May 3, 2016

Lyme Library Board President Steps Down After 31 Years

Lyme Library Board President Judith Lightfoot is retiring after more than 30 years service.

Lyme Library Board President Judith Lightfoot is retiring after more than 30 years service.

After more than three decades of service to the Lyme Public Library, Judith Lightfoot has announced her intention to resign as board president this spring. Jack Sulger, a library trustee, will take over from Lightfoot.

Lightfoot’s resignation comes a year and a half after the opening of the library’s new, 6,800-square-foot, state-of-the-art building near Lyme Town Hall, an undertaking she first championed and then helped shepherd through construction and completion.

“Under Judy’s leadership, the library has evolved into a dynamic and modern institution that still retains its small-town charm, and the new library building for which she advocated so passionately for so many years is now a reality,” said Theresa Conley, Lyme Public Library Director. “It has been a privilege to work with and learn from her.”

Lightfoot was first appointed to the Lyme Public Library Board in April 1985 and was elected board president in 1989. During her 31 years of service, the library has won the Award of Excellence for Small Libraries, Excellence in Public Library Service Award, and the Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge Award.

In addition to moving into its new, larger, and more modern headquarters, the library has grown in ways that Lightfoot finds particularly important, becoming a busy, popular destination and gathering space for patrons of all ages. It has also become a community center where the unique qualities of Lyme and its residents can be adequately celebrated and honored.

The new building has several meeting rooms, including a large program room where large-scale events are regularly held, from author talks, poetry readings, and book groups for adults to reading, art, and science programs for children. The library also has a designated archive room, where the Lyme Local History Archives and the town archivist are now headquartered.

Lightfoot, a quintessential people person, was instrumental in inspiring others to support the library, its programs, and its mission. She and her husband, Richard, helped create a series of community-building and fund-raising initiatives for the library, including a popular concert and Mystery Dinner event, a centennial lecture series, panel discussions with local authors, and a tour of Lyme artists’ studios. 

In part through her efforts to promote and honor local talents, the library became the beneficiary of several important donations and collections. The late author Dominick Dunne, a Lyme resident and patron of the library, donated all the videos he had reviewed for the Oscars to the library, and the Jewett family donated 500 gardening books from the collection of the late Tucky Jewett.

The library has also received several important works of art, adding to its impressive collection of paintings by Lyme artists. Recent donations include a Lyme landscape by the late painter Barbara Eckhardt Goodwin and a collection of four collages by Judy Friday, two of the artists featured in the first Lyme Artist Studio Tour. This winter, Elizabeth Enders, featured in the second Lyme Artist Studio Tour, donated a contemporary landscape.

Lightfoot, who moved to Lyme with her husband and four children in 1976, has also served the local and broader community through her work with High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, where she served for many years as president and trustee. In addition, she served as president and trustee of North American Riding for the Handicapped of Denver, President and trustee of Horses and Humans Foundation of Cleveland, President and member of the Westchester, N.Y., Council of Junior Leagues, Secretary and trustee of the Hopkins School, New Haven, and Secretary and director of the Lyme Public Library Foundation.

For her many volunteer efforts, Lightfoot has received several awards, including the James Brady Award from North American Riding for the Handicapped and the Hartford Courant Volunteer of the Year Award. In 1990, she was invited to attend the White House signing of the American with Disabilities Act 1990.

Lightfoot, who has four children and 13 grandchildren, said she feels this is the right time to step down from her position on the library Board. “It has been a pleasure to serve the library for three decades,” she said. “I have so enjoyed watching it grow and thrive, and I am thrilled to be leaving it in the capable hands of my colleagues, Library Director Theresa Conley and incoming Board President Jack Sulger.”

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Registration for ‘Tour de Lyme’ Now Open; Event Benefits Lyme Land Trust, Bikes For Kids

SiloSmile Small Web viewThe Lyme Land Conservation Trust announced it is pleased to again host used bike drop offs along with Reynolds Subaru for Bikes for Kids, Old Saybrook, CT.  Any sized donated bike is welcome.

Reynolds Subaru, 286 Hamburg Road (Rte. 156), Lyme, Conn., is accepting used bike donations from May 9 to May 21, 2016.

Registered riders for the Tour de Lyme can drop off used bikes for donation on May 15, 2016 on arrival at Ashlawn Farm’s parking lot prior to signing in for their cycling event.

Bikes for Kids is a charity organization that collects, refurbishes and distributes bikes primarily to kids, teenagers and some adults to CT families in need.  All refurbished bikes are distributed with new cycling helmets.

Bikes for Kids since its founding in 1989 has collected, refurbished and distributed 18,000 bikes to  families primarily in the inner cities of New Haven, New London, Middletown and Hartford.  Bikes for Kids efforts extend beyond CT and include deliveries to Bell Harbor, New York, Haiti and 30 mountain bikes to Tanzania.

