EF Watermelon Celebrates 40 Years

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Jewelry, geodes, objets d’art are specialties of EF Watermelon, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this weekend. Jim Elliott and Richard Freeman are the “E” and “F” of EF Watermelon. They met in graduate school, but after Jim discovered gemstones, the two began traveling the world to look for interesting stones and materials.  The duo became enamored with tourmalines, especially the striking watermelon variety, which can range in color from white to green to pink. And, inspired by the 1970’s ad that began with, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen,” the name EF Watermelon was born.  Spouses Cathy Elliott and

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Lyme-Old Lyme VFW Post 1467 Honors Work and Volunteers at Annual Banquet

OLD LYME — The local Veterans of Foreign Wars celebrated acts of service in helping veterans in need at their annual awards banquet Friday night at the Old Lyme Country Club. Among VFW posts, Lyme and Old Lyme’s Post 1467 is rare in that it doesn’t own a building, which members say keeps them lean and allows them to devote more of the money they raise directly toward covering essential expenses for veterans in need around southeastern Connecticut, filling in gaps left by the the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and similar social services. “Our motto is ‘No bar,

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Turf Field Compatible with Existing Geothermal Wells, Board of Education Assured

LYME-OLD LYME — 250 geothermal wells located six feet beneath the proposed site for Lyme-Old Lyme’s artificial turf field would not pose a threat to the project, according to the Connecticut Geothermal Association. “Typically, geothermal wells never have to be accessed. There is nothing mechanical in the well, just pipe,” said Guy Wanegar, the president at A&B Cooling and Heating Corporation. “On a big system like that, wells would all be connected to a vault. You do need to get to the vault occasionally, so as long as that isn’t under the field you should be okay.” Superintendent Ian Neviaser

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State Rep. Devin Carney on Hartford, Party Lines, and His View of the Coming Session

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OLD LYME — With deep roots in the region, Rep. Devin Carney is in his third term serving in Hartford with his own combination of dedication and service that has attracted the support of voters across party lines. “When I decided to run, I really wasn’t thrilled with Dan Malloy — it was more on the economic stuff. I’m definitely fiscally conservative. Socially I’m definitely more on the liberal side. So I think that fits that Rockefeller New England Style Republican — like Chris Shea and Rob Simmons … or even Olympia Snow and Susan Collins,” said Carney, 35, in

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East Lyme Selectmen Approve Additional $950,000 to Reduce Iron and Manganese in Water

EAST LYME — The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday approved a resolution to bond an additional $950,000 to construct and upgrade filtering for two of the town’s wells, one of which has repeatedly shown discolored water with iron and manganese. This would raise the total amount appropriated for the project to $5.59 million. At a January special town meeting, East Lyme voters approved bonding for up to $4.64 million for this project. The additional $950,000 requires approvals by the Board of Finance and at an additional town meeting. “We really need to move forward with this project,” Town Public Works Director

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Deep River Taxes Still Accruing on Region 4 School Property

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When the Mislick Property was purchased in 2017, the first selectman of Deep River – the town hosting all of the Region 4 school properties — broached the topic of the district paying taxes to the town. “The reality is I believe and Deep River believes that there should be some sort of compensation for the schools that are all located in our town,” said First Selectman Angus McDonald. At the Wednesday night meeting, after an executive session discussion with legal advisors from Shipman and Goodwin, the Region 4 Board of Education said they would be working with the three

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Computer science education expanding in k-12

By July 2020, all teacher preparation programs in Connecticut must include computer science instruction as part of the curriculum. In addition, as of July 2019, all school districts must incorporate some form of computer science as part of their kindergarten through high school curriculum. Despite a 2015 law that required computer programming as a part of course offerings in every school district in the state, as of 2018 a just over half of high schools offered a computer science course, said Shannon Marimon, the executive director at ReadyCT, a nonprofit aimed at advocating for educational policy reform. “Just 52 percent

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Library renovations to be completed in April and other selectmen news

OLD LYME — The Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library is expected to begin accessing town funds this month for ongoing renovations once they surpass the $300,000 in costs that the library committed to cover through donations and raised funds, said First Selectman Timothy Griswold at his first meeting of the board since he took office following November’s election. At a July 2018 town meeting, Old Lyme voters approved the town to spend $1.75 million on the construction, with $1.25 million coming through a bank loan and $500,000 from surplus. Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library is also set to receive a $1 million

