Thursday, December 22, 2005
CLASP Homes of Westport today announced the receipt of holiday gifts from the Westport Police Benevolent Association (PBA). Each year the Westport PBA contacts CLASP for their holiday wish list and this year the officers were able to donate to all four of CLASP’s Westport group homes. The gifts included stereos and vacuum cleaners. “We are so grateful to the Westport PBA for their ongoing support of our program. It’s been a wonderful community friendship and we really appreciate their generosity,” said CLASP’s Development Director Alisa Levinson. CLASP has provided support and services to people with mental retardation and related disabilities for 23 years. Pictured are Levinson with (l-r): Officers Bob Merritt, Richard Frazier, and Deputy Chief David Heinmiller (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
A small crowd of elected officials and town employees gathered at the Westport Center for Senior Activities this afternoon to celebrate the holidays. Those who attended were treated to pastries. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jennifer Connic for WestportNow.com
Venora Ellis and former First Selectwoman Diane Farrell catch up during today’s annual town holiday party at the Westport Center for Senior Activities. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jennifer Connic for WestportNow.com
Classic Charlie Chaplin silent films with their original scores performed by a live orchestra are scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 27, at the Westport Country Playhouse.
Planned are a 2 p.m. showing of one Chaplin film, “The Kid,” which Playhouse officials say is appropriate for ages 10 and older, and a 7 p.m. showing of “The Kid,” followed by Chaplin’s “The Adventurer.”
The films are to be accompanied by Rick Benjamin’s Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, heard on “Main Street, U.S.A.” at Disneyland, Disney World and Euro Disney.
The films are being presented by ARTS in the House, a co-presentation by Westport Country Playhouse and Westport Arts Center (WAC).
Today is the winter solstice although it has felt like winter started a few weeks ago with cold temperatures. Here, ice and snow are on the ground around Poplar Plain Brook in Westport’s Partrick Wetlands (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Chuck Doerrler for WestportNow.com
By Russell Diamond
Special to WestportNow
Russell and Mica Diamond (center) traveled to Africa in November to help build new schools. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
My wife Mica and I recently returned from a week building a school in Mali. Not Bali. Not Maui. Mali. It’s a country about twice the size of Texas in Western Africa, and is a world away from Fairfield County.
A year ago we became active with a Stamford-based organization called Building with Books (BwB). Its mission is to motivate and empower American youth through after-school programs that instill ideals of community service and philanthropy.
BwB is active in 74 schools in mostly urban settings around the country. In addition to local service projects, participating students travel to developing countries to help build schools. Since 1993, BwB has built more than 150 schools in such far-flung locales as Nepal, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Malawi, and Mali.
The more we learned about the organization, the more impressed we became and the more eager we were to participate. We shared an interest in Third World poverty and knew we wanted to help be part of the solution. So we committed to building a school in Mali this past November. We raised the funds, got our shots, and flew to the capital, Bamako.
Westport-Weston First Night has distributed 613 free buttons to underprivileged children throughout the region.
The buttons, which would have cost the children $10 each, will allow them to attend more than 30 events for children, teens and adults in venues throughout both towns, said Rozanne Gates, First Night executive director
She said the contributions were made by friends, contacts and sponsors of First Night and will be given to underprivileged children and families in Westport, Weston, Norwalk and Bridgeport.
She said 200 buttons were given to the Westport Department of Human Services, seven to Project Return, 100 to the Weston Department of Social Services, 120 to the Norwalk Human Services Council, 83 to the Carver Center in Norwalk, 100 to the Bridgeport Kiwanis Club and three to a Bridgeport family.
Liz Milwe (l) was sworn in Tuesday night as a member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) from District 4. She fills a vacancy due to not enough people running in the district in November. Town Clerk Patricia Strauss (r) administered the oath of office at the beginning of Tuesday night’s RTM meeting. RTM Moderator Alice Shelton looks on. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jennifer Connic for WestportNow.com
“Wild Women” is the theme of short fiction readings scheduled for Wednesday, Jan 18, at 7:30 p.m. at Westport Country Playhouse.
