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Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Farrell Daughters Make Congressional Debut

Farrell Daughters Make Congressional Debut
Its summer in the city Җ Washington, D.C. to be exact for the daughters of Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell and it֒s definitely political.

Margaret Farrell, 16, started this week as a Senate page and Hillary Farrell, 20, began work two weeks ago as an intern in the office of Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat who represents Connecticuts third Congressional district.

Both are sharing an apartment this summer with their father, Win Farrell, a management consultant working on a Washington project.

Both Farrell parents participated in a five-hour orientation tour for Senate page parents over the weekend.

ғIt was fascinating, said Diane Farrell. ԓWe learned the kids were told they can expect to walk as much as seven and a half miles a day up and down the aisles and along the Congressional office hallways.

And of course they all have to memorize the names and faces of all the senators.”

Margaret will be a senior in the fall at New JerseyӒs Peddie School while Hillary will be entering her junior year at Brown University.

Has the Washington experience so far piqued the Farrell daughters interest in following in their MomҒs political footsteps?

I highly doubt it,Ӕ Westports top elected official said. ғNeither has expressed anything like that so far.

Child Injured by Golf Ball

Child Injured by Golf Ball at Longshore


Sign at Longshore Club Park entrance clearly warns of the danger of errant golf balls. WestportNow.com photo

A 23-month-old boy was struck and injured by a golf ball Monday at Westport’s town-owned Longshore Club Park.

The child was transported to Norwalk Hospital for treatment and later transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital, officials said.

Citing new, stricter privacy laws, police officials said they could not release details of the infant’s condition.

Due to confusion at the time of the incident, some bystanders earlier reported the victim was a two-year-old girl.

Witnesses said the child was being pushed by his mother in a stroller when the accident occurred. The local golfer who hit the ball was “devastated” by the incident, they said.

Police officials said the golfers shouted “fore” as soon as the errant shot was hit.

The accident occurred on the sixth hole along the entryway to the park. Signs along the entrance road warn visitors of the danger of flying golf balls.

Passing cars, fellow golfers, and golf course employees have been hit in recent years by errant golf balls, according to town officials.

Stuart McCarthy, director of the Parks and Recreation Dept., said he recalled one other child in a stroller being hit by a golf ball in recent years but said the injuries were not life-threatening.

Update (8/29/03): An attorney representing the injured child, Benjamin Goldstein, and his mother, Lynne Goldstein, served notice Aug. 26 on the town of a claim for injuries and damages resulting from the incident. 

The attorney said while the child has recovered from his injuries, his earning capacity and ability to enjoy life’s activities had been permanently reduced as a result of the incident and a “road defect” where it occurred.

A notice of claim also said the mother had suffered “serious emotional distress” as a result of the incident.

NY Times Notes Westport Oyster Controversy

Todays New York Times, in the latest installment in its summer-long series on the evolving nature of Long Island Sound, takes note of the controversy involving a plan to harvest oysters using suspended traps off of Westport.

The Times said the aquaculture technique is similar to an operation in the eastern waters of Long Island Sound by the Mohegan Indians that won approval last summer despite local opposition.

ғ(The Westport plan) has also drawn fire from boaters who say the racks will destroy the use of a sailboat racecourse that has been used since the late 1880’s, the newspaper said.

ԓThe Westport developer, Dr. John M. Garofalo an obstetrician who founded his company, Mariculture Unlimited, two years ago ח said he specifically patterned his plan after the Mohegan project.

The leases he has signed with the state give him the right to use the bottom, and he contends that the use of the water column above that, which requires a separate approval from the state and United States Army Corps of Engineers, would be far enough below the surface ӗ 17 feet at high tide to be unobtrusive.

“גWe’re asking for the same thing, the same kind of gear as the Mohegans, and if they don’t give it to us, they have to explain what makes us different, he said.Ҕ

The Army Corps of Engineers plans a public hearing on the Westporters application July 23 in Milford.

   

07/08/03 11:22 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, July 07, 2003

Westport Historical Society Addition Nears Completion

The Westport Historical Society is on target for fall completion of an addition to its historic Victorian-era Wheeler House in Westports center.


