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Friday, January 31, 2014

Malloy Offers Modest Tax Breaks for Retired Teachers

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today proposed a second round of tax cuts, including a new income tax break for retired teachers that could provide a strategic edge in his re-election bid.

The governor also backed a sales tax exemption for non-prescription medications, an insurance premium break for cities and towns, extending a credit for business investors and a two-day state park fee holiday.

These breaks, worth about $52 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1, would be in addition to the $155 million sales and gasoline tax rebate Malloy unveiled Thursday.

But unlike that last proposal, today’s tax cuts are ongoing, and would add more than $50 million to the nearly $1 billion shortfall projected for the first state budget after the election.

Click here for more of story


01/31/14 10:03 PM Comments () • Permalink

U.N’s Helen Clark on Helping Afghan Women

By James Lomuscio

Called the most powerful woman at the United Nations—and a possible future U.N. Secretary General—former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark today stood in stark contrast to the images of powerless Afghan women and children on display at the Westport Arts Center (WAC). Image
U.N. Development Program head Helen Clark addresses today’s Westport Arts Center audience as Helen Klisser During , director of visual artrs, looks on. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

Speaking before a packed WAC audience, Clark’s eyes studied the photos, images of women in burkas or giving birth, huddled together for strength or alone, their faces mutilated, and young girls old before their time, their eyes joyless.

The photos arrayed in the exhibit “On the Wire: Veiled Rebellion,” are the work of Westporter Lynsey Addario, a Pulitizer Prize-winning photojournalist who is no stranger to dangerous places.

The exhibit, choreographed by Helen Klisser During, WAC’s director of visual arts and curator of the exhibit, also proved a springboard for Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program. Klisser During moderated the talk.

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01/31/14 09:50 PM Comments () • Permalink

Last Challah from Great Cakes Image
There was a rush of customers to Great Cakes on Post Road East today as word spread it is closing on Sunday. Jody Robbins of Westport and daughter Sophie were in to pick up a challah, a Jewish braided bread eaten on Sabbath and holidays. “Yesterday I heard about Great Cakes closing by way of a text from Sophie who said she had just read about it on WestportNow,” she said. She said her daughter has been coming to Great Cakes since she was eight years old. Now she’s 30, married and lives in Brooklyn Heights but shops for baked goods at Great Cakes whenever she is in Westport. Added Sophie, “I can’t believe they’re closing. This place is part of my childhood.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


01/31/14 09:02 PM Comments () • Permalink

Phyllis P. Dobyns, 79

Phyllis Parent Dobyns, a former Westport resident where she worked many years at Save the Children, died Jan. 22 in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 79. Image
Phyllis Dobyns: Save the Children veteran. Contributed photo

Born Dec 27, 1934 in Indiana, she moved with her family to Southern California in 1945, where she attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, and where she met her husband of 60 years, Frank Dobyns.

Initially making Santa Barbara home, they had two children, Shelley in 1957 and Peter in 1960. In 1965 the family moved to Mexico where Frank and Phyllis worked for Save the Children Federation and a year later they moved to Westport, where Save the Children headquarters is located. The Dobyns lived and worked 30 years in Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

She was passionate about her family, her work and a life of adventure, her family said.

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01/31/14 08:08 PM Comments () • Permalink

‘Tunnel Vision’ Art Installation Set for Downtown

The well-known tunnel connecting Westport’s Main Street to Parker-Harding Plaza parking area is about to get a facelift with a permanent art installation called “Tunnel Vision.” Image
The tunnel connecting Westport’s Main Street to the Parker-Harding Plaza parking lot will be the site of a permanent art installation called “Tunnel Vision”. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association (WDMA) announced today that local artist Miggs Burroughs has been commissioned to create a work of contemporary art for the pedestrian passageway.

The project, in collaboration with tunnel owner Win Properties of Rye, N.Y. with granted public access, will be unveiled at WDMA’s Art About Town Opening Night Street Party on Thursday, May 22, an announcement said.

“Tunnel Vision is one of the most ambitious and challenging art projects I have ever been involved in,” said Burroughs, who is donating his creative talents to the endeavor.

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01/31/14 06:49 PM Comments () • Permalink

Della Maia Thomson, 89

Della Maria Thomson (nee Noble), a former Westport resident, died Jan. 28 at Toronto East General Hospital. She was 89.