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Advocates Consider Changes to Connecticut’s Special Education Burden of Proof and Funding

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In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parents, not school districts, are required to prove that an Individualized Education Plan is unsatisfactory to a child’s needs. This federal ruling does not overturn state statutes where they exist, however, and Connecticut is currently one of just five states to place the burden of proof on the school district during an appeals process of a special education determination. In 2005, twice as many states and the District of Columbia had similar regulations. “A bill to change that is submitted every year, but it hardly ever makes it out of committee,” said

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Vincitori Apizza Serves up “Neo-Neopolitan” Pies, Chowder by Niantic Boardwalk

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EAST LYME — The region’s newest pizzeria brings New Haven-inspired pies to Niantic’s Main Street, with house-made sausage, and a savory potato pie. Their signature dish, the Vincitori, starts with a naturally-leavened dough, “covered with shredded mozz and with dollops of fresh mozzarella and then we put the sauce on top with fresh basil, which is the best of all the worlds,” said chef Dave Reeves. Reeves opened Vincitori Apizza with Eileen and Norman Birk, his aunt and uncle, in mid-November. It’s located at 294 Main Street, Niantic, the site of the former Eleni’s Pizzeria. Reeves brings 16 years of

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Max Creek Brings Joyous Jams to The Kate

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The Connecticut-based group known for an eclectic musical style mixing rock, jazz, soul, country and Calypso with jams in the vein of the Grateful Dead and Phish is playing The Kate Friday, December 6, 2019 at 8:00 pm. The 250-seat venue is located on the Main Street of Old Saybrook.  With a steady grouping since the mid-1970s of guitarist Scott Murawski, keyboardist Mark Mercier and bassist John Rider, Max Fish got its start almost a half-century ago in Hartford before current drummer percussionists Bill Carbone and Jamemurrell Stanley were born. According to Rider, the band was started to “give people

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Connecticut River Conservancy Hires River Steward, Promoting Conservation, Environmental Justice

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“For good or bad, we are the mouth of the Connecticut river. So everything that is happening upstream is going to impact us,” said Kelsey Wentling, the new Connecticut-based river steward for the Connecticut River Conservancy. “We need to be engaged with groups and communities all throughout the watershed in order to make an impact. It’s a challenge and an opportunity.” Wentling moved to Middletown in September to take on the river steward role. “Personally, I am really interested in figuring out how CRC can participate in opening up access to the river, not just physically, but inviting more different

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Public-Private Partnership Seeds 100,000 Oysters in Niantic River

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EAST LYME — Shellfish experts deposited about 100,000 juvenile oysters into the Niantic River on Saturday, as part of a $10,000 public-private partnership plan by the Waterford-East Lyme Shellfish Commission to bolster the river’s oyster population in an effort to increase recreational fishing and improve water quality. “This is the first seeding that we’ll do,” said Peter Harris, chair of the shellfish commission. “We’re pretty confident that we’ll be successful.”  Harris said that this could be the first of multiple seeding if successful. “When they grow out to adults they will set seed and repopulate the area if it’s successful,”

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Town Meeting Passes Harbor Authority Ordinance, Adopts Annual Report

OLD SAYBROOK — Voters approved an amendment clarifying the Harbor Management Commission’s authority and adopted the 2019 Annual Report at Monday night’s Annual Town Meeting at Old Saybrook Middle School. Town Attorney Michael Cronin said that the amendment to the Harbor Management Commission language in the Town Code was a matter of “legal housekeeping” about “the jurisdiction of the commission.” The code in its earlier form gave the commission the responsibility to oversee the town’s waterways and related facilities, but the language was ambiguous as to whether the commission had authority over facilities beyond the water’s edge, such as the clothesline

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Nonprofit Guides Board of Education Policy Across Connecticut

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Bob Rader has spent almost 25 years as executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (or CABE) encouraging elected board of education members across the state to follow a common set of best practices when working with fellow board members, the public and media. “We have no authority to police or regulate our districts,” Rader said. “Instead, we rely on them learning best practices and working with their superintendent to effectively lead.” This fall, hundreds of newly-elected board of education members will attend a full-day conference led by the registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, drawing from about 150 member

