Sunday, June 29, 2003
First Sunny Summer Sunday Draws Crowds to Compo
It was the first sunny summer Sunday of the year and scores of Westporters and their guests plopped down on the beach and took the waters of Long Island Sound at Compo Beach.
The parking lots filled quickly during the day as morning rain showers gave way to picture postcard skies in the afternoon. The temperature at the beach stayed in the comfortable low 80s.
Compo Beach goers had the opportunity to purchase car passes for this ThursdayҒs annual fireworks display sponsored by the Police Athletic League (PAL).
The fireworks were held last year at nearby Sherwood Island State Park, much to the disappointment of many Westporters who liked the more intimate and crowded ֖ Compo Beach venue.
PAL was forced to relocate the display to Sherwood Island last year after being unable to secure a barge for launching of the fireworks. This year the group has hired a unit of the well-known Grucci fireworks family, which arranged for a barge.
Rain date for the fireworks is Monday, July 7.
Merritt Parkway Day Marked with Classic Car Parade.
They didnt go too fast and traffic backed up behind them, but more than two dozen classic cars tooled along the Merritt Parkway today to mark the 65th anniversary of the parkwayҒs opening.
The Merritt Parkway Conservancy, a group dedicated to revitalizing and celebrating the parkway, sponsored the parade. The drive was topped off with a luncheon at Westports Three Bears Restaurant.
Gov. John G. Rowland marked the anniversary by proclaiming today Merritt Parkway Day in the state.
The group hopes to improve the parkwayҒs appearance by bringing architectural, conservation, and landscaping expertise to complement the knowledge and resources of the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The groups part-time executive director is Peter S. Szabo, a former deputy commissioner in the department.
One of the projects planned by the group is a demonstration effort to light a Merritt Parkway bridge for several months this fall.
It says the goal is to ғheighten public appreciation of the Merritts beauty by drawing attention to the parkwayҒs remarkable bridges.
The Conservancy plans to select one bridge and give it ԓsubtle, architectural lighting during the evening hours.
Media Fascination with Post-Indictment Martha Continues: At Home in Westport
Todays New York Daily News takes a look at Martha Stewart and her life following her federal indictment on obstruction of justice charges in connection with her insider-trading case. Its conclusion—sheҒs happy tending her Westport garden.
Excerpt: Last week, she went about her usual high-octane schedule, checking her Turkey Hill garden in Westport, personally feeding her chow chows, Paw Paw and Zu Zu, and working the cell phone, friends and co-workers said.
“ӒShe’s going about working and living her, I guess, normal life, said one friend. ґShe’s not curled up in a fetal position somewhere. That’s just not her style.”
Saturday, June 28, 2003
jUNe Day Flags Fly on Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge
Westport flew the flags of the United Nations today on the newly named Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge to welcome visitors to town from the international body.
The annual jUNe day was begun by the late Westporter as part of her personal diplomacy efforts to break down barriers among peoples of different cultures and background.
The towns hospitality committee planned a day-long series of events for the visitors, including swimming, sports, and picnics.
Due to the large number of member states of the United Nations Җ 191 at the latest count town public works employees had to erect extra flagpoles in both parking plazas on the east side of the bridge to accommodate the overflow.
The bridge was named for Steinkraus Cohen by an act of the state legislature last month.
Friday, June 27, 2003
Dog Days of August Come Early for Town Clerks Office
For the Westport Town ClerkҒs office, the dog days of August come in June so far about 1,300 times.
That֒s how many dog licenses the office has issued so far this month, according to Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss.
The old licenses expire June 30 and anyone renewing after Monday, must pay a $1 per month penalty for each month the renewal is late. The price is $16 for each male or female and $8 for a neutered male of spayed female.
We usually issue about 2,300 licenses a year,Ӕ said Strauss. So we have a ways to go.Ӕ
All dogs six months or older must be licensed and wear a collar and tag at all times. The tags are especially useful when the dogs stray from their homes, as Strauss knows first hand.
