Friday, March 28, 2003
Fairfield, like Westport, Debates Revising Fees; Cuts Directors Salary
As municipalities struggle with rising costs and rising taxes, they are eyeing fees charged for specific services. Westport is revising its Conservation Department and Planning and Zoning fees, but neighboring Fairfield has yet to do so.
So last night, the townҒs Board of Finance cut the salary of the Conservation Department director by $50,000 to give him a little added incentive to revise the fees.
According to the Connecticut Post, the board member proposing the cut told the director it was nothing personal but that he knew of no other way to convince the Conservation Commission to raise the administrative fees it charges to developers.
Westport֒s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) will consider ordinances revising such fees at its May meeting after completing work on the annual town budget.
Update: At its April 2 meeting, Fairfield’s Board of Finance voted to restore the $50,000 to the official’s salary after the town’s Conservation Commission agreed to vote on increasing its fees within several months.
NY Times: Corrupticut,Ӕ Connection-icut,Ӕ CriminalicutӔ That֒s Us
In case youve been riveted on war news, you may have missed The New York Times story today on corruption in Connecticut. ItҒs worth a read.
Fortunately, Westport is not mentioned anywhere in the story thank goodness. It֒s one category we should be thankful that we’re not taking the lead in the state.
Nevertheless, the repeated cases of Connecticut corruption give all Nutmeggers a black eye. Its an argument for even more vigilance and openness on the part of all local officials, even those whose salary begins and ends with zero.
And for an especially watchful press corps.
Update: Saturday’s New York Times commented editorially on Connecticut’s scandals. After recounting the players and their deeds, it focused on Gov. John Rowland and concluded: “This is no time for a governor who is simply interested in trying to run out the clock.”
No one will comment on the record, but area health officials are relieved that the mysterious global respiratory disease that has claimed deaths and illnesses worldwide has not spread in southwest Connecticut.
Concern was raised when the state determined that an area resident who came down with a cough and fever last month after traveling to an Asian country experiencing the illness was likely the states first confirmed case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.
The individual suspected of having SARS recovered without hospitalization, and there is no evidence that he or she infected others in the state, according to the state Department of Public Health.
The department has refused to disclose anything about those believed to have contracted the virus, including gender, age or hometown. But word that a southwest Connecticut resident was involved reached area medical officials who were asked to be especially vigilant about suspected cases.
Since the department announced the first suspected case last Monday, it has said at least two other suspected cases have been found in the state Җ a University of Connecticut student who is now listed in fair condition and another person who had traveled to Guangdong province in southern China and to Hong Kong.
That person is not seriously ill and is recovering at home, officials said, according to the Hartford Courant.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
Stamford Advocate: Now is the Time to Copy Westports Action on Pills
WestportҒs decision to purchase and distribute potassium iodide pills to its residents in case of a nuclear incident ought to be duplicated in the Stamford region, says The Advocate of Stamford.
In an editorial headlined Precaution Against a Nuclear Incident,Ӕ the newspaper said: Westport’s action well before the latest heightened terrorism alert and the Iraq invasion in hindsight should make officials in other communities consider a similar commitment. Now seems the time to do so.Ӕ
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Westporters Son-in-Law First Connecticut Iraq War Casualty
ConnecticutҒs first casualty in the Iraq War is the son-in-law of Westporter Jay Paretzky, president of the towns volunteer ambulance service.
Master Staff Sgt. Phillip Jordan, 42, and eight other marines were killed in an ambush near An Nasiriyah on Sunday.
Paretzky said Jordan, married to his stepdaughter, Amanda Jordan of Enfield, Conn., visited Westport regularly with their son Tyler, 6.
Paretzky said funeral services are pending. He said the family has been comforted by calls from friends and strangers. Among those calling Җ Gov. John Rowland and Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell.
Rowland today requested that all flags in the state be flown at half-staff through Jordan’s funeral.
The Hartford Courant was among state newspapers reporting on the death.
Update: Jordan’s body was returned to Connecticut Monday, March 31. Funeral services were held Wednesday, April 2, at Holy Family Church in Enfield, followed by burial in St. Patrick King Street Cemetery.
Memorial donations can be made to the Tyler Jordan Education Fund, care of Fleet Bank, 777 Main St., Hartford, Conn., 06115, attention Millie Gonzalez.
Area Residents Stock Up on Gas Masks; Ask About Protection for Animals
Area retailers are doing brisk sales in gas masks and other war and terrorist-related items, reports The Advocate of Stamford.
Eve Rothbard, the co-owner of Liberty Army and Navy with stores in Westport and Norwalk, said she has seen a resurgent interest in gas masks, water purification kits, chemical suits, survival blankets, ready-to-eat meals and other survival gear since talk of war heated up earlier this month.
She said she has sold about 150 gas masks in the past week between her two stores.