John Pritchard, President of the Lyme Land Trust the organizer of the Tour de Lyme, said “Bikes for Kids is one of our area’s outstanding outreach organizations.  We’re delighted again to serve as a host site along with Reynolds Subaru for  used bike donations.”

David Fowler, President of Bikes for Kids, and a former science teacher in Lyme Old Lyme’s Middle School, indicated we put people on wheels who would either be walking or not really going anywhere at all.  “Last year we delivered almost 1,400 bikes and with the help of the Tour de Lyme collected 150 bikes in the last two years.  We hope to deliver and collect more this year.”

The motivating factor of Bikes for Kids’ Founder was “every kid needs a bike”.

For Early Bird home pick-up contact: Dave Fowler, 860-388-2453 or davefowler05@gmail.com

Or drop offs can be made from May 9 to May 21, at Reynolds Subaru, 286 Hamburg Road ( Rte 156), Lyme, CT 06371.

For additional information on the Tour de Lyme go to www.tourdelyme.org; for Bikes for Kids, www.bikesforkidsct.org

 

The Lyme Land Trust inaugurated Tour de Lyme in 2013 as an annual bike ride to raise funds to support its mission of preserving and protecting environmentally important land in Lyme.  More than 725 riders participated last year.

The Tour de Lyme is intended for all to enjoy. It is not competitive (there are no “races” or timed finishes), but rather is designed as a way to showcase and celebrate the preservation of Lyme’s spectacular natural beauty. While some of the courses will be challenging, there are others intended for casual cyclists, and there is even a family ride.

Departure times are designed so that all riders will return to Ashlawn Farm for lunch at about the same time.

Details of the ride options are as follows:

The Challenge– 60 miles – The name says it all.  Changes we have made are sure to please returning riders. A few more beautiful miles, a hill or two eliminated but still a challenge. Detailed cue sheet here and a map of the Challenge Ride 2016. Ride departs at 8:00am. Follow red arrows.

The Valley35 – 35 miles –The popular Valley rides are less hilly than the Classic. The Valley35 is a longer version of the original with the northern loop of 9 added miles along beautiful roads. Detailed cue sheet here and a map of the  Valley 26&35 Rides. Ride departs at 9:00am. Follow green arrows.

The Valley26 – 26 miles – A scenic fun ride. Detailed cue sheet here and a map of the Valley 26&35 Rides. Ride departs at 9:30am. Follow green arrows.

The Classic – 25 miles – Shorter than The Challenge but still challenging. Ride departs at 9:30am. Detailed cue sheet here and a map of the Classic Ride 2016. Follow blue arrows.

The Family – 8 miles – ideal for families riding with children. For returning riders, please note we have reversed the route direction to avoid confusion at some turns.  Ride departs at 10:15am. The Family Ride cue sheet here and a map of the Family Ride. Follow purple arrows.

The Church Goers Ride – 7.6 to 8.8 miles – After services, approximately 11:45am riders leave Old Lyme Congregational and Christ the King and meet up with other riders at Saint Ann’s and then ride to Ashlawn Farm. Follow purple arrows.  Detailed cue sheet and map coming soon.

To register for any of the rides listed above, visit http://www.tourdelyme.org/register/

For additional information about the Tour de Lyme, visit http://www.tourdelyme.org/

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‘The English Lady’ Presents Fundraising Lecture for South Lyme Chapel, May 12

Maureen Haseley-Jones

Maureen Haseley-Jones

Maureen Haseley-Jones presents her ‘Garden Earth’ lecture as a fundraiser for the South Lyme Chapel from 6.30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, Lyme Street in Sheffield Auditorium. She will teach how to create an organic garden without using harmful poisons.

Also known as The English Lady, Haseley-Jones is a sought after and highly respected lecturer, writer, and radio gardening expert heard monthly on WRCH Radio Lite 100.5 FM by thousands of dedicated fans throughout Connecticut.

In her naturally humorous and upbeat manner, The English Lady will teach how each of us can oxygenate our environment and develop a symbiotic relationship with the Earth. She will show not only how to create a beautiful garden that flourishes but more importantly how to maintain it organically and without the use of harmful poisons.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 10.58.20 PMBut even closer to her heart, The English Lady will discuss ways in which we can, through our garden’s living spirit, become inspired to reach and connect at a deeper level with the meaning and purpose of Mother Nature and her changing seasons.

The English Lady recognizes that at present, more than any other time in history, people need to make conscious choices about their health, lifestyle, and homes.  She says, “People need to know that even the smallest gesture of a garden has positive effects and rewards on the environment.”

For more information on The English Lady, visit www.theenglishlady.com

There will be refreshments and a free raffle.  Donations will be appreciated at the door.

