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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grant Davidson, 64

Grant Davidson, a Westport resident for more than 50 years, died April 16 at Norwalk Hospital. He was 64. Image
Grant Davidson: Staples ‘67. Contributed photo

He was the son of the late Martin and Edith (Elving) Davidson. He was initially trained in the classical piano repertoire but during his high school years at Staples, where he was in the Class of 1967, he became drawn to the sound of the blues and rock and roll.

As a keyboardist, he formed a band, the Mariner V, that received local acclaim. He was frequently hired by major label singing groups to accompany them while they toured the Northeast. 

He attended Boston University where he received degrees in psychology and business administration. With an entrepreneurial spirit, he opened Jeremiah’s, a restaurant and music venue in Boston that became a mecca for local college students and for touring bands seeking national exposure.

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04/23/14 09:38 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Outdoors: Via Sforza Image
Via Sforza, 243 Post Road West, is today’s featured spot in our WestportNow series, Westport Outdoors, highlighting popular spots where Westporters gather to eat, play, or relax during the warm-weather months. According to owner/chef Dino Sforza (above), the restaurant opened at its current location on Sept. 1, 2005 and expanded with outdoor seating for 20-25 three years ago. He said that he serves many more customers at dinner (5 p.m. - 10 p.m.) than at lunchtime (noon - 3 p.m.). He describes the range of cuisine as “regional italian with a wood burning brick pizza oven to full dinners. Owner Sforza said prior to relocating to its current location, the restaurant was located at 250 Westport Ave., Norwalk, and closed in 2006. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


04/23/14 07:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

Real Estate Report: Westport Again Defies U.S. Trends

By Judy Szablak

Despite a gloomy report out today nationally on March home sales, Westport’s March sales were off the charts with 29 closed single-family home transactions last month. Image
This home at 4 Imperial Landing is listed at $1,497,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo courtesy of Remax Right Choice

Westport’s sales were up a whopping almost 80 percent from a month earlier.

This was in sharp contrast to the U.S. Commerce Department report today that sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to their lowest level in eight months in March, dropping 14.5 percent.

The Westport divergence from national trends is not new. And Westport needs to do a bit of catch up work to equal last year’s sales at this time.

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04/23/14 06:23 PM Comments () • Permalink

Staples Drops to No. 9 in CT in U.S. News Rankings

Westport’s Staples High School came in No. 9 in Connecticut in the U.S. News and World Report best high school rankings released today. Nationally it was No. 303. Image

A year ago in the survey, Staples was No. 7 in the state and No. 296 nationally. In 2012, Staples was No. 5 in Connecticut and No. 302 nationally.

Staples this year came in behind Fairfield County schools Weston, which was No. 3, Wilton, No. 6, and Ridgefield, No. 8.

The Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Hartford was rated No. 1 in Connecticut and No. 15 nationally.

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04/23/14 04:41 PM Comments () • Permalink

Selectmen OK House Move That Will Cost 22 Baldwin Lot Spaces Image
The Westport Board of Selectman today made it official by approving DC Kemper-Gunn, LLC as the successful bidder on a plan to move and renovate the 1895-built Kemper-Gunn House on to the town-owned Baldwin Parking Lot. The action was in response to a Planning & Zoning Commission complaint that no formal designation had been made. The board also approved modifications to the parking lot that will ultimately result in the loss of 22 spaces from the approximately 261 that exist there now. Karen Johnson, representing DC Kemper-Gunn, said new estimates put the cost of the move and renovations at $1.8 million, all to be borne by the developers. Selectman Avi Kaner (l) holds a computer rendering of the site while First Selectman Jim Marpe and Selectman Helen Garten look on. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlowfor


04/23/14 02:50 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sen. Murphy: ‘Putin Has Become a Bit Unhinged’ Image
U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a Westport breakfast today the Russian leader Vladimir Putin “has become a bit unhinged” in his actions against the Ukraine. Addressing invited guests from Westport, Weston, and Wilton at the Westport Woman’s Club, Murphy, who has visited the Ukraine twice in the past six months, said he expected the United States this week to announce new sanctions on Russia. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


