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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Farrell Hails Connecticut Export Financing Partnership

Connecticut employers will benefit from a new financing partnership with the Ex-Im Bank of the United States that will help them strengthen and grow their export business, according to former Westport First Selectman Diane Farrell, a member of Ex-Im’s board. WestportNow.com Image
Diane Farrell: partnership will create Connecticut jobs. Contributed photo

The Connecticut Development Authority (CDA), the state’s quasi-public business financing arm, will now be able to provide international trade financing to small businesses thanks to the partnership, an announcement said.

“This City-State Partnership –  Ex-Im Bank’s first in Connecticut – will give us the opportunity to provide many more Connecticut small businesses with the competitive financing tools they need to successfully compete in the global marketplace, and create Connecticut jobs,” Farrell said in a statement.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said the partnership fills a financing need of Connecticut small exporters.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Saugatuck Center Rising

By James Lomuscio

With the framing completed and the smell of plywood sheathing still fresh, Westporter Sam Gault today walked the grounds of Saugatuck Center, a two-building, riverfront retail, residential and office development scheduled to open in May, and seemed pleased.WestportNow.com Image
Today’s “topping out” of Saugatuck Center drew (l-r) Sam Gault and Jim Donaher, representing the Gault family, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, and Gus Pappajohn, builder. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com


“My grandfather bought this property in the early 1920s,” said Gault about the one-acre, Riverside Avenue parcel with 500 feet on the Saugatuck River. “We used it to store oil, building materials and sand.”

The 365,000-gallon oil tank came down this past May (see WestportNow May 5, 2010), as did the wood framed buildings that housed DeRosa’s restaurant, Westport Florist and the Riverside Barber. Today was the “topping out,” marking partial completion of the project

To hear Gault, president of LH Gault & Son, Inc., tell it, it is all part of a new vision for Saugatuck—a vision from one of Westport’s oldest families. The hometown company stated in 1863 on the Post Road where Gault’s great-great grandfather sold feed and grain.

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10/25/10 08:42 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Crain’s Business: Westporter Making Grab for Value Line Cash

The controlling shareholder of financial publisher Value Line Inc., former CEO Jean Bernhard Buttner of Westport, is making a grab for about half of her company’s remaining cash, Crain’s New York Business reported today.

It said the publisher of the Value Line Investment Survey said late Friday it would pay shareholders a special dividend of $2 a share on Nov. 12 instead of its regular quarterly dividend of 20 cents per share.

The special dividend amounts to $20 million or almost half of the company’s $43 million in cash on hand, Crain’s said on its website. About $17.3 million of this dividend will go to Buttner, who controls 86.5 percent of Value Line’s stock, it said.

Buttner, 75, stepped aside last year at the company started by her father in 1931 after the SEC barred her from the brokerage business.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Westporter Leaves WSJ, Returns to England

Westporter Tina Gaudoin, editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal’s glossy luxury magazine WSJ, signed off in the issue out today and said she is heading back to her native England.WestportNow.com Image
Tina Gaudoin: sold Westport home in June. File photo

Gaudoin, who sold her Edgewater Hillside house in June for $325,000 less than she paid for it almost three years ago, has been editor of the magazine since its launch in September 2008. (See WestportNow Jan. 28, 2008)

“This has truly been – to use an Americanism – a growth experience, in the best possible way,” she wrote in today’s editor’s letter.

Gaudoin, who announced her resignation in June “for personal reasons,” told readers she will move to a “new berth” with The Wall Street Journal in London this month. She told WWD in June her husband had remained in London and “it was just not sustainable.”

10/23/10 02:29 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Taking Shape

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Six months after buildings on Westport’s Riverside Avenue were demolished (See WestportNow April 30, 2010) work is progressing on the first phase of the Saugatuck Center retail, office, and residential development set for completion in spring 2011.  Picture was taken today; bottom is the artist’s rendering of the site. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com, Contributed graphic

10/21/10 09:38 PM Comments (3) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Westport’s Sept. Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 6.1 Percent

Westport’s unemployment rate in September was 6.1 percent, unchanged from August, the Connecticut Department of Labor said today.

