September 21, 2021

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.

‘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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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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. 

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

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.

Musical Masterworks Presents Beethoven String Quartets, Tickets for Video Now Available

Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Edward Arron will play the cello in the Beethoven works being performed live in a December concert and also recorded for release to ticket-holders in January. Photo by Hak-Soo Kim.

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks celebrated Beethoven’s 250th birthday in December when Edward Arron, Artistic Director and cellist, along with his colleagues James Ehnes, violin;  Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin; and Che-Yen Chen, viola, performed three string quartets by Beethoven, spanning nearly 30 years of his life and demonstrating the full arc of his remarkable compositional evolution.

This performance was filmed in mid-December and the link to the virtual concert is now available to ticket buyers.  The video can be enjoyed for three weeks through Jan. 23 and watched as many times as one wishes. 

Ticket holders will be able to experience Musical Masterworks in a whole new way. The group’s audio-video production team will create an intimate concert experience, providing a virtual front row seat featuring the performers’ artistry.

Edward Arron shared his thoughts about this concert, “We are honored to dedicate this performance to the great master. While under current circumstances, we are not able to reconstitute the full cycle of quartets that we had planned for last spring, we are delighted to provide this fascinating window into the extraordinary compositional mind of Beethoven.”

In 2021, Musical Masterworks will welcome back many favorite artists, including Rieko Aizawa, Todd Palmer, Jeewon Park, Randall Scarlata, Gilles Vonsattel, and Tessa Lark, featuring music from Bach to Corigliano.

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 Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

Giving Thanks in a Pandemic

Come ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home . . .

Well, maybe not this year.

It’s 2020 and starting back in March, our lives changed as the pandemic started spreading across the land. We sheltered in place, incessantly spritzed with hand sanitizers, and began wearing masks every time we dared to venture out in public.

Now it seems that 2020 will be a demarcation date on our timelines. Do you remember what it was like PC (Pre-COVID) when you could hug your friends and meet them for dinner at a favorite restaurant?

More importantly, who could have imagined that nine months later the COVID crisis would have worsened with a death toll of more than a quarter of a million Americans and still spiking? And now it’s Thanksgiving—a time to gather round the table with family and chow down on favorite foods. But many of us will not be celebrating the traditional way in this “annus horribilis” — as Queen Elizabeth would say.

Yet I have plenty to be thankful for (a song by Irving Berlin, by the way.)

I am grateful for my health and that of my family, that I have a roof over my head, and that I go to sleep with a full tummy at night. Especially now when I know so many are suffering, grieving for loved ones, or wondering how to put food on the table.

And I am thankful for all those working on the front lines—from health care workers to those stocking grocery shelves—who have helped us to keep the home fires burning. The heart I placed on my kitchen door last spring is still hanging there and there are many heart signs still in place around our town.

The thoughtfulness of family and friends have also been blessings in my life this year.

Sure, there are days when I’ve been depressed and it was difficult to keep my sunny side up. But how heartwarming it has been to have neighbors text, “Do you need anything at the store?” To receive phone calls from old friends asking, “How are you doing?” Or to have my niece stop by with a “care package” from Sift Bake Shop (my favorite chocolate croissants!)

Since I am a senior citizen and have feasted at many turkey dinners, I will add “Thanks For The Memories” of Thanksgivings Past.

In days of yore, my family would receive a package of pecans from Louisiana at the beginning of each November. They were from the trees in my aunt’s yard and it was a sign that it was time to start baking pies. As I child, I remember rising early with my mom to start cutting up the celery and onion for the stuffing and the periodic basting of the bird. And, oh, that tantalizing aroma of a turkey roasting for hours!

Though I am sad that I can’t be with my family for Thanksgiving 2020, I am counting my blessings and thinking of the song lyrics:

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow . . .

Editor’s Note: Linda Ahnert is a resident of Old Lyme and former Arts Editor at the now-departed ‘Main Street News.’

She is a long-time docent at the Florence Griswold Museum and has volunteered for numerous local art organizations.

Region 4 Asks Valley-Old Lyme Co-op Football Coach to Resign

Action from a Warriors game against Old Saybrook played on the Lyme-Old Lyme Varsity Field in 2016. File photo,

AREAWIDE — The press and social media are currently swirling with articles*, opinion pieces* and comments relating to the requested resignation of the extremely popular Valley Regional High School (VRHS) football coach and gym teacher Tim King by the Region #4 Superintendent Brian White.

Region 4 comprises the middle and high school-age students of Chester, Deep River and Essex; each of the three towns operates their own elementary schools.

Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) students play football on the VRHS ‘Warriors’ team in a formalized co-operative arrangement, which has been in place for some 10 years. Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained, however, that the co-op arrangement does not mean LOL Schools had any involvement in the recent actions of the Region #4 Superintendent.

Neiaser said by email, “In our current cooperative football agreement with Valley Regional, Region #4 employs the head coach. Therefore, any action or proposed action is independent of the Region #18 [Lyme-Old Lyme Schools] Board of Education.”

