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Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

9:30 a.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – Baron’s South Property Committee
9:30 a.m. - Westport Arts Center - ArtCafé
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “The Sketch Class: A Westport Tradition” and “Art From The Heart”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Hope in Haiti” & SHS “Dog Show”
7 p.m. - Staples High School - 2011 PAL Basketball Fundraiser, World Famous Court Jesters vs. Westport Faculty All Stars

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


03/25/11 04:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Finance Board Cuts $250,000 from School Budget

By James Lomuscio

Stressing that no cuts would affect class size, teacher jobs or the educational quality of Westport’s schools, the Board of Finance tonight voted unanimously to trim $250,000 from the Board of Education’s proposed $98.6 million operating Image
Kathy Sharp, head of the teachers’ union, tells the Finance Board: “If you cut tonight, it really means that you’re not supporting the investment in our children.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Finance board member Avi Kaner made the motion for the cut, suggesting that it come from the schools’ requested $950,000 educational information technology budget. In proposing the cut, Kaner said technology costs have consistently dropped since 2007.

Following that vote, the finance board unanimously approved the total school budget—including aid to private and parochial school and debt service—of $112.42 million. It was quickly followed by a unanimous vote approving the total town budget including schools and municipal government at $178.64 million.

The whole meeting took a little more than an hour, making it one of the shortest finance board sessions in recent history.

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03/25/11 02:12 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Rare Sight Image
This piebald white-tailed deer was spotted today on Westport’s Peabody Lane. The white and brown patches are due to a genetic variation (defect) which is rare among the deer population. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Haley Randich for


03/24/11 11:59 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Gets $24,343 for for ‘Green’ Lawn Equipment

Westport is among 76 Connecticut municipalities and school districts collecting $473,000 from the state’s energy agency toward the purchase of low-emission lawnmowers, leaf blowers and other outdoor power equipment, the state announced today.

Westport’s award of $24,343.20 comes from the soon-to-be-renamed state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It can be used to replace a maximum of eight pieces of internal combustion-powered equipment.

The money is left over from a 2003 court award to Connecticut, New York and New Jersey in a suit they brought against Midwest electric utility Ohio Edison, claiming its smokestack pollutants fouled their states’ air.

Connecticut’s share of the settlement was $1.1 million, of which $500,000 was earmarked for the upgrade of municipal grounds equipment.

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03/24/11 09:42 PM Comments () • Permalink

Former RTM Member Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud Charge

A former eight-year member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) pleaded guilty today to defrauding the State of Connecticut by mail of more than $300,000 in unemployment benefits.Hymans-100.jpg
Ralph Hymans: Could be sentenced to 20 years. File photo

Ralph Hymans, 87, now living in Summerville, S.C., entered the plea to one count of mail fraud before U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven who set sentencing for June 14, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

It said he faces a maximum 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He has been free on a non-surety bond since his indictment.

Hymans and his daughter, Julie Hymans, 40, of Bridgeport, were indicted a year ago by a grand jury in Hartford. (See WestportNow April 8, 2010) There was no immediate word on his daughter entering a plea.

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03/24/11 08:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport February Unemployment Jumps to 6.5 Percent

Westport’s unemployment rate in February was 6.5 percent, up from 6.3 percent in January, the Connecticut Department of Labor said today.

It was the highest Westport unemployment rate since January 2010 when it was 6.6 percent.

The sharp jump in February was mirrored as the month before in some other wealthy Fairfield County towns – 7.2 percent in Greenwich, (6.9 percent in January) 6.4 percent in New Canaan (6.2 in January), and 5.9 percent in Weston (5.5 percent in January).

The department said the number of unemployed in February was 821, up from 805 in January. The February labor force in Westport numbered 12,701, down from 12,713 in January with 11,880 employed, down from 11,908 in January, it said.


03/24/11 08:24 PM Comments () • Permalink

Going Down: 17 Rayfield Road Image
The house at Westport’s 17 Rayfield Road, off Spicer Road (behind the Volvo dealership on Post Road East), was demolished today. Built in 1920, the one-story ranch had 630 square feet and was situated on a .25-acre property. The property changed ownership this month at $480,000. It was the WestportNow Teardown of the Day on Jan.  28, 2011. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


03/24/11 06:13 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thomas L. Lomas, 58

Thomas L. Lomas of Lyme, Conn., and Kasilof, Alaska, died in an accident in Old Lyme on March 22. He was Image
Thomas Lomas: Staples grad. Contributed photo

He was born on May 12, 1952, in Norwalk, the son of the late Harold and Dorothy (Lynch) Lomas.

Tom graduated from Staples High School in Westport and the University of New Hampshire where he received his bachelor of science degree in forestry in 1971.

