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Saturday, May 31, 2003

Has Rowland Signed Bill Naming

Has Rowland Signed Bill Naming Post Road Bridge for Ruth Steinkraus Cohen?
Has Gov. John G. Rowland signed a bill naming the Post Road Bridge over the Saugatuck River for longtime Westporter Ruth Steinkraus Cohen?

The state legislative Web site Friday showed the measure, part of an overall transportation bill, has been designated Public Act 03-115.

But a summary of legislation on the Web site today showed the measure (HB-6404) has yet to be signed. In fact, it shows Rowland has not signed any bill since May 23.

The bill passed the House on May 15 and the Senate on May 22—the latter passage came despite an effort by Westport’s Sen. Judith G. Freedman to block the legislation.

She said the bill had not had a fair hearing in Westport and that people were not aware that a naming process was underway. The legislator said there were other names that could have been considered

The bill was introduced by fellow Westport Republican Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard and gained endorsement from the Westport Board of Selectmen by a 2-1 vote and the Representative Town Meeting by a 26-5 vote.

The act states: “(Effective from passage) The bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport shall be designated as the ‘Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge.’”

Streinkraus Cohen, an avid supporter of the United Nations and the arts, died May 26, 2002, after a long battle with cancer. She had been a Westport resident for more than 45 years.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Sen. Judy Freedman Fails to Block Mascot Bill

Last week she failed to block a bill naming the Post Road Bridge after Ruth Steinkraus Cohen. This week Westports Sen. Judith G. Freedman failed in her attempt to block another bill—about the state mascot.

According to the AP, the state Senate on Thursday approved by a 28-8 vote legislation that would make the University of Connecticut husky dog Connecticut’s official mascot. The bill goes to the House for further action.

Sen. Joseph Crisco Jr., D-Woodbridge, said because UConn is the state’s flagship university and has brought the state much acclaim, the school’s mascot should be the state’s mascot, the AP said.

But Freedman, a Republican, questioned why other Connecticut school mascots were not considered for the honor, according to the report which quoted her as saying: “We should table it for future reference so we can have a contest in the state.Ҕ

The bill passed overwhelmingly, the AP said.

Update (6/6/03)
: The House failed to take up the bill in the closing session rush and it died.

Eddie Bauer: The End is Near

The sale signs have gone up in Westports Eddie Bauer store indicating the end is near.

As first reported here April 28, the 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 as part of parent company The Spiegel Group Inc.Ғs Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

At the time of the announcement, the timing of the actual closure was in doubt as the company needed approval of its shutdown plan from the bankruptcy court.

The court has now approved the plan and the closeout specialist handling the sale has put up the 30 percent off signs in the windows. One employee said the store will remain open until all the merchandise is gone.

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 going out of business immediately.

It said it may close more of its 529 Eddie Bauer stores in the future.

A real estate source said the 16,400-square foot building at 40-44 Post Road East owned by a Greenwich-based real estate investment trust should rent quickly, if a new lease has not already been signed.


05/30/03 04:18 AM Comments () • Permalink

Eddie Bauer: The End is Near

The sale signs have gone up in Westports Eddie Bauer store indicating the end is near.

As first reported here April 28, the 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 as part of parent company The Spiegel Group Inc.Ғs Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

At the time of the announcement, the timing of the actual closure was in doubt as the company needed approval of its shutdown plan from the bankruptcy court.

The court has now approved the plan and the closeout specialist handling the sale has put up the 30 percent off signs in the windows. One employee said the store will remain open until all the merchandise is gone.

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 going out of business immediately.

It said it may close more of its 529 Eddie Bauer stores in the future.

A real estate source said the 16,400-square foot building at 40-44 Post Road East owned by a Greenwich-based real estate investment trust should rent quickly, if a new lease has not already been signed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Footnote: Westport News Avoids Mention

Footnote: Westport News Avoids Mention of Freedman Opposition to Bridge Bill
Todays Westport News has a small front-page story (that continues inside) on last weekҒs state Senate passage of a bill naming the Post Road Bridge in honor of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen.

