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NY Times: Jack Mitchell’s New Book a Surprising Little Gem

The New York Times offers a glowing review today of a new book by Jack Mitchell, chief executive officer of Westports family-owned Mitchells clothing store.

Written with Sonny Klein, it is titled, “Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results” (Hyperion, $19.95).

Mitchells, which also owns the equally well-known Richards clothing store in Greenwich, does a $65 million a year business selling to ordinary folks as well chief corporate executives among its 115,000 customers.

Excerpt: ғAt a time when so many companies seem to have strayed from the core mission of serving their customers, and when others are seeking fancy customer-relationship management software to avoid eye-to-eye contact, Hug Your Customersђ is indeed refreshing.

Mr. Mitchell describes how his company, founded by his parents in 1958, remains ӑrelationship driven, rather than simply interested in selling another Armani necktie. ґHugging may sometimes involve a bearhug, but more generally it means going the extra mile to satisfy, amuse or delight a customer.

The Times business section review wonders whether the company would be as successful if it were much larger. But all doubts aside, ” it said, “this book is a surprising little gem. The reader will almost certainly feel ӑhugged.

Mitchell, who has established his own Web site to promote the book, hugyourcustomers.com, will be at Westport’s Barnes and Noble for a book signing June 26 from 7:30 pm. to 8:30 p.m.

He and his wife, Linda, who is “women’s merchant” for Mitchells/Richards, live in Wilton.

Sunday NY Times: StudentsӒ Sleep

Sunday NY Times: StudentsӒ Sleep is a Westport Issue
The Connecticut section of SundayԒs New York Times devotes almost two columns to letters from Westporters critical of the towns Board of Education for its refusal to reverse a money-saving decision regarding a school start time.

The letters, under the headline ғStudents Sleep is a Westport Issue,Ҕ were a follow-up to a Connecticut section story last week about Wiltons decision to delay the start time of its schools to allow students to get more sleep.

The Westporters are protesting the boardҒs decision to start Coleytown Middle School classes at 7:30 a.m. in the fall, a half hour earlier than now, in order to save $158,000 on transportation costs.

The start time of the towns other middle school, Bedford, remains 8 a.m.


06/21/2003 12:58 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Westport Senior Center Construction Underway

Westport Senior Center Construction Underway
One month after groundbreaking, construction of Westports new senior center is well underway.

The $4 million project, six years in the making, is expected to be completed in about a year.

The center sits at the southern end of the 22-acre town-owned property known as BaronҒs South.

The senior center currently is located at Staples High School but must move due to the expanding student population.

Construction was delayed about a year by a lawsuit filed by a neighboring property owner.


06/21/2003 10:27 am Comments (0)Permalink

Old-Fashioned Newspaper Circulation War on Westport’s Doorstep

An old-fashioned daily newspaper circulation war on Westport’s doorstep has been simmering for some time, but now it is heating up. What effect it will have on news coverage of Westport is unclear.

The latest salvo was fired today by the editor of The Advocate, based in Stamford. In an editorial page column, Joseph F. Pisani called last week’s letter to readers by Chet Valiante, publisher of The Hour, based in Norwalk, “a sad display of whining and demagoguery.”

“Chet Valiante tried to rally popular support by portraying us as interlopers and himself and his cronies as the hometown boys,” Pisani said. “The simple truth, however, is that The Advocate has been in Norwalk much longer than he and his editor.”

In his letter, Valiante said The Advocate’s push into Norwalk had the sole objective of enriching the corporate coffers.” He said The Hour had deep roots in Norwalk, adding: “Only The Hour is this community’s voice. Dont be fooled.”

For media buffs, the battle between The Hour, which had its start in Westport in 1871, and The Advocate, founded in 1829, is especially fascinating because it pits a little guy against a big guy.

Owned by a local charitable trust, The Hour is one of seven independent daily newspapers in Connecticut and the only one in Fairfield County. (The other 10 state dailies, including The Advocate, are group-owned.) It has no other holdings aside from the Wilton Villager, a weekly, and The Stamford Times, also a weekly.

(For circulation purposes, The Hour counts The Stamford Times as part of its Sunday edition. It reports it that way to the all-important Audit Bureau of Circulations —much to the dismay of The Advocate, which has complained to the circulation-auditing organization.)

The Advocate is owned by Chicago-based Tribune Company, whose newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and the Hartford Courant. It also owns two television stations in the state WTIC-TV in Hartford and WTXX-TV in Waterbury.

The Advocate, which also publishes Greenwich Time, makes no mention of Stamford on the front page of its Norwalk edition and instead has Norwalk emblazoned in large type beneath its logo.