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Essex Savings Bank Announces 2016 Community Investment Balloting Results

essex-savings-bank-300x99Results from Essex Savings Bank’s customers recent voting in the Bank’s Community Investment Program were announced at a meeting of employees, directors and trustees at the Bank’s Plains Road Office on April 12. According to Thomas Lindner, Vice President and Community Relations Officer for Essex Savings Bank, 7,206 votes were cast this year for a total of $33,001.

The non-profits that received the top ten number of votes were in attendance for special recognition. They are, in order: Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Forgotten Felines, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Valley Shore Animal Welfare League, Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Bikes for Kids, Dog Days Adoption Events, Essex Fire Engine Company Number 1, Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) and Pet Connections. See full results here.

The customer balloting portion of Essex Savings Bank’s 2016 Community Investment Program began on February 1 and concluded on February 29. The program entitled the bank’s customers to select up to three charities from this year’s list of 80 qualified non-profit organizations. Fund allocations are awarded based on the results of these votes.

Gregory R. Shook, President and Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank, said, “As we celebrate our 165th year of operation, we are proud to share in our success by giving back. Our Community Investment Program is designed to provide vital financial support to those organizations that enhance the quality of life in our communities.”

Each year the bank donates up to 10 percent of its net income to non-profit organizations within the immediate market area consisting of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. Since the program’s inception in 1996, the bank has donated over $4 million to well over 200 organizations. This year, the bank has allocated $110,000 to assisting non-profit organizations who offer outstanding services to our community and one third of that amount is then voted upon by the bank’s customers.

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

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“Invaders” Exhibit Now Open at CT River Museum

Sponsors of the exhibit gathered for a sneak peek prior to the Invaders: They Come by Air, Land and Water exhibit opening at the Connecticut River Museum. From left to right are: John Lombardo, Stephen Tagliatela, and Viola Tagliatela from Saybrook Point Inn and Spa; Thayer Talbot from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; Representative Phil Miller; Cynthia Clegg from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; Joanne Masin and Christopher Dobbs from the Connecticut River Museum; Brenda Kestenbaum from Eyewitness News (WFSB); and Tony Marino and Marilyn Ozols from the Rockfall Foundation.

Sponsors of the exhibit gathered for a sneak peek prior to the Invaders: They Come by Air, Land and Water exhibit opening at the Connecticut River Museum. From left to right are: John Lombardo, Stephen Tagliatela, and Viola Tagliatela from Saybrook Point Inn and Spa; Thayer Talbot from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; Representative Phil Miller; Cynthia Clegg from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; Joanne Masin and Christopher Dobbs from the Connecticut River Museum; Brenda Kestenbaum from Eyewitness News (WFSB); and Tony Marino and Marilyn Ozols from the Rockfall Foundation.

On Thursday night, March 31, the Connecticut River Museum unveiled its 2016 feature exhibit, Invaders: They Come by Air, Land and Water. The exhibit explores one of the most significant threats today to the 410-mile-long Connecticut River Valley: invasive species.

Representative Phil Miller was one of many honored public figures and supporters in attendance. Miller said, “I’m thrilled that the State of Connecticut was able to provide some support for this important project and I encourage everyone to come out and see this great show. Building public awareness is a big part of the solution to the problem of invasive species.”

The vibrantly campy, yet serious exhibit was in production for two years and involved numerous organizations including Channel 3 Eyewitness News, the Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, the Connecticut DEEP Marine Fisheries Division, and the Long Island Sound Study. Stunned by the creative energy and theatrical elements of the exhibit, one observer said, “Move over Universal Studios.”

Taking on the feel of a classic, 1950s Ed Wood science fiction monster movie, the exhibit explores the many air, land and water invasive species to our region. Critical environmental, economic and recreational impacts are highlighted and help to answer why we should care about this invasion. More importantly, according to the museum’s executive director Christopher Dobbs, “The exhibit provides information on how we can make a difference by changing our habits, identifying invasive species before they are established, and getting involved with environmental organizations such as local land trusts.”

Stephen Tagliatela, owner of Saybrook Point Inn, said, “We are proud to support this kind of effort. The Connecticut River is one of our great regional and national assets. It is something that brings visitors to the area and it is our duty to ensure its vitality.”

The Invaders exhibit is on public display now through Oct.10. It has been made possible by Presenting Sponsor Long Island Sound Study. Other dedicated sponsors include: Channel 3 Eyewitness News; the William and Alice Mortensen Foundation; the Rockfall Foundation; the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of Tourism; the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa; the Edgard & Geraldine Feder Foundation; and the many supporters of the Connecticut River Museum.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.

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Vista Accepting Applications for Summer Program until May 2

Vista is accepting applications for its summer program.

Vista is now accepting applications for its two-week summer program.

AREAWIDE – Individuals with disabilities 17 and older are invited to experience life at Vista Life Innovations for two weeks during the Exploring Independence summer program.

Exploring Independence is designed to provide prospective students with an introduction to Vista and the independence of adulthood in a supported learning environment. Participants will experience living away from home in a dorm-style setting and take part in a variety of interactive activities. The program combines hands-on learning in the areas of social skills, life skills and team building with fun activities, such as off-site day trips, arts projects and community immersion.

