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Friday, June 02, 2017

Connecticut Joins Alliance Committed to Paris Climate Accord

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut became one of the early states to rebuke President Trump’s disavowal of the Paris climate accord with a decision today by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to join a fast-growing coalition of states, cities, businesses and universities intent on ensuring the U.S. still acts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Malloy, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, joins the Democratic governors of California, New York and Washington state in the United States Climate Alliance, a group quickly organized Thursday by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others in the wake of Trump’s announcement the U.S. would stand apart from the world’s nations on the issue of climate change.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who declined to support Trump or attend the Republican National Convention, signed on later today, according to the Boston Globe.

The decision was an easy one for a governor in Connecticut, a state with a long history of bipartisan support of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Gina McCarthy, a top advisor to the Obama administration on the issue, was the state’s top environmental regulator under Malloy’s predecessor, Republican M. Jodi Rell.

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Is 2017 CT Legislature on the Brink of Gridlock?

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

The 2017 legislative session teetered on the brink of gridlock today as House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz accused Republicans of unfairly dodging all tough choices amid a huge state budget crisis.

And while Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, did not say majority House Democrats would block GOP bills, he reflected on that option as one of the few alternatives to stop Republican political posturing.

“It’s hard for me right now to go out there and … run bills that will allow people to move forward their proposals and their goals while my caucus continues — continues — to sacrifice things they care about for the greater good of the state but there’s no accountability on the other side,” the speaker said during a news conference in his Capitol office.

He made his comments after House Democrats failed Wednesday and Thursday to take up a bill to establish tolls — something Democratic leaders said was impossible because House Republicans offered virtually no support.

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Eversource to Buy Aquarion for $1.675 Billion

Two utility companies serving Westport are about to become one.

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In an acquisition that will combine New England’s largest energy company with the region’s largest private water company, Eversource Energy today announced that it reached an agreement to acquire Aquarion Water Company for $1.675 billion, comprised of $880 million in cash and $795 million of assumed Aquarion debt.

“This transaction combines two companies that are leaders in providing the critical infrastructure New England residents and businesses need to grow and thrive,” said Jim Judge, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Eversource.

“Both companies’ dedicated employees work relentlessly to put customers first, and that commitment to reliability and customer service will remain paramount.”

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Taking Aim at Wasteful AC

Open doors to air-conditioned Main Street stores on steamy hot days, a cool way to bait potential customers, are once again getting the cold shoulder from town officials.

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Lululemon athletica, 91 Main St., kept its doors open last July in 90-degree heat. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

David Mann, chairman of Westport’s Green Task Force, today urged Westport business owners and managers to keep the doors shut while the premises are being cooled on hot days, as well as being heated on cold ones. This is the second year of the initiative.

Mann’s letter to local merchants also won support from First Selectman Jim Marpe, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Merchants Association in an effort to conserve resources for Westport to become a more sustainable community.

Mann added that Earth Guardians, a Toquet Hall-based environmental activist youth group, will help by visiting businesses that leave doors open and remind them of the initiative.

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05/31/17 06:47 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

House Passes Deficit Closure Plan Despite Sweep of Firearm Permit Fees

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

The House of Representatives gave final approval today to a plan to cover the $317 million state budget deficit in the current fiscal year.

The House voted 75-74 to approve the plan, but only after Republican legislators narrowly failed to modify it to prevent the use of $300,000 in firearm and ammunition permit-related fees to help close the shortfall.

The bill, which the Senate passed unanimously Tuesday night, now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is expected to sign it.

The mitigation plan does avert several controversial proposals from the governor, including cuts to a municipal grant, hospitals and state parks.

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05/31/17 06:19 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Proposed Ordinance Targets Yellow Page Directories

By James Lomuscio

The directories, be they Yellow Book, Yellow Pages or Frontier Yellow Pages, arrive unsolicited annually in driveways. Many residents welcome them, but others in the internet age see them as a bulky, hard copy versions of spam.

