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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Democrats Announce Push for Universal Pre-K

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

www.ctmirror.org

Democratic legislative leaders have announced they intend to pass legislation that will pay for thousands more children to enroll in public schools’ preschool programs. Thousands of Connecticut students start kindergarten each fall having never attended preschool and trailing their peers academically.

“This promises to be an answer to a problem that has plagued us for too long,” Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said Wednesday.

The lawmakers’ plan – labeled “Smart Start”—calls for $10 million to be spent next school year, and in each of the following nine years—to provide an as yet undetermined number of new seats in public school classrooms taught by certified teachers with college degrees.

Every school district that can “demonstrate unmet need” will be eligible for funding, and districts must make children from low-income families a priority when filling the added preschool seats. Children from middle-class families could also be provided a spot, as districts could require that, based on their income, they pay tuition.

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Westport Stonehenge

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Rocks along Westport’s Hillspoint Road near Compo Beach make the rising sun appear part of a Westport version of Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England that is one of the most famous sites in the world, (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Molesworth for WestportNow.com

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Thursday,  April 10, 2014


10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Abstract Notes” & “Solos 2014”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Cover Story: The New Yorker in Westport” & “Can’t Tell a Book by its Cover ... “
10 a.m. - Westport Library - Joan Verniero, The Life of a Writer
10 a.m. - noon - Town Hall - CTWorks Career Coach: beginning PowerPoint 2007
1 p.m. - 3 p.m. - Town Hall - CTWorks Career Coach: intermediate PowerPoint 2007
2 p.m. - Westport Library - “April in Paris” Movie Series: “Amour”
4 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Village District Steering Committee
6:30 p.m. - Fire Department Headquarters - Blight Prevention Board Public Meeting
7 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - Drink n’ Draw April
7 p.m. - Westport Woman’s Club (44 Imperial Ave.) - Meet and Greet for Prospective Members
7 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Planning & Zoning Work Session (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Finance Committee
7:30 p.m. - Westport Library - Teen Zombie Club

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Town Hall Meeting Discusses Future of Bus Service

Several dozen persons tonight participated in a Town Hall meeting discussing the future of bus service in Westport.

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First Selectman Jim Marpe welcomes participants to tonight’s bus study meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The meeting was part of an ongoing Westport Bus Operations and Needs Study sponsored by the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) with the help of the Westport Transit District and Norwalk Transit District, which operates the Westport service.

Participants were supposed to use handheld remote control-like devices called transponders allowing them to electronically record their survey preferences. But a technical snafu made everyone to revert to old-fashioned show of hands.

“Westport is unique among our like-sized suburban neighbors in its commitment to providing public bus transportation,” said First Selectman Jim Marpe in welcoming participants.

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CT Senate Votes to Ban sales of Genetically Engineered Grass Seed

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

The state Senate voted 25 to 11 tonight for legislation that would ban grass seed that is genetically engineered to resist pesticides and herbicides, a step that the Senate’s top leader calls necessary to protect the environment against the overuse of lawn chemicals. Opponents call the bill an overreaction to a product not yet on the market.

For the second time in two years, Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, has taken the lead on legislation addressing genetically modified organisms. Also for the second time, House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, is looking skeptically at a pet issue of his Senate counterpart.

It was unclear tonight if Sharkey would call a vote in the House before the session ends May 7, especially with House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, promising strenuous opposition, which likely means delaying actions.

Cafero said Republicans object to the substance of the bill and the method by which it was passed: Williams amended a pesticide bill to include the ban on genetically engineered seed. The ban never was subjected to a public hearing.

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Senate Votes to Expand Role of Nurse Practitioners

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

The Connecticut state Senate voted 25 to 11 tonight to allow nurse practitioners to practice independent of physicians, a controversial concept that has gained traction amid growing concerns about the availability of primary care providers in the state.

The proposal, which now goes to the House, originated in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, which pitched it as a way to increase access to primary care at lower costs as thousands more state residents gain insurance as part of the federal health law.

But critics have raised concerns about the effects the change could have on patient care and primary care physicians.

The ability of nurse practitioners to work independent of doctors has long been a contentious matter between the two professions. Connecticut law required nurse practitioners to be supervised by doctors until 1999, when legislators loosened the requirement, calling instead for nurse practitioners to work “in collaboration” with a physician.