Participation in the Exploring Independence summer program is the first step in the admissions process for many Vista students and members. Among them is Vista student Tim Maloney, who participated in the 2015 summer program.

“I learned that you can be yourself and have a nice time away from home,” Tim said of his experience in the summer program. “My favorite part was making friends and doing activities.”

This year’s Exploring Independence program will run August 1-12. Applications are being accepted through May 2. Space is limited. For more information or to apply, contact Esther Vallas, admissions manager, at evallas@vistalifeinnovations.org or 860-399-8080 ext. 136.

With campuses in Westbrook, Madison and Guilford, Vista Life Innovations is a nationally accredited community-based education program for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, seizure disorders, traumatic brain injuries, intellectual disabilities and ADHD.

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Hundreds Vigil for Late First Selectman Richard Smith, Selectmen to Meet Thursday to Discuss Succession

Candles are lit in honor of " a remarkable legacy to service, commitment, and dedication to the people of Deep River." Photo by Kim Tyler.

Candles are lit in honor of Dick Smith’s “… remarkable legacy to service, commitment, and dedication to the people of Deep River.” (Angus McDonald Jr.) Photo by Kim Tyler.

DEEP RIVER — The town showed its affection and appreciation for the late First Selectman Richard H. “Smitty” Smith Monday as hundreds gathered at sunset around town hall in a vigil for the longtime municipal leader who died suddenly Friday at age 65.

Hundreds gathered at Deep River Town Hall yesterday evening to pay tribute to their beloved First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday afternoon.Hundreds gathered at Deep River Town Hall Monday evening to pay tribute to their beloved First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday afternoon.

The vigil, which precedes the funeral for Smith Thursday at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Church in Chester, came as the two remaining members of the board of selectman, Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. and Republican David Oliveria, scheduled a special meeting for Thursday to discuss the process for filling the vacancy for the remainder of Smith’s term that runs through November 2017.

A quiet, candlelit moment of contemplation on a life well lived.A quiet, candlelit moment of contemplation on a life well lived. Photo by Kim Tyler.

McDonald, who joined Oliveria to meet with town hall employees Monday afternoon, said the special meeting that begins at 5:30 p.m. in town hall would review “temporary organizational changes to cover leadership in the coming month.” McDonald, who was first elected with Smith in 2011, said he and Oliveria are still discussing who would assume the full-time job of interim first selectman through the unexpired term. The appointment of either McDonald or Oliveria to the top job would also create a new vacancy on the board of selectman.

A boy sets a candle in remembrance of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away last Friday, March 25.During the vigil, a boy places a candle on the town hall steps in remembrance of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Kim Tyler.

“Dick Smith leaves a remarkable legacy to service, commitment, and dedication to the people of Deep River,” McDonald said. “While we know we can never replace him, we have an obligation to our community to move quickly to fill the vacancy.”

Photo by Kim Tyler.Candles light the faces of those gathered to remember Deep River First Selectman Richard “Smitty” Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Town officials from both political parties joined elected officials from around the state in praising Smith, a Democrat whose 26-year tenure made him one of the longest serving municipal chief elected officials for both Middlesex County and the entire state. A South Carolina native who arrived in Connecticut around 1970, Smith was elected first selectman in 1989, and had been unopposed for a 14th consecutive term in the town election last fall. Smith had also served as a part-time town police officer since 1973.

Candles and roses are held in remembrance of Richard “Smitty” Smith at Monday night’s vigil. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Oliveria, first elected to the board in 2009, said Smith had done “an incredible job as first selectman running all aspects of the town.” Town Treasurer Tom Lindner, a Republican who was elected to the part-time position in 1989, said Smith was “always there for everybody in Deep River.”

State Senator Phil Miller addresses the vigil participants.State Senator Phil Miller speaks at Monday’s vigil. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Speakers at the vigil, where residents of Deep River and other nearby towns held lighted candles and roses in honor of the longtime town leader, recalled Smith’s tireless dedication to the town and its people. Jonathan Kastner, the first selectman’s assistant and friend, said Smith was “a problem solver who somehow found a way to keep adversaries from being too adversarial.” State Rep. Phil Miller, a former first selectman of Essex, said Smith was “a role model for anyone in any kind of public service.”

Photo by Kim Tyler.Remembering a leader who Sen. Phil Miller described as, “a role model for anyone in any kind of public service.” Photo by Kim Tyler.

Smith built a record of accomplishment that changed and improved Deep River during his 26 years as first selectman. There is the row of fully occupied industrial buildings at the Plattwood Park Industrial Area off Rte. 80, a 20-year- development process where Smith earned statewide recognition for using state and federal grant funds to construct buildings for small or start-up businesses as a way to help grow the town’s tax base. One of Smith’s most recent accomplishments was a Main Street redevelopment effort that began in 2005, and concluded in 2009 with construction of a Walgreen’s pharmacy on the former Deep River Inn parcel, along with various streetscape improvements for the entire length of Main Street.

