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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Greenwich Group Discusses AffluenzaӔ

The discussion was in Greenwich Monday but very well could have been Westport and the subject was “affluenza,” the urge to spend excessive amounts of money on things you and your children don’t really need.

Greenwich Time reported about 60 parents gathered at Greenwich Town Hall to learn about “affluenza” and its potential cures at a lecture sponsored by Parents Together, an independent, non-profit organization offering programs for parents to help them enrich family life.

Workshop leader Kaye Moore, a clinical psychologist who raised her children in an affluent West Coast town, discussed what she referred to as the “sickening epidemic of overconsumption.”

The newspaper said two men, the rest women spoke about the pressures they feel living in and raising children in Greenwich.

Excerpt: ֓One woman said she spent money to fill an emotional void. Another said she considered shopping a sport. Still one more said she continually bought things for her children because that was easier than taking a stand about values.

And yet another said she couldn’t think of a good reason to say no to her children since she clearly had the money to spoil them.Ӕ

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09/30/03 12:54 PM Comments () • Permalink

Paving Work in North Avenue Area Snarls School Traffic

Paving Work in North Avenue Area Snarls School Traffic
With four schools within a short distance, the intersection of North Avenue and Cross Highway is normally busy in the mornings as school traffic mixes with commuter traffic. Add a paving operation such as today and it was chaos.

A traffic agent at the intersection radioed for help today as traffic backed up in four directions—school buses being especially hard hit. Extra police units quickly arrived and helped clear up the problem.

Town highway crews have been repaving streets in the area for several days.

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09/30/03 10:58 AM Comments () • Permalink

Firefighters Quickly Extinquish House Fire

Firefighters Quickly Extinquish House Fire
Westport firefighters today quickly extinguished a small attic fire in a house in the Compo Beach area.

A homeowner on Apple Tree Trail reported smoke coming from an attic crawl space at about 7:30 a.m.

Responding units reported moments after arrival that the fire was out.

Fire officials said the blaze apparently was related to a malfunctioning furnace.

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09/30/03 10:40 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, September 29, 2003

Tax Collector Seeks New Law to Add Surcharge to Delinquent Car Taxes

Tax Collector Seeks New Law to Add Surcharge to Delinquent Car Taxes Westport Tax Collector George Underhill doesnt particularly want to do it, but he says the state has left him little choice Җ so he is asking for a new town ordinance allowing him to levy a $5 surcharge on delinquent car taxes. It amounts to another state unfunded mandate,Ӕ he said. Underhills request will be heard by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) at its Oct. 7 meeting. It will automatically be held over one meeting before the RTM can act on the measure.
Westport Tax Collector George Underhill says the state has left him little choice in seeking a new ordinance regarding deliquent car taxes. WestportNow.com photo
The request for the new law stems from a new state law that imposes a 50-cent charge on municipalities for every name entered into the Department of Motor VehiclesҒ (DMV) database of delinquent tax accounts. Owners of such cars are unable to register them until local taxes are paid. Over the years, Westport and other municipalities have collected substantial amounts of delinquent taxes because of the system. To offset the 50-cent fee, the state law enables municipalities to pass a local ordinance imposing the $5 surcharge. It may sound like a good deal for the town, but Underhill said because of the complexities of the system and the requirement for towns to pay the DMV up front before it will add the names to its database, it really isnt. ғIts more work for us and thereҒs no guarantee we will collect enough money to pay the states fee,Ҕ he said. People move, names change, cars are sold, etc.,Ӕ he said. The governors budget originally had called for elimination of the DMV matching registration system, thereby saving the state $225,000. When municipalities protested, the new law was passed, Underhill said. Westport has about 18,000 motor vehicles that are delinquent on taxes, according to Underhill, representing more than $4 million in uncollected revenue, including interest. This means a $9,000 cost to upload the data and, if the ordinance is passed, allow the town to collect as much as $90,000 to cover its costs—but with no certainty it actually will. The Westport official said local taxes on motor vehicles bring in about $7 million per year, or about 5 to 7 percent of total tax revenue collected. Anticipating arguments that the $5 fee may be too steep, Underhill said the state legislation does not permit him to charge a lower fee. ғBesides, he said, ԓthis is a penalty for late payment. If we didnt have a penalty, everyone would pay late, if at all.Ҕ

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09/29/03 08:01 PM Comments () • Permalink

Truck Strikes Saugatuck Avenue Overpass

Truck Strikes Saugatuck Avenue Overpass
A truck struck the Saugatuck Avenue railroad overpass this afternoon, causing only slight damage but tying up traffic in the area.

