Monday, December 26, 2005
Less than one week remains before decisions need to be made under federal law regarding voting machines, and Westport officials are still waiting for word from the secretary of the state’s office.
In September, the federal government ruled the traditional lever machines do not comply with the Help America Vote Act, and ruled that they cannot be used in state elections.
Local officials attended demonstrations a month ago of the new, electronic machines, but they still have not heard which ones can be used in the election next fall.
“We haven’t heard anything yet,” said Nita Cohen, registrar of voters. “I don’t understand the hurry. There’s going to need to be a lot of education and money spent, and I we’re doing it in such a hurry.”
Westport’s Main Street was crowded with day after Christmas shoppers today looking for bargains. There were long lines in many stores, including Brooks Brothers pictured here where everything was marked down 15 percent before 1 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
The fog couldn’t keep one person and her dog away from Westport’s Compo Beach today. The golden retriever waits to watch the ball its owner is holding in her hand. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
“Brooklyn: Contemporary Work by Artists from New York’s Fastest Growing Arts Community” opens Jan. 6 and runs through Feb. 17 at the Westport Arts Center.
The artists have created work reflecting the innovation, energy and excitement of New York’s fastest growing arts community.
“The work is wide-ranging. These are artists with diverse strategies and sensibilities,” said curator Amy Simon. “What connects them is their community; they are all contemporaries.”
The opening reception for Brooklyn is Friday, Jan. 6 from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at the gallery on Riverside Avenue and is open to the public.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff assists Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht this evening as they lit the menorah at Compo Acres Shopping Plaza. It is the first night of Hanukkah, and a the rain didn’t stop a small crowd from coming to the event that featured the lighting, music, dancing and refreshments. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jennifer Connic for WestportNow.com
There was plenty of food and entertainment today at the Saugatuck Congregational Church Christmas Day feast. Several hundred persons turned out for the annual Westport event. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Westport’s Saugatuck Congregational Church welcomed several hundred guests at today’s annual Christmas Day dinner. Santa (aka Larry Aasen) greeted one of the younger visitors. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
There is less than a week before musicians, artists and performers of all kinds descend upon Wesport to celebrate New Year’s Eve with this year’s edition of First Night.
Flashback: Fireworks explode above Westport’s Jesup Green during Westport Weston First Night on Dec. 31, 2004. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
The event, which is non-alcoholic, starts at 3 p.m. at various venues throughout Westport’s downtown area and concludes with fireworks at midnight to ring in 2006. About 4,000 people are expected to attend.
Buttons can be bought for $15 at a variety of locations including Westport Town Hall, Westport Public Library and the Westport Center for Senior Activities.
Rozanne Gates, First Night executive director, said there are 13 venues this year—including two new ones and one returning one.
1 p.m. - Saugatuck Congregational - Christmas Feast
4:30 p.m. - Compo Acres Shopping Center - Menorah Lighting
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Santa (aka Wally Meyer) has a twinkle in his eyes tonight as he gives out presents on Westport’s Webb Road, continuing a 30-year Christmas Eve tradition in the neighborhood. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Continuing a Christmas Eve tradition, Santa Claus passes out presents to children on Westport’s Webb Road tonight. The Dec. 24 visit has been occurring for more than 30 years on the street. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
The Westport Country Playhouse is seeking applications for 2006 summer internships.
“The 2006 summer season will be both exciting and challenging,” said Hyla Crane, Playhouse education director, who described the internships as a “springboard to a professional life in the theater.”
Among the internship positions available are: scene construction and painting, administration, publicity, stage management, wardrobe and artistic direction.
The internships are open to undergraduate and graduate students age 19 and up, and each must make a minimum commitment of 12 weeks full time from five to seven days a week, Crane said.
A head-on crash in Westport’s Saugatuck area tonight sent two persons to the hospital, fire officials said.
The accident occurred at about 8 p.m. at the intersection of Saugatuck Avenue and Riverside Avenue, according to Assistant Chief Robert Kepchar.
