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Friday, January 06, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

8:30 a.m. - Westport Library - Board of Education Public Budget Work Session
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Art to the Max”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “MORE Than Words/#Iammore Exhibition”
11 a.m. - Westport Library - Anyone Can Use ... The Digital Library
3 p.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
5 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Saugatuck Congregational Church - Westport to Cuba: Building Bridges reception

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


01/06/17 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Quinnipiac Poll Director: Polls Were Not That Bad

By Roy Fuchs

Doug Schwartz, Quinnipiac University poll director, told the Ys Men of Westport/Weston today that though few expected the presidential election’s outcome, “the polls were not as bad as is commonly assumed.” Image
Doug Schwartz, poll director at Quinnipiac University, addressing today’s meeting of the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for

The “quality” polls, those done by the major television networks, by Pew Research and Quinnipiac, projected a 4-point popular vote victory by Hillary Clinton. She won by 2. “If you’re off by two or three points on the margin, that’s not bad,” he said.

The biggest surprises—Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—is where the pollsters missed. Fewer than 80,000 votes — less than 1-point—decided these states. Had their 46 Electoral College votes gone to Clinton, she would be president-elect.

Polls in those states all tightened at the end. In Pennsylvania, for example, they showed Clinton in the lead, but none by wide margins.

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01/05/17 06:25 PM Comments () • Permalink

Bail Upheld for Westport Man Arrested on Child Porn Charges Image
UPDATE Paul J. Letersky, 47, a Westport real estate agent and actor, appeared in Norwalk Superior court today where a judge maintained his $500,000 bail amount—but directed it be in cash—following his arrest Wednesday on possession of child pornography charges at his Riverside Avenue home opposite Saugatuck Elementary School. An arrest affadavit said he had 50 child pornorgraphy images at his residence and had been carrying on a sexting relationship with a 13-year-old boy in Colorado. Westport police said should Letersky post bond, his conditions of release include GPS monitoring with an around-the clock-curfew. He is required to stay at least 1,500 feet from any school or daycare, so he will no longer be residing at his former address on Riverside Avenue. He is also not to have any contact with any victim and cannot possess an internet device. Violation of any of these conditions of release could result in an immediate arrest for violation of conditions of release. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) News-12 Connecticut photo


01/05/17 04:17 PM Comments () • Permalink

Winter Weather Advisory Issued

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Westport and area for snow, which is in effect from 10 p.m. today to 10 a.m. Friday.

It said to expect snow accumulation of 1 to 4 inches. Snow will develop late this evening and continue through rush hour Friday morning.

Snow accumulations will result in hazardous travel conditions late tonight through Friday morning, the advisory said.

Temperatures will be in the upper 20s.


01/05/17 03:20 PM Comments () • Permalink

Newman’s Own Donates $10K to Farmers Market

The Westport Farmers Market today announced it has received a $10,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, the Westport-based independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. Image
Orna Stern, Paul Newman, and Michel Nischan at the founding of the Westport Farmers Market. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The grant aligns with the foundation’s nutrition focus on connecting farmers to the community and making fresh produce available. 

According to Lori Cochran-Dougall, market executive director, the grant is especially poignant as Newman, a Westport resident, was one of the market’s founders in 2006.

“Paul Newman and Michel Nischan brought life to the market we know and love today,” she said in a statement.

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01/05/17 12:14 PM Comments () • Permalink

Barbara J. Howard, 79

Barbara J. Howard of Naples, Flordia, a former Westport resident, died Dec. 31 of complications from COPD. She was 79. Image
Barbara Howard: former Westporter. Contributed photo

She was born Barbara Joyce Bethard on Oct. 28, 1937, in Litchfield, Illinois, daughter of Mildred McKee Bethard and Oral F. Bethard. She grew up in Barry, Illinois, where she attended Barry schools from first grade through high school, graduating as valedictorian of the class of 1955.

In high school, she and a girlfriend sang duets at school and at church, and were on the March of Dimes tour; they also won a talent contest on a local TV station. Among other activities, she was active in the school band (trombone and majorette), the 4H Club, and the Methodist Youth Fellowship. At graduation, she was given the American Legion “Good Citizenship” award.

She was awarded an academic scholarship to Illinois State University (then called Illinois State Normal University, a teachers’ college) where she attended one year, majoring in business education.