Westport Historical Society addition is almost complete. WestportNow.com photo

The $1 million project, designed by Fairfield architect Robert Hatch, echoes the octagonal shape of the groupҒs Bradley-Wheeler Barn, which also sits on its property opposite Town Hall.

The addition includes a state-of-the art exhibit hall that can also be used for presentations, lectures and seminars, enhanced access to archives, and improved storage and community access to textile and clothing collections.

It also provides classroom space for educational programs for both children and adults.

The existing building, which includes Victorian period rooms, exhibit space, the museum shop, costume and textile collections, offices, a conference room, archives and storage space will be reconfigured and improved.

The new addition will host the societys ғTV Neighbors exhibit scheduled to open in September.

Former Westporter Chaim Engel, Nazi Death Camp Survivor, Dies at 87

Chaim Engel, a Nazi death camp survivor who lived in Westport after emigrating from Israel, has died at the age of 87.

Engel, who operated a greeting card store in Stamford in the 1960s while living in Westport, died Friday in Branford, his daughter, Alida Engel Berger, told WestportNow.

She said he had been in declining health as a result of a recent automobile accident.

Engel used his story of suffering and escape from a Nazi death camp to educate children about the Holocaust.

He and his wife, Selma, whom he met at the Sobibor camp in Poland, told their tale in classrooms throughout the New Haven area.

Their story was depicted in the 1987 television movie, “Escape From Sobibor,” and at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington.

After the war, Engel sold men’s clothing in Holland. The couple then emigrated to Israel and from there to Westport in 1959, where they resided on Wilton Road.

The couple later moved to Oakwood Lane. Daughter Alida was a member of the 1964 Staples graduating class while son Fred was ‘66.

The Engels moved to Branford in 1970 after he bought a jewelry store in Old Saybrook.

In addition to his wife, daughter and son, Engel is survived by four grandchildren.

Update (July 9, 2003): A dispatch from the Jewish Telegraph Agency includes a comprehensive account of Engel’s life.

Westporter Leads Efforts to Investigate

Westporter Leads Efforts to Investigate Connecticut Shipwrecks
Todays New Haven Register highlights the efforts by Connecticut historians, led by WestportҒs Cecelia Saunders, to investigate two of the states most intriguing shipwrecks.

The newspaper focuses on the wreck of the Aunt Polly, owned by famed actor William Gillette. It sank after a fire in December 1932 at the base of the steep cliffs that surround the grounds of the actorҒs opulent stone castle in East Haddam.

Two months ago, the Connecticut Historical Commission designated the Aunt Polly and Cornfield Point Lightvessel 51, known as LV51, a lightship that sank in 1919 off of Old Saybrook, as the state’s newest archaeological preserves. 

The designation provides for the ongoing protection and professional management of the cultural resources.

Saunders, founder and president of Westports Historical Perspectives, Inc., said, “The protection and conservation of LV51 and the Aunt Polly are a win-win for the people of Connecticut.

ғThis designation allows Connecticut citizens to learn more about their state’s rich heritage, and it preserves these important cultural resources for generations to come.”

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Sunday NY Times: Letter Writer Defends Board of Education

Sundays New York Times includes a letter from a Westporter defending the Board of EducationҒs decision to save money by changing the starting time of Coleytown Middle School in the fall.

The letter, headlined School Board Did Its HomeworkӔ in the Connecticut section from Marjorie Cion, was a follow-up to letters in the newspaper two weeks ago critical of the boards decision.

ғThe June 22 edition of the Connecticut section contained several letters from Westport residents concerning the start time changes in the Westport school system for the next year, she wrote.

ԓI do not believe those letters accurately represented the events leading to the decision to implement those changes.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Former Westporter Briggs Swift Cunningham, Noted Racer, Dies at 96

Former Westporter Briggs Swift Cunningham Jr., the captain of the winning yacht in the 1958 America’s Cup and a longtime sports car racing figure, has died. He was 96.

Cunningham died Wednesday at home in Las Vegas from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, said his wife, Laura Cunningham.

