Friday, January 24, 2014
Final touches were made today for tonight’s opening reception for “On The Wire: Veiled Rebellion,” the new Westport Arts Center exhibition. It showcases 34 color photographs by Westport award-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario depicting the plight of women in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Making the adjustments were Helen Klisser During (l), curator and director of visual arts at the Center, and Jill Sarver. The reception, free and open to the public, is from 6 to 8 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Marina White for WestportNow.com
Westport property transfers as reported by the Town Clerk’s office for the period Jan. 6 - 10, 2014:
Mark and Nancy Adler to Mathew J. and Rachel Halsall, 15 Woodcock Lane, $1,999,000
22 Baker Avenue LLC to Halsey LLC, 22 Baker Ave., $555,000
Bank of America NA to Quadrat Property Series LLC, 7 Tupelo Road, $723,650
Edna I. MacDonald to Eli J. and Sugey M. Zimmer, 5 Cross Brook Lane, $447,000
By Jacqueline Rabe Thomaswww.ctmirror.org
State investigators have concluded that Bridgeport, the state’s largest public school system, “systemically violated” state laws created to ensure students with special education needs are promptly identified and provided services.
“It is concluded that, over the last year, the Bridgeport Public Schools systemically violated its Child Find mandate,” Mary Jean Schierberl, with the state Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education, wrote the district’s special education director this month.
“It is therefore concluded the District has no policies in place to monitor students’ behavior and performance to ensure all students with disabilities are located and identified. The District does not have an effective screening mechanism or policy in place to ensure that all students who need or are suspected to need special education and related services are identified, and evaluated.”
These findings are the result of a group of Bridgeport parents’ filing a complaint with the state alleging that the district failed their six children for years as the parents struggled to get them evaluated for special education services. And once identified as needing special services, the students faced delays, parents complained.
Click here for more of story
UPDATE Gov. Dannel P.Malloy said today Thursday night’s Metro-North power outage that shut down the New Haven and other lines was totally avoidable and demanded immediate action to prevent a recurrence.
“The power outage on the New Haven Line last evening was totally avoidable and frankly, unfathomable given that it occurred due to inappropriate actions on the part of Metro-North,” Malloy said in a statement.
“On behalf of the thousands of Connecticut citizens who rely on this crucial rail service every day, I am outraged that any maintenance procedure would be performed on the signal control system during the peak evening commuter period.”
He issued his statement after Metro-North said an employee working to repair the line’s battery backup power system “inadvertently unhooked the wrong wire.”
UPDATE Metro-North said New Haven Line service is now operating on or close to schedule.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said today that the cause of Thursday night’s two-hour service disruption on Metro-North Railroad has been traced to human error during an electrical repair project.
“Last night’s failure was unacceptable, pure and simple,” Prendergast said. “The project should have been analyzed for risks and redundancy before it began, and it should not have been performed when thousands of customers were trying to get home in cold weather.”
The computers that run the railroad’s signal system lost reliable power at 7:45 p.m. when one of two main power supply units was taken out of service for replacement. the MTA said.
Technicians performing the work did not realize that a wire was disconnected on the other main power supply unit. This destabilized the power supply system for more than an hour until a backup supply could be connected, according to the agency.
The house at Westport’s 22 Baker Ave., off Compo Road South, was demolished today. Built in 1900, the 1-3/4-story conventional had 1,220 square feet and is situated on a .24-acre property. The property changed hands this month for $555,000. It was the WestportNow Teardown of the Day on Dec. 13, 2011. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Billy Nistico for WestportNow.com
2 p.m. - Westport Library - Mad Hatter Tea Party (Lewis Carroll’s 182nd Birthday Celebration)
3 p.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
6 p.m. - Westport Library - WestportREADS: Wine & Cheese Party
6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - opening reception for “On The Wire: Veiled Rebellion,” featuring photos by Westport’s Lynsey Addario
7:30 p.m. - Westport/Weston Family Y - Teen Night (grades 6-8)
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar
UPDATE Metro-North said computer problems affecting signals stopped all service on the New Haven and Harlem and Hudson Lines for more than two hours tonight but that trains began moving again at about 9:45 p.m.
Thousands of travelers were impacted, some stuck on trains, others milling around Grand Central Terminal. Metro-North said customers should expect significant residual delays.
At 12:23 a.m. Friday, Metro-North tweeted that Metro-North train service has been restored on all three lines, Hudson, Harlem and New Haven, including the Danbury branch.
The stoppage, announced shortly before 8:30 p.m. but which passengers said occurred at about 7:25 p.m., came less than 24 hours after a train carrying 200 persons became stranded for more than two hours near the Green’s Farms station in Westport.
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Connecticut House Republicans have proposed $247 million in consumer and business tax cuts –- moves they insist won’t worsen the big budget deficit projected for next year.
In a press conference today, GOP lawmakers said they want to give small businesses a one-time break on their unemployment assessments, accelerate the return of a sales tax exemption on clothing and restore another exemption for over-the-counter medicine.