But the newspaper curiously makes no mention that Westport Sen. Judith G. Freedman unsuccessfully attempted to block it (See WestportNow May 22, 2003).

It quotes the sponsor of the bill, state Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, a fellow Republican, as saying, The process which resulted in the overwhelming support of WestportӒs legislative body for legislation I submitted, was fair, open and thorough.

The only reference to opposition to the bill in the story is in a paragraph saying that Bernhard was confident that the governor would sign the legislation ԓdespite some opposition including local residents who don֒t like the United Nations, a cause Cohen fervently supported during her lifetime.

During Senate debate on her attempt to eliminate the Westport section of the overall transportation bill, Freedman said she had a problem with the “process that took place in the town of Westport” in naming the bridge, a process she called “just not fair.”

The Hour of Norwalk, the only daily newspaper which regularly covers Westport, has made no mention of Senate passage of the bill, including Freedman’s opposition.

Update: Westport Minuteman, Westport’s other local newspaper, in its May 29, 2003, edition—the first since passage of the bill on May 22—made no mention of the legislation.

But Fairfield County Weekly in its May 29 edition did cover the issue, mentioning Freedman’s failed attempt to block the naming. It also noted that Bernhard’s law firm, Cohen and Wolf, was founded by Steinkraus Cohen’s late husband.

Additionally, it criticized the Moderator of the Representative Town Meeting—the editor of this publication—for not permitting extensive debate about the United Nations at the April 1 RTM meeting that endorsed the naming proposal 26-5.

The Hour of Norwalk in its May 30, 2003 edition—eight days after the Senate action—carried a full story on the matter, including the Freedman opposition and updated quotes from all those involved.

A letter to the Westport News on June 6, 2003, refuted an accusation that the April 1 RTM debate did not permit discussion of Steinkraus Cohen’s work with the United Nations.

Priest Picked Up by Police in 1968 Sex Abuse Case Quits

A Roman Catholic priest picked up by Westport police in 1968 for allegedly molesting a boy in his car has agreed to leave the priesthood, according to today’s Connecticut Post.

The newspaper said Martin J. Federici, suspended in 1996 after lawsuits naming him were filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, was in clerical terminology “voluntarily laicized,” according to a diocese spokesman.

The newspaper said Federici was accused of sexually molesting boys in the 1970s, ‘80s and early ‘90s.

According to a Bridgeport law firm involved in legal actions against accused priests, he is one of seven priests who have served in Westport churches from 1964 to 1990 who have been sued, suspended following allegations of sexual abuse of minors, or have claims against them.

More "Priest Picked Up by Police in 1968 Sex Abuse Case Quits"


05/28/03 02:59 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, May 26, 2003

Sloan Wilson, Author of Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” Dies Image
“Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” movie poster. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Sloan Wilson, the Norwalk-born author of the 1955 bestseller “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,” which was set in Westport and later became a hit film starring Gregory Peck and was partially filmed in Westport, died Sunday after a long illness. He had turned 83 on May 8.

He died in Colonial Beach, Va., and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, according to The Free-Lance Star in Fredericksburg, Va.

Wilson wrote “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” while working at Time-Life Inc. and was based on his experience with corporate culture at the publishing firm.

The novel portrays young executive Tom Rath’s struggles with his conscience as he tries to get ahead and provide for his social-climbing wife.

More "Sloan Wilson, Author of Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” Dies"


05/26/03 08:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Police Marine Unit Responds

Westport Police Marine Unit Responds to Report of Plane Down Off Bridgeport
A Westport Police marine unit responded to a distress call today by the pilot of a twin-engine private plane that went down in the waters of Long Island Sound off Bridgeport.

The AP quoted a Coast Guard spokesman as saying the plane crashed in foggy conditions but the pilot survived and was able to summon help by cell phone.

The pilot, Itai Shoshani, 41, of White Plains, N.Y., set off a flare and was picked up wearing his lifejacket by a passing tugboat. He was taken to Port Jefferson, Long Island, where he was transferred to a hospital.

