April 30, 2016

Lyme DTC Announces New Officer Slate; Mails Newsletter with New Look, Mission to all Residents

Lyme Town Hall

Lyme Town Hall

The Lyme Democratic Town Committee (DTC) held an election Thursday, March 24, and elected the following officers:  Steven Mattson was re-elected chair, Sue Hessel was elected vice chair, Jarrod Leonardo was re-elected treasurer and Mary Ann Kistner was re-elected secretary.  All serving a two year term.

The Lyme DTC also announced that the April issue of its official newsletter – “Lyme Matters” – was published recently and mailed free of charge to all local residents.  Lyme residents who did not receive the newsletter and would like to receive a copy are invited to send their mailing address to the Lyme DTC at LymeCtDems@gmail.com.

According to Lyme DTC Chairman Steven Mattson, the organization’s newsletter has a brand new look and a new public service mission.  In addition to promoting Democratic candidates for office, announcing special events, and providing election news and information, the publication now features stories that help citizens better understand Lyme’s town government.

The April issue contains the following articles among others:

  • “Government by Town Meeting” 
  • “The Benefits of Registering To Vote”
  • “Values and a Vineyard”
  • “Lyme Land Conservation Trust Featured in PBS Documentary Series”
  • “Become an Official Part of the Democratic Process”
  • “How Unaffiliated Voters Can Vote in the April 26 Primary”

Mattson said, “We are excited to share the newsletter with everyone in Lyme and encourage all residents to become more involved in our local government.”

The Lyme DTC will be featuring excerpts from its April newsletter on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LymeCTDems.  The Twitter account for the Lyme DTC is @LymeCtDems.

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Senators Fight to Preserve Crucial Hospital Services

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares met with area hospital officials at the Legislative Office Building on March 23 to discuss ways to protect vital health care services for vulnerable populations like the disabled, children and seniors.

To protect those most in need, Formica and Linares, along with Senate and House Republicans, are proposing a plan to restore the governor’s funding cuts to Connecticut hospitals. The 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly ends in May.

Sen. Formica (R-20th, www.senatorformica.com) represents Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

Sen. Linares (R-33rd, www.senatorlinares.com) represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

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Courtney, Blumenthal, Murphy Call on FRA to Work With CT Stakeholders on Rail Upgrades

Request follows concerns from local town leaders and constituents that rail upgrades could negatively impact their communities

US Senator Joe Courtney

US Senator Joe Courtney

Last Friday, Feb. 5, U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (CT-2), U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to host listening sessions along the Connecticut shoreline to hear local concerns about how early proposals for rail upgrades may impact their communities.

In a letter to FRA Administrator Feinberg, Courtney, Blumenthal, and Murphy raise specific concerns they have heard from constituents regarding the proposed rail line realignment outlined in Alternative 1 of the NEC FUTURE Plan. This proposed new segment would shift the main rail line northward ahead of the Old Saybrook Station and run through several Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline communities before reconnecting to the existing segment in Kenyon, RI. 

“While we understand that the FRA is still in the project planning stages of NEC FUTURE and many more steps remain ahead in this process, we believe consistent community involvement will serve as the most important tool for finding agreeable alternatives, increasing local buy-in, and instilling a sense of trust among affected residents,” wrote Courtney, Blumenthal, and Murphy. “As the planning process moves forward, we request that the FRA host listening sessions along the Connecticut shoreline where the proposed Alternative 1 new track segment will be constructed in order to hear the views and concerns of the communities in this area.”

The proposals for rail upgrades, including the Alternative 1 realignment, were contained in the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is currently in a public comment period. This initial report will be followed by a Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) which will be completed in 2016. The next stage of the process would be the Service Development Plan (SDP) in 2017 which will make the business case for why projects proposed in the EIS were selected for implementation. 

The full text of the letter is available online and below:

February 5, 2016

Administrator Sarah Feinberg
Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590

RE: NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Draft EIS

Dear Administrator Feinberg:

As the Federal Railroad Administration continues the NEC FUTURE planning process, we write to underscore the importance of creating and maintaining a sense of open communication with communities who may be affected by new track segments constructed under the proposed Action Alternatives. Furthermore, we believe that it would be prudent for the FRA to consider hosting additional meetings and listening sessions in southeastern Connecticut. 

