February 11, 2016

Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber Hosts Business Breakfast Today, All Welcome

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 8.44.39 PMTomorrow morning the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Business Breakfast starting from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Old Lyme Town Hall.  The featured speaker will be Bennett J. Bernblum, Chair of the Halls Road Improvement Committee, who will give an update on the scope of the project, and discuss its challenges and successes.

Town and Chamber leaders will be present at the event.  There will also be opportunities for business networking among attendees.

All are welcome at this free event — there is no need to be a Chamber member.  Donuts and coffee will be provided courtesy of Dunkin’ Donuts in Old Lyme.

Registration is not required, although if you are planning to attend, an email to email@lolcc.com would be appreciated.

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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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Letter to the Editor: Make Sure FRA Hears Your Opinion on Their “Potentially Catastrophic” Railtrack Proposal

To the Editor:

Since the informative Op-Ed commentary by Dr Gregory Stroud on January 29th outlining the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) alternative proposals for the North East Corridor, there has been considerable concern among Old Lyme residents and others over the potentially catastrophic impact posed by the so-called “Alternative 1” solution.

“Alternative 1” proposes a new rail bridge crossing the Connecticut river diagonally between the I95 highway bridge and the existing old rail bridge.  Apparently, this new route would consist of four tracks and will closely follow the I95 bisecting Lyme Street through the Lyme Art Academy campus and a stone’s throw from other historical properties including the Lyme Art Association, the Old Lyme Inn and the Bee and Thistle Inn.  In addition it appears to obliterate the Hall’s Road shopping center.

One might have expected that the proposed potential destruction of the heart of one of Connecticut’s most treasured historical sites would warrant some prior discussion with the local community.  Amazingly, of the eleven public hearings conducted between mid-December and mid-January none of them were held within 30 miles of Old Lyme – arguably the town most heavily impacted by this proposal.

Our elected officials seem to have been equally unaware of the implications until about a week ago. Did any of them attend the hearings in Hartford or New Haven or were they as much in the dark as the rest of us? Why has the local community not been informed or consulted?

The deadline for public comment has been extended from January 31st to February 16th – I hope that all citizens who treasure the beauty and historical significance of Old Lyme follow Dr Stroud’s advice and contact the FRA at www.necfuture.com  and urge them to adopt an alternative solution.

Sincerely,

Peter Eio,
Old Lyme.

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Encouraging Signs Detected for Old Lyme Regarding High-Speed Railroad Proposal

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

It might seem that things have gone quiet since we published an Op-Ed by Dr. Gregory Stroud on Jan. 29 about the proposals made by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding possible routes for a new high-speed rail track in the Northeast Corridor. 

Alternative 1 of the three presented by the FRA stirred a riot of emotions in the residents of Old Lyme when they found out that the plan called for a route through the center of Old Lyme’s Historic District — one that Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder succinctly described as a route that, “would kill our community.”

But while on the surface everything seemed quiet, underneath that veneer of passivity, a flurry of activity — led by Reemsnyder — has been taking place. 

In a phone conversation Saturday afternoon, she told LymeLine about the numerous avenues being pursued to ensure Old Lyme’s opinions regarding Alternative 1 are heard, “loud and clear,” noting that she has focused her efforts on reaching officials, “who can advocate for us.”  And the results of those efforts are looking, at this point, decidedly positive.

Reemsnyder reported that a meeting of all the major stakeholders impacted by the proposal took place last week.  These stakeholders included the Florence Griswold Museum, Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Old Lyme Open Space Commission, Old Lyme Conservation Trust, Connecticut River Museum, Connecticut Audubon Society, Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, Old Lyme Historic District Commission, Old Lyme Historical Society and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation with one representative from each organization present, along with town leaders. Reemsnyder said the group is currently working on a joint statement forcefully expressing their shared concerns about Alternative 1, adding that the statement is near to completion and will be released early this coming week.

