, Norfolk, Scotland, Hartland, Barkamsted, Eastford, Franklin, Lisbon, Pomfret, Roxbury,  and Warren.

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

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

The next CT DPH Weekly Data Report for Connecticut will be issued in the afternoon of Thursday, March 4.

Old Lyme – Cumulative Cases Down One

Old Lyme now has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 273 confirmed COVID-19 cases and SIX probable casesmaking a TOTAL of 279 cases.

This represents a DECREASE of ONE in the cumulative number of confirmed cases compared with those reported Thursday, Feb. 25 and NO CHANGE in the cumulative number of probable cases reported the same day.

The total number of Old Lyme residents tested is 4,692, up 12 from the previous day’s number.

Lyme – No Change in Cumulative Cases

Lyme now has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 78 confirmed cases and EIGHT probable cases, making a TOTAL of 86 cases.

This represents NO CHANGE in the cumulative number of confirmed or probable cases over those reported Thursday, Feb. 25.

The total number of Lyme residents tested is 1,258, an increase of seven over Thursday’s number.

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

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

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

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

No fatalities have been reported in Lyme.

More Detail on Two-Week Case Rates

On Thursday, Feb. 25, Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) also issued their latest weekly report of COVID data for the municipalities within their District. Ledge Light Director of Health Stephen Mansfield prefaces the report with the comment, “We are encouraged to see a moderate decrease in cases for the 6th consecutive reporting period, and are hopeful that this trend will continue.”

The latest two-week case rate announced Thursday, Feb. 25, for the period 2/7 to 2/20 per 100,000 population (compared with the previous two-week case rate for 1/31 to 2/13) has fallen in Old Lyme but increased in Lyme.

The two-week case rates are as follows:

  • Old Lyme from 11.6 to 6.8
  • Lyme from 21.4 to 24.4

The same report shows that the number of cases in Week 1 and Week 2 recorded for the period 2/7 to 2/20  (compared with the previous two-week case rate for 1/31 to 2/13 shown in parentheses) is as follows:

  • Lyme had 5 (2) cases in Week 1 and 3 (5) in Week 2
  • Old Lyme had 4 (9) cases in Week 1 and 3 (7) in Week 2

This data was updated Feb. 25, 2021. The next Ledge Light Weekly Data Report for their District will be issued in the afternoon of Thursday, March 4.

Connecticut Hospital Occupancy

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

[table id=10 /]

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

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Feb. 25 COVID-19 Update: Old Lyme Moves into (Lower) Yellow Zone for 2-Week Case Rate, Lyme Stays Red; Cumulative Case Totals Hold at 280 for OL, 86 for Lyme

This map shows the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks. The Town of Old Lyme has moved into the Yellow Zone while Lyme remains in the Red Zone. (Only cases among persons living in community settings are included in this map; the map does not include cases among people who reside in nursing home, assisted living, or correctional facilities.)

LYME/OLD LYME —The report issued Thursday, Feb. 25, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) for the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks contains good news for Old Lyme … but not Lyme.

It shows that Old Lyme has moved from the (second highest) Orange Zone down into the (lowest but one) Yellow Zone reflecting an even lower case rate than the previous week. Unfortunately, Lyme remains in the ‘Red Zone’ — the category with the highest rate of new cases. (Four zones are specified by the CT DPH — see details below)

Overall, the report contains more good news for the whole state with the following data for this week (the previous week’s figures shown in parentheses):

  • 15 (10) towns are now in the (lowest case rate) Gray Zone
  • 7 (4) are in the (lowest but one) Yellow Zone
  • 28 (16) are in the (second highest case rate) Orange Zone.

All the remaining towns are in the Red Zone. This is, however, a dramatic improvement from the map we published back in November when every town in the state was in the Red Zone.

The Daily Data Report for Connecticut issued Thursday, Feb. 25, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) for data as at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24, shows that cumulative cases (confirmed and probable) since the pandemic began held at the previous day’s numbers in both Old Lyme at 280 and in Lyme at 86.

The next CT DPH Daily Data Report for Connecticut will be issued in the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 26.

More Details on Towns, Zones; Old Lyme Now in Yellow (Second Lowest) Zone for Two-Week New Case Rate, Lyme Remains in (Highest) Red Zone

The weekly report issued Thursday, Feb. 25, by the CT DPH for the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks shows that Old Lyme now joins six other towns — Middlefield, Waterbury, Burlington, Bolton, Tolland and Granby — in the Yellow (second lowest rate)  Zone.

The Gray (lowest rate) Zone includes Bridgewater, Canaan, Cornwall, Goshen, New Hartford, Norfolk, Scotland, Hartland, Barkamsted, Eastford, Franklin, Lisbon, Pomfret, Roxbury,  and Warren.

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

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

The next CT DPH Weekly Data Report for Connecticut will be issued in the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 25.

Old Lyme – No Change in Cumulative Cases 

Old Lyme now has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 274 confirmed COVID-19 cases and SIX probable casesmaking a TOTAL of 280 cases.

This represents NO CHANGE in the cumulative number of confirmed or probable cases compared with those reported Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The total number of Old Lyme residents tested is 4,680, up 21 from the previous day’s number.

Lyme – No Change in Cumulative Cases

Lyme now has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 78 confirmed cases and EIGHT probable cases, making a TOTAL of 86 cases.

This represents NO CHANGE in the cumulative number of confirmed or probable cases over those reported Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The total number of Lyme residents tested is 1,251, an increase of two over Tuesday’s number.

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

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

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

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

No fatalities have been reported in Lyme.

More Detail on Two-Week Case Rates

On Thursday, Feb. 25, Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) also issued their latest weekly report of COVID data for the municipalities within their District. Ledge Light Director of Health Stephen Mansfield prefaces the report with the comment, “We are encouraged to see a moderate decrease in cases for the 6th consecutive reporting period, and are hopeful that this trend will continue.”

