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Thursday, February 05, 2015

At Finance Board, Keeping Them Up on the Farm

By James Lomuscio

First Selectman Jim Marpe reaffirmed today the educational and community value of the Westport Town Farm and Sustainability Center.

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The Wakeman Town Farm holds various fundraising events to help cover its operating costs. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

He said the town has a responsibility to maintain it in a state of good repair, “when it has hundreds of visitors and school children entering it, and when we have a family living in it.”

Maintaining and upgrading the Westport Town Farm at 134 Cross highway was the thrust of a Board of Finance meeting Wednesday night that drew more than 100 persons to a public hearing in the Town Hall auditorium.

On the finance board’s agenda was Marpe’s request for a $677,000 appropriation with bond and note authorization to make needed repairs and upgrades on the 100-year-old structure, as well as to construct a great room for educational classes.

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02/05/15 12:56 PM Comments () • Permalink

After the Collapse

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A view of the collapse today of a construction scaffolding at Westport’s Green’s Farms Academy. Four workers were injured, three of whom were transported to Norwalk Hospital for evaluation, according to fire officials.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


02/05/15 12:26 PM Comments () • Permalink

GFA Scaffolding Collapse Under Investigation

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Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the collapse of a scaffolding today at a construction site at Westport’s Greens Farms Academy, 35 Beachside Ave. Four workers were injured, three of whom were transported by Westport EMS to Norwalk Hospital for observation. A fourth was treated on the scene and declined transport, according to fire officials. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


02/05/15 11:11 AM Comments () • Permalink

Scaffolding Collapse Injures Four

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The scaffolding collapse occurred where construction is under way for new global studies classrooms and a performance arts center. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

UPDATE A scaffolding used during construction at Westport’s Greens Farms Academy collapsed today, injuring four workers, fire officials said.

Three workers were transported to Norwalk Hospital with non life-threatening injuries. A fourth was treated at the scene and declined transport, said Assistant Chief Rob Yost.

Westport fire officials asked that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) respond to 35 Beachside Ave.

The scaffolding, about 25 feet high and about 100 feet wide, collapsed shortly after 10 a.m., said Alison Freeland, director of communications at GFA.

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02/05/15 10:29 AM Comments () • Permalink

2015 Westport Top Dog Finalists

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Finalists in the Westport Top Dog 2015 competition sponsored by Westport Animal Shelter Advocates have been announced. They include, as described by WASA: “Sadie the ‘Doodle Angel’ that provides her special dog therapy to young, old, sick and healthy - anyone that needs her special attention; Roxie, a chocolate lab-pit bull mix rescue from South Carolina, that charmed the judges with her first letter home to her ‘Mom;’ Lola, an 8-year-old black lab rescue that is a loyal and loving friend to his human sibling since being adopted the same year; Poni, a Shetland sheepdog, that despite developing severe epilepsy at a young age, provides a special joy to all that know him, and Tyr, a loyal and handsome shepherd mix, rescued in near-death condition from the mean streets of NYC by his dedicated pet parents.” The winner will be announced Friday, Feb. 13 at 4 p.m. at the Westport Town Hall auditorium. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow graphic from contributed photos


02/05/15 10:10 AM Comments () • Permalink

Going Down: 37 High Point Road

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Demolition of the house at Westport’s 37 High Point Road, off Long Lots Road, is in process. Built in 1966, the one-story ranch had 2,766 square feet, was situated on a 1.27-acre property and changed ownership in December 2014 for $960,000. It was the WestportNow Teardown of the Day on Dec. 30, 2014. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


02/05/15 09:49 AM Comments () • Permalink

Library View

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Wednesday’s sunset as seen from outside the Westport Library. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com


02/05/15 12:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday,  February 5, 2015

10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Coney Island: Side Show”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Saugatuck @Work” & “Framing Saugatuck”
Noon - Toquet Hall Teen Center - Play with Your Food Lunchtime Theater
2 p.m. - Westport Library - Overcoat Film Series: “Born Yesterday”
6 p.m. - Black Duck Cafe (605 Riverside Ave.) - Little Black Dog Rescue Fundraiser
7 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Planning & Zoning Commission Public Hearing ***televised
7 p.m. - Westport Library - Joseph Califano Jr., “The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: White House Years”
7 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - Drink n’ Draw - February

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


02/05/15 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Metro-North to Resume Harlem Line Service Thursday

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced tonight that Metro-North will resume train service on the Harlem Line Thursday morning for the first time since Tuesday night’s collision between a passenger train and a SUV near Valhalla station.

Metro-North customers should expect delays as trains will have to slow down as they pass through the work zone at the site of the accident, he said.

A Danbury man is among six people who were killed in the collision.

Tomar Aditya, 41, of Danbury, was one of five train passengers who died, according to Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.


02/04/15 11:28 PM Comments () • Permalink

Melvin M. Shaw, 90

Melvin Madison Shaw of Westport died Jan. 27 at home after a long illness. He was 90.

Born March 11, 1924 to Samuel and Ida (Hohmann) Schwartz, he grew up in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., the oldest of three brothers.

A financial executive for Toshoku America, Inc., he worked in their Manhattan office for 20 years, retiring in 1997. 

Previously, he was employed by Haskell & Sells, Colgate-Palmolive, Arco Electronics, and Schaefer Brewing Company in various financial capacities and by Loral Corporation where he was controller and chief financial officer.

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02/04/15 11:25 PM Comments () • Permalink

School Board Approves $111.47 Million 2015-16 Budget

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE (clarifies increase percentage) The Westport Board of Education tonight unanimously approved a $111,471,756 operating budget for 2015-16 academic year, a 2.08 percent increase over the current budget.

The school board approved budget’s next stop is the Board of Finance

While it was lower that the 3.75 percent increase that Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon had originally proposed, it was still higher than what Landon had hoped for at the meeting’s start.

Landon wanted to separate the school system’s capital expenses from its operating budget, the same way town government does—a move would have lowered budget by about $400,000 resulting in just a 1.93 percent increase, he said.

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02/04/15 10:41 PM Comments () • Permalink

New Haven Delays

UPDATE Metro-North said New Haven Line service is on or close to schedule after earlier delays due to continued track work in the Park Avenue Tunnel.


02/04/15 07:46 PM Comments () • Permalink

Firefighters Dig Out Hydrants But Could Use Help

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Five teams of firefighters spread out across Westport again today to clear snow-buried fire hydrants that pose potential hazards by delaying access to a water supply in case of fire, according to Westport Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury. He said there are 1,060 fire hydrants in Westport, and many of them require snow removal due to the two recent snowstorms. He encouraged neighborhoods to take care of their own nearby hydrants since firefighters cannot possibly get to all of the ones that need clearing. Firefighters Scott Del Vecchio, Peter NIchio, and Dan Ambruso work on a hydrant on Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


02/04/15 06:03 PM Comments () • Permalink

Blumenthal, Schumer Differ on Metro-North Valhalla Crash

By Ann Radelat


Washington – Sens. Chuck Schumer and Richard Blumenthal today held a joint press conference on the fatal crash between a Metro-North train and an SUV in Valhalla, N.Y. ; and though they were on the same telephone line, they weren’t always on the same page.

In the joint press teleconference, Schumer, D-N.Y., cautioned reporters “it was much too early to point any fingers” of blame in the crash that resulted in six deaths and injuries to 15 others. Blumenthal, D-Conn., meanwhile, insisted the crash was “preventable with the right equipment functioning properly.”

Click here for more of story


02/04/15 05:29 PM Comments () • Permalink

Judges Meet to Select Westport Top Dog

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Judging for Westport’s Top Dog 2015 competition took place at Westport Town Hall today. Julie Loparo (r), president of Westport Animal Shelter Advocates (WASA), the sponsoring nonprofit, briefed the judges about the selection process. She said each of the 24 entries contained an essay about and photo of the dog. The four finalists selected by the committee will be notified and invited to an announcement ceremony in the Town Hall auditorium on Friday, Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. The judges (l-r) are John Walsh, First Selectman Jim Marpe, Autumn Wickett of Schulhof Animal Hospital, and Town Clerk Patricia Strauss. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


02/04/15 04:57 PM Comments () • Permalink

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 131 Old Road

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An application for a permit to demolish the house at Westport’s 131 Old Road, near Bulkley Avenue North, is in process. Built in 1961, the one-story split level has 1,352 square feet and is situated on a .93-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


02/04/15 02:53 PM Comments () • Permalink

Gene D. Pelletier, 74

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Gene Pelletier: made his mark on Westport sports. Contributed photo

Gene D. Pelletier of Byfield, Mass., a former Westport resident, died Jan. 26 at Anna Jaques Hospital, Newburyport, Mass. He was 74.

He grew up in Minneapolis. Always a fighter in adversity, he was stricken at age 10 with osteomyelitis, a bone cancer in his left leg and it was feared he might not be able to walk, let alone run.

After many operations to save his leg and several years wearing a brace, he went on to become one of the top sprinters in Minnesota. He won many records in the 100- and 220-yard dashes and anchored the high school state champion 880-yard relay team.

At the University of Minnesota, he was an M Club letterman in track, was an aspiring football player, pledged Beta Theta Pi and studied in the U of M College of Education.

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02/04/15 01:47 PM Comments () • Permalink

Feds Announce Crackdown on CT Corruption

U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and representatives from five federal law enforcement agencies today announced the formation of the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force to investigate corrupt public officials, the misuse of public funds and related criminal activity.

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Deirdre Daly: “We urge all citizens to assist us.” Contributed photo

The Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force includes representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and the Inspector General’s Offices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, an announcement said.

“For the first time in Connecticut, we have brought together in a single investigative unit, agents and inspectors from the federal agencies that have primary responsibility for investigating public corruption,” said Daly, a Fairfield resident who attended Greens Farms Academy in Westport.

“Although each of these agencies has a history of working together, bringing some of the best agents in the state into one unit with a singular purpose of investigating all manner of corruption is an optimal way to address the complex and varied threats posed by corrupt activity.”

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02/04/15 01:18 PM Comments () • Permalink

Master Plan Open House Rescheduled for Tuesday

Postponed twice due to recent snowstorms, the public open house on the draft of the Downtown Westport master plan has been rescheduled to Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 4 to 9 p.m. in the Westport Library’s McManus Room, Melissa Kane, chairwoman of the Downtown Steering Committee (DSC), announced today.

The open house will include exhibits, and PowerPoint presentations of the draft at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. along with opportunities to comment and ask questions, she said.

The 5:30 presentation session will be televised on public access Channel 79 (Cablevision) and Channel 99 (ATT). The 7:30 presentation will be recorded and streamed live on the town’s website, http://www.westportct.gov.

Public comment on the draft is encouraged and will be possible through the website (http://www.downtownwestportct.com) where it will be posted, Kane said.

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02/04/15 01:13 PM Comments () • Permalink

Real Estate Report: Homes Getting Larger

By Judy Szablak

Westport’s homes are getting larger, and the average prices are creeping up, too. As of today, the average single family home in Westport is listed at just under $2.6 million, has 11 rooms, which include five bedrooms, and almost 5,450 square feet of living area.

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Featured Home: This home at 8 Hogan Trail is listed at $1,725,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo courtesy of William Pitt Sotheby’s/Westport.

That’s quite a contrast to the 34 properties which are available as of today that are priced under $1 million. One could reasonably expect that homes in this price range would be built in the 1950s and have approximately 2,200 square feet.

Additionally, just one fourth of all of our available housing inventory is priced between $1-2 million, and these homes have an average of 10 rooms, four bedrooms, and approximately 4,400 square feet.

The last few years has brought about a lot of new construction, and of the 85 homes currently on the market that were built in 2010 or later, average size has increased 20 percent over the town-wide average to 6,769 square feet.

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02/04/15 06:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Full Moon Over Compo

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The temperature was in the teens Tuesday night as a full moon lit up the sky over Westport’s Compo Beach.. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com


02/04/15 12:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

8 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Maintenance Study Committee
9 a.m. - 2 p.m. - Westport Library - The Refinery: Entrepreneur Accelerator Program for Women-led Companies
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Coney Island: Side Show”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Saugatuck @Work” & “Framing Saugatuck”
Noon - Toquet Hall Teen Center - Play with Your Food Lunchtime Theater
3 p.m. - Town Hall - Westport Animal Shelter Associates (WASA) Top Dog Judging Table
4 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Beautification Committee
4 p.m. - Westport Library - Imagination Foundation Workshops
6:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 102 - Shellfish Commission
6:30 p.m. - Westport Library - Chess Club for Adults
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Board of Finance Executive Session
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)
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Flood & Erosion Control Board
8 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Board of Finance Public Hearing (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


02/04/15 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

RTM Splashes About Pool Renovation Funding

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) tonight approved by a vote of 27 to 1 with 2 abstentions a $308,000 appropriation to renovate three swimming pools at Longshore Club Park—but only after an hour of debates and defeated motions urging the town to go out to bid for other contractors.

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Swimmers enjoy one of the three Longshore pools last summer. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Parks & Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy said the appropriation from the Capital and Non-Recurring Expenditures Fund would go primarily for drain and tile restorations of the 140,000-gallon lap pool constructed in 1935. He said the pool had sustained substantial damage during Super Storm Sandy.

“The bulk of the work is on the main pool, the lap pool,” McCarthy said, adding that the drain covers would bring the pool up to safety standards in time for the summer swimming season.

He added that 50 percent of the appropriation would be paid back to the town over 15 years, $10,700 per year, from user fees.

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02/03/15 11:09 PM Comments () • Permalink

RTM Approves $1.1 Million for Waterfront Open Space

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) tonight unanimously approved a $1,111,650 appropriation for the purchase of two small waterfront properties on Old Mill Road for the purpose of razing the vacant buildings and leaving the land as open space.

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Westport Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury explains to appropriation request tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Dewey Loselle, town operations director who made the request, which had previously ben approved by the Board of Finance, noted that the properties at 38 and 40 Old Mill Road are considered “repetitive loss properties” by the federal government in terms of insurance pay outs due to storms Irene and Sandy.

And because of that, he said, all of the appropriation monies will be reimbursed to the town by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Loselle said the early 1900s built, 1,000-square foot cabin at 38 Old Mill and the 1920s built 666-square-foot structure at 40 Old Mill were not longer habitable, “and today we would never build on these properties.”

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02/03/15 10:14 PM Comments () • Permalink

6 Dead in Westchester Metro-North Train-Car Crash

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UPDATE A fiery Westchester crash tonight involving a packed Metro-North train and car at Valhalla, N.Y. killed six persons (revised from earlier reported seven) and injured 15, said Aaron Donovan, a Metro-North spokesman on Wednesday morning. The vehicle and the front of the Harlem Line train burst into flames after the accident at about 6:45 p.m. Donovan said the female driver of the car was killed along with five train passengers. “You have seven people who started out today to go about their business and aren’t going to be making it home tonight,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at the scene. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) News12.com photo


02/03/15 08:27 PM Comments () • Permalink

Fire Rages on Metro-North Train

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Fire rages on a Metro-North train tonight after it collided with a car at Valhalla, N.Y. Metro-North said about 400 persons were on the Harlem Line train at the time. The six fatalities made it the deadliest crash in the railroad’s history. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bizzz23/Instagram.com photo


02/03/15 08:25 PM Comments () • Permalink

Escaping the Flames

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Commuters evacuate a Metro-North train tonight after it crashed into a car at Valhalla, N.Y. and touched off a fire. The New Haven Line has numerous gated crossings on its New Canaan and Danbury branch lines, resulting in a number of accidents over the years but none of them as deadly as the one tonight in Valhalla. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) JB/Instagram.com photo


02/03/15 08:23 PM Comments () • Permalink

Landon Seeks Survey Input for Dodig Replacement

In looking for a replacement for Staples High School Principal John Dodig, Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon is soliciting parent, student, staff and community input via an online survey open through Sunday, Feb. 8. WestportNow.com Image
John Dodig: announced retirement in December. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“In order to assist our administration in attracting the most highly qualified candidates for this position, we would like your input,” the survey states. “Please take a few minutes to complete this survey. Your participation will help to ensure that we find the best candidate for this important position.”

Dodig, 70, has been principal at Staples since 2004 and had been described by Landon as having “a monumentally positive impact upon students, parents, staff.” He announced his retirement in December. (See WestportNow Dec. 1, 2014)

The seven-part survey, available here, poses myriad questions ranging from “critically-needed personal characteristics and background experiences” to leadership challenges at Staples to the school’s selling points for attracting the best candidate to any additional input offered that the administration might find helpful.


02/03/15 05:57 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Mom Meets Obama on Affordable Care Act

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Ann Chrisman (2nd r) of Westport was among 10 people who met with President Obama today to share their experience with the Affordable Care Act. In July 2014, Chrisman, a 51-year-old mother of three and licensed massage therapist, wrote a letter to Obama saying that she could not afford health insurance. But when the Health Insurance Marketplace opened, Chrisman learned that she qualified for Medicaid in Connecticut. That coverage finally gave her the chance to see a doctor – and catch her breast cancer early. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Pete Souza/White House photo


02/03/15 04:48 PM Comments () • Permalink

Obama Hugs

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Ann Chrisman (2nd l) of Westport watches today as President Obama hugs one of the other guests who met with him to share their experience with the Affordable Care Act. Chrisman, a single mother of three, wrote to Obama last July saying she was pleased that she was able to get health care coverage, only to learn later that she had early stage breast cancer. She said the White House called her last week inviting her to today’s meeting. Pete Souza/White House photo


02/03/15 04:43 PM Comments () • Permalink

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