Sunday, February 29, 2004
Westport’s Reggie Yemma placed third in this weekend’s 13th Annual U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships at Crested Butte, Colo.
Reggie Yemma poses with her mother, Eileen, at the end of her final Crested Butte race. Contributed photo
The 17-year-old Staples senior finished a very close third, less than a point behind the winner in the junior girls division.
The event attracts some of the top big mountain freeskiers from across the world to Crested Butte for adrenaline-charged action held on the resort’s wildest terrain.
The two girls who got judged just ahead of her are both from Colorado ski towns. They skiied an area of the mountain Saturday that had not been skied in several years due to lack of snow.
“She said it was so scary she nearly cried when she saw it for the first time for her practice run, but she’s quite gutsy and conquered it like a pro,” said Andy Yemma, Reggie’s father.
Members of the Greens Farms Academy male a capella group “Beachside Express” provided entertainment at today’s Westport Democratic Party fundraiser in advance of Tuesday’s presidential primary. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and state party chairman George Jepsen were among those attending. WestportNow.com photo
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal told a Westport Democratic Party fundraiser today that he is “finding more not less wrongdoing” in his investigation of Gov. John G. Rowland. Federal and state investigators are conducting a simultaneous inquiry into activities of the Republican chief executive. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE). WestportNow.com photo
A lucky couple embrace after escaping unhurt from a rollover Saturday night in front of 325 Riverside Ave. The 22-year-old Easton woman and 23-year-old Westport man said they swerved to avoid an oncoming car. Their Jeep sheared off a telephone pole before coming to rest on its side. The 11:21 p.m. accident was the second rollover on Riverside Avenue with no injuries in 48 hours.(CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE). WestportNow.com photo
The FCIAC tournament got underway tonight with Staples losing to top-seeded Trinity Catholic 63-45 in a game played at Fairfield High.
Second ranked Bridgeport Central beat seventh-ranked McMahon, third-ranked Fairfield beat sixth-ranked Harding and fourth-ranked Norwalk beat fifth-ranked Danbury.
The FCIACs continue Tuesday with Trinity Catholic playing Norwalk and Bridgeport Central playing Fairfield.
Staples next places in the CIAC state tournament which begins on March 9. Matchups and locations will be announced next week.
Saturday, February 28, 2004
The March issue of Smithsonian Magazine includes a photo by photojournalist Esther Bubley for Women’s Day magazine showing a 1957 Westport surprise birthday party for a teenage girl. The photo was published with an article “Eight-thirty to Midnight, or Don’t be afraid to give a party!,” which offered advice on planning a party for a teenager. Other photos in the series can be seen here. WestportNow reader Linda Gramatky Smith identified one of the dancers. See comment below. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE). EstherBubley.com photo
Westport’s Martha Stewart, fresh from a courtroom victory, says she is pleased the judge has dismissed the most serious charge against her and is optimistic she will exonerated.
Stewart, who has maintained silence through her federal court trial in Manhattan, posted her remarks on her www. marthatalks.com Web site.
“As my trial nears its conclusion, I am hopeful and optimistic that I will be exonerated and able once again to devote my full attention to developing and promoting the creative home keeping ideas that so many loyal customers and supporters have come to rely on for inspiration in their own kitchens, gardens and craft rooms,” she said.
“I’m pleased that the judge has dismissed the most serious of the charges against me, concluding that there is no evidence to support it.”
WestportNow Consumer Correspondent
Lets face it: weҒve made it this far through a yukky winter, stuck to our low-carb diets, paid through the nose for home heating oil, and had to bear daily doses of the Martha saga. Isnt it time for a little pleasure?
MollyҒs Sweet Eats two-layer chocolate cakes are $9.99 at Wild Oats. WestportNow. com photo
For most of us that means just one thing: a generous slice of rich, gooey, chocolate cake. Better yet, buy a whole cake. You might even have some left over for the Oscars on Sunday evening.
My 11-year-old-sons own personal favorite is Trader JoeҒs 7-inch Handmade Chocolate Ganache Torte. To die for and a bargain to boot at $5.99.
Here֒s what youll find around town. Adding “Happy Birthday” is free—with the exception of HayDay, which will charge you an additional $2.50 for an inscription.
9 a.m. - noon - Town Clerk’s Office - Special Saturday hours for voters to apply for an absentee ballot for Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary
The Inn at Longshore hosted a Mardi Gras party tonight for the benefit of the Levitt Pavilion. More than 250 people attended the sold out “Carnivale 2004!” event headlined by four-time Grammy Award nominee Buckwheat Zydeco. The funds will help pay for the free summer concerts at the Levitt. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE). Additional photo on community page. WestportNow.com photo
Friday, February 27, 2004
It was a dog day afternoon at Westport’s Compo Beach today. Sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s brought the canine crowd out. The forecast was for warming temperatures over the weekend. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE). WestportNow.com photo
The Westport Assessor’s office today released an updated version of the “model” being used to determine values in the 2003 property assessment.
