Monday, September 15, 2003
Editors Note: With the East Coast approach of Hurricane Isabel, WestportNow presents this update on emergency preparedness based on comments made at the Sept. 2 meeting of the Representative Town Meeting.
By Denis McCarthyWestport Fire Chief
The town maintains a public shelter at the Long Lots School. The capacity of that shelter is about 200 residents. It is run by the Red Cross. During a typical winter storm, power outage, or hurricane we get 25 to 30 residents.
Surprisingly, we get residents far in from the coast that are frightened and alone during an emergency. The shelter provides an important place for them to have camaraderie and care at the same time.
It is not extensively used during a disaster. We did have a study in the late 80Ғs, early 90s by the Army Corps of Engineers that identified the total population that would be subject to flooding or significant wind damage during an event. That becomes our worst-case scenario for planning purposes.
We have been instructed to develop sheltering capacity for 650, well beyond the 30 or so that we have experienced in the past.
When Staples is open, we will have generating capacity in the auditorium, the cafeteria, the field house and the old gym, food supplies and for the central heating unit that will provide the excess capacity for a once in a lifetime event.
This, hopefully, would be for the very, very rare event, the typical ғ100-year storm that is going to wreak havoc and make the Compo Beach neighborhood, lower Hillspoint Road and Saugatuck Shores uninhabitable for a period of time.
We also have at GreenԒs Farms School the capacity to provide auxiliary power into the school that would serve as a feeding station and some respite care during the day but not necessarily for overnight shelter.
Although, the town did not build, could not afford or chose not to afford, making Staples High School a shelter that could withstand an earthquake and the worst of the hurricanes, I feel that based on where we are and our experience, we are well positioned for providing a place of refuge for residents.
Westport First Selectwoman Proposes Veterans Park Across From Town Hall
Just in time for VeteransҒ Day in November, First Selectman Diane Goss Farrell is proposing changing the name of the town-owned park across the street from Town Hall to Veterans Park.
Currently known as Town Common, the area on Myrtle Avenue is home to memorials for fallen World War I and World War II veterans and is the site of annual Memorial Day and VeteransҒ Day observances.
Farrell proposed the name change in a letter to fellow Board of Selectmen members Carl Leaman and John Izzo.
Under the towns policy for naming public facilities, the name change would have to be approved first by the Board of Selectmen and then the Representative Town Meeting.
ғI just thought it would be an appropriate time to do it, Farrell told WestportNow.
The park sits adjacent to the new addition to the Westport Historical Society building.
Farrell said she has ordered underbrush cleared between the two properties so visitors to the societyԒs new Westport History Center will have a clear view between the trees of the town-owned park.
During the controversy last spring over naming the bridge over the Saugatuck River in downtown Westport for the late Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, a number of Westporters opposed to the name suggested instead it be called Veterans Bridge.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Westport Officials Prepare for Terrorist Drill, Hurricane Watch
First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell is among Westport officials invited to attend an exercise Monday in Stamford aimed at making Fairfield County better prepared for a terrorist attack.
But with Hurricane Isabel, with top winds of 155 mph, forecast to hit the U.S. East Coast by the end of the week, the exercise took on added significance and urgency, according to planning officials.
The same local agencies would be involved in responding to a natural disaster as well as a man-made one, the officials said, and lessons learned in Mondays drill could apply equally to a terrorist attack or a hurricane.
In addition to the ғtable-top exercise, which envisions a simulated terrorist attack in Stamford, U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays will hold a field hearing in Stamford of his National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations subcommittee.
Forecasters said they expected Isabel to hit the U.S. East Coast by the end of the week, but they added that air currents and condition could push it further north before landfall.
“Landfall along the U.S. Mid-Atlantic coast somewhere between North Carolina and New Jersey between four or five days is appearing more and more likely,” the National Hurricane Center said.
The last major storm that caused significant flooding and forced evacuations of low-lying areas in Westport was the 1992 nor’easter that hit over a period from Dec. 10-13.
