Learn more about in-home care options for your loved ones

Given the choice, most of us want to stay in our homes. Sometimes, people need help to remain at home. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Personal Care Consultation


“I’ve been a nurse for over 40 years, and I am currently a nursing professor. When my mom was recently in the hospital, I knew it would not be possible for her to be completely on her own right away. She loves where she resides and enjoys all of the activities that are offered. My goal was to get her back into her apartment as soon as possible with the support she needed to increase her strength and return to her prior level of wellness she had before she went into the hospital. She was used to walking a couple miles a day. When I reached out to ABC I made it clear that my mom would need somebody who would be willing to walk with her in the morning, and in the evening enabling her to get back to her baseline. I would like to complement all of the staff at ABC who provided my mom such wonderful support after two weeks she returned to her baseline and remained in her apartment. She really enjoyed all of the staff that were with her , they were professional they encouraged her to walk, drink fluids, eat and were instrumental in assisting her to reach her prior level of independence. I would strongly recommend ABC to anybody who is in need of support for their loved one.”

Robin Y.

“Mom’s care needs have been progressing over the past month - increased difficulty standing. walking, decreased appetite, increased incontinence. (Part of the expected declining process per her Dr.) Tara has been wonderful in adapting to Mom’s changing needs as they develop and a very helpful partner in troubleshooting. brainstorming how to adapt to best support Mom. It’s also been helpful in my regular communication with Mom’s Dr, to let her know in detail what has come up and how we have approached. Thank you (again) for your talented staff!”

Jeremy H.

“Outstanding personal service from this company. All of the caregivers were personable and provided outstanding care to our aunt. I would highly recommend them to anyone who has an elder family member in need. Also, the staff that helped to set up their services was outstanding as well. They made the decisions easy to understand with no hidden agenda. Thank you again to "ABC!"”


“You can't go wrong with this crew. Extremely patient and caring.”

Daniel S.

“Caring for family can be difficult and challenging at times. It's so nice to know that Always Best Care Senior Services is there to help!”

Cathy K.

“Taylor, John, and Kristine and their crew are the best. They are patient, understanding, and a joy to work with.”

Daniel S.

“Sabina always has a pleasant, caring, and respectful attitude. I feel she treats me as she would as her own mother. She treats me the way she would like to be treated. We are a good “team” together.”

Tracy H.

“Diana has a total commitment of compassion, empathy, and respect for myself and my family. My daughters feel she is truly a tremendous caregiver. They know I am in good hands. She acknowledges with commitment of my physical, emotional, and practical needs, my quality of life has excelled due to Diana’s help. I look forward to her presence everyday her attitude is exceptional, Diana comes to work daily with a smile on her face. She enters the front door, singing softly ready to work. She has never taken a day off, I have had many caregivers, but Diana is truly the best!”

Anne H.

“Tina has been with us since the start, caring for my mom. Tina has nothing but my mom’s best interest at heart. She continues to go above and beyond to care for my mom, and ensure anyone else who may be there also understands my mom’s needs. Tina has even gone so far to rearrange her schedule or give up her free time to stay with my mom to avoid her having someone that doesn’t know her. I can see that she genuinely cares for my mom, and treats her as if she was her own family member. That also goes both ways, my mom lights up when she sees Tina. We consider Tina part of our family.”

David L.

“Always Best Care helped our family get through a very difficult time with my mother's care. Kristine and Taylor are a pleasure to work with. They are very knowledgable and had the answers to all our questions. They were able to help with all aspects of the care we needed. I highly recommend them.”

John S.

“Kristine and John are extremely caring and compassionate about helping their client's and family and making sure they receive the best care available. Highly recommended!”

Greg G.

“We needed some home care services for Dad who has dementia, and we made the right decision to trust ABC Senior Services for this support. Dad was lined up with a caregiver who was attentive and helpful, and she and Dad really hit it off. The management and administrative staff from ABC were also very effective and professional. You'll make a good decision to go with ABC Senior Services...”

Liam M.

“I approached Kristine regarding care for my elderly father. Even though he was outside her service area, she helped to find resources for us. Her commitment to providing outstanding care is only surpassed by her desire to help others. Thank you Kristine!”

Matt B.