04/23/14 02:12 PM Comments () • Permalink

Murphy Recognizes Staples Young Democrats Image
U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy today presented certificates of recognition to members of the Staples High School Young Democrats Club at a “pancakes and politics” breakfast at the Westport Woman’s Club, one of a series he is holding around the state. Murphy recalled that he was a member of the Young Democrats at Wethersfield High School and said it was instrumental in launching his political career. He said he would have been happy to present similar certificates to Young Republican Club members at Staples but was told no such club exists.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


04/23/14 02:07 PM Comments () • Permalink

Murphy Says He is Pushing Northeast Rail Investment Image
U.S. Sen Christopher Murphy (D-CT) (c) told a Westport breakfast meeting today that included local leaders that he is trying to build a new coalition in Congress to find innovative ways to increase funding to passenger service in the Northeast rail corridor. He said the key to Connecticut’s economic recovery is improved rail service to New York and Boston. He posed with guests (l-r) Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe, former Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein, and Westport Selectman Avi Kaner.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


04/23/14 02:02 PM Comments () • Permalink

Early Tax Returns Diminish Hopes for Big CT budget Surpluses

By Keith M. Phaneuf

As the April 15 tax deadline approached, speculation at the Capitol was that tax receipts would rise. The only question was, Would they grow modestly, or explode?

But early tax returns have weakened hopes for any explosion, and raised the specter of something worse: Are tax receipts on the decline again?

This helps explain why the launch of keno gaming in Connecticut remains very much under consideration by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and the General Assembly.

Through Monday, projected income tax receipts for April were running below budgeted levels by almost $108 million, or 10.2 percent.

Click here for more of story


04/23/14 01:18 PM Comments () • Permalink

Matthew Mandell to Head Chamber of Commerce

Breaking with tradition, the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce announced today it has picked a community leader, not a businessperson, as its new president and executive director—Matthew Mandell. Image
Matthew Mandell: “great opportunity” to make Westport better. Dave Matlow for

A longtime Westporter currently serving his fifth term representing District 1 on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), Mandell has been a familiar, outspoken presence at RTM and myriad town meetings, championing causes the business community favors.

“Matthew has shown a rare ability to advocate and lead,” said Jonathan Baron, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors. “He’s imaginative and processes the right social and technical skills to break new ground in the changing landscape of business in our community.”

Baron said that Mandell caught the organization’s eye two-and-a-half years ago “with how he created the Slice of Saugatuck Festival to promote local businesses and his influence to promote what is now a new restaurant district on the west side of the river downtown.”

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04/23/14 12:00 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

9 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Board of Selectman Public Hearing (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Abstract Notes” & “Solos 2014”
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. - Town Hall Room 309 - Kemper-Gunn Advisory Group
4 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201A - Beautification Committee
4:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Tree Board
5:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201/201A - Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Public Works Committee Canceled
7 p.m. - Westport Library - World Book Night, Shakespeare’s Birthday, & Play With Your Food!
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Education & Employee Compensation Joint Committee Meeting
7:30 p.m. - Westport Library - Teen Minecraft Grades 6-12

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


04/23/14 04:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Mary B. Gamsu, 85

Mary Boatner Gamsu, a longtime Westport resident, died April 5 in Issaquah, Wash. after a brief illness. She was 85. Image
Mary Gamsu: longtime Westporter . Contributed photo

Born in Shreveport, La., she received her master’s degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and enjoyed an acting career in many Broadway plays and around the country.

She moved to Westport in 1965 where she raised two children and was active at the United Methodist Church, Westport Library, YMCA, and the Woman’s Club.

She moved to Washington state in 2010 to join her daughter. She had a passion for literature, history and was a talented artist, her family said.