Republicans are worried that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his fellow Democrats in the legislature’s majority will use this year’s budget surplus to temporarily finance big election-year tax breaks. After that contest, officials would seek a permanent solution to maintain those tax breaks, such as raising other taxes or cutting programs.
It’s better, House Republicans said, to find a way to both provide – and sustain – those tax cuts now.
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Thursday, January 23, 2014
By Judy Szablak
What kind of home can you expect to get in town as the average price of a home in Westport nears $2.6 million?
With fewer than 20 percent of the 203 properties currently available falling within a small percentage of our overall average price, a detailed review of these 36 homes shows that one can reasonably anticipate to find a 4,800-square foot five-bedroom colonial with at least 10 rooms, a total of six baths on at least three-quarters of an acre, with city water and a security system.
While there is less than a 20 percent chance that a home in this range will have direct waterfront, there is a 50 percent likelihood that the home will have a pool. Expect a one-in-three probability to be on a cul-de-sac , and a 50-50 chance of having a three-car garage.
There are now 203 homes that are actively on the market, and inventory is gradually improving. These currently available properties have been listed for average of 124 days, with a cumulative market time of 214 days. The average list price is now $2,574,886. The median price is fairly stable at $2,100,000.
Assistance from Westport emergency personnel was not needed Wednesday night when a Metro-North train with 200 passengers became stranded without heat in 8-degree weather near Green’s Farms station, a Metro-North spokeswoman said today.
“We had Metro-North police and other personnel on the scene and they (the passengers) were well attended to,” said Marjorie Anders, the railroad spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Toni Boucher, whose district includes Westport, today renewed her call for an oversight board to monitor Metro-North procedures.
“I am grateful that no one was seriously injured in this latest incident on the rails however, this Metro-North maintenance issue doesn’t seem to be getting any better,” she said in a statement. “A downed wire due to weather is one thing, but then a mechanical switch problem on top of it is disconcerting.”
By Keith M. Phaneuf and Jaqueline Rabe Thomaswww.ctmirror.org
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today offered his strongest hint yet that he might propose a tax cut in two weeks when he delivers his latest budget to the legislature.
And the Democratic governor also defended the growing state surplus that has sparked tax cut speculation, even though that fiscal cushion is due in part to borrowing and other gimmicks.
“Suffice it to say the people of Connecticut have made sacrifices, and they need to share in the recovery as well,” Malloy said in response to reporters’ questions after a public appearance at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven to announce a school infrastructure initiative. The governor, whose budget proposal for the 2014-15 fiscal year is due to the General Assembly Feb. 5, refused to provide specifics.
“I certainly intend to spell out what my priorities are in the coming days,” he said. “I will lay out my vision on my timeline.”
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UPDATE A fire alarm at Westport’s Staples High School early today forced a brief evacuation of the school in the bitter cold, according to fire officials. A second alarm went off just before 3 p.m., causing another evacuation.
The morning problem was traced to a sprinkler pipe in the dumpster area. Once the cause was pinpointed, the Fire Department allowed students and faculty back into the building.
The temperature was 8 degrees at the time, shortly before 9 a.m.
The afternoon alarm involved a valve in the pool area, according to initial reports from the scene. Again, once the problem was found, students and faculty were allowed back in the building. The temperature outside had risen to a balmy 18 degrees.
Staples High School senior Scott Pecoriello, an amateur meteorologist, took this picture of a meteorological phenomenon today outside the school. He explained: “A ‘Sun Dog’ often occurs when it’s extremely cold outside, and ice crystals fill the air. The crystals, also known as ‘Diamond Dust,’ occasionally line up vertically and become horizontally refracted by sunlight, forming this awesome ‘Sun Dog.’” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Scott Pecoriello for WestportNow.com
William H. Estey of Westport died Jan. 18 in Bridgeport Hospital. He was 86.
Born Jan. 28, 1927 in Canton, Mass., he was the son of the late Elijah and Elizabeth (MacInulty) Estey. He was a World War II U.S. Navy veteran and has been a resident of Westport for 63 years.
Survivors in addition to his wife, Catherine (Kinnane) Estey of 35 years, include one son; Andrew W. Estey of Stamford, one brother; Edward Estey of Halbrook, Mass., one sister; Sandra Ambrose of Hudson, Mass., and many nieces and nephews.
Services will be announced at a later date. Memorial contribution in lieu of flowers may be made to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission 1088 Fairfield Ave. Bridgeport, CT 06606.
By Mark Pazniokas and Jan Ellen Spiegelwww.ctmirror.org
On their honeymoon a decade ago, Robert Klee took his wife to Antarctica aboard a Russian icebreaker. Other tourists venture to the coldest spot on the planet to see penguins, but Klee was interested in how the international science community there managed its trash.
“My wife is a very good sport,” Klee said.
