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WestportNow welcomes news and notices from Westport community organizations and individuals. Please send them to for consideration for publication. Be sure to include the Westport connection, date and time of event, if appropriate, as well as contact information. WestportNow reserves the right to edit submissions to conform to our editorial style.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Thanks from Westport for a Job Well Done in Iraq

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Soldiers of the 590th Field Services Co., 10th Mountain Division, at New York’s Fort Drum recently returned from Iraq and were presented with a proclamation from Westport First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell commending them. The unit was “adopted” by the Westport Fire Department while overseas thanks to the efforts of Deputy Chief Chris Ackley and Firefighters Peter Nichio and Thomas Richmond with assistance from Town Hall’s Wade Hampton. Lt. Col. John Schulz, commander of the 548th Corps Support Battalion, presented the Westport citation to Lt. Melissa Pratt. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed Photo

   

03/17/05 05:46 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, March 07, 2005

Talking Transportation: Saving Amtrak

By Jim Cameron

Special to WestportNow

The wind is howling, the snows blowing. As we endure another late-winter blizzard, I-95 is its usual mess. The airports are as good as closed, but I’m on my way to Boston with nary a worry. Im riding the fastest train on the continent—AmtrakҒs Acela.

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I can use my laptop and stay productive as we shoosh along at 125 mph. Or I can nap in the cellphone-free “quiet car”—something Ive been lobbying Metro-North to adopt for years. IҒll arrive in Boston rested, probably too-well fed, and most likely on-time. Is there any better way to travel?

We along Connecticuts ғGold Coast are truly blessed, especially thanks to our ancestorsԒ foresight in building what is still a great railroad infrastructure. As challenged as Metro-North may be, Amtrak has got it right. But our inter-state travels are again being threatened by Washingtons threats to end Amtrak subsidies.

The Amtrak board of directors, dominated by Bush appointees, wants to force the railroad into bankruptcy, they say, ғfor its own good.” Their hope is that they can force Amtrak President David Gunn to finally spin-off the few money-making services in the heavily traveled Northeast and California to private ventures, and then shut down the money-losing long distance trains in the West.

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03/07/05 04:10 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Talking Transportation: Yet Another Fare Hike?

By Jim Cameron

Special to WestportNow

The cost of riding Metro-North has gone up again. And while these higher costs, effective today, are described as fare policy changesӔ rather than fare hikes, the effect is the same—higher costs for riders.

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But didnt we just have a fare increase a few months ago? YouҒre right. Fares went up 5.5 percent on Jan. 1, following a 15 percent hike in July 2003. And there are probably more fare hikes to come before our new cars arrive in 2008 or so.

Whats most interesting about these latest hikes is the way they were approved. But first, the details on who is affected.

If you have friends or co-workers living in New York City who ғreverse commute out to Connecticut each weekday morning, theyԒll now be facing peakӔ fares for one-way or 10-trip tickets. Those fare hikes are as much as 57 percent.

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03/01/05 04:39 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Talking Transportation: The Myth of the Third Rail

By Jim Cameron

Special to WestportNow

Metro-Norths mangled and much-maligned service in Connecticut is made all the more challenging by a technological quirk of fate. Ours is the only commuter railroad in the United States that operates on three modes of power—AC, DC and diesel.

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On a typical run from, say, New Haven to Grand Central, the first part of the journey is done ғunder the wire, the trains being powered by 13,000-volt AC overhead wires, or catenaries.

Around Pelham, in Westchester County, the conversion is made to 660-volt DC third rail power for the rest of the trip into New York. Even diesel trains must convert to third-rail as their smoky exhaust is banned in the Park Avenue tunnels.

And thereԒs the rub: Connecticut trains need both AC and DC, overhead and third-rail, power pick-ups and processors. That means a lot more electronics, and added cost, for each car. While the DC-only new M7 cars running in Westchester cost about $2 million each, the proposed dual-mode M8 car designed for Connecticut could cost $3.5 million each.

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02/23/05 03:06 AM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, February 18, 2005

Talking Transportation: Gov. Rell’s Promise to Commuters

By Jim Cameron

Special to WestportNow

There was so much good news for commuters, both rail and road, in Gov. M. Jodi Rells budget address: new rail cars, promises of more station parking and even improvements to our highways. Gov. Rell really delivered, and for that she deserves a lot of credit.

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But these improvements come at a price: a proposed six cents per gallon increase in the gas tax, and a planned $1 per ride surcharge for Metro-North. To her credit, the governor promised that ғ(commuters) should not be asked to pay for improvements until they actually see them, sit in them or park in them.