“I have known Kristine Lajeunesse for many years now through business networking and she and her Team at Always Best Care are very caring and professional and exactly who you would want on your side if you have a loved one who needs help!”

Ann B.

“The client care at Always Best Care Senior Service is outstanding”

Kimberly O.

“Rosemary has many great qualities. She is a hardworker, sensitive, has a giving nature and has an immense desire to help my father. Reliability is vital trait in Rosemary. When my father was in the hospital and came home she immediately wanted to be by his side. My father has come to rely and depend on Rosemary. She is always on time whether it is giving medication or administering food and often encourages my father and helps my father maintain his dignity”

Denise D.

“Always Best Care provides caregivers to our building on a regular basis when we are short staffed. Due to our licensing, we can only have CNAs on the floor and Always Best Care has provided excellent CNAs every time we need some extra help. All of their CNAs have been helpful, willing to go above and beyond for our residents and we always have great responses from our own CNAs and supervisory staff. I am so thankful to Michelle and Wilda who will always staff a shift that I need, even if I call 30 minutes before the shift starts. You’ve been such a huge help!”

Kaytee S.

“I have known John and Kristine Lajeunesse for almost 20 years and when my dad needed care following a diagnosis of dementia, I knew there wouldn’t be anyone better to call than them. The caregivers that have worked with my dad have been wonderful. They are true saints to my family, allowing us the knowledge that Dad is okay to stay at home. They have navigated all of the changes in his cognitive state with grace and kept my father’s dignity in place. He was always a very active man and the caregivers have managed to keep him active, even as his health declines.”

Belinda F.

“Always Best Care helped me to get care lined up for my uncle, after I received their information from a close friend of mine that also used their agency. My uncle was a very proud man and did not want help from anyone, including family. Taylor met with me and spent time getting to know the ins and outs of my uncle’s care as well as his personality. She asked about his background so that they could look for a caregiver with similar interests. Although he took a turn for the worse rather quickly, the short time care was provided was wonderful. Thank you for your help and compassion.”

Karel O.

“My dad’s caregiver is great. He is a man of few words, but she is able to get him talking about all aspects and experiences of his life. They go out regularly and she encourages my dad to participate in the activities put on by the community he lives in. They run errands, go out for meals, or go for a drive just to get a change of scenery. I was nervous at first about how my dad would take having a caregiver come in to help him, but he seems so happy and has great things to talk about after his time spent with his caregiver.”

Martin F.

“Thank you, Kristine - I am very appreciative of the professional manner with which you and your organization operates. From the initial phone and in-person conversations with Taylor, to the ongoing support of my mother's care - it's been thorough, timely and well managed. I am also struck by how the home-health employees conduct themselves. They are reliable/responsive *and* responsible, and making every effort to work through the challenges day to day with my mother. Thanks for the great job you and your organization are doing. It means a lot to me, especially during this trying time! Best Regards”

Anna T.

“I wanted to take a moment to thank you and your staff for all of your hard work and dedication to their clients. When my parents finally realized they needed help in their home, I chose ABC as the company I felt would be the best fit. Yes, we have had some ups and down, but when you paired Leah with my parents, it was truly a blessing. My parents love her. She genuinely cares for them and they speak highly of her work ethic. As my mom says, “she is too good to be true”. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your working with me to find the right fit. Well on our end, Leah fits like a glove and I hope she feels the same. She is a special person so I wanted to acknowledge her hard work and dedication to my parents. It makes me feel more at ease knowing there is someone coming to the home to properly care for them. Again I want to thank you all and encourage you to keep up the good work.”

Craig F.

“My family provides the care to my mother 24/7, we called Always Best Care to provide respite care to my mom while we took some time to ourselves for a weekend. Mom’s caregiver, Gloria, was great and she had the perfect disposition to work with my mom. She was attentive and kept mom well fed and engaged during the time we were away. We would definitely call Always Best Care again when we need some time away.”


“The caregiver that helped my husband and I were so kind to us both, especially to my husband while I spent some time in the hospital and rehab. Our caregiver brought my husband to see me every day while I was at the hospital and at rehab, I knew he was in excellent hands and I could focus on getting stronger again.”

Heather R.

“i really like my caregiver, Victor very much. Victor is a very patient and observant aide who knows when I need his help. I knew from the first day meeting him that we would get along very well.”

