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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Access Health CT Chief Leaving for Fed Job

By Arielle Levin Becker

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Kevin Counihan: led Access Health CT through a relatively smooth launch. Ctmirror.org photo

Kevin Counihan is resigning as the chief executive of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange to lead the once-troubled federal Obamacare marketplace, officials announced today.

As CEO of the federal exchange, Counihan will assume responsibility for the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace, a crucial piece of the Affordable Care Act that is used to enroll people in coverage in nearly three dozen states.

The federal exchange’s launch last fall was considered disastrous, and Counihan’s appointment comes less than three months before the Nov. 15 start of the second open enrollment period for private insurance.

Counihan will also run the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, a part of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that plays a key role in implementing the health law.

Click here for more of story


08/26/14 03:05 PM Comments () • Permalink

Review Urged of Police Military Donation Program

By Ann Radelat


Washington – Images of Ferguson, Mo., police dressed in riot gear, riding in massive armored vehicles and using high-power rifles like those used by the U.S..military has sparked debate on the wisdom of militarizing police forces,  including those in Connecticut, by giving them cast off Pentagon equipment.

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Police in Willimantic, pop. 17,737 (2010), received a military vehicle for its SWAT team. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Willimantic Police photo

Since the Defense Department established its Excess Property Program, also known as the 1033 program, in 1997, police departments across the state have acquired dozens of military assault rifles, grenade launchers, night vision equipment, mine resistant and armored vehicles and even a helicopter from the Defense Department. (See WestportNow Aug. 20, 2014)

The Hartford Police Department, for instance has received more than 30 assault rifles, night vision equipment, pistols, body armor and a mine-resistant vehicle from the DOD.

Police departments in New London, New Haven, Fairfield County – which also received a helicopter – have been given similar equipment. Even the 42-member Willimantic Police Department has received the gift of an armored vehicle from the Army.

Click here for more of story


08/26/14 02:11 PM Comments () • Permalink

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 5 Horseshoe Lane

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An application for a permit to demolish the house at Westport’s 5 Horseshoe Lane, off Keyser Road, is in process. Built in 1961, the one-story split has 1,004 square feet and is situated on a .25-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


08/26/14 11:39 AM Comments () • Permalink

Newman’s Own Launches Salad Dressing Contest

Newman’s Own—the Westport-based brand that donates all profits to charity—today announced a Newman’s Own Salad Dressing “Greens for Good” Recipe Contest.

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An announcement said the competition empowers salad aficionados to share their favorite salad recipe/dressing pairing and nominate a nonprofit organization to receive another kind of green: a $35,000 donation.

Beginning today, consumers can visit www.facebook.com/NewmansOwn and click on the Greens for Good tab to enter their original salad creation and Newman’s Own Salad Dressing pairing.

“Making good food and pursuing the common good have been at the core of Newman’s Own mission since Paul Newman mixed up his very first batch of great-tasting Newman’s Own salad dressing,” said David Best, executive vice president, Newman’s Own, Inc.

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08/26/14 10:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Gas Odor Forces Evacuation of Bedford Middle School

UPDATE An odor of gas in the loading dock area of Bedford Middle School today forced evacuation of the school, fire officials said.

The cause was determined to be a problem with a gas meter and the building was allowed to reoccupied at 8:31 a.m.


08/26/14 08:21 AM Comments () • Permalink

Some Went to School, Some Went Fishing

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Monday was the first day of school for many Westporters, but for others, it was just another hot summer day perfect for fishing off a jetty at Compo Beach. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com


08/26/14 12:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Larry Silver/Westport Visions” & “Faces in the Crowd”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Scents & Soles”
2 p.m. - Westport Library - Virtual Vacation Matinée Series: “Le Week-end”
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
7 p.m. - Unitarian Church (10 Lyons Plains Road) - Summer Sings with Music on the Hill
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 100 - Probate Judge Lisa Wexler: “When You Die Without a Will”
8 p.m. - Westport Country Playhouse - “Things We Do For Love”

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


08/26/14 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Monday, August 25, 2014

New School Year, New Locks and Security Measures

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Board of Education tonight unanimously approved asking the Board of Finance for $750,000 to equip key public school personnel with special radios for instant police communication in the event of a security breach or possible attack.

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First floor windows of all Westport public schools now have a thin protective security layer held in place by a black seal. This is a window at Staples High School tonight where the Board of Education met. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“With this system it’s instantaneous,” said Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, noting that currently teachers and administrators would have to dial 911 in the event of an internal or external attack. “We save 15 to 30 seconds. We have time we never had before.”

