May 30, 2015

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore Host Murder Books Promotion During May

“M” is for May…..Murder and Mayhem at Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) Book Sale. Now that warmer weather is finally here after an endless winter, take some time for yourself with a book sitting on the porch or back deck.

Feature titles include James Patterson’s “Cross-Double Cross,” Steve Martini’s “Guardian of Lies” and Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol- Inferno” along with many other spine-tingling page turners.

All promotional books are on sale for half price- hard cover books are $1 and paperbacks at $.25. Also, our supply of jigsaw puzzles are clearance priced at $0.50 as well for hours of fun.
The LVVS is gearing up for summer too with a “Paperbacks for the Beach” theme so look for that promotion next month. Stock up for your summer reading pleasures.

Stop in Monday-Thursday between the hours of 8am -2pm. The LVVS bookstore is located on the lower level of the Westbrook Library, 61 Goodspeed Drive. Contact Literacy Volunteers at 860-399-0280.

The LVVS is lways accepting gently used books, including paperbacks, 2005 or newer.


New Management Sets Sights on Placing Phoebe’s BookCellar on Community’s Collective Radar

BookCellar co-managers Paulette Zander (left) and Ann de Selding (right) discuss new plans for "the only bookstore in town" with Friends of the Library President Mary Haymann.

BookCellar co-managers Paulette Zander (left) and Ann de Selding (right) discuss new plans for “the only bookstore in town” with Friends of the Library President Mary Haymann.

If you haven’t been to The BookCellar located in the basement of the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library recently, there are more reasons than ever to stop by and visit.  The BookCellar represents a major resource to the community and yet many Old Lyme residents are unaware of its existence.  But now there are more reasons than ever to stop by since the place now has a whole new look with more space for both browsing and sitting, attractive face-out displays and a brand new ’25 cent sale’ section.

The BookCellar management team hard at work.

The BookCellar management team hard at work.

The recently appointed co-managers Paulette Zander and Ann de Selding are well on their way to transforming the BookCellar into one of those delightful little bookshops that have all but disappeared, primarily due the impact of online shopping.  This transformation isn’t really a great surprise when one considers Zander is the former owner of the beloved ‘Happy Carrot’ bookshop in Old Lyme.  Meanwhile, de Selding worked at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts for more than 12 years as the Director of Alumni and Volunteer Relations, meaning that organizing — and reorganizing — is in her DNA.

Books are The BookCellar's business.

Books are The BookCellar’s business.

An ardent book-lover, who previously turned her passion into her business, Zander comments enthusiastically about her new position, “I’m living vicariously through this — just touching and fondling the books is rewarding.”  De Selding elaborates further on Paulette’s involvement in The BookCellar, saying, “Paulette’s legacy [from The Happy Carrot] to this community — and to these books — has morphed into a wonderful continuity for the town.”

Mary Haymann has some fun in the Children's Corner!

Mary Haymann has some fun in the Children’s Corner!

The BookCellar houses upwards of 7,000 books, which include, but are not limited to titles falling under the following sections: History, Classics, Biographies, Gardening, Cooking, and Children & Young Adults and, of course, an enormous supply of fiction and non-fiction.  There’s no question that there’s something for everyone in the BookCellar so Zander and de Selding hope to make The Cellar a frequent stop for book lovers, as well as one that is affordable to all.

In addition to the basement, The BookCellar offers a selection of very gently used books and DVDs for sale in the main lobby of the Library.  Each month features a different theme and, in a nod to the long-awaited season, April’s theme is appropriately Spring Pursuits.

Lift_doorBuilt in 1995, along with a new addition to the Library, The BookCellar operates under the umbrella of the Friends of the Library, the volunteer fundraising arm of the Library.   It is fully staffed and managed by more than 55 dedicated volunteers, including de Selding and Zander.  Friends of the Library President Mary Haymann is enormously appreciative of all the volunteer efforts, noting that they are helping to support what, “… is now really the only bookstore in town.”  Moreover, she stresses, “When you buy a book in The BookCellar, you are supporting the library.  All proceeds from the Cellar go directly to library.”  Every one of the books, DVDs and CDs is donated by local area residents allowing sales from The BookCellar to contribute around a staggering — and most welcome – $20,000 each year to the Library’s budget.

Vintage and rare books are files together.

Vintage and rare books are filed together.

Many of the library volunteers, including Haymann, have made a long-term commitment to the institution.  Haymann has been president of the Friends since 2008, but her involvement with the library goes back much further.  Her father Joseph Dunn was the librarian for 20 years from 1947-67 and her mother, Mae Dunn, followed in his footsteps in the early 70s.