The readings will be performed by actors Kathleen Chalfant, Marian Seldes and Joanne Woodward in a program titled “Selected Shorts,” a live version of the National Public Radio (NPR) show of the same name.
Presented by Arts in the House, a collaboration between the Westport Arts Center and the Playhouse, the program is set to be hosted by Isaiah Sheffer, artistic director of “Selected Shorts” and its home theater Symphony Space in New York City.
Playhouse officials say the readings will be taped for a future NPR broadcast. WSHU Public Radio is the event’s media sponsor.
10:30 a.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – International Hospitality Committee
3 p.m. – Center for Senior Activities – Town Holiday Celebration
The Westport Representative Town Meeting (RTM) overwhelmingly voted tonight to uphold the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision to change zoning regulations to allow more multi-family housing in the Saugatuck area.
The new zone, which the commission approved last month, allows for a mix of commercial and housing with the provision of 20 percent of the units to be “affordable.” The zone could only be used on two projects.
Area residents, however, had filed a petition with the RTM asking it to overturn the decision, which failed with 28 members voting against it.
Carolanne Curry, Save Old Saugatuck spokeswoman, said there is a lot of potential development in the area, and the Planning and Zoning Commission needs to take a wider look at the area before passing new regulations.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
A crowd of 120 people attended the Westport Center for Senior Activities’ Holiday Gala this afternoon. Those who attended enjoyed lunch and then a performance by the Schubert Club Chorale, who are pictured here. It was the largest crowd to attend the center’s holiday luncheon. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
A former Bridgeport resident was found dead of an apparent suicide outside a business on Westport’s Post Road West Sunday morning, police said today.
James Neil Darragh, 37, was found outside European Travel Management, 237 Post Road West, in his Geo Tracker with a vacuum hose attached to the exhaust pipe and extended into the rear window, said Sgt. Jerry Shannon, police public information officer.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, and his family, who live in Ireland, were notified on Monday, he said.
Shannon said Darragh used to work at European Travel Management but left in October on good terms.
The Orphenians from Westport’s Staples High School performed for the Westport Rotary Club today at the Inn at Longshore, continuing a decades-long holiday tradition. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
By James Lomuscio
With the holidays quickly approaching, Westport Police Chief Al Fiore says his department will be stepping up DWI patrols and continuing its due diligence when it comes to arrests and processing DWI reports that are sent to the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Fiore said that from Christmas through New Year’s Day two extra officers will be on the road during peak hours to target motorists driving under the influence.
“They don’t answer any other calls, and they’re out there at peak times from evening through early morning hours,” he said.
He added that the officers will use marked cars without police light bars, the silhouettes of which can be seen from motorists’ rear-view mirrors.
Fiore added department procedure dictates that all DWI arrest reports be reviewed by two supervisors as well as the arresting officer.
If it continues long enough, the New York City transit strike that began this morning leaving Westporters stranded at Grand Central Station might be a boon to an underutilized way of working in the city, telecommuting.
“This is not something that many employers would embrace on their own, but now that it’s been forced on them, it may become interesting, especially in Fairfield County where we are endowed with great Internet access,” says Jim Cameron, vice chairman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council.
The rail council is a watchdog group created by the state legislature to be a voice for commuters. As promised Metro-North has maintained normal service despite New York’s subway and bus strike. Many commuters, though, are experiencing difficulties getting from Grand Central to their places of work.
“If this keeps up for days, they’ll kill themselves trying to walk to work, especially with the wind chill factor,” said Cameron.
Live Radio: A joint effort of Staples Players, WWPT, and the Staples Media Lab. Contributed graphicCall it a double dose of holiday nostalgia: a live radio play and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Westport’s Staples Players in collaboration with WWPT and the Staples High School Media Lab are scheduled to present a live radio broadcast of the Frank Capra Christmas classic Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the school’s Black Box Theater.
It is the Staples Players’ first live radio broadcast.
Tickets are available for $5 at the door, or interested parties can just tune into WWPT at 90.3 FM.