As representatives for the southeastern shore of Connecticut, we have seen firsthand the major need for improvement along the rail line. In fact, the vast majority of our constituents support upgrading our rail infrastructure to benefit our local economy and boost tourism. Unfortunately, these same constituents believe that the FRA has not done its due diligence in providing proper community outreach in towns that will be the most impacted by new track construction.

Specifically, we write to raise concerns we have heard from our constituents regarding the proposed new segment construction outlined in Alternative 1. As you know, the new segment in Alternative 1 will shift northward east of the Old Saybrook Station and run through several Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline communities before reconnecting to the existing segment in Kenyon, RI. Connecticut’s shoreline boasts a rich, vibrant history and is home to quiet villages and historic port cities. Importantly, according to the assessment of cultural resources and historic properties in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Connecticut is home to the greatest amount of properties on the National Register of Historic Places that may be affected by new rail construction.

To that end, it is understandable that the NEC FUTURE Draft EIS has raised alarm among many Connecticut residents. Many in the region were surprised to learn about the potential placement of a new rail line in the towns. For example, as currently proposed Alternative 1 would run straight through the center of Old Lyme, impacting the cultural, historical and geographic integrity of the town – which is concerning to town leaders and community stakeholders.  We recognize that FRA held listening sessions and public meetings in several Connecticut cities, and we understand that the proposals in the EIS are just the beginning of any analysis—a more thorough vetting with local stakeholders consistent with federal law would happen before any project moves forward. Still, it appears that little engagement was done in these communities to assess even the preliminary views and concerns of those potentially impacted by the proposed new segment in Alternative 1 prior to inclusion in the report.  

While we understand that the FRA is still in the project planning stages of NEC FUTURE and many more steps remain ahead in this process, we believe consistent community involvement will serve as the most important tool for finding agreeable alternatives, increasing local buy-in, and instilling a sense of trust among affected residents. As the planning process moves forward, we request that the FRA host listening sessions along the Connecticut shoreline where the proposed Alternative 1 new track segment will be constructed in order to hear the views and concerns of the communities in this area.

Thank you for your consideration of our request, and we look forward to your response. 

Sincerely, 

Richard Blumenthal
Christopher S. Murphy
Joe Courtney

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Carney, Linares to Hold Office Hours in Westbrook, Feb. 9

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State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) will hold pre-session office hours in Westbrook at the Westbrook Town Hall on Feb. 9, starting at 6:30 p.m. State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) and State Representative Jesse MacLachlan (R-35th) will join Carney at the Westbrook event.

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-20th)

This session will provide constituents with an opportunity to ask questions or share their ideas and concerns about state government. Anyone with questions about the event can contact Carney’s office at 800-842-1423 or devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov.

Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District that includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook.

Linares represents the 33rd District comprising Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Carney, Formica Oppose NE Corridor Future Rail Study Affecting Old Lyme

Area Legislators are requesting the proposal be removed or a public hearing be held

Sen. Paul Formica (left) stands with State Rep. Devin Carney.

Sen. Paul Formica (left) stands with State Rep. Devin Carney.

State Rep. Devin Carney and State Sen. Paul Formica are calling for action in response to a number of constituent concerns regarding the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Future Tier 1 Draft EIS “Alternative 1” that includes a study to improve rail service and travel time between major cities at the expense of the Old Lyme community.

NEC Future maintains that “Alternative 1” would increase service to keep pace with growth in population and employment. This is accomplished by expanding capacity, adding tracks, and relieving key chokepoints. However, this new track would dramatically change the path of the railroad, moving the tracks inland, cutting right through the heart of Old Lyme.

Carney stated that “this will negatively affect homeowners, the Old Lyme Historic District (including many shops, historic art galleries, the Florence Griswold Museum, and the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts), businesses, and the character within this quiet, beautiful community. Not to mention, the environmental impacts including additional pollution and the demolition of wetlands, open space and our natural resources.”

“This proposal would have negative social and environmental impacts on Old Lyme, and these consequences have not been properly taken into consideration,” Formica said.  “There are severely worrisome eminent domain implications regarding this proposal that would destroy Old Lyme’s infrastructure, community, and overall way of life.”