The deadliest hurricane to hit New England occurred on Sept. 21, 1938. More than 600 people died.
Bicycle Fundraiser Attracts Hundreds
The Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club Harvest Rides 2003Ӕ fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut attracted almost 700 people today to the Westport event, organizers said.
Participants set off from Westports Luciano Park adjacent to the Metro-North Railroad tracks in the Saugatuck area on four different bike routes throughout the lower Fairfield County area.
Upon their return to the park, they held an afternoon barbecue.
The good thing about Saturdays UConn-Boston College game was that no matter who won, a former Staples Wrecker would taste victory.
This time around it was BCҒs Dave Kashetta who won bragging rights against best friend UConns Sean Mulcahy Җ with Staples coach Marce Petroccio and members of the current Staples football team watching from the sidelines.
With a little help from Kashetta, a tight end who caught a 29-yard touchdown pass two minutes into the second half, Boston rolled over UConn 24-14.
Mulcahy, who plays defensive end and had five tackles and one sack in the game, wished for a better outcome but was still happy for Kashetta.
I was very happy that he scored a touchdown,Ӕ Mulcahy told reporters after the game. But I just wish it wasnӒt against us.
ԓAfter the game, Sean said Keep playing hard and go beat Miami,ђ Kashetta said. ԓAnd I told him, Keep playing hard and good luck the rest of the season.ђ
Saturday, September 13, 2003
In a matchup of two state division champions, the Staples Wreckers opened their 2003 football season Friday night with a 36-0 win over New Canaan.
Playing under the lights on artificial turf at New Canaan, Staples gained a 29-0 lead by halftime. Both teams were ranked in the top 10 in a poll of state writers and coaches.
Friday, September 12, 2003
The state Department of Public Health says it has found a crow infected with West Nile Virus in Westport.
The finding of the crow was reported in a department press release Thursday. It was the first bird infected with the disease discovered in Westport this year. An infected crow was also found in Weston.
Mosquitoes, birds, or horses infected with the virus have now been found in 91 of the states 169 municipalities, the department said. No infected mosquitoes or horses have been reported in Westport.
ғMosquito abundance has begun to decline statewide, but trap collections remain significantly higher than average and biting activity continues to be evident especially at dusk, the department said.
ԓThe Department of Public Health is strongly urging people to take measures to reduce mosquitoes near their homes and to avoid mosquito bites.
The department said two Connecticut residents, one from Bethlehem and one from North Stonington, have been diagnosed with illness attributed to the infection.
Prior to onset of illness, each traveled out of Connecticut and most likely each was infected in Colorado, the department said. They are recovering.
Once the virus is confirmed among wild birds in a town, the percent testing positive increases over several weeks and then 80 to 95 percent of those tested can be expected to be positive through September, according to the department.
It said testing additional wild birds from the same town is generally not necessary. Monitoring of virus activity in birds at that stage can be done primarily through monitoring of dead wild bird reports, the statement said.
Update (9/13/03): The state Friday reported two people from Colchester and Durham tested positive for the virus, bringing the number of Connecticut cases to four.
Additionally, it said mosquitoes infected with eastern equine encephalitis, a rarer, but deadlier disease than West Nile, were trapped in three towns for the first time this year. The insects were found in North Stonington, Stonington and Voluntown.
With one day to go before Saturdays UConn-Boston College football game, the friendship/rivalry of longtime Westport pals Sean Mulcahy and Dave Kashetta is getting increasing press.
TodayҒs New Haven Register is the latest to focus on the UConn defensive tackle and BCs backup tight end and includes these tidbits:
NFL scouts are already calling UConn following MulcahyҒs eight tackles in the teams season-opening win again Indiana.
Staples Wrecker Coach Marce Petroccio said he plans to bring his team’s 20 seniors to UConnҒs Rentschler Stadium in East Hartford for the game.
