Lamont Joins Massachusetts, Rhode Island and D.C. in Carbon Cap and Investment Plan

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont and the leaders of two other northeastern states and the District of Columbia signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to pursue substantial reductions in motor vehicle pollution and invest $300 million per year in modernizing transportation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.  Governors Lamont, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, and Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia represent the first states of a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia to join the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program.  The program, according to a

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Change Could Help Regions Compete for Federal Dollars

HARTFORD — A new proposal by the State of Connecticut and the U.S. Census Bureau would adopt Connecticut’s nine planning regions as “county-equivalent” geographical units used for tabulating census data. If approved, the change will increase eligibility for federal grants in the nine regions, which are represented by the Regional Council of Governments (COGs) made up of member municipalities. Many federal grants are designed for and around counties, making cities and towns in Connecticut ineligible. If the state’s planning regions are made equivalent to counties, then municipalities can join together through their COGs and submit for federal grants, said Sam

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Gennaro Ends Six-year Run at Goodspeed with Eyes For What’s Next

EAST HADDAM — Michael Gennaro closed out a six-year run as executive director of the Goodspeed Opera House, with a season of outdoor musical acts and a dark stage, rethinking how the 57-year-old regional theater will reach audiences.  “I think one of the things we’ve learned is that it’s possible for us to do additional or complementary programming outdoors, even when we’re able to get back into the theater,” said Gennaro, 70, who announced a year ago that he will retire on Dec. 31. The theater was forced to cancel its regular season due to the pandemic.  “This may give

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Housing Plans Revived for Halls Road Redevelopment

OLD LYME — According to a real estate consultant hired to work on a masterplan for Halls Road, strong market demand for apartment rentals suggests that multi-family residential construction would be the most desirable option for redeveloping Halls Road. “There’s only one apartment for rent in all of Old Lyme. To get this, I went to realtor.com, Zillow, rent.com, apartments.com, and I interviewed, I think, eight different brokers. There’s one apartment, I mean, talk about a demand,” Maura Cochran, of Bartram & Cochran, told the Halls Road Improvements Committee during a presentation via zoom Monday night.  “There’s only one apartment

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Secures Zoning Approval for Lyme Street Site

OLD LYME — The Zoning Commission has approved a special permit application for the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center to relocate to 100 Lyme Street, the current location of the Bee and Thistle Inn.  At its virtual meeting Monday night, the commission approved a special permit application and municipal coastal site plan review application to permit the use of the property for nonprofit and educational activities.  Claudia Weicker, the center’s board chair, said a condition of the purchase agreement of the inn was approval of the special permit application before the end of the year, which Weicker said was the

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A Decades-Old Homeless Encampment, Health Concerns and a ‘Housing Carousel’

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WATERFORD — On Thursday morning, a man named Adam and Waterford Police Lt. Marc Balestracci stood talking in the woods as a decades-old homeless encampment just off the Post Road was cleaned out. “I just wish you would consider some of the opportunities that are being offered. Even if you disagree with the whole idea of moving temporarily,” Balestracci advised Adam, who wore a stethoscope draped around his neck and is known as “Doc” in the homeless community.  “‘Temporarily,’ ah, see, the problem is that this whole process is temporary,” Adam replied to Balestracci, who stood near a tree with

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Vincent Marks Gains in Norwich Redevelopment

NORWICH — A couple of doors down from Foundry 66 and Epicure Brewing on Franklin St. are several small shops where a number of streetwear designers have established a foothold.  “There are six businesses that operate out of this storefront and they also have a Shopify program for each vendor. They’re not open because they are selling on the internet. Streetwear needs a 50/50 profile — you have to be online but you also have to have a brick and mortar and so there’s a kid here that sold a pair of sneakers for $1,600,” said Jason Vincent, president of

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South Lyme Marina, a ‘Diamond in the Rough’

SOUTH LYME — “This place used to be cool. Even five or six years ago there were 48 boats here and this past year there were only six and a lot of it is due to the conditions — it’s not in the best of shape,” said Michael Barnes, who gestured to the wooden docks and sprawling gravel parking lot of the marina he bought on Nov. 9. “It’s a diamond in the rough,” he said. “There’s good fishing in the river and Long Island Sound is right there.”  Located at 8 Bank St., the 2.2-acre property — which Barnes