Carney and Formica said that along with their constituents, they too were not given any official notice about this study by the federal government.  The legislators said they found out via word-of-mouth, which is unacceptable. Furthermore, both legislators feel that before this process moves any further, this proposal must be removed from any current and future studies. In the event that this proposal is not removed, they have requested that there be a public hearing in Old Lyme before the comment period for this project ends on February 15; they have yet to receive a reply.

“The people of Old Lyme and the region deserve to have their voices heard on a proposal that would drastically alter their lives,” added Carney.

Residents that have concerns or would like to testify are urged to do so by February 15th, which is the comment period deadline. Residents can comment online at http://www.necfuture.com/get_involved/, via e-mail comment@necfuture.com, or by mail U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration, One Bowling Green, Suite 429, New York, NY 10004.

Carney and Formica also believe people should contact Congressman Joe Courtney, Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Richard Blumenthal urging them to take action. Courtney’s Norwich office number is (860) 886-0139, Murphy’s Hartford office number is (860) 549-8463, and Blumenthal’s Hartford office number is (860) 258-6940.

NEC FUTURE is a comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate, and prioritize future investments in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), from Washington, D.C. to Boston. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) launched NEC FUTURE in February 2012 to consider the role of rail passenger service in the context of current and future transportation demands. Through the NEC FUTURE program, the FRA will determine a long-term vision and investment program for the NEC, and provide a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Service Development Plan (SDP) in 2016 in support of that vision.

For more information, visit http://www.necfuture.com/alternatives/alternatives_comparison.aspx

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Carney, Linares to Hold Office Hours in Westbrook, Feb. 9

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) will hold pre-session office hours in Old Saybrook at the Saybrook Point Pavilion on Monday, Jan. 25, starting at 6 p.m., in Old Lyme at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library on Wednesday, Jan. 27, starting at 6 p.m., and in Westbrook at the Westbrook Town Hall on Feb. 9, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Carney will be joined in Old Saybrook on Jan. 25 by State Senators Art Linares (R-33rd) and Paul Formica (R-20th).

At the Old Lyme event, Carney will be joined by State Senator Paul Formica: State Representative Jesse MacLachlan (R-35th) and Linares will join Carney at the Westbrook event.

State Senator Paul Formica (R-33rd)

State Senator Paul Formica (R-33rd)

These sessions will provide constituents with an opportunity to ask questions or share their ideas and concerns about state government. Anyone with questions about the event can contact Carney’s office at 800-842-1423 or devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov.

Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District that includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook.

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-20th)

Formica represents the 20th District comprising  Old Lyme, along with Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London,Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

Linares represents the 33rd District comprising Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam,  Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Formica, Linares Joins Fellow Senators to Announce Amendment to Improve Protection of CT Open Space

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

Sen. Paul Formica, Sen. Art Linares and Sen. Kevin Witkos joined with environmental advocates on Jan. 13 to unveil a constitutional amendment proposal to improve the protection of forest land, parks, wildlife areas and other open space in Connecticut.

The legislators’ proposal would implement strengthened restrictions on the sale of preserved land.

The next legislative session begins in February.

Sen. Art Linares represents Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Sen. Paul Formica represents Old Lyme along with Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford.

Sen. Kevin Witkos represents Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury, and Torrington.

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Old Lyme Board of Selectmen Unchanged; Griswold In As Treasurer, Fuchs Fails in BOE Re-election Bid

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (left) and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal celebrate their respective re-elections to the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen.

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (left) and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal celebrate their respective re-elections to the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen.

UPDATED 10:17pm: In a tight race with an above average total of 2,321 voters, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (D) was reelected over her Republican opponent Cathy Carter by 269 votes – Reemsnyder garnered 1,278 votes to Carter’s 1,009.   Selectmen Arthur “Skip” Sibley and Mary Jo Nosal also both outpolled Carter with 1,150 and 1,120 votes respectively, leaving them both as selectmen, but reversed in roles with Sibley now as Second Selectman and Nosal as Third.

A beaming Reemsnyder told LymeLine after the results had been announced, “I’m delighted,” saying she was not surprised by them, but that she “did not take it [her re-election] for granted.”  She commented that “when people run against each other … it’s good for the community” because people “get to talk about things.”  She reiterated her delight at being re-elected concluding, “We’ve got to finish the work.”