The document contains technical changes to the version released earlier this week, according to Deputy Assessor Kevin Murowsky.
He said they include adding a breakdown of “style” variations that the assessors use in making their assessment.
The three-page schedule, available here as a PDF document, essentially is a roadmap that appraisers use in making judgments about properties, taking into account such variables as age, location, and property features.
Murowsky said he anticipated a revised 2003 property assessment list to be completed over the weekend.
It will reflect changes made as a result of interviews with residents as well as a spot review of whole streets and neighborhoods around town, according to First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell.
The federal judge overseeing the trial of Westports Martha Stewart today dropped one of the most serious charges against her—securities fraud.
The action came after media organizations reported that proposed instructions to the jury that the judge shared with lawyers Thursday night still contained the charge, according to a person briefed on the draft document.
Jury deliberations will begin next week on the remaining charges against Stewart and her former stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic.
Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum had made clear she had doubts about the validity of the charge, which carried a possible 10-year prison term.
The charges Cedarbaum left intact against Stewart included conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and two counts of lying to investigators.
Each count carries a possible maximum prison term of five years.
A 17-year-old Westport girl escaped serious injury tonight when her car rolled over on Riverside Avenue in front of Saugatuck Elementary School.
The teen-ager, the lone occupant of the car, was taken to Norwalk Hospital by Westport EMS. Her car was heavily damaged in the crash.
Police said the cause of the accident, which occurred shortly after 10 p.m., was under investigation.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Media organizations covering the trial of Westport’s Martha Stewart today asked the judge overseeing the trial to release the names of the jurors in the case when they deliver their verdict.
A federal appeals court has ruled U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum was wrong to bar reporters and the public from watching jury selection last month.
Cedarbaum has not indicated whether she will release the names.
But a letter to the judge from 17 media outlets said jurors’ names are routinely released after trials - and that interviews of former jurors benefit the judicial system.
(The following letter was sent to Schools Supt. Elliott Landon and Board of Ed Chair Sandra Urist)
In this time of dramatically rising property taxes due to new schools and school renovation, I am shocked to see that the school system is continuing to add to the already excessively large number of school administrators.
In the list of administrative positions that the school board is looking to fill (as listed on the school Web site), I see none that are essential.
I see none that add to the learning of the students who are at school. All I see is more and more layers of highly paid administrators.
Please take a look at the essentials of running the school and eliminate what is not necessary.
In the business world, people who run companies have to look at what is non-value-added and question whether or not a company really needs or can afford a position.
If the school system were a business, it would be out of business long ago. The fact that the town is expected to just fund and fund what is wanted, building up a top-heavy administrative staff is not reasonable.
I have no objection paying for teachers and a skeleton administration. That is reasonable. What is happening now including the administrative positions that are currently being advertised ֖ is not.
Jane E. Sherman
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell’s five-year capital forecast holds no major surprises with a $36 million upgrade to the town’s sewage treatment plant still one of the biggest items.
Much of the cost of the plant is expected to be financed by benefit assessment, according to town officials.
The Board of Selectmen will hold a special public hearing on the forecast March 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium.
Finance Director Don Miklus said the only significant change to the forecast from last year was the addition of a $5 million Board of Education request for administrative staff relocation in 2006-07.
While most eyes are focused on next week’s Connecticut Democratic primary, Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell is quietly trying to get voters to think about the battle for Congress in November.
“Diane Farrell for Congress” stickers have begun circulating among Westport Democrats. WestportNow.com photo
Farrell filed papers Jan. 13 to begin to raise funds to challenge Rep. Christopher Shays, a 16-year Republican veteran, for his 4th District seat.
At the time, she said she planned to make a formal announcement within a month and would be traveling throughout the district listening to and sharing her concerns and hopes with fellow residents.
A source close to Farrell said that announcement has been put off until sometime in March after the March 2 presidential primary.
But the two-term Westport chief executive nevertheless has been busy raising funds and talking with party leaders and voters.
In addition, “Diane Farrell for Congress” bumper and lapel stickers have begun circulating among Westport Democrats.
Update 2/29/04:A fundraiser for the Westport Democratic Town Committee was told the Farrell announcement will be made March 15 at 8 a.m. at Oscar’s Delicatessen in Westport to be followed by appearances elsewhere in the district.
The Staples boys 500th swim meet Wednesday (they lost to Darien 112-74) was the occasion for a reunion of former Staples swimmers. Among them ( l to r): Mike Laux, Matt Johnson, one of the team’s original three coaches, Rich Rollins, now a Bedford Middle School math teacher, retiring this June, who coached both Staples boys and girls for more than 25 years—not at the same time, Joe Brophy; Mike Krein; Rob Nathan; and Jake Gulick, who was team captain in 1977. Bob Knoebel is partially hiden. Emily Laux Roche for WestportNow.com
The Staples boys varsity lost their regular season finale Wednesday night to Brien McMahon 69-59 to finish 15-5 overall and 12-5 in the FCIAC.