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Sewer Agreements an Obstacle for Hatchetts Hill Development

OLD LYME — Sewage capacity — how it’s shared, and who apportions it — could become an obstacle for developers of a proposed 224-unit housing development off Hatchetts Hill Road. The complex is expected to include 67 units of affordable housing under state statute 8-30g. The 11-building complex will require a capacity of 50,000 gallons per day, said Mark Diebolt, who, with his two partners, plans to build the project on a 20.6-acre site at 49 Hatchetts Hill Road. Currently, the town has negotiated for 300,000 gallons of sewage outflow to a treatment plant in New London each day. That

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The ‘Secular Religion’ of Jennifer Grotz

STONINGTON — “What I say instead of ‘I write’ every day is ‘I scribble,’ which to me lowers the stakes,” said poet Jennifer Grotz.  Grotz has published three books of poetry and is at work on her fourth. “I like to just scribble to just slowly accrue language. If I have a phrase that pops into my head, I might literally just write down those three words or if I’m at a bar and I’m eavesdropping and somebody says something funny, I write that down, or a memory. I collect all of that,” said Grotz (pronounced (Grōtz), the James Merrill

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Thanksgiving Turkey Buyer’s Guide

For many, this Thanksgiving will be quieter and smaller than previous years because of COVID-19, but for most, roasting a turkey is still an essential part of the tradition and the holiday. Turkey farms around the area are seeing brisk sales, with the smaller birds selling out quickly. There is still time to pre-order a bird, but time is running short. Below are a few choices in the area, including one non-turkey alternative.  Gozzi’s Turkey Farms, 2443 Boston Post Rd, Guilford  (203) 453 2771 www.facebook.com/Gozzis-Turkey-Farms (this link doesn’t work well!) Order ASAP by phone Price: $3.09/pound Pick up: the week

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The Future of Connecticut Farming

“We started out as a dairy. We will always be a dairy,” said Kies Orr, 27, who co-owns and operates Fort Hill Farms in Thompson where she has 210 milking cows and just under 500 cows total.  Orr is a fourth generation farmer but before her parents fully bought the dairy farm from her grandparents, they bought land adjacent to the dairy farm and started a nursery.  “My mother does lavender. My mother does plants. She has over 72 gardens that you can walk through and she’s gotten into offering exercise classes and giving nature walks. She’s trying to diversify

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Somers Pushes for Quicker COVID Tests for Volunteer Firefighters

GROTON — State Sen. Heather Somers is pushing for Gov. Ned Lamont to allow trained EMTs to test firefighters at local fire stations once a week for COVID-19 as a proactive measure against the spread of the virus. “So many of these firehouses are volunteers. They’re taking time off to fight the fires and go on the emergency calls,” said Somers noting that 10 firefighters were reported testing positive at the New London Fire Department four days ago.  There are 315 fire departments with a total of about 26,800 firefighters in Connecticut, of that number about 22,350 are volunteers, according

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An Investor and Self-Described “Do-er” Takes a Crack at New London

NEW LONDON — “One thing about New London is there are quite a few investors — and they’re called investors for a reason — but it doesn’t mean they’re doers,” said contractor David Preka. “Buying a piece of property and letting it stay as is just because you’re an investor and you’re waiting for an opportunity — that really hurts the city,” he complained. “It hurts the people around it, not just in New London, anywhere around. Unfortunately New London seems to be held a little bit hostage with a few of those.” Preka, 38, owns Advanced Group, a residential

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Developer Withdraws Application for Banner Estates

EAST HADDAM — For the second time, the owners of Banner Country Club Estates have withdrawn a zoning amendment application that would have allowed them to convert a large, empty banquet hall into a residential apartment building.  At the Planning and Zoning meeting Tuesday night, James Ventres, zoning enforcement officer and land use administrator for the town, read aloud a letter from attorney John S. Bennet, which stated that issues between his client, property co-owners Anthony and Frank Longhitano, and the existing condominium association of Banner Country Club Estates had not been resolved and that the application was officially withdrawn.

