Partnership with State Government Keeps Mystic Aquarium Afloat

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MYSTIC — Gov. Ned Lamont and Mystic Aquarium President and CEO Dr. Stephen Coan today announced a $31.5 million public-private partnership that will eliminate the aquarium’s debt and allow it to continue functioning through the pandemic.  The package includes $10 million raised in private donations, $14.5 million in debt elimination and a $7 million long-term loan from the state for working capital. At a press conference at the aquarium, Coan said this partnership will enable the aquarium “not only to survive, but to thrive.” Tourism is an $18 billion industry in Connecticut, making up 7 or 8 percent of the

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Mystic Knotwork Recognized for Tradition and Innovation

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Matt Beaudoin started tying rope bracelets when he was 7 years old to earn his allowance.  Now, his Mystic Knotworks is a staple of the Mystic riverfront, and the small business administration named Beaudoin Connecticut Small Business Person of the Year, presenting the award to Matt and his wife Jill at their Cottrell Street workshop on Tuesday. Connecticut Small Business Development Center business advisor Matt Nemeth nominated Beaudoin for the award back in December because of the cultural importance of knotwork in southeastern Connecticut, and also for the workshop’s unique work practices. Beaudoin took over what was then “Beaudoin’s Rope

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Mixed-Income Housing Development Approved for Site of Former Campbell Grain Building in Pawcatuck

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STONINGTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a five-story, 82-unit mixed-income housing project for the long-blighted site of the former Campbell Grain building in Pawcatuck, during a virtual meeting Tuesday night.  Winn Development, a division of Winn Companies of Boston, proposed the project under the state 8-30g statute for the 1.89-acre site at 15 Coggswell Street and 27 West Broad Street in Pawcatuck. In 2019, 5.93 percent of the housing stock in Stonington was classified as affordable under state statute. The proposed project will lease 30 percent of the units at market rates and 70 percent will be restricted

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Pawcatuck – Westerly: Together on the Border

It’s a border without a border. That’s how many in Westerly, RI, and adjacent Pawcatuck, CT, describe the dividing line between their two states. “On both sides of the river, we use the phrase “two states, two towns, one state of mind,” explained Danielle Chesebrough, first selectman of the Town of Stonington, which includes the small 3.4-square-mile village of Pawcatuck, named for the river running through it. Two different states, two communities and a shared downtown — Dan Morely, Policy Development Coordinator at the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, described the arrangement as maybe one-of-a-kind. “I believe Pawcatuck/Westerly is

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$600,000 Urban Development Grant Funds Sidewalk Project in Pawcatuck, a Half a Century in the Making,

STONINGTON — After more than half a century of advocating and waiting, the patchwork of sidewalks along Route 1 in Pawcatuck is expected to be completed. “Last week we found an old article from the 1960s about how sidewalks were needed on South Broad Street and now because of the hard work and perseverance of many elected officials they will be,” said Danielle Cheesebrough, the first selectman of Stonington. “People are so happy and so hopeful after decades of advocating. It’s a very welcome piece of good news.” On Tuesday, the state Bond Commission plans to approve a set of

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Bob Guzzo Talks Quotas, Offshore Wind and Fishing out of Stonington

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STONINGTON — Bob Guzzo lost the steering in his conch boat on Monday, but somehow navigated back to the town dock.  “The steering stiffened right up and I thought something was in the rudder. We tried it this morning, we thought it was a pump, but it doesn’t seem to be, it seems to be working fine,” he said Tuesday morning, seated on the edge of the vessel. “I’m going to try to get a diver down there to make sure that something isn’t loose and got stuck.”  Guzzo, 63, has two boats — this one, named Hostile Waters that

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Restaurants, Microbreweries, Adjust to the New Normal of Take Out and Delivery in Wake of Coronavirus Shutdown

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Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day. It was also the first full day of a state-ordered shutdown of eat-in dining and bars for the foreseeable future in an effort to curb the COVID-19 outbreak. The phone started to ring at 11:20 a.m. with takeout orders, but business was down compared to a normal day, said Deb Corning, a family owner of the Monkey Farm Cafe in Old Saybrook. “St. Patrick’s Day is a big day for us. Normally we’d be full right now,” said Corning. “We’re not allowed to serve alcohol. Fortunately we have a lot of people who love it

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Local Farms Are Planning Crops, Signing up CSA Shareholders for Summer Season

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The New England landscape may appear cold and desolate, but small farmers across the region are growing seedlings in hoop houses and planning summer harvests.  As a means of obtaining “seed” money, many of these farms set up CSA –Community Supported Agriculture — programs that allow customers to invest in a share of the business in advance of the growing season. Farmers then use the invested money in the winter and early spring months to buy seeds, supplies and equipment. In exchange for sharing the upfront costs, shareholders later receive produce during the summer and fall months.  Now is the

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Delamar Hotel Approved for Mystic Seaport Waterfront

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STONINGTON — In a series of close votes Tuesday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved Mystic Seaport Museum’s plan to demolish the Latitude 41° restaurant and build a three-story, 27-room boutique hotel and restaurant on the same parcel. The museum owns and leases the 1.36-acre site at 105 Greenmanville Ave. where Latitude 41° Restaurant & Tavern is located. The new building, named the Delamar, was designed by architect Bruce Beinfielld of Norwalk, Conn. The proposed hotel will be set closer to the Mystic River than Latitude 41°, leaving space for a circular driveway in front with valet parking. The

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Groton Startup ThayerMahan Grows to Capture Offshore Wind and Electric Boat Opportunities

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GROTON — Years before the Connecticut Port Authority approved a $157 million deal to redevelop State Pier in New London as a staging area for offshore wind, and before a $22 billion submarine contract was awarded to Groton-based Electric Boat, a growing ecosystem of smaller companies have been setting up shop in the region, hoping to service the wind and maritime industries. “We’re a bunch of guys who started a company based on maritime [technology and data]. Many of us are former submariners and we sought to do things with autonomous vehicles that we used to do with submarines with

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Zoning Change Allowing Redevelopment of Older Resort Properties Raises Opposition in East Haddam

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EAST HADDAM — A large number of vocal town residents attended the Planning and Zoning Commission’s public hearing Tuesday on a proposed special exception to change the town’s density rules and allow a developer to convert an empty 28,000-square-foot banquet hall into an estimated 20 or 22 residential spaces. The banquet hall, which was built in the 1930s, is part of Banner Country Club Estates on Banner Road, and would qualify as adaptive reuse under the proposed amendment, according to Gary Hendren, an architect from Boston who represented the applicants, property owners Anthony and Frank Longhitano, of New Rochelle, New

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State Sen. Heather Somers to Sponsor Bills Targeted at Drug Costs, Insurance, Mental Health and more…

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MYSTIC — When CT Examiner caught up with State Senator Heather Somers (R-18th) on Monday morning, she arrived with a long list of bills she’s getting ready to submit, and in some cases resubmit, during the upcoming legislative session. With measured optimism, Somers said it takes persistence to get a bill made into law. “I call it continuous bill commitment,” she said of several bills that have made progress each year. Drug rebates, health insurance Somers’ first bill is aimed at reducing drug costs for consumers by taking aim at drug rebates — negotiated for insurance companies by pharmacy benefit

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Regional Tourism Board Meets to Resolve Breach of Contract, Secure Future Funding

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NORWICH — The Eastern Regional Tourism District board voted on Friday to overhaul district procedures, and add new leadership, in an effort to resolve a breach of contract with the Connecticut Office of Tourism that threatens access to $400,00 in state funding for fiscal year 2019-20, and $160,000 in funding leftover from 2018-19. “Three years ago we were knocked out of business. Now we’re starting all over again, and nobody knows nothing about what the hell is going to happen,” said former State Senator Pete Connair, who represents East Lyme on the tourism board. “It’ll take more than twelve meetings a

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32 Takes on the New Year with CT Examiner

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We asked 32 writers, politicians, educators, artists, journalists, acadmics to contemplate the New Year for us.