Because of his love of the unspoiled natural beauty of lower Connectitcut River Valley, Tom decided to settle in Lyme and begin his career as an arborist. A gifted athlete, accomplished sportsman, and bush pilot, he lived a life full of great adventure

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03/24/11 05:54 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Resident Elizabeth Taylor Remembered

By James Lomuscio

When longtime Westporter Lee Greenberg heard the news early Wednesday that screen legend Elizabeth Taylor had died, her thoughts turned to 1957, the year a pregnant Taylor and her third husband Mike Todd, a producer, rented her family’s Westport home at 175 Long Lots Image
Westporter Lee Greenberg shows off 1957 Elizabeth Taylor magazine covers with Taylor’s new baby, Elizabeth Frances Todd, taken while Taylor reclined on this chaise lounge—still owned by Greenberg—in a home her family rented to Taylor and husband Mike Todd. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The rental 54 years ago came about by happenstance. Todd contacted a local real estate agent who was eager to show off a home to him and his movie star wife. She approached Lee’s husband, Nat Greenberg, a prominent Westport real estate developer who lived in a showcase home.

“The broker came up and said, ‘Nat, they’re coming up here in their Rolls Royce, and I really don’t have anything to show them, and can I show them your house,’” Greenberg recalled Wednesday at her home in Westport’s Saugatuck Shores area.

Upon learning that the Greenbergs were not interested in selling, Todd pitched the idea of renting it for a year.

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03/24/11 04:30 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, March 24, 2011

10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “The Sketch Class: A Westport Tradition” and “Art From The Heart”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Hope in Haiti” & SHS “Dog Show”
10 a.m. - 1 p.m. - Gilbertie’s (7 Sylvan Lane) - Westport Winter Farmers Market
6 p.m. - Mitchells (670 Post Road) - Accesories Fashion Event with Padma Lakshmi & Jimmy Choo
6:30 p.m. - Westport Public Library - Movie: “Hereafter”
7:00 p.m. – Town Hall Room 201/201A – Planning & Zoning Commission Public Hearing
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Auditorium – Board of Finance Special Public Hearing (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


03/24/11 04:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Finance Board Wraps Up Selectman’s Budget

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Board of Finance tonight wrapped up its municipal budget approvals, trimming First Selectman Gordon Joseloff’s proposed $66.6 million 2011-12 budget to $66.21 million. Image
Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy makes a point at tonight’s Board of Finance session. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The Westport Transit District took the biggest hit of the evening, having its $270,000 town subsidy cut by $100,000 with a 7 to 0 vote after board member Kenneth Wirfel introduced the motion. Wirfel argued that bus service’s ridership did not justify the cost, and others agreed it could use a better business model.

While board member Brian Stern said the town’s transit service, run by the Norwalk Transit District, offered important services to the elderly, the disabled and the many corporate commuters to Westport, its total state and town subsidized $1.3 million budget was too high for 91,000 rides each year.

He estimated the district’s average cost per trip at $14.60, while the average fare of $1 has not been increased in 10 years.

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03/24/11 03:45 AM Comments () • Permalink

Strike Up the Bands Image
The Westport Band Festival was held tonight in the Staples High School gymnasium. Bands from Coleytown and Bedford Middle Schools were combined and performed by grade. The Staples Symphonic and combined Freshman and Sophomore bands also performed. For the concert’s finale, all of the bands combined to perfom the “American Spirit Overture” under the combined direction of James Forgey, Lou Kitchner, Nicholas Mariconda and Gregg Winters. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Julia Mally for


03/24/11 02:06 AM Comments () • Permalink

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 12 Dover Road Image
An application for a permit to demolish the house at Westport’s 12 Dover Road, off Reichert Circle, is in process. Built in 1954, the one-story split level has 2,377 square feet and is situated on a .58-acre property. Because the house was built more than 50 years ago, the application will be reviewed by the Westport Historic District Commission. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


03/24/11 12:48 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Talking State History Image
The Westport Historic District Commission today hosted a kick-off meeting for the State Historic Preservation office to announce the development of a new five-year comprehensive historic preservation plan. Phil Thomason (l), principal of Thomason and Associates, one of the oldest preservation firms in the country, presented the guidelines for the five-year plan to attendees from Norwalk, Bridgeport, New London and Redding, in addition to Westporters who included Allen Raymond, town historian. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


03/23/11 11:39 PM Comments () • Permalink

Library to Honor Patti Smith on May 19

The Westport Public Library has selected author, poet, artist, and singer Patti Smith as recipient of its 13th Annual Westport Public Library Award at the library’s fund-raising event, Booked for the Evening, on Thursday, May 19, at 7 p.m. in the library’s Great Image
Patti Smith: Booked for the Evening award recipient. Edward Mapplethorpe photo

Smith, who won the National Book Award in 2010, was born in Chicago and grew up in southern New Jersey, where she worked in a factory and escaped an uneventful life via poetry and rock and roll.