Johnson L.

““I want to give a huge thank you for the care that Always Best Care provided over the last year and a half. They started out assisting just my dad since he was wheelchair bound and then began providing care to my mom as well who had advanced dementia. The two ladies that helped them both did an amazing job and gave me the confidence that they were being well cared for since I live on the other side of the country. Up to my dad’s passing, his caregivers were there for him to provide comfort and companionship while managing my mom’s emotions as well during the difficult time my dad had. Being a nurse myself and in the healthcare field for a while, I had high expectations which were exceeded by the caregivers and office staff of Always Best Care.”

harry B.

“Both of Mom’s caregivers are exceptional. They are always professional, calm and extremely patient with my mom. They know how to keep her calm and to manage her anxiety. My whole family is very grateful, knowing that Mom is getting really competent care, great meals and friendly companionship. Thank you.”

Kathleen F.

“My husband had care from Always Best Care until he passed away. Thankfully he is on his "next journey" and finally pain free, while he was here with us, his caregiver, Craig, did an amazing job caring for him and was here to help us from our first day of services. Craig always managed to get my husband to share stories from his time in the war that even I had not heard before. It was a great way to get to know more of my husband so his memory can continue with others around him.”

Beth F.

“I am very pleased with the care that Craig gave to my husband. My husband enjoyed having another man to talk to instead of conversation only between him and I. Craig managed to keep him occupied and safe so that I could go and get some time to myself, allowing me peace of mind that my husband was in great hands”

Sonia T.

“I hired Always Best Care to help my mom who was living with me at home. She was diagnosed with dementia and within 3 months she could hardly do much for herself anymore. I was able to continue working full time while my mom received care from Always Best Care. We had the same caregiver from day 1 and she was absolutely amazing. She kept everyone in the loop with any changes my mom experienced and the regular in person and phone check ins were a great added support to myself and my family. Thank you ABC for all the help and compassion that you showed my mom until her passing.”


“They are very caring and easy to deal with. They work with the family and the patient to see that the patient has what is needed for their care. In all we had a good experience with Best Care.”

Elaine G.

“Our caregiver is the absolute best, you all got lucky finding her.”

Bob G.

“Anything from Always Best Care is good to have. The care from them has given me my life back. I wasn’t expecting a perfect match on the first caregiver, but Always Best Care did a very good job.”

Claudia B.

“We have been using the services of ABC for almost three years, and I have worked personally with John, Kristine, Taylor, Michelle and Wilda, as well as the many wonderful caregivers who have attended to my mother’s needs with great care and attention. Throughout this time, my mother’s care needs have changed many times, and they have always been very responsive to any requests, including the directives of the hospice nurses that work in concert with all of them. Taylor and Michelle are incredibly diligent about keeping on top of issues that arise day-to-day, and running their questions and concerns by me. I remain a loyal customer to ABC because I feel that my mother is getting really great care, and will continue to see the warm, friendly faces she has come to know and trust today and every day. At 94 yrs old, my mother is quite dependent on the care providers for almost all her needs, and they always show up and make her feel safe and secure.”

Rachel C.

“It has been a true pleasure working with you and your organization. You all demonstrate empathy and compassion in caring for frail elderly family members and insure distant families are comforted knowing you are there.”

Steve S.

“Mom’s caregiver is a part of the family, we absolutely love her!”

Joe L.

“Always Best Care has done a fantastic job in providing us with at-home care for my step-mother while we prepared for her transition to move permanently to a skilled nursing facility. With their help, she was able to spend a full six months at home before moving. We would not have been able to do it without them. All the caregivers we have met and used have been kind and attentive, frequently going the extra mile, whatever that may be on any given day. The office staff is friendly, empathetic and very diligent in keeping all parties informed of all aspects of day-to-day care. They are knowledgeable, respectful and efficient. I would not hesitate in recommending them to anyone who is looking for help in keeping their loved one at home for as long as possible.”

Sarah C.

“I appreciate that they always accommodate me and have someone here to drive me, even if I only call them the day before. I’m so glad I was able to find them, because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just lost my sister and she helped me out a lot.”

Donna .

“I appreciate that they always accommodate me and have someone here to drive me, even if I only call them the day before. I’m so glad I was able to find them, because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just lost my sister and she helped me out a lot.”

