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All in the Family

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Westport Police veteran John Pitoniak (r) was sworn in today as a lieutenant at a ceremony at Westport police headquarters. Pitoniak, who joined the force in 1980, had been a sergeant. Joining him in the celebration were (l-r)  brothers-in-law Darien Police Detective Chet Perkowski, Norwalk Police Lt. Michael Paul, and son, Stamford Police Patrol Officer Ryan Pitoniak. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Services Set for Thursday for Fire Chief’s Father

Funeral services are set for Thursday for Harry W. Ackley of Southport, father of Westport Fire Chief Christopher Ackley. He died Friday at the age of 95.WestportNow.com Image
Harry W. Ackley pictured with his son, Westport Fire Chief Christopher Ackley, at Ackley’s swearing in ceremony in 2005. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

A Southport resident since 1950, Harry Ackley was a World War II veteran and former president of the Southport Volunteer Fire Department.

A plumber and steamfitter by trade, he was a member of the Master Plumber’s Association and worked for the General Electric Company and as a plumber locally for many years.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Thursday at 10 a.m., meeting directly at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield. Interment with Naval honors will follow at St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford. (See obituary here.)

Postal Service Selects Playhouse Square for New Post Office

UPDATE (adds new information) The U.S. Postal Service has informed the Town of Westport it intends to move the Main Post Office to the Playhouse Square Shopping Center, 275 Post Road East, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff announced today. He said he was disappointed in the decision.WestportNow.com Image
The Postal Service said it has selected Playhouse Square Shopping Center, 275 Post Road East, as the site for the new Main Post Office.. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

A Feb. 18 letter to Joseloff from Joseph J. Mulvey, a Postal Service Real Estate Specialist, gave no timetable for the move. The Postal Service announced in September 2009 that hard times had forced it to sell its building at 154 Post Road East it has occupied since its opening in 1936.

In a statement, Joseloff said: “We told the Postal Service last summer that the best location would be to remain in the present building. We had hoped an accommodation would be reached with the purchaser of the building to allow a small Postal Service presence to remain there.”

In his letter, Mulvey said, “We believe this new site will provide the community with an efficient, modern facility that offers a safe working environment for our employees and a level of service expected by our customers.”

Westport Gas Prices Up But It Pays to Shop

By Sam Sagnella

With $4 gasoline a reality for some U.S. drivers, Westport was almost there today as well, but a survey found it still pays to shop with a wide range of prices in effect.WestportNow.com Image
Regular gas was just under $4 today at the Mobil station at 302 Post Road East in Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Sam Sagnella for WestportNow.com

The median price for cash-paying regular unleaded gasoline customers was $3.39/gal, with the average having risen to $3.47 per gallon, the survey found. Prices at 12 service stations with Westport addresses ranged from a low of $3.33 to as high as $3.99 for a single gallon. 

The highest observed was $3.99 at the Mobil station at 302 Post Road East at around 11:45 a.m. The lowest was at Mercury Fuel near the Fairfield Line.

According to GasBuddy.com the average for regular unleaded gasoline in Connecticut today was $3.397/gal, compared to $3.343 a week ago and $2.811 a year ago. The national average is $3.222.

‘Hope for Haiti’—and Now Christchurch

By James Lomuscio

Just as she was preparing to mount pictures for a Westport exhibit of children’s photos of Haiti’s 2010 deadly earthquake, Helen Klisser During suddenly had an earthquake much closer to home to worry about—her home in her native New Zealand.WestportNow.com Image
Helen Klisser During, Westport Arts Center visual arts director, shows off one of the children’s photos in the “Hope in Haiti” exhibit opening March 4. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

“I was out to dinner Monday night and got a call from my son Max,” she said Tuesday, referring to her 22-year-old son who is a student at the University of Auckland. “He said it just happened 15 minutes ago.”

