While December is usually consumed with holiday preparations and good cheer, December of 2012 was dominated by the Tragedy in Sandy Hook. The entire world is shocked by the events, but for those of us from Connecticut, it felt much too close.
We are still hearing stories from our residents about a relative or friend of a friend who was personally touched by this heartbreak. Reaction in Old Lyme was swift, with our Police Officers immediately posted at the schools and the leaders of the District and two towns conferring on plans going forward. For the last week of school in December, each school had a police officer or trooper present at various times throughout the day. In addition, the Board of Education sponsored a special meeting to discuss security at our schools and the response to this tragedy.
Both First Selectman Ralph Eno and I were invited to join them at the table to answer questions and to understand the concerns of parents and our community. The meeting was well attended and clearly this event made many people reflect on how we keep our schools safe here in Old Lyme and Lyme. Ironically, just days before the event, the school board had approved a new security system, the details of which can be found on the school website or by calling District offices.
As the aftermath unfolded, many people from our community wanted to reach out, and Selectwoman Nosal provided ornaments that could be signed by our citizens with our thoughts and prayers. Just before the holidays, she traveled to Sandy Hook with her daughter, a friend and our own veteran Firefighter and past Selectman, Merv Roberts. For all of them, it was a somber journey, and I thank them for making the trip to represent our community in expressing our sorrow.
The Old Lyme Ambulance Association also responded with a “Fill the Boot” Drive on Halls Road – with our community responding in a BIG way. They raised over $10,000 dollars to help Sandy Hook, and have been diligent about how the money is disbursed. With the help of an attorney, they are making sure that your donations are going directly to the Sandy Hook Community and the victims. We should find comfort in the knowledge that these are the good people who will respond to any disaster or tragedy we face and feel pride in our citizens who responded as they did. Our hearts and prayers go to Sandy Hook as they continue to recover from this tragedy.
As we move forward, you will continue to see the presence of our Police Officers throughout the day near and around our schools. We will continue to work closely with the schools to assure the safety of our students. Many thanks to our Police Officers and Trooper Inglis for making the safety of our students their priority during the Holidays.
Toys and Food for Old Lyme Families
The Old Lyme Fire Department hosted a Toy Collection day in December and collected many toys, as well as over $3400 for aid to families in need during the Holidays. In addition, our Old Lyme Police Officers hosted “Fill the Cruiser” Days in front of Big Y, where they collected food for the needy. Both organizations provided their collections to Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau, who was able to help 36 families who were in need this Holiday Season. Thanks to the generosity of our community, many families had a good holiday this year. It is heartwarming to see the outpouring from this community, and we thank both the Fire Department and the Police Department for their efforts. I can tell you first hand – it is very COLD standing out there collecting food and toys! Bless all who made this happen.
Tree Lighting Ceremony
With the help of our Middle School Band and High School Select Singers, the Lyme Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce annual tree lighting took place on December 14. Traditionally hosted at the Old Lyme Marketplace, the Chamber sought a new venue, due to increasing attendance and safety concerns. A tree was planted at the Town Hall just prior to the event and a large gathering of people joined us to listen to holiday songs and watch the lighting of the tree. It was a good time for everyone to gather as the events of that day unfolded, providing an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. There was enough hot chocolate and cookies to go around, thanks to donations by the Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe & other generous bakers. Participants seemed to like the new location - perhaps a new tradition has been born!
Selectman’s Front Office Re-design
After years of waiting and planning, the Selectman’s Front Office has finally been redesigned. A wall and cabinets have been installed, which made the large room into two separate spaces. There is a mail room, where departments, boards and commission chairs can get their mail, as well as use the postage machine, printer, copier and fax. The Selectman’s Office, where citizens get beach stickers, transfer station permits, etc. has new cabinets and will have a new counter for transacting business. This new design has been a long time in coming and allows for increased efficiency and security. We are delighted with the speed of the work, which is nearly completed, and only needs the installation of the counter tops. Stop in and see how wonderful it looks.
Volunteer Incentive Review Committee Formed
A committee has been formed to review the Incentive Program now in place for our Volunteers who serve on the Fire Department and Ambulance. We are blessed to have a dedicated group of volunteers who respond to medical emergencies, accidents, fires and other emergencies. Many of the volunteers serve on both the Ambulance and Fire Department. The Town of Old Lyme does offer a tax abatement and pension incentive to volunteers who meet certain qualifications, though these incentives have not been reviewed in many years. Selectman Skip Sibley has agreed to chair this committee and will begin meeting with members in January. It is important to point out that all of our citizens benefit from the hard work of these individuals, not only if there is an emergency, but every year on our home insurance premiums. Because of their diligence, our premiums are lower than they could be without their hard work. Meeting schedule and minutes will be posted on our website. Go to the Selectman’s Office page, and look under Special Committees. Thank you to Selectman Sibley and the members of this Special Committee for taking the time to do this.
A New Police Boat – Free!
The Towns of Chester and Haddam have donated their Police Boat to the Town of Old Lyme, and in exchange, the Town of Old Lyme will provide mutual aid if requested and available. The boat, a 2002 Pioneer Skiff, with emergency lights, a 115 HP motor, and Karavan trailer, was donated to the two Towns in 2002 by Connecticut Yankee. Being situated on the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, the boat will be put to good use. Our Police Officers have committed to cleaning it up and paying to have the Old Lyme emblem put on the boat, so it will be ready for the water come Spring. We are very grateful to the Towns of Chester and Haddam for their generosity.
FY 2014 Budget
It is hard to believe, but we are gearing up for Budget meetings to prepare the FY 2014 Budget. Our meetings will begin in early February, but the Selectmen have already been reviewing the budget requests. Our “specialists” from the Board of Finance have already begun meeting with organizations, and these organizations will be notified of the Board’s meeting schedule so they have an opportunity to attend the meeting. As the economy is still slow in recovering, we are mindful of tax dollars, and working towards a fair balance of careful spending and meeting our responsibilities. The Board of Finance works very hard to develop the budget throughout February and March, meeting weekly on Tuesdays at 7 PM. Keep an eye on the agendas posted on the town website if you would like to attend any of the meetings. A big thanks to all of the Board of Finance members for their hard work and diligence.
Lady Liberty (aka, Doughboy) Returns!
Finally, our impressive, very large painting, that has graced the front staircase of Town Hall since 1921 when it was built, has returned. While she is not yet hanging in her rightful place, she will be soon. Please join us in welcoming her back at a reception on Jan. 28, 2012 in the Town Hall. There will be refreshments available for the celebration. After the reception, we can all move on to the Town Meeting scheduled that same evening.
Annual Town Meeting Scheduled
The Annual Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 28th at 7:30 PM, and will be held in the Meeting Hall at Town Hall. The agenda will include the acceptance of the Annual Town Report for the Fiscal Year of 2012, the announcement of the Citizen of the Year, and to appropriate funds of $32,000 to improve communication among our Public Safety agencies (Fire, Ambulance, Police, Public Works). We hope to see you there.
Are YOU Connected?
If you are not already subscribed, be sure to go on the Town Website at www.oldlyme-ct.gov and subscribe. Scroll down to the bottom of the first page and click on subscribe and you can get information emailed to you each time we post to various pages. You can pick and choose according to your interests, and be assured to be the first to know. In addition, add your cell number to CTAlert.gov, which can be found on the state website as well. This way, in an emergency, you will receive information through phone calls. It is the fastest way to get timely information, and helps us to communicate with all of our citizens.
Here’s to a wonderful New Year of 2013 for all of us!