The truck, described as a one used to transport carnival games, lost its trailer on impact, reports from the scene said.

There were no injuries in the accident, which occurred about 4:15 p.m.

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09/29/03 07:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport to Nutley: A Journey from One Hometown to Another

Westport to Nutley: A Journey from One Hometown to Another
Its only a little more than 50 miles or so from Westport to Nutley, N.J., but Martha StewartҒs journey from one hometown to another was one better measured in years than miles.

Stewart traveled to Nutley, 10 miles west Manhattan, Sunday to be inducted in to her former hometowns hall of fame.

But before attending the ceremony in the town of 27,362 Җ slightly larger than Westports almost 26,000 Җ she took a drive down memory lane, according to Newarks The Star-Ledger.

She passed her childhood home where her parents, Martha and Edward Kostyra, raised her and five siblings and nurtured her interest in home decor and gardening.

She also passed her former schools and rode along Franklin Avenue, Nutley’s main business street, the newspaper said.

The journey ended at the township library where Stewart and eight other Nutley natives were honored as the first class of the Nutley Hall of Fame.

“I took a ride down memory lane and found that Nutley has changed so little and so much,” Stewart told the audience of more than 300 people that included her mother.

She talked about her Nutley education and read off a list of teachers that influenced her before graduating from high school in the late 1950s.

Then, citing an axiom familiar to Stew Leonard visitors, she shared her mother’s rule for dealing with teachers at the Nutley schools, according to the newspaper.

“Rule number one was ‘the teacher is always right,’” Stewart said. “Rule number two was if ‘the teacher is always wrong, refer to rule number one.’”

Stewart remarked how her childhood home and schools looked the same, but many of the businesses she remembered being in town are now gone.

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09/29/03 07:29 AM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Voices from A Gathering of Glory!Ӕ

Dozens of residents of Westport and Weston past and present are featured in Martin Wests film ғA Gathering of Glory! presented by the Westport Historical Society. Here are the few of them and their words from the film.

Howard Munce, artist and illustrator: ԓOf all the many forms that have taken place in art in Westport, illustration is what brought the big names.

Of all the artists IӒve known in Westport, there were two who were celebrity artists beyond anybody I knew and those two were John Held, Jr.—his work was everywhere, and, of course, hes in American history, in a small way, in the invention of the flapper.

ғAnd Stevan Dohanos. Steve had a theatrical side and when he was interviewed, he was good at it, and he cared, and in Westport, he was the name for as long as he lived, right from the beginning.

Actor James Naughton: ԓSome people see the glass half full and some people see the glass half empty about everything. Im sure thatҒs true about you know where the arts stand in this community.

I mean, I canӒt speak for all the arts, and particularly not for the visual arts, but for the performing arts, we got people all over the place. We got performers coming out of the woodwork.

Actor Keir Dullea: ԓWhen we contemplated starting a workshop here, and I had certain doubts about that when we announced it, it was like a tinder box just waiting for someone to light the match.

It was like, in a sense, a gymnasium for professional playwrights, actors and directors to work out, somewhat similar to the well known ActorsӒ Studio. Now we find ourselves with a burgeoning organization that continues to provide a safe place.

When I say safe place, I mean a place out of the spotlight where people can afford to take risks, which is what the workshop is all about.

ӓAnd, again, it goes back to talking about what it is about Westport that makes Westport so special in the fact that its so accepting and that is has this kind of texture to it that people can take artistic risks and thatҒs certainly true about our organization.