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Compo Committee Hears from Standing Room Only Crowd

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Westport’s Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee had a standing room only audience late today for its meeting working on a Compo Beach master plan. Many in the audience urged the committee not to make major changes in the beach that would make it difficult to park near the water. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Remembering David Royce

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Several dozen persons today attended a Westport Town Hall memorial service for David Royce, longtime town activist, who died Friday at age 82. Son Zachary (r) eulogized his father as a highly intelligent and loving father who was challenged by poor social skills. Among speakers were former Westport First Selectmen Gordon Joseloff and Martha Hauhuth as well as former Police Chief Ron Malone. Malone said he arrested Royce at a 1987 town meeting when he failed to yield the microphone (he said Royce had tipped him off in advance and charges were later dismissed) and then more recently stood with him many Saturdays at a downtown weekly peace vigil. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Town Hall Hosts Goodbye to David Royce


Scenes from today’s Westport Town Hall memorial service for David Royce, 82, longtime town activist, who died Friday after a two-year battle with lymphoma. His wife Nina said Town Hall, which Royce successfully urged be converted from an elementary school, was the closest thing he had to religion. Oldest son Zachary Royce, 40, said of his father: “My father came from a family where brilliance and madness, accomplishment and dysfunction, wild creativity and debilitating mental blocks were inextricably intertwined on the same DNA .... As exasperating as he was to the general public, just imagine what it was to live with him. We know. We feel your pain, a million times over. And yet, despite it all, we loved him more than words can describe.” Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Selectmen OK Health Insurance Consultant

Moving to avoid health insurance issues that recently confronted the Board of Education, the Westport Board of Selectmen today approved a $55,000 insurance consulting services agreement with Northeast Series of Lockton Companies.

First Selectman Jim Marpe, who introduced the resolution, praised Finance Director Gary Conrad for finding a consultant that he said “takes us to a very different level in terms of the relationship and the ability to service our needs.”

He added, “As we know, in the last few months we’ve had a challenging problem with the health insurance accounts of the Board of Education.” This was a reference to what was initially thought to be a $2 million shortfall in the schools’ health insurance budget due to exorbitant claims but that upon careful scrutiny actually turned out to be a surplus.

Conrad negotiated an overall arrangement with Lockton of $100,000 and Monday night the Board of Education voted to accept the services of Lockton at a cost of $45,000, which “was not always a certainty,” Marpe said. (See WestportNow April 7, 2014)

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Contract Approved to Service Ballot Boxes

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The Westport Board of Selectmen today approved an annual maintenance contract with LHS Associates, Inc. for $4,200 for maintenance, repair and service of, tabulator/ballot boxes starting in July.  Previously, according to Marla Cowden, Democrat Registrar of Voters (r), the cost was funded by the Help America to Vote Act. She said the cost has been budgeted but needed selectmen approval to authorize the contractor expense. During the discussion, Cowden said she anticipates primary contests in August involving gubernatorial candidates. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Mtlow for WestportNow.com

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Selectmen Get Update on Trees; Removals ‘Not Willy-Nilly’

Trees were again the subject of a lively discussion at the Board of Selectmen today with word that new trees are scheduled to be planted on Main Street by the end of May/early June and new cherry trees will be planted in front of Town Hall.

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This apple tree in front of Town Hall is rotted and needs to come down, Public Works Director Steve Edwards told the Board of Selectmen today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The board accepted a donation of seven trees worth $3,000 – six from Oliver Nurseries in Fairfield and one from Millane Nurseries, Inc. of Cromwell.

Pubic Works Director Steve Edwards said the donations, obtained by Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay, will allow planting of a number of 18- to 20-foot tall trees on the south end of Main Street before mid-June. He said they would have a 4-inch caliper, meaning their trunks will be 4 inches across.

This will ensure that they will be consistent with the streetscape and not block awnings or windows, he said.

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Merritt Crash Injures One, Backs Up Morning Traffic

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A multi-vehicle accident today in the southbound lanes of Merritt Prkwaynear Exit 41 sent at least one woman driver to the hospital. Rush hour traffic was backed up because of the crash. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014


8:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Board of Selectman Public Meeting (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Abstract Notes” & “Solos 2014”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Cover Story: The New Yorker in Westport” & “Can’t Tell a Book by its Cover ... “
10:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - League of Women Voters Local Program Planning
4 p.m. - Westport Library - ChessClub (grades K-12)
4:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Arts Advisory Committee
5:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201/201A - Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - SWRPA Westport Bus Study Open House (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201/201A - Parks & Recreation Commission

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Spring Choral Festival Concert Draws Overflow Crowd

