Small Farms in Lyme and East Haddam are Building Barns and Moving Online

As consumers, pressed by food shortages and fearing the spread of COVID-19, turn to buying local produce, some Connecticut farmers are using the internet to connect remotely with local residents seeking safer ways to shop for groceries. Cold Spring Farm in East Haddam has been offering food deliveries for several months, and recently started offering weekly food subscription packages that include meat and produce from the farm and other products like cheese, milk and honey from local vendors.  Long Table Farm in Lyme started an online version of its farm stand last week, allowing its customers to make contact-free produce

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Audit Shows Limited Oversight of Prescribers of Controlled Substances Across Connecticut

An audit report of the Department of Consumer Protection drug monitoring program released on Thursday found that state officials cannot ensure that prescribers of controlled substances have registered or are using the program as the law requires. According to the report, the Department of Consumer Protection Division of Drug Enforcement, which oversees the prescription monitoring program, also can’t ensure that healthcare providers are looking up a patient’s history of being prescribed controlled substances, a step intended to help providers determine whether a patient is at a higher risk of abuse or misuse of medications. The division has recently started the

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State Faces Borrowing Cap, Bonding Rollbacks and Possible 3/5 Vote by Legislature

With the State Bonding Commission set to meet on Tuesday for the first time since April, a recent report to the governor from the Connecticut Office of the State Treasurer calculates that the state doesn’t have much room left to borrow. By law, the state’s borrowing is capped at 1.6 times the general fund tax revenue estimated by the legislature’s Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee each fiscal year. When debt reaches that limit, the legislature can’t approve more debt. Even at 90 percent of the limit, the governor and legislature are required to look at possible rollbacks of authorized, but

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(Updated) Bacteria Counts Spur Swimming Advisories at Sound View and Rocky Neck Beaches

There is a swimming advisory at Sound View beach in Old Lyme, after Ledge Light Health District found elevated bacteria levels, according to the town. Ledge Light re-sampled the beach on Wednesday and will have results in the next two days, according to the Town of Old Lyme Facebook post. The post stated that no other beaches are affected. There is also a swimming advisory at Rocky Neck State Park in Old Lyme, after the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection found elevated levels of enterococcal organisms in a test Monday. Ledge Light also found elevated levels of enterococcal

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After Vandalism and Trespassing, Quarry Dock Road Entrance to Oswegatchie Hills Preserve Closed

The parking lot at the Quarry Dock Road entrance to Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve will be closed indefinitely because of issues with people trespassing on private property in the area. East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson said the decision to close the town-owned lot was an agreement between the town, Friends of the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve and property owners in the area. Nickerson said that there were issues at the lot and with people trespassing onto private property nearby. The Quarry Dock entrance is one of six trailheads where visitors can access the park, and one of two with

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Hearing Tonight on Expanding Wetland Review Area in East Lyme from 100 to 500 Feet

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EAST LYME — The East Lyme Inland Wetland Agency will host a public hearing tonight on a proposal to enlarge its the scope of review from 100 to 500 feet around inland wetland areas. The proposed change to East Lyme’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses regulations would expand the upland review area and mean that the commission would review any construction or changes to land within 500 feet of any inland wetland or watercourse to determine if it has a significant environmental impact. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. by Zoom. The commission could vote on the proposal Monday

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After $3 Million Sweep, a Five-year-old Body Camera Bill With Limited Success for Police Reform

Five years after the Connecticut General Assembly approved a $10 million program to reimburse municipal police departments for purchasing body cameras, less than $6.5 million of that funding has been distributed, and what has been distributed was not all designated for body cameras. Small municipalities that haven’t purchased the technology say that the ongoing cost of storing videos and handling freedom of information requests has kept them from using the grant. Now, as nation-wide protests call for increased police transparency in response to police killings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and George Floyd in Minneapolis, some towns are reconsidering the

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Veteran Restaurateur Launches Hangry Goose in Old Lyme, Draws Old and New Regulars

OLD LYME — The Hangry Goose has only been open a few weeks, but most of the customers seated on the back patio as lunch wound down on Thursday afternoon had been there before. They stopped owner Teddy Kanaras to remind him of their previous visits and let him know how good the chicken and clam chowder was. “It’s from a Greek chef who won best chowder at the Big E,” Kanaras said. “That’s why it’s so good.” Teddy and his wife Genna opened the Hangry Goose in early June. The breakfast and lunch restaurant stands on the bank of

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House-bound, Dan Stevens Makes Music Online, Diddley Bows and Cigar Box Guitars

OLD LYME — “It’s the human spirit. People make music somehow, they figure out a way,” explained touring musician Ramblin’ Dan Stevens. “It’s like the little blades of grass between the cracks in the sidewalk, they’ll figure out some way to grow.” Sitting in Nightingale Acoustic Cafe on Lyme St., Stevens showed off instruments he’s had more time to make since his gigs stopped abruptly in early March. As he talks, he plucks a few licks on the one-string diddley bows and three-string cigar box guitars that he’s made out of found materials: cigar boxes, gum tins, sink drains, washers

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Connecticut Providers and Insurers Debate the Future of Remote Medicine