Two years ago, the town official got a call in her office from a nearby resident who said she had found a dog with an unusual tag number No. 1.
֓I said, Oh my goodness, thatђs my dog, thats my Lucy,Ғ Strauss remembers telling the caller.
It seems her Portuguese water dog, adopted from the Bridgeport pound, is afraid of thunder and lightening, and jumped the fence one day. She was quickly returned home.
Strauss said issuing the low-number dog licenses for her pets (her other dog Red gets No. 2) is the only town perk she reserves for herself.
But she shares her insider influence with the neighborhood Ԗ Lucys good friend Mookie gets No. 3, another friend Jack, gets No. 4, and Zulu down the street gets No. 5. Other neighboring dogs round out the top 10 license holders.
They donҒt call Lucy Strauss top dog in her neighborhood for nothing.
Former Westporter Alexander Platt Selected as Maverick Music Director
Alexander Platt, who grew up in Westport and is a Staples High School grad, has been selected as musical director of Woodstock, N.Y.s Maverick Concerts, the oldest continuous summer chamber music series in the United States.
“Woodstock kind of reminds me of Westport 20 years ago,” Platt said in an interview with the Middletown Times Herald-Record. “Woodstock is just wonderful.”
Platt, whose parents Leatrice and Bernerd still live in the Greens Farms Road home where he grew up, takes over from the late Vincent Wagner, who was MaverickҒs music director for 16 years before his death last year.
Platt, 38, studied at Yale University and then Cambridge University in England before going on to conduct the Houston Symphony, Freiburg Philharmonic in Germany, City of London Sinfonia, and Aalborg Symfoniorkester in Denmark.
He lives in Chicago, where he serves as resident conductor of the Chicago Opera Theater. He is also the music director for three orchestras in the Midwest.
Platts twin brother Russell is a classical music editor at the “Goings On About Town” department of The New Yorker and is a noted composer of vocal and instrumental works.
A third Platt son, Spencer, five years younger than the twins, is a noted photojournalist who shoots for New York-based Getty Images and recently covered the war in Iraq.
Westport Wont Experiment With Touch-Screen Voting Machines
Much to the regret of Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss, Westport will not be among eight Connecticut communities testing touch-screen voting machines this fall in municipal elections.
The only Fairfield County community chosen for the experiment by Secretary State Susan Bysiewicz was Wilton.
The reason Westport was not among the finalists out of 21 towns and cities vying for the guinea pig role was that it did not apply.
ғIt was a decision by the registrars of voters, Strauss said. ԓThey were very busy updating the voter registration list as a result of the RTM (Representative Town Meeting) redistricting and they had a lot on their plate.
ItӒs unfortunate, but we will still benefit from the knowledge gained from the other communities participating.”
Westport two years ago was one of several Connecticut communities chosen to experiment with a barcode scanning system for absentee ballots. Strauss said the system has performed well and Westport will continue to use it.
Besides Wilton, the other municipalities that will experiment with the new technology include Middletown, Griswold, Hartford, Sharon, Southington, Tolland, and West Hartford.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Westporter Arrested in NY Dance Club 75 Years Ago Remembered
Oh, the perils of a newspaper morgue.
New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly, in a column commenting on New York Citys efforts to revise its cabaret law, recalls an incident at a club 75 years ago involving a Westporter.
He noted that over the decades, the law became less and less an instrument of prejudice and more a means to shutter establishments deemed too loud or otherwise a nuisance.
ғA July 8, 1928, raid on the Pulman Cafe at 361 Lenox Ave. netted 37 colored and white patrons,’” Daly wrote.
“A newspaper reporter noted that the prisoners included the ёfemale impersonator Jack Melleno and David Feldman of Main St. in suburban Westport, Conn.
