February 11, 2016

Seidner Named Old Lyme’s 2015 Citizen of the Year

After being named Old Lyme's 2015 Citizen of the Year Mary Seidner receives a hug and a bouquet from her daughter Libby.

After being named Old Lyme’s 2015 Citizen of the Year Mary Seidner receives a hug and a bouquet from her daughter Libby.

Judging by the number of people who came to the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium for last night’s announcement of the 2015 Citizen of the Year, Mary Seidner was an overwhelmingly popular choice.

The closely-guarded secret of the board of selectmen’s selection for the honor had clearly traveled to a few of the many corners of the community where Seidner makes a noticeable difference. In the audience were folk from Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, of which Seidner is Executive Director, representatives from the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library where she is a Friend, and members of the Midsummer Festival Committee, the Old Lyme Police Department (OLPD), and the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, in all of which she plays a significant role.

When Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder asked Seidner to come down to the front of the auditorium, the large crowd immediately rose to its feet to give her a spontaneous standing ovation.  Reemsnyder then read aloud the Citation announcing the honor to a visibly surprised Seidner, who received the first of many bouquets from her daughter Libby, who had traveled into town unbeknown to her mother for the ceremony.

Reemsnyder opened by saying, “Throughout 25 years as a member of the Old Lyme community, Mary Seidner has demonstrated an impassioned commitment to our children and families.”  She continued, ” An active Lyme Old Lyme Schools volunteer and Girl Scout leader, Mary was active in the Friends of Music at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, and became a Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau Board Member in 2002. A founding member of the Lyme-Old Lyme Early Childhood Council, and the new Community Connections, Mary is also on the MacCurdy Salisbury Educational Foundation Board, a Trustee of Essex Savings Bank, and a member of the Child & Family Agency’s Lyme-Old Lyme Auxiliary.”

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder reads the Citizen of the Year Citation to Seidner (left).

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder reads the Citizen of the Year Citation to Seidner (center).

Reemsnyder then stopped for breath and drew a loud chuckle from the audience of around 70 people when she said with a smile, “But that’s not all …”   She went on to list numerous other organizations in which Seidner is involved in a variety of capacities such as the Essex Savings Bank, where she is currently a Trustee, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut, where she was until recently a board member, and the MacCurdy Salisbury Educational Foundation where she serves on the board.

Noting that, “Mary celebrates her 11th year as LYSB Executive Director this year. During her tenure, the LYSB has forged bonds with local businesses and community members.” Reemsnyder then went to mention several organizations whose very existence in large part can be attributed to Seidner, for example, the Community Action for Substance Free Youth (CASFY), the Lyme-Old Lyme Early Childhood Council, the new Community Connections, and “Most recently, [she] organized and initiated a Juvenile Review Board.”

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen stands with their Citizen of the Year 2015.

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen stands with their Citizen of the Year 2015.

Reemsnyder described how Seidner has also helped to develop especially strong ties with the OLPD, “receiving a Youth/Police Grant for three consecutive years, hosting meetings and sponsoring events that have benefitted young community members.”  Reemsnyder also noted that under Seidner’s leadership, “LYSB’s youth groups … put together 100 backpacks filled with school supplies for survivors of Hurricane Katrina.”

In conclusion, the first selectwoman said, “Mary Seidner was honored as 2013 Board Member of the Year by the Connecticut Youth Service Association, and it is now the Board of Selectmen’s turn to honor Mary Seidner’s commitment to our community by naming her our 2015 Citizen of the Year.”

LYSB Chairman Chris Buckley congratulates LYSB Director Mary Seidner on being named Citizen of the Year.

LYSB Chairman Chris Buckley congratulates LYSB Director Mary Seidner on being named Citizen of the Year.

The LYSB Board Chairman Christopher Buckley spoke warmly of Seidner’s contribution both to the youth of  Lyme and Old Lyme, as well as the whole community. He remarked that she regularly describes the LYSB building as “the small house that does big things,” but Buckley pointed out that Seidner consistently omits to say that she is always there “in the small house” or elsewhere making those ‘things’ happen.

Former Old Lyme Citizens of the Year stand with the latest one to receive the honor: from left to right, Bob Pierson (2012), Lynn Fairfield-Sonn (2014), Jeff Sturges (2011) and Peter Cable (2013)

Former Old Lyme Citizens of the Year stand with the newest honoree, Mary Seidner (center): from left to right, Bob Pierson (2012), Lynn Fairfield-Sonn (2014), Jeff Sturges (2011) and Peter Cable (2013)


He told a brief story of how he and Seidner had both been kept late one night at a meeting and then had to be back at LYSB at 7:30 a.m.the next morning to meet a contractor.  Seidner seemed somewhat distracted during the morning meeting, which took place outside, and finally confessed that she needed to meet with a teenage youth, who was standing across the road waiting for her.

Buckley said it transpired this was a high school student going through a difficult period, who was at that time living in a shelter. Facing many problems — not least of which that he was cold and had no coat — the student had turned to “the one person he knew would help … Mary Seidner.”

Buckley ended there secure in the knowledge that he had demonstrated beyond question why Seidner was the perfect choice for the 2015 Citizen of the Year.