New volunteers are always welcome at The BookCellar and de Selding notes, “The hours are flexible meaning they are as long or short as you choose — and the pay is priceless!”  On a more serious note, she continues, “We would love more folk to join us here – it’s a great work environment.  We never know what the next drop-off of donations will bring, so there are plenty of surprises and treasures in our business.  You can volunteer just a few hours each month and we really have a lot of fun down here.”  If you are interested in volunteering, contact or call 860.434.1684 and ask for The Book Cellar for further information.

The Cellar is also able to “pay it forward” by donating thousands of books, which are shipped to Ghana, as well as numerous books to the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme for the annual White Elephant Sale; children’s books to the Soup Kitchen (through the Henderson Project); and age-appropriate books to the Lymes’ Senior Center.  The BookCellar will also be present at the Midsummer Festival at the Library, where a huge number of books will be for sale.

Stacking shelves is all in a (volunteer's) day's work.

Stacking shelves is all in a (volunteer’s) day’s work.

Donations of books are welcome year-round.  If you’re currently doing some spring cleaning and have some books to donate, take them to the Library during operating hours* and place them in the box near the elevator on the lobby level.

Zander and de Selding are also planning to start a twice-yearly collection program in May and December, when they will arrange pick-up of books from resident’s homes.  The program is still in its development phase but watch for more details soon in announcements from the library and published on

Operating year round, The BookCellar is open on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  For a limited period of time, the Cellar will be open Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

*The library is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1- a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.  It is closed on Sundays.




RiverQuest Offers Osprey/Eagle Cruises in April

An osprey, returned from his winter spent in the southern hemisphere, feeds his young on the nest.

An osprey, returned from his winter spent in the southern hemisphere, feeds his young in the nest.

Late March into early April is when the Osprey returns to Connecticut from its southern wintering grounds. It is a wonderful sign that spring is here …

The Osprey is a large bird of prey (raptor) with a wingspan up to 6′ that eats fish, hence, it is sometimes referred to as the fish hawk. Connecticut Ospreys migrate south in late August through late September to areas where their food supply will not be affected by frozen rivers and lakes, sometimes as far south as Argentina. Ospreys of breeding age, at least three-years-old, are returning north now to start a new nest or to re-establish and re-build a nest they may have used in previous years.

Ospreys nest along the edges of the lower Connecticut River, from the mouth of the river in Old Lyme/Old Saybrook up river as far as Middletown. There will be activity on the many man-made nesting platforms at the Roger Tory Peterson Preserve near the mouth of the river in Old Lyme and on several other nesting platforms on the river, in “natural” tree settings and on the top of each of the navigational day markers that indicate the river channel. It is also hoped there will be Ospreys nesting on the new Osprey platform placed on the 101-year-old East Haddam Swing Bridge.

A great way to see this nesting activity is by boat. RiverQuest, an eco-tour vessel located at Eagle Landing State Park in the Tylerville section of Haddam is offering several cruises to the general public throughout April to view and learn about the Osprey and other wildlife that may be spotted, including hawks and another famous raptor, the American Bald Eagle.

After disappearing from Connecticut in 1948, the Bald Eagle has made a return and there are several active eagle nests on the river. It will be possible to view two of these nests from RiverQuest and very possibly, see one or more of the local resident Bald Eagles.

Other areas of interest that will be seen on the cruise include the Goodspeed Opera House, Gillette Castle and the Chester/Hadlyme Ferry. The cruises are about 2.5 hours in length and cost $40 per passenger (no children under 10-years-old.) There will be complimentary coffee and tea and a limited supply of binoculars on loan for the cruise.

To learn more about these informative cruises and/or reserve your spot with the easy on-line booking system, visit or phone 860-662-0577.


Join a ‘Discovery Sunday’ at the Florence Griswold Museum

A family enjoys 'Discovery Sunday' at the Florence Griswold Museum.

A family enjoys ‘Discovery Sunday’ at the Florence Griswold Museum.

The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme invites visitors to shake off any leftover winter blues and celebrate Discovery Sundays each Sunday afternoon through the summer. In addition to the popular “Make-A-Painting” activities, where visitors of all ages use the Museum’s supplies to create their own masterpieces, Discovery Sundays now include a new outdoor Art Cart that guides families to explore the grounds and its connection to the artists, who famously painted there.