Buying time appears to me the focus of the school board’s security measures now entering the next phase, communication.

Over the summer, Landon noted, the school system installed 1,425 high security interior door locks costing $200,000, as well as installing to the tune of $500,000 clear 3M film on each school’s first floor windows and doors to slow down access for those who would do harm to children.

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08/25/14 11:14 PM Comments () • Permalink

Himes Tours Westport’s Innovation HUB

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes today visited the Westport Innovation HUB in Saugatuck as part of his 17 towns in 17 days congressional break tour.

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Congressman Jim Himes (2nd l.) meets today with entrepreneurs at Westport’s Innovation HUB, including founder Howard Steinberg (3rd r). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

He toured the facility and met with local entrepreneurs and small businesses based at the center’s shared workspace at 20 Ketchum St.

The HUB is home to more than 25 small business operators and its members assist each other with capital, local resources and expertise. A core group of six members are actively looking at investing and supporting startups in southwest Connecticut.

“The HUB is harnessing the entrepreneurial energy that is vital to creating jobs and keeping southwest Connecticut at the forefront of innovation,” Himes said.

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08/25/14 08:09 PM Comments () • Permalink

Shuttered Max’s to Host One-Day Pop-Up Art Show

Max’s Art Supplies, scheduled to shut its doors Sunday after 59 years of serving the town’s legendary arts community, is not going quietly into that good night.

Local artist Amy Kaplan said that Max’s, at 68 Post Road East, will reopen its doors for one last time on Friday, Sept. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. for a “juried, pop-up art exhibit featuring the works of some of the area’s most talented artists.”

Dubbed “Westport Area Artists Celebrate Max’s,” the event has been made possible, says Kaplan, by the support from Shirley Mellor, Max’s owner and Max Kaplan’s widow; Nina Royce, a longtime employee; John Hartwell, chairman of the Westport Town Democratic Committee; the Westport Downtown Merchants Association (WDMA); Parkway Liquor; and Rockwell Art and Framing.

“Since 1956, Max’s Art Supplies has offered a comprehensive inventory of quality art supplies along with a place for artists to find encouragement, advice, and each other,” said Kaplan. “They have also offered artists the opportunity to show their work in Max’s front windows at the foot of Main Street and Post Road.”

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08/25/14 06:05 PM Comments () • Permalink

All Ready for Family Y Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Thursday

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The new Westport Weston Family Y will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday at 7 p.m. in advance of its public opening in September. Finished facilities include the Aquatic Center, which includes a 10-lane, 25-yard lap pool and adjacent warm-water family/teaching/therapeutic pool. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


08/25/14 05:48 PM Comments () • Permalink

Town Ask Feds for Exemption on Buses

By James Lomuscio

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in Washington, D.C. will now decide again whether the Westport Transit District (WTD) can shuttle the town’s children to after-school activities—as the bus company has for the past 30 years.

Town Operations Director Dewey Loselle said today that Westport has complied with the FTA’s recently outlined procedures in submitting an exemption request to run the bus service, which the federal government said does not comply with its regulations.

Loselle said the regional FTA office in Boston has sent Westport’s request for an exemption—it turned down an earlier request for an extension—to its main office after the town advertised in three regional newspapers but was unable to hire an outside bus company to transport the children.

“Someone down there will make the call,” Loselle said. “We have no idea when.”

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08/25/14 04:18 PM Comments () • Permalink

Playhouse Announces 2015 Season

The Westport Country Playhouse has announced its 2015 season, featuring a celebration of playwright Arthur Miller’s centennial, as well as plays by Alan Ayckbourn, David Ives, and C. P. Taylor, to be staged next year from May through October.

Under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos, 2015 will mark the Connecticut professional theater’s 85th season.

“Our 2015 season is a particularly rich and satisfying smorgasbord of plays—with a couple extra desserts thrown in,” said Lamos. “We hope to enrich your Playhouse experience with entertainment that ranges from the hilarity of brilliant farce to the striking power of insightful, moving drama. Theater that’s not only worth talking about, but one which engages hearts through laughter, passion, and gripping storytelling.” 

2015 subscriptions are now on sale for current and new subscribers. Current subscribers who renew by the Early Bird Deadline of Sunday, Sept. 7, will receive “Concessions Cash,” redeemable for food and beverages in the Playhouse concessions stand, plus a special sweet treat.