Nosal added, “I’m pleased so many people came out to vote and I look forward to continuing working with Bonnie and Skip.  I thank all the candidates who ran a good, fair campaign.”

Former First Selectman Tim Griswold is all smiles after his convincing win as Old Lyme Town Treasurer.

Former First Selectman Tim Griswold is all smiles after his convincing win as Old Lyme Town Treasurer.

Former First Selectman Timothy Griswold (R) handily defeated Democrat Gil Soucie for the position of Town Treasurer with 1,267 votes over 982.  He commented, “I’m very pleased that the town has shown confidence in my abilities … I’m honored to be elected and following in the footsteps of (incumbent) John Bysko, who has done a superb job.”

In the Tax Collector race, Judy Tooker defeated Ruth Roach by an even greater margin with 1,385 votes over 876.

Perhaps the greatest surprise in view of the Democrat success on the board of selectmen was the Region 18 Board of Education result in which two of the three Democrats failed in their election bids, including incumbent Paul Fuchs.  Republicans Stacy Winchell and Erick Cushman were both elected with 1,184 and 1,138 votes respectively along with incumbent Michelle “Mimi” Roche, who polled the highest number of votes of all the board of education candidates at 1,255.  Fuchs and newcomer Peter Hunt, neither of whom was elected, garnered 1,088 and 1,059 votes respectively.

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Rep. Carney Achieves 100 Percent Voting Record

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23) achieved a 100 percent voting record during the regular 2015 Legislative Session according to statistics compiled by the House Clerk’s Office.

This year, Rep. Carney cast his vote on all 379 separate pieces of legislation that made it to the floor of the House of Representatives. Only about 20 percent of legislators achieve perfect attendance each year. In addition, Carney attended every committee meeting and public hearing during the 2015 session.

“Throughout my first term representing the citizens of the 23rd district, I have made it a priority to be present for every debate and every vote,” said Carney. “The people of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook put their faith in me to serve as their representative and they deserve a voice on every piece of legislation that comes before the legislature. While I am proud to receive a perfect score, this is simply my duty to my constituents and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Carney, who represents the 23rd district in the General Assembly, is a House Republican Chair and Founding Member of Young Legislators Caucus and serves on the legislature’s committees on Environment, Transportation, and Higher Education & Employment Advancement.

The next regular session of the legislature will convene in February 2016.

Carney represents the 23rd district communities of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and the southern section of Westbrook.

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Lottery Places Old Lyme Candidates in Order on Nov. 3 Ballot

Old Lyme Republican Registrar Don Tapper reads the name of the candidate drawn in the lottery for placement on the ballot. Old Lyme Democratic Registrar Sylvia Peterson to his left notes the candidate's name.

Old Lyme Republican Registrar Don Tapper reads the name of the candidate drawn in the lottery for placement on the Nov. 3 ballot. Old Lyme Democratic Registrar Sylvia Peterson seated to his left notes the candidate’s name.

Old Lyme Town Clerk Eileen Coffee and Assistant Town Clerk Vicki Urbowicz presided over a lottery yesterday morning in the second floor Conference Room of Memorial Town Hall on Lyme St. to determine the horizontal order of candidates’ names for any office with a number of openings in the Nov. 3 municipal election.

Old Lyme Registrars Sylvia Peterson (D) and Don Tapper (R) drew names from a small tub, which were then carefully numbered. The names will appear in the order drawn (as shown below) on the appropriate row going from left to right on the Nov. 3 election ballot.

There were three positions for which candidate’s names were drawn and the results were as follows:

Board of Finance Alternate (Republicans)

  1. David Kelsey
  2. Robert Jose

Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate (Petitioning candidates)

  1. Nancy Hutchinson
  2. Harry S. Plaut

Region 18 Board of Education (Democrats)

  1. Peter Hunt
  2. Paul Fuchs
  3. Michelle Roche

 

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State Awards Old Lyme $2.05 Million to Rehab Rye Field Manor

On Wednesday, Aug. 26, the Department of Housing (DOH) announced that approximately $2.05 million will be awarded to the Town of Old Lyme in the form of a grant, and will be used to rehabilitate Rye Field Manor.