Gov. Ned Lamont’s decision in March to mandate social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 forced medical providers to quickly expand telehealth coverage for appointments by video or phone. This expanded coverage is regulated by a temporary patchwork of major policy changes, including state and federal emergency mandates and voluntary measures by private insurers. On March 19, Lamont issued an executive order allowing providers for the first time to offer medical visits by telephone. And Medicaid and private insurers have moved to reimburse providers for virtual visits at the same rate as in-person visits.  At an Insurance and Real

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Micro-Lofts Planned for Mixed-Use Preservation Project in Historic Green Street Locale

NEW LONDON — The owner of a building on Green Street that briefly housed a Black-owned lending institution and civic group in the 1920s will use tax credits to renovate the structure into “micro-loft” apartments and a restaurant space. The State Historic Preservation Office last week approved developer Brian Lyman’s application for Historic Preservation tax credits that offset 30 percent of the projected $1,050,000 project cost. He has also applied to the National Park Service for a federal credit to offset an additional 20 percent of costs. Lyman said that the second and third stories of the building at 38

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Restoration of Historic Killingworth Congregational Church Marks 200-Year Church-State Divide

KILLINGWORTH — The dome ceiling of the Congregational church is 200-year-old plaster.  From inside the sanctuary, the only sign of concern is a water stain near the base of a wall where the plaster has started to crack.  It’s not a superficial issue.  After climbing a narrow staircase into the steeple, the keys – the plaster that oozes between cracks in the wooden structure, keeping the rest of the plaster in place – have broken off. That’s what needs to be secured, said Charlie Smith, co-chair of the Killingworth Congregational Church’s fundraising committee.  “If a piece of the plaster falls,

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Inland Wetlands Considers Complex off Spencer Plains Road

The Old Saybrook Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission agreed to move forward with an area electrical contractor’s application to build an office and warehouse building off of Interstate 95. The commission unanimously voted to accept and consider John Muir’s application for approval to build a 12,000 square foot building to serve as office and warehouse space, and a parking lot within 100 feet of wetlands on property he has contracted to buy at the corner of Spencer Plains and Buck Hill roads, just north of I-95 at exit 66. Muir said that he will use some of the space for

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Widely Varying Totals Cast Doubt on Reported $400+ Million Impact on Municipal Finances from COVID-19

As advocates for cities and towns push for federal dollars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a state-sponsored survey of towns across Connecticut reports widely varying financial impacts. The results of an April survey from the Office of Policy and Management paint an apparently overall bleak picture of local finances, with municipalities reporting an estimated total of more than $400 million of impacts to local revenues. Office of Policy and Management Spokesman Chris McClure cautioned against viewing the survey as a definitive account of municipal finances.  “This report helps us gauge the order of magnitude for municipalities’ potential losses and

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Environmentalists Seek Local Volunteers to Pull Invasive Water Chestnuts on the Connecticut River

Summer is the season for pulling out water chestnuts along the Connecticut River, and groups concerned with the prolific invasive plant are getting ready and organizing volunteers.  The Connecticut River Conservancy aims to promote and coordinate removal of the invasive European water chestnut from the river’s source in northern New Hampshire, down to the Long Island Sound. The conservancy works with local groups like Friends of Whalebone Cove, which has taken on the task of removing invasive plants from Whalebone Cove, Selden Cove and Selden Creek, near Hadlyme. “What we’re doing is a small part of what they’re trying to

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Lawmakers Pledge to Move Quickly, as Accountability Task Force Discusses Police Reforms

The Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force, established last year as part of a legislative reform bill, met on Monday for the first time since March.  As task force members discussed ideas to address public concerns with the police – including ways to increase accountability and ways to limit police encounters in the first place – lawmakers said they couldn’t wait for the group’s final report before they start moving legislation to address police accountability. During the task force’s discussion during the Monday meeting, Milford Police Chief Keith Mello and Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik both pointed to the mediation

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Lengthy Backlog for Firearms Appeals as Hearings Stretch into 2022

According to a recently released state audit of the Office of Governmental Accountability, Connecticut residents can wait up to 18 months to receive an appeal hearing after a firearms permit has been revoked or denied. Despite holding more meetings to address a chronic backlog of cases, the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners – the state board that hears the appeals – has struggled for more than a decade to keep up with an increasing caseload. Currently, the board has a backlog of 631 cases, and is scheduling new hearings in January 2022 for people who had their licenses revoked. That

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As Federal Aid Expires and Businesses are Slow to Reopen, Officials Discuss Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program

With summer fast approaching, Connecticut’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry is still largely shuttered. But as businesses gradually reopen over the next month, increased costs, wary customers and rigid rules on federal aid may make the process more difficult for businesses that have already lost two or three months of revenue. Possible changes to the troubled federal Paycheck Protection Program may ease some of that burden for tourism-driven businesses, but they will still need to clear one additional hurdle after they are allowed to reopen: convincing customers that it’s safe to come out. Sen. Richard Blumenthal told industry stakeholders that he’s optimistic

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Connecticut Pushes Ahead on Transportation Projects as Revenues Plummet

Traffic has dropped 50 percent across the state and nation, oil prices have collapsed and state transportation departments relying on fuel taxes are losing revenue – but the Connecticut Department of Transportation isn’t cutting back on any projects just yet. Transportation officials in states across the country – including Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania – are already scaling back planned highway projects or furloughing workers as they expect more people staying home will mean less revenue from key sources of funding, including the gas tax.  Connecticut Department of Transportation Spokesman Kevin Nursick said the state hasn’t cutback yet.

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