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‘Artists to Collect’ Opens at Catherine Fosnot Gallery in New London

NEW LONDON — Twenty six young, mid-career and older artists considered collectible by New York critics will be the focus of a show opening at the Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery and Center on Nov. 14. “Artists to Collect” is the brainchild of Fosnot, who is a painter and lived in New York City for more than 20 years, and George Waterman, who has roots in the New York art community and owns the Harris building as well as the Manwaring Building at 225 State St.  “We asked seven or eight critics, ‘Who is on your radar right now with ideas

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State Approves $11 Million for Small Towns Program

HARTFORD — For the first time since 2016, the state has reinstated a grant program that funds capital improvement projects in small towns and this year includes a special COVID-19 provision. On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont approved $11 million for the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP), which will benefit 94 Connecticut towns. In a release, Lamont said the special COVID-19 provision allows towns to use the funds to cover expenditures on capital projects related to the pandemic, including “new construction, expansion, renovation, or replacement of existing facilities.” “Our small towns have been hit hard by COVID-19 and are in

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Thorsten Dennerline Makes Books

“It’s about just seeing it move and seeing the timing of it,” said artist Thorsten Dennerline, who recently has been making videos of his three-dimensional books.  Prior to the COVID pandemic, Dennerline brought his books to fairs and visited people to show them how the books work in person. Now he’s looking for ways for people to experience the pieces.  “You’ve got to see this thing in real life because it’s an object and so I’m trying to get people to see it ‘in person,’” said Dennerline, a faculty member at Bennington College who founded Bird Press in 1996, which

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Deviant Donuts Sponsors Fundraiser for Garde Arts

MYSTIC — Today through Sunday, Deviant Donuts will donate $1 of every donut purchase to support the Garde Arts Center in New London.  “If people want to come out, I always say the earlier the better,” said Kourtney Stoy, one of the shop’s three bakers. “Usually by 10 or 11 we start to run out of some of the options available on the menu.”  Stoy said the bakery sells about 4,000 donuts on the weekends and smaller quantities during the week.  The bakery, located in Olde Mistick Village, has created specialty donuts for the fundraiser featuring designs based on famous

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Plans Purchase of Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — The iconic Bee and Thistle Inn, known over the years as a destination restaurant, cozy watering hole, wedding venue and getaway bed and breakfast, will soon be transformed into the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, a nature and education organization that is part of the Connecticut Audubon Society, if the plans get the go-ahead this fall. Claudia Weicker, Roger Tory Peterson’s board chair, said Monday in an interview with CT Examiner that she expects the center will close on the property before the end of 2020. Phased renovations within the existing historic footprint are expected to last from

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Policing Drives Race Between Howard, Rotella

The police accountability bill is at the forefront of the race between first-term incumbent State Rep. Kate Rotella, a Stonington Democrat, and her challenger Greg Howard, a Republican and longtime Stonington police detective. Howard won the endorsement of the Republican Town Committee after Shaun Mastroianni withdrew from the race in early August. After Rotella appeared at a protest outside of the Stonington Police Department and voting twice for policing bills, Mastroianni stepped aside to allow Howard to run, according to The Day. In an interview with CT Examiner, Howard described himself as an expert on the police accountability bill, which

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Bride Brook Development Advances, at Odds with Town Planning

EAST LYME —  In its referral to the town’s Zoning Commission, the East Lyme Planning Commission unanimously agreed on Tuesday night that a proposal for “Brookside Apartments,” an 80-unit development on North Bride Brook Road, submitted under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing statute, was inconsistent with the town’s 2009 Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), with a few exceptions. The Planning Commission found that the site lacks public transportation and is not close to a village center, as recommended by the POCD for affordable housing projects. The commission did, however, find that the proposal met provisions in the POCD for

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BassamFellows Remodels the Future

RIDGEFIELD — “What’s so beautiful about the building is it’s about 7000 square feet and it feels, and is built, like a modern house and yet it’s a commercial building. It has more of a residential feel than a typical office building,” said Scott Fellows. “When people walk in, especially the way we’ve furnished it and adapted it for our use, it feels like a blurring between a beautiful, small executive office building and a modern house. People say, ‘I want to live here.’” The Schlumberger Research Center administration building, designed in 1951 and built in 1952, was architect Philip Johnson’s