According to news reports, the issue that prompted White to ask for King’s resignation was King’s presence at an Independent Football League practice held in Lyme, which included players from both VRHS and LOLHS. The League was formed in response to the cancellation of the high school football season by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

Since he is the VRHS/LOLHS football coach, King was not permitted by Region #4 to coach in the Independent Football League. According to numerous reports, King submits he complied with that ruling and many witnesses have substantiated that statement.

Neviaser noted in his email, “Region #18 has no involvement in any independent sports programs that are not a part of our annual budget.”

The captain of the VRHS/LOLHS co-op football team Jack Cox started a petition on change.org, requesting that Tim King should retain his positions at Valley Regional High School. As at 12 a.m., Nov. 23, more than 2,760 people had signed the petition.

Editor’s Note: *Articles and opinions referenced for this article include:
Three local teams to compete in 11-on-11 Independent Football League by Ned Griffen, published Oct. 23, by The Day.

Players, parents upset that Valley/Old Lyme coach King being forced to resign by Ned Griffen, published Nov. 21, by The Day.

Coach asked to resign for involvement in independent football league by Sean Patrick Bowley, published Nov. 21, in the New Haven Register.

Tim King has the community — and the truth — on his side by Mike DiMauro, published Nov. 23, by The Day.

Valley Regional high school coach asked to resign by school district for involvement in independent football league formed during the pandemic in The Courant.

Election 2020: State Results & Interactive Visuals

STATEWIDE — Our Local Independent Online News (LION) colleagues at CTNewsJunkie.com have prepared a couple of interactive maps of the State Senate and House results for readers to explore. Use the toolbox to group and sort Senate/House districts by political party and demographic characteristics.

Here is the State Senate map.

Here is the CT House of Representatives map.

Related articles at CTNewsJunkie.com can be found at:

Dems Post Gains In Legislative Seats While Some Key Republicans Hang On
By CTNewsJunkie Published Nov. 4, 2020 12:48am

Senate Democrats Strengthen Majority
By Hugh McQuaid Published Nov 4, 2020 1:47pm

‘The Day’ Announces Carney Has Won Re-election Bid, Returns to House for Fourth Term

State Rep. Devin Carney has been reelected to represent the 23rd District.

AREAWIDE — Karen Florin of The Day tweeted a short time ago, “Republican Devin Carney wins a fourth term in the state house 23rd. He awaited results with friends and family at the Westbrook beach home of his late, famed grandfather Art Carney.”

Florin has now written the following article in The Day:

Voters in the 23rd state House District appeared Tuesday to have sent Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme, back to Hartford for a fourth term.  

As of deadline, Carney had beat Democratic challenger Dave Rubino in three of the district’s four towns, Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Old Lyme, and lost to him in Lyme. The unofficial vote tally, which didn’t include 750 absentee ballots from Westbrook, was 8,521 to 6,740.

Read the full article by Karen Florin published 9:54 p.m. on TheDay.com at this link.

Win a Subaru! High Hopes Hosts a ‘Raffle for a Cause’

A 2020 Subaru Forester 2.5i is the first prize in this year’s Raffle for a Cause sponsored by High Hopes of Old Lyme, CT and Reynolds Subaru of Lyme, CT.

OLD LYME — High Hopes Therapeutic Riding is holding a raffle in which the first prize is a 2020 Subaru Forester 2.5i. The second prize is an Apple i-Pad Mini and the third an Amazon Echo Show. Reynolds Subaru of Lyme is High Hopes’ raffle partner for this event.

All proceeds from the raffle benefit the programs at High Hopes.

Tickets are $50 each, two for $90, four for $180 or five for $225.

The raffle will be drawn during a live feed at noon on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Winners will be notified immediately following the drawing. Ticket holders need not be present to win.

All federal, state and local taxes on prizes are the winner’s responsibility.

Visit this link for full details of the raffle.

Buy your tickets at this link!

A la Carte: Zucchini Cake For Now … or Later (It Freezes Beautifully)

Sometimes, I wish I had a garden, but I don’t like dirt or insects. My late husband’s family always had vegetable and flower gardens. My parents could have had a garden, but they didn’t even know what a trowel was, never mind seeding, weeding, picking or cooking vegetables.

When I married my husband and we bought our first house, one with a small yard, we had a little vegetable garden. When we moved to Charlton, Mass., we had one that was about a quarter of an acre. That was way too much. We grew everything, from potatoes and onions to carrots and corn (the raccoons loved corn and they enjoyed it best by pulling the stalks down to the ground, opening up all the ears and eating just a little out of each.)

We grew zucchini, too. Lots of zucchini. So I grated zucchini, let it sit in a colander for a while, then squeezed them with tea towels, packed it in plastic bags and froze the packages in our big freezer. Then came Hurricane Gloria. We lost power for close to a week. Even thing in the freezer thawed.

When we moved to Old Lyme, my husband made four garden beds and that was just about perfect. Zucchini and yellow squash were not our list.

I still have zucchini recipes I like. I love them stuffed with meat and rice and I love them just with breadcrumbs and herbs or spices. But zucchini and summer squash are always available in supermarkets and are always reasonably priced.