“Im like a proud parent,” Petroccio told the newspaper. “IҒve got two sons the two nicest kids in the world ח playing against each other in the biggest game in the history of UConn football.”
It also notes a few non-football facts about the two, including word that they are so popular in Westport that Fortunas Deli has named its outdoor patio after them.
Then there was the time they engaged in a different kind of fun on the Staples playing fields.
ғOne spring afternoon, late in their senior year, they took a friends Jeep on a joyride through the Staples athletic fields, buzzing past the girlsҒ lacrosse team, doing a few doughnuts for kicks, the newspaper said.
It also reported they would phone Coach Petroccio in his office and pretend to be Mafioso on the other end, making threats.
Petroccio eventually caught on.
“I mean, come on, Marcellino Petroccio?” Mulcahy said, “It doesnԒt get more Sicilian than that.
Today’s Boston Globe also has a story focusing on the two Westporters, noting that “in last year’s game, a narrow 24-16 BC victory, Mulcahy proved to be a one-man distraction for Kashetta.”
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Westport Marks 9/11 Anniversary With Moment of Silence
Westports police and fire departments today marked the second anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks with moments of silence.
The police and fire radio systems fell silent at 8:46 a.m., the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center, and flags were lowered at the town facilities.
Westport last week hosted state ceremonies honoring the anniversary held at Sherwood Island State Park.
Mother of Westport Sept. 11 Victim to Mark Day with Grave Visit
Todays The Advocate of Stamford/Norwalk reports that the mother of Westport 9/11 victim Jonathan Uman will mark the second anniversary of his death by visiting his grave.
It said after the attacks, the reality of believing her 33-year-old son was gone was not an option for Susan Blomberg, a former Stamford resident. Uman lived in Westport with his wife Julie and two children.
“For the first six weeks, I was totally numb and disbelieving,” she told the newspaper. “I really believed Jonathan was lost somewhere with amnesia.”
Nine months later, when the medical examiner contacted Blomberg to let her know her son’s remains had been found—the news so many Sept. 11 families hoped for as they struggled for closure—she was disappointed, the report said.
“In one way, I almost didn’t want to find Jonathan,” Blomberg said. “I wanted to think he was in Hawaii living another life.”
Other victims with Westport connections included the Coleman brothers Keith, 34, and Scott, 32, who, like Uman, were employed at Cantor Fitzgerald, and Bradley Vadas, 37, a senior vice president with Keefe, Bruyette and Woods.
Oops: NY Times Corrects Westport/Waterbury Error (Again)
Todays New York Times carries a correction about an article Tuesday that misplaced a non-profit group in Westport instead of Waterbury.
The Times last month also confused Westport and Waterbury when it mistakenly reported a fire fatality in the state during the Aug. 14 blackout. (See WestportNow Aug. 30, 2003)
TodayҒs correction said: Because of an editing error, an article in the Metro section on Tuesday about conjoined twins from the Philippines misstated the birthplace of another set of twins who underwent surgery in Salt Lake City. They were from Honduras, not Salt Lake City.
ӓThe article also misstated the location of the headquarters of Children’s Chance, a foundation that helped obtain medical care for the Filipino twins. It is in Waterbury, Conn., not Westport.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
When the UConn Huskies take the field Saturday against Boston College, it will have a special meaning for Westporters Sean Mulcahy and Dave Kashetta.
Mulcahy, UConns defensive tackle, could line up against Kashetta, BCҒs backup tight end. Both are Staples 2000 grads and starred for the Wreckers in their high school years.
I don’t have any brothers, so I consider him a brother,Ӕ Mulcahy told The Day of New London. I’ve known him since I was 6. We talk two or three times a week and every time we’re home we hang out together.Ӕ
The AP reported that the game at UConn’s new Rentschler Field in East Hartford is a sellout with online brokers asking up to $600 for a seat.