Reemsnyder said she has also reached out to state and federal congressmen.  State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) and State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) had already issued a statement declaring their opposition to the proposed route.  At the federal level, after Reemsnyder had a conversation with local US Representative Joe Courtney, he and his colleagues  US Senator Chris Murphy and US Senator Richard Blumenthal drafted a letter to the Administrator of the FRA, which fundamentally questioned the process that FRA had followed in the development of its alternative railroad routes.  The letter also urged the FRA to provide opportunities to allow communities being impacted by the FRA proposals to express their views … and then listen carefully to them.

Reemsnyder also told LymeLine that she contacted Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker, who is also currently chair of the board which is overseeing the whole FRA project.  She said that Redeker confirmed to her that the board had asked the FRA to improve the existing train track rather than develop a new route and moreover, he intended to remind the FRA of that point.

Finally, and in an extremely important move, Reemsnyder managed to connect with the Senior Vice President of the FRA project, who works for a private company. He not only gave reassurances to Reemsnyder that the concerns of the Old Lyme community were being clearly heard but also offered to come and meet with Reemsnyder “to allay the community’s concerns.”  This meeting has not yet been set up but is in the works.

Most significantly for all town residents, Reemsnyder told LymeLine that she heard from the project manager that, “This [Alternative 1] is not going to happen.”  Stressing that “This doesn’t mean that I will stop making sure it doesn’t happen,” Reemsnyder is clearly encouraged at the general direction of the discussion and stated, “People who have influence are taking note.”

Finally, she noted that a press conference is being organized at a date and time yet to be determined in the coming week to bring the public up to speed with developments.  

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Lyme-Old Lyme Lions Host Superbowl Breakfast Sunday; Features Techno-Ticks Demo, Music, Prizes Galore

pancake_breakfastThe ‘Dollars for Scholars’ Super Bowl Breakfast promises to be a lively and delicious event this year.  Scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 7, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, the breakfast hosts the school’s award winning Techno Ticks FIRST Robotics Team 236, who will demonstrate their new robotic creations up close.

BossGuitar, an instrumental trio from Old Saybrook, will play ‘50s & ‘60s surf and spy music and the Good News Clowns will be on hand to bring plenty of smiles to all ages.

Feast on a hearty menu of blueberry pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, tater tots, fresh fruit, coffee and OJ.  Door prizes include restaurant and salon certificates, and other items donated by local businesses.

During the event, the Lyme-Old Lyme Lions will conduct free, quick, non-contact eye screenings for people 2 to 92 years of age, using “Spot,” an instrument resembling a Polaroid camera.  From a distance of three feet, “Spot” checks for six eye diseases, and within seconds it produces a detailed test report.  This state-of-the-art equipment is used in the new Lions’ PediaVision preschool eye screening program.

The Lyme-Old Lyme community is invited to participate in this fun event.  The annual breakfast is the Lions’ primary fundraiser for four $1,500 Lions’ scholarships awarded each year to deserving high school students resident in Lyme or Old Lyme.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $3 for children under 12.  For more information on Lions’ scholarships and the PediaVision program, visit www.lymeoldlymelions.org.

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Snow’s Here: Schools, OL Town Hall, Transfer Station All Closed Whole Day

It's a white world again in Old Lyme today ...

It’s a white world again in Old Lyme today …

Updated 12 p.m.  The Old Lyme Town Hall will now stay closed all day.

Forecasters are currently predicting 6 to 9 inches of snow in Old Lyme today.

Region 18 schools are closed all day, although the offices are open.

We are assuming the Old Lyme Transfer Station is closed.

Old Lyme Town officials ask that residents keep streets as clear as possible to enable safe and efficient plowing.