Congratulations, Mary!


Op-Ed: Thoughts on Old Lyme’s Wastewater Situation and Where Blame Lies

With my growing family, my wife and I moved to Old Lyme over 55 years ago.  Then it was another coastal town with a small, stable year-round population and a large vacationer transient group who came here to enjoy the Long Island Sound shoreline beaches for about 10 to 12 weeks in summertime.  Many of these visitors scheduled their time here to mesh with summer school vacations. Some owned cottages, others rented for a week or two, and others for the season.  These cottages were clustered to be within walking distance of The Sound.  The average family had but one car, which the husband took to work, and he would drive to the shore only on weekends.

One example of such a cluster of cottages in Old Lyme was aptly named White Sand Beach.  The sand was dug from borrow pits on Buttonball Road, about a mile inland from the shore.  It was fine, white, and free of clay or soil.  The developer of this community spread this sand on top of a salt-hay Spartina marsh.  Now, Spartina grass is nice to look at but doesn’t lend itself to beach recreation.

This beach community, and others like it, were frequently state chartered beach associations with enumerated powers and responsibilities.  The developer provided paved roads and summer potable water from upland wells.  Water delivery was limited to summer, and many pipelines were hardly buried or were not buried at all.  Winter freezing was not a problem since these pipelines were all drained annually when the summer season ended.  It didn’t matter since the occupants were gone and would not return until the following June.  This pattern repeated itself in several Old Lyme chartered beach associations.

Septic waste disposal was primitive in many instances.  Cottage house lots were rarely large enough to support a conventional septic tank and a leach field plus a reserve leach field.  Some were simply a punctured 55-gallon steel drum that then drained quickly into the ground.  Mother Nature sustained this insult for only 10 or 12 weeks a year, but as the years rolled by – new technologies and new lifestyles put new loads on the natural remediation processes.  Better roads, more autos, longer vacations, and disposal garbage grinders all contributed to additional loading on these already inadequate septic systems.

The thin layer of white sand over a mat of roots and dead Spartina grass and marsh muck is not the ideal soil for aerobic digestion of human waste.  Smells of anaerobic decomposition would come and go, and sometimes the wastewater would actually erupt on the ground around a cottage.

The beach communities limped along in part because there were no drinking water wells near these failing wastewater “systems”.   Remember, potable water was piped in.  Sanitarians knew how to correct the problems, but other forces were also in play.  In Old Lyme, our Registered Sanitarian, operating under the rules of the Connecticut State Health Code, and inhibited by rules from the State Department of Environmental Protection, had few legal tools to combat pollution.  One attempt was by stamping the land records with the words “Summer Use Only”, but after several years, a court found the procedure to be invalid.

As time went on, land values rose, and those summer cottages on postage stamp lots continued to be enlarged, and insulated, and heated, and occupied for longer and longer periods.

Concurrently, several other things were taking place.  The State Legislature that created a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) gave them a blank check for jurisdiction over sewage treatment plants.  Also, they were granted power to regulate wastewater discharges of over 5,000 gallons per day.  The State Health Department retained its control over small flows, but they were restrained from any treatment except the passive septic tank-leach field arrangement.

Furthermore, the DEP also assumed powers over what they called “areas of special concern” and they thus claimed jurisdiction over a neighborhood. Also, they claimed jurisdiction over all wastewater treatment which employs modern technology.  The Health Department must restrict itself to the passive septic tank-leach field treatment.

Now both of our neighbor states, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, permit technology which by aeration and circulation, a home septic system could accommodate greater loads.  This may not be done in Connecticut according to the DEP (now renamed DEEP), even by a registered sanitarian whose work is supervised by a health director, and according to the published Health Code of our State Health Department.  This, it seems to me, is simply a turf war in Hartford for control and the desk in the corner office.  Registered Sanitarians, in both the DEEP and the Connecticut State Health Department, have the same qualifications and must pass the same examinations.

I believe that the drive to sewerize in Old Lyme is mostly from people and organizations that have motives far apart from economy and the environment but rather for power or money.  They should recuse themselves from decision-making since their views are tainted.

Take note also that several of the beach associations in Old Lyme are charted by the State Legislature, and the charters clearly state that these associations may, if they wish, control their wastewater.  However, this control would be at their expense.  This is not quite what sewer proponents are advocating.  They seem to want these projects to be town-wide and not at their expense.  Rather, they seem to expect the municipality, or the state or federal government, to expend tax revenues to correct the problems of their increasing usage of lots that were never intended for year-round occupancy.

I believe further that the DEEP is the fox in the henhouse, making and enforcing rules, with little or no supervision or oversight by the legislature.  For example, the State Health Department publishes a health code, but the DEEP has no comparable document.

If the DEEP is to dump its treated effluent from sewage treatment plants into our streams and rivers, that water should be pristine drinking water quality, and if it is pristine, then why is it not replaced into our aquifers or our ground waters?

Dilution is not the solution to pollution, and the DEEP is the culprit.


Hadlyme Country Market Has New Look, But Keeps Old Traditions

Hadlyme Country Market has a refreshed and welcoming exterior.