His injuries were not believed life-threatening.

Authorities said the plane sank in about 80 feet of water.

The Westport boat was among vessels responding to the call for help, but did not play a role in the rescue.

The pilot ran out of fuel and went down in Long Island Sound at 2:27 p.m., about seven miles off the coast near Bridgeport, said Coast Guard Operations Duty Officer John Olsen.

Weather in the area at the time was rainy with gusty winds.

The Westport unit reported shortly before 4 p.m. that it had completed its work and that Stratford Police were handling the incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it lost contact with the Cessna 414 after the pilot declared low fuel. The plane was en route from Orlando, Fla., to Westchester County Airport in White Plains. He was advised to try for Sikorsky Airport in Stratford but could not make it.

Update: Shoshani left a Port Jefferson hospital Tuesday after treatment for exposure and hypothermia. A recording of his dramatic cell phone call to the Coast Guard is available on the Hartford Courant Web site.

It Rains on Westport’s Memorial

It Rains on Westport’s Memorial Day Parade, Ceremony Held Indoors
For only the third time in recent memory, Westport’s annual Memorial Day parade was canceled today due to bad weather.

Almost 400 persons jammed the Town Hall auditorium and the adjoining hallway instead for ceremonies to mark the day.

First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell led the town’s tribute to those who have died in service of their country and paid particular homage to veterans of the Korean War.

Among those receiving special honor at the event was John Martin Bieling Jr., better known as “Junior” and operator of a hot dog stand on Riverside Avenue.

Bieling earned the Silver Star and other awards for his heroic deeds during the Korean conflict. He was this year’s parade grand marshal.

The ceremony was broadcast live on the town’s government cable access channel.

Paul Newman Spends Memorial Day Racing at Lime Rock

Paul Newman may be nearing 80, but the famed Westporter still indulges in sports car racing and was at it again this holiday weekend at Connecticuts Lime Rock Park, according to todayҒs Hartford Courant.

Even at 78, Newman still finds speed and competing on the edge to be the ultimate exhilaration and at the same time the utmost respite from the world,Ӕ the newspaper said.

“Explain why I still do this?Ғ Newman said. I just love it, so why not keep doing it? It’s the greatest form of relaxation for me.ђ”

Update: Newman finished fifth in the Memorial Day Trans-Am event and was able to overcome mid-race problems. He went off track after briefly misjudging turn one on lap 13. He still managed to be one of six cars on the lead lap out of a field of 17 when the race finished.

“It was cool,” said Newman, who won a Trans-Am race at Lime Rock in 1986. “I thought we could finish in the top two.”


05/26/03 07:31 AM Comments () • Permalink

NY Times: State Budget Woes

NY Times: State Budget Woes Impact Westport and Other Wealthy Towns Only Slightly
Todays New York Times takes a look at how ConnecticutҒs budget crunch impacts Westport and other towns in the gilded enclaves of Fairfield County.Ӕ Its finding not much.

In a story headlined ֓Times Only a Little Tough in Fairfield County, the newspaper said the stateԒs cities are holding their breath as they wait nervously to find out how much the states severe budget crunch will cost them.

ғBut here inside the gilded enclaves of Fairfield County, mayors and first selectmen are putting the finishing touches on spending plans that are only mildly different from years past, the newspaper said.

ԓThey never got much help from the state because of their affluent citizenry and super-size grand lists of taxable property, so now they are experiencing less pain than other cities.

The Times quoted Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell as saying: “The wealthier suburban communities are less reliant on state funds.Ԕ

It added, Her town got only 1 percent of its budget from the state in good times, so the $107,000 or so she expects to lose next year is the least of her worries.Ӕ

ӒObviously, every loss is lamentable, she said. ґBut the money is not significant enough to throw us into a budgetary tailspin.Ҕ

Footnote: NY Times Corrects Elaine

Footnote: NY Times Corrects Elaine Steinbeck Obituary (With a Little Help from Us)
Among the corrections in todays New York Times is one concerning its April 29 obituary of Elaine Anderson Steinbeck, a former stage manager and widow of author John Steinbeck.