The latest two-week case rate announced Thursday, Feb. 25, for the period 2/7 to 2/20 per 100,000 population (compared with the previous two-week case rate for 1/31 to 2/13) has fallen in Old Lyme but increased in Lyme.

The two-week case rates are as follows:

  • Old Lyme from 11.6 to 6.8
  • Lyme from 21.4 to 24.4

The same report shows that the number of cases in Week 1 and Week 2 recorded for the period 2/7 to 2/20  (compared with the previous two-week case rate for 1/31 to 2/13 shown in parentheses) is as follows:

  • Lyme had 5 (2) cases in Week 1 and 3 (5) in Week 2
  • Old Lyme had 4 (9) cases in Week 1 and 3 (7) in Week 2

This data was updated Feb. 25, 2021. The next Ledge Light Weekly Data Report for their District will be issued in the afternoon of Thursday, March 4.

Connecticut Hospital Occupancy

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

[table id=10 /]

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

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Death Announced of Kathleen Jane “Kathy” Munday of Old Lyme, Member of OLHS Class of 1967

OLD LYME — Kathleen Jane “Kathy” Munday passed into the hands of Our Lord Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 7, 2021, the thought of Tom Brady winning another championship being the last straw. Kathy was born May 31, 1949, in Woonsocket, R.I., the third child and only girl of nine.

After the family resettled in Old Lyme, she graduated from Old Lyme High School in 1967, and went on to college at Eastern Connecticut State University where she received a degree in education. After substitute teaching at Center School in Old Lyme, but not finding permanent employment, she started working at EB Publishing, a job she truly loved …

… Calling hours will be from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday March 13, with private burial to follow …

Visit this link to read the full obituary published Feb. 21, in The Day.

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Death Announced of A. John Plikus Jr., 80, of Lyme; He Took Great Pleasure in … Bringing out the Beauty of his Corner of Lyme

LYME — A. John Plikus Jr., 80, of Lyme passed away Feb. 18, 2021, at his home. John was born April 3, 1940, son of Anthony J. Plikus Sr. and Alice (McCully) Plikus in New London …

… He leaves his beloved wife Christine (Audibert) Plikus; son John M. Plikus and his wife Kerry; daughter-in-law Monica Plikus; step-son Mark Hope and his wife Melissa; step-daughter Dr. April Chitwood; …

… In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in John’s memory to the Lyme Ambulance Association, P.O. Box 911, Hadlyme, CT 06439.

Visit this link to read the full obituary published Feb. 21, in The Day.

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Lyme-Old Lyme HS Students Win Major Awards in 2021 CT Scholastic Art Contest

‘Paige’ by Lyme-Old Lyme High School senior Connie Pan received a prestigious Gold Key in the 2021 Scholastic Art Awards. Pan also won the ‘Best in Portfolio’ award.

LYME/OLD LYME — Four Lyme-Old Lyme High School students (LOLHS) will be recognized this evening at the 2021 Connecticut Scholastic Art contest’s virtual awards celebration, which celebrates the work of talented young artists in the state in grades 7 through 12.

Senior Connie Pan was awarded the Best in Portfolio award as well as Gold Keys in both the Drawing and Portfolio categories. She also earned one of two cash scholarships from Connecticut Woman Artists, as well as a scholarship offer from the University of Hartford Art School.

‘Rosenberg #2’ by LOLHS senior Olivia Bartlett was awarded a Gold Key in Mixed Media for the piece above. She also received a Gold Key in the Portfolio category and a Silver Key in Mixed Media.

Senior Olivia Bartlett earned Gold Keys in both the Portfolio and Mixed Media categories, and a Silver Key in the Mixed Media category along with a University of Hartford scholarship offer.

‘Mr. Cheney’ by Aidan Powers received a Gold Key in the Digital category.

Senior Aidan Powers earned both a Gold Key and an Honorable Mention in the Digital Media category, and senior Marina Melluzzo earned a Silver Key in the Ceramics and Glass category.

‘Invasion’ by Marina Melluzzo won a Silver Key in the Ceramics category.

Asked his reaction to the remarkable number of top awards earned by his students, LOLHS Art Department Chair William Allik told LymeLine exclusively, “We are very proud of both the winning students and several others whose portfolios were not included in this year’s show.”

He continued, “The jurying is inherently subjective, but this was a great year for Olivia Bartlett and Connie Pan — portfolio students whose work couldn’t be more different, yet who both show the development of traditional skills that we value here at LOLHS.”

Allik added, “Connie Pan is one of our top students academically, and this Best Portfolio award is a great validation of her choice to consider studying art in college. Our students don’t always get up [to Hartford] to see the competition, but the virtual exhibition is allowing all to see this year’s show.”

‘Catfishing’ by Connie Pan was included in her award-winning portfolio.

In light of the vastly increased accessibility the online nature of this year’s show has offered, Allik noted, “I hope they consider maintaining an online exhibit alongside future physical shows.”

‘Clown to Clown Conversation’ by Olivia Bartlett was included in her portfolio.

The Connecticut Regional Scholastic Art Awards Program is sponsored by the Connecticut Art Education Association and is an affiliate of The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Student artwork is juried by professional artists and university art faculty and selected on merit for inclusion in a statewide art exhibition usually held ‘in person’ at the Hartford Art School, but this year the event has been hosted exclusively online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Beyond the honor of being chosen for this highly selective exhibit, students are eligible for Gold or Silver Keys and Honorable Mention awards in each of 17 media categories.

The winners of Gold Keys will subsequently have their artwork submitted digitally to the National  Scholastic Art Awards where they will be juried against Gold Key winners from all 50 states. In a reflection of the extremely high standards adhered to by the jurors, only eight portfolios in the Connecticut contest were awarded Gold Keys this year.

