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Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Another Retailer Quits: Sconset Squares CamerArts is Selling Out

Westport is losing another longtime local retailer CamerArts, a photo and camera store in Sconset Square, is selling out to a Ridgefield retailer who will reopen it as a photo, card and gift shop.

֓The face of retailing has changed dramatically, said owner Stephen A. Schwartz, 58. ԓThe competition is stronger than it ever has been. And that makes it very, very tough.

Schwartz, who ran a learning center for photographers as well as selling cameras, photo supplies, and offering photo finishing, said he has no regrets after 23 years in the square.

ԓIve been in retailing for 35 years and itҒs time, he said. ԓEverybody in Westport has been terrific. But times change.  People are more demanding. Its hard to meet those demands and make a profit. You just max out.Ҕ

Schwartz, who lives in the Compo Beach area with wife Nancy Holson, founder of the political satire group “The News in Revue,”  said while sale of his business has been completed, hes waiting a few days to change the sign.

ғThe Fairfield County Weekly, or Advocate, whatever they call it, is coming out in a few days naming us the best photo shop in the county, he said. ԓIronic, isnt it? So weҒll keep the sign up until then.

Schwartz gained some national notoriety three years ago after Martha Stewart wrote an article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine saying she really didnԒt like Westport and intended to leave.

The CamerArts owner put up a bulletin board in his store and invited Westporters angered at her comments to post messages to her. That was fun,Ӕ he recalled with a chuckle.

Of course Stewart stayed anyway. But now its CamerArts thatҒs leaving.

   

04/30/03 07:18 PM Comments () • Permalink

Another Retailer Quits: Sconset Squares CamerArts is Selling Out

Westport is losing another longtime local retailer CamerArts, a photo and camera store in Sconset Square, is selling out to a Ridgefield retailer who will reopen it as a photo, card and gift shop.

֓The face of retailing has changed dramatically, said owner Stephen A. Schwartz, 58. ԓThe competition is stronger than it ever has been. And that makes it very, very tough.

Schwartz, who ran a learning center for photographers as well as selling cameras, photo supplies, and offering photo finishing, said he has no regrets after 23 years in the square.

ԓIve been in retailing for 35 years and itҒs time, he said. ԓEverybody in Westport has been terrific. But times change. People are more demanding. Its hard to meet those demands and make a profit. You just max out.Ҕ

Schwartz, who lives in the Compo Beach area with wife Nancy Holson, founder of the political satire group “The News in Revue,” said while sale of his business has been completed, hes waiting a few days to change the sign.

ғThe Fairfield County Weekly, or Advocate, whatever they call it, is coming out in a few days naming us the best photo shop in the county, he said. ԓIronic, isnt it? So weҒll keep the sign up until then.

Schwartz gained some national notoriety three years ago after Martha Stewart wrote an article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine saying she really didnԒt like Westport and intended to leave.

The CamerArts owner put up a bulletin board in his store and invited Westporters angered at her comments to post messages to her. That was fun,Ӕ he recalled with a chuckle.

Of course Stewart stayed anyway. But now its CamerArts thatҒs leaving.

States Plan to Open Up

States Plan to Open Up I-95 Breakdown Lanes Draws Critics
Connecticut transportation officials got an earful of criticism at a hearing in Westport to discuss a proposal to relieve I-95 traffic by opening breakdown lanes during rush hours, according to The Hour of Norwalk.

It reported that First Selectwoman Diane Farrell and Assistant Fire Chief Mark Gurrier were among those speaking out at Tuesday nightҒs meeting at Town Hall.

Stepford WivesԔ Remake to be

Stepford WivesԔ Remake to be Shot in Area
Todays Advocate of Stamford reports that Nicole Kidman has been signed to play the lead in a remake of the 1975 movie “The Stepford Wives” and is scheduled to begin filming in the area in July. Some of the original scenes were filmed in Westport.

The report said film scouts have been in New Canaan and Norwalk looking for locales, but the newspaper makes no mention of Westport.

The remake of “The Stepford Wives” has an all-star cast, including John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken and Faith Hill.

Martha Stewart Acknowledges the Obvious: Stock Probe Hurt Earnings

Westporter Martha Stewarts media company says it had a much wider net loss and 15 percent lower revenue for its first quarter and that it was hurt by the government’s insider trading investigation of her.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., which produces magazines, TV programs and merchandise, reported a loss of $4.51 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a loss of $234,000, or break-even on a per share basis, in the year-ago period.

The 2002 first-quarter results include a charge of $3.14 million, or 6 cents a share, related to an accounting rule change.