I just bought a few small ones and made this cake. I might ice it with a cream cheese frosting. I have also made it in a Bundt cake (at 325 for an hour and a quarter) and serve it with some sorbet or ice cream. The cake freezes beautifully, but not if power goes out for a week.

Zucchini Cake
Created by Carol Cornwell of Wolfe Island, Ontario.
Yield: 2 cakes

2 and one-quarter cups all-purpose flour, and extra for dusting pans
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
7 cups grated zucchini, squeezed and drained for around 30 minutes
1 cup granulated sugar
½  pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon coffee espresso powder (or 2 tablespoons brewed coffee)
1 and ½ /teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chai powder (optional)

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously grease and flour bottom and sides of two 9-inch by 1 and one-half inch or 9-inch by 2-inch round cake pans. (I use cooking spray.)  Invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.

Wisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in large bowl; set aside. Toss grated zucchini with 1 cup granulated sugar in colander set over large bowl; drain for around 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently; cook until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer to large bowl; cool for 10 minutes, then whisk in remaining granulated sugar and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, whisking thoroughly before adding the next; add coffee and vanilla. Add flour mixture, stirring until almost combined then add zucchini.

Divide batter evenly between pans; smooth surfaces with rubber spatula. Bake until cake feels firm in center when pressed lightly and toothpick inserted into cake center comes out perfectly clean (40 to 50 minutes.)

Transfer pans to wire racks; cook for 10 minutes.

Run knife around perimeter of each pan, invert cakes onto rack, then turn over. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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.

Letter to the Editor: Carney, Rubino Display Distinct Differences in Response to Trump, Understand Them and Make Your Choice

To the Editor:

In 2016, Devin Carney said of Donald Trump, “Up to this point I have not expressed support for him and have not endorsed him. I’m not supporting him. I’m not supporting Mrs. Clinton either.”  Of course, the polls favored Hillary Clinton at the time so the politically opportune thing for a Republican to do was to ride the fence. Don’t endorse, but don’t rebuke. Since that time, Donald Trump has been caught on video making vulgar comments about women, ignored a global pandemic so profoundly that the U.S. has seen more than 220,000 deaths, overseen the biggest recession since the depression, and sowed racial divisions like no other President in recent history. Even Fox News confirmed that he called our fallen veterans “losers” and “suckers.”  One would think that Carney has ample reason to pick a side now. But he hasn’t. Because disavowing the President will lose him votes. We need a leader who has the courage to take a position on the important issues of the day – even if it will cost him politically.

Dave Rubino has rebuked President Trump from the get-go. When Trump pushed the myth that absentee ballots would lead to fraud, Dave pushed back with the facts. Voters in our district should not have to choose between their health and their Constitutional rights. When Trump said that states like Connecticut had to send their students back to school or lose Federal funding, Dave spoke out. Most significantly, when in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the political tides favored support of Black Lives Matter, Carney spoke with vigor at BLM rallies. But when Trump and his enablers came out against police accountability, Devin fell in line and voted against the police accountability act.

We deserve better than that. We deserve a leader who will stand for what’s right regardless of the political consequences. We deserve Dave Rubino.

Sincerely,

Kim Thompson,
Old Lyme.

Old Saybrook March for Justice, Lyme-Old Lyme Partnership for Social Justice Hold Next Event, Nov. 4, in Old Lyme

AREAWIDE — The Old Saybrook March for Justice and the Lyme-Old Lyme Partnership for Social Justice will co-host their next Teach-In/March Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 5:30 p.m. in Old Saybrook. Participants should gather in front of ‘the Kate.’.

All are welcome. It is requested that everyone should wear a mask at the event.

The schedule for subsequent marches is as follows:
Nov 4 – Old Lyme
Nov 11 – Essex

All marches are on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Old Saybrook March for Justice is an inclusive and welcoming coalition of friends and neighbors, who care deeply about basic human rights.

Their mission statement states, ” We are outraged by centuries of structural racism in this country. We stand with Black Lives Matter. We listen, learn and act. We understand that silence is not an option. We aim to be allies and antiracist. We are respectful, nonpartisan and inclusive. We welcome all who share our values. We educate ourselves and join in weekly marches.”

For further information, email osbmarch@gmail.com with any questions.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Partnership for Social Justice’s mission is to educate residents on important topics of social justice and call attention to opportunities where citizens can support local, state and national social-justice efforts.

For more information, visit the partnership’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LOLPartnership4SJ or send an email to LOLPartnership4SJ@gmail.com.

Letter to the Editor: Rubino’s ‘Impressive and Diverse’ Experience Would Bring ‘Sophisticated Insight’ to State Rep. Position

To the Editor:

An oft-repeated family mantra is “Think globally, act locally.” This is one reason I, an octogenarian, have already voted for Dave Rubino, State Representative Candidate, District 23.

This young man impresses me as a solid citizen, and Old Lyme is lucky that he and his family decided to make our town his home after an impressive and diverse career as a corporate lawyer, and, as an international human rights lawyer. He brings to the position of State Representative, the kind of sophisticated insight needed for fighting COVID, and its insidious progression in healthcare, how to open schools safely, and how to balance the need to reignite our economy by helping small business owners to reopen and convince the public to use sensible preventive health measures by wearing masks, refrain from large gatherings (especially as cold weather will preclude outdoor events), and wash hands.