As WestportNow noted in its April 29 story about Ms. Steinbeck, who once worked at the Westport Country Playhouse, the Times misspelled the surname of the founder of the Playhouse, Lawrence Langner, and also incorrectly listed her as stage manager of ғOklahoma!

The latter error was confirmed to WestportNow by Westport author Max Wilk who wrote a history of the musical for which he had done an extensive interview with Ms. Steinbeck.

WestportNow called the errors to the attention of Times editors, resulting in the following correction:

ԓAn obituary on April 29 about Elaine Anderson Steinbeck, a former stage manager and the widow of John Steinbeck, misspelled the surname of a co-founder of the Theater Guild, where she found work after first coming to New York, and misstated her job with the original Broadway production of “Oklahoma!” The co-founder was Lawrence Langner, not Langer. Ms. Steinbeck was a replacement assistant stage manager, not stage manager.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

AP: Easton Stands Apart as

AP: Easton Stands Apart as it Resists Commercialism
The Associated Press takes a look a Westports neighbor Easton.

Excerpt: ғThe past is always present in Easton, a town of 7,200 in Fairfield County. It’s a rare refuge from commercialism in a prosperous and highly developed region that is home to many large corporations and severe traffic congestion.

Sunday Spotlight: 50th Anniversary of

Sunday Spotlight: 50th Anniversary of Westports Gov. Lodge Okaying I-95
TodayҒs The Advocate of Stamford notes that this week marks the 50th anniversary of Westports Gov. John Davis Lodge signing authorization for construction of a new Connecticut highway from the New York border to Rhode Island.

It’s now widely called I-95, but formally it’s The Gov. John Davis Lodge Turnpike.

Lodge’s signature on the bill literally changed the landscape of the state, displacing thousands in the name of progress and eventually costing Lodge his political career.

“He paid the ultimate political price because the highway went right through Republican Fairfield County,” Westporter Michael Rea told the newspaper.

“He was alienating many of his own supporters, but he would always say, ‘I am the governor of Connecticut, not of Fairfield County,Ҕ said Rea, a member of Westports Representative Town Meeting.

Rea and his wife Carla knew the Lodges well.

Although his name is rarely used in association with the turnpike, it will always be his legacy—a fact that Carla Rea says he would be proud of.

“He wanted it to be named after him more than anything else,” Carla Rea told The Advocate.

“He wanted to see it while he was alive, but he died knowing that it would be named for him,” said the Westport Realtor who was close friends with Lodge and his wife, Francesca.

Lodge died on Oct. 29, 1985, at the age of 82 in New York City while still living in Westport. The highway was renamed in his honor on Oct. 1, 1986.

Carla Rea said Lodge had a “great sense for the future” and knew that the state could not go on without the turnpike. However, he also knew his support of the highway would exact a heavy political price.

Lobbying in Hartford: The Legislator

Lobbying in Hartford: The Legislator Who Held a Microphone to His Ear
Theres no specific mention of Westport, but todayҒs Hartford Courant zeroes in the world of lobbying legislators in Hartford and Westport֒s representatives are targets like everyone else.

As the state legislature moves toward completing its session, the pressure on lobbyists to win a victory for their clients increases. Kevin Rennie of South Windsor, a lawyer and former Republican state lawmaker, details what its all about.

Among Rennie’s recollections: in days past, ғthe post-dinner sessions provided great entertainment value.

ԓSome lawmakers - not many but enough to be noticed - would return from dinner lubricated and feeling expansive,” he writes.

The legend grew of the western Connecticut legislator who returned from dinner drunk and determined to speak on a transportation bill.

ӓSadly, he kept raising the microphone to his ear instead of his mouth. Dinner breaks are rare now. Dinner is brought in by the party caucuses. Those cable cameras are taking the vaudeville out of politics.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Now its NewmanҒs Time on National TV

The week began with Westporter Martha Stewart gaining renewed national television exposure with NBCs made-for-TV movie about her. Now the week ends with WestportҒs other mega-celebrity, Paul Newman, doing the same.

