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Staples Groundbreaking: the Jewel in the Crown


Town and school officials turn over first shovel on the new Staples project. WestportNow.com photo

Town officials dipped their shovels into the grass under a pear tree outside the main entrance of Staples High School today and the official renovation and expansion of the school finally got underway.

֓It is the jewel in the crown, said Dan Kail, chair of the Staples subcommittee of the townԒs School Building Committee.

First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell, Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon, Sandra Urist, chair of the Board of Education, and Staples Principal John Brady were among town and school officials on hand for the ceremony.

Landon drew a laugh from the crowd when he began his remarks by saying, I particularly want to thank the Board of Education for giving me the opportunity to be here when this project is completed.Ӕ

The board recently renewed Landons contract despite calls from some unhappy residents that his contract not be extended.

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.


07/01/2003 20:54 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Footnote: Martha Really Didnt Walk

Footnote: Martha Really Didnt Walk Her Dogs on Compo Beach
It turns out that Martha Stewart really didnҒt walk her dogs on Compo Beach as was suggested in a local newspaper report almost three weeks ago.

According to Bonnie Adler, who wrote the front-page story in the Westport Minuteman June 12, she actually spotted Stewart walking along Hillspoint Road next to Old Mill Beach at about 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 8.

What is commonly known as Compo Beach begins about a quarter-mile south of where Stewart was seen.

Adlers story raised a few eyebrows among town officials who have been engaged in months of controversy over where and when dogs should be permitted to roam on the townҒs beaches.

There is no prohibition against residents walking their dogs along the public roadway where Stewart was spotted.

Adler had written in her story:  Martha Stewart, whose reputation has taken a few hits lately, was sighted at Compo Beach early Sunday morning, walking with her housekeeper and two of her three French purebreed dogs, Paw Paw and Tutu.Ӕ

Later in her story, she referred to Stewart walking along the peaceful shoreline vistaӔ and at another point said she was on the path at Compo Beach.Ӕ

Adler clarified exactly where she saw Stewart in a conversation at todays groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion and renovation of Staples High School.

ғThat story has gotten more attention than anything Ive ever written,Ҕ she said with a laugh.


07/01/2003 20:11 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Happy July 1 Your

Happy July 1 Your Tax Bill is in Your Mailbox
Thousands of Westporters going to their mailboxes today found a green envelope from the town ֖ their tax bill.

George Underhill, the town tax collector, said the real estate bills were a little late this year getting into the mail due to an accounting glitch that resulted in some erroneous assessments on some of the bills.

We decided to pull them all back to make sure we got it right,Ӕ Underhill said.

The first installment on the real estate taxes as well as taxes on automobiles and business property is due today but can be paid until the end of the month without penalty, he said.

Taxes for the 2003-2004 fiscal year went up just shy of 10 percent over last year.

About 5,000 property tax bills went out, according to the town official. The balance of the towns 10,200 properties subject to tax are paid directly through banks or mortgage institutions.

About 2,100 businesses pay taxes on their office machines and other property. Taxes are paid on about 24,000 cars in Westport, according to Underhill, meaning there is almost one car registered for each of the townҒs almost 26,000 residents.

As the new tax bills went out, Underhill said the tally on delinquent taxpayers was this:

—there are 242 liens on properties with taxes due totaling $1.7 million;

—there are 414 cases of back taxes due on business property totaling $194,000;

—and taxes are overdue on 1,454 cars totaling $241,000.


07/01/2003 18:30 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Man on a Mission: Tracking

Man on a Mission: Tracking Down Westports Civil War Veterans
The vault in the Westport town clerkҒs office plays host daily to attorneys and paralegals researching land records and other filings. But often among them these days is Westporter David B. Press, a man on a mission a Civil War mission.

Press, who spent years researching financial filings and bond ratings in his earlier career, is now researching Westporters who served in the Civil War as part of a book project.

֓Theres no monument in town to Civil War veterans,Ҕ said Press. I just thought it would be an interesting topic to take up.Ӕ

Press, 56, has been at it for several months now. In addition to town records, his research has taken him to state libraries and archives in Hartford, local historical societies, and visits to old cemeteries.

Compiling the list of the more than 200 Westporters or those who signed up in Westport—who served in the war has been fairly easy, Press said. But he is now zeroing in on the stories behind the men who served and why they served.

Through letters and other state records, Press is finding many Westporters who enlisted to fight did it for financial reasons.

He is also finding letters attesting to the battlefield achievements of Westporters as part of their applications for pensions. ֓Some of these letters are especially graphic and detailed, Press said.

ԓIts clear many of them were never intended to be read by others. ItҒs all very fascinating stuff.


07/01/2003 15:04 pm Comments (0)Permalink