This year’s show can be viewed online at www.ctartawardsexhibit.net

Editor’s Notes: i) Here at LymeLine, we send hearty congratulations to all the exceptional artists, who were either award-winners or participated in the contest.

ii) This article is based on a press release issued by Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.

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Classic Car Collecting Keeps Chugging Along During COVID-19 Pandemic

This very rare 1907 Cadillac Model M has been restored by Richard Willard of Vintage Motorcars of Westbrook for whom it has a special meaning.

WESTBROOK – Once a car buff … always a car buff.

Richard Willard of Vintage Motorcars in Westbrook, Conn. has been restoring antique cars with his father Sam since 1985. This past year has been one to remember in more ways than anyone can count, but for the Willards it’s been business as usual.

Car collectors all over the country have been enjoying their favorite pastime more than ever. As other businesses and activities have restrictions, going for a “Sunday Drive” in a coveted antique vehicle has more appeal than ever. Maybe collectors have more time to enjoy their collection or it’s just that they can easily social distance and get out of the house at the same time.

The collector car market has held steady and the interest and investment aspects of the hobby are going strong.

“When the country first shut down in the Spring of 2020, there was nothing going on with collectors and their cars. Usually this is a very busy time for us. Owners usually are preparing for the summer season and for a few months it seemed as if time stood still,” Richard Willard said, adding, “As time went on things started to rebound, and cars started to emerge from garages everywhere.”

Some car shows have gone virtual. The social aspect of showing off prized vehicles with others online has opened a market into which car shows did not traditionally reach. With prizes and spectators voting for winners in many categories, some virtual shows may continue into the future along with the in-person shows.

One car in particular that has been shown this past year is a very rare 1907 Cadillac Model M and it has a special meaning to Vintage Motorcars. This car belonged to Sam Willard, who just turned 88 and acquired the car in 1966.

“My father had this car kicking around as far back as I can remember” said Richard, his son and owner of Vintage Motorcars. “The car needed restoring and my dad did some wood work but then it fell to the wayside. He was a great starter of projects, but not so good at completing them!”

Richard continued, “One day in 2010, I decided to finish the car for him at the shop. It was a two-year project. He then took it to one show and realized that trailering this gem was not easy at his age. We then showed off the car in our showroom.”

Along came Bill Lillie, a prominent collector and family friend. He saw the car and fell in love with it. The timing was perfect. Sam could no longer drive the car and because of the emotional attachment, he was not looking to sell it and lose contact with it.

“So the perfect marriage was made. Bill was close by and would take my dad with him to some of the shows. He took the car to shows all over the country, winning many and sharing each and every moment with Sam. I know that they both are enjoying the new adventures of this 1907 Cadillac,” says Richard.

In fact, the attention attracted the national magazine Hemmings Classic Car to feature it in their March 2021 issue.  The article is titled Rescued Elegance and describes how, “This rare 1907 Model M Straight Line Touring recalls Cadillac’s early foray into the luxury car market” and Matt Litwin describes the history and restoration of this unique vehicle.  (Link:  ttps://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/rescued-elegance)

At Vintage Motorcars, the Willards continue to help collectors enjoy their cars and keep them chugging along.

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Essex Financial Adviser Tim Furgueson Named to Forbes’ List of ‘Best-In-State Wealth Advisers’

ESSEX — Essex Financial has announced that Tim Furgueson has been selected to the 2021 Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisors list, which honors top performing wealth management and financial planning advisors in each state.

Shook Research conducts several national rankings of wealth advisors each year on behalf of Forbes. In 2020, over 32,000 nominations were received. This year’s Best-In-State Wealth Advisors consists of top-ranking advisors who were nominated by their firms and then researched, interviewed and assigned a ranking within their respective states by the Shook organization.

“I’m honored to be recognized by a top publication like Forbes.  This would not be possible without the support I have from the entire Essex Financial team and the clients who place so much trust with me and our firm,” says Furgueson.

“We are delighted and very proud that Tim has been selected to this prestigious list of Forbes Wealth Advisors” said Charles R. Cumello, Jr., President and CEO of Essex Financial. “Tim has very effectively managed risk to help his clients reach their financial planning goals. I look forward to his evolving efforts in this area, as well as his overall leadership in the years ahead”.

Furgueson is a Financial Advisor in the Essex office of Essex Financial. He has over 25 years of experience in the industry. He resides in Essex, Conn. with his wife and children. He is very involved in the community through his work as Chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals for the Town of Essex.

 

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A la Carte: Crispy Peanut-Chile Chicken with Sweet Potatoes … to Love!

Lee White

I was so thrilled with the roasted sweet potato pie I made last week, that I decided to use sweet potatoes again for a recipe I found in an almost-two-year-old magazine I was about to toss.

This time the recipe called for chicken and sweet potatoes, with the addition of peanut butter and hot chiles.

I had an appointment with my primary doctor in the afternoon (after I had missed the appointment a week ago, having found the appointment card stuck in another food magazine!), so on my way to the new appointment, I picked up some Thai chiles and more cherry tomatoes. I had already thawed the chicken thighs.

This recipe is a true winner. The sweet potatoes, the tangy tomatoes, the hot peppers (feel free to seed them and discard the seeds) and the bland of the chicken made a terrific dinner plus one lunch and another dinner for one.

I think you will love this.

Crispy Peanut-Chile Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
From Fine Cooking, April-May 2019
Yield: serves 4

½ cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
2 Thai bird chiles (it says to seed one, but maybe use one and seed that, too)
5 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Kosher salt
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 large onion, chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice (about 2 pounds)
7 ounces cherry tomatoes (about 1 cup)
2 ounces (½ cup) shelled roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Thoroughly combine peanut butter, chiles, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of garlic and ¾ teaspoon salt in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Lightly sprinkle the chicken thighs and add to the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour, massaging every 15 minutes.

