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Friday, December 19, 2003

Lucky Lady



A woman motorist escaped with minor injuries today after her car ran off the road on Wilton Road near the Wilton town line and landed upside down in a stream. Westport firefighters work with a garage employee to figure out how to get the car out. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/19/03 08:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, December 19, 2003





Friday, December 19, 2003


9:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201/201A - Commission for Senior Services
3 p.m. - Town Hall Lobby - Holiday Celebration

   

12/19/03 04:03 AM Comments () • Permalink

Youth Commission Discusses Underage Drinking


Members of the Westport Youth Commission tonight discussed their backing of an ordinance aimed at curbing underage drinking. The group heard from members of the Representative Town Meeting on how ordinances are considered and passed by the legislative body. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/19/03 02:29 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, December 18, 2003

The Big Splash



A backed up storm drain caused some flooding on North Avenue near Charcoal Hill Road today. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/18/03 03:25 PM Comments () • Permalink

That’s Better



The fog and drizzle of Wednesday is gone and the view of the Saugatuck River Bridge on I-95 today was bright and clear—although the camera resolution could have been better. DOT photo

   

12/18/03 12:37 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, December 18, 2003





Thursday, December 18, 2003


7 p.m. - Toquet Hall - Youth Commission
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Planning & Zoning Commission
7:45 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - RTM Finance Study Committee
8 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Health & Human Services Study Committee
8:15 p.m. - Room 201 - RTM Public Protection Study Committee

   

12/18/03 04:04 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Staples Identified as Not Meeting No Child Left Behind Law

As expected, Westports Staples High School was among Connecticut high schools identified today as not meeting standards set under the federal No Child Left Behind education law.

Staples was cited because not enough students participated in the 2003 Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), according to the AP.

Under the federal law, 95 percent of students are required to participate.

On Dec. 3, the state cited Westport as among Connecticut school districts that failed to make “adequate yearly progress,” a requirement of the law.

While the state at that time did not specifically cite Staples, Schools Supt. Elliott Landon confirmed that not enough students taking tests at the high school had contributed to the Westport deficiency listing.

He said only 44 of 48 Staples special education students participated in the CAPT mathematics test and 43 of 48 participated in the CAPT reading test.

However, he noted that for the special education students who did participate, 92 percent scored at or above the proficiency level in mathematics, and 100 percent achieved proficiency in reading.

In August, Bedford Middle School was listed on the state list of schools in need of improvement because one student did not take a test, according to Landon.

CAPT evaluates sophomore students in four subject areas: reading, writing, math and science. Student scores are the basis for determining which high schools are making “adequate yearly progress” in meeting the standards of the federal education reform law.

Full results are available at www.captreports.com.

   

12/17/03 10:47 PM Comments () • Permalink

Foggy Over the Saugatuck



Interstate-95 traffic on the Saugatuck River Bridge is shrouded in fog today in this view from a traffic camera. DOT photo

   

12/17/03 07:58 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thanks to a Hero



Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell presented Kevin Slater with a proclamation today saluting his heroism in rescuing Robert Paniccia, a 17-year-old Staples student (l.), from a burning car wreck Aug. 1. During the brown bag lunch, Paniccia also presented Slater with a citation from the Connecticut General Assembly honoring his act. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/17/03 07:38 PM Comments () • Permalink

In a Fix



Police shut down Compo Road South at the railroad underpass for almost two hours today after a roofing tile delivery truck’s boom struck some overhead wires of the underpass. The driver was transported to Norwalk Hospital with minor injuries. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/17/03 07:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Hail to the Chief



Alfred Fiore (l.), Westport’s newly-named police chief, shares a laugh with Deputy Police Chief Don Brown following Tuesday’s announcement of Fiore’s appointment. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/17/03 05:37 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, December 17, 2003





Wednesday, December 17, 2003


10:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 102 - International Hospitality Committee
Noon - Room 309/307 - Citizens Brown Bag Luncheon
7 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Conservation Commission
7:30 p.m. - Library - Library Board

   

12/17/03 04:02 AM Comments () • Permalink

Dialoguing for Dollars



Members of the Board of Education and of the Finance and Education Committees of the Representative Town Meeting met tonight in a work session to discuss budget matters and ways to achieve efficiencies. The educators held a similar session last week with members of the Board of Finance. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/17/03 02:33 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Helen Kowalsky McCoy Dies at Age 83

Helen Kowalsky McCoy of Westport, a longtime employee with her late brothers of the well-known Westport construction firm Kowalsky Brothers, has died at the age of 83.

