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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Sherwood Island Rainscape

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Westport was mostly green and gray today, with constant rain and chilly temperatures. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Emily Laux for WestportNow.com

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Something Old is Something New at Old Westport Town Hall

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There were plenty of dignitaries on hand Friday for the official opening of the Hudson United Bank in the former Westport Town Hall on Post Road East. Doing the ribbon cutting was Kenneth Neilson, CEO and chairman of the bank (2nd l). He was joined by (l-r)  Denise Torv, Westport Historical Society executive director; First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell; Police Chief Alfred R. Fiore, and Mar Jennings, the bank’s vice president and area director. The bank and the Society joined together for the special celebration called “Something Old is. . . Something New!” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Andrea Maritzer Fine for WestportNow.com

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Friday, April 29, 2005

New Westport Fire Chief Ackley Sworn In

By James Lomuscio

WestportNow Special Correspondent

Christopher Ackley sworn in by Diane Farrell as Westport CT Fire Chief
First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell swears in Westport’s new Fire Chief Christopher Ackley today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The classroom at Westport’s fire headquarters was so packed with firefighters, police, EMS personnel, town officials, and firefighters from other towns today that many quipped the town’s fire marshal would have to issue a summons.

But this event—the swearing in of Christopher Ackley as the town’s new fire chief—drew applause and accolades instead. Ackley, a 27-year department veteran who served as the town’s deputy chief, replaces Denis McCarthy who is leaving the chief’s post after two years to become fire chief in Norwalk.

“I’m really awed in the faith you have in me to fill this position,” said Ackley, 49, shortly after being sworn in by First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell. “I’m going to do my best to respect that trust.”

Among the more poignant moments were when Ackley’s wife Jill took the chief’s badge unhooked from McCarthy and placed it on her husband, and the embrace between Ackley and McCarthy that followed.

“We started in this department the same day, July 10, 1978,” McCarthy recalled, “and of that group that started, Chris was the strongest firefighter. And he has continued to be the strongest firefighter. We all look up to him.”

Christopher Ackley sworn in as Westport CT Fire Chief
It was standing room only as Christopher Ackley was sworn in as Westport’s fire chief today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Westport/Weston Y Announces Capital Campaign Chairs

The Wesport/Weston YMCA today announced that three area families will head its capital campaign in connection with its planned move from downtown Westport to its Camp Mahackeno property.

Bill Gault, Bill Mitchell, and Arthur Tauck will serve as the campaign’s honorary chairpersons. Nancy and Sam Gault, Ginger and Jim Donaher, and Chris Mitchell and Robin Tauck will serve as co-chairs.

The Y also announced it will now formally operate under the name “Westport Weston Family Y.”

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Westport/Weston families—the Gaults on the left side, the Mitchells in the center, and the Taucks to the right—unveil the new Westport Weston Family Y name. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

04/28/05 11:26 PM Comments (11) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Memory Wok

By James Lomuscio

WestportNow Special Correspondent

As steam rose from the simmering wok in the kitchen this morning, Johnny Wong was out in the alley alongside his restaurant, The Ships Corner Chinese Take-out, to supervise the placement of a dumpster. After 20 years in the heart of Westport’s downtown at 23 Jesup Road, the restaurant will close for the last time tonight at 10. 04280501ShipsCornerClose.jpg
Owner Johnny Wong founded the restaurant 20 years ago. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The woks, pots, and pans will be washed one last time, Wong said, before being tossed into the dumpster Friday.

“I lost my lease, and five weeks ago the landlord sent me a letter that I would have to be out,” said Wong. “On Monday I’m going to give the key to the landlord.

“My customers, they’re all hurt,” he added, tapping his chest. “A lot of customers are looking for a place for me to stay in Westport.”

For the past 18 months since Wong’s lease from Greenwich-based Win Proprties, Inc. expired, his business has been surviving on a month-to-month basis. Wong says he has paid a total of $5,000 a month in rent and taxes, an amount he is sure will climb in the event he finds another location in Westport.

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Westport/Weston Y Officials Address Y’s Men on Planned Move

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Y’s Men guest: YMCA Executive Director and CEO Dick Foot answers questions. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Senior officers of the Westport/Weston YMCA were guest speakers at today’s Y’s Men meeting at the Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Speakers included Dick Foot, CEO and exectutive director; Rosemary Halstead, president of the Board of Directors; Ian Bruce, first vice president and Board member; and Allen Raymond, chairman of the Board of Trustees. The topic was the proposed plan to relocate the YMCA from downtown Westport to Camp Mahackeno.

Westport/Weston YMCA officials will make a similar presentation on Monday to the Y’s Women at their weekly meeting at 11 a.m. in the Board Room on the second floor of the YMCA’s Bedford Building, 59 Post Road East.