Position rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375 degrees. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, on medium heat until shimmering.

Add onions, remaining garlic, 2 tablespoons cilantro and ½ teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion softens and garlic is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in sweet potatoes. Cover pan and cook until sweet potatoes just start to soften, stirring once, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Remove lid from skillet and add tomatoes. Remove chicken from marinade and place smooth side up over the tomatoes, spooning marina ride on top of each. Scatter with peanuts over the chicken and transfer skillet to the oven.

Cook until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 30 minutes.

Heat broiler on high, then cook until top of chicken and peanuts turn light golden, 1 to 2 minutes, watching closely so it doesn’t burn.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving, sprinkle with remaining cilantro.

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

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Feb. 24 COVID-19 Update: Old Lyme Cumulative Cases Up Two to 280, Lyme Down One to 86

LYME/OLD LYME — The Daily Data Report for Connecticut issued Wednesday, Feb. 24, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) for data as at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 23, shows that cumulative cases (confirmed and probable) since the pandemic began are up two in Old Lyme at 280 (compared with the numbers reported Monday, Feb. 22) but down one in Lyme to 86.

It should be noted that Monday’s data always includes numbers from Friday through Sunday since reports are not issued over the weekend.

The next CT DPH Daily Data Report for Connecticut will be issued in the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 25.

Old Lyme – Cumulative Cases Up Two

Old Lyme now has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 274 confirmed COVID-19 cases and SIX probable casesmaking a TOTAL of 280 cases.

This represents an INCREASE of TWO in the cumulative number of confirmed cases and NO CHANGE in the number of probable cases compared with those reported Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The total number of Old Lyme residents tested is 4,659, up three from the previous day’s number.

Lyme – Cumulative Cases Down One

Lyme now has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 78 confirmed cases and EIGHT probable cases, making a TOTAL of 86 cases.

This represents an DECREASE OF ONE in the cumulative number of confirmed cases and NO CHANGE in the cumulative number of probable cases over those reported Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The total number of Lyme residents tested is 1,249, an increase of five over Monday’s number.

Old Lyme Moves Down into Orange (Second Highest) Zone for Two-Week New Case Rate, Lyme Moves Back into (Highest) Red

The weekly report issued Thursday, Feb. 18, by the CT DPH for the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks shows that Old Lyme has finally moved into the (second highest) Orange Zone — down from the state-identified Red Zone, where it has been since early December 2020. Unfortunately, Lyme has moved back into the ‘Red Zone’ with the highest rate of new cases.

Overall, the report contains good news with 10 towns now in the Gray Zone, four in the Yellow Zone and 16 in the Orange Zone.  This is a far cry from the map we published back in November when every town in the state was in the Red Zone.

As of the Feb. 18 report, Old Lyme now joins 16 other towns — Essex, Deep River, Kent, Sherman, Goshen, Granby, Winchester, New Hartford, Canton, Farmington, Portland, Haddam, Hebron, Lebanon, Bethany and Southbury — in the Orange Zone.

Redding, Woodbury, Pomfret and Salisbury are in the Yellow Zone.

The Gray Zone includes Bridgewater, Canaan, Cornwall,  Norfolk, Scotland, Hartland, Barkamsted, Eastford, Franklin and Warren.

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

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

The next CT DPH Weekly Data Report for Connecticut will be issued in the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 25.

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

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

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

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

No fatalities have been reported in Lyme.

More Detail on Two-Week Case Rates

On Thursday, Feb. 18, Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) also issued their latest weekly report of COVID data for the municipalities within their District. Ledge Light Director of Health Stephen Mansfield prefaces the report with the comment, “We are encouraged to see a moderate decrease in cases for the 4th consecutive reporting period, and are hopeful that this trend will continue.”

The latest two-week case rate announced Thursday, Feb. 18, for the period 1/31 to 2/13 per 100,000 population (compared with the previous two-week case rate for 1/24 to 2/06) has fallen in Old Lyme but increased in Lyme.

The two-week case rates are as follows:

  • Old Lyme from 25.2 to 11.6
  • Lyme from 12.2 to 21.4

The same report shows that the number of cases in Week 1 and Week 2 recorded for the period 1/31 to 2/13 (compared with the previous two-week case rate for 1/24 to 2/06 shown in parentheses) are as follows:

  • Lyme had 2 (2) cases in Week 1 and 5 (2) in Week 2
  • Old Lyme had (17) cases in Week 1 and 3 (9) in Week 2

This data was updated Feb. 18, 2021. The next Ledge Light Weekly Data Report for their District will be issued in the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 25.

Connecticut Hospital Occupancy

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

[table id=10 /]

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

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Letter to the Editor: Make Increased Voter Access Permanent in Connecticut

To the Editor:

I am old enough to remember when voting was considered to be a patriotic duty.

Voting by mail in Connecticut will not continue unless we make it so.

Among the many lessons of the COVID pandemic, we have learned that the State of Connecticut is one of only 6 states in the country with no access to either early in-person voting days or to “no excuse” mail-in voting. When given the option to mail in our ballots in November 2020 due to COVID-19, the turnout for eligible Connecticut voters increased to 80%, a 3.5% increase from the high turnout in 2016.

I was thrilled to have an option besides standing in line on Election Day. I, for one, would like to see this increased voter access continue.

Our society has changed. We work long hours. We have long commutes. We have to contend with childcare and eldercare. Throw in an occasional blizzard, power outage, or pandemic, and continuing to have access to alternative voting methods just makes sense.

The Connecticut State Constitution currently does not allow for anything but in-person Election Day voting, and absentee ballots only under strict conditions. There is legislation being proposed this session in the Connecticut General Assembly to amend this, or at the very least, extend the option of “no excuse” mail-in ballots for another calendar year.