Seasonal buildings including the Chadwick Studio and the Rafal Landscape Center are now open for the season.  And with any luck, now you’ll finally find some color in the garden!

The Museum is open every Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and all activities are included with admission.  Children 12 and under are always free. The Museum is closed Easter Sunday.

The Florence Griswold Museum is known as the Home of American Impressionism. In addition to the restored Florence Griswold House, where the artists of the Lyme Art Colony lived, the Museum features a modern exhibition gallery, education center, landscape center, extensive gardens, and a restored artist’s studio.

The Museum is located at 96 Lyme St., Old Lyme, CT, exit 70 off I-95 and is open year round Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8 students, and free to children 12 and under.

For more information, visit the Museum’s website or call 860-434-5542 x 111.



Truck Accident Snarls Lyme Street Intersection

Yesterday's collision between a truck and the Lyme Street tunnel under I-95 resulted in this scene.  All photos by Jaroslav Kosmina.

This was the aftermath of yesterday’s collision between a truck and the I-95 overpass on Lyme Street resulted in this scene.  Photo by Jaroslav Kosmina.

On Tuesday morning, a tractor-trailer attempting to maneuver the Lyme Street overpass experienced damage to the trailer, and the road was temporarily closed from the I- 95 overpass to the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts.


View of the damaged tractor-trailer from the rear. Photo by Jaroslav Kosmina.

Traffic could still reach the Exit 70 on-ramp, but severe congestion resulted as traffic built up on Rte. 156 and Halls Rd.

Oh dear ...

Oops!  It seems the tractor-trailer driver misjudged a few things….

Lyme Street was reopened around 1 p.m.


LVVS Seeks Volunteers to Help Valley Shore Residents with Reading, Writing

Literacy Volunteers-Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization. Their mission is to train tutors to teach Basic Reading (BR) and English as a Second Language (ESL) to residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills. This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a 14-hour program conducted over seven sessions held each spring and again in the fall of every year. The next training session begins March 26 and runs through May 12.

Workshop Leaders at LVVS have developed a comprehensive program that provides prospective tutors the skills and resources to help them succeed. A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to helping a student improve their skill in basic literacy or English as a Second Language over the period of one year after the completion of training.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, contact the Literacy Volunteers office in the basement of Westbrook’s Public Library by phone at 860-399-0280 or by e-mail at Registration for the fall session is open now and the deadline for applications is March 2.


High Hopes Hosts Volunteer Enrichment Conference Today, All Welcome

HorsesHigh Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. is hosting a Volunteer Enrichment Conference today, Monday, Feb. 16, which is also President’s Day.  The event, which runs from run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is a one-day conference offering sessions on a variety of topics related to the High Hopes’ volunteer experience.

A small registration fee gives you the choice of four sessions during the day and lunch is also included.  Sign up now and spend an interesting and fun day at High Hopes.

Choose from topics offered during three different sessions and hear experts talk about equine care, people care, great High Hopes stories from our past (did a horse really fall into a swimming pool?) and more.

Presenters include experts like Jane Strong, certified Equine Experiential Learning Instructor, Marty Whittle, a certified Yoga Alliance RYT instructor, Tim Hayes, a nationally recognized natural horsemanship clinician and Carolyn Jagielski, Physical Therapist.

Registration is just $10 and includes a lunch from Coffee’s Country Market and Deep River Snacks.

All are welcome.  

Click here to view detailed information on the presentations from which to choose and/or register.


Literacy Volunteers Feature Romance Novels in February Book Sale

AREAWIDE — February’s monthly book promotion by Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) features romance novels. Authors include Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jackie Collins, Jude Deveraux and many more. Hard covers are on sale for $2 and paperback for only 50 cents.

The book sale is located at the LVVS offices in the lower level of the Westbrook Public Library 61 Goodspeed Dr. Westbrook, Conn. Hours are: Monday- Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

All proceeds LVVS tutoring programs. Contact us at or 860-399-0280.


Free Tax Help Available for Households Earning $53,000 or Less Through VITA Program

Volunteer David Morgan assists a client with taxes last year at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office.

Volunteer David Morgan assists a client with taxes last year at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an official IRS program, and all tax preparers are trained and certified to ensure that low- to moderate-income families receive the refunds and credits that they have earned, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

In 2014, the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 530 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes for free and returned $767,781 back to taxpayers. Those who filed with Middletown VITA sites had an average Adjusted Gross Income of $19,676 and received an average refund of $1,706, money they have earned. This impacts not only those who filed their taxes, but also their families and the local economy.