Rye Field Manor, which is located on Boston Post Rd., is a 39-unit development consisting of 13 buildings, plus a community building and is home to affordable elderly housing.

The funds come as part of the state’s efforts to expand access to affordable housing for low-income residents. Rehabilitation includes the replacement of the well water system, windows, insulation in crawl space and attic to minimize air infiltration, and the replacement of existing furnaces with energy-efficient units.

Devin_Carney-cropped_179

State Representative Devin Carney

These grants focus on the revitalization and expansion of affordable housing across the state said State Representative Devin Carney, who represents Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. He noted, “I am pleased to see the state’s dedication to providing more housing options for seniors in the 23rd district.”

Carney continued, “As many seniors struggle to make ends meet, and there are fewer opportunities for new developments, rehabilitation efforts are key to ensuring that our senior population is taken care of. All seniors, regardless of income, deserve the opportunity to age-in-place and Rye Field Manor, with assistance from the state, is providing that opportunity.”

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Local Republican Legislators to Propose Elimination of Propane Tax

Rep. Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

State Senator Paul Formica

State Senator Paul Formica

Local Republican state legislators Representative Devin Carney (R-23) and Senator Paul Formica (R-20) have announced that they will propose legislation to eliminate Connecticut’s gross receipts tax on propane.

“After the crazy weather we have experienced in recent years, many people bought generators.  They were trying to be proactive in case of another catastrophic event. Now, they are finding out that they are getting taxed for thinking ahead,” said Formica.

“This tax is unconscionable,” Carney said. “The government recommends smart storm preparedness, yet taxes home owners for doing just that. When the legislature meets next session, I intend to propose a bill to create a tax exemption for those using propane for all home and generator use, not just exclusively for heating. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will do what’s right for the people of Connecticut and support this proposal.”

The State of Connecticut assesses a tax on fuel delivered to a customer who uses a propane tank connected to a generator. This 8.81% tax is assessed on the delivery ticket, even if the propane also supplies an exempt heating use (such as home, pool, hot water, cooking, etc.).

Connecticut law says that in order to be exempt from this tax, the propane “must be used exclusively for heating purposes”. Because the propane to a generator produces electricity and not heat, this tax is assessed on deliveries to tanks which solely supply generators.

“People are frustrated and want some action.  I intend to bring this up in my capacity as the ranking member of the Energy and Technology Committee,” added Formica.

The 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly begins in February. The legislators said they would be pressing for a public hearing on the issue so that propane users can speak out about the tax.

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Democrats Stick With Reemsnyder, Nosal to Lead November Slate

Incumbents First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (right) and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal have been endorsed by the Old Lyme Democrats to run again in November.

Incumbents First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (right) and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal have been endorsed by the Old Lyme Democrats to run again in November.

Indicating that they are clearly comfortable with their current leadership, the Old Lyme Democratic town Committee (DTC)  last night endorsed incumbents Bonnie Reemsnyder and Mary Jo Nosal for First Selectwoman and Selectwoman respectively in the upcoming November election. The full slate of candidates, in fact, reflected a high level of satisfaction in the performance of those currently serving since the vast majority of endorsed positions were incumbents.

The only newcomers to the slate were Peter Hunt for the Region 18 Board of Education (incumbent Sarah Smalley is not running again) and Marissa Hartmann as an alternate for the zoning board of appeals.  Additionally, Ruth Dillon Roach is challenging Judith Tooker for the position of tax collector.

The remaining slate of incumbents includes David Woolley and Bennett Bernblum for the board of finance with Adam Burrows as an alternate.  Joseph Soucie was endorsed for Treasurer, Paul Fuchs and Michelle Roche for the board of education and Jane Cable for the zoning commission.  Finally, Karen Conniff and Kip Kotzan were endorsed for the zoning board of appeals.

In her endorsement acceptance speech, Nosal commented on the, “outstanding team of candidates,” noting its strength would enable the Democrats to, “continue to assert our message of collaboration, communication and community.”

She also noted that Reemsnyder, “is the right person, at the right time to continue as the CEO of our town … She has brought fair and balanced leadership to the office … She is respected in Hartford and the [Lower Connecticut] River Council of Governments.” Mentioning Reemsnyder’s ability to “get things done,” Nosal cited examples of Reemsnyder mending the “broken relationships” she inherited with the Town of Lyme and Region 18, and also Reemsnyder’s focus on customer service, which has been felt throughout Town Hall.