Janey B.
 In-Home Care Moodus, CT

How does In-home Senior Care in Moodus, CT work?

Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it's especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.

The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.

At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one ages, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

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 Senior Care Moodus, CT

Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a unfamiliar assisted living community, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:


How much does a senior's home truly mean to them? A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old. With the help of elderly care in Moodus, CT, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Healthy Living
Healthy Living

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors. Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.


For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like an assisted living community. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

Cost and Convenience
Cost and Convenience

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, can be less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care in Moodus, CT gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

Empowers Seniors

Affordable Care Plans

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

Veteran's Benefits
Veteran's Benefits

Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.

Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-Term Care Insurance

Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.

Private Insurance
Private Insurance

Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.

Life Insurance
Life Insurance

Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.

Respite Care Moodus, CT

During your Care Plan consultation with Always Best Care, your Care Coordinator will speak with you about in-home care costs and what options there may be to help meet your budget needs.

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Moodus,CT understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

 Caregivers Moodus, CT

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

An assessment of your senior loved one


An in-depth discussion of the needs of your senior loved one to remain in their own home


Reviewing a detailed Care Plan that will meet your senior loved one's needs


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

Latest News in Moodus, CT

2023 East Haddam Community Foundation Gala

2nd Annual East Haddam Community Foundation Gala Set for April 15th East Haddam, CT – Since 2021, the number one goal of the East Haddam Community Foundation is to turn great ideas for community projects into real and actionable plans. On April 15th, they turn their sights towards the citizens to help make community event dreams a reality by raising funds through one of their largest annual events, The East Haddam Community Foundation Gala.The East Haddam Community Foundation has helped bring s...

2nd Annual East Haddam Community Foundation Gala Set for April 15th

East Haddam, CT – Since 2021, the number one goal of the East Haddam Community Foundation is to turn great ideas for community projects into real and actionable plans. On April 15th, they turn their sights towards the citizens to help make community event dreams a reality by raising funds through one of their largest annual events, The East Haddam Community Foundation Gala.

The East Haddam Community Foundation has helped bring support (through grant opportunities) to residents and businesses who have donated their time to bring the community a myriad of wonderful holiday-themed and enriching activities including the 12 Doors of Christmas, the Village Stroll, the decoration of village Welcome Signs, wreathes in Moodus, and the holiday tree lighting on the Moodus Green. Earlier recipients of the Foundation grant awards include the East Haddam Little League. Families can now enjoy the beautiful new scoreboard at games in Nichols Field. The foundation also offers scholarship opportunities to deserving students from East Haddam who are planning to attend college.

“We love seeing all the creative and unique ideas that residents have designed over the years. We’d like to continue to help keep these wonderful projects and events accessible to the community!” says Terri Garrity, a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Foundation is also looking forward to supporting more cultural initiatives designed to make a positive and uplifting impact on the East Haddam community.

The 2023 Gala is being held at the historic Gelston House. It will be a night filled with accolades honoring volunteers who have donated personal time and efforts to better the lives of the citizens of East Haddam. This year’s honorees are Lauren Pszczolkowska (2023 Foundation Hero), Forrest Anderson (2023 Volunteer of the Year), and Melanie Kolek (2023 Volunteer of the Year). Guests will also be kicking up their heels to local band Rock Landing and bidding on wonderful items sponsored by private citizens and local businesses!

The Foundation’s goal has always been to encourage East Haddam’s biggest asset: its people and their ingenuity. Our fundraising efforts will provide seed money for great initiatives and completion of great projects for the benefit of our community said Executive Director Irene Haines.

Another very important part of the mission of the Foundation is collaborating with local citizens for new ideas and inspiration. An advisory council made up of East Haddam citizens is currently being formed to offer feedback on grant-worthy initiatives. They are looking for volunteers right now! Your event idea could be the next big thing for East Haddam so they’re hoping to hear from you! To help support the Foundation with future community events and initiatives, they’re asking the community to consider attending the Annual Gala, sending a donation or becoming a volunteer. For more information and tickets please visit their website at https://www.easthaddamcommunityfoundation.org/.