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The latter group has prompted a proposed an Unsolicited Bulky Mail Ordinance scheduled to have its first reading at the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) on Tuesday.

Cosponsored by RTM members Jeff Wieser, Liz Milwe and Matthew Mandell, the proposed ordinance says its purpose is “to establish standards for the placement of unsolicited, bulky printed material on private property in order to protect the public health, safety and welfare of residents of Westport and to protect and promote the environmental quality of the town.”

While aimed at business directories, the proposal targets any document of more than 100 pages not delivered through the U.S. Postal Service. That could include free community newspapers, such as the Minuteman if it swelled to 100 pages during the holiday season.

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05/31/17 05:29 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings and Goings: RadioShack Closes

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RadioShack, 877 Post Road East, has closed. According to workers at the site, the nearest Radio Shack is in Wilton at 14 Danbury Road in the Gateway Shopping Center RadioShack’s parent company filed for bankruptcy in March and said in its bankruptcy filing it would close 200 stores and evaluate its options for the remaining 1,300.. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

05/31/17 02:27 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Judge: P&Z Acted Properly Denying 8-30g Project

By James Lomuscio

A Hartford Superior Court judge’s ruling to dismiss an affordable housing lawsuit against the town involving a proposed 48-unit multi-family housing project at the busy intersection of Kings Highway North and Wilton Road brought cheers today from town officials.

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The 1.16-acre parcel at 122 Wilton Road sits at the busy intersection of Kings Highway North and Wilton Road. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Town Attorney Ira Bloom, who successfully argued the town’s case, said it was the first 8-30g decision involving the town in his memory. He said the developer has 20 days to file an appeal.

The suit was filed under the 8-30g state law, which allows developers to override local zoning laws if a municipality does not have 10 percent of its housing stock listed as affordable, which Westport does not.

In dismissing the lawsuit filed more than a year ago by Stamford developer Richard K. Freedman, Judge Marshall Berger said the commission properly reviewed the environmental impact of the proposal by Freedman’s Garden Homes Management Corp.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Westport Company to Build Southport Senior Living Facility

Westport-based Maplewood Senior Living announced today that it has closed on a 27-acre parcel of land in the heart of Southport where it will build a new luxury, three-story, 98-unit assisted living and memory care community.

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Maplewood at Southport will be about a mile from the Westport border. Contributed graphic

Preparation of the site, just over a mile from the Westport-Fairfield border, will begin immediately with the intention to begin construction this summer, an announcement said.

The project, to be known as Maplewood at Southport, includes restoration of wildlife and the Mill Pond dam area, location of a former Ice House. The area overlooks the scenic Mill Pond in the Mill Hill neighborhood adjacent to Mill Hill Elementary School.

The development of a 92,000-square foot senior living community will evoke the tradition of the rambling Adirondack and coastal New England grand resort hotels of the early 20th century, the announcement said.

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05/22/17 06:35 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, May 18, 2017

And Now the Official Ribbon Cutting

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Wednesday was the opening and today was the ribbon cutting at Westport’s newest restaurant, The ‘Port, at 2A Post Road West in the National Hall Building. Joining owner Sal Augeri and wife Melissa (c) were Matthew Mandell (l), executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, and Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe (r) and restaurant staff. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

05/18/17 08:02 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Comings & Goings: The ‘Port Opens at National Hall

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The ‘Port Restaurant opened tonight in space formerly occupied by the Vespa Restaurant, 2A Post Road West in the National Hall Building, offering up a variety of dishes ranging from mini-pretzels ($5) and mac’n cheese ($12) to the ‘Port burger ($15), spaghetti and meatballs ($18), and vegan burrito ($12.) Owner is Sal Augeri (pictured with wife Melissa), a former Wall Street trader, who brought in 30 investors for the venture, which he says has a definite local flavor, is low-key, child-friendly, and a place friends can go for a quick bite. For opening week, it will only be open for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to midnight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

05/17/17 07:21 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings & Goings: Rich Dean Boxing & Fitness Relocates