The highest rate this year was in January when it was 6.6 percent. The department said the number of unemployed in September was 773, down 16 from 789 in August.

The Department of Labor said the September labor force in Westport numbered 12,774 persons with 12,001 employed.

The Westport labor force number dropped by 201 persons in September from August, the department said, with 185 fewer persons employed in September compared to August.

10/21/10 07:39 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings and Goings: Cucina Modo Mio Closed

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Cucina Modo Mio, 5 Bridge Square in Westport’s Saugatuck area, has closed. The sign on the door of the 14-table italian restaurant (whose name translates as “Kitchen My Way”) reads, “Restaurant is closed.  Thank you for your patronage!” Cucina Modo Mio was the creation of Felton Weller, who has been a restaurateur in the area for many years and who owns Felton’s Fish Market in the same complex. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

10/21/10 02:12 PM Comments (11) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GTherm Subleases Space at 500 Post Road East

GTherm, Inc. has subleased a total of 8,474 square feet of office space on the second floor of 500 Post Road East in Westport from Terex Corporation for a period of more than six years, through Dec. 31, 2016, it was announced today.

The commercial real estate firms of CB Richard Ellis and John D. Hastings were involved in the transaction.

GTherm, formerly with offices in Shelton, is a thermal technology firm planning to build power plants, using heat from “hot dry rocks” to produce clean, reliable electricity. 

Terex Corporation, a diversified global manufacturer, the sublessor of the space GTherm occupied, recently moved to larger quarters at Nyala Farms Office Park. The term of the leases coincides with the conclusion of the Terex lease.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Comings and Goings: Milo’s Methods Opens on Post Road West

WestportNow.com Image
Milo’s Methods, LLC—a Fitness Movement, has opened at 361 Post Road West, next to John’s Best Pizza, in Westport. Co-owners Matt McDonald (l) of Fairfield and Matt Landman of Redding, both fitness professionals, said this is their flagship gym and plan to expand to other locations. Landman said they decided to open the gym here because “Westport cares about fitness—it’s a great place to start a new (training) concept.”  In discussing their concepts McDonald said, “This is the first interchangeable gym anywhere—no one ever does the same workout twice.” The co-owners said that Milo’s, as compared other fitness centers, is not a membership gym and has a business model based on a $20 per hour fee. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

10/18/10 01:48 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, October 15, 2010

Shake Shack to Open in Westport Second Half of 2011

By James Lomuscio

Shake Shack, the modern day roadside burger and hot dog stand serving up beer and wine at upscale locations in New York, announced today it will open its first true roadside Shack in Westport in the second half of 2011.WestportNow.com Image
Burgers from the Shack Shake location in New York’s Madison Square Park. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by Flickr user Makoworks

Thursday night company Chief Executive Officer David Swinghamer and Chief Operating Officer Randy Garutti appeared before Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) to discuss their plans.

They said they planned to open the restaurant at 1849 Post Road East near the Fairfield line on the former site of the Pho Mekong Thai-Vietnamese Noodle House and Restaurant. (See WestportNow Oct. 14, 2010) An announcement today said it will open in the second half of 2011.

Pitched as family friendly, the executives’ plans to open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seemed to get favorable reviews from P&Z members, some of whom were familiar with the restaurant from other locations, or had heard about it. 

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shake Shack Presents Plans for Westport Restaurant

WestportNow.com Image
Executives of Shake Shack, a New York-based restaurant company, part of the Union Square Hospitality Group, went before the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission tonight to explain plans for a new restaurant at 1849 Post Road East near the Fairfield town line. Formerly occupied by the Pho Mekong Thai-Vietnamese Noodle House and Restaurant, the space would house a restaurant described as a “modern day ‘roadside’ stand that serves hamburgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, beer, and wine. The company presented this rendering of the proposed Westport restaurant during its presentation. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed graphic

10/14/10 11:49 PM Comments (5) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings and Goings: Pho Mekong Out, Shake Shack In?