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Lyme-Old Lyme HS Alum Chris Bugbee Captures Video of Only Known Wild Jaguar in US

Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity released new video today of the only known wild jaguar currently in the United States. Captured on remote sensor cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains just outside Tucson, the dramatic footage provides a glimpse of the secretive life of one of nature’s most majestic and charismatic creatures. This is the first ever publicly released video of the jaguar, and it comes at a critical point in this cat’s conservation.

El Jefe video

The camera project is part of ongoing efforts to monitor mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona for endangered jaguar and ocelot. Chris Bugbee, a graduate of Lyme-Old Lyme High School and now a biologist with Conservation CATalyst, has been collecting data on the Santa Rita jaguar for the past three years (formerly through the University of Arizona).  Bugbee is the son of Old Lyme’s Parks and Recreation Director Don Bugbee and the Rev. Rebecca Crosby, Minister for Haitian Outreach at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

“Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the U.S. is especially challenging,” said Bugbee. “We use our specially trained scat detection dog and spent three years tracking in rugged mountains, collecting data and refining camera sites; these videos represent the peak of our efforts.”

“These glimpses into his behavior offer the keys to unlocking the mysteries of these cryptic cats” said Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst. “We are able to determine he is an adult male jaguar, currently in prime condition. Every new piece of information is important for conserving northern jaguars and we look forward to building upon on these data so that we can collectively make better decisions on how to manage these fascinating and endangered cats.”

“Jaguars have always occurred in Arizona and yet we know so little about them in the northern portion of their range. Arizona should be poised to harbor and protect both jaguars and ocelots as they continue to disperse out from Sonora,” said Bugbee, who now lives in Tucson, Ariz.

Bugbee was featured in an article about the video of the jaguar by William Yardley titled, “He roams alone: El Jefe may be the last wild jaguar in the U.S.” and published in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

“Just knowing that this amazing cat is right out there, just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, is a big thrill,” said Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center. “El Jefe has been living more or less in our backyard for more than three years now. It’s our job to make sure that his home is protected and he can get what he needs to survive.”

El Jefe, as he has come to be known in Tucson, has been photographed repeatedly by remote sensor cameras in the Santa Ritas over the past few years. He is the only verified jaguar in the United States since Macho B was euthanized as a result of capture-related injuries in March 2009. “Jaguars are solitary cats that only tolerate each other for reproduction,” said Neils.

But a huge conflict is brewing that threatens to destroy El Jefe’s home. A Canadian mining company is pushing to develop a massive open-pit copper mine right in the middle of the big cat’s territory. The mile-wide open pit and 800-foot-high piles of toxic mine waste would permanently destroy thousands of acres of occupied, federally protected jaguar habitat where this jaguar lives.

“Clearly, the Santa Rita Mountains are a vital part of this cat’s home range,” said Bugbee. “This jaguar has been photographed in every month of the year in these mountains — there are more than 100 detections of him in the Santa Ritas since 2013 — how could anyone argue the importance of these mountains?”

“The Rosemont Mine would destroy El Jefe’s home and severely hamstring recovery of jaguars in the United States,” said Serraglio. “At ground zero for the mine is the intersection of three major wildlife corridors that are essential for jaguars moving back into the U.S. to reclaim lost territory. The Santa Rita Mountains are critically important to jaguar recovery in this country, and they must be protected.”

In October the rare cat was named “El Jefe,” which means “the boss” in Spanish, after a vote by Tucson school kids and others. The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity has been working for decades to save jaguars in the United States, with the hope that El Jefe will soon be joined by more jaguars that wander up from Mexico. In 2014 the Center secured more than 750,000 acres of federally protected critical habitat for U.S. jaguar recovery.

Jaguars — the third-largest cats in the world after tigers and lions — once lived throughout the American Southwest, with historical reports on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the mountains of Southern California and as far east as Louisiana. Jaguars disappeared from their U.S. range over the past 150 years, primarily due to habitat loss and historic government predator control programs intended to protect the livestock industry. The last verified female jaguar in the country was shot by a hunter in 1963 in Arizona’s Mogollon Rim.