A sales associate, Jennifer Green, told the newspaper: “They are mostly housewives who are paranoid. We even have people asking for gas masks for their animals.
The Advocate said she noted that she’s not aware of any products suitable for family pets.
Woody Kleins Westport History Tops Amazon Uniquely Popular in Westport Best Sellers
ItҒs always fun to see what Westporters are ordering from Amazon.com. Harry Potter books are the most popular books overall (what does that tell us?) but Woody Kleins ғWestport, Connecticut: The Story of a New England Town’s Rise to Prominence tops books ԓuniquely popular in Westport.
It is followed by Westporter Mary McKay MaynardԒs My Faraway Home: An American FamilyӒs WWII Tale of Adventure and Survival in the Jungles of the Philippines.
Others on the “uniquely popular in Westport” list:
3. Reprise: A Complete Review Workbook for Grammar, Communications, and Culture
4. Suburban Renewal: Transforming Standard Capes, Ranches, and Builders’ Colonials into Classic Homes by Tom Connor
5. The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence by Stephen Kiesling
6. The Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence (Greenes’ Guides to Educational Planning) by Howard Greene, Matthew W. Greene
7. The Amateurs by David Halberstam
8. In Transition: From the Harvard Business School Club of New York’s Career Management Seminar by Mary Lindley Burton, Richard A. Wedemeyer (Contributor)
9. When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein
10. Peterson’s Private Secondary Schools 2000-2001 : The Smart Parents’ Guide to Private Education (Peterson’s Private Secondary Schools, 2000-2001) by Peterson’s
11. The Dress Lodger (Ballantine Reader’s Circle) by Sheri Holman
12. The Entertainment Economy: How Mega-Media Forces Are Transforming Our Lives by Michael J. Wolf
13. The Pact: A Love Story by Jodi Picoult
14. The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz by Stanley Kunitz
15. Steichen’s Legacy: Photographs, 1895-1973 by Edward Steichen (Photographer), Joanna Steichen
16. Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard (Introduction)
17. The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi
18. World At Night by Alan Furst
19. Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment by David F. Swensen
20. Brand Warfare: 10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand by David F. D’Alessandro, Michele Owens (Contributor)
The recent announcement of the 2003 Westport Country Playhouse season got lots of ink, thanks to local luminaries Joanne Woodward and James Naughton.
Playbill Online noted that the Playhouse had its biggest season in two decades last year when a revival of Our TownӔ starring Paul Newman transferred to Broadway.
Playbill said, It was the casting coup of Paul Newman, of course, that put Westport back on the theatrical map.Ӕ
Full details plus subscription information can be found on the Playhouse site.
The Iraq War continues to stir strong passions among Westporters, including Nitzy Cohen-Fitzgerald who made her views supporting the war known to the Washington Post in a call from Jerusalem.
The High Point Road resident was cited by the newspaper in a story headlined The Silent Majority Speaks Up; On Left and Right, Making a Cautious Case for War in Iraq.Ӕ
“I’m extremely in support of the war, she told the Post. ԓThe world is a different world. It’s not the Disneyland a lot of people want to believe it is.”
The newspaper said Cohen-Fitzgerald was in Jerusalem visiting her mother and teaching her nieces and nephews how to wear gas masks.
The Post account said Cohen-Fitzgerald, 44, grew up in Israel but has lived in America for the past 20 years. It continued:
She is the mother of three and she runs International Basics, a multimillion-dollar corporation, from her Westport home, which she says is an ӑoutrageous contemporary with a 32-foot living-room ceiling.
ғShe oversees projects abroad, such as food processing plants in Africa. Her husband, Tom, is the CEO of Educational and Institutional Cooperative Service, a gigantic purchasing co-op for colleges and universities.
Iraq under Hussein, Cohen-Fitzgerald says, ӑis a very real threat. In these instances, when you wait, you are just increasing the odds of some conflict that is tremendous in magnitude and style. A war five years from now would be a nuclear war. That’s not some kooky gut feeling.
ғShe says, People say, ‘Show me the smoking gun.’ If the smoking gun is a burning American city with 100,000 dead, nobody wants to see the smoking gun.ђ
She adds, ӑI trust the president. He’s made a very, very difficult decision.Ҕ
Friday, March 21, 2003
Westport has flown the American flag on flagpoles on the Post Road Bridge for several years now.
They usually go up April 1 and remain there until the fall. But First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell ordered them up early this week as U.S. troops moved into Iraq and immediately received protest calls.
Farrell, a Democrat, said after the flags went up Wednesday one caller told her flying the flag was a partisan gesture in support of President Bush and his Iraq policy and that they should come down.
Another said the action was not in keeping with the spirit of longtime Westporter and United Nations supporter Ruth Steinkraus Cohen in whose name the bridge is to be renamed under a proposal submitted to the state legislature.
Steinkraus Cohen died last year.