Newman appears Saturday in a television adaptation of the Westport Country Playhouses Broadway version of ғOur Town. It airs at 8 p.m. on cableԒs Showtime channel (and in the fall on PBS).

Newman, in his first Broadway role in 38 years, stars as the omniscient Stage Manager, and approaches this TV recording of it differently, subtly and superbly,Ӕ writes todays New York Daily News.

Adds LouisvilleҒs Courier-Journal: If you’re the kind of person who thinks life is rushing by, then stop and watch Paul Newman as the Stage Manager in a new production of Thornton Wilder’s ӑOur Town҅ If you have Showtime, dont miss it.Ҕ

One more, Akrons Beacon Journal: ғDirected by James Naughton, this Our Townђ retains the feel of the stage play while making concessions to the visual needs of television. And it is very, very good.


05/23/03 09:54 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Senate Approves Naming Post Road Bridge After Steinkraus Cohen

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Despite an effort by Westport’s state Senator Judith G. Freedman to block its passage, the state Senate today approved a bill naming the Post Road Bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport after Ruth Steinkraus Cohen.

On a voice vote, the Senate rejected Freedman’s amendment to remove the provision from an overall transportation bill and then unanimously voted for the bill as part of the chamber’s “consent calendar.”

The House of Representatives approved it a week ago. It now goes to the governor for signature.

Freedman, a Republican, said the bill, introduced by fellow Westport Republican state Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, had not had a fair hearing in Westport.

People were not aware that a naming process was underway, she said, and there were other names that could have been considered.

“The naming of this particular bridge has created a little bit of dissension within the town of Westport at this time,” she said.

ғAnd being a firm believer of open and free government, one of the problems has been that there are people in the town who felt that they had been eliminated from the process of hoping and helping to come forth with a name for this particular bridge.”

She noted that Bernhard’s legislation did not say which bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport “has been designated to be named in honor of this particular person.”

Freedman added, however, that she “wanted the record to note that I have great admiration for the person that has been chosen to have this particular bridge named (after her).” But she never uttered Steinkraus Cohens name.

Freedman said the problem with the bill was that “free and open government prior to it coming on our calendar did not operate in Westport the way I think my constituents felt it ought to.

“And that is there should have been a process in place where they knew it was an opportunity to put forward names.”

She said she did not even know that Bernhard was submitting the bill and holding a public hearing in Hartford.

“Once I did learn about it, it was too late—the bill had already been incorporated,” she said.

Freedman said, “Personally I think we should remove it. We should let it go back to the Town of Westport. Let them have a fair and open discussion.

“I suspect that when it goes through the process all over again, well probably end up with the same name and we will also end up with a particular bridge being designated to receive that name.”

The senator said she and other Senate colleagues had been hearing from some Westporters that “there are a lot of names that were not considered. And that is just not fair. And this is a fairness process issue.”

Sen. Biagio “Billy” Ciotto (D-Wethersfield), co-chair of the Transportation Committee, spoke against the removal amendment, saying Bernhard had properly introduced the legislation.

He presented information “that (the) Representative Town Meeting in the town voted 26-5 to name this bridge in honor of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen,” Ciotto said.

He said the process had been fair and it was not as if someone was “trying to use sleight of hand to name a bridge without the town not knowing it.”

Freedman then responded: “I have no qualms with the process that took place here in Hartford.

“The problem has been the process that took place in the town of Westport. And I believe that those people that learned of this long after the fact feel totally disenfranchised by what happened Ӗ not at this level, but at the local level.

“And it is for that reason that I am asking that this be withdrawn from the bill so that it could go back to the drawing board in Westport.”

Steinkraus Cohen, who died last year, was a longtime Westporter and friend and supporter of the United Nations.

Some of those opposed to naming the bridge after her were unhappy with the U.N. Security Council’s stance on efforts to disarm Iraq.

