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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Town Launches eCheck for Tax Payments

By James Lomuscio
Before you reach for that credit card to pay Westport’s real estate and personal property tax bills that just arrived, Tax Collector Peggy Klein has some words of caution.WestportNow.com Image
Westport residents have been receiving tax bills this week easily spotted by the return address and bold print about its contents. Contributed photo

Credit cards charge 3 percent. If you charge $5,000 for your quarterly real estate taxes for a home with total home tax of $20,000, that translates into an extra $150.

Debit cards work much better, just $2.95 per transaction, or $147.05 saved.

But a new system that went into place Tuesday is even lower, just $1.50 to pay all of your tax bills, home, boat, and multiple cars included, online. It is called ach/echeck.

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Westporter Says He Could Have Saved $$$ on AIG Bailout

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Joseph J. Cassano, the Westporter who was chief executive of the American International Group unit that insured mortgage-related securities with calamitous results, testified in Washington today that he could have saved taxpayers billions of dollars if he had stayed at the company to negotiate with banks that were demanding more collateral as the insurer hit trouble. Cassano, who learned last month that federal prosecutors would not bring charges against him (See WestportNow May 23, 2010), spoke in public for the first time about his role at AIG before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which is studying the causes of the financial crisis. Cassano left AIG in February 2008 over disagreements with the company’s auditors about how to value portions of his unit’s investments. He earned nearly $300 million from the firm. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow photo from CNBC.

06/30/10 08:00 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Fading Glory: Bridge Flags Fall to Budget Cuts

By James Lomuscio

For the past decade, ever since 9-11, the sight of nearly 100 American flags flapping in the breeze on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge has come to define Westport.WestportNow.com ImageWestportNow.com Image
American flags are gone (top) from Westport’s Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge except for holidays (bottom). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow (top) and Helen Klisser During (bottom) for WestportNow.com

The flags, their poles affixed to permanent brackets on the downtown bridge over the Saugatuck River, would wave from late April until Thanksgiving.

The only exception was United Nations Day in October, or jUNe Day, celebrated this past weekend and every third Saturday in June, when the flags of U.N. member states flew.

But now, due to municipal budget cuts and the Department of Public Works need to slash expenses,  the flags will go up on major holidays only and come down shortly afterwards, says Stephen Edwards, public works director. 

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06/30/10 03:56 PM Comments (14) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 83 Turkey Hill Road South

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An application is in process to acquire a permit to demolish the house at 83 Turkey Hill Road South in Westport’s Greens Farms area near Greens Farms Road. Built in 1883, the 1 3/4-story conventional-style house has 1,340 square feet and is situated on a one-acre property. Because it was built more than 50 years ago, the application will be reviewed by the Westport Historic District Commission. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/30/10 03:01 PM Comments (11) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Metro-North Adds Extra Trains for 4th of July Weekend

Metro-North has announced extra trains on its New Haven Line for the 4th of July weekend, beginning with service outbound on Friday from Grand Central Terminal.

Extra trains stopping at Westport depart Grand Central at:
• 1 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Westport, and all stations between Fairfield and New Haven.

• 2:04 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Westport then all stations between Fairfield and New Haven. 

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06/30/10 12:15 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Gubernatorial Contenders Spar on Jobs, Roads, Taxes

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Let it not be said that Connecticut Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on anything.

WestportNow.com Image

It took about five minutes for the three Republicans and two Democrats running for governor to agree during Tuesday’s debate that Connecticut is a poor place in which to do business.

And about the only thing harder than trying to grow a business in the state, they further agreed, was trying to drive in it.

What the five major party candidates who squared off at the Stamford Plaza Hotel couldn’t find consensus on was the role tax increases should play in resolving the largest budget deficit in state history.

