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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Playhouse Gets $75,000 Newman’s Own Challenge Grant

The Westport Country Playhouse has been awarded a $75,000 Challenge Grant from Newman’s Own Foundation to increase individual donor support. It runs through Dec. 31.

The grant will help the Playhouse build long-term organizational capacity and stability, increasing awareness of the Playhouse’s role as an important nonprofit cultural resource, and inspiring loyal patrons to invest beyond the price of a ticket, an announcement said.

“We are honored to receive this grant from Newman’s Own Foundation,” said Michael Ross, Playhouse managing director. “We’re equally grateful that so many in our community have a deep love for this theater, and hope that friends from throughout the region will take advantage of this dollar-for-dollar match.”

With only one-third of the non-profit’s operating costs paid for via ticket sales, the Playhouse hopes the Challenge will inspire audiences, and particularly subscribers, to invest in the theater’s mission, the announcement said.


12/19/13 05:19 PM Comments () • Permalink

Fairfield Museum Features Westport Artist’s Images

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The Fairfield Museum and History Center (370 Beach Road) today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. hosts the opening reception for “Back& Forth,” the latest, and largest exhibit of lenticular images by Westport artist Miggs Burroughs. As part of Fairfield’s 375th anniversary celebration, the Museum asked Burroughs to create images exploring the changes that have taken place over time with some of the town’s more iconic buildings and locations. The lenticular medium allows past and present images to be combined into one, changing from one to the other as the viewer walks back and forth. The exhibit runs through Feb. 18 and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


12/19/13 03:51 PM Comments () • Permalink

Open House Replaces Church Christmas Feast

The Saugatuck Congregational Church announced today that it will host a Christmas Day “community open house” at the Westport Center for Senior Activities because it has been unable to find a suitable venue for its annual Christmas Feast.

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For the past two years since the Saugatuck Congregational Church fire, the annual Christmas Day Feast has been held at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com

The church, along with Temple Israel, will host the event from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Center, 21 Imperial Ave. Light refreshments and holiday treats will be served, an announcement said.

“Christmas is a day to gather and share fellowship with each other and so we are delighted to be working with our community partners to hold this event,” said Frank Basler, chair of the Saugatuck Congregational Church Mission Board.

“We also look forward to hosting a Christmas Feast in 2014, hopefully in our own rebuilt building.”

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12/19/13 03:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

New Haven Delays

UPDATE Metro-North said New Haven Line service is now operating on or close to schedule after earlier delays due to switch problems between Stamford and Noroton Heights.


12/19/13 02:37 PM Comments () • Permalink

Fire Department Checking Gas Odor Reports

Westport Fire Department units today were checking reports of odor of gas in the Main Street-Parking Harding Plaza and Weston Road and Fillow Street areas.

A representative of Southern Connecticut Gas was assisting the Fire Department in trying to track down the source, according to reports from the scene.


12/19/13 01:31 PM Comments () • Permalink

Late Fall Sunset

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With three days to go before the official start of winter,Wednesday’s sunset as seen from Westport’s Compo Beach looked more like winter than fall. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com


12/19/13 05:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, December 19, 2013

10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Framing the Past, Present, and Future” and “Walt Reed’s Illustrator in America”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Chuck Close: About Face”
2 p.m. - Westport Library - “Downton Abbey,” Season 3
3p.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
6:30 p.m. - Westport Library - Just Out on DVD: “Iron Man 3”
7 p.m. – Town Hall Auditorium – Planning & Zoning Commission Public Hearing (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)
7 p.m. - Toquet Hall Teen Center - The Storytelling Circle
7:30 p.m. - Westport Library - Teen Zombie Club

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


12/19/13 05:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Ed, Finance Boards Confront $2 Million Blunder

By James Lomuscio

In a move that seemed more investigative than damage control, Westport’s Board of Education tonight held a special meeting with its benefits consultant and the Board of Finance to determine how a $2 million shortfall in its current operating budget happened via unexpected health claims—and how to prevent future budget blunders.

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Brian Stern: “We need to know how it happened.” Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

Elaine Whitney, school board chairwoman, said her board has considered hiring an independent health insurance auditor.

“I think we need to collect a whole lot of data first to find out what is the issue, and then get the auditor to come in and verify,” said Brian Stern, finance board vice chairman who heads its audit committee.