Regardless of your party affiliation, I encourage you to vote for Dave. His experience in working on women’s rights, climate change, voting rights, racial justice is of the utmost importance as we go into 2021.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Dave. He is a good listener, and a thoughtful responder. I see Dave Rubino as a welcome addition to the State Assembly. We need potential leaders like him!

Sincerely,

Alison C. Mitchell,
Old Lyme.

Letter to the Editor: Carney Cares About Environment, Our Communities; Accomplishes Things in a Bipartisan Manner

To the Editor: 
I care deeply about our environment and that’s why I am proud to support our State Representative, Devin Carney, for re-election. Devin has always been a strong supporter of preserving and protecting our local open spaces, forests, and waterways.

He has supported legislation to improve our coastline resiliency and to create a Long Island Blue Plan in order to better prepare for our future. He understands that our local economy and communities rely upon the health of the Connecticut River and the Long Island Sound.

Devin co-founded the bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus to help work on innovative, fiscally responsible solutions to increase our renewable energy portfolio in the future and to assist in creating jobs in emerging green technologies. I appreciate his forward-looking work in this area and the fact that he wants to accomplish things in a bipartisan manner. This is something we certainly could use more of these days.

His environmental record has been recognized by the League of Conservation Voters who named him an Environmental Champion and gave him their endorsement this year. He’s also a member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, a national bipartisan organization that seeks solutions to issues affecting our environment.

I hope you will join me in supporting Devin for re-election this year as our State Representative. He is committed, independent, and will always work to do what’s right for our communities and our environment.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Thompson,
Old Lyme.

Needleman Endorsed by Independent Party in Re-Election Bid to State Senate

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator Norm Needleman has accepted the endorsement of the Independent Party as he continues his quest for re-election to the Connecticut State Senate.

Sen. Needleman, who announced his candidacy last winter, was unanimously renominated by the Democratic Party to run in the 33rd Senate District. First elected in 2018, Sen. Needleman represents the towns of Colchester, Chester, Clinton, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

“I’m proud and excited by the Independent Party’s endorsement of my campaign,” said Sen. Needleman. “The Independent Party represents an electoral system that encourages different points of view. As someone who is results-oriented and who believes in common-sense solutions, I believe that listening to different points of view works in the best interests of my constituents That’s the mindset I will take back to Hartford if I’m re-elected in November.”

Sen. Needleman serves as Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, and has recently taken the lead in developing the “Take Back Our Grid Act” which will hold utilities more accountable to ratepayers in Connecticut.

In addition, Sen. Needleman is Vice Chair of the Planning and Development Committee and a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding, Transportation and Commerce Committees.

Sen. Needleman founded and runs a manufacturing company, Tower Laboratories in Centerbrook, and is currently serving his sixth term as First Selectman of Essex.

Incumbent State Sen. Needleman Nominated Unanimously to Run Again for 33rd Senate District Seat

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — (Based on a Press Release released by Sen. Needleman’s office) On May 22, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) was unanimously endorsed for re-election to the 33rd State Senate District by Democratic delegates.

First elected to the State Senate seat in 2018, Sen. Needleman represents the towns of  Colchester, Chester, Clinton, Essex, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Portland.

Needleman will be challenged by Republican Brendan Saunders, who is running for the Senate for the first time, although he has been involved in numerous Republican campaigns. Saunders received unanimous endorsement for his candidacy at the Republican District Convention, May 18,

“The need for strong, effective leadership in the State Senate has never been more important than now, due to the crisis created by COVID-19,” says Sen. Needleman in the press release announcing his endorsement, noting, “In my time at the General Assembly, I’ve worked in a bipartisan manner to tackle our most difficult challenges. More now than ever, I believe that inclusive, non-partisan dialogue is what’s needed to solve tough problems. This ‘makes sense perspective characterizes my approach to representing our district in the State Senate.”

He continues, “That’s why I’m anxious to continue my service at the Capitol to help our state recover from this once-in-a-century crisis.  Doing so requires knowledge of town operating procedures, experience in managing local resources and skill in business planning. As your State Senator, I’m utilizing my expertise in those areas to help constituents and small businesses navigate state and federal assistance programs, as well as connect people with the resources they need to sustain their livelihoods and support their health during the pandemic.”

Sen. Needleman serves as Deputy President Pro Tempore, Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, Vice-Chair of the Planning & Development Committee, and is a member of the Commerce, Finance Revenue & Bonding, and Transportation Committees.

He also serves as First Selectman of the Town of Essex.

Sen. Needleman has been instrumental in the passage of a bill bringing wind energy generation to Connecticut. This legislation enables up to 40 percent of future energy needs to come from carbon-free renewable energy and creates a new industry for Connecticut. Needleman states it could add as much as $2 billion to the state’s economy, bringing with it thousands of skilled, well-paying jobs.

Citing other successes benefiting the 33rd District that he has supported, Needleman mentions allowing first responders, police officers, and firefighters to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and assisting passage of a bill raising the age of access for tobacco products from 18 to 21, protecting youths from addiction.

