Sunday, March 03, 2024

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RTM Committee OKs Restorations, But It’s Far from Over

By James Lomuscio

Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff got what he asked for tonight from the Representative Town Meeting’s (RTM) Finance Committee—a recommendation to restore $220,000 of the $342,500 cut by the Board of Finance from the overall $66.6 million municipal budget for 2011-12.

Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon and Board of Education Chairman Donald O’Day also received what they had hoped for—a recommendation to let the $250,000 cut from the school board’s $98.6 million budget stand with no further cuts. The school board had not sought any restorations.

While good news on the town side, Joseloff is not celebrating yet. The restorations will require a 70 percent vote from the legislative body when it meets on Monday. And if RTM Finance Committee votes are any indication on how the full RTM will vote, it could prove an uphill fight, Joseloff admitted.

The committee voted 7 to 2 to recommend restoring $75,000 to a salaried position in the Finance Department, 6 to 3 for restoring $50,000 to rehire a new personnel director, 8 to 1 for giving back $25,000 of the $75,000 cut from Information technology, and 5 to 4 to recommend restoring $70,000 from the Parks and Recreation Department to maintain two positions.

Playwright Sidney Michaels Dies at 83

Sidney Michaels, a playwright who was nominated for Tony Awards in three consecutive seasons in the 1960s, died Friday in Westport, The New York Times reported. He was 83 and had Alzheimer’s disease.

Michaels made a splash on Broadway in 1962 with his play “Tchin-Tchin,” an Americanized version of a farcical, bittersweet French comedy starring Margaret Leighton and Anthony Quinn.

Running for 222 performances, it was nominated for a Tony for best director in the spring of 1963, though it lost to Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

In 1964, Alec Guinness won his only Tony for his performance in the title role in “Dylan,” Michaels’s biographical portrayal of the poet Dylan Thomas. The play itself was also nominated. The winner that year was “Luther” by John Osborne.

Westport for Dummies Tour

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The Westport Historical Society held its annual scenic bus tour of Westport today which it called “Westport for Dummies.” The tour was led by two longtime Westport residents, Town Historian Allen Raymond and former Police Chief Ron Malone. As the two-hour tour meandered around Westport and back to the Historical Society,  the passengers seemed to have gained an appreciation of what is so special about Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com

Helen B. Bourne, 85

Helen Blanchard Bourne, a former resident of Westport, died April 6 in Kingston, Mass. She was 85.

Born Helen Margaret Yockey on May 23, 1925, in Xenia, Ohio, she was the daughter of the late Paul Yockey and Anna (Dolphin) Yockey. She attended Oberlin College.

She moved east with her first husband, John Newsom, and eventually relocated to Westport with her two children. She later met and married the late Turner Blanchard, with whom she owned the former Westport Marine.

She was employed as secretary to the Westport police chief. They retired to Cape Cod where she was an active volunteer with her church.

$100 Annual RR Parking Fee Increase Approved

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE Concern over commuter sticker shock squared off against covering personnel and maintenance costs tonight as the Westport Board of Selectmen, after more than an hour’s discussion, voted 2 to 1 to raise railroad parking annual fees by $100 to $325 and to increase the daily parking fee from $4 to $5 effective July 1.WestportNow.com Image
Deputy Chief Dale Call (l) and Chief Al Fiore of the Westport Police Department answer questions about railroad parking fees at today’s Board of Selectmen meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The annual fee increase is $75 lower than the $400 that had been requested by the Police Department’s Railroad Parking Division.

Acting as the Traffic Authority, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff and Second Selectwoman Shelly Kassen voted for the increase, with Selectman Charles Haberstroh dissenting.

“We definitely need to cover our costs,” said Joseloff, who had initially sought to adjust the fee to $350. “But at the same time we have to be concerned about what effect a major increase will have on our commuters.”

Comings and Goings: Blockbuster Closing Sunday

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Westport’s Blockbuster, 1505 Post Road East, is closing on Sunday, according to a store employee. All DVDs, video games and store fixtures are for sale but rentals are no longer available.  Blockbuster, the movie and video game rental company filed for bankruptcy in September 2010 having operated under increasing losses for some time. Increasing competition came from companies like Netflix and Redbox, and, more recently, online streaming video services. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Ines Amalia “Mollie” Donovan, 84

Ines Amalia “Mollie” Donovan, devoted volunteer in Westport’s arts and preservation community, advertising executive, and medical and technical writer, died April 27 after a long battle with cancer. She was 84.WestportNow.com Image
Mollie Donovan: devoted volunteer. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Born in Hamden, on July 11, 1926, Mollie was the matriarch of a loving family.  Her humor, insight, passion, energy and creativity were a gift to all who knew her. 

A committed mentor of the Westport arts scene, Mollie was co-chairman of the Westport Historical Society’s Exhibit and Programs Committee, the curator of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection and a committee member of the WPA Art Rescue which restored 32 large artworks produced as part of the WPA Arts Project.

She was recently honored as Volunteer of the Decade by the Westport Historical Society for her three decades of exemplary and tireless leadership, loyalty, vision, creativity and passion.

P&Z Reschedules Downtown Session to May 12

A public meeting by the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss revitalization of Westport’s downtown has been rescheduled to Thursday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium.

P&Z Director Larry Bradley, who announced the May 5 meeting a week ago (See WestportNow April 20, 2011), said a conflict with another public event that evening caused the change.

The schedule and list of presenters will be finalized next week, said Bradley.

Among topics to be discussed are creating incentives for a movie theater, the establishment of mixed use (commercial/residential) developments in the Parker Harding Plaza parking lot, parking improvements, streetscape enhancements and sidewalk cafes, he said.

Mollie Donovan, Longtime Arts Advocate, Dies at 84

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UPDATE (adds memorial service on Sunday) Ines M. “Mollie” Donovan, a longtime member of the Westport Arts Advisory Committee whose many activities also included the Westport Historical Society and the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection, died today after a lengthy illness. She was 84. In September 2009, the Arts Advisory Committee at its annual ceremony surprised her by inaugurating “The Mollie Award” in her honor and said in the future it would be presented annually to a dedicated volunteer for the arts. A memorial service will be held Sunday, May 1 at 11 a.m. at the Westport Historical Society/Veterans Green across from Westport Town Hall. Click here for full obituary. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com