This research builds upon a three-year project (2012- 2015) from the University of Arizona surveying jaguars and ocelots throughout southern Arizona and New Mexico.

Editor’s Notes: i) The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

ii) Conservation CATalyst is a Tucson-based nonprofit organization specializing in conducting scientific research on cats that are in conflict with people.

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Old Lyme Selectmen Express Strong Opposition to Proposed Rail Project

Updated 02/01, 17:37 — We are trying to keep up to date with all the commentary occurring regarding the NEC high-speed railtrack proposals.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder submitted the following letter dated Jan. 13, 2016 to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Draft Plans:

“To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Bonnie Reemsnyder, First Selectwoman of the Town of Old Lyme. I have come here today to express my concern with and opposition to the Alternative 1 of the draft EIS for the NEC plan to improve rail service.

First and foremost, this plan would decimate the heart of our community. The path of the railroad would completely change according to this plan, cutting through the heart of our community. We are a small town with very little “central community” area, and what we do have is extremely important to our history, economy, character and sense of community. This plan would impact our only commercial area, which houses our grocery store, pharmacy and many small businesses. Our village center, which is directly off of the commercial area, houses the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, as well as the famous Florence Griswold Museum and the Lyme Art Association. All are sites of historic significance and the individual organizations have worked diligently to continue with their legacy and maintain the physical structures. It is beyond comprehension that these buildings would be considered of little importance as this project moves forward.

But the plan also impacts many properties along the way, as it is an entirely new track, cutting through several neighborhoods, not to mention wetlands, open space and areas of archaeological significance. Our community maintains our character through strict zoning regulations, considerate planning, and support of our historic treasures, including the museums, colleges, library and various art organizations.

I am equally concerned that the Federal Rail Administration did not contact the First Selectman’s office personally to solicit feedback and comment. Hearing about plans that have a major impact on our community through the grapevine is unacceptable.

I am vehemently opposed to Alternative 1 of this plan and urge you to look at other, more reasonable solutions for reducing time travel between major cities. Thank you for your time.”

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal submitted the following letter also dated Jan. 13, 2016 to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Draft Plans:

“To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Mary Jo Nosal, Selectwoman from Old Lyme, CT. It is with great concern, anxiety and in total opposition to the Tier 1 draft EIS for NEC, Alternative 1 that I comment.

It appears that this Alternative focuses on meeting some of the regional goals of the NEC by addressing the chokeholds along the southern part of the existing route. However, by adding new track through the heart of our town our local needs are not addressed and therefore the objectives of the Tier are not met.

Specifically, the proposed section of new track from Old Saybrook to East Lyme, CT will adversely affect our entire community, will cut-off the established tourism lifeline of our region and will not provide a meaningful improvement in efficient rail service.

No data was provided in the EIE to demonstrate that our local commercial, residential and environmental concerns were considered.

A new track through Old Lyme provides no local economic benefit or advantage to local commuters or residents, while the extreme destruction it will cause to an environmentally sensitive area is irreversible.

As proposed, Alternative 1 will be strongly opposed by the community.”

Old Lyme Selectman Arthur 'Skip' Sibley

Old Lyme Selectman Arthur ‘Skip’ Sibley

Old Lyme Selectman Arthur “Skip” Sibley submitted the following letter dated Feb. 1, 2016 to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Draft Plans:

“To whom it may concern,

My name is Skip Sibley and I’m writing to you both as a citizen and an Old Lyme Selectman. I echo the comments already submitted by my two fellow BOS colleagues: Ms. Bonnie Reemsnyder & Ms. Mary Jo Nosal. I strongly object to the proposal as outlined in “Alternative 1”, in which the current train tracks would be relocated through the center of Old Lyme.

Additionally I find it incredible that a $30 million study using taxpayer dollars was already conducted producing a 1000 page report without any correspondence to the impacted towns. It was only a “tip” given by an outsider that Old Lyme even became aware of this initiative by the NEC corridor agency. I’m glad that an extension was given for folks to post their comments.