Her plan is to implement this ԓsurcharge in 2008, when she said the first 50 of 340 or more new rail cars will be delivered. I donԒt think that commuters would mind paying a buck more a ride if they could actually enjoy new cars. But the question is, can the badly needed new cars really be delivered that fast?

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Metro-North officials say they think so, if the Connecticut Legislature moves quickly. But ordering new cars isnŒt like going to a store to buy dog food. These are hardly an off-the-shelf item. Heres whatҒs involved, and heres why it will be a real challenge to do it in just three years.

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02/18/05 04:14 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, February 14, 2005

Talking Transportation: Let’s Blame the Trucks

By Jim Cameron

Special to WestportNow

Whats the biggest cause of congestion and delays on I-95? Just ask anyone who drives that route, day or night, and theyҒll say trucks. Unfortunately, those opinions, while popular, are not supported by the facts.

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Those of you who know me should recognize that Im no apologist for the trucking industry. IҒd love to get trucks off of the highways and on to freight cars on rails. Unfortunately, that isnt likely in the foreseeable future (the topic for a whole other column).

Neither is the token effort of barging a few hundred trucks a day from New York docks to Bridgeport going to make much difference, though I still support that idea as well. Rather than looking for a scapegoat, letҒs consider the facts before we blame truckers for the mess we have created.

As Pogo said, We have met the enemy and he is us.Ӕ It is all of us in our single occupancy vehicles (s.o.v.s) that cause the congestion, not trucks. Here are the facts:

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02/14/05 04:08 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, February 07, 2005

Talking Transportation: Gov. Rell Seeks a Scapegoat

By Jim Cameron

Special to WestportNow

The recent big transportation rally in Hartford was a huge success. There were over 200 concerned citizens from across the state, who bused and carpooled up to the Capitol to tell lawmakers they must make transportation a top priority in the coming session.talkingtransportation250.jpg

In addition, there were dozens of state representatives and senators, drawn like moths to the flame of the assembled TV cameras, there to pledge their allegiance to getting Metro-North long overdue new equipment.

But it was Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who was not there, who stole the show with a statement read by one of her staffers. She teased the crowd with promises of big surprises to come in her forthcoming budget, promising a substantial new commitment to alleviating congestion on our highways (and) improving rail and bus operations.Ӕ

Good for her. But the devils always in the details, and her budget comes out Wednesday.

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02/07/05 04:12 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Paul Newman Gives $35,000 to Westport Historical Society

The Westport Historical Society has received a contribution of $10,000 from Paul Newman and an additional contribution of $25,000 through the Paul Newman Fund at the Fairfield County Community Foundation and Newmans Own, the group announced today.

It said both gifts will be used in support of the SocietyҒs mission of preserving, presenting and celebrating the history of Westport.

As longtime Westport residents, Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, have shown their commitment over many years to the Societys active role in the community, an announcement said.

ғThe WHS is extremely grateful for this substantial gift,” said Denise Torv, WHS executive director. “Such a vote of confidence renews our energy as committee members, staff, directors and volunteers create programs and activities of the highest and most diverse caliber possible.

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01/11/05 10:34 PM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, December 31, 2004

High Steppin’ at the Senior Center

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Gloria Brown, 73, of Manhattan, entertains the crowd at the Westport Center for Senior Activities today as part of First Night Westport/Weston 2005. She is a member of the New York-based The SteppersӔ senior dance troupe. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

   

12/31/04 09:04 PM Comments () • Permalink

Telling Tales

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Storyteller David Newton spins some tales today at the Westport Public Library as part of the First Night Westport/Weston 2005 celebration. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

   

12/31/04 08:40 PM Comments () • Permalink

Save the Children: Response is “Breathtaking”

Funds pouring into Westport’s Save the Children for its Asian earthquake relief fund total about $6 million so far and, with donations from other countries, might eventually top $50 million, a spokeswoman said today.

“The response has been breathtaking,” said spokeswoman Dianne Sherman. She also praised the response to an appeal issued Thursday for volunteers to help man the phones. (See WestportNow Dec. 29, 2004)

“We are very appreciative, especially to people locally,” she said, adding that those interested in helping should call (203) 221-4000.

She said donations are coming in from the charity’s Web site, over the phone, and through corporate and private donors and amount to about $6 million so far. “The total might even reach $50 million, counting funds coming through other countries,” she said.