“Wow, that’s kind of ridiculous for a college football game,” Mulcahy told the AP. “Hey, but it’s sold out and people are enjoying it. That’s all that really matters.”
Update (9/11/03): The Connecticut Post focuses on the Mulcahy-Kashetta friendship/rivlary in today’s issue.
Representative Town Meeting Races Shape Up
With the deadline now passed for petitioning candidates for Westports Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the November race for the 36-member non-partisan body is now clearer.
Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss said seven of the nine RTM districts have more candidates than the four seats allocated to a district. But in District 2 there are only four candidates, all incumbents, and in District 8, there are only three candidates, also incumbents.
Three residents who had taken out petitions to run Җ the signatures of 25 registered voters were needed to get on the ballot decided not to return their petitions by Tuesday’s deadline, Strauss said.
District 1 is the most competitive, fielding seven candidates—three of them incumbents—for the four seats. The other six districts with races have five candidates each competing for four seats.
Of the 44 candidates vying for election, 26 are incumbents. Of the 18 others, two have previously served on the RTM for one term. Two RTM candidates are simultaneously running for other offices ֖ one for the Board of Education and one for the Board of Finance. Both are from districts with races.
Veteran RTM member Jorgen Jensen was a last-minute addition to the race in District 9, deciding only in recent days to put his name in. He has served on the RTM since 1987 as well as one term from 1969 to 1971.
District 9 is the new RTM district which resulted from this year’s redistricting. Currently, there are eight districts.
Among those not seeking re-election is Irwin Donenfeld in District 8. He is the current longest serving member, having first been elected in 1981. With Donenfelds retirement, Jensen, if elected, would be the RTMҒs senior member.
Strauss, the town clerk, said District 8s shortage of one candidate can be filled in two ways Җ a resident can become a write-in candidate on election day or elected district members will appoint someone later.
Editors note: The editor of WestportNow serves as moderator of the RTM and is a candidate for re-election in District 8.
RTM Candidates Listed By District
Here are the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) candidates for the November election as announced Tuesday by Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss. Each district elects four persons. Incumbents are marked with an asterisk.
District 1: Gerald Edward Bodell*; Donald L. Bergmann; Diane D. Cady; Gordon Marshall Clark; William L. Scheffler*; Ann Elizabeth Sheffer*, Judith K. Starr.
District 2: Lynn Abramson*; Gwen T. Campbell*; Alice H. Shelton*; Mary Gordon Webber*.
District 3: Helen A. Garten; Janet B. Horowitz; William F. Meyer, III*; Hadley C. Rose; Brian Edgar Stern.
District 4: Valerie S. Fischel; George Franciscovich*; Elizabeth Kuechenmeister; Margaret K. McHenry*, Wally Meyer*.
District 5: John W. Booth*; Chris Grimm; Ralph Hymans*; Helmuth W. Krause, Richard A. Lowenstein*.
District 6: Joann W. Davidson; Ann M. Flynn*; Velma E. Heller*; Ronald F. Malone*, David Allen Wind.
District 7: Allen S. Bomes; John G. Klinge*; Lisa S. Rome*; Stephen M. Rubin*, John E. Watson III*.
District 8: Gordon F. Joseloff*; Michael A. Rea*, Lois G. Schine*.
District 9: Marla J. Cowden*; Michael A. Gilbertie; Jorgen F. Jensen*; Kim Mathias; Joe Mioli.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Breakfast Links: Board of Ed E-Mail, Soccer, Affordable Housing, I-95 Crash, Bridal Store
The Hour takes a look at the latest on Board of Ed use of e-mail…
The Advocate of Stamford/Norwalk sizes up area high school soccer teams, including Staples…
and it spotlights a survey showing the Stamford-Norwalk area, including Westport, the third least affordable housing rental market in the country…
The Connecticut Post says police are continuing their investigation into Sunday’s I-95 crash that killed three persons, two of them workers at a Westport restaurant…
The New Haven Register looks at a bridal store that moved to Shelton from Westport after eight years, its owner complaining the rent just kept going up.
