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Monday, April 21, 2003

When is a Colonial not

When is a Colonial not a Colonial? Ask Matthew Schoenherr
Westport architect Matthew Schoenherr knows a few things about Colonials.

Among them—how to transform a Colonial from being a stiff, boring house utterly unsuited to modern life to an elegant, understated house that respects history but has all the requirements for modern family life.

At least that’s according to today’s Detroit Free Press which published an upbeat review of Schoenherr’s new book, Updating Classic America: ColonialsӔ (Taunton, $29.95).

It said the book by the principal in Z:Architecture on Jesup Road was engaging and illuminating.Ӕ

The newspaper quoted Schoenherr as saying that despite the tendency of real estate agents to call every two-story house a Colonial, they really are not.

And as for houses known as a “builder’s Colonial,” the Free Press said Schoenherr was diplomatic in his comments, although many other architects are not. “The proportions are just wrong,” he said.

Connollys Out, The Vine Mediterranean

Connollys Out, The Vine Mediterranean Grill & Pizza In
Another familiar Westport restaurant is gone, soon to be replaced by an upscale pizza place.

ConnollyҒs Restaurant and Taproom, a longtime fixture on Post Road West on the corner of Sylvan Road South, closed down suddenly earlier this month.

The restaurant, once known as Connolly’s The Seafood Steak House, was marked by its distinctive green and white striped awning.

A sign on the window tells visitors soon opening in its place will be The Vine Mediterranean Grill & Pizza.

We will be closed April 14-29 for minor renovations,Ӕ the sign says. Once again we thank you for your faithful years of patronage at ConnollyӒs Taproom and we look forward to seeing you at our new establishment.

The sign said the new restaurant would offer a weekend breakfast buffet, a Sunday brunch, an all-you-can-eat selection plus ԓfree online home and business delivery services. The sign gave an Internet address which is not operational.

A workman who answered the phone at the former ConnollyԒs said The Vine would be under new ownership.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Staples Grad Sean Mulcahy Named

Staples Grad Sean Mulcahy Named Tri-Captain of Huskies Footballers
Staples grad Sean Mulcahy has a new honor to add to his long list of honors tri-captain of the University of Connecticut football team.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Mulcahy, a 6-foot-6, 295-pounder who graduated from Staples in 2000. “It’s an honor, especially coming from the players and the coaches.֔

Mulcahy has never missed a game at UConn and has started the past 26.

Along with the defensive tackler, two other seniors were named Saturday as captains of the Huskies—defensive end Uyi Osunde and wide receiver Shaun Feldeisen.

Hartford Political Debate: ItӒs Like

Hartford Political Debate: ItӒs Like Trying to Sell Spinach to Six-year-olds
What does spinach have to do with Connecticut politics or Westport? Think ԓhard-to-swallow and you get the idea.

Andy Sauer, the executive director of Common Cause of Connecticut, says some state lawmakers (including some from Fairfield County?) are having a difficult time passing a bill revising the stateԒs primary election system.

It’s difficult because the proposed legislation eliminates the political protections they, as incumbents, have enjoyed for years, according to Sauer.

The controversy is about what to do after a federal court judge struck down the states primary system as unconstitutional in January. The decision left it to lawmakers to devise a new and more open process allowing challengers to have an easier time of getting their names on a primary ballot.

Common Cause of Connecticut, a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit, says legislation to deal with the issue now being debated in Hartford is being tinkered with to include provisions that are unnecessary and unfair to challengers.

“The bottom line is, (legislators) hate the bill,” said Sauer. “It’s like trying to sell spinach to six-year-olds.”

The AP has a good rundown of the issue on todayҒs news wires. Westport isnt mentioned, but the bill will affect Westporters and any one else in the state seeking to challenge incumbents for a place on the ballot.

Down By the River, Early

Down By the River, Early in the Morning
If you were up and about early Saturday, you might have come across some hardy people around the Saugatuck River.

TodayŒs Greenwich Time described the scene this way: Just before 6 a.m. yesterday, about two dozen men and one woman entered the frigid waters of the Saugatuck River in Westport. At exactly 6, the shrill sound of a whistle rang out. As if rehearsed, each person flung out a fishing line.

ӔThe 2003 Connecticut trout season had begun.

These hardy souls were joined by thousands of anglers fishing the more than 200 rivers and 86 lakes and ponds in Connecticut that were stocked with hatchery raised trout in time for opening day.Ӕ

So How Did You Enjoy

So How Did You Enjoy Your Vacation, Mary-Lou and Larry?
Anyone who knows Westporters Mary-Lou and Larry Weisman also knows that they are ultra busy and ultra involved. Shes a writer and heҒs an attorney specializing in land use issues.