04/28/05 03:41 PM Comments (14) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Mason Adams Dies at 86

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Mason Adams
IMDB File photo
Longtime Westport resident Mason Adams, the actor best known for his role as the easygoing managing editor on television’s “Lou Grant” show, died of natural causes Tuesday at 86 in his Upper East Side home, The New York Times reported today.

Mason, who had received three Emmy nominations for his TV role, was also the voice over pitchman for the J. M. Smucker Company with his signature line, “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.” His warm, grandfatherly, Rockwellian voice and screen presence, won the actor recognition as an embodiment of Americana.

Adams, who began his career in radio, was also a stage actor. The Times reports his last play was the Roundabout Theater’s production of Arthur Miller’s “The Man Who Had All the Luck” in 2002.

Adams moved to Westport in 1957 when he married Margot Fineberg, and they also maintained a home in Manhattan. Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter Betsy, and son, Bill.

04/28/05 10:41 AM Comments (3) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Lower Fairfield County Area is Nation’s Richest

People living in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area earned enough money in 2003 for each person to have $60,803, making it the nation’s richest on a per capita basis.

The region’s income easily topped the next-highest, the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., area, which had a per capita income of $46,958. The nation’s per capita income in 2003 was $31,472.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its annual report on metropolitan area personal and per capita income Wednesday. Per capita income is the total amount of money earned through wages, benefits, Social Security and income from businesses divided by the number of people living in an area.

The BEA said wages nationally increased by 2.5 percent between 2002 and 2003, while proprietors’ income increased by 8.5 percent and employers’ contributions to employee pension and insurance funds increased by 10.7 percent during the period. The BEA did not release this data for the metropolitan areas.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005


6 p.m. �Westport Library, McManus Room—Counselors from the Norwalk chapter of SCORE, a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration, present an interactive workshop on “Six Concepts of Business Success”
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing (live coverage on cable channel 79)

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Longshore’s Splash Restaurant to Reopen Thursday

The Splash Restaurant, closed since Christmas morning by a fire at Westport’s Inn at Longshore, will reopen Thursday night, manager Kevan Sheehan said today.

The restaurant’s dining area and kitchen were damaged by the early morning blaze that began in the hotel’s basement and worked its way to the roof through interior walls. (See WestportNow Dec. 25, 2004)

The Inn managed to reopen its ballroom four days later in time to host a wedding reception but took longer to repair five guest rooms damaged in the blaze.

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Happy 170th Birthday Westport!

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Today’s Brown Bag lunch included a birthday cake for Westport which this year marks its 170th birthday. Westport became a separate entity from Norwalk and Fairfield on April 28, 1835, when Daniel Nash led the charter that was signed in Hartford. Joining First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell (2nd l) for the celebration were (l-r) Mollie Donovan and Joan Miller of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection, and Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Showing Off

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Westport First Selectwoman Diane G. Farell (l) and Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss today showed off a reproduction of the original Westport Town Charter that was created on parchment in 1935—Westport’s 100th birthday—by artist Edward Ades. The event was part of a celebration of Westport’s 170th birthday during the weekly Brown Bag Luncheon. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

04/27/05 04:29 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Brainstorming the Compo Beach Playground

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The Coleytown Elementary Student Leadership Council shared their ideas for a new Compo Beach playground today with John Dean, the playground designer from Leathers & Associates. Dean will present his new design for the facility at a community presentation in the Long Lots Elementary School auditorium tonight at 7 p.m.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Julia Mally for WestportNow.com

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Westport Rated Almost at Bottom on State Ethics Survey

Westport rates almost at the bottom of a list in a survey by a state watchdog group of city and town ethics laws.

The survey by Connecticut Common Cause was released Tuesday at a Hartford news conference.

Among the cities and towns in the Westport area, Stamford and Bridgeport scored the highest on the survey, with a 5, followed by Darien, Fairfield and Weston, which got at 4. Easton, Greenwich, Norwalk, New Canaan and Wilton scored 3s. Westport got a 1. The lowest rating was 0.

The group said while Westport had a code of ethics, it did not fare well in its other ethics-related survey categories.

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Gull and Scull

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A sea gull had a bird’s eye view of the scull activity Tuesday on the Saugatuck River near Westport’s center. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

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Talking Transportation:  Amtrak�s Acela Woes

By Jim Cameron

Special to WestportNow

Amtrak�s flagship train, the 165-mph Acela, is in the shop again,  this time with troubling cracks in its disc brakes.  While the railroad and Bombardier are scrambling to find a fix and get these trains back on track, it seems an appropriate time to ask �how did we get in this mess?�

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In the mid-1980s, Amtrak knew that in order to survive, it had to upgrade its aging Amfleet cars.  (I wish the Connecticut Department of Transportation � CDOT—and Metro-North were as proactive in fleet replacement!)