Appointments are required and are being offered during the evenings and on Saturdays in downtown Middletown. To make an appointment, dial 2-1-1 from any phone. 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Individuals should bring a check or bank statement for direct deposit of their refund. Direct deposit is the quickest way to receive the refund, usually within 7 to 14 days. When attending their pre-scheduled appointment, individuals should bring: valid photo ID for yourself and your spouse; social security cards or ITIN for everyone in the household; birth dates for everyone in the family; documentation for all income; interest and dividend statements; documentation for deductible education expenses and student loan payments; total amount paid for child care as well as day care provider’s tax identification number and address; property taxes paid, including automobile taxes; evidence of health care coverage in 2014; a copy of last year’s federal and state income tax returns, if available; and the current year’s tax package if you received one.

Middletown VITA sites are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team. The Middlesex VITA Coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services.


Old Lyme Police Advise Residents to Beware of Phone Scam

The Old Lyme Police Department has made the following announcement:

“Please share with your family and friends. Most important are the elderly, they are easily targeted.

Be aware of phone calls or messages that state the following of something similar, “this is and urgent last attempt to contact you, the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you, please call the following number”. They then identify themselves as the IRS and inform you that the Police will be visiting you in the very near future unless you wire them cash or purchase cash cards to provide them with the bar code information over the phone. They will demand that you do this immediately and not to contact the police.


Contact the Old Lyme Police Department at 860.434.1986 if you receive one of these calls.


Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Re-Open Today, Update on Trash Pick-up

Looking up a snow-covered road in Old Lyme.

Looking up a snow-covered road in Old Lyme.

Close to 20″ of snow fell overnight in Lyme and Old Lyme, school is cancelled, businesses are closed, but the snow ploughs are already out and hard at work.

Both Wednesday and Thursday’s trash and recycling will be picked up on Thursday.

Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools, the Lymes’ Senior Center, and the Old Lyme Transfer Station will all be closed on Wednesday.

Trash and recycling from Tuesday’s Old Lyme route will be picked up on Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m.

Although the snowfall is winding down, and the statewide travel ban has been lifted, continue to follow these simple safety precautions:

  • Exposure to cold temperatures and sustained winds can contribute to hypothermia and dehydration. If you go outside, dress in layers and wear hats, scarves and gloves.  Remove wet clothing as soon as you are back indoors.
  • Make sure outside vents to your home are cleared of snow.  Do not run a vehicle inside a garage that is attached to your home, even with the door open.
  • If you suspect you may have been exposed to CO and experience dizziness, light-headedness or nausea, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Call 911 to report all emergency situations
  • To report a power outage, call 800-286-2000,or text the word “outage,” followed by a space and your zip code, to 24612.

Tidal flooding is still possible — the next high tide is 5:29 a.m. tomorrow morning.

A parking ban remains in effect throughout Old Lyme — keep all vehicles off the roads so they can be safely cleared by the Old Lyme Public Works Department.

The Old Lyme Emergency Operations Center telephone number is 860.598.0120.

If you have not already done so, register for Old Lyme Alerts to receive phone/ text messages about emergency situations.  You can register anytime – it’s not too late. Click on Emergency Management on the Town website: and follow the simple instructions.

The Regional Emergency Shelter administered by the Red Cross  is open at East Lyme Middle School on Society Rd. Old Lyme residents and their pets are welcome.  Take all medications with you.

Please send us your photos of the snow for possible publication to

Thank you and stay warm … and safe!


Compassion Counts: Join a Shoreline Community Forum in Westbrook Tonight

Join this shoreline community conversation to listen and learn from each other and work together to support mental wellness with meaningful action. This discussion titled, ‘Compassion Counts: Exploring Mental Wellness in an Age of Stress and Anxiety’ will explore mental wellness in an age of stress and anxiety.  It will be held on Thursday, Jan. 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Westbrook High School, 156 McVeagh Rd, Westbrook.

Snow date is Feb. 3, same place and time.

Light refreshments will be served.

Dan Osborne, Executive Director, Gilead Community Services will be the moderator.

Robert W. Plant, Phd the Senior Vice President at Valueoptions – CT Behavioral Health Partnership, will give the introduction.

Panelists include:

  1. Squitiero, a mother of a son recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
  2. Allen, a professional recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
  3. Dr. Lisa Donovan of Old Lyme, a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
  4. Alicia Farrell, Phd, a cognitive psychologist and daughter of a suicide victim.
  5. Robert W. Plant, Phd, Senior Vice President at Valueoptions – CT Behavioral Health Partnership.