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Rich Dean Boxing & Fitness has relocated from 10 Bay St. to nearby 230 Post Road East, near Colonial Green.  According to owner Rich Dean (l), the gym offers strength and conditioning classes, weight loss classes, circuit training and even boot camps. Dean said he also conducts private trainings upon request, with all classes fit for women, men, and children. The business opened on Bay Street in September 2015. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

05/17/17 12:52 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Comings and Goings: 2nd Time Around Closes

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Second Time Around, a used, vintage and consignment apparel store at 135 Post Road East, has closed. An employee in a neighboring store said the closing was sudden. An attempt to reach its Greenwich location resulted in a message announcing the number is no longer in service. There was no answer at its North Salem, New York and Huntington, New York locations. The Westport store opened in August 2009. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

05/16/17 06:38 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Changes at One of Westport’s Oldest Medical Practices

There are big changes occurring at one of Westport’s oldest medical practices, Internal Medicine Associates of Westport (IMAW).

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Moving downstairs: (l-r) Drs. David Baum, Jill Denowitz, Nina Karol, and Robert Telster. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Four of the seven IMAW doctors are leaving to form their own concierge medicine practice — David Baum (nine years at IMAW), Jill Denowitz (23 years), Nina Karol (18 years), and Robert Telster (10 years).

Three doctors are remaining at IMAW — Robert Altbaum (the senior doctor at 35 years), Jay Horn (18 years), and Elizabeth Mckinnis (two years). Additional personnel have been hired.

IMAW’s origins go back almost six decades when Paul Beres and Harold Steinberg opened a practice on Main Street. Later it moved to 162 Kings Highway North and two years ago to 333 Post Road West.

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05/16/17 05:29 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Democrats Would Slash Municipal Aid, Allow Casino, Legalize Pot

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

House and Senate Democrats today recommended opening a new casino, legalizing marijuana, and imposing deep cuts to municipal aid and public colleges and universities to balance the next two-year state budget.

And while their plan begins the process of establishing tolls in future years, it strips transportation reserves in the short term while selling 35 acres in Hartford along the elevated Interstate 84 highway to keep the state’s transportation program afloat.

The Democratic plan consolidates several departments, retains but reduces the public financing program for state elections, and closes an unnamed prison, the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and the Southbury Training School.

Like Malloy, who submitted his latest budget proposal on Monday, the Democratic plan also relies on state employee unions to provide concessions worth $1.57 billion over the next two fiscal years combined.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Towns Hit Hard in Malloy’s Latest Budget Revisions

By Keith M. Phaneuf, Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, Kyle Constable, and Jake Kara

www.ctmirror.org

UPDATE Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today recommended more than $700 million in cuts to municipal aid to help compensate for a $1.5 billion projected decline in state income tax receipts over the next two years.

[Under the revised budget proposal, Westport, which in this fiscal year received $1,673,011 in state aid, would owe the state $4,611,597 in the next year, according to the state Office of Fiscal Analysis.]

The adjustments Malloy proposed to the $40.6 billion, two-year budget he first unveiled on Feb. 8 also would add about $80 million in annual tax hikes to the $600 million in new yearly revenue recommended three months ago.

Most of the increase comes from boosting the real estate conveyance tax, though the governor also recommended ending the sales tax exemption on nonprescription drugs and imposing certain restrictions on business tax credits.

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Positive Results From Bond Sale; Aaa Rating Reaffirmed

Town of Westport officials today announced positive results from a $6.9 million bond sale.

The sale, which occurred May 9, yielded competitive interest rates on the strength of solid reviews from Moody’s Investors Service, an announcement said.

“I am very pleased that our bonds were in such a high demand,” said First Selectman Jim Marpe. “These great results will keep our debt service costs, and the burden on the taxpayers, as low as possible.”