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Essex Loses Rural Grant Eligibility with Shift to Suburban Designation

ESSEX — At the start of the 2018-19 school year, Essex lost its annual Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program funding when the town was reclassified as a suburban community by the State Department of Education. The previous year, that funding totaled $34,432 – or about 3 percent of the district budget, the largest grant received by the school district. “The grant used to fund the Bridges program, which helped bring our math instruction to the next level, but thankfully has been fully implemented now,” said Kristina Martineau, assistant superintendent for Region 4, at the most recent Essex Board of

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Economic Development Commission Looks to Improve Approval Process in Chester

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CHESTER — The Economic Development Commission is pursuing the formation of a “New Applications Group” that would provide businesses and developers with a pre-application process for vetting ideas and plans prior to submitting a formal application.  “It is a best practice among communities that do economic development well,” said Patricia Bandzes, EDC member. “In Portland [CT], they call it the ‘development team’ and their motto is ‘don’t spend a dollar until you come see us first.’” The idea has been discussed at April, May and August meetings of the EDC, but has not yet gained traction with town officials and

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East Lyme Officials Approve Outlines for One-Floor Public Safety Building

EAST LYME — Town officials on Tuesday night approved a schematic design for renovation of the former Honeywell Office building into a police and public safety complex. The architects will next prepare a detailed design to take out for bids in the next few months. The schematic designs from Silver / Petrucelli + Associates divided costs into four sections — a basic plan and three supplemental additions that might not be included in the final plan. The base schematic design is estimated to cost about $1.7 million, funds already approved for the renovation. Selectman Paul Dagle, who chairs the committee

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Editorial: Local Oversight and Regional Budgets

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It’s simply unimaginable as part of the budget, anywhere in Connecticut, that a town employee could propose a $2.5 million project, with significant, ongoing and uncertain maintenance costs, as well as ten year replacement costs, and expect to plan and approve the project without early and broad public engagement, and without the promise of a townwide vote. Whether or not a synthetic turf field is a good or bad idea for Lyme-Old Lyme schools, we’ll set aside for a moment. But let’s be clear — a good idea or not — everything about the decision-making process so far gives the

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At Over $50,000, Old Lyme Spending Higher than Comparable Towns for Election

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OLD LYME — Democrats and Republicans together spent more than $50,000 on mailers, digital advertising, consultants, and other campaign expenses leading up to the November 5 election in Old Lyme. That sum is significantly more than comparable elections for several larger towns across the southeast Connecticut. Old Lyme also had the highest turnout for any town in the state, at about 56 percent. According to campaign finance statements filed by each of the parties at the end of October, the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee spent more than $26,500 and the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee spent just over $25,000.

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Plans for Synthetic Turf Field Raise Questions, Emotions, at Lyme-Old Lyme Meeting

There were more questions than answers at Monday night’s meeting of an ad hoc Board of Education athletics committee on the proposed construction of a synthetic turf field behind the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and High School. Questions raised at the meeting include the choice of infill, the challenges that face the current athletic department, the use of the field for competitive games which would require lighting. A stadium and scoreboard were also discussed. Most pointed were questions concerning public support and the financial sense of a new synthetic field. “Right now we are going to be spending a million

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Emotional Farewell for Reemsnyder as First Selectman of Old Lyme

OLD LYME — Bonnie Reemsnyder, former chair of the Connecticut Port Authority and its Finance Committee, responded “no comment” on Monday when asked whether she would attend and testify at an informational forum to be held by the state legislature’s Transportation Committee on December 4. “I don’t have any comment on that,” said Reemsnyder, a Democrat, after an emotional ending to four terms as first selectman of Old Lyme. On Saturday, Scott Bates, Deputy Secretary of the State and former chair of the authority, confirmed by email that he looked forward to “attending and sharing [his] perspective” at the December

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No Gateway Approvals for “Living Shoreline” Project off Fenwick