Its operating loss was $7.5 million, or 9 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected a loss of 6 cents per share. Revenues declined to $58 million from $68 million for the year-ago period.

“Our business results reflect considerable pressure associated with the continuing governmental investigations of my sale of noncompany stock,” Stewart said in a statement.

“In the face of these pressures, the company nonetheless remains focused on creating and producing the original how-to content and quality products that fuel our company and define our brand.”

Prosecutors have been investigating whether Stewart and a Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. broker violated insider-trading laws in the December 2001 sale of ImClone Systems Inc. stock. No charges have been filed against Stewart, and she has denied wrongdoing.

Stewart said the companyҒs recent ideas and products include the new digest-sized Everyday Food magazine and our recently launched Martha Stewart Signature furniture collection, both of which are experiencing early strong consumer response.Ӕ

   

04/30/03 01:23 PM Comments () • Permalink

Martha Stewart Acknowledges the Obvious:

Martha Stewart Acknowledges the Obvious: Stock Probe Hurt Earnings
Westporter Martha Stewarts media company says it had a much wider net loss and 15 percent lower revenue for its first quarter and that it was hurt by the government’s insider trading investigation of her.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., which produces magazines, TV programs and merchandise, reported a loss of $4.51 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a loss of $234,000, or break-even on a per share basis, in the year-ago period.

The 2002 first-quarter results include a charge of $3.14 million, or 6 cents a share, related to an accounting rule change.

Its operating loss was $7.5 million, or 9 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected a loss of 6 cents per share. Revenues declined to $58 million from $68 million for the year-ago period.

“Our business results reflect considerable pressure associated with the continuing governmental investigations of my sale of noncompany stock,” Stewart said in a statement.

“In the face of these pressures, the company nonetheless remains focused on creating and producing the original how-to content and quality products that fuel our company and define our brand.”

Prosecutors have been investigating whether Stewart and a Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. broker violated insider-trading laws in the December 2001 sale of ImClone Systems Inc. stock. No charges have been filed against Stewart, and she has denied wrongdoing.

Stewart said the companyҒs recent ideas and products include the new digest-sized Everyday Food magazine and our recently launched Martha Stewart Signature furniture collection, both of which are experiencing early strong consumer response.Ӕ

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Westports Kidwear Closing Its Doors

Another longtime locally-owned Westport retailer is closing its doors Kidwear at 1045 Post Road East near Colonial Road. The two sisters who founded the children֒s clothing and accessory store 16 years ago say its time to move on.

ғIts a combination of everything,Ҕ said Westporter Lynne Rozsa, who along with her younger sister Nancy Symington of Bridgeport, opened the store in 1987. ItӒs hard fighting the (poor) economy and retail is so consuming.

The storeԒs Web site says the two sisters decided to open Kidwear because they wanted to create a fun, easy one-stop shopping experience for moms or anyone shopping for children.Ӕ

Now, in a mailing to Westporters, they announced they are launching a quitting business saleӔ beginning Thursday. Everything will be sold, their letter said, including clothing, shoes, accessories, toys, and even store fixtures and equipment.

At the end of the sale, they plan to award customers more than $2,000 in prizes.

Rozsa said she looked forward to quieter times. It’s been hard, she said, having three kids go through the Westport schools while helping Westporters and customers throughout the country via their Web site or phone.ItӒs time to get out, she said.

   

04/29/03 07:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westports Kidwear Closing Its Doors

Another longtime locally-owned Westport retailer is closing its doors Kidwear at 1045 Post Road East near Colonial Road. The two sisters who founded the children֒s clothing and accessory store 16 years ago say its time to move on.

ғIts a combination of everything,Ҕ said Westporter Lynne Rozsa, who along with her younger sister Nancy Symington of Bridgeport, opened the store in 1987. ItӒs hard fighting the (poor) economy and retail is so consuming.

The storeԒs Web site says the two sisters decided to open Kidwear because they wanted to create a fun, easy one-stop shopping experience for moms or anyone shopping for children.Ӕ

Now, in a mailing to Westporters, they announced they are launching a quitting business saleӔ beginning Thursday. Everything will be sold, their letter said, including clothing, shoes, accessories, toys, and even store fixtures and equipment.

At the end of the sale, they plan to award customers more than $2,000 in prizes.

Rozsa said she looked forward to quieter times. It’s been hard, she said, having three kids go through the Westport schools while helping Westporters and customers throughout the country via their Web site or phone.ItӒs time to get out, she said.