Hadlyme Country Market’s refreshed and welcoming exterior greets customers from near and far. Photo by Anna Sawin http://www.annasawin.com/

Looking for a new spot to savor your daily dose of hospitality?

Why not try the new Hadlyme Country Market?  Well, it’s not really new, but rather refurbished and restored.  The market is, in fact, now much like it was in 1905, a place for locals and tourists alike to gather in the quaint and storied town of Hadlyme, nestled to the north of Lyme in southeastern Connecticut. 

Hadlyme Country Market owners Susan Raible Birch (left) and Lisa Bakoledis (right) share a rare quiet moment together.

Hadlyme Country Market owners Susan Raible Birch (left) and Lisa Bakoledis (right) share a rare, quiet moment together. Photo by Anna Sawin, www.annasawin.com

The owners of the Market — Lisa Bakoledis and Susan Raible Birch — have been working to restore the historic landmark since purchasing the building and business in 2012 and are now proudly celebrating three years in business with the unveiling of their “new” market.

Original postcard circa 1905 during the era when Lee Luther Brockway owned the store.

Original postcard circa 1905 during the era when Lee Luther Brockway owned the store.

The Hadlyme Country Market has been a pillar of the riverside since the mid-19th century when steamboats ruled Connecticut. Located near the water, this community center was the hub of commerce and social life. Boaters, locals, and businesspeople came for their market staples and sundries in a traditional neighborhood fashion where everyone knows their neighbor and lends a helping hand.

A photo of Lee Luther Brockway, original owner of the store, circa 1900.

A photo circa 1900 of Lee Luther Brockway, the original owner of the store, adorns the mantle. Photo by Alyssa Puzzo.

The mastermind behind the operation was Lee Luther Brockway, an astute businessman and entrepreneur who recognized the boom from steam boating and new business along the river. As soon as he noticed a turn from boating to more land-based transportation with the arrival of automobiles, he picked up the store and moved it to a better locale.


Photo by Anna Sawin, www.annasawin.com

Now conveniently located near the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry and Gillette’s Castle, the bustling intersection of Rte. 148 and Rte. 82 (Ferry Rd. and Norwich-Salem Rd. respectively) has been the Hadlyme Country Market’s home since 1905. After decades of transitioning owners and falling under disrepair, Bakoledis and Birch, long-time admirers and locals, purchased the store with a vision for their treasure.

Bakoledis, who worked at the store many times over the years, always felt like it was home; maybe because she lived in the apartment above but more likely because she sensed something special about the neighborhood, the people, and the rich history of the small town market.

The renovated interior retains its old world charm with a fresh, new look.

The renovated interior retains its old world charm with a fresh, new look. Photo by Anna Sawin, annasawin.com.

The pair quickly went to work planning a remodel that was true to the market’s rich history and architectural integrity. After pouring over archives and records for images, blueprints, and materials, they came up with a plan that would restore the market to its original beauty plus a few modern comforts to attract a new generation of customers.

The deli offers a tempting array of choices daily. Photo by Alyssa Puzzo.

The deli offers a tempting array of choices daily. Photo by Alyssa Puzzo.

The market was renovated to its original glory with authentic the turn-of-the-century materials salvaged from local historical buildings. In 2013 the doors were opened to the public and Bakoledis and Birch received an outpouring of locals delighted at the return of an institution. What’s more, the new owners took it upon themselves to run the store as Brockway would have, replete with hospitality, charm, and friendly faces.

Room with a view: customers enjoy their morning cuppa in a peaceful setting.

Room with a view: customers enjoy their morning cup of coffee in a peaceful setting.  Photo by Anna Sawin, annasawin.com.

Two years later, the market continues to upgrade with an exterior restoration to the porch completed this fall, a sweet spot for anyone who enjoys sitting where the sun seems alway to shine. On the menu daily are a wide selection of deli-fresh artisan sandwiches and pot pies along with fresh Ashlawn Farm Coffee, newspapers, breakfast and bakery treats. Continuing Brockway’s tradition, Bakoledis and Birch welcome locals and travelers to enjoy old-fashioned treats, treasures, and conversations in a place everyone can feel at home. Birch  sums up the Market’s attraction succinctly when she says, “The Country Market … has a heart like no other.”


Volunteer to Help Those Who Cannot Read, Variety of Openings Available at LVVS

If you have some time to volunteer to build a stronger community and help a local non-profit in tutoring area residents to read, write and speak English, you can start helping almost immediately. Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is looking for board members, a treasurer for the organization, tutor trainees and volunteers.

For more information, contact info@vsliteracy.org or call 860-399-0280.


Part-Time Assistant Needed for Male with Spinal Cord Injury

We have been contacted by a 41-year-old male in Niantic with a spinal cord injury.  He is seeking a part-time assistant for one morning and one evening per week to help him with a variety of tasks.  Duties include personal care, light household chores, and provision of assistance in an exercise program.

Experience preferred, but will train.

For more information, call Chris at (860) 451-8370.


Late Registration Offered to Sing Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ in April with Cappella Cantorum

Late registration and rehearsal for Cappella Cantorum’s performance of Mozart’s Requiem will be Monday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River. All singers are welcome; no auditions are required.