Now we also know, thanks to todays New York Times, that, as one might expect, they donҒt do well on relaxing vacations.

In an essay in the Sunday travel section headlined Caffeinated Couple Meets Decaf Vacation,Ӕ Mary-Lou spells out the difficulties she and Larry have encountered trying to find relaxation on holidays in the Caribbean, on a barge trip in France, and hanging out in a village in Ireland.

The essay is adapted from Mary-Lou֒s new book, Traveling While MarriedӔ (Algonquin, $15.95).

Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, had this to say about the book:

He’s a whitewater-rafting kind of guy. She prefers the bubbling waters of a posh health club hot tub. For more than 40 years, Larry and Mary-Lou Weisman have been backpacking through Europe and barging down the Amazon as both dauntless travelers and devoted spouses.

ӓNow Mary-Lou shares the secret of staying happily married while contemplating lost luggage, jet lag, and Eurodollar equivalencies in a mirthful memoir of a lifetime of journeying a deux.

“With self-deprecating good humor, Weisman pokes fun at her own obsessive-compulsive behavior and Larry’s laid-back mentality to reveal the offbeat and off-the-beaten-track adventures of travelers as mismatched as a cheap set of luggage.

Mary-Lou is an award-winning journalist who, in addition to The New York Times, has written for Newsweek, the Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, the New Republic, New York magazine, Glamour, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Cosmopolitan, among others.

Her previous books include ԓMy Middle-Aged Baby Book and ԓIntensive Care: A Family Love Story.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Protesters Take to Westport Downtown

Protesters Take to Westport Downtown
They werent large in number, but a group of protesters got the attention of passersby in downtown Westport today.

Less than a dozen people, including several children, were protesting a proposed 22-home development by ARS Partners on Partrick Road, the former F.D. Rich property.

They walked the sidewalks around the William Pitt real estate office on the corner of Post Road East and Myrtle Avenue for several hours holding signs protesting the project and promoting their Web site,

They also collected signatures for presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission on May 1.

Matthew Mandell, one of the picketers, said they chose to march outside the real estate office because they expected William Pitt to be one of the agents for the housing development.

The 55-acre parcel, including 36 acres of wetlands, is off of Partrick Road and Newtown Turnpike.

The opponents of the project have formed a not-for-profit organization, The Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund, Inc.

The Hour Takes a Look

The Hour Takes a Look at Board of Finance Bickering
Todays Hour of Norwalk takes a look at recent bickering among members of WestportҒs Board of Finance, noting that it has increased as elections approach.

Hour reporter Jen Connic quotes unnamed political observers as saying the back and forth between Democrats, who hold a 4-3 majority on the board, and Republicans has much to do with the forthcoming election in November.

Democrats Steven L. Ezzes, board chairman, and Kevin A. Connolly are up for re-election this fall as are Republicans R. Gavin S. Anderson and Robert D. Graham.

U.S. Census Bureau Updates Fairfield

U.S. Census Bureau Updates Fairfield County Data
Westport isnt mentioned specifically, but the latest U.S. Census Bureau data for Fairfield County gives a pretty good insight into population trends in the region.

TodayҒs Advocate of Stamford has a good rundown of the data, noting that If it weren’t for immigrants and a bunch of babies, Fairfield County would be rapidly losing population.

The bureau reported that from April 2000 to July, Fairfield County’s population grew 1.5 percent to an estimated 896,202.

In that two-year period, an estimated 16,281 immigrants arrived to Fairfield County from foreign nations and 14,353 residents left for other parts of the United States. Fairfield County also had the state’s highest birth rate, which helped replace those leaving.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Parade Coordinator Says Nothing Special

Parade Coordinator Says Nothing Special for Memorial Day Parade
Bill Vornkahl has been coordinating Westport’s Memorial Day parade for more than three decades. He says this year will be his 33rd or 34th—he can’t remember which.

What the 72-year-old Westporter is sure about, however, is that this years parade on May 26 won’t be much different than all the other years, despite the war in Iraq.

“We’ll be honoring the Korea War vets,” he said. “You know, this is the 50th anniversary of that war’s end.”

Vornkahl, who also helps organize Westport’s Italian Festival parade (this year will be his 19th - he is also sure of that), said the Korean anniversary will be the theme of the paradeҒs floats.

He said the latest war and its casualties will certainly be on the minds of all vets and all Westporters. But he made clear it was important that the deeds of those who made the ultimate sacrifice before this year need to be remembered as well.