The town received a total of eight bids on the bonds with Fidelity Capital Markets submitting the winning bid. Fidelity beat out firms such as Roosevelt & Cross, J.P. Morgan Securities, Janney Montgomery Scott, and FTN Financial Capital Markets, among others, the announcement said.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Soft Opening for Bistro du Soleil

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Friends and family tonight attend a soft opening of the newest addition to the Saugatuck restaurant scene. Bistro du Soleil, located at 615 Riverside Ave. The restaurant, featuring a French-Mediterranean menu with a Latin twist, will open to the public on Thursday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Friday, May 12, 2017

CT Takes Another Credit Rating Hit on Wall Street

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut’s status on Wall Street took another hit today when a major credit rating agency downgraded the state’s bond rating — a move that could lead to higher borrowing costs.

The downgrade by Fitch Ratings Inc., from A+ to AA-, comes about one month after Treasurer Denise L. Nappier warned the General Assembly to adopt a new approach to borrowing or risk slipping further in the credit rating.

It marks the fourth time Connecticut has faced a downgrade since May of last year. Fitch and S&P Global Ratings downgraded the state at that time, while Kroll Bond Rating Agency did so just two months later.

The fourth major rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service, hasn’t downgraded the state in recent years, but has given Connecticut a “negative” outlook, meaning its financed are being closely watched. Such outlooks often are a harbinger of a future downgrade.

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05/12/17 05:05 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Floral Fury as Mother’s Day Nears

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Tina Ahlberg, manager of Westport Florist, 1 Treadwell Ave., said she is very busy today filling flower orders in advance of Mother’s Day. “Since Mother’s Day weekend is our busiest of the year, we asked customer to help us spread out deliveries over Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” she said. “Also, some customers told us they may not want to go out during the forecasted weekend storm and want to pick up flowers before Mother’s Day. We’ve been so busy we may need to stop taking orders at some point this weekend. Meanwhile, we’ve hired extra help to answer phones. The phones have been ringing off the hook.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Comings and Goings: Newbrook Kitchen Opens Next Month

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Newbrook Kitchen and Artisan Market, a paleo cuisine takeout cafe, opens at 37 Saugatuck Ave. (next to Dunville’s) on June 6, according to owner Cindy Hartog (l). Both sous chefs, Hartog and her daughter Danielle, 23, a Staples High School graduate, class of 2012, said the store will offer a wide range of gluten-free and paleo foods including three salads each day and three sandwiches made on paleo house-made bread, specialty gluten-free cookies and vegan ice cream. Hartog noted “You don’t need to follow a paleo diet to enjoy our offerings.” For the past 12 years, Cindy Hartog owned Cindy’s Sous Chef, catering business for kids birthday cooking parties.  The new space was formerly occupied by Collyer Catering, which relocated to Redding. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Houses Passes Bill Regulating Uber and Lyft

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut today acted belatedly to impose standards on Uber and Lyft, the market-disrupting, ride-sharing companies that arrived here three years ago, ignoring a regulatory structure devised for taxicabs — not an app-driven matchmaking service for drivers willing to pick up passengers in their personal cars.

After false starts, intense lobbying and, ultimately, a compromise, the House of Representatives voted 103 to 39 to approve and send to the Senate a bill that defines Uber and Lyft in state law as “transportation network companies” and sets standards for driver background checks, motor vehicle safety and insurance coverage.

If passed by the Senate, Connecticut will be one of the last states to figure out this piece of the new economy.

Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, the co-chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, had a simple introduction to a complex bill: To anyone who feels the new standards are insufficient, they are the first attempt to keep up with a technology and business model not addressed in any current regulatory framework.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Malloy Would Empty Reserve, Cut Local Aid to Close Deficit

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today unveiled a plan that relies on one-time revenue sweeps, withholding $19 million in municipal aid, dozens of small agency cuts, and draining the state’s reserves to close the roughly $390 million gap in current state finances.

The plan, which was prompted by a huge drop in anticipated state income tax receipts in April, effectively concedes Connecticut will close its third successive fiscal year in deficit.

It also means the state probably will enter the upcoming two-year budget on July 1 with little or nothing in its Rainy Day Fund. [Westport’s state aid would be cut by $8,874, according to the Office of Policy and Management.]

