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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Commentary: A Son in a Dangerous World

Editor’s note: the following was broadcast on WSHU public radio. Jessica Bram is Westport writer.

By Jessica Bram

When my son David e-mailed me that his summer college internship had him living across from the Madrid train station where 89 morning commuters died during rush hour last year, I had only the briefest moment of unease.  After all, I told myself, the simultaneous explosion of 10 bombs in Madrid’s public transportation system 16 months ago was now long in the past.  Then I quickly turned my attention to David’s jubilant report of his host family’s perfect location two blocks from the Prado, of strange and wonderful Spanish customs such as dinner at 11, and discovering that eight years of classroom Spanish finally paid off.  “I can understand them!” he marveled. 

I rejoiced for my 19-year-old son at the prospect of this wondrous experience when he would leap into the world, unjaded and unafraid, to encounter strange customs and unfamiliar sounds, while stretching his young legs into adulthood.  It brought back with crystal clarity my own summer after college in 1974, when I crisscrossed Europe with only a backpack, Eurailpass, and ripped-apart copy of Harvard’s “Let’s Go Europe.”  I sometimes marvel at my own courage to have ventured out alone that way so young.  But I don’t remember courage � only a dizzy intoxication at being footloose and utterly on my own in strange and wonderful foreign lands.

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08/04/05 10:41 AM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Country Playhouse Season Finale Celebrates Heroism

The final show in the Westport Country Playhouse’s 75th anniversary summer season will be “Journey’s End.” The play celebrating heroism runs Aug. 18 through Sept. 4.

First staged in 1929, “Journey’s End” was called “the play that swept the world,” according to a Playhouse announcement.  It is based on the author R.C. Sherriff’s own experience during World War I.

Joanne Woodward, Playhouse artistic director, said, “This extraordinary rarity of a play is about human decency, about courage, comradeship and trust.  Deeply moving, yet laced with humor, it is as pertinent now as ever.”

“Journey’s End” shows the effects of war on a group of British soldiers during WWI.

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08/04/05 10:24 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Wall Street Journal: Westport Housing Market Softening

Today’s Wall Street Journal Online, in its Fiscally Fit column, cites Westport as among five communities where real estate prices are softening.

“Westport, Conn., brimming with stately mansions, hardly screams bargain bin, but local real-estate agents say they’re seeing a growing number of ‘just reduced’ home-price listings,” the newspaper said.

“Overly aggressive pricing is one of the reasons, says Patti McGovern, a sales associate at Coldwell Banker/Riverside Shavell in Westport.

“Over the past few years this market has been seeing a 10 percent to 15 percent annual appreciation, and this year we quite didn’t hit that,” McGovern said.

Sellers who put homes up for sale earlier this year have been overly optimistic about getting their asking price. They’ve had to rethink their expectations, the report said.

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08/04/05 03:12 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005

8 p.m. - Westport Country Playhouse - “The Member of the Wedding”
8 p.m. - Levitt Pavilion - Jodi Keogan and Friends: light-hearted combination of opera, Broadway, and cabaret.


08/04/05 03:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Westport Property Transfers July 25-29, 2005

Property transfers as reported by the Westport Town Clerk’s office for the period July 25-29, 2005:

Steven and Tracey Gruenig to Hewitt Relocation Services Inc., 10 Old Hill Road, $1,395,000
WN property.jpg

Hewitt Relocation Services Inc. to James Carr and Carolyn Kee Gamble III, 10 Old Hill Road, $1,395,000

ADL Design Builders LLC to Arnold J. and Susan E. Schaab, 3 Morningside Lane, $1,805,000

Eloise R. Johnson and David F. Preusser to Sherwood Homes LLC, 1 Baldwin Place, $1,400,000

Stephen Levanti and Maryann Ross to Thomas P. and Maria R. Freydl II, 57 Long Lots Road, $1,349,000

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08/04/05 02:12 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Fire at Country Store Quickly Extinguished

Westport firefighters tonight quickly extinguished a small fire on a propane stove at the Country Store at the intersection of Wilton Road and Newtown Turnpike. They broke a window to gain entry after a worker in the adjacent liquor store heard a fire alarm and smelled smoke. There was minimal damage, fire officials said. One firefighter slightly injured his knee during blaze but remained on duty. The store was heavily damaged by a fire several years ago. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/04/05 01:40 AM Comments () • Permalink

Martha Stewart’s House Arrest Extended

Martha Stewart, who still maintains a home and TV studio in Westport, will spend three extra weeks under house arrest at her Bedford, N.Y., home, her lawyer said today.

The extension following reports that she violated terms of her home confinement by going to a yoga class and motoring around her estate in an off-road vehicle.

Stewart “has agreed to an extension of the terms of her home confinement until Aug. 31,” her lawyer, Walter Dellinger, said in a brief statement. He did not elaborate on why the house arrest had been extended.

Stewart, who turned 64 today, served five months in a West Virginia prison camp and was scheduled to complete five months of house arrest Aug. 10.

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08/04/05 12:59 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Realtors Compo Clambake Draws Crowd

The Mid-Fairfield County Association of Realtors held its annual clambake tonight at Westport’s Compo Beach. Guests lined up in the steamy evening temperature in the 80s for shrimp cocktail, steamers and mussels as well as lobster, steak and chicken catered by Westport’s Westfair Fish and Chips. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo


08/03/05 11:08 PM Comments () • Permalink

CL&P Urges Energy Conservation, Warns More Westport Outages Possible

Connecticut Light & Power Co. said that today’s Westport power failure was due to continued problems with a transformer at its Green’s Farms substation. It asked Westporters to conserve power and warned that more outages are possible.

In a recorded message telephoned to all its Westport customers—a first in recent memory—the utility said that it had installed a portable unit at the substation but that it was “having difficulty in managing the load on this unit.”

“Unfortunately, this situation may continue for the next several days,” the message said, “and we may call you again for help in shutting off non-critical electric loads.”

The message told residents that “if you would shut off non-critical electrical load this evening, it will help ensure we do not suffer another failure until we make permanent repairs.”


08/03/05 09:13 PM Comments Closed • Permalink

Feds List Charges Against Former Westport Teacher

A former Westport middle school teacher inadvertently left a CD full of child pornography, including what appear to be lewd pictures of schoolchildren, in a computer he borrowed from a neighbor, federal investigators said today, the AP reported.

Paul Held, 67, a former teacher at Bedford Middle School, was arrested Tuesday at his North Avenue, Westport, home on federal charges of possession and distribution of child pornography and is being held without bond.

Held left thousands of sexual images of children as young as 2 years old on a laptop he borrowed from a neighbor while visiting his home in Vermont, according to court documents unsealed today.

“Some of the photographs also appeared to have been taken underneath school desks of unsuspecting female adolescents who were wearing skirts and dresses,” Jolinda L. Wnuk, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, wrote in an affidavit.

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08/03/05 07:30 PM Comments Closed • Permalink

Today’s WestportNow Teardown: 25 Old Road

WestportNow.com Image
Today’s WestportNow teardown is 25 Old Road. A demolition application is pending. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for for WestportNow.


08/03/05 06:29 PM Comments () • Permalink

Another Power Failure Hits Westport

For the second day in a row today, large parts of Westport near the Fairfield town line as well as north to the Coleytown area were were hit by a power failure that lasted about 90 minutes.blackout08030501.jpg
Traffic moves along Post Road East today with traffic lights out due to the power failure. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jonathan Thrope for WestportNow.com

Power went out shortly after 1 p.m. and at 2 p.m. Connecticut Light & Power Co. said 2,271 Westport customers were without power, or 19 percent of all customers in town. All areas appeared restored by 2:40 p.m.

The blackout occurred in the same area where CL&P said more than 1,700 customers were left without power Tuesday. That failure, up to five hours in some places, was due to transformer problem at the utility’s Green’s Farms substation.

There was no immediate explanation for today’s outage which came as mid-day temperatures soared into the mid-90s. Areas affected were Post Road East from Maple Avenue North to the Fairfield town line and north to the Coleytown area.

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08/03/05 04:17 PM Comments () • Permalink

Capacity Crowd Expected for Friday’s Beach Boys Concert at Levitt

A capacity crowd is expected Friday when the Beach Boys return to Westport’s Levitt Pavilion.

According to Levitt Pavilion Executive Director Freda Welsh, the concert is now sold out with 2,500 tickets sold. She said there are still a limited number of Gala Dinner tickets at $250 which include priority seating at the concert and the after-party.

Gates will open for the concert at 7:30 p.m. with general admission ticket holders seated on a first-come basis. Starting at 8 p.m., singer and guitarist Forrest Sun will provide some pre-concert entertainment, and the Beach Boys will take the stage at 9 p.m.

In 1998, after the death of lead guitarist Carl Wilson, the original Beach Boys split up into three separate tours, according to the band’s official fan club Web site.

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08/03/05 03:47 PM Comments Closed • Permalink

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2005

10:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 102 - International Hospitality Committee
2 p.m. and 8 p.m. - Westport Country Playhouse - “The Member of the Wedding”
4 p.m.  - Town Hall Room 201 - Beautification Committee
4:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309, SBC Staples Subcommittee
7 p.m. - Levitt Pavilion - Trent Arterberry: Mime Out Loud


08/03/05 03:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Update: Power Outage Leaves More Than 1,700 Westport Customers in Dark

A five-hour power outage hit parts of Westport near the Fairfield line today, Connecticut Light & Power Co. said.stopshopblackout08020501260.jpg
Emergency power lit Westport’s Stop & Shop during today’s power outage. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

A CL&P spokeswoman said the outage—which came as mid-day temperatures soared into the 90s—was caused by a transformer problem at the utilty’s Green’s Farms substation.

“We had 1,727 customers out at about 10:30 a.m.,” said the spokeswoman, Mary Ingarra.

She said power was restored to more than 500 customers by mid-day but 1,054 were still in the dark at 3 p.m. The llights flickered on in most homes and businesses shortly after 3:30 p.m.

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08/02/05 06:59 PM Comments () • Permalink

Not a Good Day

The driver of a Porsche pulled over in front of 156 North Ave. today as flames erupted from his car’s rear engine compartment. A passing pickup driver sprayed the flames with a fire extinguisher before Westport firefighters arrived.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo


08/02/05 06:17 PM Comments Closed • Permalink

Checking the Damage

Westport firefighters check a Porsche after flames erupted in the engine compartment on North Avenue. The driver, (rear, on the phone), pulled over and escaped without injury.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo


08/02/05 06:15 PM Comments Closed • Permalink

Telling a Tale of Success

Mollie Donovan told today’s Westport Rotary Club luncheon about the successful effort to return artist Stevan Dohanos’s “Honor Roll” painting to Westport. Donovan and Wally Woods (l) put together the current Westport Historical Society exhibit “The Folks Back Home” where the painting is on display. The luncheon went on despite a power outage that left diners in the dark and without air conditioning.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/02/05 05:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

Honoring Dick Foot

Richard Foot, who is retiring this month as executive director/CEO of the Westport Weston Family Y, was honored by colleagues Monday night at the Cobb’s Mill Inn in Weston. Foot, who has served in the position since 1996, announced June 30 that he will become a consultant to 25 Y’s in Connecticut effective Aug. 15. (See WestportNow June 30, 2005) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/02/05 03:13 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005

8 p.m. � Town Hall Auditorium � Representative Town Meeting (cable coverage channel 79)
8 p.m. - Levitt Pavilion - 102nd Army Concert Band
8 p.m. - Westport Country Playhouse - “The Member of the Wedding”


08/02/05 03:04 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Monday, August 01, 2005

Former Town Attorney and Wife Make Spanish Pilgrimage

Former Westport Town Attorney Andy Fink and his wife Helen will address a Michigan meeting Wednesday about their 500-mile trek across northern Spain retracing a pilgrimage route.

Fink, who served as town attorney from 1993 to 1997 under former First Selectman Joe Arcudi, moved with his wife, a former special ed teacher, to his native Michigan where they operate a bead and breakfast, The Finch Nest, in Whitehall. (See WestportNow July 28, 2003)

They will address the Montague Friends of the Library about their walk on the centuries-old 500-mile pilgrimage route across northern Spain to Compostela where the bones of Spain’s patron saint, St. James, are reported to be buried, according to the White Lake Beacon, a weekly newspaper in Whitehall.

The Finks hiked 300 miles of the route and traveled the rest by bus, the newspaper said.


