With Death in East Lyme and Case in Old Lyme, Official Says Spraying for EEE Ineffective

On Friday, an East Lyme resident died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis, becoming the first fatality in Connecticut from the mosquito-borne illness in six years, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Health department officials also confirmed a second case of EEE in Old Lyme. That person is currently hospitalized. “The identification of two Connecticut residents with EEE, one of whom has passed away, emphasizes the seriousness of this infection,” said DPH Commissioner Renée Coleman Mitchell in a press release.  “Using insect repellent, covering bare skin and avoiding being outdoors from dusk to dawn are effective ways to help keep

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Preservationist Margaret Buckridge “Bucky” Bock Turns 100, Honored For Work in Westbrook and Old Saybrook

With my wedding only a few weeks away, I’ve been thinking about my grandmother a lot. If only she had lived past my sixth birthday, and was still alive, she’d turn 100 on October 19, the day I’ll be married wearing my mother’s dress, and her flower crown. I wish I had known her better. I didn’t go into the office in the morning, instead I went to the Old Saybrook Historical Society, just off the Main Street in town. It’s a building that took years of fundraising for and when finally purchased in 1998, gave the historical society a

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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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East Lyme Town Meeting Scheduled for Oct. 2 to Approve Additional $79,278

EAST LYME — The Board of Selectmen are calling for an October 2 town meeting for voters to approve appropriations of $43,225 to replace a malfunctioning part of Town Hall’s heating system, $20,311 for emergency preparation laptops, and $15,742 for public works equipment. State grant moneys and proceeds from the sale of town vehicles will fund the appropriations in lieu of additional taxes. At Wednesday’s board of selectmen meeting, First Selectman Mark Nickerson said that the building automation system controlling Town Hall’s heating, cooling and ventilation is malfunctioning, putting staff and records at risk as the colder months approach. “We’re

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David Kooris Makes the Case for a “Niche Market” Wind Energy Deal for New London

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David Kooris walked into Muddy Waters Café on Bank Street in New London like a regular – a measure perhaps of the time he has spent as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) acting as an ambassador, a fixer of sorts, for the Lamont administration on a joint wind energy deal based out of New London which for the last months has threatened to unravel.  The deal pairs a wind developer Ørsted, an energy supplier Eversource, a port operator Gateway New London LLC, and the quasi-public Connecticut Port Authority, in a near-term investment of about

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Public Turns Out in Support of Bay State Wind’s Energy Plans for New London’s State Pier

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NEW LONDON — At the Connecticut Port Authority’s informational meeting Tuesday night, community sentiment tilted heavily in favor of accepting a deal to build a joint Ørsted-Eversource wind power facility at State Pier in New London before that opportunity dissolves or finds a home elsewhere.  David Kooris, acting chair of the port authority, gave an upbeat presentation to standing-room-only audience of about 200 people on the proposed upgrade of the pier’s infrastructure and managed to pivot attention away from questions concerning the port authority’s personnel and finances — as well as documentation requests — that have yet to be clarified. 

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70 Years at Odds with Local Zoning in Southeast Connecticut

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Lorna Mitchell moved to Lynde Street in Old Saybrook 39 years ago. On the street was a hairdresser and on the far corner where Lynde meets Route 1 was TJ’s restaurant and bar. In every other sense it was a residential neighborhood. The same little houses, many of the same families. It was quiet. “There was and is nothing to make noise,” Mitchell said at a zoning commission meeting in August when the character of the street seemed on a tipping point toward change. “We are suddenly going to have all these people moving in being able to look out

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Senior Center Water Safe To Drink Again Says Old Lyme First Selectman Reemsnyder

OLD LYME — Tests of the well water at the Lymes’ Senior Center last weekend have shown it to be potable again after staff installed a UV light filter earlier this month, but more work will be needed to address other local well woes at Hains Park and Town Woods Park, First Selectman Bonnie Reemsnyder told the Board of Selectmen at their Monday night meeting. This means the senior center can get back to business as usual after relying on paper plates, hand sanitizer, and bottled water for almost the entire past summer. In regularly scheduled water tests in June,

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A Master Knitter and Her Shop “the Knit” in Old Saybrook

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OLD SAYBROOK — It’s Tuesday night at the Knit where a group of women are seated around the shop’s round glass table knitting, talking, counting stitches, listening, laughing.  “I have six folding chairs and a number of others around the shop, but I have often run out of chairs,” said Betty Narducci, who opened Knit in January 2016. She started the Tuesday night sessions with the shop’s inception and said they’ve become a kind of “free space” for women.  “There’s sort of a base group of women who are always here and then about 10 women who are here and

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Light Pollution — from Outer Space to Connecticut

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“We made lights and nobody really thought about it and this light pollution thing just happened,” said Pete Strasser, the technical director for the International Dark Skies Association. Light pollution – the artificial brightening of the night sky – is often understood simply as the reason most of us can no longer see the stars. In fact, 99 percent of Americans can’t see the Milky Way from where they are living according to a World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness recently produced by an international research effort led by Fabio Falchi, a researcher at the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute

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Editorial: Sexual Misconduct, and Taking Responsibility for our Schools

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Young people are the pivot around which everything turns. In southeast Connecticut, education budgets dwarf the size of most other town expenses. Old Lyme will spend about $27.5 million of the $38.9 million FY 2019/20 budget on education. Hand me a hot button issue – whether it’s 8-30g affordable housing or the balance of revenues between property taxes and income taxes – and I’ll show you most likely that a good bit of it comes down to how and where we raise our children. Quality schools are a major driver of property values, which attract the young, but also provide

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No Explanation for 38% Decline in Vinal Technical High School Enrollment that Bucks Statewide Trends

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At the start of the 2013-2014 school year, 656 students attended Vinal Technical High School in Middletown. By last year, that number had dropped to 407. The schools serves students from across Middlesex County, but this year the towns of Clinton, Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River and Chester combined to send just 24 students to the school, down from 44 in 2016. Vinal lost 38 percent of its student population. That’s a dramatically different number from statewide enrollment in technical schools which have declined less than 1 percent, a loss of just 51 students. Public schools overall saw a

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State Lawmakers Ask for Additional Hearing on Connecticut Port Authority, Note Lack of Documents

Two state lawmakers have requested that the Connecticut General Assembly’s Transportation Committee hold a follow-up hearing on the Connecticut Port Authority that would include testimony from past employees and board members who were not present at the August 20 hearing.  State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and state Representative Christine Conley (D-Groton) sent their request to Transportation Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) and Rep. Roland Lemar (D-New Haven) on Friday. “We now respectfully request that the Transportation Committee hold a second informational hearing and invite past and current board chairs and employees of the Port Authority to offer their opinions

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Letter: Wind Energy News is Lipstick on a Pig

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To the Editor: RE “Ørsted and Eversource Pitch “Non-zero-sum Game” for Agreement with Port Authority” (Sept. 12, 2019): This is quite simply just a politically driven charade the cost of which, assuming it ever gets permitted, will all fall on the backs of the ratepayers. Just ask the Danes who now pay the highest electric rates in Europe even with their wind farms being able to depend on cheap hydro from Norway and Sweden for backup power, or the Germans who have had to import more coal to keep their baseload plants going which has actually INCREASED carbon emissions. Where

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ATV Use Damages New 1000-Acre Preserve in Southeast Connecticut

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OLD SAYBROOK — Just four years after its acquisition as a conservation area, the protected vernal pools, scrub-shrub swamp and Atlantic white cedar swamps of The Preserve are being damaged by frequent use of all-terrain vehicles. “Lately there has been more complaints about ATV use than ever,” said Ray Allen, the director of Parks and Recreation in Old Saybrook. “We are not sure if it is related to what Eversource did to widen their powerline sections or if maybe a few kids just got new ATVs.” At the time of its purchase, the nearly 1,000 acres located in Old Saybrook,

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Port Authority Consultant Clarifies Contract, Role in Firing Gerri Lewis

An official at the Connecticut Port Authority confirmed Thursday that the organization hired a Human Resources consultant from March to July who helped craft a termination letter for Gerri Lewis, the authority’s office manager and ethics compliance officer who was fired on July 9.  Andrew Lavigne, manager of business development and special projects at the port authority, confirmed via email Thursday the hiring of HR consultant Diane Wolff of Karoli Consulting in Madison.   “The CT Port Authority entered into a consulting contract for HR support with Diane Wolff of Karoli Consulting on March, 25 2019. 16.5 hours of HR support was

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State Police Open Investigation of Sexual Misconduct at Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

In an email response to an inquiry by staff at CT Examiner, state police confirmed that a male teacher is under investigation for an incident of sexual misconduct at the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools. An initial query to state police regarding alleged “sexual misconduct” did not turn up evidence of the on-going investigation, which was filed as a “suspicious incident” in police records.  “I am fully aware that there are a lot of rumors or hearsay out there circling around about an investigation,” said Ian Neviaser, superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools. “But, I can’t comment on them.”  The investigation which began

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Ørsted and Eversource Pitch “Non-zero-sum Game” for Agreement with Port Authority

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It’s no wonder that Connecticut has a case of the flutters — with so much unknown to the public, and the Connecticut Port Authority and port operator Gateway New London LLC on the verge of signing a long-term lease and partnership agreement with Eversource and Ørsted that could reshape the economic future of New London, as well as energy production and prices for Connecticut. As Matthew Morrissey, Vice President and Head of New England Markets for Ørsted explained it, more than once, “it’s really not a zero-sum game.” At least as we understood his thinking, that was a way of

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As Massachusetts and Rhode Island Begin Aerial Spraying, Mosquitoes in Southeast Connecticut Test Positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis

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In 14 towns clustered mainly in southeast Connecticut, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been identified in mosquitoes capable of biting and transmitting disease to humans. Two horses have also been infected with the disease and euthanized. “It looks like right now we have quite a bit of activity primarily in the eastern part of the state. The areas of greatest concern are Voluntown, North Stonington and Stonington,” said Theodore Andreadis, director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “The activity we are seeing in the entire northeast is unprecedented. I’ve never seen this much activity from New Jersey up through Massachusetts.”