Martha Notes: Shes Had to Replace Her Westport Septic System
Martha Stewart, besides all her legal woes, has had some septic ones as well at her Westport home.
That was one of the nuggets to come out of a news conference Monday in Toronto where Stewart went to promote Martha Stewart Everyday, her line of linens and housewares.
The Toronto Star reported that ғStewart said she personally tests every new design of towel herself well, actually two employees do it for her ח at her own home in Westport, Conn.
This set-up recently required her to replace the septic system because the women run 12 loads of laundry a day.ӓ
On the legal front, in New York Monday, a U.S. federal judge said she saw no indication of a breach of grand jury secrecy in Stewart’s conspiracy case, rejecting demands from Stewart’s lawyers that the government investigate the source of pre-indictment leaks.
U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum said she found it difficult to understand how lawyers for Stewart believed their client might have been prejudiced if someone had leaked the fact that the indictment would not include a charge of insider trading.
She was responding to an inquiry into whether information about the grand jury that indicted Stewart was released before the June 4 indictment
Stewart was charged with five counts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and securities fraud. She has pleaded not guilty. Her trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 12 before Cedarbaum.
Monday, September 08, 2003
Westport Democrats Pleased With Fundraiser
Westport Democrats kicked off the election season with a weekend fundraiser that added thousands of dollars to their campaign chest, according to Democratic Town Committee chair Martha Aasen.
We had a wonderful turnout,Ӕ she told WestportNow today. She said more than 250 people attended the Friday night affair, which charged $40 admission in advance and $50 at the door.
Aasen declined to cite specific figures but said contributions were enhanced by sales at a wine tasting and bids at a silent auction.
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell, who is not up for re-election this year, led local Democrats in greeting attendees. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz also stopped by.
Sunday, September 07, 2003
Todays The Advocate of Stamford/Norwalk takes a look at the career of Staples basketball star Jessica Gelman, Ғ93.
Shes gone from the Wrecker basketball court to the front office of the New England Patriots football team, with a few stops in between.
She just started her second year as their business development manager and assistant to Andy Wasynczuk, the team’s senior vice president and chief operating officer—and he makes clear she very well one day could take his job.
“I think running a team requires a lot of things: passion, work ethic, creativity, leadership,” Wasynczuk said.
“Jessica has strong skills in each of these areas. Over time, as she gains experience, I have no doubt she’ll continue to grow as a manager and leader and eventually be able to run a team.Ҕ
Saturday, September 06, 2003
Damon G. Douglas, a professional surveyor who authored a book published last year by the Westport Historical Society marking the 225th anniversary of the British landing at Westport’s Compo Beach, has been killed in an accident in Greenwich.
Police said Douglas, 69, of Wilton, died Thursday while working inside a manhole on a private driveway examining pipes that connect the manhole to some catch basins. As he raised his head, he was struck by a sports utility vehicle, according to police.
Douglas was a senior surveyor for Redniss and Mead in Stamford. He was also a history buff, which led to his writing The Bridge Not Taken: Benedict Arnold Outwitted.Ӕ
Its publication last year was part of a week-long series of events by the Westport Historical Society marking the April 25, 1777, British landing at Compo Beach on a mission to destroy a cache of Revolutionary Army military stores in Danbury. Douglas was honored at a society reception.
Douglas’s work traces in meticulous detail the route taken by the 1,800-man force, under the command of William Tryon, from Westport to Danbury and back again three days later.
Patriots, under the command of Benedict Arnold, closed in behind the British and attempted to block their return, first in Ridgefield and then on a bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport on what is now Ford Road.
Douglas’s book explains how the British avoided what could have turned into a major disaster for them in the final hours of their incursion by avoiding the bridge where Arnold and his men were waiting.
Barbara Raymond of the Westport Historical Society worked closely with Douglas on the book for two years.