Participants include Ned Lamont, Joe Courtney, Paul Formica, Devin Carney, Justin Elicker, Alma Nartatez, Richard Stout, Tony Sheridan, Luanne Rice, Will Haskell, Sophie Spaner, David Kelsey, Jack Monmeat, Jerry Weiss, Gail MacDonald, Betsy Gara, Rolf Wolfswinkel, Brian White, Brittany Stalsburg and others...

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Mystic Seaport’s Steve White Takes a Bow

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MYSTIC — “It was a perfect moment, an intersection of all these key things coming together,” Steve White said in a phone conversation with CT Examiner on December 19. “The Charles W. Morgan needed to be restored, and then the question became how much should she be restored. It was clear to me as a new person here that if we’re going to restore her that much that this would certainly be the only and singular opportunity to take her back to sea.”  For White, 66, who announced on December 17 that he will retire in 2020 as president and

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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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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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Stonington’s Chesebrough Sets out an Ambitious Agenda for her First Term

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STONINGTON — “Working on the shorter-term plan with a longer-term vision mixed in,” was how Danielle Chesebrough — who will be sworn in as Stonington’s first selectman on November 19 — described her state of mind Friday morning. “Initially what I’m trying to do is meet with all the directors… all of my ‘direct reports.’ But, I also want to identify and meet with other people throughout the org chart,” she said in a phone conversation with CT Examiner. “I think it’s really important to meet with people at all different levels — they have all different vantage points.” She

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Chesebrough Calls Coastal Resiliency a Top Priority, Emphasizes Fiscal Preparedness

STONINGTON — With a diverse background that includes two years of experience on the Board of Finance, three-plus years on the Economic Development Commission and eight years as a senior analyst in investor relations for the United Nations, Danielle Chesebrough, an unaffiliated candidate endorsed by the local Democratic Party for first selectman, said her top three priorities if she is elected on November 5, will be coastal resiliency, economic development and fiscal preparedness. Chesebrough, 36, moved to Stonington halfway through her sophomore year of high school. She has a husband, Sam, and three children ages two, four and six. She

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Prue Puts Focus on Aging Infrastructure, Careful Timeline on Coastal Investment

STONINGTON — If elected first selectman, Republican John Prue said he will focus on improving the town’s aging infrastructure, completing capital projects that have already begun and promoting an atmosphere of unity and trust among the town’s three villages. Prue, 57, has served for two years as selectman. He also served for two years on the Zoning Board of Appeals and six years on the Planning and Zoning Commission including one as chair. “Our Grand List has been growing slower than municipal expenditures, which means our taxes have been rising — therefore, no matter what, we need new development to

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Turner Show Opens at Mystic … “as good an overview … as can be imagined.”

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At just under a hundred works — ninety-two watercolors and four oils — the William Turner show now at the Mystic Seaport Museum is as good an overview of the artist’s career in the medium as can be imagined. And what an overview it is of one of the greatest and most inventive watercolorists curated by the Tate’s Manton Senior Curator of British Art 1790-1850, David Blayney Brown. Turner intended to secure his legacy by leaving a hundred oils to the National Gallery, but in 1856 the Chancery Court decided that was an insufficient bequest to Great Britain, and the

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Mystic Sewer Amnesty Yields Modest Returns

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STONINGTON — Under the town’s announced sump pump amnesty, sixty-five property owners in Mystic admitted to having a sump pump discharging into the municipal sewer system, an illegal practice. The amnesty is part of a broader effort by Stonington to address sewer capacity issues. Stonington Water Pollution Control Authority Director Douglas Nettleton sent a letter in early August to 1,400 property owners in Mystic offering amnesty from August 15 to September 30 to any violators. “If you (responded) within that time period, you would be exempt from any penalties later on down the road. If you didn’t take advantage of

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The Loneliness and Isolation of New Motherhood

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Surrounded by new life – screaming, crying, unappeasable new life at that – can be far from the idyllic picture of new motherhood often portrayed, said Taryn Zarnetske, a clinical social worker at Yale New Haven Hospital. It can actually be an incredibly lonely and isolating time in a mother’s life. “It’s one of those things that can be a little bit taboo to talk about honestly,” Zarnetske said. “But, if you ask a mom if she felt lonely she says yes. She almost always said she felt really isolated being on maternity leave.” For many women the postpartum period