The rail path for Alternate option # 1 cuts through the heart of our historic district, potentially causing a devastating impact to residents, businesses, museums and schools. And I can’t imagine the damaging impact it would have on our environmentally sensitive areas.

Before moving forward in your plan and spending more dollars, I strongly encourage that a public hearing be scheduled so that other concerned citizens could voice their opinions as well. Please keep me informed on my request.”

 

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Musical Masterworks Hosts Beethoven Bonanza Over Two Weekend Concerts

Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park

Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park

Musical Masterworks continues its celebration of a quarter century of magnificent chamber music at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 3 p.m.

In a bold break from their traditional programming of repeat concerts, Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park will play two different programs in the Saturday and Sunday concerts, traversing the entire cycle of Ludwig van Beethoven’s works for piano and cello over the two days, providing a fascinating window into the arc of Beethoven’s compositional career.

The two different programs will include three sets of variations and five sonatas as follows:

Saturday, Feb. 13 at 5 p.m.

Sonata No. 1 in F Major, Opus 5, No. 1
Sonata No. 4 in C Major, Opus 102, No. 1
12 Variations in F Major on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’, Opus 66
Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Opus 69

Sunday, Feb. 14 at 3 p.m.

12 Variations in G Major on ‘See the conqu’ring hero comes’, WoO 45
Sonata No. 2 in g minor, Opus 5, No. 2
Seven Variations on ‘Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen’, WoO 46
Sonata No. 5 in D Major, Opus 102, No. 2

For those who plan to attend both programs, Musical Masterworks is offering a 50 percent discount on tickets to the additional concert.

Musical Masterworks has partnered with the Old Lyme Inn with a special promotion for February concert-goers.  With a February Musical Masterworks ticket or stub, Old Lyme Inn will offer a 10 percent discount on dinner on Saturday, Feb. 13, (between 7 and 9 p.m.) and a 10 percent discount on brunch on Sunday, Feb. 14, (between 10 and 3 p.m.)

For more information or to order tickets, call the office at 860.434.2252 or visit www.musicalmasterworks.org.

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Two New Exhibitions on View at Lyme Art Association

'Cipollini Onions and Company' by Randie Kahrl is one of the signature paintings of the exhibition.

‘Cipollini Onions and Company’ by Randie Kahrl is one of the signature paintings of the ‘Annual Associate Artist Exhibition.’

The opening reception for the 24th Annual Associate Artist Exhibition and Wonders of Winter will be held this Sunday, Jan. 31, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Lyme Art Association (LAA) at 90 Lyme St. in Old Lyme.

Both exhibitions are on view from Jan. 22 through Feb. 26.  The 24th Annual Associate Artist Exhibition is on view in the Association’s front galleries and features landscape, portrait, and still life paintings, as well as sculpture by Associate Artist members while Wonders of Winter showcases winter scenes by members of all levels and is on display in the Goodman Gallery.

'Beaverbrook Farm in Winter' by Joan Wallace is found in the 'Wonders of Winter' exhibition.

‘Beaverbrook Farm in Winter’ by Joan Wallace is found in the ‘Wonders of Winter’ exhibition.

“The Annual Associate Artist Exhibition highlights the range, creativity, and excellence of our Associate Artist members. This exhibition includes a variety of subjects, media, and styles: paintings or sculptures that capture the range of human emotion, the beauty and grandeur of the Connecticut landscape, or the personal objects and surroundings of everyday life,” notes Jocelyn Zallinger, LAA’s Gallery Manager. She adds, “The Wonders of Winter exhibition in the Goodman Gallery celebrates the beauty of the winter landscape, its colors, textures, and dramatic lighting.”

