Quick Decision on $40+ Million School Renovations Meets Caution from Lyme-Old Lyme Board

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LYME/OLD LYME — The Board of Education voted on Wednesday to exclude from consideration any district-wide construction projects that would involve moving fifth graders to the middle school.  The vote eliminated two of the six options that Rusty Malik, a principal at the architectural firm QA + M, presented to the Board of Education in November to upgrade four of the district’s five school buildings.  At the meeting, Board of Education members said that they had heard opposition from community members to the idea of having the fifth graders together with the older students.  “It’s a real big deal to

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A Closer Look at School Enrollment in Madison and Lyme-Old Lyme

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When it comes to enrollment, parents and community members in Madison and Old Lyme are debating whether it’s better to see the schools as half empty or half full.  “It sounds like you’re projecting a really rosy picture based on birthrates,” Madison resident Rick Fearon told the superintendent and the Board of Education in a community forum on Nov. 9. While projections show that Madison’s student population will increase over the next eight years, Fearon pointed out that the number of children in the district has been on a steady decline. “One might argue irrespective of birth rates, a tax

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Closing a Season and a Chapter of Life on the Water

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It ended tranquilly, with a gentle bump in the night of boat against wooden pier.  When Chester-Hadlyme Ferry Captain John Marshall nosed the vessel into the Chester landing as 7 p.m. approached Tuesday, it marked not only the boat’s last trip of the season, but was the soon-to-retire Marshall’s final crossing of the Connecticut River that he’d made countless thousands of times in his 22 years at the helm. CT Examiner spent Marshall’s last few hours on the historic ferry with him as he spoke about his unusual career, the boat that became his second home, and his more than

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‘It’s Our Turn’ for a Senior Center Expansion, says Lyme-Old Lyme Chair

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OLD LYME — Point One Architects presented two conceptual design options for enlarging the Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee on Wednesday that ranged in cost from $3.4 to $3.8 million. Architects Rick Staub and Greg Nucci, who are partners at Point One, said both design options include four key spaces: a large multipurpose room, which the building already has, a medium-sized multipurpose room, a small multipurpose room and an enclosed sunroom. Many of the rooms would be equipped with accordion doors for flexibility in the use of the spaces. “So you basically have four large rooms that can work in

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Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Ed Reviews Options for $40+ Million Renovations

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LYME/OLD LYME — A project to  upgrade four Lyme-Old Lyme school buildings is projected to cost taxpayers between $40 and $45 million, according to estimates provided the architectural firm QA + M on Wednesday night.  Earlier in June, the district approved a contract with the Farmington-based firm for $45,850 to evaluate the need for improvements to Mile Creek, Lyme School, Center school, as well as the district middle school.  On Wednesday, Rusty Malik, a principal at QA +M, presented the Board of Education with several options projected to cost between $41.8 and $44.5 million.  The district will need to bond

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools to Host Forum Tonight on Strategic Planning

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LYME-OLD LYME — The school district will be hosting its first open community forum tonight to discuss a strategic plan outlining the district’s goals for its students and hear community members want from the schools going forward. Superintendent Ian Neviaser said the last time the district developed a strategic plan was seven years ago, and that the plan needed to be updated.  Neviaser said that after initial meetings with employees and representatives from the town, parent groups and the Board of Education, a few major focus areas appeared. He said that members of the group wanted the students to be

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State Finds No Evidence of Animal Cruelty in Show Horse Death

The death of a Lyme show horse last month at a boarding facility in Marlborough was due to an apparent natural aneurysm and not any suspected wrongdoing, the state Department of Agriculture has concluded.  In a 10-page report on the Sept. 3 death of Beatrix at Bridle Brook Barns, the department said it reached its conclusion based largely on statements from multiple witnesses who were at the barn that day, as well as the opinion of two veterinarians. The veterinarians did not examine the horse’s body, and the state did not seek to have it exhumed, state Animal Control Officer

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Unanswered Questions, Unreleased Documents Hamper Efforts to Explain Lyme Horse’s Death