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04/23/14 03:19 AM Comments () • Permalink

Getting Ready for Beach Season Image
A bulldozer was parked at Westport’s Compo Beach today to do some final sand work prior to the beach season’s official opening May 1; After that date, all cars must have an emblem to enter the beach. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for


04/23/14 02:01 AM Comments () • Permalink

Staples Lacrosse Hosts Sticks for Soldiers Saturday Image

The Staples High School Boys Lacrosse team will hold its annual Sticks for Soldiers event on Saturday as the team hosts the Trumbull Eagles.

The Sticks for Soldiers charity raises funds to assist and support wounded veterans and their families. Its main fundraiser is a high school lacrosse tournament held in November.

On Saturday, there is a suggested, optional donation of $5 for admission with funds raised to support the fall tournament

Pre-game activities begin at 11:45 a.m. with a “shoot out” by grade for all PAL boys lacrosse players.

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04/23/14 01:01 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wind Siting Regulations Approved, But May be Too Late

By Jan Ellen Spiegel

After nearly three years with wind energy development in Connecticut at a standstill – siting regulations for wind turbines have finally been approved. But how quickly or energetically wind will move ahead is still a question.

It took five tries before the Regulation Review Committee approved the Connecticut Siting Council proposal that establishes setbacks and heights for turbines, noise and “flicker” from their turning blades, decommissioning and other contentious details. While some tweaks had been made over time, the provisions have largely stayed intact.

But what has changed is that the key federal incentive for wind development—known as the production tax credit—has expired, and that may mean even with siting regulations on the books in Connecticut, nothing may happen with large-scale wind projects.

“It could be too little, too late possibly,” said Paul Michaud, executive director of the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Business Association and a lawyer whose clients have included wind developers.

Click here for more of story


04/23/14 12:13 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Staples Girls Varsity Golf Beats Ridgefield in Season Opener Image
The Staples High School varsity girls golf team won its season opener today at their home Longshore course, defeating Ridgefield High School 169-217. Senior tri-captain Faith Garcia led the Wrecker victory with a 3-over-par 40 while freshman Alex McMahon, playing her first match, shot a 42. The Staples team ended up last year with a 17-2 record, finishing second in the FCIAC behind Greenwich, which accounted for both Staples losses. Pictured before today’s play are (l-r)  Marie McHugh, Analise Brown, Faith Garcia, Mary Bennewitz, and Alex McMahon. Said Patty Kondub, assistant coach: “We are starting our run for the championship.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for



04/22/14 11:38 PM Comments () • Permalink

Elsie G. Pierot, 80

Elsie “Bunny” Pell Guion Pierot, a longtime Westport resident, died April 3 at Greenwich Hospital. She was 80. Image
‘Bunny’ Pierot: longtime Westporter. Contributed photo

Born July 5, 1933, she was the only child of Elsie Pell and Floyd Guion. A jewelry artist, her work was displayed at museums in New York City and Connecticut. For more than 40 years she was founder and president of The Resale Company, an estate sales specialist.

She is survived by four children, Robert Pierot, Catherine Zicherman, Ted Pierot and Felicia Brody. She was predeceased by a daughter, Julie. Also survived by grandchildren Penelope and Melanie Brody, Olivia, Cecily and Spencer Choi, Dustin Ziegler, George and Isabel Pierot, Elizabeth Welch, Christopher, Phillip, Nicholas and Sophie-Charlotte Chen and her great-granddaughter Bella Grace D’Archangelo.

Contributions may be made to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.


