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Saturday, April 19, 2003

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 www.leslieorofino.com, 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.

Westport Threatened by Bioterror Attack

Westport Threatened by Bioterror Attack
No, not really. But its a central theme in author John R. MaximҒs latest thriller, BannermanӒs Ghosts (William Morrow, $24.95).

The former Westport resident, now living in Hilton Head, S.C., continues to use Westport as a backdrop for his best-selling tales of intrigue.

PublisherԒs Weekly began its review of the latest Bannerman saga this way:

Travelers to Westport, Conn., should keep an eye open for unusual characters. That distinguished old gent who runs an antique shop? He’s an ex-KGB colonel. That red-haired woman whose bookstore sells a lot of Harry Potters? She’s a professional killer who likes to blow up trucks and planes.

ӓAnd the owners of a popular restaurant, a quaint bed-and-breakfast, a home security firm? They’re all former assassins for the U.S. government, possessed of various violent skills that they’re ready to exercise once again if their boss, Paul Bannerman-who runs a travel agency on the Boston Post Road-gives the word.

If the idea of a bioterror attack on Westport sounds like something out of recent headlines, it is.

In an interview with readersread.com, Maxim said he did his research through meeting a virologist who put him in touch with other experts who fear smallpox will be at the core of a possible new wave of bioterroism that could possibly kill 200 million people.

ThatԒs the bad news. The good news, according to Maxim, is that any attacker would almost surely be identified through means that I’ve described in ӑBannerman’s Ghosts. The attacker would face total annihilation and he knows it. It’s the same as the nuclear deterrent.Ҕ

Just what Westporters need to help them relax. Let’s hope he hasn’t given the real bad guys any ideas.

Group Seeks to End Nastiness

Group Seeks to End Nastiness in Government
Theres a new grassroots group in Connecticut aimed at ending nastiness in government. No, not in Westport—in New Milford in Litchfield County.

The News-Times of Danbury says New Milford residents formed the group Җ Friends for a Better New Milford about two weeks ago in an effort to bring civility back to town politics and government.

Westport never had a formal group aimed at making town government and politics more civil. But there was an unofficial effort to do just that led by Woody Klein, former editor of the Westport News, through his columns and editorials. From recent headlines and stories in the local papers, maybe it’s time for Woody to revive his campaign.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Westport Man Found Dead in House Fire

A 52-year-old Westport man apparently set fire to a boat and house and then killed himself with a gun early today, fire officials said. At least one firefighter was slightly injured when he became trapped for a brief time while battling the blaze.

A neighbor spotted a boat burning alongside the house at 2 Moss Ledge Road, off of Long Lots Road, shortly after 4 a.m. and called police. When the first police officers arrived they found the burning boat and then saw flames in the house, a two-story colonial.

The victim, later identified by police as William P. Croarkin, was found dead in a second floor bedroom, according to the officials. They said they believe he set the fires and then killed himself with a shotgun found next to his body but that their investigation was continuing.

No one else was at home at the time. Both the house and boat suffered heavy damage.

One firefighter, Todd Denke, 36, of Westport, became trapped for a brief time on the second floor as he fought the blaze. He called for help on his radio and after a few harrowing moments escaped by crashing through a window and sliding head first down a ladder erected by fellow firefighters.

He was transported to Norwalk Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

About 30 firefighters, including volunteers, responded to the alarm.

First Selectwoman Diane Farrell was among those on the scene, along with Fire Chief Denis McCarthy and Deputy Police Chiefs Donald Brown, Al Fiore and David Heinmiller.

Quinnipiac University School of Law

Quinnipiac University School of Law Honors Westporter Mary Moers Wenig
She died in January, but for colleagues and friends at Qunnipiac University School of Law, Westporter Mary Moers Wenigs memory remains bright as ever.

Several dozen gathered today at the university in Hamden, Conn. to honor Wenig, a two-term member of WestportҒs Representative Town Meeting (RTM) and a nationally known expert on taxation, trusts and estates, and marital property. Among them were several from Westport.

Wenig, a professor at the law school since 1978, died Jan. 18 at the age of 76 after a lengthy illness. She had been a member from the RTMs District 4 since 1999.

Brad Saxton, dean of the law school, said he had received dozens of tributes to Wenig since her death, including one from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginzburg.

He said the university has established a scholarship in Wenig’s name and displayed a portrait of her which he said would initiate a new gallery of law school faculty members.

ғProfessor Wenigs passionate commitment to the lawyer/scholarҒs active role in the positive advancement of the law is the legacy she leaves to the law school, the legal profession and humanity, said a program tribute to Wenig. ԓWe honor her memory by emulating that commitment.

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