A light meal will be provided.

This is a FREE event. You may register online here.

For more information, contact Lucy McMillan at (860) 301-6634 or

Free 1.5 CEUs: This program has been approved for 1.5  Continuing Education Units by the National Association of Social Workers, CT and meets the continuing education criteria for CT Social Work Licensure renewal.

Partners for this event include:

• Aware Recovery Care • Child & Family agency • Clearview Consulting & Mental Fitness •
• Community Foundation of Middlesex County • essex Community Fund • Gilead Community Services • • Hamilton Educational Learning Partners • Joshua Center Shoreline-Natchaug Hospital •
• Middlesex Hospital • naMI Connecticut • Pathways • Region ll Regional Mental Health Board •
• River Valley Services•Comerrudd-Gates & Linda Nickerson•Rushford: a Hartford Healthcare Partner • Sierra Tucson • Turning Point •


Community Foundation Supports Scholarships for KinderMusik Program, Free Preview, Jan. 27


01/27 Update: The Community Music School is closed today due to the inclement weather. This event will be rescheduled.

Through a generous grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Community Music School is pleased to offer scholarships for the award-winning early childhood development program, Kindermusik.

A free demonstration day is being offered on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m. for families with infants and toddlers interested in the program. The demonstration takes place at Community Music School, 90 Main St. in Centerbrook (in the Spencer’s Corner complex next to Essex Elementary School).

The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of the County, now and in the future, by developing endowments, making grants that have impact and assisting donors in meeting their philanthropic objectives. Since its founding in 1997, the Community Foundation has awarded 1,100 grants totaling over $3.3 million for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities, environmental improvements and for health and human services.

With more than 25 years of experience in early childhood development, Kindermusik is the world’s most trusted name in musical learning. It is a carefully researched, developmentally based program that offers children their first experiences with music and movement in classes that are inviting and enjoyable.

The classroom curriculum is supplemented with engaging take-home materials. If you’re looking for something special to share with your child, Kindermusik is the answer. Community Music School faculty member Martha Herrle will lead these engaging and fun music education sessions.

For additional information about the Kindermusik program or for a scholarship application, please call 860-767-0026 or visit


Old Lyme Church Hosts Organ Concert, Feb. 8, as 350th Anniversary Celebrations Continue

Illustration by Arthur L.Keller taken from a 1906 edition of the Ladies' Home Journal.

Illustration by Arthur L.Keller taken from a 1906 edition of the Ladies’ Home Journal.

Throughout 2015, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme will celebrate 350 years of history. A series of concerts and a talk on the historic landscape of Lyme Street will commemorate the rich legacy of the past and ongoing connections that link the church and the larger community.

The next event in the year-long celebration is:

Simon Holt: An Organ Recital
“Spanning 350 Years of Organ Music”

Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015 at 4 p.m.

Public worship began on the east side of the Connecticut River in 1664 when the New London County Court acknowledged that there were “thymes and seasons” when inhabitants could not attend Sabbath meetings in Saybrook and ordered them to agree on a house where they would gather on the Lord’s Day. A year later, Articles of Agreement defined a “loving parting” that created a separate “plantation” on the river’s east side, which would soon be named Lyme.

The first minister, Moses Noyes, a Harvard graduate from the Boston area, settled in the growing community in 1666. Rev. Noyes helped to found the Collegiate School in Saybrook that later became Yale and was elected the twelfth Trustee of the college. Most famous among Lyme’s ministers was Rev. Stephen Johnson, who used a pen name to publish fiery letters in a New London newspaper urging colonists to resist British authority and fight for liberty. He later served as chaplain in the regiment led by Col. Samuel H. Parsons from Lyme and reached Roxbury at the end of the fight for Bunker Hill.

In colonial times, the meetinghouse was not only a place for public worship but also for town meetings and, after stocks were erected in 1685, for public punishments. Over the centuries, community disputes, family quarrels and local scandals played out within its walls. Beginning in 1719 with the creation of a separate Congregational parish in the east section of Lyme, other churches, first Baptist and Methodist followed by Episcopal and Roman Catholic, met the religious needs of the community.

The first three meetinghouses stood on a hill overlooking Long Island Sound. After a lightning strike destroyed the third of those structures in 1815, the church was relocated to its present site closer to the village. Master builder Samuel Belcher from Ellington was hired to design a fourth meetinghouse beside the town green and the cornerstone was laid on June 10, 1816.