Elaine Steinbeck: the Westport Connection

Todays New York Times obit of Elaine Anderson Steinbeck, one of the first women to become a Broadway stage manager and who in later years kept bright the artistic torch of her late husband John Steinbeck, notes her Westport connection.

Steinbeck, who died on Sunday in Manhattan at the age 88, lived in Manhattan and Sag Harbor, N.Y.

She was active in the theater before her marriage to the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author in 1950 and remained so after his death in 1968, the newspaper said.

The Times said she studied drama at the University of Texas, where she met her first husband, Zachary Scott, the actor, when both were involved in theater there. They were married in 1934 and several years later came east.

Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne had recommended the couple to Lawrence Langner of the Theater Guild (which the Times misspells as “Langer.”) The result was a summer job at the Westport Country Playhouse, which Langner, a Weston resident, founded in 1931 with his wife, Armina Marshall.

One of the plays the Langners produced in Westport was “Green Grow the Lilacs,” which later became in its musical incarnation “Oklahoma!”

The Times reported she was the stage manager of the Theater Guild’s production of “Oklahoma!,” becoming one of the first women to achieve that position on Broadway. It opened in 1943 and ran five years. (Playbill.com reported she was “a replacement assistant stage manager.” )

Another Westport connection—Westporter Max Wilk’s 1993 book (reissued in 2002) “Ok!: The Story of Oklahoma!,” documents the Guild’s undertaking of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical from conception to SRO box-office success and mentions Steinbeck’s role.

Wilk told WestportNow she worked as assistant stage manager at the age of 26 when “Green Grow the Lilacs” had its Westport revival in 1940 and then took the same job when it became “Oklahoma!” three years later on Broadway.

Soon after, she became one of the first women to take a show on the road, organizing and supervising the national tour of “Othello” with Paul Robeson, according to the Times.

Westports Playtex Reports 29 Percent Profit Drop

One of Westports highҖprofile corporate residents, Playtex Products Inc., says its first-quarter earnings fell 29 percent.

The company, with its corporate headquarters in the Nyala Farms office complex just off I-95, warned of lower 2003 earnings as it steps up promotions to stave off strong competition in the tampon market.

The maker of Playtex tampons, Mr. Bubble bath soap and other consumer products said first-quarter net income fell to $11.4 million, or 19 cents a share from $16.1 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago.

While most Westporters may not know it, their hometown is also home to other Playtex products such as Wet Ones, Baby Magic, Diaper Genie, Banana Boat, Woolite rug and upholstery cleaning products, Playtex gloves, Binaca and Ogilvie.

Finally, in the interests of further educating WestportNow readers about some things they may not know, Westports Playtex doesnҒt mean Playtex bras.

The explanation—in 1986, Playtex Holdings was comprised of two companies: Playtex Family Products Corp. (tampons, infant feeding and household products) and Playtex Apparel, Inc. (bras, girdles, hosiery and other apparel).

In 1991, the publicly traded Sara Lee Co. purchased Playtex Apparel and acquired a 25 percent interest in Playtex Family Products (which it later sold back). Playtex Family Products eventually became Playtex Products, Inc.

Update: Playtex shares closed down 15 percent, or $1.33, at $7.45 today on the New York Stock Exchange. It was the largest percentage loser on the exchange.

   

04/29/03 10:41 AM Comments () • Permalink

Westports Playtex Reports 29 Percent

Westports Playtex Reports 29 Percent Profit Drop
One of WestportҒs highprofile corporate residents, Playtex Products Inc., says its first-quarter earnings fell 29 percent.

The company, with its corporate headquarters in the Nyala Farms office complex just off I-95, warned of lower 2003 earnings as it steps up promotions to stave off strong competition in the tampon market.

The maker of Playtex tampons, Mr. Bubble bath soap and other consumer products said first-quarter net income fell to $11.4 million, or 19 cents a share from $16.1 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago.

While most Westporters may not know it, their hometown is also home to other Playtex products such as Wet Ones, Baby Magic, Diaper Genie, Banana Boat, Woolite rug and upholstery cleaning products, Playtex gloves, Binaca and Ogilvie.

Finally, in the interests of further educating WestportNow readers about some things they may not know, Westport֒s Playtex doesnt mean Playtex bras.

The explanation—in 1986, Playtex Holdings was comprised of two companies: Playtex Family Products Corp. (tampons, infant feeding and household products) and Playtex Apparel, Inc. (bras, girdles, hosiery and other apparel).

In 1991, the publicly traded Sara Lee Co. purchased Playtex Apparel and acquired a 25 percent interest in Playtex Family Products (which it later sold back). Playtex Family Products eventually became Playtex Products, Inc.