He said in addition to the two vehicles involved in the accident, a third vehicle also was involved.
Westport EMS transported two of the three drivers to the hospital, he said. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known.
Police shut down the intersection following the crash with the last fire vehicle clearing the scene at 8:58 p.m., the fire official said.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Effective Jan. 1, teens aged 16 and 17 years old who are arrested will have their names blocked from the public because of a new law that goes into effect on that date.
Currently, once someone turns 16 years old, they are treated by police and the court system as an adult. Their name is available to the public, including the press, and the court proceedings are open.
Westport Police Chief Al Fiore said other states extend juvenile status to teenagers until they turn 18, but it traditionally has been 16 in Connecticut.
“There had been talk over the years that people wanted to change the age to 18 here in Connecticut,” he said.
There was little damage and business was able to go on normally after a fire at Westport’s Derma Clinic this morning.
Firefighters responded to dryer fire at the clinic, which is located at 299 Post Road East, at about 10 a.m.
When they arrived the building had been evacuated, and firefighters quickly brought a fire in a gas dryer under control, according to a department press release.
Firefighters removed burning linens and excessive lint from the machine, according to the release, and cleaned the area so business could resume.
A new shipment of “Staples High School, 120 Years of A+ Education” is in stock at the Westport Historical Society.
The colorful history of Westport’s only high school by well known author and personality Dan Woog is a highly sought after gift to give this holiday season, and the Historical Society is the only location to purchase the book in person, according to the Society.
Society President Joni Andrews said she is “thrilled with the success of Dan Woog’s special book on the History of Staples High School. In less than a month, we are in the third printing. This is a must have for every Staples graduate and family.”
Woog said the feedback has been tremendous.
The Toquet Hall Governing Board recently wrapped presents that will go to the Westport Department of Human Services’ holiday giving program. The board raised more than $500 to purchase gifts for residents of the Interfaith Housing Association programs by planning and hosting a benefit show Dec. 4. Pictured are board members (l-r) Rebecca Rubel, Katie Brag and Eric Goldschmidt. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Kevin Godburn for WestportNow.com
Staples High School students were recently honored for being December students of the month. Students are chosen by teachers as someone who contributes in a way to make classrooms a better learning environment. Pictured are in the back row (l-r) Lauren DeFoe, Sarah Sellers, Kevin Rackliffe, Michael Sehr, Jonathan Quell, Daniel Torv and Kathleen Palmer; middle row (l-r) Svetlana Raboy, Kellen Brink, Lindsay Thorp and Savitri Horrigan; and front row (l-r) Michelle Rose and David Stromberg. Not pictured are Allison Grasso, Claire Minella, Karen Moy, Elliot Picarello, Matthew Rosenthal, Charlotte Singer, Vanessa Taal-Strickland and Gar Waterman. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
The state Department of Utility Control has preliminarily approved a 22.4 percent increase in Connecticut Light and Power rates, but Westport officials say it could have been worse.
The state agency released the draft findings on Wednesday and said the average consumer using 700 kilowatt hours per month will see a $23.40 increase in his monthly bill. The rates would take effect on Jan. 1.
First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, however, said local officials had expected a higher increase.
“No one likes an increase, but this isn’t as bad as we originally thought,” he said.
Westport-based Save the Children received a one-year, $500,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to address the long-term recovery needs of families affected by the October earthquake that struck Pakistan and India.
It is one of four grants issued by the foundation to help the victims of the earthquake.
“Children were disproportionately affected by the earthquake, and are now extremely vulnerable,” said Charles MacCormack, Save the Children president. “Prior to the crisis, families were living in difficult circumstances. Now, as winter sets in, their health and living situations will become even more precarious.”
MacCormack said the grant will allow the organization to better address immediate and long-term health, shelter and other survivor needs of families.
Much like it does on Thanksgiving, Saugatuck Congregational Church will play host to a feast on Christmas.
The feast will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the church, which is located at 245 Post Road East.