While Amtrak�s Metroliner was running New York to Washington in under three hours, the equipment could never make serious time on the increasingly important, but oh-so-curvaceous, New York-to-Boston run. 

While NYC to DC is pretty much a straight shot, the Boston run has so many curves that trains complete 11 complete circles on the 240-mile run.  And Amfleet cars don�t tilt, forcing slower speeds.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

10:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 102 - International Hospitality Committee
Noon. - Town Hall Room 309/307 - Citizens Brown Bag Luncheon
5:30 p.m. - Turner Trailers - School Building Committee Staples Subcommittee
6 p.m. - Bedford Middle School - Second annual student art exhibition
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - RTM Planning & Zoning Committee
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309/307 - Board of Selectmen
7 p.m. - Long Lots Elementary School—Unveiling of Compo Beach playground design
7:30 p.m—Westport Library McManus Room - “Artists in Conversation” - Noted architect Jim Polshek, whose recent projects include the Clinton Presidential Library and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, joins in conversation with Yale School of Architecture critic Carter Wiseman; co-presentation with Westport Arts Center

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Flying High at Compo

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The kite surfers returned to Westport’s Compo Beach today. The temperature reached 63F under sunny skies at Bedford Middle School but only got into the upper 50s near the water. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Andrea Maritzer Fine for WestportNow.com

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Sprucing Up Post Road East and the Sherwood Island Connector

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Westport’s Kowalsky Brothers construction company today worked on a beautification project at the intersection of Post Road East and the Sherwood Island Connector. The planting project will include a sign welcoming visitors to Westport.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ron Malone for WestportNow.com

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Staples Grad Makes Carnegie Hall Debut as Composer

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Former Westporters Vic Arrington and Peggy Arrington pose with their son, composer and Staples grad Devin Arrington, 27, at a reception Monday Night at New York’s Carnegie Hall following the world premiere performance of Devin’s chamber music piece “Jerusalem” by the New York Youth Symphony. Devin performs regularly with the Westmoreland Symphony in Greenburg, Pa., and teaches violin and composition in Pittsburgh His parents recently moved to Hilton Head S.C. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Rick Benson for WestportNow.com

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Chris Ackley Named New Westport Fire Chief

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Outgoing Westport Fire Chief Denis McCarthy (l) congratulates Deputy Chief Chris Ackley on today’s announcement that Ackley, a 26-year veteran of the department, will succeed him. Westport First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell said she will swear in Ackley at 2 p.m. Friday. McCarthy has been named chief in Norwalk. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

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Allen’s Clam House Barn Taken Down

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An 1800s barn on the former Allen’s Clam House property � now town-owned—on Hillspoint Road at Old Mill came down today. The Historic District Commission gave its approval to the demolition at its April 12 meeting. (See WestportNow April 12, 2005) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

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RTM Consideration of Noise Ordinance Postponed

A Westport noise ordinance submitted by residents and scheduled to be considered at next week’s session of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) has been postponed until June at the residents’ request.

They asked for the postponement during a meeting Monday night of the RTM Ordinance Committee, the first committee to consider the suggested ordinance. The proposed measure imposes tighter restrictions on construction and other activities.

The Ordinance Committee recommended that other RTM committees, including Public Protection, Environment and Planning and Zoning, consider the proposal and that the town attorney’s office then revise it based on committee and public input.

The measure will be taken up again at the RTM’s June 7 meeting, according to RTM Moderator Gordon Joseloff. The RTM’s May 2 and 3 meetings are mainly devoted to annual budget matters but non-budget items will be considered as well.

(Editor’s note: The Moderator of the RTM is also editor of WestportNow.com.)

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005


10 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Arts Advisory Committee
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - RTM Public Works Committee
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201A - Youth Commission Underage Drinking Subcommittee
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Zoning Board of Appeals

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Taking Aim at Big Houses

By James Lomuscio

WestportNow Special Correspondent


Are McMansions a well-heeled homeowner’s right or a neighborhood blight that threaten Westport’s charm and, ultimately, its quality of life? These and other big house concerns are expected to be aired at two public meetings next month, the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission’s Big House Committee decided today.bighouse04260502260.jpg
Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Eleanor Lowenstein (2nd r) addresses the P&Z’s Big House Committee today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The meetings slated for Tuesday, May 17, at 10 a.m. and Wednesday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium will set the stage to see if any changes to the town’s residential zoning regulations are in the wings, officials say.

“Once we get information, we will have the time to sit down and study them,” said Eleanor R. Lowenstein, P&Z chairman. “The next time around it will be a public hearing on (residential zoning) changes.”

Katherine Barnard, Planning and Zoning Department director, said the planned meetings sprung from numerous resident concerns both for and against the proliferation massive homes.

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