She will always be remembered as an artist and free spirit, her family said. She loved to travel with her husband Alan and for many years lived in Westport, only to return to Jackson’s Point, Ontario upon retirement to live by the water once again.

She was the wife of the late Alan Glendenning Thomson (2009), mother of Carole Lee Henrikson (Bruce), Melissa Bennett (Jeff), Melanie Clark (Tim) and Julie Thomson (Philip Mancuso). She was the grandmother of Mara, Alana, Davin, Vanessa, Katrina, Cole, Leanna, Dylan, Isabel, Lindsey, Jason and Lauren and two great-grandchildren Kaitlyn and Ryan.

She is remembered by her brother John (Margaret) and many nieces, nephews and extended family and friends. Predeceased by her father, Dr. Charles T. Noble, her mother, Margaret Elizabeth Stewart, sisters Martha, Ann, Elizabeth, Nora, Mary, and brother, Stewart. If you wish to make a donation in memory of Della, please consider the Alzheimer Society.


01/31/14 06:48 PM Comments () • Permalink

Looking for a New Home Image
A tile mural in the downtown Westport tunnel linking Main Street to Parker-Harding Plaza created in honor of the first Westport-Weston First Night in 1995 will soon be looking for a new home. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association (WDMA) announced today it will be replaced by a permanent art installation called “Tunnel Vision” to be created by Westport artist Miggs Burroughs. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo


01/31/14 06:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

In Westport: Helen Clark, Next U.N. Secretary General? Image
A special guest at a packed Westport Arts Center’s weekly ArtCafé today was Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program. A former prime minister of New Zealand, she was called by the Guardian newspaper of Britain this week “the most powerful woman at the United Nations” who “could well become the first woman to lead the organisation once the incumbent Ban Ki-Moon stands down in a few years.” Her host was Helen Klisser During, a New Zealand native who is director of visual arts at the Center. Clark spoke on a wide range of topics, focusing on women in Afghanistan, where she has visited several times. Afghan women are the subject of the Center’s current exhibit by Pulitzer Prize-winning Westport photojournalist Lynsey Addario. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) J.D. Durans for


01/31/14 05:40 PM Comments () • Permalink

With New Committee Formed, Downtown 2020 Disbands

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Downtown 2020 Committee, appointed two years ago by former First Selectman Gordon Joseloff to plan for current and future developments, officially disbanded today to make way for First Selectman Jim Marpe’s Downtown Steering Committee (DSC) announced earlier this week. Image
Attending the final meeting of the Downtown 2020 Committee were (l-r) G. Kenneth Bernhard, acting chair, Gerald Kagan, and Dan Kail. Bernhard and Kagan will serve on the new Downtown Steering Committee chaired by Dewey Loselle (back to camera). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Marpe has stated that the 14-member DSC to be headed by Dewey Loselle would take a “new project management approach” to the efforts.

“This is a little bit of a sad meeting because for all intents and purposes, it is our last meeting,” said G. Kenneth Bernhard, acting chairman of Downtown 2020 since its founder Lou Gagliano resigned last spring.

Gagliano, who had been expected to phone in from Georgia but did not, quit after being at constant loggerheads with the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), some of its members contending the advisory committee usurped the P&Z’s planning role.

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01/31/14 05:10 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Property Transfers Jan. 13 - 17, 2014

Westport property transfers as reported by the Town Clerk’s office for the period Jan. 13 - 17, 2013:

Bonnie Geffen Ashman Trust to 2 Rodgers Way LLC, 2 Rodgers Way, $1,400,000WNproperty.jpg

Mark S. and Elizabeth Marks Juviler to Arne and Katrin Lewertoff, 26 Park Lane, $1,000,000

David C. and Leigh Lewis to Rachel E. and Jeffrey L. Porter, 108 Cross Highway, $895,000

Laura C. Walstrom to Brian D. and Sarah N. Goodman, 16 White Woods Lane, $1,260,000

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01/31/14 04:00 PM Comments () • Permalink

‘God of Carnage’ Opens Tonight at MTC MainStage Image
“God of Carnage” opens tonight at MTC MainStage in Westport with (l-r) Marty Bongfeldt, John Flaherty, Jim Schilling and Cynthia Hannah. A comedy of manners without the manners, it features two married couples who meet to sort out a playground fight between their sons. At first, niceties are observed but as the evening progresses and the rum flows, the gloves come off and the night becomes a side-splitting free-for-all. It runs through Feb. 16. For more information and tickets, visit (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


01/31/14 03:05 PM Comments () • Permalink

Colorado Memorials Announced for Doug Sheffer

The family of Westport native Doug Sheffer who died Monday when his helicopter crashed in Colorado is planning multiple memorials in that state to celebrate his life. A memorial is also planned later in Westport.