“ҒMr. Feldman said he had stopped by after missing his train, The News reported.Ҕ
A 1933 Westport telephone directory lists no Feldman on Main Street but there is a Mrs. Fanny Feldman at 39 Gorham Ave.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
EPA Lists Todays Westport Air as ғUnhealthy for Sensitive Groups
With summertime temperatures soaring into the 90Ԓs and return of hot, hazy, humid weather, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today listed Westports air quality as ғunhealthy for sensitive groups.
The EPA has 11 ozone monitoring stations in the state, including one at WestportԒs Sherwood Island State Park. Real-time readouts from the stations are available on the EPAs Web site.
As of 7:45 p.m. today, the Westport station was orange, meaning ғunhealthy for sensitive groups. The EPA says that means active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
The ranking was third worse on the EPA scale. shy of the worst air measurements of “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy.”
In last yearԒs data, the Westport station consistently registered as having the worst air quality in the state.
Westporters Opposed to Oyster Plan Prepare for Hearing
A group opposed to a controversial plan to harvest oysters from Long Island Sound off of Westport using cages suspended above the bottom says it expects several hundred Westporters to show up at a federal hearing to voice their objections.
Recreational boaters say the plan, if approved, would obstruct public waterways used by thousands of commercial and pleasure boats.
A news release from the group, Keep Westports Waterways Open, said the Westporters are expected to attend a public hearing July 23 in Milford to oppose the 367-acre longline oyster farming business that would be located just off Compo Beach.
The group said more than 700 people have already written to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating their opposition to the oyster farming plan of Mariculture Unlimited, LLC of Westport.
In response, the Corps agreed to schedule a requested public hearing, which is to be held at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 70 West River Road, Milford.
Keep WestportҒs Waterways Open, representing the interests of commercial and recreational boaters along the towns river and Sound shorelines, formerly was known as Save Scenic Westport Harbor.
The news release said the groupҒs name change reflects the growing concern among many local residents that the oyster farming operation proposed by Mariculture Unlimited would pose an additional hazard in congested waters and sound the death knell for established boating events.
At the July 23 public hearing, the Corps also will receive comments on a Mariculture Unlimited application for a similar oyster-rearing operation off the coast of Milford. Speakers can sign in beginning at 6 p.m.
The opposition group urged residents to communicate their views on the Mariculture Unlimited plan to Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell and other local and state legislators.
Written comments may be submitted directly to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until Aug. 2. Mariculture Unlimited will sponsor an information session from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. before the public hearing.
Cablevision Editorial: Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Deserves Bridge Honor
Cablevision Connecticuts News-12 added its voice today to those approving of naming WestportҒs Post Road Bridge after Ruth Steinkraus Cohen.
In an editorial by the cable channels director of editorial services, Dianne Wildman, a Westporter, it said:
ғControversy seems to love the town of Westport, perhaps because its residents are so famously contentious. Martha Stewart comes to mind. Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen’s reputation was one of peacemaker, and yet controversy found her too.
The editorial recounted the late WestporterԒs achievements and the effort by Westport state Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard to name the bridge after her.
But to Bernhard’s surprise—and ours—there was objection to this idea. Westporters who didn’t like the United Nations. People who thought veterans should be honored instead. Ruth would have been the first to say, if you’re going to fight over this, never mind,Ԕ the editorial said.
Fortunately, ԑnever mind never happened. The bill was approved, and the bridge—the Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen Memorial Bridge—will now stand as a testament to her bedrock belief—practiced rather than preached—that peace initiatives should begin at home.”
Today’s press coverage of a Merritt Parkway Conservancy event Tuesday in New Canaan announcing new preservation initiatives includes a mention in The Advocate of Stamford identifying the organization as the Westport-based group.
But its connection to Westport is less than it appears.
Indeed the Web site of the Conservancy, a nonprofit organization established in 1999 and dedicated to preserving and celebrating the 65-year-old highway, lists its home as Westport—actually a Westport post office box.
But the telephone contact number listed on the site connects not to Westport but to the Hamden, Conn.-based Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.