Update:
Playtex shares closed down 15 percent, or $1.33, at $7.45 today on the New York Stock Exchange. It was the largest percentage loser on the exchange.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Westports Eddie Bauer Store to Close

Westports Eddie Bauer store, a fixture for many years at the intersection of Post Road East and Taylor Place in the heart of the town center, is closing.

The Spiegel Group Inc. said the store—which it actually counts as two as it has apparel as well as home items—is one of its 60 underperforming Eddie Bauer stores it plans to close as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

The Downers Grove, Ill.-based catalog retailer said the closings affect 51 apparel stores, eight home stores and one outlet store in 25 states plus the District of Columbia. It said it may close more of its 529 Eddie Bauer stores in the future.

Eddie Bauer operates outdoor-themed stores in the United States and Canada. Spiegel said the closures should improve the chain’s financial results in fiscal 2003 and beyond. It said the stores will remain open pending the bankruptcy court’s approval of the store-closing plan.

Spiegel did not say how many jobs will be lost. The company, founded in 1865, filed for protection from creditors in March.

THe 16,400-square foot building at 40-44 Post Road East was sold in 2002 by Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust to a Greenwich-based real estate investment group for $7.5 million. It had purchased the building in 1994 for $4.2 million.

Longtime Westporters will remember the Eddie Bauer location as housing the old Ship’s Lantern Restaurant as well as Colgan’s Pharmacy. The Ship’s name is retained by the Ship’s Corner Chinese takeout which occupies the rear portion of the building facing on Jesup Road.

   

04/28/03 10:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westports Eddie Bauer Store to

Westports Eddie Bauer store, a fixture for many years at the intersection of Post Road East and Taylor Place in the heart of the town center, is closing.

The Spiegel Group Inc. said the store—which it actually counts as two as it has apparel as well as home items—is one of its 60 underperforming Eddie Bauer stores it plans to close as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

The Downers Grove, Ill.-based catalog retailer said the closings affect 51 apparel stores, eight home stores and one outlet store in 25 states plus the District of Columbia. It said it may close more of its 529 Eddie Bauer stores in the future.

Eddie Bauer operates outdoor-themed stores in the United States and Canada. Spiegel said the closures should improve the chain’s financial results in fiscal 2003 and beyond. It said the stores will remain open pending the bankruptcy court’s approval of the store-closing plan.

Spiegel did not say how many jobs will be lost. The company, founded in 1865, filed for protection from creditors in March.

THe 16,400-square foot building at 40-44 Post Road East was sold in 2002 by Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust to a Greenwich-based real estate investment group for $7.5 million. It had purchased the building in 1994 for $4.2 million.

Longtime Westporters will remember the Eddie Bauer location as housing the old Ship’s Lantern Restaurant as well as Colgan’s Pharmacy. The Ship’s name is retained by the Ship’s Corner Chinese takeout which occupies the rear portion of the building facing on Jesup Road.

Fire Officials Identify Woman Found Dead in House Fire

Fire officials today identified the victim of a house fire Sunday as Betty Strong, 75.

Strong was found on the second floor of the home at 187 Compo Road South, near the intersection of Greens Farms Road.

Flames heavily damaged the first and second floors of the two-story home before firefighters got it under control at about 12:30 p.m.

Fire officials gave no official cause of the blaze, but there was speculation it may have been caused by smoking. One source said Strong’s body was found in a bathroom where she may have sought refuge from the flames.

Firefighters responded to the house today to extinguish a small fire which rekindled in some furniture left charred on the front lawn.

It was the second death in a Westport house fire in less than two weeks. A 52-year-old man was found dead in a house fire April 14 at 2 Moss Ledge Road. Police said the victim died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

On the Line: Westport Attorney Battles for Two-Town Client

Attorney Alan Neigher lives in Fairfield but works in Westport. But not by much. A good golfer standing outside his office near the Super Stop and Shop on Post Road East could probably hit a ball across the town line into Fairfield.

What does that have to do with anything? Maybe nothing. But it is interesting to note as Neigher does battle for a client who lives mostly in Stamford but is trying to convince Greenwich he ought to be considered a resident there, at least for voting purposes.

Todays Greenwich Time highlights the legal dispute and quotes from a legal brief filed by Neigher in which he argues that “no law requires that a party living on property bisected by town boundaries must vote where (he) or she pays the greater amount of real estate taxes, or where their bedroom is located.Ҕ

For political trivia buffs, it is also interesting to note that Neigher, better known for his legal briefs on behalf of his media and entertainment clients, is opposed by the First Selectman of Easton on the issue.

