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Special Reports

Special Reports

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Oystering on Mill Pond: Reclaiming a Family Legacy

By James Lomuscio

As Jeff H. Northrop’s motorized raft leaves the shore of Westport’s Sherwood Mill Pond, it heads out into an 83-acre expanse of tidal waters that while shallow, runs deep in Northrop family history. Image
Jeff H. Northrop surveys Sherwood Mill Pond from Hummock Island: “More fun than hedge fund trading.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

It also heads into a seemingly different time and an alternate Westport — one that’s sun-drenched, breezy and redolent with the scents of a simple New England fishing village, one that belies the modern mansions that surround it.

“It’s a totally different world out here,” said Northrup, 32, on a recent visit.

In a short while, he lands at Hummock Island, a rock that props up a restored 1741-built cottage brought there centuries ago by oxen to house a man who guarded the oyster beds.

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07/06/17 03:14 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, May 25, 2017

WN Wins 16 Citations in State Competition

WestportNow won 16 citations, including seven first place prizes, in the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Connecticut Chapter Excellence in Journalism competition. The awards were announced tonight at the group’s annual banquet in Orange. Image
One of the photos in Dave Matlow’s first-place photo essay of the 2016 Easter Parade in New York. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

James Lomuscio won four of the first place prizes for: “Church Filled as Homeless Tina is Laid to Rest;“Old Saugatuck’s Last Neighborhood Fights for Future;” “School Bus Monitor Cut Raises Fears,” and “At 95, Ed Vebell Still Drawing on History.”

The other first-place winners were Dave Matlow for his photo essay “WN on the Scene: NYC Easter Parade;” Gordon Joseloff for “Temple Israel Declares Itself ‘Gun Safe Congregation,’” and Lynn U. Miller for her feature photo “Jetty Walk.”

Lomuscio also won three second-place prizes: “15 Years Later, 9/11 Still Evokes Pain;“Thinking ‘Outside the Bubble’ on Race,” and “Heroin Scourge Affects Westport, Too.” His third-place winners included: “To Dramatize Message, Drunk Driving Victim Turns Playwright,” and “With Saugatuck Booming, Finance Board Oks Master Plan Funds.”

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05/25/17 11:11 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, April 24, 2017

Special Report: Housing Shift — More Apartments, Fewer McMansions

By Tom Condon

Simsbury has two multi-family housing developments in the works that will provide 169 new apartments, of which 36 units will be affordable. Last year a complex opened in Brookfield with 72 apartments, all affordable. A 52-unit complex in Essex will have 16 affordable apartments. Image
The 181-unit Garden Homes development in Simsbury, now under construction, will have 18 affordable apartments. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Tom Condon for

These and similar projects represent two major — if not seismic — shifts in the state’s housing market: away from the heavy focus on larger single-family homes, and toward more multi-family and affordable housing.

In the heady decades after World War II, developers blanketed the countryside with detached single-family houses, small and large, capes and ranches to huge McMansions.

Now the market has changed. Families are smaller. Young people aren’t as interested in owning a suburban home, and are happy, at least for a time, to rent an apartment in a walkable and otherwise interesting city or town center. Many Boomers looking to downsize seek similar situations.

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04/24/17 05:38 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Our New Year’s Gift to Readers Image
The year 2016 saw many changes in Westport and WestportNow was there every step of the way.

Now in our 14th year of publication, we are deeply grateful for the support shown by our growing legion of readers and advertisers. We urge you to support our advertisers and thank them for helping make WestportNow possible. Image
The promotion of Foti Koskinas to chief of police was one of the major Westport stories of 2016. His family pinned on his badge.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

It is with your help that we are able to document day-to-day life in Westport in a way unmatched by any other publication.  With readers not only in Westport but around the world, we are extremely proud to be the No. 1 source of news and information about our town.

As is our tradition, our New Year’s gift to readers is a photo review of the past year, which includes many photos submitted by you. Depicting major events and some not so major, they were all part of life in Westport in 2016. To enjoy, CLICK HERE. Happy New Year!