The concert, scheduled for Sunday, April 10, will also feature Mozart’s Regina Coeli. Soloists will be Patricia Schuman, Brian Cheney, Heather Petrie and Christopher Grundy.

Registration can also be done online at CappellaCantorum.org. Membership fee is $50, registration $10 and music $15.

For more information, check the web site or call Barry Asch at 860-388-2871.


Volunteers Needed for Tax Preparation Assistance, Training Starts Jan 11

Volunteer Jay Keiser helps a client prepare their tax return at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office

Volunteer Jay Keiser helps a client prepare their tax return at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office

Volunteers are needed for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to help low- to moderate-income households prepare and file their taxes to ensure they get back the money they have earned.

VITA is a national program of the IRS, and volunteers are trained and certified to ensure that working families and individuals are filing for all of the appropriate tax credits. The program also helps families who might be struggling financially by saving them costly fees associated with tax preparation and rapid refund loans.

The program is looking for volunteers for two VITA sites located in downtown Middletown to provide free tax preparation assistance for eligible taxpayers. Tax preparation is offered January 23–April 12, 2016 at Middlesex United Way’s office in 100 Riverview Center and at NEAT’s office on Main Street.

No prior experience is necessary. Volunteers complete training and are certified by the IRS. Training will be held January 4-7 or January 11-14, 2016, and volunteers need to attend consecutive evening sessions. Volunteers will be trained to let taxpayers know if they qualify for additional tax credits, such as the federal and the state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

VITA volunteers must complete a minimum of one 4-hour shift per week during tax season in the late afternoons and evenings or on Saturdays; maintain confidentiality of all client information; and interact with the public in a helpful and supportive manner. Opportunities to become certified as an advanced tax preparer are also available.

In 2015, the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 570 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes for free and returned more than $770,000 back to taxpayers. Those who filed with Middletown VITA sites had an average adjusted gross income of about $21,000 and received an average refund of $1,656, money they have earned. This impacts not only those who filed their taxes, but also their families and the local economy.

To volunteer or learn more, contact Leah Meyer at 860-227-7409 or leah.meyer99@gmail.com.

VITA is a free program offered by the federal government. Local 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.


Donna Scott’s Slim-Down Challenge Begins at Essex Wellness Center, Jan. 9

Essex Wellness Center welcomes new challenge from new manager

Donna Scott leads participants in a class at Essex Wellness Center.

Donna Scott leads the River Valley Slim-Down Challenge at Essex Wellness Center.

The River Valley Slim-Down Challenge, now in its fifth year, begins Jan. 9, 2016.   It combines exercise and nutrition with a sense of competition and a chance to win some big bucks – all with the goal of losing a few pounds as we head into 2016.

The River Valley Slim-Down Challenge was created by Old Lyme resident Donna Scott, CPR, WLS, formerly of IFoundFitness in Deep River, who has recently been named as Manager of Essex Wellness Center’s Fitness on the Water facility on Novelty Lane in Essex Village.  Scott is certified as a Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She is also AFAA-Certified as a personal trainer, Zumba and Mad Dogg spin instructor. 

“The River Valley Slim-Down Challenge has enough elements to keep people motivated to shed those pounds they’ve been thinking about. Built-in incentives keep participants on track, and the camaraderie to improve personal health is fantastic,” said Scott. “The Challenge isn’t only about losing weight; it also helps to improve balance, flexibility and overall fitness.”

To join the challenge, participants pay an entry fee of $65 and then agree to take a minimum of two weekly Fitness on the Water group classes such as yoga, spin, barre, bootcamp workout, Zumba, or one weekly personal training session. The entry fee includes an initial wellness assessment and nutrition workshops throughout the 12-week period as well as fitness tips, advice and supervision from Donna Scott.

The entry fee goes towards a jackpot, which also gets a boost from small “penalty fees” incurred when a participant misses a weigh-in or gains instead of loses weight in a particular week.

The prize jackpot will be divided by the three top “losers” in terms of body weight percentage. In addition to the jackpot, top ranking winners receive prizes from local businesses including Essex Wellness Center massages, and more.

“Everyone who has entered in the past has lost weight and feels better about themselves, which is the greatest reward of all,” says Scott.

To join the 2016 River Valley Slim-Down Challenge, call 860-581-8225 or email donna@essexwellnessctr.com The Challenge runs Jan. 9 – April 2, 2016. Participants may enter individually or as a group with friends or colleagues. Sign-up before Jan. 9 and receive a three-class pass to Essex Wellness Center’s Fitness on the Water.  

To learn more about Essex Wellness Center, visit www.essexwellnessctr.com or facebook.com/essexwellnesscenter.


Wesleyan President to Address Impact of ‘Black Lives Matter’ on College Campuses, Jan. 15

Black_Lives_Matter_logoThis year university campuses across the country have echoed with the voices of protestors calling for a stronger response to racism in the university community. Meanwhile, tensions on campus have sparked an important conversation about the role of free speech, freedom of expression and political correctness.