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UPDATE The Pho Mekong Thai-Vietnamese Noodle House and Restaurant, 1849 Post Road East, near the Fairfield line, has closed and may be replaced by the Shake Shack, described on its website as a “modern day ‘roadside’ burger stand.” Shake Shack executives have requested to go before the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night for a preliminary application hearing to explain their plans for the site. Serving hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and milkshakes, Shake Shack has six locations, five in New York and one in Miami. The first Shake Shack opened in July 2004 in New York City’s Madison Square Park. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

10/14/10 12:20 AM Comments (7) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Comings and Goings: Westport Big & Tall Closing

WestportNow.com Image
Westport Big & Tall at 1276 Post Road East at the corner of Turkey Hill Road South is closing. A mailer said prices of up to 40 percent off were being offered before the closing of the Alpharetta, Ga.-based company’s only Connecticut outlet. Store personnel would not discuss the closing except one did confirm it was shutting down. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

10/13/10 10:16 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Comings and Goings: Dragone Cars Coming to PRW

WestportNow.com Image
Dragone Classic Motorcars of Bridgeport will open an antique automobile showroom sometime next month at 176 Post Road West in Westport, the former location of Saab of Westport. Owner Manny Dragone said that the showroom will display 50 antique cars and sell “automobilia,” car talk for automobile memorabilia, such as racing trophies. Dragone said plans include operating about four or five antique car auctions each year and offering facilities such as conference rooms for various auto clubs. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

10/12/10 09:51 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings and Goings: Saugatuck Grain & Grape Opens

WestportNow.com Image
The Saugatuck Grain and Grape wine and spirits shop opened at 40-42 Railroad Place, next to Mario’s across from the Westport train station in Saugatuck in the location previously occupied by the Depot Liquor store. The owners, Mimi McLaughlin and Jeff Marron, note in the announcement letter of their opening, “We specialize in wines made by small producers, as well as craft beers and specialty spirits. We’ve strived to choose wines that you won’t see everywhere else, and are edited to factor in quality vs. price and varietal correctness.”  McLaughlin said that the shop will hold wine tastings everyday, from 5 p.m.to 8 p.m.  Store hours are Mon-Thurs 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Fri - Sat 9 a.m.-9 p.m. (See WestportNow - Aug. 2, 2010) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

10/12/10 02:49 AM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Winner

WestportNow.com Image
On a beautiful Columbus Day weekend, the Fairfield Bridle Trails Association today hosted its annual Hunter Trials, an event that has been held for over 30 years, at Westport’s Fairfield County Hunt Club. The nonprofit organization that promotes safe horsemanship, open spaces and trail riding, raiseed funds to maintain the local Fairfield riding trail inner of Low Junior Hunter Under Saddle.  Grace has been riding for 7 years and is a Junior riding member of the Fairfield County Hunt Club. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer or WestportNow.com

10/11/10 02:26 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Downtown Subcommittee Unveils ‘Westport Center’ Plan

By James Lomuscio

Native Westporter Jonathan Steinberg knows he cannot time travel to the days of mom and pop shops lining Main Street, a time when five movie theaters throughout town ran first-run films and teenagers congregated at the driving range and a miniature golf course on the Post Road.WestportNow.com Image
Among those at today’s Town Hall meeting were First Selectman Gordon Joseloff (l, head of table), Downtown Subcommittee Chairman Jonathan Steinberg (r, other end of table), and architect Robert Orr (r, white hair, glasses) . (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

But, says Steinberg, Westport can still create a vibrant, community-based downtown. And today a committee he heads unveiled a vision of that future at a Town Hall meeting.

Dubbed Westport Center, it would be replete with greenways, independent retailers and a brownstone-scale, village of shops and upper-floor living space in Parker Harding Plaza along the Saugatuck River.