Gordon Joseloff


01/01/17 02:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016: A Year of Too Many Goodbyes

By James Lomuscio

Perhaps more than other years, 2016 for Westport was marked by farewells, perhaps too many of them. From those who moved on or retired after long careers to those who died leaving behind larger than life legacies, it seemed like an avalanche of goodbyes. Image
Elliott Landon on eve of retirement: his greatest achievement is people. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

But it wasn’t all losses when it came to those who epitomized the town’s sense of community. Westport also made some positive gains, small steps and large ones, most of them having to do with infrastructure needs and planning for the town’s future.

As the clock ticks down, what follows is’s annual look at highlights of the past year.

Landon Retires

After 17 years at the helm, Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon marched in his final Staples High School commencement late June, saying goodbye as he headed into retirement. Most of the graduates were toddlers when he had arrived in the district.

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12/28/16 05:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Behind Connecticut’s ‘Opportunity Gap’

Dollars, Sense and Luck of the ZIP Code: Why education funding in Connecticut is only a small part of its oversized achievement gap

(Editor’s note: The author is a 2015 Staples High School graduate and member of Yale University’s class of 2019. This article first apperared in the Yale Daily News and is reprinted with permission.)

By Rachel Treisman

Yale Daily News


In Hartford, Connecticut, a third-grade class read enough books to earn a pizza party. The excited students piled onto a bus, crossing the Connecticut River to a pizza parlor in East Hartford. One student pointed out the window: “What’s that?” She had never seen a river, recalls current Westport Public Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer. Shortly after, Palmer visited a third-grade classroom in the affluent town of Weston. A girl told Palmer it was almost her birthday, and Palmer asked what she was doing to celebrate. The answer: her father was taking her to Paris.

In 2015, the Economic Analysis and Research Network, a national economic policy coalition, reported that Connecticut has the largest income gap between the top 1 percent of taxpayers and bottom 99 percent. Perhaps because of this, Connecticut also has the nation’s largest achievement gap among pre-K-12 students.

Consider two districts. This year, suburban Westport, Connecticut, is spending $21,716 per student and, as of 2016, its public schools are ranked first in the state based on factors including academic proficiency, student and parent satisfaction and teacher excellence. The city of New Haven, home to Yale University, spent $19,746 per student this academic year, and its public schools rank 101st out of 118 state districts.

Connecticut data-sharing nonprofit Data Haven found in 2013 that in Greater New Haven, 17 percent of low-income students were reading at grade level as compared to 58 percent of their high-income peers. The Tauck Family Foundation, a private foundation that invests in the development of children from low-income families in Bridgeport, reports that students in low-performing schools are five times more likely to drop out of high school than those in high-performing schools.

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12/15/16 10:46 PM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, December 09, 2016

Church Filled as Homeless Tina is Laid to Rest

By James Lomuscio

Many in Westport knew of her only as Tina, the homeless woman with long, gray-blonde hair and a limp who regularly asked for money, usually a dollar, in downtown parking lots. Image
Christine Wessel: one of the photos in the program at her service today. James Lomuscio/WN photo

But today as more than 150 filled Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church for her funeral, Christine “Tina” Wessel, 63, became more than just a tragic, homeless statistic.

The Rev. Peter R. Powell, the retired CEO of Homes With Hope, eulogized her as a larger-than-life figure, “Christ in our midst,” challenging the community to do even more to address the needs of homelessness in town.

“We need to transform this community, so that no one else lives and dies the way Tina did,” Powell said.