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01/05/17 11:14 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, January 5, 2017

9 a.m. - Westport Weston Family Y - Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program
9 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201/201A - Downtown Plan Implementation Committee
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Art to the Max”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “MORE Than Words/#Iammore Exhibition”
5 p.m. - Westport Library - #ThrowbackThursdays Repair a Wurlitzer Organ
6 p.m. - Staples Television Studio - Westport Cinema Initiative: “The Marriage of Marie Braun”
6:30 p.m. - Westport Library - Chess Club for Adults
7 p.m. - Toquet Hall Teen Center - “Slumdog Millionaire” w/GFC
7:30 p.m.. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Public Works Committee
7:30 p.m. - Staples Library Classrooms - Board of Education (live coverage cable channel 78, AT&T channel 99, and

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


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

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

TEAM Westport to Launch Conversation Series

TEAM Westport will kick off the first of a series of conversations on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and sexual identity on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 3 p.m. at the Saugatuck Congregational Church, it was announced today.

The aim of TEAM Westport, the acronym for which means Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism,  is to privide a safe haven for open discussions on concerns of local, national and global significance, said Harold Bailey, TEAM Westport chairman.

The event will be moderated by the Rev. Alison Patton, church pastor.

“Please join us for a post-election conversation concerning race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and sexual identity,” said Bailey. “As 2017 begins, what concerns you? What do you wonder? Come and respectfully listen to your neighbors and share your own experiences in a community forum on Sunday, Jan. 8.

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01/04/17 07:04 PM Comments () • Permalink

Deli Under New Ownership Celebrates Opening Image
The Winfield Street Deli is celebrating its grand opening at 13 Post Road West in space formerl occupied by Art’s Deli.  Owner Breno Donatti said business has been brisk with 120 lunches a day being served. He said an indoor seating area with a 12-person capacity is in the works. Donatti also operates Norwalk’s Winfield Italian Deli, 69 Winfield St., and, since February 2016, Winfield Street Espresso & Panini Bar, 4 Railroad Place, across from the Westport Metro-North Railroad Station. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for


01/04/17 06:51 PM Comments () • Permalink

Installation Underway of ‘Smart’ Traffic Lights Image
Installation has begun on a $355,000 project to replace the only two town-owned traffic lights with “smart” lights. Public Works Director Steve Edwards said the project got underway with installation of new light poles at Main Street at Avery Place and Main Street at Myrtle Avenue (above).The new traffic control signals will replace lights that are more than 40 years old, he said. They will incorporate the latest technology, including an array of sensors to intelligently route vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Completion is expected in the spring, he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


01/04/17 05:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

Steinberg Sworn in for Fourth Term Image
State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, a Democrat whose 136th District includes most of Westport, was sworn in today for a fourth term in Hartford. The native Westporter and Yale University graduate told a League of Women Voters of Westport forum Tuesday night he will continue to push for transportation funding for Fairfield County and seek relief from state education mandates. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


01/04/17 03:46 PM Comments () • Permalink

Malloy Warns of Need for Concessions, Smaller Government, New Aid Formulas

By Mark Pazniokas and Keith M. Phaneuf

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy set the stage in his 2017 State of the State address today for a protracted and difficult debate on how to further shrink state government, extract more concessions from unions on pension and health benefits, and better focus a smaller pool of state aid for education on the systems most in need. Image
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy delivers his State of the State message today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jacqueline Rabe Thomas for

After recently negotiating significant changes to how the state will pay down its unfunded pension liability, Malloy alerted a half-dozen labor leaders before the speech that he will be seeking unspecified concessions that he says must be part of “a responsible and balanced solution to our budget problem.”

“These changes can and should be reached respectfully, and at the bargaining table,” Malloy told a joint session of the General Assembly. “Our state must honor its legal obligation to our public servants and state retirees, while at the same time keeping our promises to Connecticut taxpayers.”

In his seventh speech marking the opening of a General Assembly session, the Democratic governor eschewed his usual practice of pitching new initiatives, instead emphasizing concessions, the size of government and local aid as three broad areas he sees dominating a session certain to hinge once again on the struggle to the balance the budget in a state not fully recovered from the Great Recession of 2008.

Click here for more of story


01/04/17 03:13 PM Comments () • Permalink

Glenn Hightower, 76, Westport Educator

Glenn Hightower of Westport, who served three decades as principal at Bedford Junior High and Middle Schools and later as principal of Westport Adult and Continuing Education, died Jan. 1 at home. He was 76. Image
Glenn Hightower: former school principal. Contributed photo

Known for his easy going manner, Hightower combined his love of teaching with his love of athletics.