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Old Lyme Zoning Commission Proposes Limits on Waterfront Building

OLD LYME — The Zoning Commission has proposed an amendment to the Tidal Waters Protection regulation that would increase the setback for all new construction along coastal and riverfront to 100 feet, doubling the current setback of 50 feet. But more importantly, the new text in section 4.3.7 would prohibit the Zoning Board of Appeals from granting a variance. “It’s going to be a new philosophy for the Town of Old Lyme and I invite as much input as I can get, and I think the commission members would too, about how people in town feel about it because this

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Essex Second in the State on Improved Scores; New London Beats Average; High Needs Scores Jump

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On average, just 45 percent of third- through eighth-grade students met individual growth targets on the state’s Smarter Balanced standardized tests during the spring of 2019. In other words less than half of the students are making adequate strides in education this year, explained Ajit Gopalakrishnan, the chief performance officer for the State Department of Education. In Essex, however, the picture is very different. Although the district — which ranks 12th in the state in English Language Arts testing, and 26th in math — may not be the top performing school in the state or region, almost 90 percent of

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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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Essex and Westbrook Stand Pat as Southeast Connecticut Chooses Regionalized Health

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The Connecticut Department of Public Health has actively encouraged towns across the state to join regionalized health districts in an effort to simplify the enforcement state laws and regulations, to professionalize staff, improve the availability of services, and further a unified approach public health problems. The towns of Essex and Westbrook have bucked that trend, opting instead to maintain local independent services. “The health department is responsible for health outcomes, and the health outcomes in our state are in the top five in the country, but we do have pockets of very poor health outcomes in our cities,” Needleman said.

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Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Sets an Environmental Agenda in Hartford

The 2019 regular session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourned on June 5 with the behind-the-scenes bipartisan Connecticut League of Conservation Voters — a legislative watchdog on environmental issues —  tallying a number of victories. Now with just four months until the next session convenes on February 5th, 2020, CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown and Deputy Director Amanda Schoen, sat down at our office on Friday to highlight what they say are key issues for the environment and the next legislative session. “A Waste Crisis” More than a decade ago when cities and towns in Connecticut began to move to

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Connecticut Port Authority Tries a Reboot, Votes to Negotiate Departure of Executive Director

NEW LONDON — In a public session with an agenda focused on issues of ethics and transparency, the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) board approved several resolutions Wednesday overhauling oversight of its finance and management practices. The new policies come after the recent departure of port authority and staff and leadership, an audit detailing years of poor accounting practices, as well as reports of misused funds. After a closed executive session lasting 40 minutes, the board also voted in favor of negotiating a separation and release agreement without severance for the authority’s current executive director, Evan Matthews. Matthews has been on

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After 13 years, David Rufo Plans Sale and Departure from Iconic Bee & Thistle Inn

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OLD LYME — It’s time to sell the Bee & Thistle, says David Rufo, and finally retire for real after 13 years this fall. A day after making the announcement, and putting the inn up for sale, Rufo and his girlfriend Sheila Blomquist sat down with CT Examiner’s Julia Werth, and described what has meant to make a home in Old Lyme, to run one of the iconic inns in the region, and their sense of where they hope the next owner will take the Bee. CT Examiner: In 2006, when you first bought the restaurant and inn, what were you

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Positive Tests for Coliform and E. Coli have Old Lyme Reaching for Solutions for Senior Center and Park

OLD LYME — Since the end of June, the Lymes’ Senior Center has been providing bottled water, using paper plates and distributing hand sanitizer to its visitors and employees after the center’s 450-foot-deep well drilled-well, which replaced a shallow dug well in 2014, tested positive for coliform bacteria. The previous well tested positive for both coliform and E. coli bacteria in August 2013. “We’ve been working with the state of Connecticut to rectify the problem,” said Stephanie Gould, director of the Lymes’ Senior Center. “In the meantime we still use the toilets, but we’ve taped everything else off. We are

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Old Lyme Finalizes Purchase of 300-acre McCulloch Farm

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OLD LYME — On Tuesday, the town closed on the $600,000 purchase of the McCulloch Farm, a 300-acre parcel that includes two three-acre sites designated for affordable housing. First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder announced the purchase of the farm, established by the McCulloch family in 1927, at Board of Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night. “I am very pleased to report that this afternoon at about 4 o’clock, we closed on the McCulloch family open space parcel that we have talked about for so long, so now we are the very proud owners of about 300 acres of wooded land that I have

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Great Weather And a Good Summer for Area Businesses in Southeast Connecticut

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IN THE REGION — Labor Day may be the ceremonial end of summer, but for a number of local businesses the “shoulder season” will keep the tourists coming as long as the temperate weather lasts. “We get that question all the time — when do you stop renting? And there really is no definitive answer as long as people are willing to be out on the water and the air is warm enough,” said Sean McMahon, manager of Black Hall Outfitters in Old Lyme, on Friday. “The water temperature stays plenty warm straight through October.” The company, which is open

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