Yale University faculty member Erika Christakis resigned after igniting protests when she said that students should be free to push boundaries with Halloween costumes, even to the point of offense. And at Wesleyan University, student leaders voted to cut funding to a campus newspaper after it published an Op-Ed criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Are we watching the next stage of the Civil Rights movement unfolding on our college campuses? Have we arrived at a place as Americans where we can finally talk about race and racism in a way that may lead to a deep transformation of our culture? Or has it gone too far? What is the role of open dialogue and free speech, especially in an academic environment?

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester will mark the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Friday evening, Jan. 15, 2016 when Wesleyan University President and CBSRZ congregant, Dr. Michael Roth will address these questions. Roth will speak during the annual Erev Shabbat service honoring Dr. King. This service will also include Civil Rights songs led by the CBSRZ choir under the direction of Meg Gister.

Refreshments will follow. All are welcome.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester. For more information, call the CBSRZ office 860-526-8920 or visit www.cbsrz.org.


After (Top 9) Victory on ‘The Voice,’ Braiden Comes Home to a Hero’s Welcome

Braiden Sunshine sings to a packed Commons at Lyme-Old Lyme High School. All photos by Missy Colburn.

Braiden Sunshine sings to a packed Commons at Lyme-Old Lyme High School. All photos by Missy Colburn.

(5:44pm: Town of Old Lyme Proclamation text now added) You just know something big is happening at Lyme-Old Lyme High School when you have to park in the junior parking lot …

Well, the signs were right — it really was a night to remember in Old Lyme yesterday evening.  Braiden Sunshine came home from his amazing run on NBC’s ‘The Voice’ in which he ended in Top 9 … and the town certainly rolled out the metaphorical red carpet for him!

The Commons at the high school was packed to capacity with town and state dignitaries, Braiden’s friends and relatives … and a mass of screaming fans!

Despite his now national fame, Braiden remains the humble young man (just 15-years-old) that we all feel we’ve known — and been listening to — for ever, and he gratefully acknowledged the attention he was being given by so many of all ages.

First Selctwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder presents Braiden with a Town of Old Lyme Proclamation.

First Selctwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder presents Braiden with a Town of Old Lyme Proclamation.

When Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder gave him a proclamation officially declaring Friday as ‘Braiden Sunshine Day,’ he betrayed an almost childlike delight. Reemsnyder read aloud the Proclamation, which cleverly used many of the songs that Braiden had sung on “The Voice,” (in bold) as follows:

WHEREAS, it is TRUE that BRAIDEN SUNSHINE is a sophomore at Lyme-Old Lyme High School; and,

WHEREAS, Braiden is the youngest contestant ever to appear on NBC’s The Voice; and,

WHEREAS, With AMAZING GRACE, Braiden earned the loyalty and support of fans across the United States; and,

WHEREAS, Braiden’s performances on The Voice made front page news in newspapers throughout our State, and the lead news story on our local television and radio stations; resulting in a RADIOACTIVE reaction in our community, and,

WHEREAS, Viewer response to Braiden’s performances on The Voice led to his advancement to the semi-finals!; and,

WHEREAS, Friends in Lyme & Old Lyme were FEELING GOOD about seeing Braiden’s parents (& later, grandparents!) in the audience of the Voice; and,

NOW, THEREFORE, the Board of Selectmen of The Town of Old Lyme hereby proclaims December 18, 2015 as Braiden Sunshine Day in the Town of Old Lyme, and encourages all residents, businesses and organizations in the Town of Old Lyme to celebrate Braiden’s success!

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno then invited Braiden to serve as the Grand Marshall of the 2016 Fourth of July Parade in that town — another honor Braiden gleefully accepted.

Next up was State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd), who presented Braiden with a State of Connecticut citation, the text of which noted it was in recognition of: “Your top 9 finish on Season 9 of NBC’s “The Voice”, adding, “You have made Lyme, Old Lyme, and the State of Connecticut very proud for all you were able to accomplish. Not only was your wonderful singing ability on display for the world to see, but your courage and kindness were as well. We are all looking forward to your bright future ahead.”

Braiden took questions from the huge audience at one point.

Braiden (center) took questions from the huge audience at one point.

And then the moment for which the fans had been waiting … Braiden sang … and he didn’t just sing … he sang his heart out … accompanied by long-time friend and fellow performer Ian Maxwell.  Braiden sang songs that were his personal favorites and songs that he had performed on ‘The Voice.’  Each one was followed by deafening applause, cheers and screams.

Braiden was home for Christmas … and the people of Lyme and Old Lyme came out in force to celebrate his success and show him how proud they were of him … congratulations again, Braiden!


Old Lyme Historical Society Offers Books, 2016 Calendars for Sale

2016_Calendar_coverThe Old Lyme Historical Society (OLHS) is offering its books and 2016 calendars for sale. Covering decades and centuries of local history and personages, they make unique gifts for friends and family.

The OLHS center is located in the old Grange Hall at 55 Lyme Street. For further information, visit www.olshi.com, or just stop by the Grange.

Bye, Bye Braiden … Hometown Boy Loses ‘The Voice’ But Wins Our Hearts

The star of the show ... Braiden signs autographs on his way into Tuesday evening's show.

The star of the show … Braiden signs autographs on his way into Tuesday evening’s show.