The LAA was founded in 1914 by the American Impressionists and continues the tradition of exhibiting and selling representational artwork by its members and invited artists, as well as offering art instruction and lectures to the community. The Association is housed in a building designed by Charles Adams Platt and located within the Old Lyme Historic District.

Admission is free with contributions appreciated. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm, or by appointment. For more information on exhibitions, purchase of art, art classes, or becoming a member, call 860-434-7802 or visit www.lymeartassociation.org.

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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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Sunday Deadline for Entries to Land Trusts’ Amateur Photo Contest

2013 Land Trust Photo Contest winner by Hank Golet.

This photo by Hank Golet was a winning entry in the 2013 Land Trust Photo Contest.

Five local land trusts invite amateur photographers of all ages to help celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Land Trusts Amateur Photo Contest. Everyone is welcome to share their love of the natural world by entering their favorite photographs. Submissions are being accepted until Jan. 31.

A panel of three judges will award prizes in five categories for photographs that best capture the beauty of the scenic countryside, wildlife, plants, and cultural and historic features in the towns of Essex, East Haddam, Lyme, Old Lyme and Salem. Children are encouraged to enter in the Youth category for ages 14 and below.

Entry Forms are available only by email at photocontest@lymelandtrust.org. A copy of the Contest Rules with details about submission will be included in the reply.

For more information and details for submission go to lymelandtrust.org. http://www.lymelandtrust.org/news/photo-contest/

Cash awards are being funded with the generous support of our sponsors: RiverQuest/CT River Expeditions, Ballek’s Garden Center, Lorensen Auto Group, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Essex Savings Bank, The Oakley Wing Group at Morgan Stanley, ChelseaGroton Bank, and Alison Mitchell in honor of her late husband John G. Mitchell.

The Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Essex Land Trust, the Old Lyme Land Trust, Salem Land Trust, and East Haddam Land Trust are sponsoring the event. Previous Land Trusts Photo Contest winning photos are viewable at https://landtrustsphotos.shutterfly.com/.

All of the photographs entered will be displayed and celebrated at the Photo Contest Reception on March 11, at the Lymes’ Senior Center. The winning photographs will be announced at that time.

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Seidner Named Old Lyme’s 2015 Citizen of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Congratulations, Mary!

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Host Kindergarten Registration

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Registration for Kindergarten in Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools for the fall of 2016 is being held today, Tuesday, Jan. 26, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lyme Consolidated School and Mile Creek School

Children who will be 5 years old on or before Jan. 1, 2017 are eligible to register for Kindergarten for September 2016.

While you may complete the registration process at either school, your child’s school placement will depend on District attendance zones.

Please bring to registration your child’s

  • Birth Certificate
  • Immunization/Health Records
  • Three forms of proof of residency

If you cannot register on these days or would like additional information, call either school at these numbers to place your child’s name on the Kindergarten list and/or have your questions answered:

Lyme Consolidated: 860-434-1233

Mile Creek: 860-434-2209

 

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Old Lyme’s Annual Town Meeting to be Held Tonight, Citizen of the Year to be Announced

Updated 1/17: Old Lyme’s Annual Town Business Meeting will be held Monday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School at 18 Lyme St.  The agenda was posted on the Town’s website last Friday.

The first item on the agenda is discussion and acceptance of the Annual Town Report for the fiscal year July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, as submitted by the Board of Finance.

Subsequent items are as follows:

  1. To accept Blackwell Lane Extension as a Town road, as recommended by the Old Lyme Planning Commission and the Board of Selectmen.
  2. To adopt a Resolution endorsing the Inter-Town Capital Equipment (ICE) Purchase Incentive Program referenced in Section 4-66m of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by Public Act 15-170, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen, for the creation of a multi-site UHF simulcast system for the Towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Durham, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Middlefield, Old Lyme and Westbrook in order to provide enhanced communications for rural volunteer firefighters and medical technicians in the above named towns, and to authorize the First Selectwoman to sign all necessary documents with the State Office of Policy and Management under the ICE grant program.
  3. To approve the use of the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy  program (C-PACE) established by the State Legislature (Section 16a-40g of the Connecticut General Statutes), as recommended by the Board of Selectmen, in order to facilitate financing for clean energy improvements to commercial properties within the Town, and to authorize the First Selectwoman to execute and deliver the C-PACE Agreement together with such other documents necessary and appropriate to evidence, secure and otherwise complete the C-PACE Agreement.
  4. To accept the gift from George M. Yeager, of New York, NY of a 36” x 40” oil painting on canvas entitled “Family Gathering For Tea” by Wilson Henry Irvine (1869-1936).

Finally, the board of selectmen will announce the currently closely guarded secret of their choice for Citizen of the Year for 2015.

Following the adjournment of the town meeting, the Boathouse Hains Park Improvement Committee will make a presentation.  More information to follow on the contents of this presentation here on LymeLine.com later this week.

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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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SECWAC Hosts Talk on ‘Extreme Weather, Pandemics, and Terrorism’ at OL Country Club, Tonight

The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts Professor Stephen E. Flynn, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for Resilience Studies, Northeastern University, on Monday, Jan. 25, at the Old Lyme Country Club, 40 McCurdy Rd., Old Lyme. Dr. Flynn will speak on “Extreme Weather, Pandemics, and Terrorism: Bolstering Societal Resilience in the Face of 21st Century Mayhem.”

A reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation starts at 6 p.m.

Dr. Stephen Flynn is Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University, with faculty affiliations in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.  He is also Director, Center for Resilience Studies, and Co-Director of the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security.

Before arriving at Northeastern in 2011, he served as President of the Center for National Policy and spent a decade as a senior fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2008 he served as the lead homeland security policy adviser for the Presidential Transition Team for President Barack Obama.

Dr. Flynn was an active duty commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for 20 years, including two tours as commanding officer at sea.

He is the author of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation (Random House, 2007), and America the Vulnerable (HarperCollins 2004). He holds research affiliations with the Wharton School’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, and the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute.

In Sept. 2014, he was appointed by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to serve a member of the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Council (HSSTAC).   He is also a member of the National Security Advisory Board for Argonne National Laboratory.

He holds the M.A.L.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and a B.S. from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Dr. Flynn was a founding Executive Director of the Southeast Connecticut Committee on Foreign Relations (SECCFR), the forerunner of SECWAC. Milt Walters, SECWAC’s Chairman, expressed his gratitude that “Dr. Flynn, a leading expert on infrastructure security, could share his insights on the good and the bad at this point of unrest in the world.”

A dinner follows immediately after the presentation for a limited number of members and guests at the Old Lyme Country Club. To attend the dinner, a reservation is required – call 860-912-5718 or email info@secwac.org to make your reservation. A vegetarian option is available but must be reserved in advance.

All reservations or cancellations must be received 24 hours prior to the program.   Bring your check payable to SECWAC or for the total number of your reservations at $35 each.   Courtney Assad will collect your payment when you arrive to get your name tag. Credit card payments can also be made at check-in. At the same time, you will be given dinner tickets for each reservation to be collected by the server as confirmation of your payment.

Guests: SECWAC is a membership organization. Guests are welcome; please call 860-912-5718 or email info@secwac.org to reserve a guest pass.

Upcoming Program: Professor Elizabeth Wood, Yale University, will speak on “Sexual violence in conflict: why some armed groups engage in it, and the policy implications” at the Saybrook Point Inn on Feb. 3.

Editor’s Note: SECWAC is a regional, non-profit membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America and fosters an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.  Our principal activity is to arrange 10 meetings per season to provide a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between our members and U.S. policy makers and other experts on foreign relations (http://www.secwac.org).