McCoy, wife of the late Robert A. McCoy, Sr., died Monday in Norwalk Hospital, family members said.

Born in Westport, McCoy was the daughter of the late Joseph and Mary Cherub Kowalsky and had been a lifelong town resident.

Prior to retiring, she was the office manager for Kowalsky Brothers for 40 years. A graduate of Staples High School, she was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399 and an avid gardener.

In addition to her husband Mrs. McCoy was also predeceased by three brothers, Paul, Joseph and John Kowalsky and one sister, Joan Gallo.

Survivors include a son, Robert A. McCoy, Jr., of Fairfield, three daughters, Carole MacIntyre of Weston, Susan Kokoska of Newtown, and Robin Burns of Sugar Run, Pa.; a brother, Edward J. Kowalsky of Westport, and a sister, Nan Petraskos of Boca Raton, Fla.

She is also survived by five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Friends may attend the funeral Friday at 9:20 a.m from the Harding Funeral Home, 210 Post Road East, and 10 a.m. at St. Luke Church, 84 Long Lots Road, for a Mass of Christian Burial.

Interment will follow in Assumption Cemetery, Greens Farms. The family will receive friends in the funeral home Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

   

12/16/03 10:26 PM Comments () • Permalink

Farrell Appoints Alfred Fiore as New Police Chief

Making what she described as a very difficult decision,Ӕ First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell today appointed Alfred R. Fiore, a 25-year veteran of the Westport Police Department, as the towns new police chief. The 47-year-old Fiore, who has been one of three deputy chiefs since last March, replaces William J. Chiarenzelli, 59, who announced his retirement last month after a 38-year career in the department. He will take over Jan. 1. ғThis was a very difficult decision to make, Farrell told a mid-day news conference in the classroom of police headquarters as a dozen or so police, firefighters, and town officials looked on. Chiarenzelli was not among them, nor was one of the other deputy chiefs, David Heinmiller—both were busy elsewhere on town business. Only Deputy Chief Donald Brown was there to see Fiore announced for the job the three top deputies had coveted.
Westport’s new police chief, Alfred Fiore: “I was a Boy Scout and they say ԑbe prepared and I am.” Thom Burrows for WestportNow.com
Farrell said she informed Fiore and the others Monday of her decision. She said she had authorized a $3,000 cash bonus for Brown and Heinmiller in recognition of their service to the town as deputy chiefs. ғOn the one hand, we are blessed in this town because we have such professional police personnel that we (have) absolutely no need to go outside the department, Farrell said. ԓThe difficulty was that was have an embarrassment of riches as the saying goes as you know, we had three incredibly qualified, dedicated professionals as deputy chiefs.֔ Calling it a tough process but a very thorough process, the towns chief executive said she had worked closely with all three candidates for 10 years, first on the Board of Finance and then as First Selectwoman. ғI could make a case for all three, she said. ԓThey are incredible individuals. In the end, however, it was Fiore who stood out, Farrell said. He had gained the respect of fellow officers, town department heads, elected officials, as well as members of the FBI and state police, she said. ԓOne of the things I have found most impressive about Al is his dedication to leadership and his philosophy about leadership, Farrell added. She noted that Fiore, who grew up in Shelton, had long been a Westport resident and joked that ԓhe is also taking a big risk with this job because he is also a resident of this town. In brief remarks, Fiore thanked Farrell for the confidence she had shown in him. “I was a Boy Scout and they say ԑbe prepared and I am,Ҕ he said with a broad grin. Fiore, who received a B.S. in criminal justice from the University of New Haven, said the two other deputy chiefs were longtime friends and great police officers.Ӕ I look forward to continued support from them and everyone else within the department,Ӕ he said. Fiore said there was much to do in the department and that things have changed in policing over the years, especially over the last few years since Sept. 11.Ӕ As his wife Kim, a sales director for Salomon Brothers Asset Mangement, looked on, Fiore pledged to do his best. “I ask you to bear with me, work with me, and support me, ” he said. “And you know, each and every one of you, that I will support you 100 percent. My heart and soul is in this town, and in this police department.”