The school system, which has 900 employees, last year projected a net savings of $500,000 in insurance costs with its new carrier CIGNA. About 560 of the schools’ employees are now in health savings accounts (HSAs) instead of point of service (POS) plans, it was noted at the meeting.

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12/19/13 03:45 AM Comments () • Permalink

Malloy Road-Tests a Stump Speech for 2014

By Mark Pazniokas


The soft opening of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s unannounced re-election campaign is under way. Over the late summer and fall, Malloy has honed the elements of a 2014 stump speech, road-testing themes and images calculated to create a quickening sense of progress after decades of stagnation.

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Gov Dannel P. Malloy: “I want people to understand this is not about any one thing.” He was talking about the recovery, but that also applies to his re-election message. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ctmirror.org photo

Unable to credibly claim the economy is fixed and the state’s fiscal woes are solved, Malloy’s message is that the state is winning small victories on many fronts, positioning the Connecticut economy to grow on a foundation of smart investments in education, technology, infrastructure and commerce. More than anything, he is trying to create a sense of momentum.

“I want people to understand this is not about any one thing. Or one bullet that is going to cure everything, or one pill, I should say, that it is going to cure everything,” Malloy told a business audience today during a Metro Hartford Alliance breakfast. “This is about long-term hard work, day in and day out, that stays the course.”

In the first-term Democratic governor’s recent speeches, echoes can be heard of the broad themes that President Obama successfully used in 2012 to make a case for his second term, despite stubbornly high unemployment and a tepid economic recovery, the same conditions confronting Malloy.

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12/19/13 12:10 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wrapping for a Cause

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National Charity League mother and daughter volunteers, Westporters Sally Judd and Laura, 14, a Staples High School freshman, today gift wrap a book purchase for Redding resident Robert Morton at the Barnes & Noble store, 1076 Post Road East.  Customer donations for gift wrapping benefit CLASP Homes. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


12/18/13 11:11 PM Comments () • Permalink

Lawmakers: Time to Replace Metro-North?

By Keith M. Phaneuf


While several legislators suggested Connecticut should find a new operator for its commuter rail service to New York City, the state’s top transportation official said today replacing Metro-North is not a viable option right now.

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State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg of Westport was among Transportation Committee members quizzing Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials today at the Hartford hearing.“Thank you for submitting to our version of shoot-the-messenger,” he told DOT Commissioner James Redeker before he began his questioning. WestportNow.com photo from CT-N

Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker also defended the rail service, noting that while changes must be made in response to recent crashes and other mishaps, Metro-North has had an “exemplary track record” for three decades.

“Who could replace them as a vendor?” Sen. Andrew Maynard D-Stonington, asked Redeker during a Transportation Committee meeting on the embattled commuter service.

Maynard, who co-chairs the panel, did not insist upon replacing Metro-North, but said Connecticut should investigate any options it has to the authority that has provided its commuter service for more than three decades. “It would be a shame only to react to tragedy.”

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12/18/13 10:44 PM Comments () • Permalink

Y Gymnasts Perform as New Temporary Home Sought

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A capacity crowd Tuesday night watched gymnasts from the Westport Weston Family Y gymnastics program perform their annual holiday show. At the event, Family Y CEO Rob Reeves announced that the Y is in negotiations to secure a lease on a facility in Norwalk to use as a new home base for the Y’s gymnastic program as the Y finishes construction on the first stage of its new facility at Mahackeno. The first stage does not include room for the gymnastics program. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


12/18/13 10:23 PM Comments () • Permalink

Comings & Goings: Chic Jolie Returns to Westport

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The women’s fashion apparel store, Chic Jolie, reopens in Westport this weekend at 57 Main St., on the second floor above Blue Mercury 2. Formerly located at Westport’s 24 Taylor Place for nine years —eight years as the children’s clothing store Jacadi—it closed in April and reopened in the Brickwalk, on Fairfield’s Post Road. “Fairfield was a temporary location for us until we could find a location in Westport with affordable rent for a small business,” said owner Alla Ionescu (above)  She said the Fairfield store will close simultaneously with the opening at the Westport location where some customers even volunteered to help with the move. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


12/18/13 07:14 PM Comments () • Permalink

Fritzi Walkey Klopfenstein, 98

Fritzi Walkey Klopfenstein, a founder of Westport’s Nature Center for Environmental Activities, now know as Earthplace, died Dec. 16 at Churchman Village retirement home in Newark, Del. She was 98.

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Fritzi Walkey Klopfenstein: a founder of Earthplace. Contributed photo

The daughter of Dr. Fred L. Walkey and Mable Kintzley Walkey, she was born on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 1915 in West Lafayette, Indi. She was a 1937 graduate of Purdue University. She enrolled in veterinary school, but switched to biology and botany because, in those days, women were not permitted in veterinarian school.

While at Purdue, she sang on her own Indiana radio show and on the weekends with various Big Ten dance bands. She was initiated into Kappa Alpha Theta, Purdue University in 1934, and the P.E.O. Sisterhood in 1937.

During her senior year, she met and talked many times with Amelia Earhart. Earhart stayed in her sorority house and taught a course, “Careers For Women.” Her Lockheed plane trip was financed by Purdue. After college graduation, she married another Purdue graduate, Bob Klopfenstein, a young chemical engineer.

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12/18/13 06:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

Saugatuck Island Snow

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A view of Saugatuck Island Tuesday in the snow.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Julie Laifer for WestportNow.com


12/18/13 05:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

8:30 A.M. – Town Hall Room 201 – Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Framing the Past, Present, and Future” and “Walt Reed’s Illustrator in America”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Chuck Close: About Face”
11 a.m. – Town Hall Room 102 – RTM Special Sewer Committee
4 p.m. - Westport Library - ChessClub, grades K-12
7 p.m. – Town Hall Room 201 – Board of Education Special Meeting (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


12/18/13 05:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

New Haven Delays

UPDATE Metro-North said the New Haven Line is operating on or close to schedule after experiencing earlier scattered delays due to weather-related equipment issues.


12/18/13 03:04 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Winter Weather Advisory Extended

The National Weather Service has extended a Winter Weather Advisory for snow for Westport and area until 9 p.m.

It said to expect snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches with snow continuing into this evening.

Accumulating snow will create slippery roadways and hazardous travel conditions especially on untreated roadways, the Weather Service said.


12/17/13 09:39 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Nonprofits Net $405,000 in Foundation Grants

The Fairfield County Community Foundation (FCCF) awarded more than $405,000 to 47 Westport nonprofit organizations, as well as $8,000 in student scholarships, this past year, FCCF officials announced today.

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Juanita James: donors responding as never before. Contributed photo

Westport nonprofits receiving support included: Westport Green Village Initiative, Homes with Hope, Westport Public Library, Westport Country Playhouse, Westport Arts Center, Inc., Positive Directions: the Center for Prevention & Recovery, Save the Children, Earthplace, Inc., and the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts.

“As our region continues to grapple with ongoing economic challenges, our donors have continued to respond as never before to help those in need,” said Juanita James, FCCF president and CEO.

“While critical support to food banks, health clinics, shelters and job training programs continue to be top areas of giving, the foundation and many of our donors also focus on long-term issues such as education, affordable housing and transportation,” she added.

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12/17/13 09:13 PM Comments () • Permalink

Slow Go

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UPDATE Today’s on-again-off-again snowfall caused numerous minor accidents and delayed traffic throughout Westport. This is the view at mid-afternoon on Riverside Avenue looking toward Post Road West.The Staples High School newspaper Inklings reported on its website that students going home were involved in or witnessed numerous accidents. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com


12/17/13 08:57 PM Comments () • Permalink

Metro-North Sends Safety Action Report to Malloy

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today received a report from MTA Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut on recent infrastructure, technology and improved safety actions on the system, Malloy’s office announced.

The report was issued in response to a Dec. 3 letter that Malloy sent to the MTA requesting a full accounting of improved safety actions taken following a series of incidents in 2013, including two passenger train derailments in Connecticut and New York, one of them fatal, and the death of a track worker in West Haven.

After reviewing the report, Malloy said, “I want to thank the MTA and Metro-North Railroad for their response to our request. Our mutual goal is the same -– a ‘best in class’ railroad with a commitment to a culture of safety, and I believe we are making strides toward that goal.

“I am anxious to return to normal service for the thousands of commuters that use this service on a daily basis, and hope the MTA will beat their April deadline.”

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12/17/13 08:34 PM Comments () • Permalink

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 335 Post Road West

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An application for a permit to demolish the building at Westport’s 335 Post Road West is in process. Built in 1944, the residential type structure has 1,078 square feet and is situated on a .48-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 WestportNow.com


12/17/13 08:15 PM Comments () • Permalink

Real Estate Report: New and Nearly New in Demand

By Judy Szablak

New and nearly new homes are clearly in demand in Westport, and homes that were built on or after 2000 have accounted for 128 of the 463 sales in the last year.

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This home at 7 Burnham Hill is listed at $3,345,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo courtesy of William Raveis/Westport

More than 1,000 new homes have been built in town since 2000. That figure represents just over 12 percent of the single family home stock, yet these newer homes comprised more than 27 percent of all homes sold in the last year.

The years 2005 and 2007 were both productive, with the creation of almost one-third of all new homes in this century constructed during just these two years alone. Last year was another brisk year with more than 100 new homes being completed.

Eighteen percent of what is currently for sale today was built since 2000, which includes more than 50 brand new homes as being built in 2013, and/or estimated completion date of 2014, according to our local Multiple Listing Service.

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12/17/13 07:55 PM Comments () • Permalink

Orphenians Guests at Rotary Luncheon

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The Staples High School Orphenians, much in demand this holiday season, made a stop today at the Westport Rotary Club’s weekly luncheon at Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. The appearance has been an annual holiday tradition for many years. Among the 100 attendees were members of the church’s administrative staff and its new rector, the Rev. Whitney Edwards, who welcomed the Rotary and the Orphenians to Branson Hall. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


12/17/13 07:49 PM Comments () • Permalink

Alfred Calabrese, 92

Alfred A. Calabrese of South Yarmouth, Mass., a former Westport resident where he was the town’s tax assessor, died May 21 after several years of Alzheimer’s-related complications.  He was 92.

Fred, as he was known, moved to Cape Cod in 1985 following his retirement.

The first American -born child of immigrant parents, he worked his way through Suffolk School of Law by cutting meat in his father’s grocery store in Boston.

He went on to serve in World War II, met and married Bernadine, his wife of 70 years, and moved to Westport where he served as tax assessor for more than 20 years.

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12/17/13 07:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

Ice Melt Hot Item

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At Westport’s Crossroads Hardware, 345 Main St., today owner Jimmy Izzo said since last Tuesday he has sold more than 11,000 pounds of ice melt. Other hot items are snow brushes, shovels and traction sand. “It’s been a phenomenal demand,” he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


12/17/13 05:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

Light Snow for Morning Rush

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A light snow fell during the morning rush hour today. The National Weather Service predicted 2 to 4 inches. Scene is Riverside Avenue at Bridge Street in Westport’s Saugatuck section. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com


12/17/13 01:55 PM Comments () • Permalink

It’s a Holiday-Like Red

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A Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) spotted in a Kings Highway North backyard recently. The annual Christmas Bird Count conducted Sunday in Westport and nearby areas sponsored by the National Audubon Society found 102 species of birds. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Molesworth for WestportNow.com


12/17/13 05:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Framing the Past, Present, and Future” and “Walt Reed’s Illustrator in America”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Chuck Close: About Face”
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
7 p.m. – Town Hall Green Room – Green Task Force
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 102 - RTM Education Committee

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


12/17/13 05:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

For Ed Board, a New Member and a Packed Agenda

By James Lomuscio

Paul Block, a Westport resident for 20 years and CEO of Merisant, a global sweetener company, was chosen by the seven-member Board of Education tonight to fill the vacancy when Jennifer Tooker, a Republican, stepped down to run for and win a seat in November on the Board of Finance.

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Town Clerk Patricia Strauss swears in new Board of Education member Paul Block. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Block was selected from a pool of eight applicants, four of whom had been recommended by the Republican Town Committee (RTC) since the seat had to be filled by a Republican.

Elaine Whitney, board chairwoman, lauded the choice of Block’s selection, praise that was echoed by board member Jeannie Smith, a Republican who had attended Block’s interview with the RTC.

“I believe he will be a strong asset to the Board of Education,” Smith said.

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12/17/13 04:35 AM Comments () • Permalink

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