In his acknowledgments, he wrote that she was the first to suggest that his research should be published, proofed every page and refused to let me settle for partial answers.Ӕ
Raymond said today she was deeply saddened by his sudden passing and recalled his excitement and enthusiasm as they worked together on the book.
WeӒd go on field trips in his pickup truck, often driving to the top of Compo Hill tracing the British route, she told WestportNow. ԓHe loved discovering things and finding out when, where, and how they occurred.
Raymond, the societyԒs historian, said she and Douglas did not always agree on their research. The two of us agreed to disagree about one point whether the British went up North Compo or the Post Road,Ӕ she said. But it was his book so it got told his way.Ӕ
Raymond said Douglas, at her request, was working on an index for another Westport Historical Society publication project at the time of his death. We will miss him,Ӕ she said.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Presbyterian Church, 48 New Canaan Road, Wilton.
Friday, September 05, 2003
The Hour of Norwalk said today it is withdrawing its Freedom of Information (FOI) complaint against Schools Supt. Elliott Landon and the Board of Education over its request for e-mail correspondence.
The newspaper, which filed the complaint Aug. 11 over the controversial school start times issue, notified the FOI Commission in Hartford of its desire to withdraw the complaint by letter. (See WestportNow Aug. 12, 2003).
We have received the information that we had requested and a second request filed for school board e-mails was fulfilled in a more prompt manner,Ӕ said the letter, signed by James Dean, the newspapers editor, and Jennifer Connic, its Westport reporter.
The letter, which was made available to WestportNow, said school officials had established a system for the public to review future e-mails subject to public inspection.
Connecticut’s FOI law provides any communication to a quorum of a public agency is subject to such scrutiny. WestportҒs Representative Town Meeting (RTM) has long had a system in place whereby copies of such e-mails are available in the town clerks office.
ғWe believe the steps the school board has taken will make it easier for future requests for public e-mails to be fulfilled much more promptly than was our experience in July, The Hour journalists said.
Landon did not respond to a request to comment.
The schools superintendent turned over the requested e-mails to the newspaper shortly after receiving a copy of its Aug. 11 complaint. Landon told The Hour at the time that he regretted it did not feel its request was being acted upon in a prompt fashion.
The newspaper said at the time that belated distribution of the e-mails did not make its complaint moot. In its Aug. 11 letter to the commission, The Hour had also asked the commission to rule if school officials had acted promptly under the law.
That request apparently was withdrawn as well by today’s letter.
Editor’s Note: The editor of WestportNow also serves as moderator of the RTM.
Regional Council Idea Gets Mixed Reception
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell was among lower Fairfield County elected officials who discussed the idea of forming a new council to set regional priorities, according to todays The Advocate of Stamford/Norwalk.
It said Farrell and other officials talked about the idea at ThursdayҒs meeting of the South Western Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in Norwalk. Farrell is chair of the MPO. The concept appeared to receive a mixed reception.
The MPO is the federally mandated organization designated by the governor as the forum for cooperative transportation decision-making.
The report did not make clear who floated the notion of a new regional body, but it quoted Farrell as saying,I really do think it improves the statureӔ of the region.
The Westport First Selectwoman told WestportNow today that the idea originated with the staff of the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA), but that she strongly endorsed it.
At least seven councils of government exist in other parts of the state. Proponents say one in this region would allow officials to confront issues, including casino development, housing shortages, the West Nile virus, emergency management and other cross-border issues, The Advocate said.
Farrell said sheӒs noticed that councils of government instead of regional planning agencies ֖ often have a greater say in certain statewide debates, the newspaper said.
New Canaan First Selectman Richard Bond and Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss were among those quoted as saying they didnԒt see a real need to change the present form of regional cooperation.
The Capitol Region Council of Governments is the largest of Connecticuts government councils. A voluntary association of municipal governments, it serves the City of Hartford and 28 surrounding suburban and rural communities.