The Town of Greenwich hired Bridgeport attorney William Kupinse Jr., who also wears the hat of Eastons top elected official, to represent its two registrars of voters in the dispute.

For longtime area media buffs, there is another interesting note: Alan Neigher is the son of the late Harry Neigher, a well-known columnist and cartoonist for the old Bridgeport Herald, (later the Bridgeport Sunday Herald), and probably knows a thing or two about publicity for his cases when he wants it.

Perhaps that, along with his other media connections, has something to do with how NeigherҒs Greenwich-Stamford border case ended up on the front page of The New York Times metropolitan section April 10 under the headline: Is It Greenwich Or Stamford? Lay Your Head On Either Side.”

Update: A special arbitration panel ruled May 16 that Neigher’s client was improperly removed from the Greenwich voter list, but the panel’s decision did not address what determines residency, which could leave room for him to be removed again.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Showtime to Air Westport Country Playhouse’s “Our Town” May 24

If you missed it in Westport and on Broadway, you can now see the Westport Country Playhouse production of Our TownӔ starring Paul Newman on cable. It will be broadcast on Saturday, May 24 at 8 p.m.

The Showtime and PBS ExxonMobil Masterpiece TheatreӔ presentation is directed by James Naughton, who also directed the stage presentation. The production is Newmans first appearance on Broadway in 38 years.

ғOur Town was produced by the Playhouse from June 5-22, 2002, before beginning a sold-out limited engagement on Dec. 4, 2002, at the Booth Theater on Broadway. Joanne Woodward is the artistic director of the Playhouse.

Showtime Networks’ production of ԓOur Town was shot over five days with four cameras in the Booth Theater. Following its May premiere on Showtime, ԓOur Town will air this fall on PBS.

   

04/25/03 11:10 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Norwalk Hospital Officials Offer Differing Reports About Suspected SARs Cases

Almost two weeks after WestportNow first reported that the states first suspected SARS case involved a Westport resident, the head of the infectious disease department at Norwalk Hospital said the hospitalҒs emergency room treated two such patients.

But a colleague at the hospital later offered a conflicting report. (See below.)

Other than reporting the hospitals involvement with the patients, Dr. Ernest Atlas gave few details about the cases in an interview aired on CablevisionҒs News-12. He said both patients had a dry cough, an elevated fever, a headache, and were “aching all over.”

The states Department of Health has reported six cases in the state related to the severe acute respiratory illness Җ five listed as suspected and one as probable. It said two were in separate towns in Fairfield County but did not identify the communities.

The department said none has any relationship to the others and all are recovering and doing well.

On March 28, WestportNow reported that area medical officials had received word that a southwest Connecticut resident was a suspected SARS case and were asked to be especially vigilant about other suspected cases.

The patient had recently traveled to an Asian country where the illness had been reported.

On April 12, WestportNow reported it had subsequently confirmed that at least one of the suspected Fairfield County patients was a Westport resident who travels abroad frequently for business and has fully recovered.

Health officials have stressed that local residents should not be alarmed since the cases are suspected and not confirmed.

Update
: The head of Norwalk Hospitals emergency department, Dr. Michael Carius, speaking in a News-12 interview Friday (April 25), offered an account that conflicted with what his colleague, Dr. Atlas, said Thursday, according to the station.

It reported that Dr. Carius told them he did not have the information that Dr. Atlas had, and that as far as he knew, there had not been any suspected cases of SARS treated at Norwalk Hospital.

Additionally, News-12 reported that he said the hospital had made no notification about any suspected cases to the state Department of Health. The implication seemed to be that the two Fairfield County cases cited by the state were not the ones referred to by Dr. Atlas.

There was no explanation for the discrepancy in what the two hospital officials reported. But medical sources said it likely was due to the changing definitions, acknowledged by experts, of how to classify suspected SARS cases.

   

04/24/03 08:33 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Soldier Injured in Iraq

Westport Soldier Injured in Iraq Returning to Home Base
Theres a sigh of relief around the home of Westporters Barbara and Joe Bilotta on Stoneboat Road. Their 24-year-old son Nicholas, with the ArmyҒs 101st Airborne, is returning to U.S. soil after being injured last week in a mine-clearing operation in Iraq.

According to todays Connecticut Post, Bilotta is due back this weekend at Fort Campbell, Ky., to recover from injuries suffered April 16 while clearing a building of mines south of Baghdad. Two Iraqis leading the platoon died in the incident.

The newspaper reported that the phone and doorbell have not stopped ringing at the Bilotta home since news of Nicholas BilottaҒs injuries spread. The soldier, a 2nd lieutenant, was airlifted first to Kuwait and then Germany for treatment.