Cunningham lived in Westport for many years before moving to California in the 1960s and then to Nevada in 1999.

His survivors include daughter Lucie McKinney of Westport, widow of Stewart B. McKinney,  the Republican congressman who represented the area for 17 years before his death in 1987.

Cunningham’s first wife was the former Lucie Bedford, daughter of Standard Oil heir Frederick T. Bedford, who died in 1963.

Now Lucie Bedford Cunningham Warren, she continues to live in Westport as does her sister Ruth Thomas Bedford.

The Bedford family has a long history of philanthropy in Westport, having donated substantial amounts of real estate and development funds to build the YMCA and schools.

Cunningham pursued yachting and auto racing with a fortune inherited from his father, a wealthy Cincinnati financier and early investor in Procter & Gamble.

He was the captain of Columbia when it won the America’s Cup.

Later, he was active in competitive sailing at Westport’s Cedar Point Yacht Club and the Pequot Yacht Club in Fairfield.

Fellow yachtsmen recall the lavish parties Cunnigham threw at his Green’s Farms area home following the races.  They often included bagpipers, in accord with his Scottish heritage.

He helped found the Sports Car Club of America and the Automobile Racing Club of America.

His name became part of sailing terminology through his 1958 invention of the “cunningham,” a line controlling sail tension.

Other survivors include a son, Briggs Cunningham III, of Danville, Ky., and daughter Cythlen Maddock, of Palm Beach, Fla.

A funeral is scheduled Aug. 8 in Corona Del Mar, Calif.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Westport Fireworks Display Draws Large Crowds

Thousands of Westporters and their guests gathered at Compo Beach tonight for the town’s annual fireworks display. Bad weather threatened earlier but skies had cleared by early evening.

The annual display was sponsored by the Police Athletic League (PAL), which returned the event to Compo after one year at neaby Sherwood Island State Park.

Despite the threatening skies, beachgoers began staking out their spots early in the day and the numbers increased as the event drew nearer.

Police estimated as many as 3,000 to 4,000 people may have witnessed the fireworks from the beach and adjacent Long Island Sound waters.

A low cloud cover marred visibility of some of the higher exploding fireworks, which were organized this year by a unit of the famed Grucci fireworks family.

WestportNow… and Then: A Look Back at a School Board Meeting in 1883

If you think todays Board of Education meetings sometimes get a bit heated, itҒs nothing new for Westport. The following appeared in the July 14, 1883, issue of The Westporter:

The special meeting of the West Saugatuck school district held on Monday evening was largely attended.

Mr. O. I. Jones was chosen as moderator, the call for the meeting was read by the clerk, after which a set of resolutions were offered by Mr. Edward Wheeler, instructing the District Committee not to hire Mr. Joseph G. Hyatt as a teacher for the ensuing year, whereupon the Committee, Mr. E. A. Nash, stated to the meeting that he had already hired Mr. Hyatt, and had given him a written contract to that effect.

The fun then commenced and the band began to play in good earnest. H. W. Lyon armed with volumes of Blackstone, or some other feller, then came to the front and questioned said committee who admitted that the signing of the contract was two hours after the petition to call the special meeting had been served upon him.

Remarks were then made by B. W. Maples, James and Joseph Hyatt, H. W. Lyon, J. W. Hurlbutt and E. Wheeler, and during some of the remarkspersonalities were thrown around quite looselyחand the moderator was compelled, not only to rap the table with a ferule, and ring the school-bell, but to threaten to adjourn the meeting, before order was restored.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Staples Groundbreaking: the Jewel in the Crown


Town and school officials turn over first shovel on the new Staples project. WestportNow.com photo

Town officials dipped their shovels into the grass under a pear tree outside the main entrance of Staples High School today and the official renovation and expansion of the school finally got underway.

֓It is the jewel in the crown, said Dan Kail, chair of the Staples subcommittee of the townԒs School Building Committee.

First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell, Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon, Sandra Urist, chair of the Board of Education, and Staples Principal John Brady were among town and school officials on hand for the ceremony.