   

12/16/03 08:09 PM Comments () • Permalink

New Police Chief: “My Heart and Soul is in this Town”



Westport’s new police chief, Alfred Fiore, tells a news conference today “my heart and soul is in this town.”  Among those watching was fellow Deputy Police Chief Donald Brown (blue shirt) who was also a candidate for the job. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/16/03 07:53 PM Comments () • Permalink

Changing of the Guard



Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell poses with new Police Chief Alfred Fiore and his wife Kim along with Fire Chief Denis McCarthy following today’s announcement of the appointment of Fiore to his post. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/16/03 04:58 PM Comments () • Permalink

Alfred Fiore Named New Westport Police Chief



Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell today announced the appointment of Alfred R. Fiore, 47, as the town’s new police chief. He succeeds William J. Chiarenzelli who retires Jan. 1 after 38 years with the department. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/16/03 04:50 PM Comments () • Permalink

New Westport Police Chief to be Named Today

Westport First Selectman Diane Goss Farrell scheduled a mid-day news conference today to announce a successor to retiring Police Chief William J. Chiarenzelli.

Deputy Police Chief Alfred R. Fiore, 47, appeared to be the leading candidate over fellow Deputy Chiefs Donald Brown and David Heinmiller, according to several Town Hall sources.

But Farrell was still talking to the candidates and other officials as late as Monday, the sources said, and her final choice was not known.

Farrell had said last week that she planned to appoint the successor to Chiarenzelli before the Christmas holidays and there was speculation she might use Wednesdays citizensҒ brown bag lunch for the occasion.

Chiarenzelli announced Nov. 26 that he would retire Jan. 1 after a 38-year career with the department.

Last week, the Police Pension Board approved a $89,810 annual disability benefit for Chiarenzelli.

   

12/16/03 01:31 PM Comments () • Permalink

Board of Ed Tackles Controversial School Start-Time Issue

In a discussion that lasted more than two hours, Westports Board of Education Monday night told the co-chairs of a committee studying the controversial school start-time issue to come up with a recommendation in time for the next school year. Several board members suggested the panel consider a compromise 15-minute change Җ something that also had been raised earlier this year but rejected. Two schools Coleytown Middle School and Coleytown Elementary School ֖ started classes a half-hour earlier beginning in September to save money on transportation costs.
Dan Sullivan, principal of Green’s Farms Elementary School, and Angela Wormser, principal of Bedford Middle Shool, hear thoughts from Board of Education members Monday night on the controversial school start-time issue. WestportNow.com photo
The move sparked an outcry from parents who said the decision meant their children would get less sleep and also suffer academically. The issue was hotly debated during the November election for three board seats. The seven board members, without taking a formal vote, appeared to reject an extended timetable request by the committee. It suggested that it be permitted to continue its work for an additional six to nine months to further study the issue and make a recommendation for the 2005-2006 school year. Instead, the board told the co-chairs of the committee Dan Sullivan, principal of Green֒s Farms Elementary School, and Angela Wormser, principal of Bedford Middle School to come up with at least an interim solution to be implemented next September. ֓I think a change has to be made for next year, said member Mary Parmelee, a Democrat who won re-election to her second term last month. She had made the earlier suggestion for the 15-minute compromise. Added Lewis Brey, a Republican freshman also elected in November: ԓId be disappointed to have to wait to make a change.Ҕ He reminded the board and the co-chairs that the new times had only been initiated in September. IӒm not talking about a long-standing practice, he said. Nancy Harris, assistant superintendent for business, told the board that a 15-minute change in start times would be ԓbudget neutral, meaning it would not have a significant cost implication. Brey as well as fellow Republican Linda Merk-Gould, board vice chair, said theyԒd favor adding parents or other community members to the start-time committee, which is made up only of school staff members. Rob Sobleman, head of the Staples High School student legislative body, urged the board to add one or more student members as well and pointedly asked Schools Supt. Elliott Landon why no community members were on the panel. Landon replied that it was his decision to make it a staff committee only that would make a recommendation to the Board of Education for action. If itӒs a community decision, why are we asking the staff to make the decision? Sobleman responded, to a scattering of applause from audience members.