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12/09/16 06:30 PM Comments () • Permalink

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Gallery: Update on Bedford Square

A look at progress on the Bedford Square project in Westport’s center. The development around the former Westport Weston Family YMCA is mixed use retail, residential, and offices. Anthropologie is the anchor tenant, occupying 40,000 square feet on two floors in the main building. Its space will include a restaurant, Amis Trattoria, a Philadelphia-based restaurant group owned by Urban Outfitters, parent company of Anthropologie. The residential space includes apartments with views overlooking Elm Street and Church Lane. Completion is scheduled for April 2017. photos


12/03/16 01:02 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WN on the Scene: Art Basel Miami 2016

Art Basel Miami, North America’s foremost international modern and contemporary art fair, takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center beginning Thursday and runs through Sunday. It is the sister fair to the original Art Basel, founded in Basel, Switzerland in 1970.  Helen Klisser During, artistic director emeritus of the Westport Arts Center and WestportNow contributing photographer, was among VIP guests today getting a preview. Helen Klisser During for


11/30/16 08:48 PM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, August 19, 2016

Westport Birders Are Devoted Flock

By Emily Weyrauch

Unlike the majority of visitors to Sherwood Island State Park this summer, Michele Sorensen isn’t there for the sun and the sea. Instead, her sights are set higher—in the sky and up in the trees, on the myriad bird species drawn to the park to breed or feed. Image
Michele Sorensen keeps watch for birds on the beaches at Sherwood Island State Park. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Emily Weyrauch for

Sorensen, the Sherwood Island Nature Center’s liaison, knows it’s more than just gulls when it comes to life on the beach, and is passionate about the park’s ecosystems and avian diversity.

“The longer you hang out,” she said, “the more you see.”

On a recent walk on the park’s East Beach, Sorensen pointed out the wrack line—a green and brown kelp fringe found when the tide recedes. It is where shorebirds pick for washed up crabs and clams. They have to move fast though, as park staff routinely remove the seaweed, grooming the beach for visitors.

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08/19/16 05:25 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

At 95, Ed Vebell Still Drawing on History

By James Lomuscio

The setting seemed cinematic, fictitious even—a worldly, wizened 95-year-old keeping two 18-year olds rapt and continually amazed, so much so that they would keep coming back to hear more. Image
Ed Vebell: at 24, he drew Nazis at Nuremberg while thinking of his Paris girlfriend. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

But that was the scene last week at the Compo Beach area home of legendary illustrator-photographer Ed Vebell as he hosted the teens—Wellington Baumann, a 2016 Staples High School graduate, and Aren Heitmann, a recent Fairfield Ludlowe High School graduate.

Baumann and Heitmann, history buffs who will attend Gettysburg College in the fall, are interning with Vebell for the summer in his loft studio. They seemed a good fit.

After all, Vebell, a World War II Army sergeant, was the key artist in Europe and North Africa for Stars & Stripes, the American newspaper reporting on matters affecting the U.S. Armed Forces. He was also the only artist allowed to cover the 1945, post-war Nuremberg, Germany war trials, which prosecuted members of the Nazi leadership.

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06/29/16 05:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, May 26, 2016

WN Wins 17 Citations in State Competition

WestportNow won 17 citations, including six first place prizes, in the 2015 Society of Professional Journalists Connecticut Chapter Excellence in Journalism competition. The awards were announced tonight at the group’s annual banquet in Wallingford. Image
WestportNow’s five-part series last August on seniors and housing won a first place prize. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

It was the most awards won by WestportNow since the competition was opened to online journalism in 2007. This year, in a reshuffling of categories and competitors, WestportNow for the first time competed against not only other small news websites but also small circulation newspapers.

James Lomuscio won five of the first place prizes for: (shared with photographer Dave Matlow) a five-part “Seniors and Housing” series; for his “Westport Key to ‘Great Gatsby?’” story about a documentary exploring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s time in Westport, his coverage of a memorial service for slain Jeannette and Jeffrey Navin; for his continuing coverage of their murders, and for his profile of interim Staples principal Mark W. Karagus.

Matlow won a first prize for his photo of passersby aiding a bicyclist accident victim.