08/01/05 11:42 PM Comments () • Permalink

Save the Children Expanding Aid to Niger

Westport’s Save the Children said today it is moving quickly to expand its emergency response to the food shortage crisis in the West African country of Niger, where tens of thousands of children and their families face starvation.

A Save the Children aid plane arrived in Niger last week with enough food and equipment to support one month of therapeutic feeding for severely malnourished children and those recovering from malnutrition, the humanitarian organization said.

With more than 40 tons of essential supplies now on the ground, Save the Children is working to provide nutritional assistance to children under 5 who are facing severe food shortages following the lethal combination of poor rainfall this year and a locust infestation in the sub-Saharan African country.

Almost a third of Niger’s population of 11.3 million people risk starvation in the already desperately poor West African nation, hit first by a locust invasion and then by drought. Children are the most vulnerable - some 800,000 under age 5 are suffering from hunger, including 150,000 faced with severe malnutrition.

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08/01/05 11:21 PM Comments Closed • Permalink

Opening Night for “The Member of the Wedding”

Saturday was the opening night performance of Carson McCullers’ “The Member of the Wedding”  at the Westport Country Playhouse. Pictured (l-r) are: Jack Metzger, playing ‘John Henry’; Joanne Woodward, director; Samuel L. Jackson; LaTanya Richardson Jackson, playing ‘Berenice’; and Mary Jane Langrall.  The play runs through Aug. 14. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


08/01/05 10:08 PM Comments Closed • Permalink

Stevan Dohanos ‘Honor Roll’ Painting Home to Stay

1943 Saturday Evening Post cover. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) File photo
The effort to raise $12,500 to acquire Stevan Dohanos’s historic World War II Westport “Honor Roll” painting has been successful and today those involved in the purchase celebrated.

They gathered at the Westport Historical Society, where the painting is currently on display. Thanking them were members of the Society as well as members of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection Committee and the Westport WPA Art Rescue Committee.

The painting served as a December 1943 cover of The Saturday Evening Post, and was the first of 136 Post covers created by Dohanos, a Westport artist.

The painting, formally acquired last week, will become part of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection, a “living museum” of more than 700 works of art on view in schools and other public buildings in town.

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08/01/05 06:41 PM Comments () • Permalink

Saving the “Honor Roll”

Those involved in bringing home Stevan Dohanos’s “Honor Roll” painting gathered today at the Westport Historical Society. Picured (l-r) are: George Sterling, Dave Matlow, Denise McLaughlin, Marty Resnick, Joyce Netherton (partial), Ann Sheffer, Bill Gault, Betty Lou Cummings, Judy Sterling, Helenanne Wilmott, Mollie Donovan, Ann Chernow, Katie Chase, Elizabeth Strick, Carol Malone, and Linda Gramatky Smith. Seated is Howard Munce. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Emily Laux for WestportNow.com


08/01/05 06:36 PM Comments () • Permalink

Retired Staples Teacher Giving Up Maine B&B After 10 Years

Sunday’s Boston Globe spotlights retired Staples teacher Don Schuman and his wife Charlene who have operated a Maine bed and breakfast for the past 10 years � and are about to give it up.

“We’re going on 10 years now, and the average length of time in the B&B business is seven,”  Schuman told the newspaper. “Life is short. We want to do something else.”

Schuman, who taught at Staples for more than 30 years, was an active faculty member, “chairing this and that committee,” working with the drama department, on curriculum development, and as adviser to the school paper.

“I was Mr. Staples High School,” he said.


08/01/05 05:19 PM Comments () • Permalink

Today’s WestportNow Teardown: 621 Post Road East

Today’s WestportNow teardown is a free-standing former retail building at 621 Post Road East where Shaw’s Supermarket is located. The building formerly housed Everything Personalized (now located in the strip mall at the rear) and Cingular Wireless. A demolition application is pending.. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/01/05 03:14 AM Comments () • Permalink

Big Band Sound is Big Draw at the Levitt

The big band sound drew a big crowd to Westport’s Levitt Pavilion Sunday night as Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks made their debut performance. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo


08/01/05 03:12 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, Aug. 1, 2005

7:30 p.m. � Town Hall Room 201/201A � Golf Advisory Committee


08/01/05 03:04 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

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