“The Sheffer family would like to express gratitude for the outpouring of love and affection that has come their way in honor of Doug,” says a statement released Thursday. “While they spend the next few days celebrating Doug’s life with family and close friends, know that they are also working hard to find ways to include everyone who wants to celebrate his life. Please be patient and respect their privacy during this time.”

Two public memorials — one next week and one in May — are scheduled, while a spring time “gathering for skiing friends” is in the works without a set date.

On Saturday, Feb. 8 at 11 a.m. there will be a public memorial at the Garfield County Regional Airport in Rifle, where Sheffer’s helicopter was based. A potluck lunch will follow.

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01/31/14 01:48 PM Comments () • Permalink

Compo Sunset Image
An especially brilliant sunset Thursday as viewed from Westport’s Compo Beach. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for


01/31/14 05:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Friday,  January 31, 2014

9 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Downtown 2020 Committee
10 a.m. - Westport Arts Center - ArtCafé - special guest Helen Clark, head of U.N. Development Program
10 a.m. - 2 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “On the Wire: Veiled Rebellion” by Lynsey Addario
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Cover Story: The New Yorker in Westport” & “Can’t Tell a Book by its Cover ... “
10 a.m. - Westport Library - Maker-in-Residence Gar Waterman: Designing & Building a Mobile Office
Noon - Westport Historical Society - Lunchtime Film: “The Road Taken”
3 p.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
3 p.m. - Westport Library - Teen Lego Robotics Club
7:30 p.m. - Toquet Hall Teen Center - Yale Ex!t Players
8 p.m. - MTC MainStage Studio Theatre (246 Post Road East) - “God of Carnage”

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


01/31/14 05:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

‘Play By the Rules’ Offered for Middle Schoolers

Westport Human Services Director Barbara Butler and Westport Police Chief Dale Call have announced a program for middle schoolers called “Play By the Rules.

It is intended to foster respect for the law and promote a better relationship between students and local police officers.

The nine-week program, a collaboration between Westport Youth Services and the Westport Police Department, will be held at Toquet Hall on Wednesdays from March 5 to May 7 after school 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Space is limited and students will be enrolled on a first come, first served basis. To register or to ask questions regarding the program, contact Kevin Godburn at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (203)341-1155.


01/31/14 02:21 AM Comments () • Permalink

Not the Arctic, Just the Saugatuck Image
It may look like the Arctic, but it’s really the Saugatuck River today in Westport’s Saugatuck section not far from the I-95 bridge (background). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Andrew Colabella for


01/31/14 12:30 AM Comments () • Permalink

Clear Skies Image
Tonight’s unset with a cloudless sky as seen from Westport’s Beachside Avenue. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Barry Hyman for


01/31/14 12:12 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Federal Judge Upholds Sandy Hook Gun Law

By Mark Pazniokas

A federal judge in Hartford today dismissed a constitutional challenge to the sweeping gun-control legislation passed in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook School massacre.

Gun owners challenged the law on several fronts, including what the state called “an absolutist” Second Amendment claim that the possession of types of semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity magazines banned under the law was a constitutionally guaranteed right.

“The court concludes that the legislation is constitutional,” wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello. “While the act burdens the plaintiffs Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control.”

Covello, a former state Supreme Court justice appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, also rejected claims that the law violated equal-protection rights and that it was impermissibly vague.