The JV team won 62-50 to finish 17-3 overall and 13-3 in the FCIAC.
The FCIAC tournament begins Saturday at Fairfield High. The seeds will be determined after the results of all of the final games are tabulated.
The Representative Town Meeting (RTM) Finance Committee Wednesday night closely questioned the circumstances surrounding the backlog of 1,700 files that need to be added to the 2003 property assessment.
It then recommended approval of a $150,000 appropriation requested to bring the assessment up to date.
The vote to recommend approval was unanimous and the matter will go before the full RTM on March 9. The Board of Finance approved the amount to hire a firm to help clear the backlog at its Feb. 11 meeting.
First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell said she has also added $30,000 to the assessor’s office budget for the next fiscal year for extra help and overtime to make sure a backlog does not reoccur. And she said she has alerted town auditors to closely monitor the situation.
“I’m putting in measures so alarms go off,” Farrell told the committee. She said Finance Director Don Miklus was in touch with auditors to find out why they did not pick up the problem. “They never brought it to our attention,” she said.
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Planning & Zoning Commission Work Session
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Rep. Christopher Shays, responding to increasing commuter complaints about Metro-North’s New Haven Line, today urged Gov. John G. Rowland and state lawmakers to make an increased commitment to rail service.
The Republican from the 4th Congressional District sent a letter to Rowland, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Byrnes and state legislators from his district.
The letter details a four-point plan which calls for the purchase of more rail cars, design of a new rail maintenance facility, a review of the third rail power source study, and design of the next generation of rail cars.
“Our economy is hinged on the modernization of our transportation system. Improving our rail system is critical for Connecticut’s commuters and roads,” Shays said.
A new state-installed traffic light at the intersection of Post Road West and Kings Highway South has finally been uncovered and is blinking yellow. First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell told today’s brown bag lunch the state had informed her office that the signal will become fully operative by mid-March. Farrell was responding to citizen complaints that the new traffic light had remained covered and unused for months. WestportNow.com photo
Westport residents using the town’s sewer system will see a change in the way they are charged for the service under a proposal to be considered by the Board of Selectmen.
Steve Edwards, director of the Public Works Department, told the board in a memo that his department for years had been questioned by residents about charging sewer use fees based on arbitrary “residential units.”
“The existing system provides for a single residential use fee for all residences regardless of size or number of occupants,” he said. “An empty-nester is charged the same as a family of six.”
Edwards said similar inequities were evident when reviewing commercial accounts.
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell was among 20 Democratic mayors and first selectmen from across Connecticut endorsing Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry today.
Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez said Kerry is the party’s best shot at taking back the White House and bringing more jobs, education funding and better health care to the state.
“He is the best Democratic candidate that can take on George Bush and get our economy moving again,” Perez said.
Connecticut has lost 48,000 jobs, including 34,000 manufacturing jobs, since George Bush took office, said Perez.
He initially supported Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., but shifted to Kerry after Lieberman dropped out of the nomination race.
Farrell also backed Lieberman initially and was among Connecticut supporters who traveled to New Hampshire to campaign for him there.
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell told today’s brown bag lunch she estimates as many as 1,000 notices regarding property assessments might go out next week as a result of a review of the 2003 assessments. But she left unclear how many might indicate changes. “Everyone who raised a question will get a notice,” she said, adding,“They’re not cherry picking—they are looking at whole streets all over town.” She said a revised assessment list will be published identifying properties where assessments have changed. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE). WestportNow.com photo
Lawyers for Westport’s Martha Stewart rested their case today without putting her on the stand. They called only one witness during a defense that lasted less than an hour.
Courtroom sources said they expected closing arguments will take place next Monday and Tuesday with the judge charging the jury Wednesday after which it will begin deliberations.
The lone defense witness was Steven Pearl, a lawyer who testified about notes he took during a February 2002 interview in which the government claims Stewart told a series of lies about the day she sold her stock in ImClone Systems.
The session is an important part of the government’s case, and the defense sought to use Pearl’s testimony to raise questions about what Stewart was asked during the questioning - her first interview with investigators.
10:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 102 - International Hospitality Committee
Noon - Town Hall Room 309/307 - Citizens Brown Bag luncheon
5:30 p.m. - Staples High School, Room 516 - School Building Committee Staples Subcommittee
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309/307 - Board of Selectmen
7 p.m. - Staples High School Library - Board of Education budget work session with Board of Finance
7:45 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - RTM Finance & Public Works Committees
8:15 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201A - RTM Public Works Committee
Property transfers as reported by the Westport Town Clerk’s office for the period Feb. 16-20, 2004:
Kimberly M. Hynes to Christopher M. and Carla P. Baylis, 17 Davenport Ave., $550,000.
Leon C Hirsch to R. and J. At Michele Lane LLC, 1 Ford Road/Michele Lane, $865,000,
Leonard and Sara Beth Egol to Lisa and Franklin Canosa, 3 Sandy Hill Terrace, $739,000.