The report said the parents have also received support from their sons former high school, Fairfield College Preparatory School, where he was captain of the lacrosse, basketball, and football teams.

Bilotta graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point last June.

Westports State Rep on Losing

Westports State Rep on Losing Side on Gaming Bill
WestportҒs State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard was on the losing side in a House of Representatives vote that would reinstate some of the gaming outlawed when the state in January repealed the so-called “Las Vegas Nights” law. It passed 123-21.

The bill would reinstate to schools and not-for-profit organizations the rights to conduct certain games of chance where there is no betting of money and no monetary prizes.

The games are popular at many school functions, particularly non-alcohol, after-prom parties. Instead of money, prizes are usually awarded for tickets earned.

According to a report in today’s The Advocate of Stamford, Bernhard said, “Let’s not lose sight that we didn’t want the state to become the casino capital of the world.

“This amendment and the bill would repeal the obstacle we thought would be in place. I understand the Boy Scouts and others are losing money and my heart goes out to them. But we don’t want this to become a gambling mecca.”

According to the newspaper, the Westport Republican said that when the state repealed Las Vegas Night legislation, officials determined that only $275,000 in fund raising by not-for-profit groups would be affected out of about $17 million they raise annually.

Supporters of the amendment said they had participated in school gaming nights in the past and believed they were an important part of maintaining alcohol- and tragedy-free senior prom nights in many communities.

But opponents said they were concerned that allowing even limited, nonmonetary games of chance would open up the state to future legal challenges.

Farrell Invites Valley Towns to

Farrell Invites Valley Towns to Join Anti-Recognition Coalition
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, who is getting attention outside the area with her Bridgeport economic initiative, has raised her state-wide profile a little higher.

Now shes invited Valley towns to join the Fairfield County Coalition battling any future Indian land claims.

TodayҒs New Haven Register reported that Farrell sent a letter to officials in Derby, Milford, Stratford, Monroe and Shelton, inviting them to participate in the effort.

According to her letter, the coalition was formed last year by Fairfield County officials “in order to pool resources to challenge the Golden Hill Paugaussett and Schaghticoke applications for tribal recognition.”

Both tribes were denied recognition by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs within about a month of each other in December 2002 and this January. But they are still interested in federal recognition, which opens the door to development of casinos.

In her letter, Farrell said the five towns could be targets of land claims, the newspaper reported. “The issue of Golden Hill Paugaussett tribal recognition is especially pertinent,” Farrell wrote.

The Register quoted Westport Town Attorney Ira Bloom as saying Westport is worried more about tribal recognition than land claims. He said the possibility of a casino in Bridgeport, which had been proposed by the Paugussetts, would drastically increase traffic in Westport.

“Weve had an ongoing concern about the impact of a casino in Bridgeport on the traffic in the area,” said Bloom. “ThatҒs been our most immediate concern but there remains a concern as to whether land claims will be asserted.”

Martha Stewart Licking: Westporters New Pet Project

The man who put chinchillas and canaries in Martha Stewart’s Westport home—where she also keeps seven Himalayan cats—is the new star of Stewarts media empire.

Long IslandҒs Newsday newspaper reported today that Stewart, who built a multimillion-dollar business from her homemaking tips, is branching out into pet care.

Stewarts company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., will launch a new television show, Web site, magazine column and merchandise based on the ideas of Long Island pet-shop owner Marc Morrone of Parrots of the World in Rockville Centre,

It is the first major venture by StewartҒs company to focus on the personality and talents of someone other than its founder.

The Manhattan-based company is taking over production of Morrone’s nationally syndicated TV show, renaming it “Petkeeping with Marc Morrone.” The new, half-hour program is set to debut in September on more than 130 stations nationwide, many affiliated with Fox television.

Stewart told reporters that she first met Morrone in 1998 after she came across his TV show late one night on Cablevision’s Metro Channel. He soon became a frequent guest on her TV program and introduced chinchillas and canaries to her Turkey Hill Road South home.

   

04/24/03 11:28 AM Comments () • Permalink

Martha Stewart Licking: Westporters New

Martha Stewart Licking: Westporters New Pet Project
The man who put chinchillas and canaries in Martha Stewart’s Westport home—where she also keeps seven Himalayan cats—is the new star of StewartҒs media empire.

Long Islands Newsday newspaper reported today that Stewart, who built a multimillion-dollar business from her homemaking tips, is branching out into pet care.