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Sidewalks Plan Explained in Information Session

OLD LYME — The Community Connectivity Grant Committee held a virtual public information session Thursday night to explain the costs and a projected schedule for installing sidewalks on sections of Hartford Ave. and Shore Road.  The town was awarded a $400,000 Community Connectivity Grant in January 2019 and chose BSC Group, of Glastonbury, as the design firm in January 2020. The grant has a 3-year timeline to use the funding, Mary Jo Nosal, chair of the committee and a selectman for the town, presented a budget summary showing the grant will cover construction costs estimated at $287,000 for 970 feet

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Cheeseman and Steel Offer Contrasting Views in Race for State House

Cate Steel, an East Lyme Democrat and retired speech pathologist, is challenging incumbent two-term State Rep. Holly Cheeseman, a Republican, and executive director of the Niantic Children’s Museum, to represent East Lyme and Salem in the 37th District. Cheeseman is a graduate of Mount Holyoke and a former selectman of East Lyme. In 2018, she defeated Democrat Hugh McKenney 51.4 to 48.6 percent, a margin of 310 votes. Steel, who worked 35 years as a teacher and educator, currently serves on the East Lyme Board of Education. Asked about how they would prioritize state budget choices — in August, Gov.

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Ryan Chapman on Comic Fiction, Merrill House Residency

STONINGTON — “I think there’s something great about how humor and comic writing can short circuit us to some degree. I think it allows us to think about topics or ask questions that might not be raised in polite company. I think often what a culture finds funny says a lot more about it than what a culture idolizes,” explained Ryan Chapman, the writer in residence at the James Merrill House for the month of October. “With writing comic fiction, hopefully I can bring in some of the bigger questions about life and our society and do so in a

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Halls Road Committee Gets Go-ahead from Finance for Masterplan

OLD LYME — The Board of Finance has approved $48,000 in carryover funding for a master plan proposal submitted by the Halls Road Improvement Committee. The approval came at the board’s Tuesday night meeting, a day after the Board of Selectmen approved the project with a “not to exceed $48,000” stipulation.  Edie Twining, chair of the committee, and Kurt Prochorena, an engineer at BSC Group, which won the job with a bid of $46,500, presented the seven-page proposal, which includes the development of updated base mapping using existing town GIS and assessment data, 2016 orthophotography and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)

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Courtney Announces Federal Aid for Shellfish and Other Offshore Growers

NOANK — Under rainy skies turning sunny, Jim Markow, president of Mystic Oysters in Noank, joined by Rep. Joe Courtney, Gov. Ned Lamont and various state officials, spoke at a press conference on the dock outside of his business Tuesday to announce that after months of political pressure by Courtney and state’s congressional delegation, hard-hit shellfish, clam, kelp and seaweed growers are now eligible to receive aid from a USDA program, a change that could open the door to including aquaculture in the 2022 federal Farm Bill. “It’s a very, very small percentage but it’s something. Some is better than

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Halls Road Project Heads to Board of Finance for Approval

OLD LYME —  The Halls Road Improvements Committee received the go-ahead from the Board of Selectmen on Monday to take the committee’s proposal for hiring a firm that will create a master plan to the town’s Board of Finance for approval.  The Halls Road committee, which was established in 2015, has approximately $48,000 in leftover funds carried over from earlier efforts to hire Yale Design Urban Workshop and to implement tax increment financing in the town’s shopping district. Repurposing that funding requires approval by the Board of Finance. The project is to hire the BSC Group, an engineering firm from

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Formica – Marx Offers Clear Choice in Senate Race

Democratic challenger Martha Marx is once again hoping to unseat Republican State Sen. Paul Formica in a rematch of their close 2018 contest to represent the 20th district, and the towns of Bozrah, East Lyme, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford.  A three-term incumbent, Paul Formica is Deputy Senate Republican Leader, Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Technology Committee. He is a past vice-chair of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments and served as First Selectman in East Lyme from 2007 to 2015. For 35 years, Formica has owned and operated Flanders Fish

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