That stately white church with its graceful steeple and columned façade, painted repeatedly by the country’s most prominent landscape artists, burned to the ground on July 5, 1907, in what was almost certainly an act of arson. Rebuilt to replicate Belcher’s design after a community-wide, fund-raising campaign, the fifth meetinghouse, dedicated in 1910, remains today as both a vibrant center of faith and fellowship and the town’s most important historic landmark.

For more information, visit or call the church office at (860)-434-8686.

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is located at the intersection of Ferry Road and Lyme Street in Old Lyme, CT.


Grabowski, Mesham Receive Eagle Scout Awards, Feb. 7

Luke Grabowski (left) and  Owen Mesham will receive their Eagle Scout awards at a Feb. 7 ceremony in Old Lyme.

Luke Grabowski (left) and Owen Mesham will receive their Eagle Scout awards at a Feb. 7 ceremony in Old Lyme.

Boy Scout Troop 26, who are sponsored by the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme and hold their meetings at the Lyme Fire House, will be hosting a very special event next month, as they honor two young men who have achieved Scouting’s Highest Rank, Eagle Scout.  Luke Grabowski and Owen Mesham have completed the rigorous requirements and will be presented their awards at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor on Saturday, Feb. 7, in Old Lyme.

The fact that a young man is an Eagle Scout has always carried with it a special significance, not only in Scouting, but also as he enters higher education, business or industry, and community service.  Achieving the rank requires perseverance to complete the extensive requirements list over a scouting career, culminating in a significant Service Project that the Scout must both design and lead.  The project must also require a substantial amount of planning and coordination.  Only about five percent of all Boy Scouts earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

Grabowski’s service project was construction of a bridge on the Honey Hill Preserve in Lyme.  With the guidance of the Lyme Land Conservation Trust, he planned and led the construction of a bridge roughly 35 ft. in length that connected two sides of a trail over a stream on the Preserve.  Grabowski prepared the blueprints, obtained materials and led fellow troop members in the construction last summer.  He is a senior at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, whose future plans include attending college in the fall of 2015 to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Mesham’s project was to construct a 28 ft. long wooden foot bridge that spanned a stream in the Lyme Land Conservation Trust’s Gungy Preserve in Lyme. The bridge is for hikers, but it was specially designed to facilitate mountain bikers also. Behind the construction phase of the bridge were many hours of designing, gathering materials, communicating and coordinating with the troop.  Mesham, who is currently a senior at the Sound School in New Haven, has received a congressional nomination to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, in King’s Point, N.Y., and hopes to receive an appointment this spring.  If accepted, he plans on majoring in Marine Transportation.

Both boys will be honored at a Court of Honor to be held at 2 p.m. on Feb. 7, at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme on Ferry Rd., Old Lyme.


“House of Cards” Director to Speak at CBSRZ, Feb. 1

John David Coles

John David Coles

Connecticut fans of Netflix’s addictive phenomenon ‘House of Cards,’ can get a rare inside look into how this series on the struggle for power in Washington is made.

Executive producer/director John David Coles will speak at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 1, just weeks before the long-awaited Feb. 27 release of season 3. No tickets are required and the event is free of charge as part of the synagogue’s 100thanniversary cultural arts programming.

‘House of Cards’ stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Spacey, playing a sinister Frank Underwood, aims to beat back enough enemies to rise to the White House. A Washington Post reviewer noted that the “back stabbing, bed hopping, betraying, compromising and scandal mongering” captures ageless, Shakespearean themes. Coles and the creative team based the story on a 1990 BBC television miniseries and earlier book by Michael Dobbs, but let the actors and story craft fresh approaches to the ethics and psychology of power.

Coles is an award-winning director and producer known for evocative material with compelling performances from some of today’s most respected actors. He has enjoyed success in features, television and theater while his production company, Talking Wall Pictures, has focused on the development of cutting edge feature and television projects.

Coles shot his first full length 16mm film at age 17 – a wry update of “Casablanca” re-imagined in a high school. While at Amherst College he directed a documentary about the school that was aired on PBS, and soon after was making short films for Saturday Night Live.

He then went on to become an editor on Francis Coppola’s “Rumble Fish” and “The Cotton Club.” His feature directorial debut, “Signs of Life,” starred Beau Bridges, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Mary Louise Parker. The film won the International Critics Prize at Deauville and launched a prolific and versatile directing career.