StewartҒs company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., will launch a new television show, Web site, magazine column and merchandise based on the ideas of Long Island pet-shop owner Marc Morrone of Parrots of the World in Rockville Centre,

It is the first major venture by Stewarts company to focus on the personality and talents of someone other than its founder.

The Manhattan-based company is taking over production of Morrone’s nationally syndicated TV show, renaming it “Petkeeping with Marc Morrone.” The new, half-hour program is set to debut in September on more than 130 stations nationwide, many affiliated with Fox television.

Stewart told reporters that she first met Morrone in 1998 after she came across his TV show late one night on Cablevision’s Metro Channel. He soon became a frequent guest on her TV program and introduced chinchillas and canaries to her Turkey Hill Road South home.

If You Leave Voice Mail

If You Leave Voice Mail for Diane, it May Not Have to be Made Public
If youve held off leaving a voice mail message for First Selectwoman Diane Farrell because you feared it might become public, your concerns may almost be over.

The AP reports that the State Senate today passed a bill that would exempt public officials from having to transcribe voice mail messages to comply with public information laws.

In 2002, the state Freedom of Information Commission ruled that voice mail communications relating to the conduct public business are public information and must be retained.

But lawmakers said it would be too burdensome for public officials to transcribe voice mail messages.

Sen. Robert Genuario, R-Norwalk, said he doesn’t believe constituents think they are becoming part of the public record when they call a legislator or first selectman about an issue, according to the AP.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for further action. If the governor signs the bill into law, the change would take effect on Oct. 1.

Providence Journal: I-95 in Fairfield

Providence Journal: I-95 in Fairfield County is Highway from HellӔ
Todays Providence Journal minces no words about the 50-mile stretch of I-95 between Greenwich and New Haven. It calls it ғa highway from hell that is ԓan abyss of congestion and structural decay.

And, in an editorial headlined ԓRibbon of Hell, it says former Gov. John Davis Lodge of Westport, who pushed for the highway over the objections of Westporters and others, shares some of the blame.

The newspaper noted that when the highway was conceived in the 1950s as the “Ribbon of Hope,” Route 95 west of New Haven was designed to accommodate 90,000 vehicles a day but today bears more than three times that.

ԓToday, the highway is a pitted wreck of lanes narrowed for construction, the Journal said. ԓThe devil himself could not have better designed the faded lane lines near Bridgeport that direct unwitting drivers right into Jersey barriers.

The newspaper said, ԓThe road’s entire history is touched with a kind of gothic horror. Its official name is the Governor John Davis Lodge Turnpike. Governor Lodge had pushed the project in the ‘50s, over the objections of his rich neighbors in Westport and nearby.

The suburbanites were so incensed at a giant new highway cutting within a mile of their coast that they helped defeat Mr. Lodge in his 1954 bid for re-election. (The loss reportedly contributed to a nervous breakdown.)Ӕ

The newspaper, after citing additional woes about the highway, including the fact that it has 54 exits serving 50 miles of road, said Connecticut officials have no choice but to confront the congestion with energy and new thinking.Ӕ

It added: Paralysis on the interstate now threatens the economy of southwestern Connecticut.Ӕ

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Update: NBC Movie Martha Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart,” to Air May 19

NBC has set Monday, May 19, for the premiere of its made-for-television movie about Martha Stewart starring Cybill Shepherd.

Called, “Martha Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart, the film is based on a book by Weston author and New York Post business columnist Christopher Byron. (See WestportNow story on March 15.)

TodayԒs New York Post reported that the movie portrays one of Westport’s most famous residents in an unflattering way - as a difficult perfectionist whose compulsion to succeed drove off her husband and may have led her into the insider-trading scandal in which she is currently embroiled.

It said to promote the movie, the network’s cheeky publicists this week mailed a nutcracker and two walnuts to TV critics - along with a videotape.

ӓThe utensil and pair of nuts are meant as an unmistakable metaphor for Martha - a symbol introduced late in the TV movie, just after she wrests control of her magazine from the male potentates of Time Warner.

   

04/23/03 06:59 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Police Aid in Baby

Westport Police Aid in Baby Seal Rescue
Animal rescue calls are not that unusual for Westport police. But the one that came in Tuesday was a bit out of the ordinary a ֓seal in distress call at Old Mill Beach.

The arriving officer radioed headquarters that he had found what appeared to be a baby seal on the beach, and that the seal was ԓalert and conscious, a term usually used to describe humans in need of help.

The officer added that he wasnԒt quite sure what action to take next.

After some consultation at headquarters, police decided to check with the Mystic Aquarium and the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. The seal was removed to the Norwalk facility for later transfer to Mystic.