Lyme and Old Lyme residents, I urge you to reach out to your state Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) representatives, House Member Devon Carney (who represents Lyme and Old Lyme), State Senator Paul Formica (for the Town of Old Lyme), and State Senator Norm Needleman (for the Town of Lyme).  (Their respective contact information is given below.) Encourage them to permanently increase our access to the polls in as many ways as possible!  We deserve nothing less.

Sincerely,

Susan Fogliano,
Old Lyme.

Contact information for the CGA representatives is as follows:
State Rep. Devin Carney: Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov
State Senator Paul Formica: Paul.Formica@cga.ct.gov
State Senator Norm Needleman: Norm.Needleman@cga.ct.gov

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American Job Centers of Eastern Connecticut to Host Virtual Hiring Event, Thursday

AREAWIDE — The American Job Centers of Eastern Connecticut will host a virtual hiring event Thursday, February 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Zoom, allowing individuals seeking new employment opportunities to interview for manufacturing, health care, warehouse and customer service jobs, among others.

Job openings available will include hands-on manufacturing roles, personal care attendant roles and other positions working in transportation, logistics and driving.

For a complete list of job openings, and to register for the event, visit https://ewib.org/American-Job-Center-EAST/Virtual-Events; upon registering, you will be contacted to select a time slot and get meeting details.

Interviews will take place over Zoom in 15-minute, one-on-one formats.

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State Senators Needleman, Formica Discuss Energy, Technology Priorities on Lee Elci Show, Now Available on Demand

Senators Norm Needleman, left, and Paul Formica from a 2019 television appearance. Photo submitted by Sen. Needleman’s office.

AREAWIDE — This past Monday, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) and State Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) joined Lee Elci’s talk show on Radio 94.9 News Now for an extended, detailed discussion of the Energy & Technology Committee’s 2021 priorities and focuses. The Senators came together in a bipartisan fashion to discuss pressing issues driving their decisions and thoughts as the 2021 legislative session begins in earnest.

“I’m glad I was able to join Senator Formica and Lee to discuss this session’s many focuses,” said Sen. Needleman. “From the cost of energy to pursuing renewable sources of generation to looking into company and corporate practices, the Energy & Technology Committee is dedicated to tackling a number of vital and important issues in the coming months. I think Monday’s conversation helped us ensure we’re focused on what matters most – what’s best for the people of Connecticut.”

“Thank you to Lee Elci for opening up an hour of his show to discuss energy issues in Connecticut with Senator Needleman and me,” said Sen. Formica. “The important and challenging work of the state’s Energy & Technology Committee continues to attempt to balance generation and supply in a bipartisan way to benefit the citizens and ratepayers of Connecticut. It was great to share part of that process with the listeners of the Lee Elci show. I look forward to further, in depth conversations on energy.”

Monday’s discussion on the Lee Elci Show is available on-demand in recorded format on Elci’s SoundCloud page, located here. On the Jan. 25, broadcast, available here, the discussion between the Senators and Elci begins at around roughly the 2-hour 58-minute mark.

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SECWAC Host Authors of New Book on James Baker, “The Man Who Ran Washington,” Tonight

Peter Baker and Susan Glasser discuss their new book about James Baker III in a presentation hosted by SECWAC Wednesday evening.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) present Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, respectively of The New York Times and The New Yorker, to speak on “The Man Who Ran Washington, The Life and Times of James A. Baker III,” Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m.

Baker and Glasser discuss their new biography of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and his impact on Washington and the world.

From the end of Watergate to the end of the Cold War, Baker had his hand in almost every major event in the capital, from running five presidential campaigns and managing Ronald Reagan’s White House to negotiating the reunification Germany and dealing with the collapse of the Soviet empire.

But his story is also the story of Washington and how it has changed over the years.

Copies of the book may be purchased from R.J Julia Independent Booksellers in Madison, CT, at this link: https://www.rjjulia.com/book/9780385540551.

This virtual event is free for members, guests $20, registration is required. The link to join will be emailed with your registration confirmation.

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Death of Gary Grisky Announced; Avid Outdoorsman, 1969 Graduate of Old Lyme HS

Gary Michael Grisky

OLD LYME — It is with our deepest sadness that we announce the unexpected, but peaceful passing of our brother Gary Michael Grisky on the 24th of December, 2020. He was born April 17th, 1951 in New Jersey, but spent the majority of his life in Old Lyme, Connecticut. He is predeceased by his mother and father Joyce and Donald Grisky of Old Lyme, Conn.

He graduated from Old Lyme High School in 1969 and New England School of Art in 1972 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Family and friends meant everything to him.  He is survived by his sisters Donelle Krajewski and her husband Michael Krajewski of Greer, South Carolina, and Mary Sterck and her husband Martin of Uebach-Palenberg, Germany; nieces Amanda van Liessum and her husband Maarten, and Catherine Lowery; his aunts, uncles, cousins, and his very special friends Fern and Michael Salkauskas.

Gary was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed fishing, clamming, and crabbing, and sharing his bounty with family and friends.  He also loved listening to music and playing his guitar.

He will be missed for his great storytelling, friendship, and his beautiful smile.  The world is a little less bright without our beloved brother.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

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Essex Savings Bank Announces New President & CEO

ESSEX— The Board of Directors of Essex Savings Bank is pleased to announce that Diane Arnold, Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer of Essex Savings Bank, will be assuming the role of President and CEO in July 2021, upon the retirement of current President and CEO Gregory Shook.

Mr. Shook has served in his role for 21 years overseeing steady growth in deposits and loans, geographic expansion, the development of the Trust Department with over $600 million in assets, and integration with Essex Financial Services, its wholly-owned wealth management subsidiary with over $2.8 billion of managed assets. In addition to inheriting Mr. Shook’s role, Ms. Arnold will also serve on the Board of Essex Savings Bank, and on the Board of Essex Financial Services, Inc. 