Nosal ended with a promise “to try and keep up with her as Selectwoman,” which sparked enthusiastic applause.

After the unanimous vote to endorse the full slate of candidates had been taken, Reemsnyder thanked the DTC for placing their confidence in her and said she found the endorsement, “humbling,” adding to rippled laughter, “Since taking office in 2011, we’ve been through a lot together.”  She mentioned Superstorm Sandy, the Sandy Hook tragedy, the Blizzard of 2013 and Winter Storm of 2015, but stressed that she does not spend much time looking back at her accomplishments because “I’m so embedded in what I’m doing.”

On her current “To Do” are completion of the boathouse/Hains Park project, implementing the Rte. 156/Hartford Ave. bikeway and improvements, and sorting out the Water Pollution Control Authority/sewer situation.  Reemsnyder commented that others may talk about fiscal conservatism but she prefers, “fiscal responsibility,” which requires planning ahead  for future needs and maintenance of current assets. She noted, “That’s what we’ve spent a lot of time doing.”

Finally Reemsnyder committed to “maintain my style,” of an open door policy, responsiveness, collaboration, and a willingness, “to continue to learn and listen.”

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Few Changes for Lyme Republican Slate in November Election

The Lyme Republican Town Committee has endorsed a slate of candidates for the November election comprised primarily of incumbents. The only changes are that current Region 18 Board of Education Chairman Jim Witkins is stepping down from that board and has been endorsed for the board of finance. Running in Witkins’s stead for the board of education is newcomer Mary Powell-St. Louis.

The remainder of the slate is made up of Linda Ward for tax collector; Linda Winzer for town clerk; William Hawthorne for treasurer;  David Tiffany for planning and zoning commission with Peter Evankow as an alternate; David Lahm for zoning board of appeals; and Jerry Ehlen and Holly Rubino for library directors.

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Area Legislators Applaud $7.5 Million Grant to Old Saybrook for Dredging North Cove

OLD SAYBROOK – Area legislators are applauding the State Bond Commission’s approval last Monday (May 11) of $7.5 million for the dredging of the North Cove, Connecticut River in Old Saybrook.

The funding, which comes from the state’s Grants-In-Aid program, will go toward improvements to ports and marinas, including dredging and navigational direction.

“This is a smart investment for our town,” Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) said. “Dredging the North Cove will keep property values up and protect our natural resources. I was pleased to work with local and state officials to secure this grant for Old Saybrook. This is great news.”

“This dredging project will create construction-related jobs while providing a lasting benefit to our region,” Sen. Art Linares, who represents part of Old Saybrook, said. “We are grateful to the governor and the bond commission for moving this project forward.”

“North Cove has been a port of call going back to the town’s early days,” Sen. Paul Formica, who represents part of Old Saybrook, said. “This project is really important. We need to make sure the ecological balance remains and that dredging allows for safe recreational boating.”

“This is a critical project for our town,” said Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., First Selectman of the Town of Old Saybrook. “The dredging last done in 2009 insufficiently opened up North Cove. This project will greatly add to the recreational usage of North Cove, as well as restoring it fully as a harbor of refuge in storms. We are thankful for the support of the Governor and the State Bond Commission.”

The North Cove in Old Saybrook is a part of the southern boundary of the Gateway Conservation Zone. The Gateway Conservation Zone boundary only extends 50 feet inland from the mean high water line. The proposed dredging of the North Cove would alleviate siltation issues due to reduced tidal flushing, which occurs when the openings to the river have been reduced by man-made structures. This also creates a problem for some deeper draft sailing vessels that moor at the North Cove.

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Senators Linares, Formica Tour CT River Museum

From left to right: Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs, Museum Trustee Eileen Angelini, Sen. Linares, Museum Vice Chairman Joanne Masin, and Sen. Formica.

From left to right: Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs, Museum Trustee Eileen Angelini, Sen. Linares, Museum Vice Chairman Joanne Masin, and Sen. Formica.