   

12/16/03 05:05 AM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Night Scene



Westport’s YMCA building has a festive look Monday night on a deserted Post Road East. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/16/03 04:54 AM Comments () • Permalink

Board of Ed Approves Calendar, Rejects Additional Meetings

The Board of Education Monday night approved a school calendar for next year that is little changed from this year. But it rejected a recommendation from the schools superintendent that it regularly schedule additional board meetings and start them earlier. The calendar was approved by a 7-0 vote. Before the vote, board member Mary Parmelee, a Democrat, questioned Schools Supt. Elliott Landon as to the makeup of the staff committee that drafted the calendar. Parents had been on past calendar committees.
Staples student body head Rob Sobleman addresses Board of Ed Monday night. WestportNow.com photo
We went through the process without parents,Ӕ Landon said, adding that the Board of Education would have the final say.Ӕ Parmelee said she hoped parents would be added back to the committee next year. The calendar calls for students to report for classes Sept. 1, 2004, the Wednesday before the Monday Labor Day holiday. A number of parents this year as well as in the past had asked that school not start before Labor Day to better accommodate summer vacation plans. As to having additional board meetings Landon had recommended three a month instead of the present two and that they start at 7:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. to accommodate more board business and public input ֖ no formal vote was taken. But the idea seemed to win little favor among board members. Democrat Mark Mathias, a freshman, said that if the board created more shelf space,Ӕ theyd only manage to fill it. Instead he suggested their meetings could be run ғa little tighter to get more work done. Mathias also said he did not endorse another Landon suggestion that public comment be limited to only one meeting a month. ԓIm not for meeting without public input,Ҕ he said. Also not winning much support was a suggestion by Parmelee that board meetings also be scheduled for the occasional Friday mornings so more members of the public could attend. Rob Sobleman, head of the Staples High School student legislative body, asked that regular board meetings be scheduled to coincide with the Tuesday night meetings of his group. Several members said special meetings could be held, but there appeared to be little support for scheduling regular board meetings with the student parliamentarians.

   

12/16/03 04:36 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, December 16, 2003





Tuesday, December 16, 2003


8:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Human Services Commission
9:45 a.m. -  Job Site - Public Site & Building Commission Center for Senior Activities Building Committee
10 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Administrative Review Committee
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Zoning Board of Appeals
8 p.m. -  Staples High School Library - Board of Education work session with RTM committees

   

12/16/03 04:03 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, December 15, 2003

New French Country Retailer Comes to Westport


Home furnishing company Pierre Deux held an opening reception tonight at its new Westport location at 275 Post Road East. It is the 14th U.S. store for the Secaucus, N.J. -based company which introduced the French Country look to the U.S. market 35 years ago. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/15/03 11:54 PM Comments () • Permalink

Icy Slush Covers Roads, Wind Advisory Still in Effect, Schools Delayed

Westporters awoke today to icy slush covering many roadways, making driving dangerous, and a wind advisory in effect through the afternoon. Westport schools delayed classes by two hours. High winds downed trees and power lines Sunday, leaving more than 1,000 Connecticut Light and Power customers without power for several hours. By 7 a.m. today, the utility reported only 15 Westport customers still out. An hour later, it reported all customers restored.
A home owner gets help from Westport firefighters in assessing the damage after a tree fell on a house Sunday night on Punch Bowl Drive. No one was injured. WestportNow.com photo
Overnight temperatures remained below freezing after a weekend storm left three to four inches of snow on the ground. By Sunday night, the precipitation had turned to rain and sleet, leaving many roadways covered with a slushy mixture that iced over during the overnight hours. There was also some road ponding and minor flooding. The Westport school system announced a two-hour delay because of the slick road conditions and icy drizzle. State police reported slippery conditions on Interstate-95 and the Merritt Parkway. An accident near Westport’s exit 17 on I-95 backed up southbound traffic just before 6 a.m. The National Weather Service, in a wind advisory, said winds would reach 45 to 50 miles per hour later in the day toward evening as a low pressure area moved away from the region. Police reported only a few minor accidents during the storm. In the potentially most serious incident, a tree crashed into a house on Punch Bowl Drive at mid-evening. An elderly couple in the home was not injured, but there was extensive damage to the roof and a room where the tree smashed through a window. The tree was in an adjoining wooded area 50 yards or so from the house but was so tall and fell in such a way that it smashed directly into the structure. Westport firefighters, working in a heavy rain, managed to secure a rope to a large portion of the tree on the snow-covered and slippery roof and push it harmlessly to the ground. They then covered portions of the roof as well as the window with protective plastic sheeting. It looked like the tree just rotted at its base,Ӕ said Asst. Chief Jon Gottfried. They were very lucky it was not worse.Ӕ