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05/26/16 10:43 PM Comments () • Permalink

An Officer and a Gentleman, Grand Marshal Joe Schachter

By James Lomuscio

Longtime Westporter Joe Schachter, 90, is a sailor through and through, a World War II Navy ensign who served in the Pacific only to return to Westport to do battle years later to save Cockenoe Island from a seven-story high nuclear power plant. Image
Joe Schachter: self-proclaimed water rat. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

A self-proclaimed water rat, Schachter is the quintessential old salt, though the term old doesn’t seem to fit so much. He becomes animated, youthful almost, talking about his buddies at the Y’s Men, their weekly luncheons at the VFW, his wife Irma of 50 years whom he married after his first wife Carol died in 1964 leaving him with three little boys.

He’s also big, barrel-chested, a presence that belies inner sensitivity.

“I was overwhelmed; tears came to my eyes,” he says about the phone call from William Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council, asking him to be this year’s grand marshal in the Memorial Day Parade on Monday.

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05/26/16 01:00 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Arthur Levitt: How to Best Value Creative Art? Image
Arthur Levitt:  “Most wealth created by art is never touched by artists.” Helen Klisser During for

Editor’s note: Westporter Arthur Levitt, best known for his work in finance and markets, today told a gathering of Fairfield County artists that the arts economy faces a problem of “socialized gain and privatized pain,” which he called a “market failure.” Here are edited excerpts from his keynote remarks to the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County (CAFC) breakfast at the Shore and Country Club in Norwalk at which it presented its inaugural 2016 ACE (Arts & Culture Empowerment) awards.

I was so honored to be asked to join you, and to help honor the award winners. Each of you is being recognized for outstanding creative work, and for talents that we all envy.  I wish I could express myself creatively as well as you can.

That’s how some people are drawn to the arts. They can see or hear or sense that there are some people in our society who are gifted in a way that they can scarcely imagine.

It’s no different than watching Steph Curry hit a 40-foot jump shot. Athletes have the same capacity to marvel us.

But while we admire athletes for their gifts – both in fame and in fortune—artists enjoy appreciation in every way but in fame or fortune.

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05/19/16 10:44 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, May 05, 2016

WN on the Scene: Frieze NY 2016 Art Fair

The Frieze New York 2016 Art Fair opens today at New York’s Randall’s Island. The fifth edition of the fair brings together more than 200 of the world’s leading contemporary galleries to the island’s festive surroundings. Helen Klisser During, artistic director emeritus of the Westport Arts Center and WestportNow contributing photographer, was among VIP guests Wednesday getting a preview. The show runs through Sunday. For ticket information, click here. Helen Klisser During for


05/05/16 03:58 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Remembering Cartoonist Dick Hodgins

By James Lomuscio

Henry, Hagar the Horrible and Half Hitch shed tears today when they learned their father, Richard Hodgins Jr., the man who brought them to life with pen and ink at his drawing board, died Sunday. He was 84, and he loved life. Image
Dick Hodgins Jr. used this image of himself on his Facebook page. Contributed photo

That’s how syndicated comic strip artist and editorial cartoonist Dick Hodgins Jr. said he wanted his obituary to begin when he called this writer in early March to say he had inoperable lung cancer.

Hodgins died at his Wilton home from complications caused by cancer treatments, according to his son Richard Hodgins III.

Dick, as he was known, was one of the last of a winnowing cadre of Fairfield County-based cartoonists who daily kept the funny papers filled with gags.

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04/05/16 05:55 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dale Call: ‘Leaving the Department in Good Hands’

By James Lomuscio

Behind Police Chief Dale Call’s desk is a photo of his late father in uniform and smiling, almost as if he’s watching over his son, proud of him making it to the top. Image
Behind Chief Dale Call in his office is a picture of his late father, Inspector George Call. “He was the one I grew up watching,” said Call. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The late George Call rose through the ranks to Inspector, an ascent the son has chronicled in a framed collection of his dad’s badges next to his photo.

“He was the one I grew up watching,” said Call, 53, who first joined the force as a special officer in 1981, just one year after graduating from Staples High School. “Actually, I grew up in this building.”

Today, after 35 years on the force, the last four as chief, Call heads into retirement, passing the baton, or badge, to Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas, who will be sworn into by First Selectman Jim Marpe. Capt. Samuel Arciola and Capt. Vincent Penna will each be sworn in as deputy chief.