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A First Stab at the Best Beef in Connecticut

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The first bite, cooked to just medium rare, was straight-forward beefy, coarse-textured, with a notable (not unpleasing) chew. Second and third bites carved from the marbled “cap” portion of the steak were unctuous and brought just a hint of blue cheese funk that can dominate much longer-aged beef. The 21-day dry-aged rib steak was from Grass & Bone, a hip craft butcher and dining spot just on the edge of the tourist bubble in Mystic (and some of the best coffee, at MBar), the brainchild of Dan Meiser and James Wayman, who in recent years have opened some of the

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A Decades-old Promise of Sidewalks on Route 1 in Pawcatuck

“The department of transportation can’t take care of sidewalks along with everything else we have to do,” explained Kevin Nursick, spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT). “It is the norm for towns to put sidewalks in themselves.” But for years the Town of Stonington has been hoping for different result at least for the section of Route 1 running through Pawcatuck. “We have been requesting funds from the Connecticut DOT for a decade, we’ve been applying for grants, we have been up and down this roller coaster for ten years,” said Rob Simmons the first selectman of Stonington.

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Chad Floyd, Centerbrook Architects, on Metaphor, Public, and Place

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ESSEX — There were two choices for Chad Floyd as he designed the Thompson Exhibition Building in Mystic — the literal or the metaphorical. “The basic idea was to respond to Mystic Seaport’s desire to have a building that would symbolize the institution,” said Floyd, a principal and founding member of Centerbrook Architects and Planners, in a conversation at his office on Friday. 14,000-square foot structure opened in September 2016 and has remained a topic of conversation in the region ever since. “You could approach it in two general directions — what had been tried before by architects, which was

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Stonington’s Rob Simmons Takes a Bow

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STONINGTON — After November’s election, the blue SUV with “GUNG-HO” license plates won’t be parked at the Town Hall lot as often. That car belongs to First Selectman Rob Simmons, 76, who has chosen not to run for a third term this November.  But the message on the license plates, originating from the Chinese “gōng hé,” which translates as “work together,” reflects Simmons’ attitude toward life, the town, his tenure as a leader and any position that allows him to be of service.  Simmons, a Republican, said he “threw his hat into the ring” in the summer of 2014 when

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Editorial: Strategy, Liability, and Planning for Sewers in Old Lyme

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Now that the votes are counted, and the referendum to borrow up to $9.5 million approved, I guess it’s too late for the relatively tiny neighborhood of Sound View to reconsider a strategy which, when you think about it, amounted to convincing the vast majority of residents what a fantastic deal they’d be getting by approving the plan. Whether that deal holds up remains to be seen — Sound View residents have hired a lawyer and are mounting a well-funded legal challenge — and the actual text of the resolution (you did read the full text of the resolution, didn’t

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Douglas Nettleton Talks Development, Sewers and the Problem of Sump Pumps in Mystic

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STONINGTON — Private sump pump outflows into municipal sewer systems are illegal but the town is offering Mystic sewer district customers “sump pump amnesty” for a short time.  “We need to understand the breadth of the problem at this point and we have no idea how bad the problem is,” said Stonington Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) director Douglas Nettleton, in an interview with CT Examiner staff on Wednesday. “We need people to cooperate with us. We’re going to try to help them figure out a solution.”  As part of the amnesty program, running from August 15 to Sept. 30,

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Worth the drive… Croissants from Loveridge Place in Pawcatuck.

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IN THE REGION  — The sheeter, or laminating machine, where Carla Gennuso creates doughs for croissants stood on its own in the center of her bakery, Loveridge Place, at 2 Prospect Street in Pawcatuck, as she talked with customers and staff Friday morning.  “That can really crank out a lot of work,” said Gennuso, the founder and executive chef. With the machine, Gennuso creates yeast-leavened laminated dough used for viennoiserie, including croissants, one of her specialties. Her plain croissant is perhaps the best we’ve had in our travels between New Haven and Providence — with three or four turns, that

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