Actor Christopher Plummer: ԓI wish I had started living in the country long before I did. I think as far as life and real life is concerned, it gives you an extra 10 years to live in the country.

Living here has actually given me 10 or 12 years more of life than any city would. I see all my friends in New York. TheyӒre still green. They all look green to me.

I consider Weston my home. It has been for the last 22 years. You know, you have to pick a place where you would like to die in, and IӒve often thought of various countries that Ive fallen in love with all over the world.

ғI thought Greece would be an ideal place to die in because death and life are so close. Italy would be a lovely place to die in because the food is so divine. An English country lane would be rather sentimental, in ones old age.

ғIm hoping to be able to, because of the country, to actually do live for another 20 years, and Weston, I think, I would happily die where we are right now.Ҕ

Writer Evan Hunter: I never think truly about my place in where I fall in the tradition of writers who have been here. I hope that after IӒm gone, theyll say, ґOh, gee, Evan Hunter is part of the long line of these writers and artists who have lived in this community.

ғWhen I was in college, the best thing that any professor or teacher could teach me was to leave me alone, and I get that sense in this community that people leave you alone to do your work, and that֒s nice.

Composer John Corigliano:  ԓI really dont know why Westport and Weston have that kind of intensity of artists and number of artists. It could be that it had started so much earlier, that certain important artists came to Westport a long time ago. ItҒs a reclusion. Its a place to go.Ҕ

Composer and conductor Alex Platt (talking about Staples High School): I had just come from across the hall playing the Dvorak ӑNew World Symphony, and my brother just came from a rehearsal of ґUncle Vanya’ under Al Pia, and here we ware singing this Mozart or Bach or something with George Wiegle in the choir room.

It suddenly hit me. I think it was near the end of my senior year when you begin to sum up how things have gone and it hit me Ӗ this is amazing, this is world class.

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09/28/03 07:08 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Historical Society’s “A Gathering of Glory!” Film Debuts Today

If you think you know Westport history very well, be prepared to be knocked down a notch or two.

The Westport Historical Society’s “A Gathering of Glory! ,“a Martin West film with music by Paul Alan Levi premiering today at the Westport Public Library, will surprise even the most knowledgeable about their town and neighboring Weston.

Two years in the making, the 58-minute film is a tour de force of the world of art and artists in the community. It was funded by the society as well as private donors.

West, an award-winning film maker who used to act in films and soap operas, neatly avoids a chronological history of the towns by dividing his work into four separate segments.

More "Westport Historical Society’s “A Gathering of Glory!” Film Debuts Today"

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09/28/03 02:47 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Publisher Found Dead at Norwalk Marina

A Westport publisher died early today after apparently falling at Norwalk Cove Marina, police said.

William Schnirring, 65, was chairman and CEO of New York-based Associated Business Publications International, which publishes trade magazines for the aeronautics and exporting industries.

Police found Schnirring floating face down near his boat, Glad Spirit, at about 2:30 a.m., police reports said.

Paramedics spent at least a half hour trying to revive him before he was taken to Norwalk Hospital and declared dead.

Schnirring’s wife, Melissa, told The Hour newspaper that she does not know why her husband went to the marina so early in the morning. She said a friend had dropped him off at a Norwalk restaurant earlier in the evening.

Marina workers said they heard he may have been on the dock, fell and hit his head, and ended up in the water.

The Schnirrings live in the Saugatuck Shores area. They have been Westport residents 11 years after having spent 20 years in Weston.

Police said the cause of Schnirring’s death remains under investigation. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

In addition to his business ventures, Schnirring, who preferred to be called Bill, was passionate about railroad commuter issues affecting him and other riders of Metro-North.

In the early 1980s, he led a petition drive to preserve the bar cars on Metro-North.

Schnirrings outspokenness was clear in a posting in April on the popular Bar Car Web site dealing with bar car and commuter issues.