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03/31/16 06:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, March 27, 2016

WN on the Scene: NYC Easter Parade

New York City’s Easter parade really isn’t a parade, just a lot people walking up and down Fifth Avenue. But the long-running event is always fun to watch and WestportNow photographer Dave Matlow was there today to record the scene. Note the photographer in the first picture is famed New York Times society photographer Bill Cunningham. Dave Matlow for


03/27/16 07:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Remembering Howard Munce, 100

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE (adds memorial service) Howard Munce, the Westport artist whose career as illustrator, art director, teacher, sculptor and author spanned generations earning him the sobriquet “dean of Westport artists,” died Saturday, March 5 at his Rockyfield Road home, his daughter, Mary Bewster said. He had turned 100 in November. Image
Howard Munce viewing his work “The Empty Stall” (acrylic on board) on display at the Westport Arts Center in 2011. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for

A Westport resident since 1935, Munce’s tall, thin, spry, and until recently energetic presence ubiquitous in town arts circles appeared ageless. More than an elder statesman, he seemed a living link to the community’s vibrant, creative identity in the latter part of the 20th century.

It was an era of illustrated magazine covers, billboards and Dashing Dans to Madison Avenue agencies where art directors held clout. Munce was one of them, rising to creative director at Young & Rubicam, where he met and soon married his wife Geraldine, in 1950.

“I don’t know of anybody else who’s alive today who could speak of the arts history of this town,” said filmmaker Martin West, whose 2009 town documentary “Years in the Making” showcased 50 town artists.

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03/08/16 09:48 AM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, February 19, 2016

Heroin Scourge Affects Westport, Too

By James Lomuscio

Westport has not escaped the surge in heroin and other opiate overdoses in Connecticut. Image
Heroin overdose deaths have soared in Connecticut and nationally. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed graphic

While no deaths have been reported in Westport, the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said this week the number of people in Connecticut dying from drug overdoses continued to skyrocket in 2015.

More than 720 people overdosed, with heroin-related deaths climbing at alarming rates, the office said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, of the nationwide 47,055 drug-overdose deaths in 2014 — an all-time high, and more people than died of liver disease or renal failure, of suicide, or in car accidents — heroin was responsible for over one-fifth.

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02/19/16 04:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, January 01, 2016

Our New Year’s Gift to Readers

WestportNow Year in Pictures 2015
As in years past, Westport in 2015—the 13th year of publication of WestportNow—saw many changes. Jim Lomuscio documented them in his year in review (see WestportNow Dec. 31, 2015).

WestportNow was there every day 24/7, documenting the big things and little things that make Westport special. You saw stories and photos here that you saw nowhere else, thanks to dozens of contributors to Westport’s only locally owned news source. Image
A Westport Memorial Day parade picture by WestportNow contributing photographer Lynn U. Miller showing Little Leaguer Grant Mandel, 7, greeting Westport veteran Larry Aasen was the opening image on the “ABC World News Tonight With David Muir” story on Memorial Day celebrations around the country. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for

We are deeply grateful for an always-growing readership that has made us Westport’s No.1 place to go for news about our community and for news and features of special interest to Westporters. We urge you to support our advertisers who help make this all possible.

As is our tradition, our New Year’s gift to readers is a photo (and occasional news story) review of the past year. Entries include major events, and some not so major. But they were all part of life in Westport in 2015. To enjoy, CLICK HERE. Happy New Year!


01/01/16 02:30 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Westport 2015 Year in Review: A Year of Change

By James Lomuscio

As the New Year is ushered in on Friday, it seems that ringing out the old and ringing in the new in Westport could not have more relevance and bittersweet poignancy.

WestportNow Year in Review 2015

From the loss of beloved citizens to the moving on of equally beloved town employees and educators to last calls at landmark restaurants to the loss of a longtime, after school bus service and the shooting down of a seven-year planned senior housing complex, the town had more than its share of change.

At the same time, there were a number of new beginnings, including the reopening of the historic Saugatuck Congregational Church to the start of the Bedford Square project to the completion and initial undertaking of a Downtown Master Plan.