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An overflow crowd attended tonight’s annual Westport Public Schools Spring Choral Festival concert at Staples High School.  More than 300 fourth and fifth grade students, members of their school choruses, performed under the direction of Luke Rosenberg, choral director at Staples High School, who was guest conductor for the event. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Guest Conductor

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Luke Rosenberg, choral director at Staples High School, was guest conductor for tonight’s Westport Public Schools Spring Choral Festival concert at Staples High School. Participants were 300 fourth and fifth grade students, members of their school choruses. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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In the Spotlight

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Fourth and fifth grade Westport students who are members of their school choruses performed at Staples High School tonight at the Spring Choral Festival. The audience also was treated to special performances by vocal groups from Coleytown Middle School, led by Amy Laurino, and Bedford Middle School, led by Stephen Baranski, as well as the Staples High School Orphenians, led by Luke Rosenberg, choral director. Westport music teachers Sarah Guterman, Anne Hadden, Ellen Hardy, Kerri Kohlun, Barbara Maisonpierre, Meghan Murray, Suzanne Sherman Propp, and Rebecca Faye Squire, under the direction of town Music Supervisor David Winer, helped organize the event. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Musical Festival at Staples


Scenes from tonight’s Westport Public Schools Spring Choral Festival concert at Staples High School. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Inklings Editor Named State Journalist of Year

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Hannah Foley (l) editor-in-chief of Inklings, Staples High School’s newspaper, was named Connecticut’s Journalist of the Year by the Journalism Education Association (JEA). This weekend, the JEA National High School Journalism Conference in San Diego will take place and Hannah will find out whether she will be named National Journalist of the Year. She is pictured with features editor Zoe Brown as they work on layout. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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A Kennedy With Ambitions on a Seat in Hartford

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Branford – Ted Kennedy Jr. today made his debut as a candidate for public office, blessed and burdened by a name that makes instant allies and passionate enemies of perfect strangers. His father, uncles and brother began earlier, sights set on Congress or beyond. Kennedy, 52, is running for the part-time Connecticut General Assembly.

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Ted Kennedy Jr. greets friends after announcing for state Senate. At left is his wife, Kiki.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ctmirror.org photo

“It is with great pride tonight that I declare my candidacy for the Connecticut state Senate,” Kennedy said, standing on stage in the auditorium of the James Blackstone Memorial Library in the center of Branford, where he’s lived for two decades with his wife, Kiki. An audience of more than 100 rose and offered sustained applause.

Gina MacDonald-Paige, a friend from the town’s Stony Creek neighborhood, stood and waved a sign. It said, “Finally!!!”

His brother, Patrick, was elected to the Rhode Island legislature at 21 and to Congress at 27. His father, who died in 2009 at age 77 after more than four decades in the U.S. Senate, had urged him many times to run, even if it meant a return to the family’s political base in Massachusetts.

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Staples 7th in CT in ‘Most Challenging High Schools’ Survey

Westport’s Staples High School ranked No. 7 in Connecticut in the Washington Post’s annual survey called “America’s Most Challenging High Schools.”

Staples placed No. 830 on the national list with an index score of 2.351. Last year it ranked No. 9 in the state.

The Connecticut list was topped by Connecticut IB Academy, East Hartford; followed in order by Farmington; Conard, West Hartford; Weston; Ridgefield; Westhill, Stamford; Staples; Coventry; Greenwich, and New Fairfield.

According to the newspaper, America’s Most Challenging High Schools “ranks schools through an index formula that’s a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. “

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Susan W. Wynkoop, 60, former WHS President, FBI Agent

UPDATE (adds family-supplied obituary) Susan Walton Wynkoop of Westport, former president of the Westport Historical Society (WHS) and one of the first women to be hired as an FBI special agent, died April 7 of pancreatic cancer. She was 60.

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Susan Walton Wynkoop welcomed Westport’s Little League World Series team to the Westport Historical Society last September and showed off a paper signed by team members. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Wynkoop stepped down from her WHS post in January after a two-year term.

She was born May 26, 1953, in Huddleston, Va. to Margaret Saunders Walton and the late Wyatt Henry Walton, Jr. She was a graduate of Stanton River High School and Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va, where she majored in sociology.

After a brief career in banking, she joined the FBI in 1979 where she remained until 1990.

She worked in Charlotte, N.C., Miami, and New York, where she was assigned to the Joint Bank Robbery Task Force. One of her first cases was the October 1981 $1.6 million Brink’s robbery in Nanuet, N.Y. in which two police officers were killed. It was also in New York that she met her future husband, Morgan “Dutch” Wynkoop.