He may not be a finalist on NBC’s ‘The Voice’ but 15-year-old Braiden Sunshine of Lyme has won over more fans than he will ever know — not only in Lyme and Old Lyme but across the nation.  A sophomore at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, Braiden advanced through the contest all the way to Monday night’s semifinals, where he gave a remarkable performance of “Amazing Grace.”

He will not be coming back to Lyme any time soon, however, because he must sing again next week in the final.  We’re sure that when he does return, he will receive a hero’s welcome.

Congratulations again, Braiden — you had a fantastic run and gave a huge amount of pleasure to millions.  We’re sure you have a golden future ahead of you!


Hadlyme Residents John Catlett, Jacqueline Kangley Join High Hopes’ Board of Trustees

High HopesHigh Hopes Therapeutic Riding, one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding centers in the United States, recently elected two new members to its Board of Trustees. John Catlett, and Jacqueline Kangley, both of Hadlyme, were voted into office at High Hopes’ 41st Annual Meeting in late October.

John Catlett spent 26 years with global consulting firm Accenture before retiring as a senior partner. In that role, he focused on the pharmaceutical industry specializing in Research and Development and Supply Chain. Catlett first became aware of High Hopes when his daughters attended summer camp and then later served as volunteer with the organization. He earned a degree from Drew University and holds an MBA from Lehigh University.

Jacqueline Kangley is the owner/designer of Jacqueline Kangley Handbags, as well as oversees product development and online marketing and sales for Amelie Michel French Table Linens. She began volunteering at High Hopes 15 years ago in the therapeutic riding program. She serves on the organization’s Fund Development Committee, as well as co-chaired events such as concerts, auctions, decor and marketing benefit committees. Kangley is a graduate of the Hotchkiss School and Dartmouth College.

“John and Jaqueline are wonderful additions to our Board of Trustees,” said Kitty Stalsburg, High Hopes’ Executive Director.  “Their management experience and extensive knowledge of our work to improve the lives of those with disabilities makes them a tremendous asset to High Hopes.”

High Hopes Board of Trustees also includes its newly elected officers, Chair Barbara Ballard, Odyssey Enterprises; Vice Chair Jane Bolles, Saybrook Country Barn; Secretary Margaret (Mac) Mummert,VCA Companion Animal Hospitals; and Treasurer Deborah Welles, CPA. Other Trustees are Vice Chair Development Jeffrey Ridgway, Caulfield & Ridgway; Sarah Hill Canning, Williams/Mystic (Retired); Laura Giordano, Travelers Insurance; Cheryl Kelly Heffernan, Trails End Barn; James M. Childs, William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty; James Scott Douglas, Dancker Sellew & Douglas; Jeb N. Embree, Essex Financial Services (Retired); John C. Evans, Xplore Productions/Essex Television Group; Andrew L. Russell, Hall Communications; Seymour Smith, U.S. Navy/Connecticut Bank & Trust Company (Retired); and Barbara Willkens, Dominion.

To learn more about High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, visit www.highhopestr.org, call 860.434.1974, follow us on Facebook at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. and Twitter @HighHopesTR.


Duck River Garden Club Hosts Community Wreathmaking Event, Dec. 8

339x354-Christmas_wreath_fundraiserThe Duck River Garden Club will host its Annual Community Wreathmaking event on Monday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at Roger’s Lake Community Center, Roger’s Lake Trail, Old Lyme.

Duck River Garden Club members and friends plan to create 18 large holiday wreaths for our town buildings. In addition, Girl Scouts and members will make “tussie mussies’ to decorate trays delivered by Meals On Wheels to Old Saybrook and Lyme/Old Lyme residents.

New members are most welcome. Bring some greens, gloves, clippers and the gift of your precious time—along with lots of holiday cheer. Refreshments will be served. There is no charge for this event.


Happy Thanksgiving … and Let’s Talk Turkey

We wish all our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving and are pleased today to republish an article that our good friend Linda Ahnert first wrote for us to celebrate Thanksgiving in 2007.

Who Doesn’t Love Thanksgiving?

By Linda Ahnert

Giving thanks_bookA few years ago, a book entitled “Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie” was published.  The co-authors are Kathleen Curtin, food historian at the Plimoth Plantation, Mass., and Sandra L. Oliver, food historian and publisher of the newsletter “Food History News.”

The book is a fascinating look at how an autumnal feast evolved into a “quintessential American holiday.”

Most Americans, introduced to the story of the Pilgrims and Indians during childhood, assume there is a direct link between the traditional holiday menu and the first Thanksgiving.  But we learn from the book that many of those food items—such as mashed potatoes and apple pie—were simply impossible in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621.  Potatoes were not introduced to New England until much later and those first settlers did not yet have ovens to bake pies.

What we do know about the bill of fare at the first celebration in 1621 comes from a letter written by colonist Edward Winslow to a friend in England:  “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.”

Later 90 Indians joined the party with “their great king Massasoit whom for three days we entertained and feasted.”  Then the Indians “went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation.”