Douglas Paul, Chairman of the Essex Savings Bank Board of Directors, stated, “Greg Shook has been an exemplary leader, and our Board engaged in a very extensive and comprehensive process to select his successor. Ms. Arnold is an outstanding choice with the attributes and qualities necessary to propel Essex Savings Bank into the next era of banking as a leading community bank.” 

Ms. Arnold began her banking career in 1983 and she worked in a variety of departments at two different banks before joining Essex Savings Bank in 2002, where she ultimately rose to her current position.

During her 19 years at the bank, she has been particularly influential in developing the commercial loan portfolio and in mentoring many individuals. She has been involved in a number of community organizations for many years, and in 2017 she received a Women of Fire Award, recognizing key female leaders in the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sectors.

Ms. Arnold earned a B.S. degree in Economics from Quinnipiac College and is also a graduate of the Connecticut School of Finance and Management.

“I am honored to have been selected by the Board to assume the role of President and CEO upon Greg Shook’s retirement,” said Ms. Arnold. “I look forward to building upon our solid foundation of serving the local community and continuing to flourish in an ever-changing banking environment.”

Mr. Shook stated: “I am so pleased the Board has selected Diane Arnold as the next President and CEO and the first woman to serve in this role at our institution. I have known Diane for many years and look forward to working with her to insure a smooth and successful transition.”  

Editor’s Note: Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Division, Essex Trust and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.

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Death Announced of Rev. David Galen Johnson, Former Minister of Visitation at Deep River Congregational Church

Reverend David Galen Johnson

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Reverend David Galen Johnson, 79 and United Church of Christ minister, died at home in Portsmouth, NH of late-stage cancer on Monday, January 11, 2021.

He was born on June 5, 1941, in Philippi, WV, the first son of Glen Galen Johnson and Clarice Louise (Gainer) Johnson, and moved to Little Rock, AR, at age 10. A high school senior the year that Little Rock schools were closed in the wake of Brown vs Board of Education, David (like many of his classmates) graduated from a high school away from home. He married one of those classmates, Lyla Gibb, on September 8, 1960.

David earned a BS in Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and began his professional life at Westinghouse as a manufacturing engineer and production foreman. Taking leave from that role, he fulfilled his Army Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) commitment, and was stationed in Heilbronn, Germany.

After earning an MBA from Ball State University, David enjoyed early career success with TempRite, a division of Aladdin Industries. From a base near London, England, he built the European business by engaging sales managers in key countries. Together, they became the “Big 5” and life-long friends. Subsequently, he held a variety of sales & marketing leadership roles before launching his own executive search business called Galen Giles Group. He brought his professional talents and passion for international understanding to his position on the Board of Directors of the American Field Service (AFS).

Yet it was not until later in life that David heard his true calling to spread God’s word as a minister. With the unfailing support of his wife Lyla, he earned his Master of Divinity from Andover-Newton Seminary at the age of 68. He pursued his formal calling as the Minister of Visitation at Deep River Congregational Church (CT) while also living his purpose as a hospice spiritual counselor for Masonicare. Later, he served as the Interim Minister at Epping Community Church (NH) — a role he described as his favorite job ever.

Away from work, David pursued hobbies such as virtual game playing back when “virtual” meant mailing monthly paper “orders” for the strategy board game Diplomacy. One of his great joys in life was playing poker with the same group of friends for almost 40 years, as well as playing (and winning)  just about any card or board game with family. Additionally, he dedicated himself to community theater, was part of a Murder Mystery troupe, and most recently was a role player at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth.

Yet David would have described his greatest passion and achievements as his 60-year marriage to the only love of his life, Lyla, and the raising of their four children. Together, he and Lyla sought to give them “roots and wings,” and recently David articulated that in this, they had been successful.

David is survived by his wife, Lyla G. Johnson; his children Glen R. Johnson and wife N. Gaye Johnson of East Point, GA, Katherine Johnson Armstrong and husband Robert A. Armstrong II of Charlotte, NC, E. William (Bill) Johnson, MD and wife Reiko K. Johnson, MD of Newfields, NH, Elizabeth Johnson Levine and wife Adele A. Levine of Silver Spring, MD; 10 grandchildren and two great-grand children; and brothers Mark A. Johnson and G. Douglas Johnson, both of Heber Springs, AR.

A Virtual Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, January 24th at 1:00 p.m. (this event will be online only, details will follow on here soon, if you know you would like to attend please email info@kentandpelczarfh.com to receive details when they become available.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to maintain the historic North Church in Portsmouth, NH or The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. To sign an online condolences book, and for updates and more information, please contact  Kent & Pelczar Funeral Home & Crematory at https://www.kentandpelczarfh.com/ or +1 603-659-3344.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

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Dr. Alicia Farrell Announces Free Online Parenting Webinars Series in February 2021

AREAWIDE — Cognitive psychologist and national keynote speaker, Dr. Alicia Farrell, has announced a four-session webinar series to address common challenges that parents face in raising children in today’s environment.

Titled, How to Raise a Well-Adjusted, Confident, Self-Reliant and Civil Adult in a Crazy Mixed-Up World, the free webinar series, being held in February, goes beyond the challenges of the pandemic to address four main areas of parenting concerns including:

  • Stress, anxiety and perfectionism
  • How to recognize it in your children and what to do about it
  • Technology: how it is affecting our children and what to do about it
  • Parenting: how to communicate, set boundaries, place age-appropriate expectations and allow for natural consequences at any age
  • Drugs and alcohol with a focus on marijuana: how to talk to your kids about the facts, the fiction and their future.

“Life has been coming at us for quite some time– pre-COVID, COVID and likely, post-COVID – for you, me, everybody. But you know who is suffering most? Our children. It’s breaking my heart. We have to sort this out.” says Dr. Farrell in her blogpost announcing the series.