Needleman also sponsored and enacted legislation holding energy companies accountable for prompt responses to power outages and formulated policy solutions to protect rivers and lakes from invasive species.

As founder and CEO of Connecticut-based Tower Laboratories, Needleman has created over 100 well-paying manufacturing jobs directly in the 33rd Senate District.

Brendan Saunders Endorsed by Republicans to Run Against Incumbent Needleman in November

Brendan Saunders is the endorsed Republican candidate to challenge incumbent Norm Needleman for the 33rd State Senate seat.

AREAWIDE — At their district convention held Monday, May 18, Republicans confirmed first-time Senate candidate Brendan Saunders will challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Norm Needleman for the 33rd State Senate seat in November.

In his acceptance speech, Saunders said, “Ronald Reagan once said, ‘the greatness of our nation lies within its people.’ I believe that the greatness of this state lies within its residents. As your senator, I will fight to reverse the trend of raising taxes and fees. I will work to let you keep more of your hard-earned money. I will fight to make living and operating a business in this state less onerous. ”

“Saunders has the ‘get up and go’ and enthusiasm I love to see in a candidate,” said Ed Munster of Haddam’s Republican Town Committee (RTC). Munster, who nominated Saunders, said Monday, “He is a good speaker and someone who listens and is interested in what you have to say. Something voters want in people they elect to public office.”

Saunders and Munster have a history of campaigning together. He helped Munster run for Congress in 1992. While this is Saunders’ first time running for office, he has also helped Westbrook candidate State Representative Jesse MacLachlan, and State Senator Art Linares. Saunders “knows what he is getting into,” said Munster.

Carolyn Kane of Chester RTC, seconded Saunders’ nomination Monday. Kane proclaimed Saunders as both dynamic and grounded with a lifetime of ties to his community. She also said that Saunders has an “approachable demeanor and commanding confidence. He came out of the gate ready to share his plan, vision, and how he would work in Hartford to ensure the 33rd district would be his priority.”

Noting, “In the wake of COVID-19, Saunders retooled his campaign to include an active online presence, strategically using his District tour to highlight his technological savvy and command of communication avenues,” Kane added, “Brendan demonstrates new ways to connect on a personal level and proves his commitment to building lasting relationships with every interaction.”

She said, “His ability to build partnerships is one of the most important skills sets a State Senator must have.”

To support Saunders’ campaign with a donation and to learn more, visit Saunders4Senate.com.

A View from My Porch: Keep Calm and Carry On

Original 1939 UK poster. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

The title of this essay is derived from a poster designed by the British government in the late 1930s to maintain morale when war against Germany became imminent. This essay roughly considers “a day in the life” of Southeastern Connecticut residents as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts each of us and our collective ability to “carry on” our lives as usual. I will present the key elements of this crisis, drawing from the wealth of real data that have become available, and define some of the terms used by our public health professionals so that you can better understand the basis for the required actions.

The Statistics: 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) reported on March 23 that there were 618 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state; with multiple cases in each of Connecticut’s eight counties. Fifty-four patients were hospitalized, and 12 residents have died. Over 60 percent of Connecticut cases are in Fairfield County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 50,000 cases and nearly 700 deaths across the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports over 415,000 cases and nearly 19,000 deaths worldwide. Note that these numbers change, and probably increase, daily. 

Excuse me in advance, but this isn’t our first rodeo; and we’ve successfully dealt with pandemics in the past. These include the HIV/AIDS crisis that began in the mid to late 1970s, and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, our response to COVID-19 was late and disorganized with mixed and confusing messages coming from the highest levels of the federal government. As a result, testing for the disease started late, supplies of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves for health care personnel became scarce, and were not replenished in a timely manner.  The same was true of essential hospital equipment like ventilators, which are the “breathing machines” used for treating patients in severe respiratory distress. 

And so, on March 10th, Connecticut Governor Lamont joined several governors in nearby states and declared both a public health emergency and a civil preparedness emergency. A public health emergency gives the state authority over quarantine, while a civil preparedness emergency grants the governor broad powers over state institutions, allowing him to restrict travel, close public schools, some businesses, and public buildings.

As a result, only “essential businesses”, which include: grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices, hospitals, childcare, auto repair, banks, and emergency services remain open. Restaurants may remain open, but for takeout and delivery only. Schools were closed on March 31, and there is some thought that they may remain closed through the end of the semester. Hospitals have changed visitation rules.

I will not list the “non-essential” businesses. Tele-commuting is encouraged when at all possible. These restrictions and closures have resulted in significant displacement of workers and unemployment has grown.  

Important Terminology: 

COVID-19 is a disease triggered by a coronavirus, which is a relatively common virus that can cause both upper and lower respiratory tract infections. 

In the past, most coronaviruses weren’t dangerous and caused only mild respiratory problems. However, in early 2020, following a late 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type of coronavirus. Officials named this new virus “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus2 “(SARS-CoV-2)”. This highly contagious and virulent microorganism is the agent that causes COVID-19; which can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock, and death.