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08/25/14 02:11 PM Comments () • Permalink

First Day Memories

Scenes as Westport students returned to school today after summer vacation. The school population is about 5,700, according to Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, and 44 teachers are new to the system. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 10:17 AM Comments () • Permalink

Greeting Students at Staples

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Staples High School Principal John Dodig today talks with Andrew Ippolito, 17, a senior at Staples High School who showed up on the first day of school wearing a graduation cap. Dodig later conducted an orientation session with each of the four classes starting with the Class of 2015.  Of his session with 480 seniors, he said, “The students were so quiet and attentive I could have heard a pin drop. To me that’s a measure of the respect between students and staff.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 09:45 AM Comments () • Permalink

New Name, Same School

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Janna Bell Sirowich, starting her fifth year as principal of Coleytown Elementary School, today welcomes first day students. Sirowich said she has a new last name this year because she was married in April. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 09:31 AM Comments () • Permalink

Hurry Up and Wait

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Saugatuck Elementary students today wait for the entrance doors to open at 7:45 a.m. A volunteer said the buses arrived a few minutes earlier than expected. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 09:19 AM Comments () • Permalink

All Smiles on First Day of School

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Carolyn Cassell, 12, smiles as she boards the bus today to Bedford Middle School where she is in the seventh grade. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 09:12 AM Comments () • Permalink

New Principal at Saugatuck Greets Students

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The new principal of Saugatuck Elementary School, Beth Messler, greets children as they arrive for the first day of school today.  Messler was formerly assistant principal at Coleytown Elementary School. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 09:09 AM Comments () • Permalink

Senior Girls Arrive in Style

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Some senior girls at Staples High School arrived for the first day of school today in a stylish Jeep and color coordinated outfits. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 09:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Off to Coleytown Middle

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Coleytown Middle School students—and friend—wait for the school bus today on Half Mile Common on the first day of school. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dawn Shmaruk for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 08:45 AM Comments () • Permalink

Students, Buses Back

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School buses line up outside Saugatuck Elementary school today as students return from summer vacation for the first day of school. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 08:07 AM Comments () • Permalink

School Bus Schedules

With Westport public schools opening today, the school office released the following bus schedules and memo for parents:

(Click on links)
Transportation Information
Greens Farms Elementary
Kings Highway Elementary
Long Lots Elementary
Saugatuck Elementary
Coleytown Elementary
Bedford Middle School
Coleytown Middle School
Staples High School


08/25/14 12:20 AM Comments () • Permalink

Last Sunset of Summer Vacation

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With school starting today for Westport public school students, many flocked to the waterfront Sunday night for the last sunset of summer vacation. Longshore Club Park and Compo Beach were full with sunset watchers as the ball of orange made its descent on the skyline. Cars lined the roadway along Compo Beach to get a glimpse. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jaime Bairaktaris for WestportNow.com


08/25/14 12:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, August 25, 2014

10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Larry Silver/Westport Visions” & “Faces in the Crowd”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Scents & Soles”
5:30 p.m. - Staples Room 1020A - Board of Education Executive Session
7 p.m. - Westport Library - James Mapes on Mind Over Body
7:30 p.m. - Staples Cafeteria B - Board of Education (live coverage cable channel 78, AT&T channel 99, and www.westport.k12.ct.us)

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


08/25/14 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Banjo Sounds at the Levitt

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Internationally acclaimed banjoist and vocalist Cynthia Sayer is celebrated as the top 4-string banjoist in the world and praised for her “drive and virtuosity by the New York Times.  Cynthia is a founding member of Woody Allen’s New Orleans Jazz Band with whom she played and toured for more than 10 years. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/24/14 09:55 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday Night at the Levitt

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Presented as part of the Celebration Sundays Series sponsored by Jewish Senior Services, Cynthia Sayer and her Joyride Band entertained an overflow crowd tonight at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/24/14 09:50 PM Comments () • Permalink

Swing, Hot Jazz, and More at Levitt

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Cynthia Sawyer and her Joyride Band delighted a Levitt Pavilion audience tonight. Performers with her included Dennis Lichtman, clarinet; Charles Giordano, accordion; Larry Eagle, drums, and Jim Whitney, bass. Accordionist Giordano also plays the keyboard in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/24/14 09:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

Levitts at the Levitt

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Among the crowd attending tonight’s performance at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts were Mimi Levitt (r) with her niece Helen Johnson from Sherman Oaks, Calif., and her son, Peter. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


08/24/14 09:40 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday Fun

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It was a pefect day today for kayaking off of Compo Beach.  Enjoying the ride are (;-r)  are Eliza Barr, 10,  basset hound Dewey, and Jennifer Johnson, whose other transportation interests include being co-director of the Westport Transit District. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Evan Barr for WestportNow.com


08/24/14 05:17 PM Comments () • Permalink

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