Addressed to the siteҒs editor, Westporter Tom Skinner, Schnirring wrote: As you well know, the bar cars are not just a more efficient use of space than normal cars, they actually contribute extra revenue to Metro-North.

ӓYou and I have tried to explain that to the twits who have done their best to ruin an institution that not only gives pleasure to many, but also contributes revenue and jobs.

Schnirring is also survived by his son, Luke, also of Westport, who worked with his father at the publishing company.

Update (9/29/03): The state medical examiner ruled Monday that Schnirring’s death by drowning was accidental.

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09/28/03 01:19 AM Comments () • Permalink

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Construction Crew Hits Water Line at Staples

Construction Crew Hits Water Line at Staples For the third time since construction began on the Staples High School renovation and expansion project, workers hit an undocumented utility line today this one a water line that forced the cut off of water to the school at mid-day.
Workers uncover a severed six-inch water line today at Staples. The line was not on construction drawings of the site and water to the school had to be shut down while it was repaired. WestportNow.com photo
School officials rolled in portable toilets from elsewhere on the construction site and told students to, in effect, make do with no water to the restrooms for the rest of the day. The six-inch water line was severed shortly after 11 a.m. Principal John Brady conferred with construction officials and discussed the possibility of summoning school buses to take the students home. But some of the school buses were already tied up doing a kindergarten run and, after further discussion, it was decided to keep the school in session. ֓It basically was not a health issue, but one of inconvenience for the afternoon, said one school official. Representatives from the Westport-Weston Health District and the Westport Fire Department were on the scene closely monitoring the situation. The school did cancel after school activities as construction workers labored to repair the water line. Noting that this is the third undocumented utility line to be struck during the $74 million renovation and expansion project, Susan Chipouras, project manager, told WestportNow that from now on, crews will use underground sensing equipment before digging. ԓIt wont pick up everything,Ҕ she said, but it might help us avoid hitting these lines in the future.Ӕ

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09/27/03 02:31 AM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, September 26, 2003

Oops, We Did it Again

Oops, We Did it Again
Construction workers struck an undocumented water line at Staples High School today, forcing a shut off of water to the facility just before noon. School officials brought in portable toilets and made emergency arrangements for the rest of the school day. Workers previously severed another water line and a gas line during the renovation and expansion project.  WestportNow.com photo

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09/26/03 05:19 PM Comments () • Permalink

Learning About the Dirty Stuff

Learning About the Dirty Stuff
Westport Fire Department Asst. Chief John Gottfried (left) explains a biohazard protective suit to members of the Westport Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy tonight. Firefighter and hazmat technician Bruce Kelly (2nd l.) looks on. Thirty Westporters are enrolled in the 10-week course. WestportNow.com photo

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09/26/03 02:46 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Something to Call My Own

Something to Call My Own
Dominic Luciano, 18, is all smiles as he poses today with his new fire engine. The June Staples grad, who volunteers as an apprentice mechanic with the fire department, bought the 1977 American LaFrance pumper Wednesday for $1. WestportNow.com photo

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09/25/03 06:31 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Phone Service Restored

Westport Phone Service Restored
Crews working through the night restored telephone service to Westport homes affected by Wednesdays outage, an SBC spokesman said today.

An electrical fire on a pole on Hillspoint Road, just south of Post Road East, at about 8:30 a.m. cut electrical, telephone and cable TV service to as many as 1,200 homes.

The electric and cable TV lines were repaired within a short time, but the individual telephone circuits had to be painstakingly replaced in a job that took almost 24 hours.

ғAs of 6 a.m., all telephone service was restored, Seth Bloom, the SBC spokesman, told WestportNow.

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09/25/03 12:27 PM Comments () • Permalink

“Stepford” Casting Call Even Draws NY Times Coverage

Even The New York Times today took note of Wednesday’s Norwalk casting call for the remake of “The Stepford Wives.” It quoted one hopeful as saying: “Women are somewhat robotic in suburban Connecticut, with all the trophy wives.” Greenburbs.com photo

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09/25/03 07:54 AM Comments () • Permalink

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