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All Gone: 165 Cross Highway

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The house at Westport’s 165 Cross Highway was demolished Monday. Built in 1961, the two-story colonial had 2,704 square feet, was situated on a 1.1-acre property and changed ownership last month for $825,000.  It was the Westport Teardown of the Day on Dec. 28, 2013. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Sherwood Mill Pond Reflections

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Early morning reflections on Westport;‘s Sherwood Mil Pond. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Molesworth for WestportNow.com

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014


8:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201A - Westport Transit District Meeting
8:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Human Services Commission
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Abstract Notes” & “Solos 2014”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Cover Story: The New Yorker in Westport” & “Can’t Tell a Book by its Cover ... “
10:30 a.m. - Westport Senior Center - Probate Judge Lisa Wexler: What Happens When Your Die Without a Will
Noon - Westport Library - Women’s Entrepreneur Group: Taking Control - A Financial Plan for the Self-employed
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
7 p.m. - Staples High School - Spring Town-wide Choral Festival (4th- and 5th-grade singers)
7 p.m. - Westport Library - Inventor’s Series: Inventors Talk Shop
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Historic District Commission
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 102 -RTM Long Range Planning Committee
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Zoning Board of Appeals (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Architectural Review Board

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

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Monday, April 07, 2014

BOE Votes to Hire New Insurance Consultant

By James Lomuscio

Upon the recommendation of Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, the Westport Board of Education tonight unanimously approved hiring Lockton Companies, Inc.‘s Northeast U.S. operations as the school system’s new health insurance and risk management consultant for a three-year period at an annual fixed cost of $45,000.

According to Landon, who with Elio Longo, school business administrator, and Marge Cion, human resources director, interviewed respondents to an RFP (request for proposals), Lockton fit the bill as the best consultant to refine the schools’ best practices and guide the administration through the complexities of the Affordable Health Care Act.

The selection of Lockton came on the heels of the school board unanimously accepting the final report of its Health Insurance Fund Review Committee. The board subcommittee was formed early this year to grapple with what was thought to be a $2 million shortfall in it health insurance budget due to exorbitant claims, a shortfall that upon careful scrutiny actually turned out to be a surplus.

Longo noted that Lockton initially asked for $75,000 per year, but the amount was reduced to $45,000 after it was agreed that the town would also engage Lockton as a consultant.

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Malloy Seeks $600M in Fed Funds for Rail Upgrades

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced that the State of Connecticut is applying for $600 million in federal transportation funding to help cover the capital costs of three resiliency, or “hardening,” projects on the New Haven Line.

The federal funds will be matched with $200 million in state funds for various upgrade and replacement projects.

“We learned some tough lessons during Super Storm Sandy, but one of the most important was that several aspects of our transportation infrastructure are in dire need of hardening measures,” Malloy said in a statement.

“We have made billions of dollars in investments in new rail infrastructure in recent years, but it is just as crucial to maintain, protect and replace existing systems along the Northeast rail corridor.

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NTSB: Metro-North Crash Engineer Had Sleep Problems

By Ann Radalet

www.ctmirror.org

Washington—The engineer of the Metro-North train that derailed in the Bronx in December suffered from severe sleep apnea, according to preliminary reports made public today by the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Four persons died in the Dec. 1 Metro-North derailment in the Bronx. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Molesworth for WestportNow.com

The crash left four dead and dozens injured.

The NTSB’s “Medical Factual Report” said that in a series of physicals that began in 1999, engineer William Rockefeller consistently denied he had sleep problems. The doctors who examined Rockefeller were most concerned about a steady weight gain.

A few weeks after the accident, Rockefeller was evaluated by a board-certified sleep medicine physician and subjected to a sleep study, the NTSB said.

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Youth Commission Seeks Volunteers

Thee Westport Youth Commission is seeking Westport high school students and community adults interested in serving on the 2014-2015 Youth Commission, Human Services Director Barbara Butler announced today

“The Youth Commission serves as a public forum for youth issues, and advocates for youth needs and concerns in the community,” said Butler. 

The commission’s 30 members, 15 students and 15 adults, are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the First Selectman.

Those wishing to be considered for appointment should attend the next general meeting on Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall in Room 201, Butler said. Appointment candidates are asked to send a letter of interest and complete a brief interest inventory, which can be found at http://www.westportct.gov, no later than May 8.

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Getting in Some Practice

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Rowers got in some practice time today on the Saugatuck River near the bridge on Bridge Street. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com

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