The plan “requires actions we would all prefer to avoid,” Malloy wrote in a letter to legislative leaders, the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis and Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo.

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Comings and Goings: RadioShack Closing

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Two months after a RadioShack employee at 877 Post Road East said the store “definitely is not closing,” a sign has gone up outside announcing its closing. An employee said he did not know when the store would close. RadioShack’s parent company filed for bankruptcy in March and said in its bankruptcy filing it would close 200 stores and evaluate its options for the remaining 1,300. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Tesla Promotes Bill Allowing Direct Sales in CT

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State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg tonight addresses a meeting at Dragone Classic Motorcars on Post Road West hosted by Tesla and partners about economic opportunities for Westport and surrounding areas if electric vehicles manufacturers like Tesla were able to invest in the state. The Connecticut General Assembly is currently considering a bill, which would authorize the direct sale of electric vehicles without existing dealership franchise agreements. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

05/08/17 09:42 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

House Speaker: Deficit Too Great to Rule Out Income Tax Hike

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

While insisting they remain very sensitive to the economic risks posed by another state income tax increase, House Speaker Joe Aresimowitz, D-Berlin, said today he would not rule out another hike — including one on wealthy households — given the massive deficits projected for state finances.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz of Berlin also urged other lawmakers and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to focus first on a plan to stabilize state finances over the long term.

“I still refuse to enter the negotiations taking anything off the table,” Aresimowicz said, noting that neither party nor branch of government has offered a plan to date that comes close to solving the budget crisis.

A new forecast released Monday, driven largely by eroding state income tax receipts, warned Connecticut will have nearly $1.5 billion less to spend over the next two fiscal years than originally anticipated.

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Monday, May 01, 2017

CT’s Tax Revenue Plunge Bottoms Out at $1.5B

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut’s latest budget nightmare became reality today.

Analysts for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis downgraded anticipated revenues for the next two fiscal years by $1.46 billion — nearly $600 million next fiscal year and $865 million in 2018-19 — largely because of eroding income tax receipts.

Projected revenues now fall $2.2 billion, or 11.3 percent, short of the funding needed to maintain current services in 2017-18. And with the potential deficit swelling to $2.7 billion, or 13.6 percent, in 2018-19, the biennial shortfall approaches $5 billion.

Further complicating matters, revenues for the current fiscal year are $413 million below anticipated levels. This pushes state finances more than $380 million in the red and threatens to deplete the $236 million in the emergency budget reserve with less than nine weeks remaining before June 30.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Comings & Goings: Saugatuck Grain and Grape Closes

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UPDATE After six and a half years, Saugatuck Grain and Grape wine and spirits at 40-42 Railroad Place, next to the Harvest Restaurant, formerly Mario’s, has closed and will move in a few weeks to a new location at 375 Post Road West. The store opened in October 2010 in space previously occupied by Depot Liquor. A sign out front says it is for lease. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

04/29/17 01:35 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, April 28, 2017

Love for Sneakers Launches Teen’s Lucrative Software Business

By James Lomuscio

For Gary Perelberg, a 17-year-old Staples High School junior, it was a passion for limited edition, designer sneakers that put him on the fast track toward making his first million within in a year.

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Gary Perelberg at work at home. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

“When I was in the eighth grade I became interested in designer sneakers, especially the ones that would sell out quickly,” he said about Air Jordans and other Nike lines. “So, I would go to the website and try to buy them.”

Sometimes he would be lucky enough to snag a coveted pair, such as $140 Air Jordans, and resell it on Ebay for $400.

“I got two other pairs of Air Jordans for the same price, and those sold out in less than five minutes,” Gary said. “I sold those for $900 each.”

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Aux Delices Opens on Church Lane

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Aux Delices French bakery and cafe today opened its second location in Westport at 44 Church Lane, just in time for warmer weather and sunny skies. As part of the opening celebration, it offered complimentary coffee to customers. The new space was formerly occupied by SoNo Baking Company’s Bakery and Cafe, which closed earlier this month. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

04/28/17 11:53 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

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