   

12/15/03 12:05 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, December 15, 2003





Monday, December 15, 2003


5:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Tree Board
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Planning & Zoning Study Committee
7:30 p.m. - Staples High School, Room 516 - Board of Education anticipated executive session
8 p.m. - Staples High School Library - Board of Education

   

12/15/03 04:03 AM Comments () • Permalink

Snowstorm Coats Roads, Causes Power Outages

The second pre-winter snowstorm in a week moved through the Westport area today, coating town roadways and downing trees and power lines.

The storm dumped three to four inches of snow on roads before turning to a mixture of sleet and rain early in the evening.

Police and fire units were kept busy responding to reports of trees and power lines down tonight.

Affected areas included portions of Turkey Hill Road North, Prospect Road, Maple Lane near New Creek, and Valley Road.

High winds caused a tree to fall on a house on Punch Bowl Drive at mid-evening. An elderly couple inside escaped injury, but there was extensive damage to the roof and an interior room where the tree knocked out a window.

As of 11 p.m., Connecticut Light and Power reported 1,011 Westport customers were without power. By midnight, the number was down to 227.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch and a wind advisory for the area. It predicted wind gusts of 45 to 55 miles per hour and said rain combined with melting snow raised the danger of ponding of water in some areas as well as some street flooding.

   

12/15/03 03:59 AM Comments () • Permalink

Close Call on Punch Bowl Drive



Westport firefighter Brett Kirby surveys the damage after a tree fell on a house on Punch Bowl Drive tonight. An elderly couple inside escaped injury but the roof and portions of the house interior were damaged. WestportNow.com photo

   

12/15/03 01:58 AM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Schools Superintendent Proposes More, Earlier Board Meetings

In an effort to accommodate more Board business and public input, Schools Supt. Elliott Landon is proposing the Board of Education meet three times a month instead of two and start a half hour earlier—at 7:30 p.m.

In a memo to Board members in advance of Monday nights meeting, Landon proposed that the Board have one monthly meeting devoted solely to public input and not take public comment at the other two meetings.

ғDepending on the press of business, the Board could schedule one of the meetings for extended public comments or, if the meeting is deemed not necessary, the meeting could be canceled, he said.

Landon added, ԓIf the Board approves this approach, members might wish to consider eliminating public comment on non-agenda items for two meetings per month and opening the floor for general public comment at the third meeting.

In response to concerns from Board members and the public about starting important topics late in the evening, Landon proposed moving up the meeting start time a half hour from 8 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

He said this would mean starting executive sessions at 6 p.m., and following the practice of the Board of Finance, bringing in dinner for members.

   

12/14/03 07:28 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Schools Propose Traditional Calendar for 2004-2005

The proposed Westport school calendar for 2004-2005 looks pretty much like the ones in the past.

In a submission for Board of Education action at its Monday night meeting, Schools Supt. Elliott Landon said the proposal is for a traditional calendar, preserving the three extended vacations in the customary places with eight weeks between each vacation period.Ӕ

Landon said Westport schools will continue to be in session on Veterans Day but added that all principals will pay particular attention to having a significant observance of the meaning of the day.Ӕ

There had been some criticism by Westport veterans after this years observance that school children should not have school on Nov. 11 so they could attend the townҒs annual Veterans Day ceremony at Town Hall.

The calendar proposal calls for school to start on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2004, and end on Thursday, June 23, 2005. Students will be off for Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 6.

The Christmas break will be from Friday, Dec. 24, 2004, to Monday, Jan. 3, 2005.

There will be a vacation break from Monday, Feb. 21, 2005, to Friday. Feb. 25, with a staff development day on Monday, Feb. 28, meaning students won’t return to classes until Tuesday, March 1.

The final vacation will be Monday, April 18, to Friday, April 22.

Landon told the board in a memo that since the calendar is a traditional one, he hoped the board would approve it Monday night as we have already begun to get phone calls from parents trying to plan ahead for their childrenӒs summer activities and their family vacations.

   

12/14/03 06:07 PM Comments () • Permalink

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