Tiny cabins arrive in backwoods of East Haddam

The big news in Moodus? Think small. The "Tiny Cabin" trend has arrived in Connecticut.EAST HADDAM, Conn. — The business of the backwoods is officially opened in Moodus.Operating for the past two weeks, Getaway Machimoodus is an 86-acre outpost of tiny cabins, now welcoming guests from across the region. Essentially, Getaway Machimoodus is selling social distancing during the era of COVID-19.RELATED: ...

The big news in Moodus? Think small. The "Tiny Cabin" trend has arrived in Connecticut.

EAST HADDAM, Conn. — The business of the backwoods is officially opened in Moodus.

Operating for the past two weeks, Getaway Machimoodus is an 86-acre outpost of tiny cabins, now welcoming guests from across the region. Essentially, Getaway Machimoodus is selling social distancing during the era of COVID-19.

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Getaway House, the parent company, already has locations in New York State and New Hampshire as well as additional sites across the country. The Connecticut location, built where an old 4-H campsite used to stand, has 45 tiny cabins.

“You come right to your door, you walk in and you enjoy your space and you are free to zone out and disconnect,” Allison Neeven, the assistant general manager of Getaway Machimoodus said.

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The tiny cabins range in size from 140 to 200 square feet. The largest cabins can accommodate four people because they are equipped with bunk beds. And, guests are welcome to bring their dogs.

The cabins include a large bay window that looks out to the secluded Connecticut woods, a kitchenette, bathroom with a very tiny but perfectly operable shower as well.

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“You are just in the middle of nowhere and it offers such a unique adventure,” Neeven said.

Adrienne Sakumoto, who visiting Getaway Machimoodus from Eastchester, New York, said, “It’s quiet, very quiet and it’s very cozy.”

Rental rates for the tiny cabins range in price depending on the day from about $120 to $300 a night. There is a walking trail and dog park on-premises. To find out more, click here.

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Plans for Pharmacy in Moodus Announced, as Nathan Hale Pharmacy Closes

EAST HADDAM — On the same night that East Haddam’s only operating pharmacy closed its doors, owners from a group of regional independent pharmacies announced their intentions to fill that gap with a new Moodus pharmacy early next year — plus more ambitious long-term plans to expand it into a grocery store.Greg McKenna and Chris Olender of Nutmeg Pharmacy said at a Monday night public meeting in East Haddam’s middle school that they’ve already signed a three-year lease for 38 William F. Palmer Road in East...

EAST HADDAM — On the same night that East Haddam’s only operating pharmacy closed its doors, owners from a group of regional independent pharmacies announced their intentions to fill that gap with a new Moodus pharmacy early next year — plus more ambitious long-term plans to expand it into a grocery store.

Greg McKenna and Chris Olender of Nutmeg Pharmacy said at a Monday night public meeting in East Haddam’s middle school that they’ve already signed a three-year lease for 38 William F. Palmer Road in East Haddam’s Moodus village, with plans to open a pharmacy in February. The audience of over 80 people applauded.

“Seven days ago there was nothing,” McKenna said in an interview after the meeting. “Now we’ve got a lease. We have drawings. We have it sent into the Board of Pharmacy. We have a construction company already pricing up the job, and we’ve got a pharmacist ready to go in there and do it.”

Nutmeg Pharmacy had already hired two drivers to offer delivery service to East Haddam before the pharmacy opens, McKenna said.

In the weeks before the meeting, news had circulated around town that Nathan Hale Pharmacy was closing on October 28 after operating in Moodus for 47 years and that customers’ accounts were being transferred to the CVS Pharmacy in East Hampton, which is about an 8-mile drive away.

“There will be a period of time when there is no pharmacy in Moodus,” said Bradley Parker, East Haddam’s director of senior services, during the meeting. “We’re here tonight to talk about what kind of services can be provided now and in the future.”

McKenna said his plan was to start with a relatively small 2,000 square-foot store on Palmer Road for the three-year lease, but “the dream” was to then expand and build a new building to function as a supermarket — addressing another gap left in East Haddam since the closing of Grist Mill Market earlier this year.

“I’m now in fact very close to finishing up gathering the lands to build not only a big pharmacy like you’re used to, but hopefully we can bring a supermarket to town,” McKenna told the audience, to another round of applause. “Nathan Hale left us some big shoes, and to fill those shoes we have to work a lot harder. We’ve got to work a lot harder, and let me tell you we know that… We’re going to be working our tails off.”