Older adults and any individual with a serious underlying medical condition are at higher risk for COVID-19’s more serious complications. The CDC notes that people may be most contagious when they are at their sickest. However, note that many cases are still mild to moderate and not life-threatening. These can be treated at home.

You may have also heard this virus referred to as “novel”, which, very simply, refers to a virus that has not been seen before, or has never infected humans before. As such, it’s unlikely that anyone will have immunity, or antibodies that protect them against the novel virus. 

Public health professionals stress the need to “flatten the curve” as a means of controlling this disease. The curve refers to the rate of growth of new cases displayed graphically (i.e., the projected number of new cases over a specific period of time). A “flattened” curve staggers the number of these new cases over a longer period, so that people have better access to care, and do not overburden the healthcare system. 

Transmission:

The virus is spread primarily from person-to-person, commonly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, saliva, or from some hard surfaces on which the virus may live for four or five days and remain infectious for even longer.

Prevention:

The best way to prevent this disease is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC still recommends social distancing to reduce the probability of contact between individuals carrying the infection with others who are not infected. 

The goal is to minimize disease transmission, and its resultant morbidity, and ultimately, mortality. The minimum recommended measures include:

  • Allow six feet of interpersonal space, which means avoid crowded social activities, like going to pubs, bars, and restaurants, sporting events, theaters and cinemas.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently; use hand sanitizers.
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Use the “usual” coughing and sneezing protocols.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

Testing is a good thing:

It is correct that testing does increase the number of individuals identified with the disease, but it also provides the data required to target resources and plan for future needs. Testing is now widely available. All acute care hospitals have the ability to test, although for those that utilize the DPH lab in Rocky Hill, testing is reserved for patients that have been admitted to the hospital.

There are also a number of outpatient testing sites that use private labs, and do not need to comply with the admission restriction. All sites require a physician’s order, who, at present, must make an appointment for the patient.

Critical and Immediate Issues:

This crisis will not end soon. Only one source predicts an end by April 12, which is Easter Sunday in the United States. Most experts agree that an end date is difficult to predict, but 60 days is feasible.

There is currently no vaccine or “miracle” drug specifically targeting COVID-19 — no antiviral drugs are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients with COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and collaborators are working on development of candidate drugs for rapid testing and evaluating re-use of drugs approved for other diseases. Current treatments often focus on protecting against opportunistic infections and alleviating symptoms while the disease “runs its course.”

We do not yet know what the recurrence rate is for patients, who have recovered from COVID-19. 

Americans have never really faced the rationing of healthcare services. It is clear, however, that we must plan for a possible surge of critically ill patients and identify additional space in which to provide care. Unfortunately, it may be possible that our medical professionals will need to make decisions regarding assignment of scarce resources like ventilators. 

I am confident that the United States will allocate resources to support our citizens and small businesses that face economic hardships as we move through this crisis. 

Make certain that you know the source of the information about this disease. The most reliable data comes from Connecticut DPH, Ledge Light Health District, and the CDC. 

Finally, God save the United States if we ever reach the point when we have to value a life lost in this pandemic less than a life lost in an economic downturn (whatever that is.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eversource Conducts Statewide Infrared Helicopter Inspections Through Feb. 28


TRI-TOWN & OLD SAYBROOK — Rights of way in Chester, Dep River, Essex and Old Saybrook are included on the list over which Eversource is currently conducting aerial inspections of high-voltage electrical equipment. This semiannual inspection, which takes place at locations throughout Connecticut, is an important part of the company’s ongoing commitment to providing reliable electric service.

The work involves the use of a helicopter (pictured above) equipped with heat-sensing, infrared scanning technology, which can detect potential equipment issues before they occur.

Inspecting images taken from the Eversource helicopter and looking for potential equipment issues.

The aerial inspections continue through Feb. 28. Weather permitting, flights will take place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

A View From My Porch: Remembering Connecticut Icon William Gillette

Gillette Castle, former home of the iconic movie star and playwright, Connecticut-born William Gillette, who died in 1937.

Editor’s Note: Feb. 12 is the 90th anniversary of William Gillette’s final performance as Sherlock Holmes, given Feb. 12, 1930 at the popular Parsons Theatre in downtown Hartford.

I am going a few miles upstream in this essay towards East Haddam and its medieval gothic castle to consider William Gillette’s impact on how Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed in movies and television. My goal in these essays is to cover the subject thoroughly enough to either satisfy your curiosity, or to pique your interest to pursue some additional research.

Assuming the editor’s forbearance, I will also review, in a subsequent essay, several of the actors who played Holmes or Watson to judge how true they were to either Gillette’s or Arthur Conan Doyle’s artistic vision.

Gillette was born to a progressive political family in Hartford’s Nook Farm neighborhood where authors Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, and Charles Dudley Warner each once resided. His mother was a Hooker, that is a direct descendant of Connecticut Colony co-founder Thomas Hooker. Gillette is most recognized for his on-stage interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. He may have been America’s first matinée idol or to put it another way, the era’s rock star.

The Sherlockian Literature

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. See below for photo credit.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels between the 1880s and the early 20th century that comprise the “canon” of Sherlock Holmes. The stories were first published in Strand Magazine and two of the novels were serialized in that same periodical. 