A native of Oklahoma City, Glenn Edward Hightower, or Dr. Hightower as he became known to legions of Westporters, excelled in athletics through high school and at Oklahoma State University until a medical condition eventually ended his formal sports career, according to a profile published when he was honored in 2005 by the Sportsmen of Westport.

But he continued to be active, competing in area and national handball tournaments, running marathons, including the New York Marathon 15 times and 10 ultra (50-mile) marathons.  It was routine for him to knock off eight to 10 miles before reporting to work and 20 to 25 miles on weekends.

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01/04/17 02:40 PM Comments () • Permalink

Police Arrest Westport Man on Child Porn Charge

UPDATE Westport police today arrested a Westport man on child pornography charges. Image
Paul J. Letersky: held on $500,000 bond.  Westport Police photo

Paul J. Letersky, 47, was detained after detectives were alerted to an “inappropriate sexting relationship” between him and a juvenile from Colorado, said Lt. David Farrell.

Police executed a search warrant on his home at 175 Riverside Ave.—across from Saugatuck Elementary School—at 5 a.m. today and found more than 50 digital images of child pornography, he said.

Farrell said the fact that Letersky lived across from the school “was a major concern of ours.” He said police were in close touch with the school system and Superintendent Colleeen Palmer in recent days and as they conducted their investigation.

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01/04/17 01:57 PM Comments () • Permalink

Barend van den Brink, 81

Barend “Bart” van den Brink of West Hartford, a former Westport resident, died Jan. 1. He was 81. Image
Barend van den Brink: former Westporter. Contributed photo

The husband of Tonnie for 55 years was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands on Aug.16, 1935.

Besides his wife Tonnie, he is survived by his two children, their spouses, and his two granddaughters: his son Hans and wife Sheri of Georgia, and their daughter Bailea and husband Matthew of Texas; and his daughter Elisabeth, husband Nigel and their daughter Alexandra of West Hartford. He is also survived by two siblings: his sister Miep of Holland and brother John and wife Anneke of Holland.

He was defined by his great love for family, nature, animals and traveling. His last trip took him to Texas with family to attend his granddaughter’s wedding.

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01/04/17 11:43 AM Comments () • Permalink

Adele Gazzelli, 88

Adele (Tutino) Gazzelli of Westport died Dec. 31 at Norwalk Hospital. She was 88.

She was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 15, 1928 daughter of the late Bernardo and Carolina (Trifilitte) Tutino. She was a retired caterer. She was a longtime resident of Westport where she lived for 48 years.

She was a loving person who devoted her life to her husband and children. She enjoyed babysitting and playing with her grandchildren in her retirement. Adele loved to sing and introduced both grandchildren to music which developed into a passion for both of them.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband John, and three brothers Santo, Joseph, and Hugo. She is survived by her sister Frances Lemanski, son Christopher, daughter Caroline Goldstein and her husband (Paul), two grandchildren Robert and Lia, and several nieces and nephews.

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01/04/17 11:39 AM Comments () • Permalink

Marpe Announces Disabilities Commission Members

More than 10 years after it was first suggested and five months after its authorization by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the Westport Commission on People with Disabilities became a reality today with appointment of its members. Image
James Ross: named commission chair. Dave Matlow /WN file photo

First Selectman Jim Marpe said the head of the group would be James Ross, a sight-impaired Westporter who formerly headed the Citizens Transit Committee, which was established in 2012.

Six other Westport residents, including persons with disabilities, advocates, caregivers and professionals, have been appointed, too. They are: Marina Derman, Diane Johnson, Stacie Curran, LuAnn Giunta, Tom Holleman, and Evan Levinson.  Marpe said that the Human Services Department will provide staff support.

The RTM authorized establishment of the committee last July. (See WestportNow July 19, 2016).

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01/04/17 09:57 AM Comments () • Permalink

Westport PAL Awards Scholarships Image
the Westport Police Athletic League (PAL) proudly awarded its annual Ellis Family college scholarships to 18 college students at a ceremony at Westport Police Headquarters. Pictured are (front row, l-r) Ned Batlin (president WPAL), Maria Chappa, Kady Chappa, Mariah Valentrella; (second row, l-r) Alex Frawley, Andy Palaia, Kelsey Bobrow, Shannon Connors, Taylor Hawes, Sam Arciola; (back row, l-r) Howie Friedman, president, Scholarship Committee, Tucker Bobrow, Adam Friedman. Absent from the photo are: Kyle Frawley, Nick Kelly, Samantha Schwartz, Emma Mikesh, Logan Rice, Kristen Godin and Ben Thaw. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


01/04/17 09:29 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

9 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Municipal Pension Board
10 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - UN International Hospitality Committee
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Art to the Max”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “MORE Than Words/#Iammore Exhibition”
4 p.m. - Westport Library - January Artist-in-Residence Challenge: “Identityville” Selfie
4 p.m. - Westport Library - DeweyKnit” Grade 4 to Adult
6:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Shellfish Commission
6:30 p.m. - Westport Library - Chess Club for Adults
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Flood & Erosion Control Board
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 212D - Board of Finance Executive Session
7:45 p.m. - Town Hall Room 102 - RTM Public Works Committee
8 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Board of Finance (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


01/04/17 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Palmer Proposes a $2.75 Million Budget Increase

By James Lomuscio

Offering up her first spending plan, Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer tonight unveiled a $115,358,712 proposed operating budget for the 2017-18 academic year, a 2.44 percent or $2.75 million increase over the current year. Image
Colleen Palmer outlines her budget tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo from Westport Education TV

The budget is a significant drop from her initial “very preliminary” estimate in October of a 4.1 percent increase.

It was achieved by more than $900,000 in cuts, an anticipated $1.2 million from healthcare reserves, and $165,000 from the carryover account, Palmer told a Board of Education meeting.

“We kept the reductions away from the classroom and the integrity of any academic programs,” said Palmer, who took over July 1 from the retired Elliott Landon.

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01/03/17 10:19 PM Comments () • Permalink

‘Pie and Politics’ Session Features Budget Slicing Talk Image
On the eve of the opening of this year’s legislative session in Hartford, the League of Women Voters of Westport tonight hosted a two-hour “Pie and Politics” pizza session at the Veterans of of Foreign Wars Post in Westport attended by about 30 persons. The town’s four state representatives—Sens. Toni Boucher, Tony Hwang, and Reps. Jonathan Steinberg and Gail Lavielle —agreed that the session would be different since for the first time since 1893, Republicans and Democrats hold equal number of seats in the State Senate. They also unanimously condemned the cut in state education aid to Westport midway through the fiscal year and promised to work to free the town from costly state education mandates. “It’s ridiculous to have to use some (state-mandated) software system,”  said Steinberg, citing one example. “It doesn’t make sense at all.”  Said Hwang of the Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) state aid sytem: “No forumula, no predicability, no transparency.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo


01/03/17 10:04 PM Comments () • Permalink

New Merritt Danger: Wrong Way Tractor-Trailer Image
UPDATE A tractor-trailer going the wrong way in the northbound lanes of the Merritt Parkway just before Exit 41 in Westport late today had motorists swerving to get out of the way. State police managed to stop the vehicle before it caused a collision, closed the highway, and removed it at Exit 40B in Norwalk. The closure touched off large backups. The Department of Transportation said the highway was reopened shortly after 5 p.m. State police Sgt. Eric J Haglund said after being stopped near Exit 40, the driver explained that he was following his GPS and became confused when he realized he was on a restricted roadway. He continued to follow his GPS when it told him to make a U-turn and turned around in the area of Exit 41 and then proceeded southbound. Troopers stopped traffic at Exit 40B in Norwalk for about 45 minutes, as the truck was taken off the highway. The driver, who was not identified, was cited for a commercial vehicle traveling on a restricted highway, and traveling the wrong way on a limited access highway, Haglund said. The truck and driver were released at the scene. Westporter Jason Miller snapped this photo as he was on his way home. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jason Miller for


01/03/17 04:36 PM Comments () • Permalink

Real Estate: Inventory Again Drawing Attention

By Judy Szablak

Special to WestportNow

Everyone seems to be very concerned about the lack of inventory in Westport at this time of year, and how much of a predictor it may be for the coming months. Image
Featured Home: This home at 16 Gault Park Drive is listed at $1,659,000.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo courtesy of Coldwell Banker Westport-Riverside/ KMS Partners

However, inventory is not at its lowest point in recent history. In fact, in January 2013 there were just 188 homes available for sale.

A snapshot of the Westport market five years ago to the day almost reads like deja vu.

There is a difference of just three singe-family homes in available inventory, and the average market time is up by just four days. The average price is just $57,000 more than it was in 2012.