Seniors especially affected by closing

Bradley Parker, the director of East Haddam’s senior services, organized the meeting for residents to hear from McKenna. Originally Parker had planned to hold the meeting at the town’s Senior Center, but he rescheduled to the Nathan Hale-Ray Middle School cafeteria after hearing a resounding response from the public.

“There are a lot of seniors who can’t drive to East Hampton or Colchester or Deep River for their prescriptions,” he said during the meeting. The Nathan Hale Pharmacy closing had left many of them concerned.

When it comes to pharmacies, Parker said, a lot of seniors seek out delivery services and “that extra touch and extra care.”

Nathan Hale Pharmacy’s shareholders made the sale to CVS about a year following the November 2018 death of the Nathan Hale’s founder, Jack Herman, who was a widely admired figure around the town.

“Our pharmacists had been here a long time so they got to know the customers and and know their families,” said Nathan Hale business manager John Banta. “We want to send a message that we thank every customer for their patronage over the years.”

There were no plans to open a CVS Pharmacy in the former Nathan Hale space, Banta said.

CVS has made similar purchases of independent pharmacies around Connecticut in recent months, including Lenox Pharmacy in Manchester, Suburban Pharmacy in West Hartford, and an independently owned Quality Care Drug pharmacy in New London.

During the meeting Monday night, Parker said that when residents talked with him they were interested in a “small-town pharmacy. We want hometown service.”

Parker praised McKenna as “community-oriented, customer service-oriented, and caring.”

McKenna said in an interview that Robert Casner, chairman of the town’s Economic Development Commission, had contacted him about starting a pharmacy in East Haddam.

Nutmeg Pharmacy was formed in the past year out of a partnership between several independent Connecticut pharmacies, McKenna said.

They currently have locations in Higganum, in Essex’s Centerbrook hamlet, and in Norwich’s Taftville village. Bordonaro’s Pharmacy in Portland is also part of the group but retains its own branding.

Chris Olender, a co-owner of Nutmeg Pharmacy and operator of the Centerbrook pharmacy, said that small and independent pharmacies are able to take extra time and care with each customer.

“I think we do a good job not treating people like a number,” Olender said. “It’s very important to us to give each person their own individual respect. You take the time to take care of someone and it shows.”

McKenna said that a large number of former Nathan Hale customers had already switched over to Nutmeg Pharmacy for their prescriptions, which he said showed a large buy in from the community.

“We signed a three year lease because we’ve got to step up… Everyone’s devoting their lives to making sure something big is happening. So now the pressure is on to get this to happen,” he said.

Close, But Not There Yet on East Haddam Village Vote

EAST HADDAM – Under pressure of legal deadlines and holidays and a developer’s building impatience, the joint meeting of the boards of Selectmen and Finance was called this week to move along in redesigning the future of the downtown village.But in the end, that goal was derailed by the boards’ agreement that the process had become a doomed-to-fail example of the cart before the horse — an expression that came up repeatedly during the session.“It seems, in my humble opinion, that the cart is sort o...

EAST HADDAM – Under pressure of legal deadlines and holidays and a developer’s building impatience, the joint meeting of the boards of Selectmen and Finance was called this week to move along in redesigning the future of the downtown village.

But in the end, that goal was derailed by the boards’ agreement that the process had become a doomed-to-fail example of the cart before the horse — an expression that came up repeatedly during the session.

“It seems, in my humble opinion, that the cart is sort of before the horse here,” finance board member Harvey Thomas said less than ten minutes into the meeting that would feature nearly three hours of debate over how to proceed toward a public referendum on a developer’s proposal to turn the mostly-abandoned riverfront village into a lavish hub of commerce.

And in the meeting’s final moments late Wednesday night, First Selectman Irene Haines invoked the ancient phrase again as she floated a quickly-approved motion to shelve any official decisions on Swing Bridge Landing until next year.

“That’s the problem,” Haines said, referencing Thomas’ opening comments and the agreement that more work on many fronts was needed before the question could be put to taxpayers. “To go way back two-and-a-half hours when you said we’re putting the cart before the horse. That chicken and the egg kind of scenario.”

A referendum on perhaps the most hotly-debated topic in town in decades had tentatively been scheduled for Dec. 14.