The episode was so unusual that the Bridgeport-based Connecticut Post, a daily which no longer covers routine news in Westport, leaving it to its co-owned semi-weekly Westport News, ran a brief item about the rescue.

Update: The Hour reported that the seal was transferred Wednesday to the Mystic Aquarium where it may have to undergo surgery.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Five Westporters Complete Boston Marathon

Five Westport runners completed Mondays Boston Marathon, the 107th running of America’s oldest and most celebrated road race.

The overall winners, both by wide margins, were Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, 24, of Kenya, among the men, and Svetlana Zakharova, 32, of Russia. among the women.

Cheruiyot finished in 2 hours 10 minutes 11 seconds, the slowest winning time in the Boston race since 1997. Zakharova won in 2:25:20, a routine time for runners of her caliber.

The Westport runners, with their overall finish and finish time as reported by the AP, were:

3582; Joan D. Nevin, 3:29:31. She is 36 and lives at 15 Old Hill Farms Road.

4880; Nicholas Leone, 3:38:07. He is 37 and lives at 20 Woody Lane.

13707; Michael G. Nicklas, 4:38:57. He is 41 and lives at 34 Otter Trail.

14124; Mark R. Peterson, 4:44:14. He is 43 and lives at 4 Crystal Circle.

14809; Claire S. Nicklas, 4:53:50. She is 40 and lives at 34 Otter Trail.

The course covered 26 miles 385 yards from suburban Hopkinton to the Back Bay section of Boston.

   

04/22/03 12:37 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, April 21, 2003

Army Corps of Engineers to

Army Corps of Engineers to Set Hearing on Controversial Oyster Plan
The Army Corps of Engineers, responding to hundreds of complaints, will hold a hearing in June on a controversial plan to harvest oysters from Long Island Sound off of Westport using cages suspended above the bottom.

Recreational boaters say the plan, if approved, will severely impact the ability to hold sailboat races in waters off of Westport as well as pose possible safety concerns.

Cori Rose, a senior project manager for the Corps in Concord, Mass., told WestportNow that the hearing has been scheduled in response to about 500 comments received about the plan, most of them in opposition.

She said no exact date or location has been set for the meeting, but it will be held sometime in June somewhere between Westport and Milford.

The aquaculture company seeking the oyster farming permits has also applied for permission to work waters off of Milford.

Westporters concerned about the plan will meet Tuesday evening at Town Hall under the auspices of the Boating Advisory Committee.

Rose said the public comment period on the application by Mariculture Unlimited LLC, owned by Westport obstetrician John Garofalo, which had been set to expire April 17, has been extended.

She said the public hearing date and place will likely be set in early May as it must be noticed at least 30 days in advance.

When is a Colonial not

When is a Colonial not a Colonial? Ask Matthew Schoenherr
Westport architect Matthew Schoenherr knows a few things about Colonials.

Among them—how to transform a Colonial from being a stiff, boring house utterly unsuited to modern life to an elegant, understated house that respects history but has all the requirements for modern family life.

At least that’s according to today’s Detroit Free Press which published an upbeat review of Schoenherr’s new book, Updating Classic America: ColonialsӔ (Taunton, $29.95).

It said the book by the principal in Z:Architecture on Jesup Road was engaging and illuminating.Ӕ

The newspaper quoted Schoenherr as saying that despite the tendency of real estate agents to call every two-story house a Colonial, they really are not.

And as for houses known as a “builder’s Colonial,” the Free Press said Schoenherr was diplomatic in his comments, although many other architects are not. “The proportions are just wrong,” he said.

Connollys Out, The Vine Mediterranean Grill & Pizza In

Another familiar Westport restaurant is gone, soon to be replaced by an upscale pizza place.

Connollys Restaurant and Taproom, a longtime fixture on Post Road West on the corner of Sylvan Road South, closed down suddenly earlier this month.

The restaurant, once known as Connolly’s The Seafood Steak House, was marked by its distinctive green and white striped awning.

A sign on the window tells visitors soon opening in its place will be The Vine Mediterranean Grill & Pizza.

ғWe will be closed April 14-29 for minor renovations, the sign says. ԓOnce again we thank you for your faithful years of patronage at Connollys Taproom and we look forward to seeing you at our new establishment.Ҕ

The sign said the new restaurant would offer a weekend breakfast buffet, a Sunday brunch, an all-you-can-eat selection plus free online home and business delivery services.Ӕ The sign gave an Internet address which is not operational.

A workman who answered the phone at the former Connollys said The Vine would be under new ownership.

   

04/21/03 01:20 PM Comments () • Permalink

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