As always, change is inevitable, even in the land of steady habits; however, in Westport the changes always seem to be tempered with deference to the town’s historic character.

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12/31/15 07:30 AM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, August 21, 2015

Part 5: Senior Housing Needs, Plans and Logjams

(Editor’s note: WestportNow’s special week-long series on seniors and housing concludes today with a look at efforts to add new senior housing to Westport and current options open to seniors.)

By James Lomuscio

The need for senior housing in Westport, whether affordable, market rate, and/or with an assisted living component, has confounded Westport officials for years. Image
There is a waiting list of almost 300 for 21 remaining units under construction at the Westport Housing Authority’s Sasco Creek Village, 1655 Post Road East, according to Executive Director Carol Martin. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

It has become a flash point, however, for the current Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission.

Chairman Chip Stephens, 60, has said repeatedly that he is not against more senior housing in Westport. On the contrary, he says it is a need that has to be addressed, but by private developers and on private land, not town-owned land.

In fact, he says this need is behind formation of the P&Z Senior Housing Committee co-chaired by P&Z Vice Chairman Jack Whittle, 52, and member Catherine Walsh, 60. To date, the committee has had two meetings.

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08/21/15 05:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Part 4:  ‘Heart-Wrenching ’ Move to Darien

(Editor’s note: WestportNow’s special series on seniors and housing today focuses on longtime Westporters who moved to Darien in search of housing to meet their needs.)

By James Lomuscio

Richard Leonard, 85, moved with his parents to Westport in 1946. He was just 15 but commuted daily on the 6:30 a.m. train to New York, so he could finish up at St. John’s Prep in Astoria, Queens. Image
Dick and Paula Leonard at their new home in Darien. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for

Paula Leonard moved with her parents to Westport in 1952, graduating from Staples High School that year.

It wasn’t long before the two met and began dating.

In 1957, after four years as a Navy pilot during the Korean Conflict, he and Paula married, settling into their first home on Lone Pine Lane, then Ludlowe Road and eventually Orchard Lane.

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08/20/15 05:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Part 3: After 32 Years and Service, Priced Out of Westport

(Editor’s note: WestportNow’s special series on seniors and housing today focuses on a well known couple who had hoped to continue living in Westport but finally decided to move to Charleston, South Carolina.)

By James Lomuscio

Steve Rubin, 71, and his wife Toni, 69, moved to Westport 32 years ago. They lived at Hidden Brook, an affordable apartment community off Post Road East run by the Westport Housing Authority (WHA). They raised their only child, a daughter, there.

Steve and Toni Rubin
Steve and Toni Rubin in Charleston, South Carolina with their 5-year-old Havanese named Sam. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Today, the Rubins are grandparents and live in Charleston, South Carolina where Steve says it’s much more affordable and winter weather is a breeze. He says they fell in love with Charleston’s charm after visiting on their way back from Florida a couple of years ago.

They kept visiting, each time for a longer stay and eventually moved down Columbus Day weekend 2014. They live in the West Ashley section of Charleston near the Ashley River.

“Since we moved here, three other Westport couples have called me, saying they’d love to move to Charleston,” Rubin said. “We all seem to agree it’s going to become a club of ex-Westporters.

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08/19/15 05:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Part 2: Seniors Who Have Reluctantly Left Westport

(Editor’s note: WestportNow’s special series on seniors and housing today focuses on seniors who have left Westport but wish they could have stayed.)

By James Lomuscio

Like many Westport residents, they came to town for the schools, but they stayed for the community and all it offered. And they wanted to spend the rest of their lives here surrounded by friends, familiarity, and a love of place.

Westport seniors have taken up new lives at The Watermark in Bridgeport and Meadow Ridge in Redding. (Click upper right corner arrows to enlarge) Dave Matlow for

But now in their 70s through 90s, they live elsewhere—Redding, Bridgeport, Darien, even as far as Charleston, S.C.—to name a few.

They say they did not want to leave Westport, but the lack of adequate senior housing, whether affordable or not, was a driving force.

Some say they had hoped Westport would join the ranks of many other Fairfield County towns with its own senior housing complex, 60 percent of the units affordable, near the downtown on Baron’s South. Such a complex had been on the drawing boards for seven years, the subject of many meetings of town boards and commissions.

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08/18/15 05:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, August 17, 2015

Part 1: Seniors Feel ‘Pushed to the Side’

(Editor’s note: WestportNow today begins a special series on seniors and housing in Westport. Future installments will cover those who have left Westport and the current state of senior housing in town.)

By James Lomuscio

Nick Berardi, 83, and his wife Josephine, 84, have lived in Westport for 51 years. They raised their children here, made a number of longtime friends and enjoyed the community’s many offerings. They couldn’t think of a better place to spend the rest of their lives. Image
Westport seniors in housing dilemma: (l-r)  Nick Berardi, 83, Neil Hardy, 86, and wife, Judy, 80. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Denise Puskas for

But now, their home is on the market. And memories of relaxing days at Compo Beach and starlit evenings at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts will be just that, memories.

“It’s the cost,” said Berardi, a retired accountant. “The taxes, the utilities, the repairs, the maintenance. It’s the upkeep of your house.

“My wife especially wants to stay in Westport,” he added. “We figured we’d sell our house and look for rentals with two bedrooms, $1,500 a month, but you can’t find anything for $1,500. As a last resort, we’d move to Florida, but it’s too hot for 12 months of the year, and we like the amenities here.”

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08/17/15 05:00 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Our New Year’s Gift to Readers Year in Pictures 2014

Westport in 2014—the 12th year of publication of WestportNow—saw many changes, as documented in Jim Lomuscio’s comprehensive review of the year (see WestportNow Dec. 30, 2014). Image
An Osprey swooped down into the Saugatuck River near Longshore Club Park in May 2014 and was rewarded with a Memorial Day holiday weekend takeout meal. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Molesworth for

And every day, 24/7, WestportNow was there, often exclusively, just as we have been since 2003. We are deeply grateful for a still growing readership that has made WestportNow Westport’s No.1 news source.

As the only locally owned daily news source, we are also deeply grateful for the local advertising support received and urge you to patronize our advertisers—and tell them you saw them on WestportNow.

As is our tradition, our New Year’s gift to readers is a photo review of the past year. Entries include major events, and some not so major. But they were all part of life in Westport in 2014. To enjoy, CLICK HERE. Happy New Year!


01/01/15 02:00 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Change—Current and Future—Consumed Westport in 2014

By James Lomuscio

Every year is marked by change, but in Westport, current and planned change came at fever pitch in 2014. Image
The opening of the new Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts was one of Westport’s top stories of 2014. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Several time-honored, mom and pop businesses integral the town’s identity either shut their doors or moved from their storied, if not legendary, locations.

Several prominent individuals whose service epitomized town spirit died, each one leaving heroic example, as well as a hole, behind.

New beginnings marked 2014, from Church Lane’s redevelopment to the new Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts and the finally relocated Westport Weston Family Y.

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12/30/14 12:00 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Remembering Richard C. Hottelet, CBS News

By Gordon Joseloff

Richard C. Hottelet, my personal link to the legendary group of CBS News correspondents who covered World War II under Edward R. Murrow, died today at his Wilton home. He was 97. Image
Richard C. Hottelet: “consummate professional.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) CBS News photo

Hottelet was the last survivor of the group that became known as the “Murrow Boys. He joined CBS in London in 1944 and retired in 1985.

I first met him in the late 1970s. He was covering the United Nations for CBS but did an hourly network radio newscast daily before heading over to his U.N. office. I often wrote his hourly newscast for him.

I had joined CBS News a short time earlier after working for United Press International in outposts that included London and Moscow. Hottelet had worked for UPI’s predecessor, United Press, in London, Moscow, Berlin, and Washington.

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12/17/14 07:32 PM Comments () • Permalink

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