Landon drew a laugh from the crowd when he began his remarks by saying, I particularly want to thank the Board of Education for giving me the opportunity to be here when this project is completed.Ӕ

The board recently renewed Landons contract despite calls from some unhappy residents that his contract not be extended.

The first phase of the $74 million project is expected to be completed in 2005. Students will continue to go to classes as the construction takes place around them.

Footnote: Martha Really Didnt Walk

Footnote: Martha Really Didnt Walk Her Dogs on Compo Beach
It turns out that Martha Stewart really didnҒt walk her dogs on Compo Beach as was suggested in a local newspaper report almost three weeks ago.

According to Bonnie Adler, who wrote the front-page story in the Westport Minuteman June 12, she actually spotted Stewart walking along Hillspoint Road next to Old Mill Beach at about 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 8.

What is commonly known as Compo Beach begins about a quarter-mile south of where Stewart was seen.

Adlers story raised a few eyebrows among town officials who have been engaged in months of controversy over where and when dogs should be permitted to roam on the townҒs beaches.

There is no prohibition against residents walking their dogs along the public roadway where Stewart was spotted.

Adler had written in her story:  Martha Stewart, whose reputation has taken a few hits lately, was sighted at Compo Beach early Sunday morning, walking with her housekeeper and two of her three French purebreed dogs, Paw Paw and Tutu.Ӕ

Later in her story, she referred to Stewart walking along the peaceful shoreline vistaӔ and at another point said she was on the path at Compo Beach.Ӕ

Adler clarified exactly where she saw Stewart in a conversation at todays groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion and renovation of Staples High School.

ғThat story has gotten more attention than anything Ive ever written,Ҕ she said with a laugh.

Happy July 1 Your

Happy July 1 Your Tax Bill is in Your Mailbox
Thousands of Westporters going to their mailboxes today found a green envelope from the town ֖ their tax bill.

George Underhill, the town tax collector, said the real estate bills were a little late this year getting into the mail due to an accounting glitch that resulted in some erroneous assessments on some of the bills.

We decided to pull them all back to make sure we got it right,Ӕ Underhill said.

The first installment on the real estate taxes as well as taxes on automobiles and business property is due today but can be paid until the end of the month without penalty, he said.

Taxes for the 2003-2004 fiscal year went up just shy of 10 percent over last year.

About 5,000 property tax bills went out, according to the town official. The balance of the towns 10,200 properties subject to tax are paid directly through banks or mortgage institutions.

About 2,100 businesses pay taxes on their office machines and other property. Taxes are paid on about 24,000 cars in Westport, according to Underhill, meaning there is almost one car registered for each of the townҒs almost 26,000 residents.

As the new tax bills went out, Underhill said the tally on delinquent taxpayers was this:

—there are 242 liens on properties with taxes due totaling $1.7 million;

—there are 414 cases of back taxes due on business property totaling $194,000;

—and taxes are overdue on 1,454 cars totaling $241,000.

Man on a Mission: Tracking

Man on a Mission: Tracking Down Westports Civil War Veterans
The vault in the Westport town clerkҒs office plays host daily to attorneys and paralegals researching land records and other filings. But often among them these days is Westporter David B. Press, a man on a mission a Civil War mission.

Press, who spent years researching financial filings and bond ratings in his earlier career, is now researching Westporters who served in the Civil War as part of a book project.

֓Theres no monument in town to Civil War veterans,Ҕ said Press. I just thought it would be an interesting topic to take up.Ӕ

Press, 56, has been at it for several months now. In addition to town records, his research has taken him to state libraries and archives in Hartford, local historical societies, and visits to old cemeteries.

Compiling the list of the more than 200 Westporters or those who signed up in Westport—who served in the war has been fairly easy, Press said. But he is now zeroing in on the stories behind the men who served and why they served.

Through letters and other state records, Press is finding many Westporters who enlisted to fight did it for financial reasons.

He is also finding letters attesting to the battlefield achievements of Westporters as part of their applications for pensions. ֓Some of these letters are especially graphic and detailed, Press said.

ԓIts clear many of them were never intended to be read by others. ItҒs all very fascinating stuff.

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