On March 9, area legislators toured the Connecticut River Museum on Main Street in historic Essex village. Senator Art Linares of Westbrook and Senator Paul Formica of East Lyme pledged to continue to raise public awareness of the museum at the State Capitol and throughout their senate districts.

For more information, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org .

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Linares Meets with AARP Volunteers to Discuss Issues Affecting Seniors

Gathered for a photo during Senator Linares's meeting with AARP volunteers are (from left to right) Barbara Rutigliano of Essex, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook, Sen. Art Linares, and Jean Caron of Old Saybrook.

Gathered for a photo during Senator Linares’s meeting with AARP volunteers are (from left to right) Barbara Rutigliano of Essex, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook, Sen. Art Linares, and Jean Caron of Old Saybrook.

Sen. Art Linares (R-33rd), whose District includes the Town of Lyme, met with Connecticut AARP volunteers at Essex Coffee and Tea Co. on Feb. 5, to discuss issues impacting seniors.

Linares urged seniors from throughout the region to contact him with any issues of concern.  He can be reached by phone at 800-842-1421 or email at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or on the web at www.senatorlinares.com.

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Carney Proposes Ban on Electronic Cigarette Use in Schools, on School Grounds

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) hopes to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds in his bill H.B. 5219.  Current regulation is limited to the use of electronic cigarettes by anyone under the age of 18; this legislation, however, would seek to expand upon the current bans to include prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds entirely. Schools already ban tobacco-based products, so this would add e-cigarettes to that ban.

“It’s critical that our schools be free from negative influences. Countless studies show that electronic cigarette use among high school and even middle school aged kids is rapidly rising. Not to mention that many kids who would have never tried a traditional cigarette are experimenting with e-cigarettes – especially flavored ones,” Carney said. “The bad habits brought on by them lead to the increased potential for addiction to nicotine-based products in the future.”

A recent Yale study notes that one in four Connecticut high school students have tried an e-cigarette. In addition, 26 percent of students who had reported to have never tried one were interested in trying one in the future.

Carney adds, “The availability of electronic cigarettes and ease at which they can be purchased by minors is a bit unsettling to me. We are fortunate to live in an area where many schools have already taken this initiative – a statewide ban on them on school property will strengthen those initiatives while also ensuring other schools, who may not have banned them yet, will have a ban in place.”

Carney has also proposed other bills including several proposals to lower taxes and increase the overall quality of life for the residents of the 23rd District.

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Former Governor Lowell Weicker Lauds President Obama’s New Openness to Cuba      

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Lowell Weicker, a former Governor and Senator of Connecticut, has expressed his support for the Obama’s administration new policy of normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. In taking this position, Weicker noted in an interview at his home in Old Lyme with ValleyNewsNow yesterday that current polls show that 60 percent of Americans support diplomatic recognition of Cuba.

In adopting a new U.S. relationship with Cuba, Weicker said, “Finally, we are catching up with the times.” He continued, “The U.S. embargo has lasted for 50 years, yet country after country has recognized Cuba with only the United States in not doing so.” Weicker also expressed criticism of those who oppose the Obama Administration new policy of recognizing Cuba, such as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Positive Aspects of Today’s Cuba

According to Weicker, “The most positive aspects of the present Castro regime in Cuba are in the areas of health care and good public education. Ninety nine percent of Cubans have free health care and good public education, a complete turnaround from the days of Battista.” At the same time, Weicker faulted the present Cuban government, “for its lack of human rights and democratic elections.”

As for his personal relationship with Cuba, the former Connecticut Governor said, “My family owned a large business in Cuba, which was expropriated by the Castro government, after Battista fled the island. No one, especially myself, is going to extol Castro’s confiscation of private property.”

Weicker also noted his, “deep personal distaste for the dictatorship of Flugencio Battista, who preceded Fidel Castro. Early on,” he said, “most of the Cuban immigrants to the United States were allied with Battista. Indeed in my losing the 1988 Senate campaign, the Florida Cuban community poured late money into Senator Joe Lieberman’s campaign.”

Weicker’s Two Trips to Castro’s Cuba

Photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Weicker also stated, “When I was a U.S. Senator, I made two trips to Cuba in the early 1980s. The first was to organize a joint American-Cuban marine science mission. The second was to secure the release of six American women imprisoned in Cuba.” According to Weicker, he, “convinced Castro, personally, to release the women who were in jail on drug charges. Two of the six were from Connecticut.”