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The cause of death and burial location of a Lyme show horse that died under unclear circumstances at a Marlborough boarding barn nearly three months ago remain a mystery to the horse’s owner as she awaits the results of an investigation by the state Department of Agriculture. And requests made more than three weeks ago to the department by CT Examiner for public documents under state Freedom of Information laws have gone unfilled. The requests are for reports of any previous inspections, complaints or investigations involving the Marlborough barn and the horse transporter that removed the horse’s body from the barn

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Lyme-Old Lyme to Consider Cost of Renovating Schools to ‘As New’

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LYME-OLD LYME — On Thursday night, the architecture firm QA + M presented the initial findings of its study of the Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools. In June, the district approved a contract with the Farmington-based firm for $45,850 to evaluate the need for improvements to Mile Creek, Lyme School, Center school, as well as the district middle school. The study was paid for with federal funding.  At the meeting, Rusty Malik, a principal at QA +M and Angela Cahill, an architect for the firm, discussed the current conditions of the buildings and offered suggestions about how the district could address

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Questions Remain as Dept. of Agriculture Moves to Close Investigation of Death

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture has made a preliminary decision that cruelty did not play a role in the death of a Lyme show horse at a Marlborough barn last month, but the owner of the horse has questioned the thoroughness of the investigation, saying that she still has not been told the location of the body. “I have not been able to find any evidence of cruelty in the matter,” Tanya Wescovich, the state animal control officer, wrote Dana Ramsey Maxwell, owner of the 7-year-old horse, Beatrix, in an email this week. “Both the state’s veterinarian and Dr. Sears

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Mysterious Death, Missing Body Spark Department of Agriculture Investigation

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The mysterious, bloody death and burial of a show horse owned by a Lyme woman at a “luxury” boarding facility in Marlborough early this month has led to an investigation by the state Department of Agriculture. Dana Ramsey Maxwell says she has had nothing but unanswered questions about the fate of her 7-year-old registered Hanoverian, Beatrix, since she received a text message on Sept. 3 telling her the horse had died that morning. Calls and messages to the stable have not yet been returned. “I just want answers,” said Maxwell, who has raised and shown horses since she was a

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Old Lyme Candidates for Board of Education Speak to the Issues

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As Lyme-Old Lyme’s Board of Education prepares for a sizable turnover in November, slates endorsed by the Democrats and Republicans took questions from CT Examiner about their spending priorities, about communicating with the public, the teaching of History and measures needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Four incumbent members of the Board — Richard Goulding (D), Stacey Leonardo (R), Jean Wilczynski (D) and chair Diane Linderman (D) — are not seeking re-election. The Old Lyme Democrats have endorsed incumbent Martha Shoemaker (D) and newcomers Alexander Lowry (D), Marisa Calvi-Rogers (D) and Jason Kemp (D). The Old Lyme Republicans have

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Goulding Talks COVID, Party Politics and 8 Years on the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Ed

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After eight years on the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education, Rick Goulding, along with three other members, including the current chair Diane Linderman, will not seek re-election this November, leaving nearly half of the seats open for first-time members. “Eight years was enough of a contribution to the community for now,” Goulding said. “We decided family-wise and job-wise it just didn’t make sense to continue.”  According to Goulding, when he first took his seat on the board in 2013 it was a very different time politically. “At the time I reached out to both parties before the election and they

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With Growing Enrollments, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools to Hire an Additional 5th Grade Teacher, Add English Sections

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Lyme-Old Lyme schools are adding additional class sections to keep up with a growing population of students in the district.  At a Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Ian Neviaser said that the district needed to add an additional section of 5th grade at Mile Creek Elementary School, increasing the number of sections from two to three.  The school currently has 50 students registered for 5th grade. Neviaser said the maximum class size for the district is 22. Having three sections of 5th grade will keep the class sizes at around 17 students each.   The district also needs to add

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Workshop Will Gather Public Input on Renovation of Lymes’ Senior Center

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OLD LYME — Point One Architects will conduct a public workshop on Tuesday, July 6 at 1 p.m to talk about options for updating the Lymes’ Senior Center and to gather input from the community. The Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee has scheduled the workshop, which will take place inside the center, located at 26 Town Woods Road, Old Lyme, with COVID protocols in place, including masks and social distancing.  The committee put out a Request for Qualifications and Proposal for a renovation feasibility study for the center on March 15 and received responses from seven firms. The committee interviewed