Photo by Kim Tyler.Richard “Smitty” Smith: In Memoriam. Photo by Kim Tyler.

State statute gives the two remaining selectmen up to 30 days from March 26, the day after Smith’s death, to appoint an interim first selectman who would serve until November 2017. The appointment could be forced to a special election by a petition with signatures from five percent of the town’s total voter registration, or about 158 voter signatures, that must be submitted within 15 days after any appointment to fill the vacancy.

Roses in remembrance of Richard "Smitty" Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.Roses in remembrance of Richard “Smitty” Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Editor’s Note: Deep River resident and professional photographer Kim Tyler, who graciously supplied all of the photos published in this article to ValleyNewsNow.com, has also generously agreed to make many of the photos that she took at the vigil available to our readers at no charge. We applaud her wonderful act of public service. The photos have now been uploaded at this link. For more information about Kim Tyler Photography, visit ktphoto.net

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Registration Now Open for Literacy Volunteers Races in Essex, May 21

literacy volunteers run

AREAWIDE – On Saturday, May 21, Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) will hold its Ninth Annual Backward Mile and 5K Run/3K Walk. Registration for the races begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Essex Town Hall, on West Avenue. The Backward Mile race, open to runners older than 18, begins at 8:30 a.m.; the 5K race and 3K walk both begins at 9:15 a.m. T-shirts will be given to the first 100 runners.

Runners below the age of six can participate in the Lollipop Run, which begins at 8:50 a.m. All Lollipop runners will receive lollipops.

Registration forms are available from the LVVS offices, (860) 399-0280,or you can register online at www.register.fasttracktiming.com. Runners with additional questions about the race may contact Elizabeth Steffen, race director, at esteffen@vsliteracy.org. All proceeds from the race go to LVVS tutoring programs.

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. teaches residents of the valley shore towns to read, write and speak English to improve their life and work skills. This one-to-one instruction is confidential and is completely without charge to the student. LVVS currently has 183 volunteers who serve 203 students in 11 shoreline towns: Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Guilford, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

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Registration Now Open for High Hopes Summer Equestrian Camp for Ages 3-12

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding's summer camp in Old Lyme begins July 11 for children ages 3 to 12. No previous riding experience is needed.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding’s summer camp in Old Lyme begins July 11 for children ages 3 to 12. No previous riding experience is needed.

OLD LYME – High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Inc., is once again hosting a youth equestrian summer camp for area children ages 3 to 12, on its beautiful 120-acre campus in Old Lyme. High Hopes offers summer campers equine-related educational opportunities in partnership with its herd of more than 20 horses and ponies. Each camp session is designed to meet the needs of participant groups by age and/or riding skill level, and offers children diverse equine-based activities conducted by a certified therapeutic riding instructor.

Campers build and/or develop horsemanship skills both on and off the horse by grooming and tacking their horse each morning in addition to a daily riding lesson. Other activities include gymnastics on horseback, carriage driving, inclusive team-building games and equine arts and crafts. No previous riding experience is necessary. During the school year, High Hopes provides therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-assisted activities for people with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities.

Four weekly sessions are scheduled beginning the week of July 11. Each session is limited to 16 participants and is Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration deadline is June 10. Contact Carrina Echeandia, cecheandia@highhopestr.org, 860-434-1974 ext. 118 for more information.

Editor’s note: High Hopes is one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding centers in the United States, operating since 1974 and accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH Intl.) since 1979. High Hopes is committed to providing the highest quality service to all who might benefit, regardless of their financial means. www.highhopestr.org

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Lyme’s Fat Stone Farm Wins Two Top Awards for Maple Syrup at CT Specialty Foods Awards Contest

Fat Stone Farm's organic maple syrup, which has just received two top state awards.

Fat Stone Farm’s organic maple syrup, which has just received two top state specialty food awards.

Fat Stone Farm, which is located in Lyme, Conn., has been awarded both a 2nd and 3rd place in the “syrups” category at the Connecticut Speciality Food Association’s (CSFA’s) 14th annual Product Awards Competition.

Over 165 specialty food items from Connecticut’s specialty food community entered into 39 categories. Fat Stone Farm was awarded 2nd place with its “dark” organic maple syrup, and 3rd place with its “hint of butter” amber organic maple syrup.

Liz Farrell of Fat Stone Farm comments, “It’s a real honor to be recognized by the CSFA. Our small batches and hand crafting really allow the flavor of pure organic syrup to shine through.”

A diverse panel of 15 judges consisting of food writers, Connecticut chefs, and wine specialists scored products for overall taste, flavor, texture, aroma, and appearance. Each judge was assigned to specific categories, responsible for evaluating an average of approximately 50 different products.