In addition to noting its Web address as www.norwalkadvocate.com (from which visitors are redirected to www.stamfordadvocate.com), the front-page logo includes the tagline “in Norwalk, Westport, Wilton and Weston.”

In its bid to increase Norwalk readership, The Advocate has opened an editorial office in Norwalk and staffed it with at least four former Hour journalists.

While The Advocate mentions Westport on its front page, its coverage of the town is sporadic. But when its reporters do cover town issues, town officials say their coverage is usually comprehensive and accurate.

First Selectman Diane Goss Farrell said she has been particularly impressed with The Advocate coverage of her efforts to deal with the area’s transportation woes.

The Hour has one reporter assigned to Westport who also gets high marks from town officials for being thorough and accurate. But these same officials say they are concerned that as The Hour devotes more resources to its battle with The Advocate, coverage of Westport could suffer.

Its unclear whether The Advocate is ready to increase its coverage of Westport. Nevertheless, Westporters are included in the same bargain home delivery subscription offer the newspaper is making to new readers of its Norwalk edition—99 cents a week for daily and Sunday editions.

With the Connecticut Post having abandoned daily coverage of Westport, there is plenty of room for competition here as well.

Update Asked whether The Advocate had any plans to expand Westport coverage, Durham Monsma, publisher of the newspaper, told WestportNow via e-mail: “For now we are concentrating on Norwalk.”

Old-Fashioned Newspaper Circulation War on

Old-Fashioned Newspaper Circulation War on Westports Doorstep
An old-fashioned daily newspaper circulation war on Westport’s doorstep has been simmering for some time, but now it is heating up. What effect it will have on news coverage of Westport is unclear.

The latest salvo was fired today by the editor of The Advocate, based in Stamford. In an editorial page column, Joseph F. Pisani called last week’s letter to readers by Chet Valiante, publisher of The Hour, based in Norwalk, “a sad display of whining and demagoguery.”

“Chet Valiante tried to rally popular support by portraying us as interlopers and himself and his cronies as the hometown boys,” Pisani said. “The simple truth, however, is that The Advocate has been in Norwalk much longer than he and his editor.”

In his letter, Valiante said The Advocate’s push into Norwalk had the “sole objective of enriching the corporate coffers.” He said The Hour had deep roots in Norwalk, adding: “Only The Hour is this community’s voice. Don’t be fooled.”

For media buffs, the battle between The Hour, which had its start in Westport in 1871, and The Advocate, founded in 1829, is especially fascinating because it pits a little guy against a big guy.

Owned by a local charitable trust, The Hour is one of seven independent daily newspapers in Connecticut and the only one in Fairfield County. (The other 10 state dailies, including The Advocate, are group-owned.) It has no other holdings aside from the Wilton Villager, a weekly, and The Stamford Times, also a weekly.

(For circulation purposes, The Hour counts The Stamford Times as part of its Sunday edition. It reports it that way to the all-important Audit Bureau of Circulations —much to the dismay of The Advocate, which has complained to the circulation-auditing organization.)

The Advocate is owned by Chicago-based Tribune Company, whose newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and the Hartford Courant. It also owns two television stations in the state—WTIC-TV in Hartford and WTXX-TV in Waterbury.

The Advocate, which also publishes Greenwich Time, makes no mention of Stamford on the front page of its Norwalk edition and instead has Norwalk emblazoned in large type beneath its logo.

In addition to noting its Web address as www.norwalkadvocate.com (from which visitors are redirected to www.stamfordadvocate.com), the front-page logo includes the tagline in Norwalk, Westport, Wilton and Weston.

In its bid to increase Norwalk readership, The Advocate has opened an editorial office in Norwalk and staffed it with at least four former Hour journalists.

While The Advocate mentions Westport on its front page, its coverage of the town is sporadic. But when its reporters do cover town issues, town officials say their coverage is usually comprehensive and accurate.

First Selectman Diane Goss Farrell said she has been particularly impressed with The Advocate coverage of her efforts to deal with the areas transportation woes.

The Hour has one reporter assigned to Westport who also gets high marks from town officials for being thorough and accurate. But these same officials say they are concerned that as The Hour devotes more resources to its battle with The Advocate, coverage of Westport could suffer.

It’s unclear whether The Advocate is ready to increase its coverage of Westport. Nevertheless, Westporters are included in the same bargain home delivery subscription offer the newspaper is making to new readers of its Norwalk edition—99 cents a week for daily and Sunday editions.

With the Connecticut Post having abandoned daily coverage of Westport, there is plenty of room for competition here as well.