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Drop Masks for the Fall

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LYME-OLD LYME –The Lyme-Old Lyme School District has decided that it will not be requiring students to wear masks in the fall.  Superintendent Ian Neviaser said at a Board of Education meeting on Wednesday that this was part of a plan for in-person re-opening that the district would submit to the state by the end of the month. The plan is a requirement for districts in order to receive funds from the American Rescue Plan, the most recent — and largest —  grant allocations from the federal government.  Neviaser said that the district’s intention was to create a school year

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Schools Across the Region Outline Varying Ideas for Spending Federal Dollars

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School districts across southeastern Connecticut are in the process of drawing up plans for how they intend to spend millions of dollars of federal funding that will be available over the next two years. The money comes in the form of two anticipated grants, known as ESSER II and the American Rescue Plan.  The proposals include a variety of projects, from outdoor classrooms to bilingual therapists, summer enrichment and chromebooks.  Here is a rundown, district by district:  Lyme-Old Lyme Ian Neviaser, superintendent at Lyme-Old Lyme schools, said the district won’t be using the combined $1.48 million in federal aid for

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Committee Votes to Adopt New Governance Model for Lyme

LYME — The Town of Lyme Succession Planning Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the Board of Selectmen that the town adopt a governance model that would retain the Board of Selectmen but include additional paid staffing positions. In previous meetings, the committee had narrowed down their choices to two models: a Board of Selectmen with additional paid staff and a shift to a town council with a town manager. Steve Mattsen, the first selectman, said at the meeting that the town was in no position to form a town council, since that would require a change in the town

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Lyme Debates Switch to Town Manager Model of Local Government

LYME — The Succession Planning Committee is debating whether to recommend that the town keep its current board of selectmen or shift to a town council and town manager model of government.  According to First Selectman Steven Mattson, the committee was formed in July in response to the upcoming retirement of 19 town employees over the next few years. Those departures may  leave positions that are difficult to fill and possibly require an alternate form of local government.  At a meeting of the committee on September 16, the nine committee members considered four potential models:  The current model A board

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Lyme Forms Working Group to Draft Ordinance on Short-term Rentals

LYME — After receiving complaints about parking violations and noise disturbances at 26 Old Hamburg Road, a property purchased in February for use as an Airbnb, the Planning and Zoning Commission chose to pursue interim measures until its newly-formed working group can craft an ordinance addressing short-term rentals.  The .1-acre property at 26 Old Hamburg Road consists of a 1-bedroom, 704-square-foot house built in 1859 that has a dock and fronts Hamburg Cove. According to the property card, Tower Benson and Eleanor Bianchini of Worcester, Mass. purchased the property on Feb. 6, 2020.  As a short-term measure, the board asked

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After a Family Tragedy, Cove Landing Marine Keeps Doing What They Have Been Doing

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LYME — The plan was always for Jennifer Ruhling or her brother to take over their father’s boat yard, but that time came sooner than expected. Ruhling said that it was her father’s dream to own a boat yard and he bought Cove Landing Marine on Hamburg Cove in Lyme in 1978. Either Ruhling or her brother at some point was supposed to come back to Lyme, work the yard with their father, and eventually take over. John Leonard, their father, died unexpectedly in a car crash on July 20, 2019, as he was driving to get more wire ties,

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Meet Ron Turner, New Facilities Director for Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

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Ron Turner joined the staff at Lyme-Old Lyme Schools as the new facilities director at the end of February, just before the schools closed for COVID-19. “The first couple weeks I was off to a great start, meeting the staff and students, and then the sky kind of fell with COVID hitting,” Turner said. “I’m really hoping to meet everyone in the fall, I can’t underscore that enough. Since the shutdown, I think that’s what so many of us are struck by the most. Buildings don’t become a school until staff, students and members of the community are here. I

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Clarify Reports of Cost Savings