The parade steps off shortly after 9 a.m. from Riverside Avenue in front of Saugatuck Elementary School and ends up in front of Town Hall where the traditional post parade ceremonies will be held.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

NY Times: Vanishing of a

NY Times: Vanishing of a Well-Known Bartender Stirs Placid WestportӔ
Todays New York Times gives prominent coverage to a missing person case in Westport Җ bartender David Bargmann from VӒs restaurant on Post Road East.

The 44-year-old Fairfield man disappeared more than three weeks ago without a trace.

ԓI dont think thereҒs a person in Westport or Fairfield who didnt know who he was,Ҕ Mark Goad, the general manager of Vs, told the newspaper. ғHe just had a following.

Adds the Times: ԓWestport is one of those suburbs whose police officers are more likely to be summoned about missing jewelry than missing people, and nearby in Fairfield, the police are good sports when elderly residents need help with their drapes.

So how a person widely described as utterly reliable and conscientious could simply vanish is upsetting the quiet rhythms of a place where people do not disappear. They call. They cancel. They reschedule.Ӕ

Westport Connection Gets Chris Shays

Westport Connection Gets Chris Shays into Iraq
The State Department didnt want him there. Neither did the U.S. military. But Congressman Chris Shays got into Iraq today thanks to his Westport connections.

The Republican, whose district includes Westport and much of Fairfield County, managed to cross into Iraq from Kuwait with a convoy of aid workers from the Westport-based charity Save the Children, according to an AP report.

Shays, the first member of Congress to enter Iraq since most of the fighting there ended, told the AP in a phone call from Kuwait that other U.S. lawmakers meeting with military leaders in Kuwait were told they could not go to Iraq.

“I had to use the Save the Children’s network to get in. And (the State Department) led me to believe I was doing something that they didn’t want me to do,” he said. “I saw a lot of poverty, I saw a lot of bad living conditions. I just wish other members of Congress had seen what I got to see,” he told the AP.

Shays said aid organizations are frustrated because they are being curtailed by the military due to security concerns, and their access to the needy residents of Iraq has been limited to just one community, Umm Qasr. That is where he spent most of today.

Save the Children workers have been going into Iraq for about 10 days, and are concentrating on getting propane cooking fuel to residents in Umm Qasr. They are hoping to send representatives to Basra on Saturday, the AP said.

Shays is on a 10-day Middle East tour that will take him to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, where he plans to meet with Palestinian business leaders, clergy and civil rights advocates.

Add This to Your Westport Trivia List

Things you never knew about Westport Long Lots Elementary School is haunted.

At least that֒s according to a Web site that purports to list haunted places throughout the country.

Its entry for Westport reads in its entirety: Westport - Long Lots Elementary School - In the auditorium it is said that a lady dressed in black floats back and forth across the stage after sunset. Orbs of light can be seen glistening in the seat section.Ӕ

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Electronic Voting Machines for Westport?

Electronic Voting Machines for Westport?
Could there be some electronic voting machines in Westports future?

The AP reports that legislation allowing the state to test electronic voting machines in at least three towns heads to the governor’s desk for his signature following a 117-30 approval vote in the State Assembly.

Westport had previously informed the secretary of state that it would be willing to be one of the test towns. Westport has already used electronic scanning devices to count absentee ballots.

A spokesman for the secretary of state said the three towns will be chosen by lottery.

The legislation also authorizes the secretary of the state to conduct an exit poll to solicit voters’ reactions to the electronic machines, typically touch screen devices. The secretary of the state would then report back to the legislature.

The project, to be conducted in the 2003 and 2004 elections, is not expected to cost the state any money, the AP said, as vendors are expected to lend the machines during the demonstration project.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Miscellany: George Underhills Exit 17

Miscellany: George Underhills Exit 17 Cleanup and Jeff MayerҒs Civil War Course
If youre not a member of WestportҒs Sunrise Rotary Club but want to keep up with the doings of the movers and shakers of that organization, become a regular reader of the clubs weekly newsletter, The Crier.

If you do, youҒll find mention in the latest issue about town tax collector George Underhills efforts to clean up the area around I-95Ғs Exit 17 on Saturday, April 26, and Board of Finance member Jeff Mayers Civil War history course thatҒs part of Continuing Ed at Staples.

Theres also mention that the college student son of Westport’s favorite cabaret songstress Leslie Orofino is in love. Tom Orofino attends Villanova. (Check out Leslie’s Web site at, too.)

The Crier is posted online every week. To borrow a phrase from News12, it’s as local as local news gets Җ and more.

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