In television, Coles is one of the few directors who is equally adept at both drama and comedy. He has directed numerous Emmy Award-winning series ranging from “Sex and the City” to “The West Wing,” and many other notable shows such as “Justified,” “Damages,” and “Bates Motel.” Coles recently directed A&E’s “Those Who Kill” with Chloë Sevigny, and the new Starz original series Power.

His success as an episodic director allowed Coles to begin a producing career and one of his first projects, “Thief,” led to Andre Braughers’ Emmy award for Best Actor. Other executive producer credits include hit drama “Elementary,” “Unforgettable,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” with Jeff Goldblum, “3LBS” with Stanley Tucci, “New Amsterdam,” and the drama “Wonderland,” a critically acclaimed series that addressed the frail boundaries of insanity within a New York City hospital’s psychiatric ward.

Coles continues to write and create original dramas through Talking Wall Pictures, which produced the CBS drama “Songs in Ordinary Time” (based on the Oprah Book Club pick) starring Sissy Spacek and Beau Bridges and co-created and executive produced the series “Crash and Burn.” Talking Wall has developed numerous projects with HBO, CBS, New Line, IFC, Bravo and worked with numerous distinguished writers, including Academy Award nominated Mike Weller (“Hair”), Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright (“Quills”), Kate Robin (“Six Feet Under”) and Ann Peacock (“Nights in Rodanthe”).

In the theater world, Coles was a member of the Circle Rep Lab and an alumnus of Wynn Handman at the American Place Theater. His Off-Broadway credits include directing the critically acclaimed play “The Impostor” starring Austin Pendleton and Calista Flockhart, as well as “Johnny Suede,” starring Tom DiCillo.

Coles lives in New York with his wife Laura and his children, ­­­­­Sam and Jessica. He is a Sundance Director’s Lab Alumni, and teaches at the Columbia University Graduate Film Program.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester. Founded 100 years ago, CBSRZ translates as House of Peace Seeking Justice. Pegged as a “cultural center and architectural landmark” by the Jewish Ledger, CBSRZ goes by the moniker “ancient and cool” because of its pioneering fusion of renewed tradition with spiritual learning, cultural expression, and prayer labs. Located on the Connecticut River, it is the only public building ever designed by the internationally renowned artist Sol LeWitt. Find more information, 860-526-8920 or or


Fire Breaks Out at Structure Near Tiffany Farm Sunday Morning

Photo by Lisa Simiola.

Photo by Lisa Tiffany Simiola.

Fire broke out Sunday morning at a structure near Tiffany Farm in Lyme.  Lisa Tiffany Simiola tells LymeLine, “They say it was a chimney fire. We’re just blessed that the winds weren’t strong and that the fire house is right next door … The fire department has been a savior for us multiple times …”

The fire — at a house Tiffany Simiola says was occupied by a farmhand and his family — has now been extinguished.

Donations for those who experienced loss or damage due to the fire will be collected at Lyme Public Hall between 1 and 3 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 19.

Click to read more information on the WFSB website at this link:


Saint Ann’s Church in Old Lyme Hosts Four Winter Concerts, Ukrainian Vocal Group Sings Today

The Yevshan singers who will perform at Saint Ann's Church on Sunday.

The Yevshan singers who will perform at Saint Ann’s Church on Sunday.

Over the winter months Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church in Old Lyme will present four exciting concerts in its ongoing Music Series. Concert performers and dates are as follows:

Sunday, Jan. 18 at 10:30 a.m. and 12 noon – Yevshan Singers

This Hartford-based Ukrainian a cappella vocal ensemble will join Saint Ann’s 10:30 a.m. worship service, singing two Ukrainian sacred songs. They will then perform a “mini-concert” (approximately 30-40 minutes) of their folk music during Saint Ann’s coffee hour. The performance is free and the community is welcome to attend either or both of these events.

Saturday, Jan. 24 at 4 p.m. – Family HooteNanny with The Nields

Gather up the kids and come to Saint Ann’s for an all-ages jam-along/family chorus. Led by Nerissa and Katryna Nields, the HooteNanny is about singing, dancing, playing instrument, big and small, and about indulging the imagination and creativity of the entire family. Admission cost for the concert is $10 per family.

Saturday, January 24 at 7 p.m. – An Evening Concert with The Nields

The renowned folk-rock sister duo of Nerissa and Katryna Nields performs a selection of original music. As Spin Magazine noted, “Listen to the Nields twice and you’ll start to catch the twists in the tales, the quirks and ironies that make every song a short story, and then you’ll be hooked.” Reflections upon life and relationships are the theme of the Nields’ songs–their performance is a must for lovers of intricate vocal harmonies. Admission cost for the concert is $10.