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06/30/10 10:00 AM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Keeping Cool

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A cruise along the Saugatuck River in Westport’s center was just the right way to cool off. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

06/30/10 04:15 AM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


8:30 a.m. – Town Hall Room 201 – Planning & Zoning Excavation & Fill Subcommittee
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “The Kids’ Wall” 10th Anniversary
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - Solos 2010
10 a.m. - 8 p.m. - Westport Country Playhouse - Doncaster Shopping Event benefit for WCP
7 p.m. - Levitt Pavilion - The Half Family
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – Board of Finance Audit Subcommittee

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sunday Farmers’ Market Changes Hours

Citing the requests from both customers and vendors, the Sunday Westport Farmer’s Market at Saugatuck Congregational Church has been moved to an earlier start time—10 a.m.—and ending earlier at 1 p.m, organizers announced today.

The hours had been 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“This gives everyone an earlier start time to stock up on fresh Connecticut-grown or processed market goods,” said Mary Ann West, a church official, in a news release.

She said the market visitors can choose from a wide variety of produce, gluten-free and vegan cupcakes, fresh eggs, flowers, pies and baked goods, maple syrup, grass-fed organic beef, and bacon and sausage, each from Connecticut vendors.

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06/29/10 08:07 PM Comments (2) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 11 Edgewater Hillside

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An application is in process to acquire a permit to demolish the house at 11 Edgewater Hillside, off Hillspoint Road. Built in 1956, the one-story raised ranch has 1,325 square feet and is situated on a .23-acre property. Because the house was built more than 50 years ago, the application will be reviewed by the Westport Historic District Commission. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/29/10 07:49 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Rell Announces Funds to Improve Sherwood Island State Park

Gov. M. Jodi Rell today announced that $750,000 to make repairs and improvements at Connecticut’s three major shoreline state parks, including Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, is expected to be approved when the State Bond Commission meets July 13.

“These funds are needed to repair and upgrade infrastructure, such as the electrical and water systems, at Hammonasset Beach, Rocky Neck and Sherwood Island State Parks,” Rell said. 

“The parks are the most popular destinations in our state park system and it is critical that we continue making the investments necessary for them to be safe and attractive places for our residents.”

Rell said the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which administers state parks, had conducted a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the parks to develop a plan for infrastructure improvements.

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06/29/10 06:51 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Exchanging Stories at Rotary

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The Westport Rotary Club today heard from three students participating in Rotary student exchange programs. Stratford resident Nicole Clark-Somerville (c), a Rotary International World Peace Scholar, talked about her experiences studying in Japan. Staples High School Class of 2010 students Chris Sledge (l) and Alex Nitkin spoke of their forthcoming one-year stays in Brazil and Venezuela respectively. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/29/10 06:44 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Train Riders Bemoan End of the Line for Ticket Agents

By James Lomuscio

Elinor Greenblatt was upset Monday morning when she heard that the ticket booth at Westport’s Metro-North station would shut down permanently on July 7.  From then on, all tickets would have to be purchased online beforehand or at the vending machines on the platform.WestportNow.com Image
Debbie Kerkes answers questions Monday at the Westport Metro-North station. After July 7, the Westport ticket window will close. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

“I’ve lived in this town for 45 years, and it’s very, very sad that the ticket window at the Westport station is closing,” said Greenblatt as she waited for 10:31 a.m. to New York.

“And that the person who answers all these questions is no longer going to be there. It’s unthinkable that she is going to be replaced by a machine.”

The woman Greenblatt described was the one behind the bars and the glass partition, Debbie Kerkes. Monday morning she was busy answering myriad questions to those who stepped up the window. 

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Saugatuck Summer Sunset

WestportNow.com Image
The vivid colors and clear reflections of this view of the Saugatuck River enticed quite a number of visitors to Westport’s downtown area Monday evening. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010


10 a.m. – Town Hall Auditorium – Connecticut Fund for the Environment Clean Energy Community-Based Public Hearing
10 a.m. - Westport Public Library - Stop & Swap summer reading club for adults
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “The Kids’ Wall” 10th Anniversary
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - Solos 2010
10 a.m. - noon - Westport Public Library - Authors@the Library: Phyllis Theroux, “The Journal Keeper”
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. - Westport Country Playhouse - Doncaster Shopping Event benefit for WCP
8 p.m. - Levitt Pavilion - Westport Community Band