All are invited whether they are celebrating the holiday with family or without. After dinner, Santa Claus will come with presents for the children, and there will be holiday music.
Volunteers are also needed with set up, cooking, delivering dinner to shut-ins, serving and clean-up.
For more information or to volunteer, contact the church office at (203) 227-1261.
The Westport Tax Deferral and Abatement Committee unanimously recommended today a plan that will provide hundreds of more senior citizen households with relief from rising taxes.
The new plan raises the maximum allowed income level of the deferral program, which allows seniors to put off paying some or all of their taxes until they sell their homes. It also increases the amount of tax discount in the abatement program while adding new salary levels.
First Selectman Gordon Joseloff will now need to present the plan to the Board of Finance for approval. The Representative Town Meeting will also have to change the town’s senior tax relief ordinance.
In the deferral program, the plan would raise the maximum household income level to $100,000 from $75,000. Right now 166 seniors over 65 years old use the program.
Soccer players past and present, even spectators who love the sport, are invited to the “Albie Loeffler Indoor Tournament” at Westport’s Staples High School on Monday, Dec. 26.
The fund-raiser awards at least $2,000 in college scholarships annually.
Event planners say the tournament will begin with a social at 5:30 p.m. followed by a kickoff at 6 p.m.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Property transfers as reported by the Westport Town Clerk’s office for the period Dec. 12-16, 2005
Vicki L. Hiestand to Kathleen Snellman, 22 Westway Road, $805,000
Niv and Kim Harizman to David J. Lomnitz and Carol N. Gorman, 18 Poplar Plain Road, $1,600,000
Nina Paris Jaffe to Moshe Azoulay, 10 Rowland Place, $627,500
Michael Wilson and Michelle Garland to Weichert Relocation Resources Inc., 6 Blind Brook Road, $1,450,000
Westport Police Athletic League volunteers wrapped and boxed presents for children in Pascagoula, Miss. PAL members felt that some toys that are usually distributed at their annual holiday party, which was last Sunday, would be appreciated by some of the youngsters in Pascagoula. About 80 gifts for children ages 10 and under were sent. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Dozens of Pascagoula, Miss. children will have a brighter holiday thanks to Westport Police Chief Al Fiore and the Police Athletic League.
About 80 new gifts just arrived in the Gulf Coast town still suffering from the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Three boxes full of presents were collected in Westport and sent to the home of Betty Goodgame, the mother of Dan Goodgame, who along with First Selectman Gordon Joseloff helped establish a relationship between Westport and Pascagoula.
“I took the boxes to the Salvation Army, which is the best place to distribute things that people need,” said Betty, who will be spending the holidays in Westport. “They were thrilled to get them. Everybody trusts the workers there and I’m sure they will make sure the most deserving children get the gifts.”
The Westport Public Library announced it will be closed Saturday, Dec. 24 through Monday Dec. 26 and reopen on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 9 a.m.
The library will also be closed Sunday, Jan. 1, 2006, and Monday. Jan 2, reopening Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 9 a.m.
During the days closed, library officials said, people can visit www.westportlibrary.org.
Police are investigating an incident where three Staples High School students may have been smoking marijuana in a bathroom.
Sgt. Jerry Shannon, police public information officer, said officers received a report from Staples staff that three girls were involved in the incident on Dec. 16.
No one has been arrested at this time, he said, but there is a good possibility charges will be filed.
“Nothing is definitive yet,” Shannon said.
Construction crews are busy finishing the new media center in order to stay on schedule. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jennifer Connic for WestportNow.com
Staples High School students will have all of their new classrooms finished by February.
Staples Building Committee Dan Kail said construction is on schedule for the second half of the new academic wing will be available to students and staff after the February vacation. The new wing features world language and math classrooms.
It remains unclear, however, if the new media center will be done finished on schedule, Kail said.
“We hope it will be done, but it needs a lot of work,” he said. “I can’t promise it will be done in February.”
1:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – Tax Deferral and Abatement Committee