Final details of the referendum question were to be decided Wednesday, centering on whether the town should enter into negotiations to sell the 2.75-acre heart of the village for $450,000 to local architect and developer Jeff Riley and his Centerbridge Group of investors.

And though no other formal votes were taken Wednesday, members of both boards appeared to agree that a Village Redevelopment Agency now being formed by the town should study myriad aspects of the proposal and make its recommendation on it before voters are asked to weigh in.

“One would imagine a more orderly process,” Thomas said, in which the redevelopment agency would advise residents if Riley’s approximated $50 million, 94,000 square-foot proposal “is the best thing since sliced bread or no, it doesn’t really fit our vision for the village.”

Most board members agreed that a redevelopment agency should provide the town with answers to several major questions before a referendum is held, including what costs taxpayers would incur; what, if any, tax abatements would the project be given; what are the implications for traffic in the area, and whether the town should sell the property at all or maintain ownership and lease it to Riley.

“What bothers me is that we have no idea what the cost to the town will be,” finance board member Todd Gelston said, adding that the property offering expansive views of the Swing Bridge and the Connecticut River below is a valuable town asset that perhaps should not be sold. “We’re essentially putting the cart before the horse. I don’t think there’s any rush to sell this property, right?

Other questions raised included what liability the town might have if it agrees to sell the site to Riley, but then the project is subsequently blocked by decisions by other town boards such as the Planning and Zoning Commission that would have to approve it, with public input.

In lengthy public comment at Wednesday’s meeting, several residents voiced doubts about the viability of the project and the speed of the referendum process.

Mark Thiede, owner of the popular Two Wrasslin’ Cats café in town, said he has heard complaints from many customers who believe the town is “ramrodding” the public on a referendum without providing clear information on exactly what the vote would mean.

“We know that Jeff Riley wants to buy this property and everything else is a mystery,” he said.

Resident Laurel White, a member of the East Haddam Village Alliance formed in opposition to the proposal as it stands now, said she fears that the ambitious scale of the shops, restaurants and apartments that Riley has proposed will ruin the historic look and feel of the compact village, which includes the landmark Goodspeed Opera House.

“There isn’t a person in Connecticut who doesn’t recognize that iconic view,” of the village that sits on the east end of the East Haddam Swing Bridge, White said.

She added that perhaps Riley “should take this to Moodus Center,” the village in the northern section of town that was leveled for redevelopment in the 1960s and replaced with strip malls – a transformation that still draws the ire of many residents.

One consistent supporter of moving ahead with the referendum and the project during the meeting was Randy Dill, a member of the town’s East Haddam Village Revitalization Committee that for more than a decade has been trying to attract development in the area – and had passed a resolution that the vote should take place next month.

He stressed that Riley was the only developer to even offer a proposal during his time on the commission, and is concerned that Wednesday’s vote to table the matter may prompt Riley to abandon the project and leave the site “a parking lot.”

“It takes a unique developer,” to take on the complicated project, Dill said, “and I think that’s Centerbrook.”

Riley, who has long-expressed frustration at the protracted approval process on the proposal he made nearly two years ago, has said he would consider calling the whole project off if a referendum did not give it overwhelming support.

He could not be reached for comment despite several attempts since the meeting.

Haines, who took office less than three weeks ago with a vow to get the project to a public vote, says she is intent on making the project happen, and will work toward holding a referendum in January.

“I am not going to let this go,” she said. “I’m moving the ball down the field and we need to go back to the drawing table and get a more pertinent referendum question and bring this to a vote of the people.”

Haines said she has not spoken to Riley since the meeting, and has “no idea” if he plans to continue with the project.

“We’re hoping he’s going to hang in there with us,” she said. “But if not, we’re going to try to market ourselves to other developers. We tried our best and it didn’t work out so we’re going to move on.”

Steve Jensen was a journalist for 13 years with the Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer of Manchester before becoming a Communications Director for the State of Connecticut. Jensen covers politics and law enforcement for CT Examiner. T: 860 661-6404

East Haddam Amends Regulations to Ease Limits on Hobby Farms, 4-H

EAST HADDAM – Town Planner James Ventres said that under East Haddam’s current regulations, he had to tell several families that they couldn’t keep a farm animal for a 4-H project because they didn’t have enough space to meet the town’s setback requirements for animal shelters.On Wednesday night, the town Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to loosen those setbacks for small “hobby farms,” including 4-H students. The commission also agreed to tighten setback regulations for new, larger anima...