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

06/29/10 04:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Dusk at the Marina

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Dusk tonight at the Ned Dimes Marina at Westport’s Compo Beach. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Comings and Goings: Christie’s Removes Gas Pumps

WestportNow.com Image
No more fueling up at Westport’s Christie’s Country Store at 161 Cross Highway. Jon DiGuiseppi, service advisor, said they stopped pumping gas last September and then recently removed the pumps (inset) and underground tanks. “We’re in the part of town that doesn’t have high traffic volume and our underground tanks were aging,” said DiGuiseppi. He said the replacement of the tanks would be a large investment “so we felt it was time to get rid of them.”  But there is a positive side, he said. “We now have more parking and can accommodate more customers.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/28/10 09:11 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Flood Advisory Issued

The National Weather Service in Upton N.Y. has issued an urban and small stream flood advisory for an area that includes Westport until 6 p.m.

At 2:57 p.m. radar indicated a line of thunderstorms moving northeast across the advisory area, it said.

One to two inches of rain in one hour is possible within the advisory area.

Excessive runoff from this storm will cause flooding of urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other drainage areas and low lying spots, it said.

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Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for an area that includes Westport until 9 p.m.

06/28/10 06:04 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

First Day at Camp

WestportNow.com Image
Campers arrived at the Westport Weston Family Y’s Camp Mahackeno today for the opening of the camping season. Counselor Jake Mitnick helps out the new arrivals. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/28/10 03:59 PM Comments (1) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

First Day Friends

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Friends from Day 1 today at Westport’s Camp Mahackeno—(l-r) Garrett Alston, Race Eagar, and Gabriel Forastiere, all 7 years old. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/28/10 03:56 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

A Hands-On Welcome

WestportNow.com Image
Chris Moise, a camp director at Westport’s Camp Mahackeno, welcomes Ben Corsentino, 6, today on his first day at Mahackeno’s summer program. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/28/10 03:55 PM Comments (0) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Fairfield County Front and Center in Gubernatorial Campaign

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Grumbling in lower Fairfield County about how Hartford sets or neglects economic, transportation and tax policies is a staple of Connecticut politics.

WestportNow.com Image

So it will be striking to see three Republican and two Democratic gubernatorial candidates appear Tuesday at a forum in Stamford: all but one live in Stamford or neighboring Greenwich. It is hard for the Gold Coast say it is misunderstood this year.

But what does it mean, besides the fact that only Oz Griebel, a Republican candidate from suburban Hartford, can open at the Stamford Chamber of Commerce with a joke about how long it took him to negotiate I-95?

Of Connecticut’s 87 governors, only one has been from Greenwich and one from Stamford, two communities better linked to New York by rail than to Hartford by highway.

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06/28/10 03:28 PM Comments (1) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

Pensions Approved for Police, Fire, Deputy Fire Chiefs

UPDATE & CORRECT The town’s police and fire pension boards today approved the pension requests for the town’s retiring police and fire chiefs and the deputy fire chief.

The approval by the Police Pension Board awards Chief Alfred R. Fiore a monthly pension effective June 1 of $8,550.88. The vote was unanimous with Fiore abstaining.

The Fire Pension Board approved a monthly pension effective June 1 for Chief Christopher Ackley of $8,553.59 and for Deputy Chief Jonathan Gottfried of $7,900.21.

Fire union member Ronald Wojnoski was the only vote against the pension awards for the fire officials—with Ackley abstaining on his pension but approving Gottfried’s.

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Westport Metro-North Ticket Office to Close July 7

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Commuters at Westport’s Metro-North station today found the official announcement of the ticket office closing date—July 7. Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced the closing at Westport and other stations last February as part of cost-savings in her 2010-11 budget (See WestportNow Feb. 5, 2010). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Andy Yemma for WestportNow.com

06/28/10 11:20 AM Comments (5) • Permalink Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon
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