She continues, “Time is precious so I want everyone who is interested to know that each of the four webinars will be packed full of essential knowledge and practical tools that can be applied right away.  They are designed to stand alone so you can choose to attend one, two, three or all four webinars depending on your needs.”

Asking, “Doesn’t everyone want to survive this challenging time with children who have more grit, resilience and are better equipped to handle their future adult lives?” Dr. Farrell adds, “I felt compelled to offer this free four-part series online to reach a larger audience than I do on my couch every day and, with the global adaptation to services like Zoom, I hope to inspire a greater number of people to influence positive change in our children’s lives.”

Registration is required for each of the free sessions and is available on Farrell’s website at aliciafarrellphd.com  The four sessions are offered Wednesdays, Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Alicia Farrell is an accomplished Cognitive Psychologist, former University Professor, National Keynote Speaker and Founder of Clearview Consulting. For over 20 years, Dr. Farrell has counseled hundreds of clients on how to get back to basics to achieve their life goals and personal well-being. Her clients have ranged in age from 13 to 98. She has worked with individuals, couples, parents, families and professionals.

She also brings 10 years of corporate experience to her work.  In 2019 Dr. Farrell was recognized with a ‘Women of Excellence Award’ by the Shoreline Chambers of Commerce in Connecticut.  For more information visit: www.aliciafarrellphd.com

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Happy New Year 2021!

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash.

We wish all our readers, advertisers and friends a very Happy New Year 2021.

We hope it brings you and yours peace, good health and happiness.

We thank you sincerely for your support through the challenging year of 2020 and look forward to continuing to serve you in what we hope is a far better 2021!

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Letter From Paris: After 47 Years, UK Leaves EU with ‘Thin’ Post-Brexit Deal

Nicole Prévost Logan

After 47 years of co-habitation, the UK has left the European Union (EU) with a “thin” post-Brexit deal.

An end-of-year need for holiday food delicacies, such as caviar, lobster or foie gras, a panic to run short of fresh produce like lettuce, combined with the Covid-19 procedure slowing down the traffic, caused spectacular chaos with thousands of trucks lining up on highways or parked in Kent’s makeshift areas.  It was a sort of a preview of what a no-deal Brexit would bring.

The atmosphere in the country was unreal.

On Christmas Eve at four in the afternoon, the news broke: The UK and the European Union (EU) have reached an agreement on a narrow trade deal.  There will not be a “hard Brexit” as everybody had feared, with a brutal departure of the British Isles from the continent.  The two sides will remain friends and look forward to building up a commercial partnership and intensifying cooperation in transport, security, police, nuclear power, research and many other areas.

An 11th hour agreement

Reaching an agreement was quite an accomplishment. As late as Dec. 20, the mood was grim on both sides of the English Channel. On that date I wrote an article, entitled: “Betting on a “thin” Brexit deal”.

As follows, is part of my article:

Time is running out.  The transition period, which followed the departure of the UK from the EU on Jan. 31, 2020, is ending on Dec. 31.  If the two sides – UK and EU – do not reach an agreement by then, the “hard Brexit” will feel like falling off a cliff. The alternative is a “soft” Brexit.

On Dec. 13, 2019 , Boris Johnson led a successful campaign, the problem is that he based that campaign on three fateful words: “Get Brexit done”  He locked himself in an impasse,  making it hard for him to negotiate further.  He is under pressure from all sides to satisfy the hard-Brexiter Tories, the business circles rejecting Brexit for fear of a tariff war and  public opinion increasingly against a departure from the EU.   

The impossibility to bridge the positions from both sides of the Channel is clear:  the differences are more than deep. They are existential.  

For the British, sovereignty is paramount and the constraints of the Single Market unacceptable. The EU lies on the principles of the “Schengen Space”, consisting of free movement of people, capital, goods and services. Those principles constitute the main asset of the Single Market and are sacred, declared Christine Okrent, a French seasoned journalist and an authority on foreign affairs.

One should not forget that the UK has never been part of the Schengen “Space” nor of the Eurozone.

“Zanny” Minton  Beddoes, editor-in-chief of the Economist describes the negotiators as “playing on their voters’ audiences”.  It may be true in England, but definitely not in the EU. The EU is not budging from its core proposals, and its 27 members remain totally united. It would be miscalculation on Johnson’s part to count on the EU backing down.  

A hard Brexit would be a lose-lose proposition, but the UK would be more affected. Half its trading activities are with Europe, its economy is intertwined with Europe’s, as Beddoes pointed out. In contrast, Brexit has ceased to be a priority for the EU, commented Christine Okrent

In an interview, Michel Barnier, chief negotiator of the EU, declared that a nine month transition was too short. Most trading agreements take at least five years. He said: “Two prerequisites are needed: a free and fair competition (no “Singapore on the Thames”) and a reciprocal access to markets and waters.” 

I predict – and am going out on a limb now – that enough concessions will take place on both sides to reach a “thin” deal (to use Beddoes’ words ) allowing  the negotiations to continue after Dec. 31.  More time is needed to create a tailor-made arrangement to satisfy the UK and help it access the Customs Union or the European Economic Area (EEA), like Norway.  

Those were my predictions on Dec. 20.

Back to Dec. 24, when the post-Brexit “deal'” was reached. What was fascinating on that historical day, was to hear, in real time, the comments coming from all sides of the political spectrum as well as the reactions from the general public.

Boris Johnson was exulting, raising his arms in a victory gesture. The trilingual Ursula von der Leyen , president of the European Commission was the one to announce (in excellent French) that, “a good, fair, and well balanced” deal has been reached.  Towering over her Michel  Barnier added his voice to the official announcement.  It was thanks to his fairness and persistence, that he made the deal happen.

Boris Johnson declared: “We have kept our promise. We have taken back the control of our economy. Freed from the EU Single Market bureaucracy, we can act very fast. The rapid vaccination program is an illustration of this. Our relationship with the EU will be comparable to the one between Canada and the EU (CETA).”