Klee, 39, who was named today by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as Connecticut’s next commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, is the mild-mannered protégé of the hard-charging mentor he will succeed, Daniel C. Esty.
He is set to take over one of state government’s highest-profile agencies after three years of constant change, bringing to the commissioner’s office a varied background in environment law, science and public policy science.
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Frederick C. Jayne of Palm City, Fla., a Staples High School graduate formerly of Wilton, died Jan. 31 after battling cancer. He was 79.
Following his graduation from Staples High School in Westport, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1980, he moved from Wilton, where he was in the excavation business, to Stuart, Fla., and was the owner of Coastal Marine there until 2007 when he passed the reins of the business to his son David.
He is survived by his wife Patricia Courtney Jayne, sons Eric, of Lakeland, Fla., and David and his wife Kip of Palm City, and grandchildren Hunter, Dillon, Zachary, and Luke Jayne and Matthew and Kristen Campbell.
Services will be held at Forest Hills Funeral Home on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Treasure Coast Hospice 1201 S.E Indian St., Stuart, FL. 34997, or Saint Judes Children’s Hospital at shop.stjude.org
By James Lomuscio
In what was called a seamless transition from one administration to the other, the Baron’s South Committee met today with Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe and Second Selectman Avi Kaner, who both pledged their support to move the planned senior housing project forward.
Marpe and Kaner are currently negotiating a “memorandum of understanding” with the developer Johnathan Rose Companies for the construction of a 130-unit facility, plus 32 memory care units, on several acres of the 22.7-acre town-owned property called Baron’s South.
Kaner said that the understanding agreement should be completed within a week, then go to the Baron’s South Committee and Town Attorney Iran Bloom for approvals before being presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission for required (P&Z) permits.
“The selectman’s office is very supportive, and we want to support that journey and move it forward,” said Marpe, adding that such a center, with 30 percent affordable units, would allow seniors to age in place.
UPDATE Metro-North said New Haven Line service is now operating on or close to schedule after earlier scattered delays due to weather-related conditions and wire damage in the vicinity of Green’s Farms.
The 117-room Westport Inn has a new general manager -– Nora Gomez. Officials of Shelton-based New Castle Hotels & Resorts announced her appointment today.
Gomez previously was the assistant general manager of the Hampton Inn in Shelton, where she was part of the team that earned the brand’s prestigious Lighthouse Award in its first year and recently claimed Trip Advisor’s number one ranking in the market, an announcement said.
A 10-year veteran of the New Castle team, Gomez began her hospitality career as a front desk agent at the Hilton Garden Inn in Norwalk. She holds a degree in business administration from Norwalk Community College.
The announcement also said that on Feb. 1, the hotel will unveil the second location of Bistro B, a bistro and wine bar which will serve breakfast and dinner daily.
Students at Westport’s Staples High School wait in 8-degree cold today as firefighters investigate the cause of a fire alarm at the school. The problem was traced to a defective sprinkler head in the dumpster area, apparently due to the cold, according to fire officials. Students and faculty were allowed first into the field house and then to the rest of the building after the cause was pinpointed shortly before 9 a.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jaime Bairaktaris for WestportNow.com
A two-car crash at the southbound Exit 42 entrance to the Merritt Parkway today tied up traffic in the area and police advised motorists to avoid the area.
UPDATE New Haven Line customers experienced crowded trains, cancellations and delays to 30 minutes during the early morning commute today due to weather-related conditions and wire damage in the vicinity of Greens Farms, Metro-North said. The 6:03 a.m. out of Westport was canceled and the next train (above) was 10 minutes late and standing room only. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) David Loffredo for WestportNow.com
8:30 a.m. – Town Hall Room 201 - Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee
8:30 a.m. – Town Hall Room 309 - Baron’s South Committee
8:30 a.m. – Town Hall Room 102 - Village District Steering Committee
2 p.m. - Westport Library - Overcoat Film Series: “The Lady Eve”
6:00 p.m. – Town Hall Room 201/201A - Westport Youth Commission General Meeting
7:00 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. - Westport Library - WestportREADS 2014: Dine Around Town with Julia! at Blue Lemon
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar
UPDATE (adds additional detail) Passengers were rescued from a disabled Metro-North train in Westport tonight after enduring more than two hours in unheated cars, according to Metro-North.
Passengers tweeted that the 7:34 p.m. out of Grand Central to New Haven came to an abrupt halt at about 8:45 p.m. between the Westport and Green’s Farms stations.
The train could be seen on the tracks about 300 yards north of the I-95 Exit 18 overpass in Westport.
Passengers on the train tweeted that it felt like they pulled down a power line. One passenger tweeted that there was a big flash and then a lot of rumbling.
A rescue train arrives and power is restored at about 11 p.m. tonight to a Metro-North train stranded with reportedly 200 passengers aboard not far from the Greens Farms station in Westport. Metro-North said the train brought down some overhead lines. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo