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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Part 2 Of A Series: A Legacy of Debt

By Keith M. Phaneuf


Much of the focus on state government’s surging retirement benefit costs has been on their likely impact on programs and taxes over the next two decades.

And while that effect probably will be huge, those costs already have sapped significant funding from key priorities, particularly since the last recession ended seven years ago.

Recent efforts to rebuild Connecticut’s aging and clogged transportation network have bogged down, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s latest 30-year initiative is in jeopardy as well.

Connecticut’s health care and social safety net, hailed by some but criticized by others as too generous, has sustained cuts.

Click here for more of story



01/31/17 07:37 PM Comments () • Permalink

Cleaning Up

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Workers clear a Westport Main Street sidewalk late today after the snow came to an end. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/31/17 04:50 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sign Installation Within Reach

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Today’s snow did not stop installation of a new Design Within Reach sign on the former U.S. Post Office building at 154 Post Road East. As first reported by WestportNow last June (see WestportNow June 8, 2016) the building is the new Westport home of the furniture retailer. It was occupied until a year ago by the Post 154 Restaurant. A worker on site said the store, which formerly leased space on Elm Street, plans to open by the end of February. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo


01/31/17 04:43 PM Comments () • Permalink

A Peak Inside New Design Within Reach

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Workers were completing the interior installation today of the new Design Within Reach furniture store at 154 Post Road East. The longtime home of the U.S. Post Office and, until a year ago the Post 154 Restaurant, will see the official opening of the store by the end of February, according to a worker on the site. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/31/17 04:38 PM Comments () • Permalink

Black and White Longshore

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It is a color photo, but it might as well have been a black and white shot today of the entrance to Westport’s Longshore Club Park. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com


01/31/17 04:25 PM Comments () • Permalink

Snowy Longshore

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Westport’s Longshore Club Park looked like a winter wonderland today.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com


01/31/17 04:08 PM Comments () • Permalink

Ellen C. Nims, 76

Ellen C. Nims, 76, of Keene, New Hampshire, a former resident of Westport, died Jan. 24 after a brief period of declining health. She was 76.

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Ellen Nims: 1958 Staples graduate. Contributed photo

She was born on Oct. 16, 1940 in New York City, the daughter of the late Catherine (Ollis) and Ralph Nims. She was educated in Westport and graduated from Staples High School class of 1958.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in education from Connecticut College in 1962 and her Master’s of education from the University of California, Berkeley.

On Jan. 10, 1987 she exchanged vows with Kenneth Meyers. They were married in a simple service in Reno, Nevada. He died on April 27, 1991 after four years of marriage.

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01/31/17 02:19 PM Comments () • Permalink

Snowy Main

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Despite snow squalls, some shoppers were out on Westport’s Main Street today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com


01/31/17 01:41 PM Comments () • Permalink

Heading Home Early

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A student heads home early today on Westport’s West Parish Road following early dismissal because of the snow. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/31/17 01:16 PM Comments () • Permalink

Winter Look

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Snow began falling at about 11 a.m., stopped for a while at mid-day, and resumed in early afternoon. View is of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge in Westport’s center. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo


01/31/17 01:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Snow Brings Early Dismissals, Rash of Accidents

Late morning snow flurries caused a rash of accidents around Westport today as Westport schools dismissed early due to the weather.

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This car at Quality Auto Repair, 271 Post Road East, was involved in a mid-morning crash at Main and Canal Streets. The driver was not injured. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

No serious injuries were reported in the accidents, including ones on Main Street near Richmondville Avenue, Weston Road at St. George Place and near the Merritt Parkway, and Kings Highway North at Wilton Road.

State Police reported numerous accidents on the Merritt Parkway.

Westport schools joined other area schools in dismissing early, beginning at 12:15 p.m. with Staples High School.

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01/31/17 11:43 AM Comments () • Permalink

Shelton Man Pleads Guilty to Westport Bank Robbery

A 47-year-old Shelton man has waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty in Hartford federal court in connection with the robbery last June of a Westport Chase Bank and three other Chase branches.

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Westport police issued these photos following the June 2, 2016 Chase Bank robbery in Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly announced Scott Taylor pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery and admitted to robbing the Chase Bank at 184 Main St. in Westport on June 2 as well as Chase branches in Milford, Norwalk, and Stratford in subsequent weeks.

During each of the robberies, Taylor handed a teller a note demanding cash, and told the teller that he had a gun.

The Westport robbery owas reported shortly after 11 a.m. with the suspect described as a middle-aged white male, about 5-foot-2, heavy-set, wearing glasses, black hooded sweatshirt, light-colored baggy pants, white baseball hat, and carrying a black backpack. (See WestportNow June 2, 2016)

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01/31/17 11:35 AM Comments () • Permalink

Early Closing for Westport Arts Center

The Westport Arts Center said it is closing today at noon due to weather.


01/31/17 11:08 AM Comments () • Permalink

Malloy to Propose Mandate Relief for Cities, Towns

By Keith M. Phaneuf


UPDATE Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today unveiled a plan to ease mandates on cities and towns, led by elimination of a controversial cap on local budgets.

The governor, who is expected next week to recommend a major realignment of aid from wealthier to poorer communities, also proposed: changes to collective bargaining, tightening of prevailing wage standards, granting more flexibility in local property assessment rates and eliminating a requirement for a superintendent in small school districts.

“True partnerships are built on listening to the concerns and responding to the needs of the other party,” Malloy said. “Given the challenges we face in balancing the budget in the next biennium, the state and local municipalities must continue to strengthen our working partnership — and in some respects, begin to redefine this relationship.”

Local cities and towns have complained loudly over the past two years since the legislature established a cap system, with financial penalties when local spending exceeds certain limits.

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01/31/17 10:47 AM Comments () • Permalink

Early Dismissal for Westport Schools

Due to the weather, the Westport Public Schools will be closing two hours early today.

All evening activities are canceled.

Staples High School will dismiss at 12:15 p.m. Bedford Middle, Coleytown Middle, and Saugatuck Elementary Schools will dismiss at 12:45 p.m. Coleytown Elementary, Greens Farms, Kings Highway, and Long Lots Schools will dismiss at 1:15 p.m.

For Stepping Stones information, please refer to the standard early dismissal information posted online.


01/31/17 07:01 AM Comments () • Permalink

AP Spotlights Town’s White Privilege Essay

A student essay contest announced earlier this month by Westport’s diversity committee (see WestportNow Jan. 18, 2017) has prompted national coverage by The Associated Press.

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The AP story was widely distributed by the news agency. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo from Ap.org

“WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) — When the town sponsored a student essay contest on the topic of white privilege, it was intended to provoke discussion in this wealthy, overwhelmingly white community on Connecticut’s Gold Coast.

“It did, along with no small amount of outrage,” the story began.

“Contest organizers have been surprised by the reaction from some who say the question wrongly suggests race plays into the good life enjoyed in Westport.”

More "AP Spotlights Town’s White Privilege Essay"


01/31/17 01:32 AM Comments () • Permalink

Rainbow Cloud

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A rainbow-like cloud spotted Monday over the Saugatuck River in Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com


01/31/17 12:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “MORE Than Words/As We Are”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Westport School Days 1703–Present”
1 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - HDC Bridge Street National Register Study Subcommittee
2 p.m. - Westport Library - WestportREADS 2017 Movie: “Funny Girl”
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
7 p.m. - Westport Library - A Psychotherapy Method for Healing Trauma
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Finance Committee Canceled

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


01/31/17 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Monday, January 30, 2017

BOE Clears Way for School Bus Seat Belts for Next Year

UPDATE After several weeks of discussions and debate, Westport’s Board of Education tonight cleared the way to approve a request by the school’s transportation director to put three-point seat belts in 13 of the district’s school buses starting next year.

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Some school buses will have seat belts beginning next January. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The request made by director Sandra Evangelista would total $120,900, with more than half of that amount being budgeted for the 2017-18 academic year to retrofit seven buses, and the remaining six buses for 2018-19.

While most board members seemed in favor of the proposal, the actual vote will come next week as part of the 2017-18 budget.

According to Elio Longo, school business administrator, each of the retrofits would cost about $9,300.

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01/30/17 11:20 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tears for Future of Staples Child Development Program

By James Lomuscio

Even though it was not on tonight’s school board agenda, parents and students one after the other came forward to protest. A couple of them cried. Others were in disbelief.

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Staples senior Kate Backman burst into tears as she pleaded with the Board of Education to retain teacher Linda McClary.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo from Staples Television

They had just learned that the Staples High School child development program as it exists now would be discontinued next year.

Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer’s decision to reshuffle the program to the social studies department was stealthily done without seeking parent and student input, they argued.

They also expressed concern about the future of Linda McClary, the long time, well-loved program teacher.

More "Tears for Future of Staples Child Development Program"


01/30/17 11:05 PM Comments () • Permalink

Previously Denied, Developer Offers New Text Amendment

By James Lomuscio

With his high-rise Riverwalk project denied last March, Westport developer David Waldman has a newly proposed text amendment he hopes will pass muster when the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) meets Thursday night.

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The former Save the Children building at 54 Wilton Road. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Elements that remain from the first proposal include a riverfront boardwalk from Bartaco to the end of the Wilton Road property and welcoming to the property a town-sponsored pedestrian bridge over the Saugatuck River from Parker Harding Plaza.

Text amendment 725 to be submitted by his attorney William J. Fitzpatrick is a reworked version of the previous Riverwalk amendment and one Waldman says will be more pleasing to the commission since it is consistent with the 2007 Plan of Conservation and development (POCD).

On March 3, the P&Z by a 5 to 2 vote denied the Riverwalk amendment. (See WestportNow March 3, 2016) It would have facilitated a two-story, 25,000-square-foot office building and a 47-foot tall residential building for between 15 to 17 condominiums at the 2.45-acre former Save the Children site at 54 Wilton Road overlooking the Saugatuck River.

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01/30/17 08:13 PM Comments () • Permalink

First In A Series: CT Standing On Its Own Fiscal Cliff

By Keith M. Phaneuf


Connecticut stands on the cusp of an unprecedented fiscal crisis.

The budget that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will present to the legislature Feb. 8, in an attempt to close $3 billion in deficits over the next two years, is only a portent of a far greater, long-term challenge facing the state.

Simply, the bill is coming due in ever-increasing amounts for the 80-year failure of one of the richest states in the nation to adequately save for retirement benefits promised to teachers and state employees.

Hobbled by debts accumulated by generations of governors and legislators, Connecticut for at least 15 years to come is likely to face a bleak and politically dangerous menu of options that could shape the state’s economy and quality of life.

Click here for more of story


01/30/17 03:14 PM Comments () • Permalink

Cops: Second Arrest for Saugatuck Car Burglar

A Norwalk woman arrested in November for burglarizing cars in the Saugatuck Elementary School parking lot was arrested today for burglarizing a car in the nearby Assumption Church parking lot around the same time, police said.

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Jessica Sullivan: another theft charge. Westport Police photo

Jessica Sullivan, 40, was arrested early today at her home after detectives connected missing items totaling $125 from the victim to items seized from Sullivan at the time of her original arrest.

According to Lt. David Farrell, the victim had read an article about the original break-ins and “thought that the thefts could be connected, which prompted her to contact the Westport Police.”

Taken into custody this morning, Sullivan was charged with third-degree burglary and sixth-degree larceny and was remanded to Norwalk Superior Court today in lieu of a $10,000 bond.


01/30/17 12:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

Marina Sunset

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Sunset Sunday as seen from the Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) J.C. Martin for WestportNow.com


01/30/17 12:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, January 30, 2017

9 a.m. - Westport Weston Family Y - Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program
10 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Westport Transit District
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “MORE Than Words/As We Are”
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Westport School Days 1703–Present”
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


01/30/17 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Comings & Goings: Anthony’s Nursery Closes

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Anthony’s Nursery and Garden Center, 492 Main St., has closed. Owner Tony Palmer said, “I can’t compete with the big box stores like Stew Leonard, Home Depot and the internet too. The days of the mom and pop nursery business are gone. This business has become a money pit to me, I can’t keep it going.” Palmer said he opened the business in April, 2010 after acquiring it from his uncle Philip who operated the business as Palmieri Nursery from 1942 to 2008. “I’m now fortifying my landscaping business, T. Palmer Landscaping Company, LLC,” Palmer said. “We won’t have a retail site, but will be able to supply all landscaping needs.” In recent years Westport’s other nurseries that closed include Geiger’s and nearby Daybreak Nursery. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/29/17 10:56 PM Comments () • Permalink

Afternoon of Music

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There was an afternoon of music today at a private Westport home by members of KEYS (Kids Empowered by Your Support) whose mission is to bring one-to-one instrument lessons and group music instruction to underserved children in Bridgeport, Pictured is Carolyn Smith, a KEYS student, with KEYS director Rob Silvan (r). Silvan, who founded KEYS in 2004, is a jazz musician and composer and has been a music educator for 40 years. For more information or to be involved, contact Silvan at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


01/29/17 06:10 PM Comments () • Permalink

WHS Opens ‘School Days’ Exhibit

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Westport Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer today welcomes guests to the Westport Historical Society (WHS) exhibit “Westport School Days 1703-Present” as Bob Mitchell (l), WHS president, and Bob Weingarten, curator, look on. The exhibit runs through March 25. Simultaneously, in the Mollie Donovan Gallery, debuting was “Katherine Ross: Artist and Art Educator.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo


01/29/17 05:07 PM Comments () • Permalink

School Memories

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Among the items on view at the new Westport HIstorical Society exhbit, “School Days 1703-Present,” which opened today, were a collection of class photos, a couple dating from the 19th century. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo


01/29/17 05:02 PM Comments () • Permalink

The Way We Were

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Ayush Rudra, 7, a second grader at Kings Highway Elementary School, today eyes an old fashioned school desk and its mannequin occupant at today’s opening of the Westport Historical Society exhibit “School Days 1703-Present.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com


01/29/17 04:55 PM Comments () • Permalink

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