According to Tricia Levesque of the Connecticut Food Association, the entrepreneurial spirit of the participants is the type of fuel that is needed to create jobs here in Connecticut. Levesque notes, “This competition stands out because it features some of the best new food products in the region. It allows people with an idea and a dream to showcase the quality of food and beverages produced locally. The CT Specialty Food Competition is a win for food fans and small business trying to grow”.

Fat Stone Farm organic maple syrup is available at Reynold’s General Store in Lyme; Hadlyme Country Market; Ashlawn Café, FoodWorks II, Fromage and Atlantic Seafood, all in Old Saybrook; CT Farm Fresh Express (www.ctffe.com), and a number of other grocers in Connecticut.

For more information, visit ctspecialityfood.org.

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Essex’s Medical Center Closed Almost Two Years Ago, Plans for Empty Building Not Yet Determined

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since.

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

It has now been almost two years, April 28, 2014 to be exact, since Middlesex Hospital closed its medical center in Essex. For the present, however, according to Middlesex Hospital’s Director of Public Relations, Peg Arico, there are “no plans” by the hospital regarding the future of the shuttered facility.

Signs threatening prosecution for trespassers stand on the grounds of Middlesex Hospital's former medical center in Essex.

Signs threatening prosecution for trespassers stand on the grounds of Middlesex Hospital’s former medical center in Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in a separate interview that he had learned that Middlesex Hospital had retained an “outside consultant” to explore options for its unused hospital facility in Essex. Currently only “No Trespassing” signs mark the site.

Some Essex residents have expressed the hope that Middlesex Hospital will soon decide what to do with the unused and, generally considered, unattractive property in Essex. There is a feeling that the “No Trespassing” signs on Westbrook Rd. are not an especially pleasant way to welcome visitors entering historic Essex.

At the same time, Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center patient care facilities in Westbrook, which replaced the Essex clinic, have been very well received by Essex residents in general.

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Courtney, Linares Pay Tribute to Dick Smith, Services Announced

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons … and for every job in town.

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons … and for every job in town.

DEEP RIVER — Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) issued the following statement after the passing of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick was the iconic small town First Selectman who did everything from running town meetings, to plowing snow, to cleaning up storm damage with public works, as well as crowd control at the Deep River Muster, and attending every community event in town. Deep River is one of Connecticut’s jewels because it had a leader like Dick, who was always there to help those in need and help the town grow smartly. Dick was a friend whose support I will always remember and treasure, and he should live on as an example of a citizen-public servant to all who hold elected office.”

State Senator Art Linares (D-33rd), who represents Deep River, issued the following statement on the passing of First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick Smith epitomized Deep River. He was a friend to all and his advice was valued by Democrats and Republicans throughout the Connecticut River Valley. Dick was a role model public official who dedicated himself to serving his town and its residents. His loss is deeply saddening and our thoughts and prayers are with Dick’s family and the people of Deep River.”

State Senator Art Linares (D-33rd), who represents Deep River, issued the following statement on the passing of First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick Smith epitomized Deep River. He was a friend to all and his advice was valued by Democrats and Republicans throughout the Connecticut River Valley. Dick was a role model public official who dedicated himself to serving his town and its residents. His loss is deeply saddening and our thoughts and prayers are with Dick’s family and the people of Deep River.”

Services for Dick Smith have now been announced as follows:

There will be a Candlelight Vigil on Monday, March 28, at Deep River Town Hall at dark (about 7:30 p.m.)

Calling hours will also be at the Town Hall on Tuesday, March 29, from5 to 8 p.m.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 30, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Chester at 11 a.m.

Deep River Town Hall Closings

Deep River Town Hall will close at noon on Tuesday and remain closed on Wednesday.  Normal business hours will resume on Thursday.

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Town of Deep River Announces Death of First Selectman Dick Smith

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

DEEP RIVER — The Town of Deep River has announced the passing yesterday afternoon (Friday, March 25) of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith. An announcement on the town’s website states, “The Town of Deep River has suffered a terrible loss in the passing of Dick Smith. The town has lost a leader of over 26 years, the community has lost a friend, and we are saddened beyond words, but its immediate thoughts are with Dick’s family, who has lost a father and a grandfather.” The statement adds, “Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Details of services have not yet been announced.

Our reporter Charles Stannard wrote in an article published July 28, 2015, on ValleyNewsNow.com that Smith, then 64, was, “one of the longest serving municipal elected officials in Connecticut.” The article also noted that Smith said he, “never considered stepping aside this year,” adding, “I love what I do, it’s like my extended family.” Smith told Stannard during the interview that his priorities for the next two years were, “Keeping taxes down as much as we can,” along with a firehouse renovation and expansion project.

Stannard also reported, “Smith’s last challenge for the top job came in 2007 from the now defunct Deep River Independent Party. He was uncontested for re-election in 2009, 2011, and 2013. Town Republicans have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005.”

We extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Smith’s family.

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Old Lyme Town Nurse to Work Full-Time for Local VNA for Several Months

Karen Veselka

Karen Veselka

The Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association (OLVNA), Inc. is delighted to announce that for the next several months Town Nurse Karen Veselka, RN, will be working for the organization full-time.  This is part of an effort to expand educational and preventive programs for all ages in the community.  The OLVNA is now busy creating these programs.

Veselka will maintain her regular hours at the Lymes’ Senior Center and continue to conduct home visits.

If you have questions or suggestions for the OLVNA, call the OLVNA office at 860-434-1222.

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YMCA ‘Grow Fit’ Program Aims to Keep Teens and Tweens Active After School

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The Valley Shore YMCA has just launched a new non-competitive fitness program for children ages 11 to 18, thanks to a generous donation from the Brady Family Foundation.

Grow Fit is fitness-based training for small groups (five per group). The objective is to keep teens and tweens active after school, provide healthy social interaction and aid in battling obesity and related health issues. Participants will experience improved endurance, strength, coordination, energy and self-esteem. Held Monday through Friday, participants are able to choose to attend the 3 or 4 p.m. session each day.

Grow Fit is led by David Fernandes, a member of the US National Champion Rugby Team in 2015 who played in the Premier Soccer League. He has a degree in physical education and kinesiology, so Grow Fit participants will experience a high-quality training program. Along with his athletic accomplishments, David is also the director for the Westbrook Park & Rec Summer Camp Program.

“David has the perfect set of experiences to lead Grow Fit,” remarked Ellen Nichele, wellness coordinator for the Valley Shore Y. “He brings a wealth of athletic, health and wellness knowledge while being able to relate and make connections with children. He will ensure Grow Fit is fun and a program that kids will want to be a part of.”

Grow Fit will be held in the Valley Shore Y’s Health and Wellness Center. Students will utilize the weight room, cardio room and functional training room. Outdoor activities will be incorporated, weather permitting. The fee for unlimited sessions per week is $85 per month for Y members and $170 per month for folks not members of the Y.

Any questions, call Ellen Nichele at 860-399-9622 ext. 121 or email enichele@vsymca.org.

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Areawide Firehouse Food Drive to Benefit Shoreline Soup Kitchens, Saturday

SSKP_FHFD_image_2016

AREAWIDE – For the fifth year, local fire departments are hosting an areawide food drive to collect non-perishable food for area residents in need. The fire stations will be open to receive donations on Saturday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The donations will go to local food pantries run by the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP).

SSKP hopes to include as many fire departments as possible in the 11 shoreline towns they serve. So far, the Old Saybrook, Chester, Essex, Clinton and Westbrook fire departments have committed to the event. All fire departments are welcome to participate.

At a time of year when food donations are low, this food will help to restock the pantries and ensure that everyone in our communities will have a place at the table. Last year’s drive raised 5,200 pounds of food.

Join the effort by bringing your donation to a participating firehouse on April 2.

The most needed items are:

Canned meats (tuna, chicken, salmon)

Canned fruits & vegetables

Peanut butter

Canned & boxed meals

Canned or dried beans

Pasta & rice

Cereal

Items not accepted:

Rusty or unlabeled cans

Perishable items

Homemade ttems

Noncommercial packaged or canned items

Alcoholic beverages & mixes

Open or used items

For more information, call (860) 388-1988, email cbellerjeau@shorelinesoupkitchens.org or visit www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org.

Editor’s Note: The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Founded 27 years ago, in 1989, at the Baptist Church in Essex, the agency continues in its mission to feed the hungry in body and spirit. Last year with a small staff and over 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP served enough food for over one million meals to shoreline neighbors in need.

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Kate’s Summer Camp for Kids Opens for Registration

Kate's Camp, 2015

Kate’s Camp, 2015

OLD SAYBROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Community Music School present Kate’s Camp for Kids, a performing arts summer camp program, which will be held at The Kate, 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook, from July 11 to Aug. 5.

Launched in 2013, Kate’s Camp for Kids is a state-licensed arts camp for children ages 5 to 10 years old incorporating music, dance, theater, and visual art in weekly sessions that culminate in a performance for family and friends. A diverse range of activities is offered on a rotating basis to ensure a fresh experience for even the most frequent camper.

Directed by Nancy Thomas, a 20-plus-year member of the Community Music School faculty and certified Kindermusik educator, the camp features four, one-week sessions that meet Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuition for each camp week is $260 and scholarships are available for families with a financial need.

Each week of camp has a different theme. On July 11-15, “In a Galaxy Not So Far Away,” explores the music by composer John Williams made famous in the “Star Wars” movies. July 18-22 is “Dreamcatcher,” an original musical story of peace, harmony and joy. July 25-29, “Hats!” features a clever rhyming script and songwriting; and Aug. 1-5, “We Haz Jazz,” which will explore the work of great jazz musicians.