And all of it would be pedestrian friendly, says Steinberg, as many visitors would leave their cars in metered parking areas, one of them a multi-tierd parking deck in the Baldwin lot, to stroll the downtown.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Westport’s Bridgewater Again No. 1 Hedge Fund

Westport-based Bridgewater Associates, already the biggest U.S.-based hedge fund, pulled in more new money in the 2010 first half than any of its rivals, industry magazine AR reported today.

WestportNow.com Image

The firm, which employs more than 800 persons in four Westport locations, now oversees $51 billion in assets, the magazine said.

It said during the first half, the firm took in $7.3 billion in new money, boosting its assets by almost 17 percent. A year ago Bridgewater had $37 billion.

JP Morgan’s asset management unit ranks as the industry’s second-largest U.S.-based fund with $41 billion in assets, the magazine said. This was a $2.7 billion gain since January, thanks to strong inflows into the firm’s fund business.

09/30/10 06:06 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Baskin Robbins Owner Blames High Rent and High Calories

By Dave Matlow

UPDATE The owner of the now closed Westport Baskin Robbins ice cream franchise said today he was done in not only by a higher rent but a lifestyle that frowns on high calories.WestportNow.com Image
Babar Mustafa outside his closed store today: Grateful for support of Westporters. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“I was paying $5,000 rent plus $2,000 electricity,” said Babar Mustafa, who had owned the franchise for seven years and was store manager for seven years before that. “I could no longer keep the store open.”

Mustafa, who closed the store at 180 Post Road East on Monday, said the landlord, Marc Nevas, has been very kind and discounted his rent for a year but told him that they “could no longer be in business together.” 

Mustafa took exception to a comment posted on WestportNow Monday night that called his landlord “greedy.”

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Comings and Goings: Baskin Robbins Closes

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Baskin Robbins, a longtime fixture at 180 Post Road East opposite the Westport Post Office, has closed. The store was dark tonight after the owner emptied the store of its contents during the day, offering ice cream to passersby and nearby retailers. The owner reportedly said he could not afford the increased rent demanded by the building owner. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Comings and Goings: Douglas Cosmetics Closes

WestportNow.com Image
Some shoppers on Westport’s Main Street were startled today to find that after a few weeks of rumors and denials, the Douglas Cosmetics store at 57 Main St. has indeed closed its doors. A notice of explanation (inset) was posted on the locked front door. One customer approached the door, glanced at the sign and commented that she had hoped that at least they would have had a good sale before closing. Earlier this month, the head of U.S. operations of Douglas denied the store was closing. (See WestportNow Sept. 10, 2010) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Comings and Goings: Jasmine Restaurant Closing

WestportNow.com Image
UPDATE and CORRECT The Jasmine Restaurant at 60 Charles St. in Westport’s Saugatuck section is closing on Thursday, Sept. 30. Owner John Liu said it’s “not decided” what will happen to the space. There are rumors that a burger chain is interested in moving in. John and his wife Lena have operated the restaurant since 1996 and in January opened Chinese Takeout at 67 Saugatuck Ave. From 1987 to 1997, they owned Panda Pavilion on Post Road East and prior to that, Ship’s Corner on Jesup Road. (An earlier version of this caption said it was closing Monday.) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/22/10 05:39 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rotary Hears About “Sustainable Tourism”

WestportNow.com Image
Robin Tauck, a longtime Westport resident and recognized authority on the travel and tourism industry, told the Westport Rotary Club today about “sustainable tourism,” a term to elevate the awareness of travelers of the importance of preserving World Heritage sites as earmarked by UNESCO (United States Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Tauck said there are 911 designated World Heritage sites, most in Europe and North America, and UNESCO is seeking to identify and protect additional sites in third world countries. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/21/10 07:35 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Westport’s August Unemployment Rate at 6.1 Percent

Westport’s unemployment rate in August dropped to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent in July, the Connecticut Department of Labor said.