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This Wednesday, Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education will vote on the first budget decrease in the district’s history. The $34.9 million proposed budget is 1.06 percent less than last year’s regional district budget. The current proposal is $180,000 less than the budget originally proposed in February. “The goal was to have a zero percent increase in payments for both towns,” said Ian Neviaser, superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools. “Originally, even though Lyme was seeing a reduction in cost, Old Lyme was looking at a $180,000 increase.” The nearly $200,000 in total savings from the 2019-2020 budget come from a refinancing

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Lyme Budget Proposal Heads to Virtual Hearing on April 28 with 3 percent Cut

LYME — The Board of Finance will present on April 28 a 2020-21 budget proposal of $10.6 million, which would be a 3 percent decrease from the passed budget for 2019-20. Residents and taxpayers will be able to submit questions to the finance board by email in advance and also dial into the teleconferenced hearing. Finance Board Chair Dan Hagan said in a Monday phone interview that this budget should require no mill rate increase, but that won’t be settled until the finance board gives its final approval for the budget and sets a mill rate at their May 12

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Lyme-Old Lyme Relief Fund Established — Rick Stout and Tom Britt to Double Initial Donations

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The Lyme-Old Lyme Coronavirus Relief Fund was established yesterday by both towns and Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau in an effort to help those in need during this unprecedented state of emergency. “We’ve already helped homebound people with groceries, a family with diapers and one resident pay a portion of her rent,” said Mary Seidner, the director of Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau. “This is for residents of both communities and donations are coming in from both communities, it really is a unified effort.” The fund will be jointly managed by Seidner and the Social Services Coordinators in Lyme and Old Lyme.

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Whalebone Cove Organizes Grassroots Effort on Invasives in the Connecticut River

LYME —“It started with eight people around a dining table and grew to thirty-five volunteers that pulled 5,000 to 6,000 invasive plants out of a cove last summer,” said Diana Fiske, a member of Friends of Whalebone Cove, a nonprofit formed to preserve and protect the ecological integrity of the cove, which has been threatened the increasing growth of non-native invasive plants.  The first meeting was in 2015 and now the group has grown to about 100 members who decided last year to take a more scientific approach to solutions for Whalebone Cove, an inlet just downriver from where the

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Budget Hike for Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Lowest Ever at .39 Percent

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The proposed 2020-21 budget for Lyme-Old Lyme schools calls for an increase of just 0.39 percent, or less than $140,000, the lowest budget increase in the history of the district. “It’s the lowest budget increase on record,” said Superintendent Ian Neviaser. “We are still discussing and are still making a few revisions, so it might go down even more.” Compared to neighboring school districts, the modest increase is all the more striking — the draft budget for East Lyme schools includes an increase of 4.26 percent, Old Saybrook of 0.98 percent and Guilford of 2.14 percent. According to Neviaser, the

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Loneliness, Aging and Automobiles in Connecticut

LYME — Six years ago, Jo-Anne Mullen woke up in the hospital to her three sons telling her she could not return to life as she knew it. She suffered a stroke and a heart attack and although had planned to work another ten years at the Toyota dealership she loved, at 70 her sons thought the stressful job would be too much for her. “I couldn’t work so naturally I couldn’t stay where I was because I couldn’t afford to do it,” Mullen said. “My son went and got a dumpster and everything was dumped and then when I

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Young Forest Habitat Initiative Brings Balance to Lyme Woodland

LYME – With hardly any tall trees, the ground covered in grasses and sedges, and a few large piles of brush in sight, it seems almost like something has gone wrong. As though something happened here that shouldn’t have. Gone are the rows upon rows of tall oaks and maples, the shade they provide and the quiet commonly associated with New England forests. In fact, the open shrubland is remarkably loud. It’s ringing with the calls of six types of warblers and the eastern towhee – all species listed as those of greatest conservation need in Connecticut. “It looks like

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Restoring Habitat on the Lower Connecticut River

Standing in the middle of Lord’s Cove, on the edge of the Connecticut River, you can see thousands of salt march bulrushes poking up through the muck everywhere, a plant that has appeared on the Connecticut and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Rare Species lists for more than 40 years.

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