Update: Asked whether The Advocate had any plans to expand Westport coverage, Durham Monsma, publisher of the newspaper, told WestportNow via e-mail: “For now we are concentrating on Norwalk.


06/20/2003 20:56 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Rowland Signs Bill Naming Post

Rowland Signs Bill Naming Post Road Bridge for Ruth Steinkraus Cohen
Almost a month after it was approved by the state Senate, Gov. John G. Rowland has signed a bill naming the Post Road Bridge over the Saugatuck River for longtime Westporter Ruth Steinkraus Cohen.

The measure was contained in an overall transportation bill (HB-6404) signed Wednesday by the governor, according to the states Web site. It was one of 15 bills signed that day by Rowland, who had not signed any state legislation since June 3.

The bill passed the House on May 15 and the Senate on May 22—the latter passage came despite an effort by Westport’s Sen. Judith G. Freedman to block the legislation.

She said the bill had not had a fair hearing in Westport and that people were not aware that a naming process was underway. The legislator said there were other names that could have been considered

The bill was introduced by fellow Westport Republican Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard and gained endorsement from the Westport Board of Selectmen by a 2-1 vote and the Representative Town Meeting by a 26-5 vote on April 1.

The act states: “(Effective from passage) The bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport shall be designated as the ‘Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge.’”

Streinkraus Cohen, an avid supporter of the United Nations and the arts, died May 26, 2002, after a long battle with cancer. She had been a Westport resident for more than 45 years.


06/20/2003 12:44 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Jan. 12 Set as Trial Date for Martha Stewart

A federal court judge today set Jan. 12 as the start date for the trial of Martha Stewart on obstruction of justice charges related to her insider-trading case.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum also set a Nov. 18 date for lawyers to make oral arguments on their pretrial motions and asked them to submit written arguments before that.

Stewart appeared at the federal court house in Manhattan for the procedural action, which some media described as “court housekeeping.”

Unlike her appearance there two weeks ago, the media was kept behind barricades and Stewart was able to enter and leave the court house without incident.

Jan. 12 Set as Trial

Jan. 12 Set as Trial Date for Martha Stewart
A federal court judge today set Jan. 12 as the start date for the trial of Martha Stewart on obstruction of justice charges related to her insider-trading case.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum also set a Nov. 18 date for lawyers to make oral arguments on their pretrial motions and asked them to submit written arguments before that.

Stewart appeared at the federal court house in Manhattan for the procedural action, which some media described as “court housekeeping.”

Unlike her appearance there two weeks ago, the media was kept behind barricades and Stewart was able to enter and leave the court house without incident.


06/19/2003 15:45 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Staples Groundbreaking Set for July 1

Westports School Building Committee has announced it will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the alteration and expansion of Staples High School on Tuesday, July 1, at 4:30 p.m.

The first phase of the $74 million project is expected to be completed in 2005. Students will continue to go to classes as the construction takes place around them. 

Plans call for a three-story, 265,000-sq.-ft. addition that will enable the high school to house 2,000 students. Current capacity is 1,100 students.

Also, 205,000-sq.-ft. will be renovated or expanded. This will consist of auditorium renovations and food service, cafeteria and media/library center expansions.

The new addition will house most of the high school’s major academic functions and educational spaces for after-school continuing adult education. The new administration section will be located at the main entrance.

The program will also include green design aspects, such as photovoltaic cells, and “smart building” concepts, including wired and wireless computer Intranet and Internet networks.


06/18/2003 22:57 pm Comments (0)Permalink

The Westport Connection: Tracy Sugarman

The Westport Connection: Tracy Sugarman and the Library of Congress
When Westporter Tracy Sugarman spoke at the Library of Congress today commemorating his gift of World War II letters and drawings to the institution, there was a definite Westport connection.

Sugarman donated the works to the librarys American Folklife Center Veterans History Project and its prints and photographs division.

The director of the project is former Westporter Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, a 1965 Staples grad, who was one year behind SugarmanҒs son, Dick, at Staples.

Another Westporter and Staples grad, Ann Sheffer, helped put Sugarman together with McCulloch-Lovell.

When Sheffer served on the Presidents Committee on the Arts and Humanities, McCulloch-Lovell was director of the committee. “It’s a perfect fit,” said Sheffer.

In announcing the gift to the library, Sugarman, 81, said, ғI give to you my youth.

Three years ago he published a memoir that included many of the letters and drawings, ԓMy War: A Love Story in Letters and Drawings.


06/18/2003 20:46 pm Comments (0)Permalink