Update: A resolution endorsing the proposal, submitted by State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, a Republican, was approved 26-5 by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) at its April 1 meeting.
Still another caller told Farrell Westport should cancel its annual ֓jUNe Day celebration in June, which Steinkraus Cohen led annually.
The town flies flags of U.N.members from the Post Road Bridge flagpoles to welcome U.N. delegates, mission members and staff who spend the last Saturday in June in Westport enjoying the townԒs hospitality.
Farrell said she ordered the Public Works Department to put the flags up early this year as a show of support for U.S. troops at risk in Iraq.
She said it is not an endorsement of President Bushs Iraq policy, which she has publicly criticized for failing to win diplomatic support from the U.N. Security Council.
She said she has no intention of removing the flags or canceling ғjUNe Day. ԓThe last time I checked, she said, ԓthe United States is still a member of the United Nations. Only in Westport.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Westport on Alert: Object Found Near Greens Farms Railroad Station
Westport police, like their counterparts across the country, have been told to look for suspicious people or objects near strategic targets as a war with Iraq breaks out.
Shortly after reports of a U.S. surgical strike on a Baghdad ғtarget of opportunity Wednesday night, one Westport police officer spotted some suspicious activity near the GreenԒs Farms Railroad Station.
Westports train stations have long gotten high-profile police coverage to protect against car thieves or other criminal activity near the important Northeast transportation link. But now that has been stepped up.
Upon investigating, the officer found that instead of a terrorist situation on WestportҒs doorstep, the problem was much more mundane. He radioed it in as a dumping complaintӔ meaning someone had illegally dumped something near the station. It turned out to be a toilet.
Hours later, a cardboard box on the Post Road Bridge (to be known as the Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen Memorial Bridge?) also brought investigation. It was found to be harmless.
Meanwhile, a number of Westporters said they heard a low-flying helicopter overhead in the early morning hours. There was no word on its identity, but Gov. John Rowland announced Wednesday that National Guard helicopters would be patrolling the state’s skies, especially near strategic installations.
Westports Tauck Watching Iraq Developments Closely
As the airline and travel industry battens down the hatches with bombs flying in Iraq, WestportҒs nationally known travel operator, Tauck World Discovery, says it is conducting business normally but with a watchful eye.
֓We have been preparing for many weeks to meet any challenges which may arise as a result of war in Iraq, said Robin Tauck, head of the 78-year-old family-run travel company, in a statement issued before the war got underway.
ԓAll of our tours and cruises are running as scheduled, since we do not operate trips anywhere in the vicinity of the impending conflict.
We will continue to work closely with our trained crisis management team and appropriate authorities to determine if any alterations are warranted.Ӕ
The company said it continues to monitor news reports and information from its network of employees and partners around the world and will provide updated information through its Web site and media contacts.
Tauck, which has more than 100 tours and small ship cruises to all seven continents, was recently named WorldӒs Best Tour Operator & Safari Outfitter” for the third time by readers of Travel and Leisure Magazine.
Spotlight on Westports Freighter Travel Specialist
Ask a Westporter about a well known travel name in town, and youҒre likely to hear the name Tauck. After all, Westport-based Tauck World Discovery (once known as Tauck Tours) has been around for more than 30 years. (But not much longer. See update below,)
But those truly in the know might also mention Maris Frieghter Cruises, at 215 Main St., MSNBCs travel column spotlights the local agency as a good source for those interested in meandering freighter cruises.
ғRanko Zunic, a retired Croatian freighter captain is the owner, and he puts out a monthly magazine detailing the itineraries and onboard life of one freighter in each 10-page issue., MSNBC reports.
ԓThe cost for a years subscription is $27, but Zunic will give subscribers a $45 refund on any cruise booked within that year.Ҕ
Visitors to the agencys Web site, find that not only is Westport home to 10-year-old Maris and its Maris Magazine, but also that Maris, since last year, is allied with the 45-year-old Freighter Travel Club of America.
Another example of a niche Westport-based business that many Westporters may not know shares their hometown.
Update: Tauck announced April 2 it would be consolidating its three Westport locations into one office in Norwalk.
Monday, March 17, 2003
Quinton White worked in Westport for many years in a dry-cleaning shop. Now retired and living in Bridgeport, the 77-year-old is a central figure in a Wall Street Journal story of how U.S. hospitals use aggressive collection tactics.
According to the Journal, White owes Yale-New Haven Hospital $40,000 for treatment his wife, Jeanette, received 20 years ago.
Jeanette White died in 1993, but it says, her debt lives on, growing like her cancer because of the 10 percent interest charged on her original $18,740 bill.Ӕ
The Journal says White worked as a spotter, or stain remover, for the dry-cleaning shop in Westport and notes, The occasional movie star would wander in, he recalls, including WestportӒs most famous resident, Paul Newman, whom he laughingly describes as that short, blue-eyed guy.’є
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