Holmes defined himself as the world’s first and only “consulting detective.” He shared rooms at 221B Baker Street in London with Dr. John H. Watson, who was a former army surgeon wounded in the Second Afghan War. 

Holmes referred to Watson as his “Boswell” because he chronicled his life and the investigations that they jointly pursued as did 18th century biographer, James Boswell, of Dr. Samuel Johnson.  Watson was described as a typical Victorian-era gentleman and also served as first-person narrator for nearly all of the stories.

Holmes was known for his incredible skills of observation and deduction, and forensic science and logic, all of which he used when investigating cases for his myriad clients, which often included Scotland Yard. He played the violin well and was an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman. He summarized his investigative skills for Watson this way, “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” and, “It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”

However, Holmes had shortcomings. He was a very heavy smoker of black shag pipe tobacco, which he kept in the toe of a Persian slipper on the fireplace mantel at 221B. He also smoked cigars and cigarettes. A very difficult problem was called a “three pipe problem.” 

He used cocaine and morphine to provide “stimulation for his overactive brain” during periods when he did not have an interesting case or as an escape from “the dull routine of existence.” This was not really unusual in that period because the sale of opium, laudanum, cocaine, and morphine was legal and often used to self-medicate or for recreation. This habit was worrisome for Dr. Watson, although he once said of Holmes, “He was the best and wisest man whom I have ever known.”

The Holmes stories were immensely popular and Doyle’s last publication in Strand, “The Final Problem,” elicited such public (and Royal Family) outrage, that there were mass subscriber cancellations bringing the magazine to the brink of failure.

William Gillette. See below for photo credit.

Doyle decided to write a stage play about Holmes, set earlier in the detective’s career. He was probably compelled to do so because there already were several Sherlock Holmes on-stage productions, which provided him no income, and were of such poor quality that he felt the need to both protect his character’s legacy and improve his own income stream. 

He drafted the play and shared it with his literary agent, who sent it on to Broadway producer and impresario, Charles Frohman. Frohman reviewed it and said it needed substantial work before anyone would consider production. He suggested that William Gillette be offered the rewriting task. 

At that time, Gillette was already well-known as a talented actor and a successful and prolific playwright. His approach was a significant change from the melodramatic standards in the American theater of the time. He stressed realism in sets, lighting, and sound effects. Holmes Scholar Susan Dahlinger described Gillette’s acting style this way, “He could be thrilling without bombast, or infinitely touching without descending to sentimentality.” 

So, Doyle agreed with Frohman, and Gillette began the project by reading the entire “canon” of Holmes stories and novels. He began drafting the new manuscript while touring in California with the stage production of “Secret Service,” which he had also written.  He exchanged frequent telegrams with Doyle during the process and, with Doyle’s blessing, borrowed some plots and detail from the canon in adapting Doyle’s original manuscript into a four-act play. 

Unfortunately, neither Gillette’s first draft nor Doyle’s original script ever reached stage production. A fire broke out at Gillette’s San Francisco hotel and both manuscripts were lost. So, Gillette began a complete redraft of his lost script, and Doyle was finally able to present a play before the century’s end that he deemed worthy of Sherlock Holmes.

It is worth noting that Frohman perished on the Lusitania in May, 1915, after it had been torpedoed by a German submarine.

In 1899, Gillette was “predictably” cast for the lead role in “Sherlock Holmes A Drama in Four Acts.” Initially presented in previews at the Star Theatre in Buffalo, NY, it opened that November at the Garrick Theatre in New York City, and ran there for more than 260 performances before beginning a tour of the United States and then on to a long run in London, where it received great critical and public acclaim.

He starred in that role for more than 30 years, and about 1,500 productions in the United States and Great Britain. He also starred in the 1916 silent film, “Sherlock Holmes,” which film-historians have called, “the most elaborate of the early movies.”

Playing a role for so many years was not unusual at that time in American Theater. For example, James O’Neill, father of playwright Eugene, played Edmond Dantès, The Count of Monte Cristo, more than 6000 times between 1875 and 1920.

Some Key Elements of Gillette’s Sherlock

Although William Gillette is really no longer a “household name” — except perhaps,here in Southeastern Connecticut, where much of how we imagine Holmes today is still due to his stage portrayal of the great consulting detective. 

Gillette actually bore some resemblance to the Holmes described by Dr. Watson in “A Study in Scarlet.” Watson notes, “His [Holmes’s] very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination.” 

Gillette’s Holmes appeared in deerstalker cap and Inverness cape. He smoked a curve-stemmed briar pipe, and carried a magnifying glass.  He crafted a phrase that eventually evolved into one of the most recognized lines in popular culture: “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Gillette’s direct style was said to lend a bit of arrogance to Holmes beyond that which Doyle had depicted —  that arrogance has become a hallmark of Holmes’ portrayal in contemporary movies and television.

And finally, Gillette introduced the page, “Billie,” who had actually been played by a certain 13-year-old Charles Spencer Chaplin during the London engagement. At the end of the run, Chaplin began his career as a Vaudeville comedian, which ultimately took him to the United States and movie stardom as the incomparable Charlie Chaplin. 