She fled to New York in 1967, where she worked in bookstores, wrote poetry, and met fellow artists, including photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, playwright Sam Shepard, and musician Lenny Kaye.

She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock, influenced by the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix as well as rockers like Jim Morrison and Lou Reed.

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03/23/11 09:33 PM Comments () • Permalink

Winter Weather Advisory in Effect

The National Weather Service in Upton, N.Y. has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for snow for the Westport area which is in effect until 10 a.m. Thursday.

It said there will be moderate snow that may mix with sleet and rain in the evening. Accumulations of 2 to 4 inches are anticipated with higher amounts on grassy surfaces.

Another round of snow will move across the area this evening, the Weather Service said, with the steadiest snow falling between 8 p.m. and midnight. Light snow will linger into the morning.

The Weather Service said residents can expect hazardous road conditions to develop as temperatures drop to near freezing, allowing for a slushy accumulation.


03/23/11 09:16 PM Comments () • Permalink

John R. Tedesco, 77

John R. Tedesco, a native of Westport and husband of the late Frances Zuvich Tedesco, passed away on March 22 at Bridgeport Hospital. He was Image
John R. Tedesco: Westport native. Contributed photo

Born May 1, 1933 he was the son of the late Donald J. and Margaret McDermott Tedesco and has been a lifelong resident Westport.

Prior to retiring, he was employed as a supervisor of the Credit and Collections Department of National CSS and then D&B Computing Services in Wilton. Most recently, he served as a traffic agent with the Westport Police Department.

John is also a former member of Westport PAL and a former member and past president and coach of the Westport Little League. He was an avid fisherman and loved golf.

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03/23/11 09:11 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Cover Girls Image
Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died today in Los Angeles at age 79, appeared on Life Magazine covers 14 times, including this photo on Nov. 4, 1957 with her new baby daughter Elizabeth Frances Todd (now Liza Todd Tivey, sculptor) taken in their Westport home. Five photos by photographer and family friend Toni Frissell appeared in the issue, showing Taylor, husband film producer Mike Todd, and two of Taylor’s children from her previous marriage to actor Michael Wilding. In order to protect the family’s privacy, the text gave no indication where the picture was taken. It quoted Mike Todd, who died in a plane crash in 1958, as saying of his daughter as he looked into her lavender-blue eyes: “With her around, I fear for the next generation of males.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo


03/23/11 05:29 PM Comments () • Permalink

Liz Taylor - The Westport Connection Image
UPDATE Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died today in Los Angeles at age 79, was a resident of Westport in 1957 with then husband movie producer Mike Todd. They rented this property on Long Lots Road, with tennis court and swimming pool, across from the Fairfield County Hunt Club. It was while living there that Taylor gave birth to her daughter, Elizabeth Frances (Liza) Todd, on Aug. 7, 1957. Mike Todd died in a plane crash in 1958. Among those owning the 6,400-square foot home on 3.13 acres in later years was CBS and ABC News correspondent Harry Reasoner. He lived there from 1968 until his death in 1991 caused by a fall in the home. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


03/23/11 04:02 PM Comments () • Permalink

Coastal Flood Advisory Issued

The National Weather Service in Upton, N.Y. has issued a coastal Flood Advisory for Westport and area which is in effect from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday.

It said tidal departures 1 to 1 1/2 feet above normal will occur during the high tide cycle early Thursday morning and result in widespread minor coastal flooding.

Hide tide in Westport early Thursday is at 3:15 a.m.


03/23/11 03:41 PM Comments () • Permalink

Longshore Golf Course Opens for Play

Westport Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy has announced that the Longshore Golf Course is open for play for the season.

Temporary tees and greens will be in use and winter rates will be charged.

Greens will open as soon as weather permits, he said in a news release. 

Play will be on a walk-up basis – no reserved times will be available until the greens are open. McCarthy said.


03/23/11 02:34 PM Comments () • Permalink

AP Puts Spotlight on Westport Swing Set Rules

Forget Libya. Forget Japan. Forget budgets and pensions. The big news in Westport today, according to The Associated Press, is swing Image
A Westport backyard swing set today not in a setback area. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for

In a nationally circulated story, AP writer Stephanie Reitz focuses attention on a proposal before the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night to eliminate swing sets from setbacks.

The AP story begins: “Forget the jet set. In affluent Westport, the issue of the day is the swing set.

“Westport officials are mulling whether to scrap a rarely enforced rule regulating the play sets, a dilemma that’s already landed the town in court. Its decision on the rule could affect scores of homeowners in a community that considers itself one of Connecticut’s most family-friendly enclaves.”

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03/23/11 12:19 PM Comments () • Permalink

Despite Flat Budget, Finance Board Pushes Consolidations

By James Lomuscio

With its first round of budget sessions, Westport’s Board of Finance Tuesday night took swings at the town’s Information Technology (IT), Finance, and Personnel Departments, cutting $199,750 and leaving the overall General Government 2011-12 budget at more than $4.9 Image
Board of Finance members vote at Tuesday night’s meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Board members Avi Kaner, Brian Stern and Kenneth Wirfel pushed for the cuts, arguing that they were necessary to force town consolidation with the Board of Education to avoid duplications in services.

Meanwhile, the proposed budgets for the Police, Fire, Public Works, Public Library, Human Services, Conservation, Town Clerk and Railroad Parking, among others, remained unscathed. The budget sessions continue tonight with more town departments and conclude on Thursday with the education budget.

Finance board members praised each budget, as well as the overall $66.6 million municipal budget—a 3.34 percent increase—submitted by First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, as flat. Kaner pointed out that most of the operating budgets were the same as the current year’s and that the overall increase was due to increased pension and health care costs.

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03/23/11 04:29 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

10 a.m. – Earthplace, Sasco Brook Pollution Abatement Committee
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “The Sketch Class: A Westport Tradition” and “Art From The Heart”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Hope in Haiti” & SHS “Dog Show”
10 a.m. - Westport Public Library - Trends in Technology: Educate Yourself at
10 a.m. - noon - Town Hall - CareerCoach: beginner’s Microsoft Excel
1 p.m. - 3 p.m. - Town Hall - CareerCoach: intermediate Microsoft Excel
4 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309/307 – Board of Selectmen Public Hearing (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and
5 p.m. – Town Hall Room 201/201A – State Historic Preservation Office Public Hearing
7 p.m. - Westport Public Library - Energy Efficiency 101: Peak Oil meets Climate Change
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Auditorium – Board of Finance Special Public Hearing (if needed) (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


03/23/11 04:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Row, Row, Row Your Boat Image
Rowers from the Saugatuck Rowing Club were out in force on Tuesday on the Saugatuck River in Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for


03/23/11 04:05 AM Comments () • Permalink

Storyteller Image
Allison Watters, 14,  of Easton, threw her name into the hat and got picked tonight to tell a three-minute story at the Westport Arts Center’s themed storytelling program with the subject “Gimme Shelter.” Producer Ina Chadwick adjusts the microphone. “Gimme Shelter’s” theme for the evening was based on “Hope In Haiti,” an exhibit now on display at the Center. Each of the storytellers evoked what “shelter” meant to them.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for


03/23/11 02:17 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fiona’s Disappearing Island Disappears Image
Three days after the so-called Fiona’s Disappearing Island at Compo Beach reappeared at an extremely low tide (See WestportNow March 19, 2011), today’s astronomically high tide made the island disappear completely again. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for


03/22/11 11:59 PM Comments () • Permalink

Memorial Day Float Theme Announced

This year’s Westport Memorial Day parade float theme will be “Our Heroes – Past and Present,” William Vornkahl, president, Westport Veterans Council announced today.

The parade will be held on Monday, May 30.

Vornkahl said judges will award certificates in the following categories: best development of theme, best youth organizational float, most creative, best community organization, most colorful and the best overall float

The parade route is unchanged from past years. It will begin on Riverside Avenue at 9 a.m., cross the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, turn left on Myrtle Avenue and end at Veterans Green where a memorial service will take place.


03/22/11 10:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Coastal Flood Statement Issued

The National Weather Service office in Upton, N.Y. has issued a Coastal Flood Statement for Westport and area.

“Due to the recent full moon, high astronomical tides will produce water levels approaching minor coastal flood benchmarks at the time of high tide late tonight,” a statement said. High tide in Westport is at 2:23 a.m.

“There may be localized minor coastal flooding, but in most instances water levels will just reach minor benchmarks,” the Weather Service said.

It added: “There will be a better chance for widespread minor coastal flooding late tomorrow night as low pressure passes to the south with a strengthening easterly flow.”


03/22/11 08:47 PM Comments () • Permalink

School Van and Car in Near Collision Image
A Westport school van and a car had a near miss on Easton Road and Bayberry Lane Extension today. The van, which was not carrying children, was turning on to Easton Road at about 3 p.m. after stopping at the stop sign on Bayberry Lane Extension, a witness said. Simultaneously, the driver of a red sports vehicle coming around a sharp curve on Easton Road slammed on his brakes to avoid colliding with the van. It came to a full stop on the opposite side of Easton Road. Police were investigating. The intersection with Easton Road, officially State Route 136, has long been known to have a sight line problem and has been the scene of numerous accidents. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


03/22/11 08:33 PM Comments () • Permalink

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