So venison was a principal food on the menu.  It also seems safe to assume that mussels, clams, and lobsters (all in plentiful supply) were served as well.   According to other journals of the colonists, the “fowl” that Winslow described were probably ducks and geese.  But wild turkeys were also bountiful in 1621, and so it is very likely that they were on the Pilgrims’ table.  Thank goodness for that.

Throughout the New England colonies, it became common to proclaim a day of thanksgiving sometime in the autumn.  In period diaries, there are many descriptions of food preparation—such as butchering and pie baking—followed by the notation that “today was the general thanksgiving.”

By the 19th century, Americans were taking the idea of a “thanksgiving” to a whole new level.  The religious connotations were dropping away in favor of a holiday celebrating family and food.  Roast turkey had become the centerpiece of these fall celebrations.

Turkeys, of course, were native to North America.  (Benjamin Franklin, in a letter, had even proposed the turkey as the official U.S. bird!)  And turkey was considered to be a fashionable food back in the mother country.  Just think of the significance of turkey in Charles’ Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  When Scrooge wakes up in a joyful mood on Christmas morning, he calls to a boy in the street to deliver the prize turkey in the poulterer’s shop to the Cratchit family.  (Earlier in the story, the poor Cratchits were dining on goose.)

It is thanks to a New England woman that Thanksgiving became an American holiday.  Sarah Hale was a native of New Hampshire and the editor of “Godey’s Lady’s  Book,”  a popular women’s magazine.  She lobbied for years for a national observance of Thanksgiving.  She wrote editorials and sent letters to the president, all state governors, and members of Congress.

Finally, in 1863, she convinced Abraham Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving Day might help to unite the Civil War-stricken country.   The fourth Thursday in November was now officially on the American calendar.

Connecticut’s own Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this description of a New England Thanksgiving in one of her novels—“But who shall . . .describe the turkey, and chickens, and chicken pies, with all that endless variety of vegetables which the American soil and climate have contributed to the table . . . After the meat came the plum-puddings, and then the endless array of pies. . .”

The autumnal feast became a national holiday, but each region of the country put its own spin on the menu.   Not to mention that immigrants have also added diversity.  The result is a true “melting pot” of America.  The second half of “Giving Thanks” contains recipes that reflect what Americans eat for Thanksgiving in the 21st century.

In the South, for instance, the turkey might be stuffed with cornbread and there would be pecan and sweet potato pies on the table.  In New Mexico, chiles and Southwestern flavors may be added to the stuffing.

There’s the “time-honored traditional bread stuffing” recipe.  There’s also one for a Chinese American rice dressing and directions for a Cuban turkey stuffed with black beans and rice.  Desserts run the gamut from an (authentic) Indian pudding to an (exotic) coconut rice pudding.  Old-fashioned pumpkin pie is included as well as the newfangled pumpkin cheesecake.

But no matter what food items grace our Thanksgiving tables, it seems that we all end up stuffing ourselves silly.  Perhaps overeating started at that very first harvest celebration in 1621.  In Edward Winslow’s letter describing the feast with the Indians, he noted that food was not always this plentiful. But he wrote his friend in England “ … yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”


Come to Ivoryton for the Sixth Annual Ivoryton Illuminations, Dec. 5


IVORYTON — Looking for a different way to celebrate Christmas? Then head down to Ivoryton for the Sixth Annual Ivoryton Illuminations on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The entire village of Ivoryton will be participating in this Holiday Extravaganza with carol singing, Santa’s Grotto, Holiday Bazaar, and culminating with the arrival of Santa and the lighting of the states’ largest living Christmas Tree at 6:30 p.m. Ivoryton will be lighting up the holiday with over 300,000 lights throughout the village.

Family activities include writing letters to Santa and cards to our soldiers at the Ivoryton Library; Christmas Craft making and visits with Santa in the Playhouse (bring your camera if you want a picture!); a Holiday Bazaar featuring community and local church groups in the Fire House; Six Summit Gallery is featuring 100 pieces of fine art for gift giving (and free poster or book with purchase) as well as special events at The Ivoryton Tavern, Blue Hound Cookery and Taproom, The Copper Beech, Elephant Crossing, Hammered Edge, The Ivoryton Inn and Porky Pete’s BBQ & Brew.

Music will be provided by The Sweet Adeline’s and other local musicians who will be playing at various locations throughout the village.

Free parking will be available at the First Congregational Church and The Copper Beech Inn with a shuttle bus service to the village. The Illuminations will shine brightly through Jan. 5, and visitors can tune their car radios to 101.5FM and watch as the lights dance to the music.

This event is supported entirely by volunteers and sponsors including Essex Lions, Essex Savings Bank, Valley Courier, Riggio & Sons General Contractors, Wilcox Tree Service and Essex Rotary Club.

If you would like to experience some real Christmas cheer, then come and join the party in Ivoryton, the brightest village in Connecticut!

For more information, visit www.ivorytonalliance.org


Have You Voted for Braiden Yet?

An all-new look for Braiden was revealed at his last performance. Photo by E. Sunshine.

An all-new look for Braiden was revealed at his last performance. Photo by E. Sunshine.

Lyme’s own Braiden Sunshine is the only Connecticut representative on NBC’s The Voice this season, and at 15, he is the youngest ever to appear on the show.  The program, which is currently the top-rated show on television, airs tonight at 9 p.m.