Some Final Thoughts

I first learned of William Gillette a few summers ago when I visited his remarkable home, “Gillette Castle” built high above the eastern bank of the Connecticut River. I left that visit impressed with Gillette’s creativity in his design of the doors, light switches, and some of the furniture; wondering about his secret multi-mirror “spying” system, and with the assumption that he was just an eccentric artist who liked trains. 

However, I enjoy the Sherlock Holmes literature; and began reading the “canon” at age twelve. I have certainly re-read many of the stories a few more times. Over the past several years, I began to read several authors who write Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels “in the style of Arthur Conan Doyle.” Some of these “pastiches,” as they are called, are quite accurate in style and continuity of Doyle’s themes. 

In researching this essay, I was surprised with the breadth of scholarly work that is currently available regarding Sherlock and Gillette. There are several national and international literary organizations that have also developed around Doyle’s work.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth offers a “Study of Sherlock” course, wherein students engage in critical reading, thinking, and writing by studying the iconic detective.

Our local expert on Holmes is Danna Mancini of Niantic. He has lectured and conducted seminars on The World of “Sherlock Holmes.” He is active in at least two Holmes literary organizations: The Baker Street Irregulars (NYC) and the Speckled Band of Boston.

Of some note, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) tasked by Winston Churchill to “set Europe ablaze” during World War II, had its headquarters at 64 Baker Street and was often called, “The Baker Street Irregulars.”

So, the ‘consulting detective’ continues to inspire novels, movies, and television.

As noted above, I will review several of the actors who played Holmes or Watson in these media in my next essay, and judge how true they were to either Gillette’s or Arthur Conan Doyle’s artistic vision.

Photo credit for the photo of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is as follows: By Arnold Genthe – PD image from http://www.sru.edu/depts/cisba/compsci/dailey/217students/sgm8660/Final/They got it from: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/photodraw/portraits/,where the source was given as: Current History of the War v.I (December 1914 – March 1915). New York: New York Times Company., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=240887

Photo credit for the photo of William Gillette is as follows: Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. William Gillette Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-e15c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

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.

State Sen. Needleman Announces Candidacy for Re-election in 33rd District

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

ESSEX — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) announced his candidacy yesterday for re-election to the 33rd State Senate District. First elected to his seat in 2018, Senator Needleman represents the town of Lyme along with those of Colchester, Chester, Clinton, Essex, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, and Portland.

“It is an honor to be able to represent the 33rd Senatorial District, and I’m excited to continue serving my constituents,” said Sen. Needleman. “My time in the General Assembly has been an incredible experience, and I truly enjoy fighting for my district to ensure we build a stronger future for them and all the citizens of Connecticut. I humbly ask my constituents for the opportunity to do so for another term.”

Needleman serves as Senate Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, Vice Chair of the Planning and Development Committee, and is a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding, Transportation, and Commerce Committees.

Want to Know More About Mosquitoes? Potapaug Hosts Presentation Thursday, All Welcome

TRI-TOWN/OLD LYME — Worried about mosquitoes?

Potapaug Audubon hosts a presentation on Mosquitoes of Connecticut and the Viruses they may Transmit given by John Shepard from the Department of Environmental Sciences Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. at Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall, 52 Lyme St., Old Lyme.

Shepard has expertise in the identification of larval and adult mosquitoes in the northeastern U.S., mosquito biology, and the ecology/epidemiology of arboviruses in the northeastern U.S., particularly West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Come early for cheese and crackers and cider and catch-up conversations. All are welcome.

Visit the Potapaug Audubon website for more information.

For more about
Shepard, visit this link. 

Hear ‘Trout Quintet,’ Bluegrass-, Jazz-Inspired Duos at Musical Masterworks Concerts This Weekend

Doublis bassist Michael Thurber males his debut at Musical Masterworks, Feb. 8-9. Photo by Lauren Desberg.

TRI-TOWN/OLD LYME — Join Musical Masterworks at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. for a program celebrating the return of perennial favorite musicians, violinist Tessa Lark and pianist Jeewon Park, along with an encore appearance by violist Ettore Causa, and the much-anticipated Musical Masterworks debut of double bassist Michael Thurber.

Performing with artistic director and cellist Edward Arron, they will play Schubert’s beloved “Trout” Quintet.

Concert attendees will also hear a collection of original bluegrass- and jazz-inspired duos for violin and bass, composed and performed by Tessa Lark and Michael Thurber. The program also includes the Piano Quartet in A minor by the Spanish composer Joaquin Turina, and an arrangement for violin, cello and bass of the Viola da Gamba Sonata in G minor by J.S. Bach.

Join Edward Arron for an in depth pre-concert talk about the program at 4 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Musical Masterworks’ 29th season runs through May 2020 and includes a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th Anniversary on March 13, 14 and 15, and on May 1, 2 and 3, 2020, when concert-goers will have the remarkable opportunity to hear the complete cycle of Beethoven’s String Quartets.

To purchase a mini subscription ($100 each), a subscription to the Beethoven concerts or individual tickets ($40 adult; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.