This is not exactly accurate however because CETA makes it easier to export both and goods and services, whereas the post-Brexit deal does not include the suppression of tariffs on services. The most important thing for Johnson was to say, “I have done it”.  He did succeed unlike other prime ministers – Thatcher, Major, Cameron, May – who failed in their attempts.

Denis MacShane, member of parliament  (MP), minister of State for Europe under Tony Blair,  and former part of the Labor party said, the population had had enough and wanted to turn the page of the Brexit.

A professor of the French School of Political Sciences, was lukewarm about the deal.  The accord does not warrant taking the champagne out to celebrate, he said.  To lose one member of the EU is a loss, a form of “disintegration”

Reuters press agency announced that the British Parliament was expected to approve the deal. Both Houses will be recalled to sit on the decision on Dec. 30.  Johnson has a comfortable majority of 364 out of 650 in the House of Commons.  Many of the 200 Labor party, will vote in favor of the agreement since they supported the post-Brexit trade deal  from the beginning.

The European Parliament will make its decision known in 2021 . The agreement text will have to be translated into 23 languages before being  approved by the 27 EU member states.

A 1,246-page agreement

It will take a while to fully comprehend the complex and lengthy text.

Professor Anand Menon,  director of “the UK in a changing world” Think Tank, commented that the lifting of tariffs and quotas will favor the EU since it is where it has a surplus. France has a surplus of 12 billion in her trade balance with the UK. The biggest amount is food products. 150,00 French companies export them to the UK.  Furthermore 80 percent of food and wine transit through France to reach Great Britain.

Quotas and tariffs will not be imposed on products. However, custom and various administrative formalities and procedures at the borders might become cumbersome for both sides. Times will be difficult in the short term for British companies and a cost of 4 percent of the GDP  is expected.

However, from now on the UK will be free to reach bilateral agreements with outside countries, such as New Zealand for the import of meat.

Tariffs will remain on the services . With the post-Brexit deal, the UK becomes a third country in regards to the EU,  80 percent of its economy is immaterial and tied to services and therefore not part of this post-Brexit deal. In order to exercise its financial activities  and access to the Single Market or the Customs Union, the  “passporting” (meaning selling financial services freely) will no longer be an option unless the UK joins the EEA, as Norway has done.

The main sticky point will be to preserve the level playing field and guarantee fair competition on both sides of the Channel.. This will be resolved by the principle of “managed divergence” the parties reserving the right to retaliate.  In other words any hope of creating a “Singapore on Tames “will be under strict scrutiny by the EU.

Dominic Raab, cabinet minister and conservative MP declared  that the provisions included in the agreement  are not the end of the story. The “deal” is a living document that will need to be revisited in the future. The rules will  evolve. As an example, a system is put in place to settle litigations and will be re-examined in four years.  Next February there will be more rules. Raab added that for the next five or six years the UK will be working on re-establishing new ties with Europe.

On a positive note for Boris Johnson: the UK will not be bound by judgments made by the European Court of Justice

The Irish border

The Irish premier Micheal Martin approved the fact that a hard border between the two Irelands was avoided ; The Common Travel Area with Great Britain will be maintained ; the deal preserves Ireland’s position in the Single Market, he said, it will avoid quotas and tariffs imposed on farmers, businesses and exporters.  Varadkar, another Irish politician seems also satisfied with the deal.  Northern Ireland will remain effectively in the EU ingle Market.   Custom checks will take place in the Irish Sea instead of on land. Sea.

Still unknown but likely to emerge soon  is the question of Scotland.  Premier Nicola Sturgeon lashed out at the agreement within minutes.  In 2016 62% of  the Scots voted to remain in Europe.  The Flag of Scotland still flew above the Parliament.  Scotland will probably not wait for the spring to organize another referendum.

Fishing rights

Johnson declared: we have regained the control of our waters.  Although it represents a minute part of the GDP of both sides , this issue occupied a major place in the negotiations because it is essentially the symbol of the British sovereignty.  Barnier knows a lot of about fishing rights.  He was minister of Agriculture and Fishing from 2007 to 2009.

There will be “fishing committees” implementing a control.  BJ demanded that 80 percent of the proceeds from the fishing industry be return to the UK.  He got 25 percent, during a transition period of five and a half years.  He will grant 100 millions of British pounds to help the fishermen.

The fish catch by the European last year was worth 650  euros last year.  The British waters are richer in fish population than the European waters. The Brits don’t eat much fish. They sell back most of their catch to the EU.   During his speech BJ was wearing a tie covered with fish.

The devil is in the details and annoying changes are going to take place. There will be no more mutual recognition of professional qualifications.  British doctors, architects, veterinarians, engineers will have to seek new certification.

The freedom of movement will disappear, and a visa will have to be obtained for a stay longer than 90 days.  An EU pet passport will cease to be valid.

The Erasmus student exchange program will not include the UK any more.  Instead of a fee of 170 they pay in European universities, foreign students studying in the UK will be charged tens of thousands pounds.  To work in England, a permit will be required. In other words a post-Brexit deal will not be “business as usual”.  There will be many changes.

On the last day of 2020, Sky News announced that Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley Johnson, was asking for the French nationality.  He is French on his wife’s side and very much of a Europhile.  In a book coming out later in January, author Christian de Bourbon-Parme has written a biography of Johnson.

Surprisingly, we learn that his name was not Boris but Alexander,  that he lived in Belgium when his father was working for the European Commission in 1973.  In the book Johnson is depicted as a person full of humanity.  He always loved Europe, was very attached to it, but not the EU.

In spite of of the enthusiastic attitude of the British prime minister, the mood was rather somber on both sides of the Channel.

Michel Barnier commented ” There was no winner in this deal. We all lost”.  And Ursula von der Leyen added a lyrical note: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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