In May, the rate was 6.3 percent, the highest since January when it was 6.6 percent. The department said the number of unemployed in August was 790, down 20 from 810 in July.

The Department of Labor said the August labor force in Westport numbered 12,968 persons with 12,178 employed.

The Westport labor force number dropped by 148 persons in August over July, the department said, with 88 fewer persons employed in August compared to July.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

New Look at Resto Hardware—Inside and Out

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There’s a new look at Westport’s Restoration Hardware, 76 Post Road East, inside and out as part of the national retailer’s “The Gallery” look for its fall collection. “It’s now like walking right into the catalogue,” said one store employee. “We have more furniture on display to give the customer a better idea of how it would feel in their own space.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Comings and Goings: Capel Rugs Opens on PRW

WestportNow.com Image
Capel Rugs of Connecticut celebrated the official opening of its store and showroom today at 222 Post Road West in space previously occupied by Villency furniture. Westporter Larry Lieberman, the store’s general manager and a principal in the new business, said the Lawrence family of Fairfield is the majority owners and landlord for the 6,700 square feet shop which sells Capel’s brand of area rugs as well as broadloom, wall to wall, antique rugs and related decorative floor covering products. “We’re not a franchise business, we’re owned privately by local people, he said. “The Capel brand has been in existence since 1917—our tagline is ‘America’s Rug Company since 1917.’” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/10/10 05:19 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Rumors Swirl about Main Street’s Douglas Cosmetics

WestportNow.com Image
Rita Donnerstag, president of Philadelphia-based Douglas Cosmetics, today denied published reports that the Main Street retailer is closing. She said renovations were under way on the second floor of 57 Main St.—one of five U.S. Douglas locations—“but that does not mean we are closing.” Store personnel, when queried, would not comment. A real estate source who spoke on condition of anonymity said he understood there may be a change in Douglas ownership, which is controlled by a Germany-based company. There were rumors that cosmetic vendor Blue Mercury across the street may take over the space. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/10/10 03:13 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Rotary Told Making Wine is a Recession Beater

WestportNow.com Image
Wine-making experts Tess and Mark Szamatulski told Westport Roatary Club members today that the wine-making business is very good despite the recession. The Szamatulskis have owned and operated the Monroe-based Maltose Express Home Beer and Winemaking Supplies store, the largest home-brew and wine-making supply store in Connecticut, for more than 20 years. They said the poor economy has made people more price conscious and probably contributed to increased alcohol consumption. The combination has propelled their business, they said. Pictured (l-r) are Tess Szamatulski and Rotarian Fred Feuerhake opening a bottle of home-made wine for tasting as Mark Szamatulski explains the finer points about the process for making wine at home. “In Canada, 25 percent of consumed wine is home made,” he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/07/10 09:31 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, September 03, 2010

The High Cost of Congestion

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut’s congested transportation network does more than try motorists’ patience: It costs businesses and residents at least $670 million a year, according to a new draft report prepared for the state’s Transportation Strategy Board.

WestportNow.com Image

The position paper, one of several that ultimately will comprise the board’s 2011 update to its statewide transportation strategy, says lower productivity, higher operating expenses, weakened worker recruitment efforts and other problems associated with clogged highways and limited alternatives contribute to the rising price tag.

And though the problem is worst in the Stamford-to-Bridgeport corridor in Connecticut’s southwestern corridor, major congestion costs also plague the Hartford and New Haven areas, leaving the state at an increasing business disadvantage.

The report’s findings are bolstered by a new national study that ranks Connecticut among the worst states for urban highway congestion.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Working on a Facelift

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Work continued today on the facelift to the strip of stores at 606 Post Road East owned by Westport’s Kowalsky family. The shopping complex will soon be the new home of the Vincent Palumbo Salon, operated by Vincent Palumbo, former principal of Peter Coppola Salon. It opens in September in 4,200 square feet. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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