OLD SAYBROOK — The living shoreline planned by the Connecticut River Conservancy and Lynde Point Land Trust for Fenwick will be the second public project of its kind, but three other living shoreline projects have been constructed successfully by private landowners since the 2012 legislation permitting them was passed.   “In 1980 a law was passed limiting the use of hard flood and erosion control structures, but in 2012 an exception was passed,” said Brian Thompson, director of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection land and water resources division. “A living shoreline is an example of that exception with structural

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Sunny Weather in Beach Season Brings Increase in Parks Revenue

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OLD SAYBROOK — Harvey’s Beach and mini golf games showed a hearty increase in gross income of 13 percent during the 2019 beach season compared to last year, which the town’s parks director said was likely due to consistently warm and sunny weather during summer weekends. “I think we had a really good summer. The weather always plays a major factor in what we’re doing in our summer facilities,” said Parks and Recreation Director Raymond Allen. “If you recall this summer every weekend was beautiful and that certainly is a factor. Our weekends tend to be more busy than during

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Developer Proposes 60-100 Condominium Project in Chester

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CHESTER — A developer presented preliminary plans for Falcon Crest — a substantial development for residents ages 55 and over, to the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night. The project, which is in the conceptual stage, is designed for between 60 and 100 condominiums in buildings of 10 units each on a 34-acre triangular-shaped site located on Winthrop Road bordering Deep River’s town line and abutting part of Old Butter Jones Road. “We’ve done everything looking at 60 to 80 units … so eight buildings is more realistic but 10 is max,” attorney Joseph Rini, who represented Joseph Mingolello, principal

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Fenwick is Site of Second Living Shoreline Project in Connecticut

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Last winter, after years of increasing erosion exacerbated by sea level rise, Long Island Sound breached a protective sand dune offshore of Fenwick leaving a recently restored marsh behind it vulnerable. “There is concern that there is going to be more flooding, especially during large storm events,” said Juliana Barrett, an extension educator for the Connecticut Sea Grant project at the University of Connecticut who has been working in Fenwick for more than a decade. “The other thing is the sociological aspect of it. There is an informal walking path around the beaches of Fenwick. This is where you would

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New First Selectman Underscores Outdoor Recreation for Business in East Haddam

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EAST HADDAM — In a Tuesday morning interview one week after taking office, First Selectman Robert Smith said the town should strengthen and maintain its wealth of hiking trails and emphasize outdoor recreation as an economic driver for the town. “We really need to look at emphasizing and reaching out to companies that would want to work with our recreation potential here,” Smith said. “We have 70 miles of hiking trails in town between the Nature Conservancy, the land trust, the town, and of course the six state parks. We have six state parks here, and the western boundary is

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Finding a Turkey for the Thanksgiving Holiday

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IN THE REGION — Thanksgiving falls late this year, but turkey sales start early, and shops across southeast Connecticut are offering a variety of choices and price points for home cooks preparing for November 28. Walt’s Food Market in Old Saybrook is preparing for the holiday by making over 800 pounds of gravy, starting a full two weeks before Thanksgiving. “It’s nothing, but turkey, we don’t do any of that fake canned turkey gravy,” said Walt’s meat manager Dave Crosby. “We make our own stock from scratch, boil it down and make it that way all from turkey necks and

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Zoning Tables Setback Requirement, Approves Art Academy Lease

OLD LYME — The Zoning Commission unanimously tabled its controversial petition Tuesday that would have doubled the setback for new construction along riverfront and coastal properties from 50 to 100 feet, citing the need for more research on the rate and effects of sea level rise. At the same meeting, the commission unanimously approved Lyme Academy of Fine Arts’ request for permission to lease space for up to five years to the France Foundation, a medical education company. The lease would provide a stream of revenue to help the financially-ailing academy, that lost its accreditation after University of New Haven

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High Costs, Diverse Outcomes for Educational Special Needs in Connecticut

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Sarah Tyszka’s son is in sixth grade, but reads at a preschool level. He has dyslexia, a condition that typically requires one-on-one reading instruction to learn to read and write, according to the Dyslexia Society of Connecticut. Last year Tyszka’s son received one-on-one instruction, but this year his school does not have a teacher certified for that instruction. “He clearly needs intense intervention to be successful, yet they lie and say he’s getting small-group instruction, when in reality that means he sits at a table of four in a classroom of thirteen,” Tyszka said. “He’s not learning to read in

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