John M. Lupton, executive director of the Westport Historical Society, told WestportNow he had no idea the group was based in Westport and has had no contact with its officers.
Ann E. Sheffer, a Westporter active in community affairs and who was listed on the organization’s press release for Tuesday’s event as a member of the Conservancy’s advisory board of directors, said she did not realize she was on the board until she received the press release.
Sheffer said she met with Conservancy board member Deanne H. Winokur, a Greenwich resident, about a year ago but declined an invitation to join the board of directors because of commitments elsewhere and has no contact since then.
Westport’s First Selectwoman, Diane Goss Farrell, who attended Tuesday’s press conference in New Canaan, said she did not know the organization was Westport-based until she saw it on the Conservancy’s press release.
So what exactly is the Conservancy’s Westport connection?
According to Peter Szabo, the Conservancy’s part-time executive director who lives in New York, the only Westport link is the post office box and a bank account. The same word came from Helen Higgins, executive director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Trust had aided in establishing the Conservancy as an independent, nonprofit organization.
Szabo and Higgins told WestportNow the post office box is checked periodically by Emil Frankel, a Weston resident, who is now assistant secretary for transportation policy for the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C.
President Bush named Frankel to the post in March 2002. He is a former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation where Szabo once served as a deputy commissioner. Frankel is also a former chair of the Conservancy.
Frankel confirmed to WestportNow that he indeed does empty the Westport post office box but said that is his only connection now to the group.
“As a convenience (to the group), I literally check the box on Saturdays and forward anything there,” he said.
Additionally, Frankel expressed concern that publicly identifying him as keeper of the group’s Westport mailbox could somehow land him in hot water in Washington where he said everything has got to be “squeaky clean.”
Szabo, Higgins and Frankel all said they hoped the Conservancy would gain a higher profile in Westport and get more Westporters involved in its work.
Westporter Paul Newman is among its benefactors and is listed as a member of its “honorary board of directors.”
Classic Car Parade to Mark Merritt Parkway Anniversary
If you happen to see a bunch of old cars making their way along the Merritt Parkway Sunday and getting off in Westport, salute them and say Happy Birthday Merritt Parkway.Ӕ
The classic car parade, involving about 30 cars, will help mark Sundays 65th anniversary of construction of the parkway.
They will head to WestportҒs exit 41 from New Haven and Greenwich beginning about 11 a.m., ending up at a luncheon at Westports Three Bears Restaurant.
The parade is being organized by the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, which held its first public event at the New Canaan Historical Society Tuesday to outline its goals and initiatives.
Peter Szabo, the conservancyҒs part-time executive director, said this weeks press conference and parade are intended to raise the visibility of the organization which was established in 1999 to ғrevitalize and celebrate the Merritt Parkway.
Gov. John G. Rowland has proclaimed Sunday as Merritt Parkway Day and Lt. Gov. Jodi Rell was on hand at the New Canaan event Tuesday to help celebrate.
Westporter Bill Scheffler hopes to be among those participating in the classic car parade—weather and readiness of his classic car willing.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
NY Times: Former Westporter Seppy Basili Comments on Affirmative Action Ruling
Todays New York Times devotes multiple stories to the Supreme Court ruling preserving affirmative action in university admissions and among those quoted reacting is former Westporter Seppy Basili.
Basili, a lawyer for Kaplan Inc., a test preparation company, said: “You’re going to see a big increase in the number of readers at state universities” (referring to closer scrutiny those big schools will have to give to individual applications).
Basili grew up in Westport and is the son of well-known Westport real estate maven Marj Basili.
Author Stephen Kings New Yorker Short Story Set in Westport
Stephen King, one of the worldҒs bestselling novelists, sets his latest short story in The New Yorker in Westport.
HarveyӒs Dream is about a conversation between a middle-aged couple in their Westport kitchen on a Saturday morning.
Known as the “Master of Horror,” King’s books have been translated into 33 different languages with 300 million copies of his novels in publication. He lives in Bangor, Maine with his wife.
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