By Jim CameronSpecial to WestportNow
For a guy who writes so much about transportation, trust me, I’m something of a homebody. I don’t like to travel anymore. Not that I don’t enjoy visiting different cities (and do so almost weekly for business). It’s just that the journey from here to there is not much fun anymore. Whoever said “getting there is half the fun” hasn’t flown lately.
Getting to and from the airport is a major hassle and expense. Airports (and planes) are jammed. Getting through security is like visit a proctologist. Flights are inevitably delayed. Meals enroute are but a memory. Frequent flyer programs have whored themselves, passing out “elite” status to so many passengers that it’s impossible to get an upgrade, let alone a free ticket.
But there is an alternative: first class—or at least business class on transcon flights. Sure, it costs more—either in higher fares or in redeeming those once precious frequent flyer miles. But it’s worth it.
You get to check in faster. The seats are bigger. The flight attendants are actually friendly. And they give you real food. Plus, there’s that slightly smug feeling as you ease into your seat and watch the coach customers walk in, heading for steerage, that you’re, well, “special.”
8 p.m. – Town Hall Auditorium – Representative Town Meeting (live coverage cable channel 79)
It’ll take almost two years to complete, but the Westport Planning and Zoning took the first steps towards updating the Town Plan of Conservation and Development tonight.
The commission met to discuss the logistics and schedule of updating the plan, which was last done in 1997.
The final public hearings are slated for May of 2007 with the commission approving the plan that fall. The Representative Town Meeting would review and comment on the plan in February 2007.
Next month the commission will start a search for a consultant to work with it on the plan and begin interviews with boards and commissions about what they want included in the new plan.
The Westport-Weston Family Y aquatics staff will be offering free “Aquatic Fusion” clinics this week. They will be held Wednesday and Friday at 8:45-9:45 a.m. on Wednesday and Friday in the 90-degree pool at the YMCA. Pictured are (l-r) Audrey Thompson, Aquatic Fitness Director Patty Kondub, and Shelly Goldman (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Gloria Stashower, president of the Y’s Women of Westport/Weston, welcomed an overflow crowd today to the group’s annual holiday party.The entertainment program included actors from the Theatre Artists Workshop in a one-act play directed by Pat Englund, followed by Sheryl Kayne, humorist performing “The Weigh It Is”. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
Monday, December 19, 2005
The Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund (PWPF) today announced it is looking for a land trust to steward its 22 acres, plus funds to maintain the property.
Matthew Mandell, PWFD diector, said the funds will be used for current and ongoing legal expenses, insurance, maintenance and the creation of trails.
“We still need your help,” said Mandell. “We have begun a fund-raising effort to maintain and protect this beautiful property.”
The 22 acres of environmentally sensitive wetlands were donated in November by the developer, ARS Partners, to be preserved in perpetuity as part of an agreement it struck with the neighborhood association. The tract was part of 55 acres ARS had owned.
Saugatuck area residents are concerned about development in their neighborhood, and they have asked the Westport Representative Town Meeting to overturn a zoning change to protect the area.
The RTM will consider the request during its meeting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday in Town Hall.
The zoning change would allow more multi-family housing in the Saugatuck business area, said Planning and Zoning Director Laurence Bradley, and 20 percent of that housing would need to be “affordable.”
“It’s consistent with the town plan,” he said. “The town plan recommends these sorts of regulations.”
The annual town holiday celebration is scheduled for 3-5 p.m. on Wednesday at the Center for Senior Activities on Imperial Avenue.
Holiday refreshments will be served.
All those who attend are asked for bring an unwrapped toy for the Holiday Fund for Children.
For more information, call the selectman’s office at (203) 341-1111.
For parents looking for activities for their children during the holiday school break, Earthplace, Westport’s nature center, has scheduled “Vacation Days.”
These drop-off nature programs are designed for pre-kindergartners through third graders from Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Thursday, Dec. 29.
Earthplace officials say the all-day program will include trail treks along the center’s 62-acre wildlife sanctuary, art projects, science exploration and a live animal program.
Earthplace is located at 10 Woodside Lane. For further information and registration call 203-227-7253 or visit http://www.earthplace.org
7 p.m. – Town Hall Auditorium – Conservation Commission
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Planning and Zoning Commission work session
Sunday, December 18, 2005