EAST HADDAM – Town Planner James Ventres said that under East Haddam’s current regulations, he had to tell several families that they couldn’t keep a farm animal for a 4-H project because they didn’t have enough space to meet the town’s setback requirements for animal shelters.

On Wednesday night, the town Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to loosen those setbacks for small “hobby farms,” including 4-H students. The commission also agreed to tighten setback regulations for new, larger animal operations – an effort to prevent a repeat of an incident several years ago when someone tried to move thousands of chickens into a residential property.

The current rules governing agriculture are one size fits all – any structure for animals has to be set back 100 feet from any road and 75 feet from a rear or side property line, said Ventres. The new regulations are meant to accommodate smaller, less intensive “hobby farms,” which the regulations define as housing no more than 25 poultry and rabbits, or up to two large-bodied animals.

Ventres told the commission that the 75 foot buffer may have been set in the “old days” as an attempt to keep any kind of farming outside of the one-acre residential zones, or to provide a 75 foot buffer for manure piles because wells could be close to the property lines.

The setbacks effectively make it impossible for anyone with a 1-acre property with 150 feet of frontage to build any kind of structure for farm animals, he said. Ventres told CT Examiner in a recent conversation that the issue has mainly come up with parents whose children are working on a 4-H project, and he’s had to tell them the regulations simply don’t allow it.

“I don’t know how many times someone has come in and wants to have a goat or a few chickens for a 4-H project, and they can’t have it,” he said.

Instead of having one-size setbacks, under the new regulations, hobby farms could have smaller setbacks – 75 feet from a street, 40 feet from the property lines, and at least 100 feet from existing, neighboring residences. The new rules should allow for some more flexibility for those small hobby farms, he said.

Emily Alger, the 4-H program coordinator for Middlesex County, said East Haddam has always done a great job looking out for 4-H students. Alger said there are young people in East Haddam raising everything from rabbits and poultry to horses and cattle as a part of their 4-H livestock project.

“I get the spirit of the law, so that people don’t build a three-sided lean-to right on the property line and then there’s an issue,” Alger said. “But we have extremely diverse sizes of property, anywhere from hundreds of acres down to way less than an acre. I think it’s great that if you have an educational project, you don’t have to put your chicken coop on your front doorstep because that’s the only place far enough away from your property line.”

The livestock projects aren’t just a way for the students to learn about the animals they raise, they learn skills that transfer into other parts of life – it’s an opportunity to learn how to keep records, and to learn how to speak in public, she said.

Because the 4-H students learn from UConn researchers, it’s also an opportunity to share the latest research with the students, who in turn share that with the community.

“You want to know where your vegetables come from, you want to know how the person took care of them, how they kept the bugs away,” Alger said. “All of those things are really important, and when kids have projects like that, they have the opportunity to educate the public on all of their practices and their best management.”

The new regulations also add restrictions for manure storage on “intensive” farm operations – meaning larger farms with more than 200 poultry or 20 large livestock, or that require a building larger than 5,000 square feet.

Under the new regulations, those farms must keep their animal waste storage or treatment more than 225 feet from the street line and 300 feet from any other property line. The commission can also require those operations to plant a 100 foot buffer with trees and shrubs around any property line, but can also reduce the setback to 100 feet from the property line if the adjoining property is open space or unsuitable for development.

Ventres said about 8 years ago someone came to the town and asked to bring in 500 chickens to create a specialty hatchery on a property in a residential zone.

“The next thing you know, he had 10,000 chickens,” Ventres said.

The operation was abiding by the 75 foot buffers, but didn’t have proper manure management or sufficiently address runoff issues. The farm became a major nuisance in the residential area before the state shut it down, Ventres said.

The new regulations wouldn’t affect existing farms, but if someone else came in looking to develop an intensive animal operation, the regulations would give the commission a chance to look at the proposal and make sure it’s properly managing issues of stormwater and manure management, he said.

“We don’t want to discourage you, but we want to have an idea of how this is going to work,” he said.

Brendan Crowley covers energy and the environment for CT Examiner. T: 860 598-0050

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