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Save the Date for Trivia Night, Benefits LOL Junior Women’s Playground Project

Love_Your_Playground_logoLyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club (LOLJWC) will host a Trivia Night on Thursday, March 3, at the Black Hall Grille.  All are welcome and the entry fee is $15 per person.

During the evening, there will be a raffle, refreshments, and a grand prize.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the LOLJWC Love Your Playground project, which is intended to renovate the playground at Town Woods Park and install a new playground at Cross Lane Park.

For more information on LOLJWC and the “Love Your Playground” project, visit this link, where you can also make donations to the project.

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Dan Stevens Concert Tonight CANCELLED: Next Stop International Blues Contest in Tennessee!

Ramblin' Dan Stevens (right) of Old Lyme performs with Clayton Allen this Saturday before leaving to Compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.

Ramblin’ Dan Stevens (right) of Old Lyme performs with Clayton Allen this Saturday before leaving to compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.

1/23 UPDATE:  We have just heard that the concert scheduled for tonight in East Lyme by Dan Stevens and Clayton Allen has been cancelled due to the weather. Instead, Stevens and Allen are heading off to Tennessee to compete in the International Blues Contest being held there next week. Good luck, guys!

Local musicians Ramblin’ Dan Stevens of Old Lyme and Clayton Allen recently won the Connecticut Blues Society Challenge Competition in the  solo/duo category.  As a result, they will be representing the state at the International Blues Challenge on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn., between Jan. 26 and Jan. 30.   Join the duo this coming Saturday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. at the barn at Old Orchard Farm, 22 Scott Rd., in East Lyme when they wrap up their Road to Memphis Tour with one final local appearance

Stevens and Allen will be showcasing original material along with their Memphis set in this last Connecticut concert prior departing for Tennessee.  Admission to the concert is $10.  The concert will feature a raffle of one of Steven’s homemade, three-stringed Cigar Box Guitars — a fundamental instrument used by early bluesmen and featured in the show — plus other prizes.

For more information about Saturday’s concert and to reserve tickets, visit this link. 

In a melding of diverse blues styles, Stevens and Allen have forged a unique sound, representing a wide variety of traditionally-based fingerpicking with a hint of primitive blues and early blues rock and roll. Allen’s raw energy and emotional delivery contrast with Stevens’s soulful approach creating a dynamic mix. A dose of one-stringed Diddly Bow and Cigar Box guitar backed with a driving rhythm and gospel-influenced vocals convey a deep authenticity.

The 2016 International Blues Challenge presented by the Blues Foundation (www.blues.org) is the world’s largest gathering of Blues acts and represents an international search by The Blues Foundation and its affiliated organizations for artists, who compete for cash, prizes, and industry recognition.

The four-day event will fill venues up and down Beale Street culminating in the final round at the renowned Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 30.  In 2008, Stevens and fellow musician Chris D’Amato advanced all the way to the final round and finished in the top six.

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Parking Ban Announced in Old Lyme from Noon Today

Predicted snowfall totals from Winter Storm Jonas

Predicted snowfall totals from Winter Storm Jonas

Forecasters are currently predicting 4″ to 8” of snow in Old Lyme from Winter Storm Jonas beginning around noon on Saturday.

A parking ban will be in effect in the town from noon Saturday until 4 p.m. Sunday. Town of Old Lyme officials note that resident’s cooperation is appreciated so that snow plow drivers can clear the roads. They also request that travel is limited during snowfall and for everyone to stay off the roads as much as possible.

Coastal flooding may be a possibility, especially at the two high tides set for 10 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

While the need to open a respite center or shelter is not anticipated at this time, town officials are prepared to do so if necessary.

In an emergency, always dial 911.

To report a power outage to CL&P, phone 800 286 2000.

For information on shelter and other concerns, phone the Emergency Operations Center at 860 598-0120. The call center is not currently staffed but is being monitored.

Town of Old Lyme officials will continue to monitor weather conditions and will provide periodic updates. They ask that all residents be prepared for the storm and stay safe.

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