Kate’s Camp for Kids is generously supported by the Boody Family Fund, the Maximilian E. and Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, NewAlliance Foundation and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/River View Cemetery Fund.

For additional information visit www.community-music-school.org or call 860-767-0026.

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HOPE Partnership Welcomes the Community to Attend a FRIENDraiser, March 30

hope

On Wednesday, March 30, HOPE Partnership will be hosting their annual “FRIEND raiser” at the Essex Steam Train’s River Valley Junction Building in Essex, Conn.  This event will be held from 5 until 7 p.m. with a cocktail hour, complete with appetizers, beer and wine and is free to all who wish to attend.

HOPE is inviting all interested members of the community to come together and learn about HOPE’s mission to develop affordable housing options along the shoreline.  Executive Director, Lauren Ashe noted that, ”The issue of the need for affordable housing is often surrounded by myths, which we work to dispel.  Residents in need of affordable housing may be working full time but unable to make ends meet for their family or they may be young adults who wish to stay or return to the area where they grew up.   This evening is about friendship, partnership and educating the community while enjoying a glass of wine and refreshments at an amazing venue”.

Anyone interested in attending can RSVP to Loretta@HOPE-CT.org or by calling 860-388-9513.

Founded in April 2004, HOPE Partnership is a non-profit organization committed to advocating and developing affordable housing opportunities to support families living and working in southern Middlesex County and surrounding towns.  HOPE’s purpose is to advocate for and create high-quality rental housing targeted to people earning between 50 and 80 percent of the local median income.

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Support Groups and Classes at the Estuary Council

estuary council logo

AREAWIDE – The Estuary Council of Seniors in Old Saybrook has support groups that meet several times a month at the center located at 220 Main St., Old Saybrook. Better Breathers meets the first and third Thursdays at 1:30 p.m., Diabetes Support the second Thursday of each month at 9 a.m., Stroke Support the first Monday each month at 12:45 p.m., Caregiver Support the first Wednesday at 1 p.m., and Chronic Illness the last Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.

A Tai Chi for Seniors class meets Wednesdays at 10:45 a.m. The fee is $5 a class on a walk-in basis. It is designed with the 50-plus age group in mind. Tai Chi can help improve one’s overall health and well-being. If you have issues with balance, joint pain or stress, this could be the class for you.

Several yoga classes meet regularly at the Senior Center. Gentle Yoga and Chair Yoga are offered by certified instructors, classes are walk-in, ongoing and open to anyone age 50 and up. Wear loose-fitting clothing and come join the fun.

For more information, call the Estuary Council at (860) 388-1611 ext. 204 or visit the website at www.ecsenior.org.

The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Regional Senior Center serves Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

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Vista Student, Old Lyme Resident Dean-Frazier Wins Scholarship

Vista student Dillon Dean-Frazier was recently awarded a $2,000 scholarship from BD Remodeling & Restoration. Photo credit: Vanessa Pereira.

Vista student Dillon Dean-Frazier was recently awarded a $2,000 scholarship from BD Remodeling & Restoration.  Photo credit: Vanessa Pereira.

A disability does not define a person: that’s the message Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center student Dillon Dean-Frazier of Old Lyme emphasized in the letter that won him a $2,000 scholarship from BD Remodeling & Restoration, a residential architecture firm with offices in Connecticut and New York.

Despite being diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder, Dean-Frazier strives to live life to the fullest. No goal is too big for him, whether it’s playing sports, performing on stage in musical productions, holding various internship positions or successfully utilizing public transportation to travel around the community. “No matter what my goals are, I know that if I work hard, I will accomplish what I set out to do,” said Dean-Frazier, adding, “I do not let my dystonia define me.”

One of Dean-Frazier’s ultimate goals is to become an independent member of the shoreline community. This is what he works toward every day at Vista, where he learns valuable employment skills and life skills. Outside the classroom, he serves as an elected member of Vista’s Student Advisory Council.

Dean-Frazier makes the most of his spare time by staying active through sports, including wheelchair basketball, softball and soccer. He also enjoys the performing arts. Among his stage credits,Dean-Frazier has performed in Legally Blonde, The Pirates of Penzance and the Vista Arts Center production of The Wizard of Oz.

Having won the scholarship,Dean-Frazier hopes his story will inspire others with disabilities to follow in his “tread marks” toward the path of their own dreams. “You have to push for what you want. You can’t just sit back, relax and let it come to you,” Dean-Frazier said. “The goals that you set, you’ve got to make them bigger than life. That’s what I’ve been doing; I’ve been pushing toward all my goals.”

Congratulations, Dillon!

Editor’s Note: With campuses in Madison, Westbrook and Guilford, Vista is a nationally accredited community-based education program for individuals with disabilities. Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success. For more information about Vista, visit www.vistavocational.org.

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