04/22/14 09:05 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Outdoors: Arezzo Ristorante Image
Arezzo Ristorante on Westport’s West Bank of the Saugatuck River at 5 Riverside Ave. is today’s featured spot in our new WestportNow series,Westport Outdoors, highlighting popular spots where Westporters gather to eat, play, or relax during the warm-weather months. Named after a city in central Italy, Arezzo Ristorante, open since the summer of 2012, offers Tuscan specialties in a rustic classic riverfront setting. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


04/22/14 07:11 PM Comments () • Permalink

Arts Center to Honor Ann Sheffer at Saturday Gala Image
The Westport Arts Center’s annual gala Saturday will honor Westport arts patron and philanthropist Ann Sheffer as “Queen of the Arts.” Called “WONDERland: A Mad Art Party,” the event will be held at the Gallaher Mansion, a limestone Tudor Revival built in 1930 by industrialist/inventor Edward Beach that sits in the 227-acre Cranbury Park in Norwalk. The evening will feature a performance by Juilliard-trained soprano opera singer and Westport native, Lucia Palmieri. To purchase tickets visit or call (203) 222-7070. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During photo


04/22/14 07:01 PM Comments () • Permalink

Baron’s South Financials Still Unsettled With Developer Image
Westport’s Baron’s South Committee, working on establishing a senior housing project on the town-owned land known as Baron’s South, was told today that progress has been made on a memorandum of understanding with developers Jonathan Rose Companies. But Selectman Avi Kaner (l, back to camera) said still unresolved are financial arrangements. He said the challenge is that it is a private/public partnership structure with a 98-year term. “It’s hard to see what can happen in the future,” he said. “For instance, say in 30 years from now the state of Connecticut changes a tax code from property tax to sales tax or something of that sort.” Meanwhile, he said, “We do not want to slow down the project.  We want to proceed simultaneously.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


04/22/14 03:15 PM Comments () • Permalink

Taking Flight Image
Cormorants take flight on Westport’s Saugatuck River near Riverside Avenue and Sylvan Road South. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Molesworth for


04/22/14 04:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - Earth Day

8:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Baron’s South
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Abstract Notes” & “Solos 2014”
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. - Town Hall Room 201 - Excavation and Fill Regulations Subcommittee
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Finance Committee
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 100 - Probate Judge Lisa Wexler: What Happens When You Die with a Will?
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium -  Zoning Board of Appeals (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


04/22/14 04:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Golfers Meet New Course Maintenance Company

By James Lomuscio

Westporter Andy Kaplan said last July he had given up on golfing at Longshore Club Park, opting to go as far away as Farmington to play on decent links. Image
Ryan Segrue, who is serving as ValleyCrest’s superintendent for the Longshore golf course, listens to golfers tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for

“The greens, they looked diseased,” Kaplan said. “It was like the surface of the moon, brown, discolored.”

Even pockmarked, he said.

But as Kaplan left a Town Hall presentation tonight by principals of ValleyCrest Landscape Companies, he seemed a bit more optimistic about returning to his hometown course this summer. Calabasas, Calif.-based ValleyCrest has a three-year contract with the town and aims to upgrade the 18-hole golf course while saving the town $755,450 attributed to personnel attrition over three years.

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04/22/14 02:16 AM Comments () • Permalink

Committee Mulls Medical Marijuana Dispensary

By James Lomuscio

Representatives of a proposed medical marijuana dispensary turned down by the Bridgeport Zoning Commission last week came to Westport tonight in the hope of convincing the Planning and Zoning Commission’s (P&Z) Medical Maijuana Subcommittee that a such a facility could work in town. Image
Three-time cancer victim Angela Fiorini of Monroe displays her medical marijuana prescription card outside a P&Z Medical Marijuana Subcommittee meeting tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for

But P&Z Chairman Chip Stephens, who chairs the subcommittee, insisted that the argument put forth by Ray Rizzio, attorney for Trumbull-based D&B Wellness, was premature.

Rizzio said that the company he represents was turned down by Bridgeport because of “hysteria.”

“We’re not here to judge,” said Stephens. “We’re here to determine, if it were to become permissible, where it would be be.”