The split between two of the town’s state legislators on the issue was unusual as they both are Republicans and the action was endorsed not only by the town’s non-partisan RTM but also the Democrat-led Board of Selectmen.

Update: Asked later whether he felt his bill needed clarification as to which bridge was involved in the legislation, Bernhard replied, “It is clearly the Post Road Saugatuck River Bridge.”


05/22/03 09:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

Bridgeport Columnist to Suburbs: How About a Regional Tax?

A Bridgeport newspaper columnist says if suburban communities really want to help Bridgeport, why not support a regional property tax.

Writing in the weekly Bridgeport News, columnist Brad Durrell said the recent summit on Bridgeports economic development led by Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell was nothing new.

ғThese types of meetings seem to take place every once in awhile, and although the cast of characters changes due to the will of the voters, self-imposed retirements and (this is a new one) corruption trials, the results don’t, he said.

ԓMost people who live in suburban towns genuinely want to help the city, but they remain leery of many possible ways of really doing so. As is human instinct, they are watching out for number one.

Durrell said the problem in Bridgeport has much less to do with political corruption than with the high cost of government and a non-expanding tax base.

ԓPersonally, I would not object to paying an additional regional property tax if the funds were spent and monitored by an all-volunteer regional entity, he said.


05/22/03 09:05 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Referendum Petition Drive to Cut Budget by $5 Million Falls Short

An attempt by Westporter Michael Gilbertie to force a referendum to cut the towns budget by $5 million has fallen short—by at least 120 signatures.

Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss said today that Gilbertie turned in 1,473 signatures Җ unverified and needed 1,593 by Tuesday to achieve his goal.

She said Gilbertie submitted almost 300 signatures Tuesday night to Selectman John Izzo in a last-minute attempt to support his drive for a referendum on whether to shrink next year’s $128.6 million budget.

Last year, the 63-year-old Gilbertie also failed in a petition drive for a referendum to cut $40 million of the $73 million approved for rebuilding and renovating Staples High School.

He thought he had 30 more signatures than he needed to force a referendum, but he ended up 97 short after the registrars disqualified some.

Strauss said there would be no examination of signatures submitted on Gilbertie’s latest effort to determine how many were valid. “He didn’t get enough for us to do that,” she said.

Gilbertie֒s two failed attempts to force referendums came following a town charter change which increased from one week to 14 days the time period petitioners had to gather signatures for a referendum.


05/21/03 12:48 PM Comments () • Permalink

AP: Staples Senior Gets Ready for Prom

If its almost June, itҒs time for the annual how-much-do-teens-spend-to-go-to-proms stories. This year, The Associated Press zeroes in on, natch, Westport. The lucky teen Staples senior Raquel Lucas.

The AP informs readers across the country (and the world): ֓Raquel Lucas is spending a small fortune on her senior prom.

Her dress cost $250; her shoes were $100; and there was $60 for a bottle of Christian Dior’s J’adore, her favorite perfume. A trip to the beauty salon will cost $70, the limo is $50 a person, and it will cost $90 just to get in the door.

ӓLucas, 18, who attends Staples High School in Westport, expects to spend more than $700 by the time the evening is over.

ӒWe’re going all out this year because it’s our last prom,’ said Lucas, who got a part-time job at a clothing store to help pay for the event.

USA Today: Ann Fudge Does Her Own Laundry

The media interviews have started for Westports latest corporate celebrity Җ Ann Fudge, named last week as chairman and chief executive officer of Young and Rubicam, one of the worlds best known ad agencies (See story May 13, 2003).

Tidbits from a USA Today interview Җ Fudge says she still makes time for ӑnormal things. She does yoga once a week and can execute the difficult ґCrane position.

ғShe is also someone, who despite living in Westport, Conn., the second-richest city in America and home to Martha Stewart and Paul Newman ח does her own laundry.

Westport a city? Second-richest in America? Guess the USA Today fact-checkers weren’t consulted on this one.

Worth magazine this year rated Jupiter Island, Fla., as the “richest town in America” with a median house price of $1.9 million followed by Aspen, Colo. at $1.75 million. No Connecticut town made the top 10.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Westport was well behind Darien, Weston and New Canaan in terms of median household income among towns in the area.

Update: Alert WestportNow reader Harris Goldblat points out that the USA Today reference probably came from a CNN/Money story on household income of U.S. places with a population of 25,000 or more.

In that listing, from real estate data marketing firm On Board, LLC, Westport is cited as No. 2 behind Potomac, Md. Potomac, with a population of 45,166, has a household income of $112,452, while Westport is listed as having a population of 25,899 and a household income of $110,413.

The 2000 U.S. Census lists WestportԒs population as 25,749 with a median household income of $119,872.


05/21/03 11:54 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Martha TV Movie Wins Big

“Martha Inc: The Story of Martha Stewart,” the NBC movie about the celebrity Westporter, averaged 14 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. and 5.2 rating/12 share in the most sought-after adults 18-49 category, according to preliminary results from Nielsen Media Research.

Overall, the two-hour movie Monday night scored a 8.8/13 share, making it the best-watched made-for-television movie among the 18-49 group this season. But it was not enough to give NBC the win for the night.

CBS averaged an 11.1 rating/17 share in primetime. FOX, 8.5/13, came in second, followed closely by NBC, 8.1/12, and ABC, 7.5/12.


05/20/03 10:23 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Breaks Ground for Senior Center—Finally

It took six years, countless meetings and hearings and lots of waiting, but Westport finally broke ground today for its new Senior Center on the Barons South property just off Imperial Avenue.

About 75 persons gathered in sunny, 75-degree weather for the brief ceremony on the rolling grounds of the 22-acre property purchased by the town four years ago.

The senior center currently is located at Staples High School but must move due to the expanding student population.

The estimated $4 million cost for the center was softened for Westport taxpayers by two $500,000 grants, one from a federal program and one from the state.

Construction is expected to take about a year.


05/20/03 09:42 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, May 18, 2003

NY Times: Where to Find

NY Times: Where to Find a Local Gadfly? Battling Taxes at the Town Dump
Sundays New York Times takes a look at Westporter Michael Gilbertie and his efforts to win a referendum to cut $5 million from the townҒs budget.

Excerpt: The town dump here may not look like much of a soapbox, but Michael Gilbertie leaps out of his folding chair like a man half his age when cars pull up with their trash. When the subject is taxes, every trip to the dump is suddenly an exercise in democracy.Ӕ

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Get Ready, Westport: “Martha Inc.:

Get Ready, Westport: “Martha Inc.: The Martha Stewart Story” Airs Monday
The strange cars, the slow drive-bys, the calls to the police they֒ve started again and are only likely to increase with Mondays airing of the made-for-TV movie “Martha Inc.: The Martha Stewart Story.”

The neighborhood around Martha StewartҒs house on Turkey Hill Road South has seen it all before but public curiosity about one of Westport֒s best known celebrities is ignited once again with the NBC premiere of the movie based on the bestselling book by Weston author Christopher Byron.

Weekend newspapers all across the country are carrying advance reviews of the production, starring Cybill Shepherd.

The Washington Times calls it a deliciously entertaining two hours.Ӕ The Wichita (Kans.) Eagle says, This unvarnished portrait with tirades, tantrums and tossed objects is more sympathetic than you might expect.Ӕ

The Hollywood Reporter says, Shepherd is a more-than-credible Stewart, but she is limited by a script that describes her character much more than it explores it.Ӕ

Westporters no doubt will be looking to see how their town is portrayed either in pictures or words. And they֒ll be amused to see Stewarts house variously referred to as ғTurkey Hill in Westport, Conn., or ԓStewarts Turkey Hill estate.Ҕ

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

State Department of Health Indirectly Confirms Suspected Westport SARs Case

Copyright 2003 by

The State Department of Public Health (DPH), bowing to outside pressure to provide more information about suspected SARS cases in Connecticut, has indirectly confirmed a WestportNow report last month that the stateɒs first such case in February involved a Westport resident.

The person, who had traveled to Hong Kong on business and came down with a cough and fever after returning home, has now fully recovered. But uncertainty whether the person actually had SARS lingered for weeks.

In a news release, the department also said the number of suspected cases in the state has risen by one to nine. The latest case involves a resident of Hartford County who visited Toronto in April.

Connecticut has not yet had a confirmed case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, but state health officials have reported six suspected cases of the disease and three others classified as probable. Three of the suspected cases were in Fairfield County.

The indirect confirmation of the suspected Westport case came in a new department breakdown on its Web site of a listing of each suspected or probable SARS case in the state and the patient’s diagnostic and public health status. It gave the patients county of residence but not hometown.

The DPH has resisted calls from state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, some state legislators, and newspapers that it provide the hometowns of those suspected of SARS. The department said such information would violate patient confidentiality and potentially cause undue concern.

In its Web site listing, the DPH said the first suspected case occurred the week of Feb. 3 in Fairfield County to a person who had traveled to Hong Kong. It said that person was not hospitalized, did not have a known exposure to a person with SARS, had a final negative test for Coronavirus and was no longer being monitored.

The information matches precisely the details provided to WestportNow about the case in March by persons familiar with the case. In its first report on March 28 about the case, WestportNow said merely that the person lives in southwest Connecticut and that the partient had come down with a cough and fever in February after visiting an Asian country.

This was four days after the DPH made its first public announcement that there had been a suspected SARS case in Connecticut.

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

WestportNow deliberately withheld additional information about the patient and the case. But the details provided today by the DPH leave no doubt that the first reported suspected Connecticut case by the agency and the one reported by WestportNow in March were the same one, involving a Westport resident.


05/14/03 07:32 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Business Pauses for Price

Westport Business Pauses for Price is RightӔ
The Westport headhunting firm of Lack & Daily Inc. on Post Road West took a special television break today at 11 a.m. so its employees could watch The Price is Right. Ӕ The reason: employee Deborah Winters was a contestant.

The 38-year-old Milford resident said she fulfilled a lifetime dream when she was chosen to appear on the program during a California vacation last month. She won a number of prizes but not enough to advance to a more lucrative round.

Winters told the New Haven Register she has had the fantasy of someday attending a taping of her favorite game show since she was seven years old.

Westporters Coupon Consulting Business Thriving

In these difficult economic times, more people are using coupons in their daily shopping and that֒s good news for Westporter Philip R. von Stade, Jr.

Von Stade and his Westport-based VSI Targeting help companies such as Krafts, Uniliever, Campbell Soup and others optimize their return on investment with coupons, according to todays The Advocate of Stamford.


05/14/03 11:53 AM Comments () • Permalink

Westporters Coupon Consulting Business Thriving

Westporters Coupon Consulting Business Thriving
In these difficult economic times, more people are using coupons in their daily shopping Җ and thats good news for Westporter Philip R. von Stade, Jr.

Von Stade and his Westport-based VSI Targeting help companies such as Krafts, Uniliever, Campbell Soup and others optimize their return on investment with coupons, according to todayҒs The Advocate of Stamford.

Westporter Judianne Denson-Gerber Dead at 68

Longtime Westport resident Dr. Judianne Densen-Gerber, a lawyer and psychiatrist who gained notoriety for founding a drug treatment program in New York and went on to give widely quoted but sometimes disputed testimony on subjects like child abuse and pornography, has died at the age of 68.

An obituary in todays New York Times notes Densen-GerberҒs often-controversial background, including her becoming a conspicuous figure at public hearings, society balls, and ghetto demonstrations with her bouffant hairdo, rhinestone-studded glasses and cigars.

The cause of her death was cancer, said her daughter Dr. Sarah Baden, who said her mother had traveled to New York for Mothers Day Sunday where she died. Densen-Gerber had been a Westport resident since the mid-70s.


05/14/03 11:30 AM Comments () • Permalink

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