Klisser During, the visual arts director of the Westport Arts Center since January 2010 (and a WestportNow contributing photographer), said that both her son and her parents were on New Zealand’s North Island far from the epicenter in Christchurch on the South Island when the quake occurred.

“But my parents were at the Christchurch airport the day before it happened on their way to see Max,” she added.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Westport Historical Society – “The Sketch Class: A Westport Tradition” and “Art From The Heart”
12:30 p.m. – Westport Arts Center – Writers Artists Collaborative
2:30 p.m. – 180 Bayberry Lane – Westport/Weston Health District Board
7 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – RTM Health & Human Services Committee
7 p.m. – Toquet Hall Teen Center – Slant of Light Theater

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Resigns

Lisa Thygerson, executive director of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce since May 2009, has resigned to take a position as manager of a Citibank branch in Stratford, according to Chamber officials.WestportNow.com Image
Lisa Thygerson: moving to Citibank. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Thygerson, former manager of the Commerce Bank in Westport – later taken over by TD Banknorth—will leave effective March 4 for the Citibank job in Stratford, where she lives with her family.

“This was a hard decision for her but one that she felt she had to make at this time,” said Paul Gehr, chair of the Chamber board of directors in an email to board members. “Lisa has really helped turn things around at the Chamber over the past two years and we will truly miss her.”

The board scheduled a meeting on Wednesday to discuss finding a successor.

Dave Matlow contributed reporting for this article.

Harry W. Ackley, 95

Harry W. Ackley of Southport, father of Westport Fire Chief Christopher Ackley and beloved husband of the late Rita (Neupert) Ackley, passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his family on Feb. 18. He was 95. WestportNow.com Image
Harry W. Ackley: father of Westport fire chief. Contributed photo

Harry, a member of our country’s “greatest generation,”  was born in Bridgeport, the son of the late Claude and Lucy (Goss) Ackley. As a young man mornings were started by going down to the train tracks with a bucket to collect coal that train engineers would kick off the tops of the coal cart. This coal was used to provide heat for his house and for cooking before the family woke up.

He had been a Southport resident since 1950. Harry drove a bread truck for the A & P grocery store in Fairfield during the 1930s. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy as a steamfitter in a construction battalion in Sicily, Italy, Anzio and North Africa during World War II. He was a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a former president of the Southport Volunteer Fire Department.

He was an honorary member of the Theta Sigma Fraternity at the University of Bridgeport and was a former member of the Fairfield Rotary Club.

Miggs on Miggs: ‘I Do Stick Figures Well’

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Westport artist, graphics designer, and town booster Miggs Burroughs reviewed his career today in a talk to the Westport Rotary Club. Noting his training as an electrical engineer and lack of formal artistic training, Burroughs said modestly he draws stick figures well and that has often led to simple drawings of human outlines in some of his work. Among other achievements, Burroughs has six Time Magazine covers to his credit (including the 1973 cover projected on the wall). Burroughs will also appear at the Westport Arts Center’s ArtCafé on Friday at 9:30 a.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Super Night for Staples Girls Ice Hockey Team

It’s been a long wait, but the Staples girls ice hockey varsity team is celebrating its first victory after three years as a varsity team and five years after its founding.WestportNow.com Image
The Staples girls ice hockey varsity team gained its first victory Saturday, defeating Stamford-Westhill 6-3. Contributed photo

The Saturday night 6-3 win over Stamford-Westhill at The Rinks at Shelton was especially gratifying as it was Senior Night, said Coach Peter R. Alfano, Jr., whose day job is teaching eighth grade science at Coleytown Middle School.

Senior Brittany Hamilin and sophomore Jessie Lepisto each had a pair of goals as seniors Jenna Chusid and Kate Shanahan each scored a goal as well.

Senior goaltender Gwen Moyer, the team’s only goaltender, played her best game of the season, making key saves at various times during the game to keep the Wreckers in the hunt. Moyer made 17 saves on 20 shots.