Weicker described how, while in Cuba, he and Castro went diving together and spent many hours discussing Cuban-American relations. When Castro inquired whether there was anything he could do for Weicker, the Senator jokingly responded by requesting the Major League Baseball franchise for Havana. Castro’s response was, ‘No, we keep that.’”

In Weicker’s account, “When I announced to the Senate that I was to go to Cuba to retrieve the six women, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina tried to block the trip.” Failing that endeavor, Helms asked Weicker, confidentially, if he could bring back some cigars for him.

Weicker also makes the point that the wrapper leaf for Cuban cigars are traditionally grown in Connecticut, so Connecticut would directly benefit from the lifting of U.S. restrictions on the importation of Cuban cigars.

In conclusion, Weicker said, “Cuban dictator Battista was bad news, and I agree that the Castro brothers have had their own failings.” However, Weicker does not want the U.S. to live in the past as regards Cuba. He states, “It is only a question of time … Cuba will become more and more democratic. It is a new world, and one that should see two old friends reconcile.”

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Southeastern Connecticut Delegation Highlights Transport Investment Needs in I-95 Corridor

Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, Senator Paul Formica, State Representative Devin Carney next to Governor Malloy at the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference.

Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, Senator Paul Formica, State Representative Devin Carney next to Governor Malloy at the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference.

Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, Senator Paul Formica, State Representative Devin Carney next to Governor Malloy at the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference.

Three freshman state lawmakers from Southeastern Connecticut joined Governor Malloy on Wednesday overlooking the Thames River to highlight the need for more investment in all modes of transportation along the I-95 corridor in the shoreline region.

“People in the southeast corridor of the state should have reliable and safe transportation systems. The fact that the Governor chose to highlight I-95 in our area is important. It is a major pathway for commerce in this region,” said Senator Paul Formica.

State Senator Formica (R) is the veteran lawmaker in the group of freshmen, recently resigning as the first selectman of East Lyme to serve as the 20th district’s state senator in Hartford.

“I have been working with the state department of Transportation for years as a first selectman to revamp exit 74 and to widen the Niantic River Bridge. Today’s event is an extension of those conversations,” added Formica.

Newly elected State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) also reiterated the need to prioritize the upkeep of roads, bridges, rail and ports.

From left to right,  State Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney stand next to the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference with CTDOT.

From left to right, State Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney stand next to the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference with CTDOT.

“Improving our transportation infrastructure is very important to folks of Southeastern Connecticut. I applaud Governor Malloy for acknowledging that there needs to be upgrades made to I-95 at this end of the state. It’s a key area for commuters and tourists, so it’s crucial that traffic can move steadily and safely. As a member of the Transportation Committee, I will continue to be an advocate for government transparency and a proponent of public safety,” said Rep. Carney.

As one of the two youngest elected lawmakers in the country, Representative Aundre` Bumgardner brings a new perspective to the ongoing conversation of how to keep the state’s transportation infrastructure strong for future generations.

“Connecticut needs a comprehensive transportation plan that includes roads, bridges, rail, our ports and waterways and pedestrian-friendly ways to get around,” Rep. Bumgardner (R-41st) said. “I’m encouraged the Governor is making sure Southeastern Connecticut isn’t being left out but this is just the start. The Governor and the legislature must ensure any funding put into transportation projects is used specifically for transportation and protected from being raided for other purposes.”

All agree protecting the Special Transportation Fund may require new language for a “lock box” on funds collected through the gas tax, department of motor vehicle fees, as well as commuter train and bus tickets.

The event was held at the State DEEP Boat Launch on the New London side of the Thames River, just below the Gold Star Bridge. At 5,925 feet, the Gold Star is the longest bridge in Connecticut. The northbound bridge, which originally carried I-95 traffic in both directions, opened in 1943. A new bridge for southbound traffic opened in 1973.

Editor’s Note: State Senator Formica represents the 20th District towns of Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, New London, Montville, Bozrah and Salem. State Representative Carney represents the 23rd District towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. State Representative Bumgardner represents the 41st General Assembly District representing residents in Groton and New London

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