The public is invited to a Pasta Buffet Supper that will be served between the Nields’ two concerts – from 5 to 6:30 the Griswold Room at Saint Ann’s. Tastily prepared, the menu will please the taste buds of all ages. Cost for the supper is $5, children 5 and under are free.

Sunday, March 1 at 3pm – Elm City Girls’ Choir.

Saint Ann’s welcomes the return of this pre-eminent New Haven-based choral ensemble. At this concert they will be joined by choral groups from Old Lyme and from the Isaac Middle School in New London. The Elm City Girls’ Choir is comprised of young women, ages 7 to 18, drawn from throughout the state. The choir has performed with many outstanding choral groups, including The American Boychoir, CONCORA, New York Virtuoso Singers, and Yale Schola Cantorum. They have also toured extensively throughout North America and Europe. A free-will donation will be taken; the proceeds will help to support Saint Ann’s concert series for the community.

Saint Ann’s is an Episcopal parish in Old Lyme and, under the direction of the rector the Rev. Canon Mark K J Robinson, invites and welcomes all visitors to attend these performances in their music series.

Saint Ann’s is located at 82 Shore Road (Rt. 156), two miles off I95, exit 70. Parking is adjacent to the church.

For reservations and more information contact Kathy Rowe at 860-434-1621, via email at , or visit Saint Ann’s online at


Bluesman Dan Stevens Opens MusicNow’s Winter 2015 Series

Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens

The MusicNow Foundation, Inc. kicks off Nightingale‘s Acoustic Series Winter Schedule 2015 this evening at 7 p.m. in the Sheffield Auditorium of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme with a concert by American Bluesman, “Ramblin” Dan Stevens. Doors open at 6 p.m.

There will also be an Acoustic Young Artist Showcase featuring Noah Feldman, Ethan Cash and Drew Cathcart.
Stevens will perform a mix of traditional blues, americana and originals and has entertained audiences  throughout the US, Germany, UK, Canada and Virgin Islands.  His unique style of “bottleneck” slide playing popularized by early bluesmen.
A finalist in the International Blues Challenge on Beale St. in Memphis, Tenn., and protege of the legendary Dave Van Ronk, Stevens has been lauded as a raconteur and for the authenticity of his approach.   He will be joined by The Mellow Men, featuring multi-instrumentalist Kipp “Kidd Caviar” Sturgeon and harmonica virtuoso Blunt White plus special guests.

The ‘Blues Rag’ published by the Baltimore Blues Society describes Stevens as a,”Troubadour of acoustic blues [who] has a knack for capturing the essence of the blues.”

Tickets are $10 or $5 for students.  For reservations, email


Old Lyme Library Hosts Presentation on Smuggling at Sea During Prohibition

Motor boat making contact with a liquor-laden schooner.

Motor boat making contact with a liquor-laden schooner in 1923.

On Thursday Jan. 15, at 7 p.m., guest speaker Robert McKenna of Noank, Conn., will give a presentation at the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library on the making of the 2013 Emmy Award winning documentary, The Real McCoy, about the pioneer Rum Runner who fueled the Roaring 20s.  The enterprising and adventurous Bill McCoy was one of the most celebrated characters of the Prohibition era.  

Learn the facts about the early days of rum running and the origin of the phrase, “It’s the real McCoy” through the film maker’s eyes and commentary.  Question and answer time will follow the presentation. 

All are welcome and admission is free.

Robert McKenna is an author and the expert on rum running during Prohibition.  He has researched, updated, edited, and republished six books about liquor smuggling in the 1920s, and was a researcher, subject matter expert, and Executive Producer of the five-time Emmy Award winning documentary film “The Real McCoy” (2012), and a contributor to Connecticut Public Television’s Emmy Award winning documentary “Connecticut Goes Dry” (2012).

He is also a lecturer on the “The Rum War at Sea,” and the author of the popular 2009 Wooden Boat Magazine article “The McCoy Brothers” about boatbuilding and rum running.  As a former Coast Guard officer he interdicted smugglers, and practiced the legal precedents that were established during the Prohibition-era.

The Library is located at 2 Library Lane, off Lyme Street in Old Lyme.  Winter hours are Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration required by calling 860-434-1684 or visit to register online under the Events calendar.

If the Library’s parking lot is full, additional spaces are available on Lyme Street. There is also a parking lot behind the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall across the street from the Library