During the conclusion of the previous show, Sunshine was revealed as one of the top 20 contestants moving on to the Live performances, which start tonight.

A official photo of Braiden for 'The Voice.'

A official photo of Braiden for ‘The Voice.’

We caught up with Sunshine — a sophomore at Lyme-Old Lyme High School — yesterday in Los Angeles where he is busy rehearsing for tonight’s live competition.

In an exclusive e-mail interview with LymeLine.com, he told us that his favorite experience so far on The Voice has been, “Meeting the incredible people other artists and making life-long friends. These guys are incredible performers and amazing people.”  He added that other highlights have included, “Meeting and working with the coaches, meeting my idol John Popper and playing on stage with Blues Traveler.”

We asked how long he has been singing and Sunshine responded, “I started singing at five, but I joined my first band at age nine.  We recorded two original albums, then they headed off to college, so I have been singing with another group named Stone Creek and doing a lot of acoustic solo performing.”  Sunshine is well-known in Old Lyme as a veteran performer at the Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau annual talent show, The Bizz, which has organized viewing parties for both his performances to date.

Finally, we wondered how life back at Lyme-Old Lyme High School has been between the shows and how his classmates have reacted to his new national stardom. He replied, “They were really happy for me. A lot of people congratulated me and were asking lots of questions about the coaches.”

He summed up the whole experience in the words, “This has been a dream come true!”

To keep this incredible experience alive for this naturally humble young man (and, of course, the associated fame for Lyme and Old Lyme!), Sunshine is now dependent on votes to continue advancing in the show, so here at LymeLine.com, we’re delighted to show our support for him by sharing information about how to vote for Braiden.

There are four voting platforms:

  1. The Voice app on your phone
  2. Twitter:follow Braiden.sunshine
  3. The Voice Facebook page
  4. NBC.com/thevoice website

Each platform will accept up to 10 votes from each viewer.

Additional votes can be cast with an iTunes purchase:

If you download the song performed on the show, it counts as one vote, but if the song is in the Top 10 at the close of voting, iTunes votes are multiplied by 10.

Voting is open for 14 hours, starting at 10:01 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9.

Vote while the show is in progress on Monday using the voice app.

Voting closes at noon on Tuesday.



Editor’s Note: Follow Braiden by going to BraidenSunshine.com. Follow this link to view Braiden’s performance on the previous show: http://youtu.be/fqBCeI0B26A


Sunshine Advances Again on ‘The Voice’

Braiden Sunshine on 'the Voice' Monday night.

Braiden Sunshine on ‘the Voice’ Monday night.

Lyme-Old Lyme High School freshman Braiden Sunshine won his knockout round in ‘Team Gwen [Stefani]’ on NBC’s ‘The Voice’ Monday evening and now advances to the live playoff round.

Sporting a new hairstyle and wearing a snappy suit causing him to look much older than his mere 15 years, Sunshine sang a Michael Bublé number, ‘Feeling good,’ that just wowed the judges.  There wasn’t really much discussion about who was the winner of his round.

Congratulations, yet again, to Braiden on this incredible achievement!

The whole town will be rooting for you in the next round …


Letter to the Editor: Old Lyme BOF Attorney Suggestions are Sensible, Now Let’s Move Forward Collaboratively

To the Editor:

Findings given in Old Lyme WPCA Probe,” The Day-October 22, 2015, accurately summarizes the preliminary findings of the outside attorney, Robert DeCrescenzo, hired by the Old Lyme Board of Finance to determine whether cost overruns in the WPCA’s waste-water study for the DEEP were the result of improper conduct.

I attended the Board of Finance meeting and listened to attorney DeCrescenzo outline his conclusions and recommendations and find them exceedingly logical and reasonable.  He recommended the formation of a project-specific oversight committee consisting of members from the Board of Selectmen office, the Board of Finance and the WPCA, in part because he found a “not uncommon, lack of institutional communication.” The attorney also made clear what he did not find: “I found no evidence that anyone working on the project was not working in the best interest of the Town of Old Lyme.  They were all working to complete the goal, which was to finish the waste-water management study.”  

The attorney’s sensible recommendations to appoint a three-member oversight committee and the appointment of a town employee as project manager should be immediately endorsed by the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance. Let’s move forward in a collaborative manner in order to complete the waste-water management study and identify solutions consistent with DEEP requirements while balancing the best long term interests of all Old Lyme residents.


Jeff Hartmann,
Old Lyme


Complete a Survey on Underage Drinking, Help LYSB, CASFY Win $1,000

LogoIn order to win $1,000, the Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) and the Community Action for Substance Free Youth Coalition (CASFY) need adult community members to complete an online, anonymous survey regarding underage drinking and other youth substance use in Lyme and Old Lyme.

All adults living in Lyme or Old Lyme are eligible to complete the survey.

The survey results will also help understand the community’s perceptions of youth substance use and assist the CASFY Coalition with future prevention planning.

This brief survey is available now at www.lysb.org.  It is completely anonymous and confidential.

LymeLine readers can help by completing the survey and asking their friends in the community to do so, too.

Your assistance is much appreciated.