Click here for more of story


01/30/14 11:07 PM Comments () • Permalink

I-95 Crash Causes Backup in Westport Image
Traffic northbound on I-95 in Westport was backed up tonight because of a two-car crash in Fairfield three-quarters of a mile north of Exit 19. Details of injuries were not known. View is from Hales Road overpass in Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jaime Bairaktaris for


01/30/14 10:48 PM Comments () • Permalink

Chamber Getting New Director But Familiar Face

By Dave Matlow

UPDATE Third time is a charm for Heather Cavanagh who returns to the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce as executive director effective Feb. 10. Image
Heather Cavanagh returns to Chamber. Contributed photo

She replaces Lisa Parrelli Gray, who resigned two weeks ago and whose last day was Wednesday. She served two years.

Cavanagh has been vice president of public relations at Stamford consulting group CBP since July 2012. She first joined the Chamber as executive director in 2007 and served for about a year. She returned in March 2011 as special projects manager/interim executive director until January 2012.

“I look forward to working with the Board of Directors, Chamber members and area residents to support the business community’s efforts and enhance the civic life in Westport and Weston,” Cavanagh said in a Chamber news release.

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01/30/14 09:48 PM Comments () • Permalink

Super Bowl Party Set for Sunday at Senior Center

Super Bowl Sunday this year is an occasion to party big time once again at the Westport Center for Senior Activities. Image
Staples cheerleaders perform at last year’s Super Bowl tailgate party at the Westport Center for Senior Activities. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

The Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities will host its eighth annual Super Bowl Tailgate Party on Sunday from 1:15 p.m. until 4 p.m. Ceremonies will begin at 2 p.m.

“Last year’s event was a tremendous success and lots of fun,” said Jack Klinge, president of the Friends.  “We expect this year to be even better.” 

Once again there will be free food and beverages featuring hot dogs from Westport’s Oscar’s with all the fixings, chips and dips, sodas and more.

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01/30/14 08:37 PM Comments () • Permalink

Suspicious Package Investigated at Puppies of Westport Image
UPDATE Norwalk police today cleared Puppies of Westport—just over the Westport town line—because of a suspicious package. Police said a store employee reported that a man had entered the pet store and placed a cell phone with a suspicious external device attached on the counter, and left. The employee said she felt that the man was suspicious because he wore makeup similar to that of “The Joker” in the Batman movies. The Stamford Police Department Bomb Squad determined that cell phone and the battery attachment were not explosive devices. “Officers hope to identify and speak with man involved, and return his phone,” said Lt. Paul Resnick. Business resumed after about two hours.. The store at 255 Westport Ave., which used to be located in Westport, has been the target of animal activists who contend its puppies came from puppy mills -– a charge its owners denied. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for


01/30/14 06:39 PM Comments () • Permalink

Comings & Goings: Great Cakes Closing Sunday

By Dave Matlow

UPDATE (adds detail on history)  This time it’s for real. Image
Flashback: It was exactly a year ago that Westporters lined up at Great Cakes to pay in advance for goods to keep the bakery in business. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Great Cakes owner Rick Dickinson said today the bakery and confectionery emporium at 772 Post Road East will close Sunday at 1 p.m. after three decades serving Westporters’ sweet tooth.

Dickinson, who took over as owner in 1994 from Max Goree, said, “It’s been 25 great years, but the last five years have been a struggle.” Great Cakes was originally created by Dale Lamberty and Kathy Farrell (Kingsley) in 1984, and the pair ran the business for four years before selling it in 1988.

A year ago when word leaked that the store was on hard times and was about to close, customers lined up to pay in advance for their goods to provide a cash cushion for Dickinson.

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01/30/14 05:25 PM Comments () • Permalink

Malloy Sets Budget Agenda, Including Modest Tax Refund

UPDATE Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a first-term Democrat facing re-election this year, today announced what he described as a three-point plan for responsible fiscal management of the state’s current surplus.

He said it bolsters the rainy day fund, makes a substantial payment on long term debt, and provides modest tax relief for residents—$55 for singles earning less than $200,000 a year and $110 for couples earning less than $400,000.

“Connecticut has faced more than its share of challenges over the last few years,” said Malloy, speaking in Derby, a blue-collar Naugatuck Valley community.

“Now that things are beginning to improve, it’s critical that everyone shares in the recovery. The plan I’m laying out today takes the responsible path. It puts money in the rainy day fund so that we can be prepared the next time we face financial challenges.