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01/03/17 04:32 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Real Estate Price Reductions

Westport price reductions over the past week:

22C Cross Highway     $644,900->$634,900
10 Hickory Hill Road     $679,000->$649,000
159 Greens Farms Road     $1,595,000->$1,549,000
4 Mimi Lane     $2,999,000->$2,799,000
—Judy Szablak


01/03/17 04:27 PM Comments () • Permalink

Dems’ House Majority Slips by 1 With Resignation

By Mark Pazniokas

The Democrats’ slim majority in the state House of Representatives grew slimmer at 1:31 p.m. today when Rep. Stephen D. Dargan, D-West Haven, handed in a resignation letter, a precursor to accepting an appointment to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy intends to nominate Dargan, the long-serving co-chair of the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee, to a $92,500-a-year position on the board, filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Kenneth Ireland.

Dargan notified the secretary of the state’s office today he would not take the oath for a new term Wednesday with the rest of the General Assembly. Had he taken the oath, he would be barred from accepting a job in state government for his two-year term.

The House Democratic majority will shrink to 78-72, meaning the defection of three Democrats on any partisan vote would result in a 75-75 tie, at least until a special election is held to fill the vacancy.

Click here for more of story


01/03/17 04:20 PM Comments () • Permalink

WestportNow Teardowns of the Day: 270 Saugatuck Ave. Image Image
An application for a permit to demolish two houses on the property of Westport’s 270 Saugatuck Ave., at Eno Lane, is in process. Each built in 1950, one is a 1-1/2 story cape has 1,352-square feet, the other a one-story ranch has 1,080-square feet. The structures are situated on a four-acre lot. Because the houses were built more than 50 years ago, the application will be reviewed by the Westport Historic District Commission. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


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

LWV of Westport Hosts ‘Pie and Politics’ Event Tonight

The League of Women Voters (LWV) of Westport kicks off the New Year tonight with a “pie and politics” event hosting Westport state legislators.

It will be held at 7 p.m. at the VFW Post, 465 Riverside Ave., an announcement said.

Guests are invited to share pizza courtesy of the LWV as moderator Pat Porio holds a discussion with the legislators on the eve of convening the new legislative session in Hartford.

Invited guests include Sens. Toni Boucher and Tony Hwang, and Reps. Gail Lavielle and Jonathan Steinberg.


01/03/17 02:50 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Property Transfers Dec. 12 - 16, 2016

Westport property transfers as reported by the Town Clerk’s office for the period Dec. 12 - 16, 2016:

Patricia W. Mears to James E. Keplesky, 24 Edgewater Commons Lane Unit 3D, $977,500WNproperty.jpg

9 Owenoke Park LLC to Bluewater Owenoke LLC, 9 Owenoke Park, $2,750,000

Janet Beasley to Kurt Handschumacher and Craig Schiavone, 9 Woods Grove Road, $1,000,000

Sarah K. Herz Estate to Wiliam L. and Sarah L. Dransfield, 86 Cross Highway, $720,000


01/03/17 11:47 AM Comments () • Permalink

Eugenio Mercuri, 57

Eugenio “Gino” Mercuri of Norwalk, former owner of Andiamo’s Deli in Westport, died Jan. 1 in Norwalk Hospital. He was 57. Image
Eugenio Mercuri: Wesport deli owner. Contributed photo

He was born Feb. 21, 1959 in Nicastro, Italy, the son of Giuseppe Mercuri of Norwalk.

He graduated from Norwalk High School in 1977 and went on to become a licensed hairdresser and for many years was the co-owner of Tony & Gino’s Hair Salon in New Canaan. He later pursued his passion for the culinary industry and went on to become owner of Andiamo’s Deli, 177 Post Road West, in Westport.

He had many passions; however his greatest enjoyment was his family, especially his granddaughter Mia. This past summer he fulfilled his dream of taking Mia to Disney World. He also enjoyed the company of his many friends.

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01/03/17 11:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Granger at the Movies: ‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Passengers,’ ‘Why Him?’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Searching through history often reveals untold stories that are gems: “Hidden Figures” is one of them. Image

During the early 1960s, several African-American women worked for NASA, providing the mathematical data needed to launch America’s first successful space mission.

But, every day - in a myriad of ways - their integrity and perseverance were challenged by the hostile racism and inherent sexism of that period.

Graduating from college summa cum laude at the age of 18, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) was, perhaps, the most brilliant mathematician of her time.

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01/03/17 10:56 AM Comments () • Permalink

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