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04/22/14 01:05 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ten Westport Runners Finish Boston Marathon

Ten runners from Westport finished today’s 2014 Boston Marathon that saw more than 35,000 runners and an estimated one million spectators pay tribute to the victims of last year’s terrorist bombing. Image
Staples grad Alicia Kaestli, 24, (pictured in an earlier race) was top female Westport finisher.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

For the first time in three decades, an American won the men’s race. Meb Keflezighi finished in 2 hours 8 minutes 37 seconds, a personal best and the second-fastest time ever for an American man at Boston.

According to official results, Ian L. Cadieu, 30, was the top Westport finisher, running the 26.2 miles in 2 hours 55 minutes 12 seconds, good for a 1506 overall place. The Yale graduate, who works at Westport’s Bridgewater Associates, was a three-year letterman in cross country at Great Neck North High School on Long Island, according to his Yale athletics biography.

Second best Westporter’s time was by Jason Martin, 41, with a time of 3 hours 5 minutes 7 seconds for a 3586 over place. And third was Kenneth C. Klegar, 44, in 3 hours 12 minutes 5 seconds for a 4562 place. Top female Westport runner was 2008 Staples grad Alicia Kaestli, 24, in 3 hours 12 minutes 47 seconds for a 4754 overall place. See all searchable results here.



04/21/14 10:38 PM Comments () • Permalink

New Lifeguard Chairs for Compo Image
Workers today were building five new lifeguard chairs for Compo Beach. They said that the old ones are worn out and needed replacing. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for


04/21/14 09:26 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Unemployment in March Unchanged at 4.7%

Westport’s unemployment rate in March was 4.7 percent, unchanged from February, the Connecticut Department of Labor said today.

The last time Westport’s unemployment rate was lower was in August 2008 when it was 4.5 percent, just before the recession began to be felt. The rate hit 7.0 percent in June 2009.

The department said the number of Westport unemployed in March was 580, down from 583 in February. The March labor force in Westport numbered 12,361, down from 12,366, in February.  There were 11,781 employed in March, down from 11,783 employed in February.

A year ago in March, Westport’s unemployment rate was 5.9 percent.


04/21/14 08:47 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Outdoors: Bar Taco Offers Casual Riverfront Dining Image
Bartaco on Westport’s West Bank of the Saugatuck River at 20 Wilton Road is today’s featured spot in our new WestportNow series,Westport Outdoors, highlighting popular spots where Westporters gather to eat, play, or relax during the warm-weather months.This is the second outdoors season for Bartaco, which opened in June 2013 and quickly became a popular destination. Guests can enjoy tacos, tequila, and more at this casual dining spot overlooking the river. Open daily 11:30 a.m to closing.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


04/21/14 07:37 PM Comments () • Permalink

Two Westporters Among Top GOP Gov Group Donors

Two Westporters are among a dozen Connecticut donors who gave a total of $800,000 to the Republican Governors Association in the first quarter of 2014, money the state GOP hopes will flow back to its campaign to unseat Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a vulnerable first-term Democrat.

With individuals and corporations able to make unlimited contributions, the money came from just six individuals and six companies, led by a $250,000 check from Linda McMahon, twice the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, according to a Connecticut Mirror analysis of IRS filings.

Westporter Thomas E. McInerney, the chief executive officer of Bluff Point Associates, a private equity firm based in Westport, gave $100,000. And David H. McCormick of Westport, the co-president of the Westport-based hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, gave $25,000 to the Republican group.

No one else from Bridgewater, including its billionaire founder, Ray Dalio, worth an estimated $14 billion by Forbes, gave to either the Republican or Democrat group.

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04/21/14 07:19 PM Comments () • Permalink

Drug ‘Take Back Day’ Set for Saturday

The Westport Police Department, in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), on Saturday will provide another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft. Image
Sgt. Richard Frazier receives a bag of unused drugs at an earlier “Take Back Day” at Westport Town Hall.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The department will help rid homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs in what has become known as “Take Back Day.”

Residents are asked to bring medications for disposal to Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Ave., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.) The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked, police said.

It will be the eighth opportunity in three years for Westporters to avail themselves of the drug disposal facility.

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04/21/14 04:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

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