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01/30/14 04:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

Malloy Learns from Rowland’s Slip on Tax Rebate

By Mark Pazniokas

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy apparently has learned from former Gov. John G. Rowland’s mistake.

By proposing to rebate sales and gasoline taxes -– instead of income taxes -– Malloy would spare nearly all recipients from having to share about 30 percent of their bonus with the federal government.

Rowland made that mistake in 1998 when he and the General Assembly launched the first tax rebate program in state history. Just over $100 million in income tax receipts were sent back to residents, with $50 going to individuals and $100 to couples.

The rebate proved popular in the polls, and Rowland sailed to easy re-election that November. But many taxpayers grumbled the following spring when they learned they had to pay federal income taxes on their state tax rebate.

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01/30/14 04:20 PM Comments () • Permalink

Real Estate Report: Westport Mirrors or Exceeds Nation

By Judy Szablak

Once again, Westport mirrors or exceeds national real estate averages. Image
This home at 7 Ellery Lane is listed at $2,599,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo courtesy of Halstead Property/Westport

In Westport, year-over-year unit sales volume for single family homes increased by almost 22.4 percent, and prices have increased more than $120,000 on average from 2012 to 2013.

The latest report released by S&P/Case-Shiller Home Prices indices showed the 10-city and 20-city composites enjoyed double digit increases year over year.

The 13.7 and 13.8 percent increases for the 10- and 20-city indices show more positive advances towards the stabilized market, even considering both composites’ minimal decline of 0.1 percent.

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01/30/14 04:12 PM Comments () • Permalink

Late Afternoon Near Burying Hill Image
A late afternoon view Wednesday of the channel near Westport’s Burying Hill Beach. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for


01/30/14 05:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday,  January 30, 2014

10 a.m. - Westport Library - Jobseekers: Energize Your Job Search
10 a.m. – Earthplace - Sasco Brook Pollution Abatement Committee
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “On the Wire: Veiled Rebellion” by Lynsey Addario
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Cover Story: The New Yorker in Westport” & “Can’t Tell a Book by its Cover ... “
2 p.m. - Westport Library - Overcoat Film Series: “Nicky’s Family”
2 p.m. – Town Hall Room 201 - RTM Environment Committee
7 p.m. - Westport Library - WestportREADS: Neighbors & Newcomers Discuss “My Life in France”
7 p.m. - Westport Library - Teen LGBTQ Book and Film Group (grades 9-12)
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 201 - Citizens Transit Committee Canceled

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


01/30/14 05:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

School Budget Summit to Avoid Another Shortfall

By James Lomuscio

During more than three hours of grueling numbers crunching tonight, the Westport Board of Education in a joint special meeting with the Board of Finance and other committees tried to fathom how the school system wound up $1.9 million in the hole this year and how to avoid future health insurance shortfalls.

The shortfall consists of a projected cash equivalent of $595,009, plus $1,307,400 of incurred but not reported (IBNR) claims.

Members of the Representative Town Meeting’s (RTM)  Education and Finance committees, the school board’s Health Insurance Fund Review Committee, and Robert Pernicka, senior vice president of Segal Co., the school system’s actuarial consulting firm, all dug deeply into the school board’s intentional draw downs of health insurance reserves and a sharp increase in unreported claims since 2012.

Elio Longo, the school system’s business manager, noted earlier this week that for 2012, six claims exceeded $100,000, one of them more than the stop loss of $225,000. For 2013, the number of six-figure claims jumped to 16, he said, with six exceeding $225,000.

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01/30/14 04:17 AM Comments () • Permalink

Patch Lays Off Many, Including Westport Editor

The new majority owner of Patch, the network of hyperlocal news websites acquired from AOL, laid off hundreds of journalists today, including the editor of Westport Patch, according to published reports and sources who asked to remain anonymous. Image said all sites will remain operating with a skeleton staff.

Business Insider said all but about five of approximately 100 employees operating 67 Connecticut sites were let go. The Hartford Courant quoted an unnamed employee as saying about three-quarters of the state’s employees received notice.

The layoffs, said to number hundreds nationwide, came two weeks after AOL sold the majority stake of Patch to the investment company Hale Global. And it came five months after Patch eliminated about 500 jobs nationwide.

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01/30/14 02:37 AM Comments () • Permalink

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