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12/31/04 02:26 PM Comments () • Permalink

First Night Westport/Weston 2005 Film Festival Schedule

The First Night Film Festival is a new addition to tonight’s First Night Westport//Weston 2005.

The First Night Film Committee—Will Berk, Alix Bregman, Dan Lance and Brian Mayer—caution that some of the films, to be screened at Westport’s Town Hall, may contain content considered inappropriate for young children.

Screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. and run until 11 p.m.

Title: Melchinger: Impossible
Filmmaker(s): Brian Mayer*
Description: A teacher, Mr. Melchinger, falls victim to the clever antics of his students as they try to steal the next day’s test from…but will they succeed?

Title: Danes World
Filmmaker(s): Michael Bloom, Dane Foster, Andrew Knopp
Description: This film is a parody of the comedy WayneҒs World.

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12/31/04 01:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Save the Children Seeks Volunteers to Help With Phones

Westports Save the Children charity is inundated with phone calls from across the country from people wishing to donate to its Asian earthquake relief fund and today appealed to Westporters to help come in and man the phones.

ғWe can use people today and through the weekend, said spokeswoman Dianne Sherman. ԓWe can teach them very quickly how to answer the phones. Its a very rewarding experience.Ҕ

She said the charitys headquarters on Wilton Road has received about $2 million in online donations in the past few days with more money being pledged every minute.

Those who have some time to donate to the charity to help with answering phones are asked to call (203) 221-4000.

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12/30/04 04:33 PM Comments () • Permalink

Neighborhood Happening

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Neighbors came out to watch today as a home at 2 Angora Road, off of High Point Road, came down. The house, featured as the WestportNow teardown of the day on Nov. 8, was bult in the 1960s and, according to a neighbor, won an award for its architecture. The owner of the property is planning to rebuild. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

   

12/30/04 03:04 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, March 13, 2003

One Westporter’s Protest

Wally Meyer plays Santa at Stew Leonard’s during the holiday season. He doesn’t need a lot of makeup and prep because he is a Santa lookalike anyway.

But don’t let the jovial demeanor fool you. Deep down he is a man of strong convictions and resolve.

Wally, who serves on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) with me, says he has come up with his own personal plan to protest any U.S. attack on Iraq.

He’s submitted a letter to the Westport News for publication and asked friends to pass it along. So here it is:

“When the bombs fall on Bagdhad I shall be in mourning.

“As a combat veteran of Korea, I feel my country has lost its way. Once a beacon of hope for the world, we now have become the symbol of reckless power.

“Once we were the leader of nations striving for peace. Now we stand alone. We accept no advice or counsel from others. We are embarking on a pre-emptive war with little support from our longstanding allies.

“They know that pre-emptive wars are addictive. They fear that pre-emptive war will be to our liking and that we shall act that way again and again.

“When the bombing begins I shall be wearing a black armband to show my grief for the path my country has taken. Please join me and show the sorrow that so many of us feel.

“Wally Meyer
“Westport, CT”

Agree or disagree, you’ve got to admire him for taking a stance.

   

03/13/03 03:41 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Westport Suburbia No More

It didnt attract a whole lot of attention, but the U.S. Census Bureau, in its wisdom, has declared Westport an urban area. And here we were blissfully thinking of Westport as suburbia.

It occurred in the spring/summer of 2002. There’s a lengthy explanation on the U.S. Census Bureau Web page of how urban (and rural) areas are defined.

Basically, the Census Bureau classifies as “urban” all territory, population, and housing units located within an urbanized area (UA) or an urban cluster (UC). It delineates UA and UC boundaries to encompass densely settled territory.

This is defined as those core census block groups or blocks that have a population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile and surrounding census blocks that have an overall density of at least 500 people per square mile.

The South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) has a map of our area on its Web page—the “Bridgeport - Stamford, CT - NY Urbanized Area.”

If you’re not an urban area, according to the Census Bureau, you’re a rural area. And by modifying its definitions between 1990 and 2000, the agency considers Westport officially as urban. So I guess you can say now we’re not a “‘burb,” but a full-fledged “urb.” Thanks, Washington.

   

03/11/03 02:41 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, March 03, 2003

Westport Memorabilia on the Net

If you’re nostalgic for Westport of the ‘70s, check out John Johnson’s Web site which includes Westport memorabilia for that period.

He includes other Westport-related on another page.

Of course, for real Westport nostalgia, you’ve got to go to Evan Stein’s Staples alumni site which includes pictures, multiple discussion threads and lots of memories.

   

03/03/03 03:21 AM Comments () • Permalink

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