Saturday, July 20, 2024


Cinema Initiative Seeks Additional Funding

To the Editor:

Dear fellow Westporters:

If you want an independent movie theater in Westport, now is the moment to make your investment in our town.

The Westport Cinema Initiative, a volunteer-driven organization, is in a crucial place in its four-year history. I am writing as a member of the board of directors.

Four years ago we began a plan to build a publicly-supported cinema in Westport. This was made possible by the support of 39 angels contributing $1,000 each towards the idea and by about 200 charter members who have contributed $100 each. Today we are a recognized not-for-profit 501(C)3 organization and an integral part of Westport’s robust arts heritage and, importantly, the town’s Downtown Master Plan.

We have regularly screened movies in locations throughout downtown to raise awareness of our purpose. We have secured a fantastic spot in downtown for the theater – the last and best location imaginable. Our architect has drafted plans for the building. The town government has expressed its support. It is now time to build the theater.

To do this, we need the community’s support. Everyone who knows about us agrees the idea of a theater in Westport is wonderful. We need more Westporters – you – to make your enthusiasm real. We need $60,000 to take the next step to provide assurance that we can raise the remaining $4 million necessary to build the theater. Your tax-deductible contribution will help make this happen.

It is essential that we raise this $60,000 in very short order, else the entire project will come to a stop and the theater will almost certainly not come about. Our president, Jonathan Steinberg, or our executive director, Sandy Lefkowitz, or anyone on the board of directors is eager to chat with you about your support.

If you already know in your heart that adding this permanent arts resource in downtown Westport is valuable to you and your family, simply write a check to Westport Cinema Initiative and mail it to Sandy at 25 Island Way, Westport 06880.

Thank you very much,
Alex W White

Hartwell Steps Down as Dem Town Committee Chair Image
John Hartwell (l), chair of the Westport Democratic Town Committee, announced tonight at a Democratic potluck dinner at the Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach that he has stepped down to concentrate on his race for the Board of Finance. Taking over is Keith Stein (r), vice chair.  Hartwell said while he has enjoyed serving as town chair, there was a need now to focus on Democrats regaining control of the finance board. The other Democratic nominee for the board is Sheri Gordon, currently serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Incumbent Democrat Janis Collins is not seeking reelection.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Nicholas Pisarro, Jr. for

Firefighters Extinguish Gas Grill Fire Image
Westtport firefighters today extinguished a rear yard gas grill fire on Janson Drive. While stretching a hose to the flames, the 15-pound propane tank “vented,” sending flames about 10 feet from the valve connection, said Assistant Chief Larry Conklin.  The fire was quickly put out and the remaining propane vented using a fog spray from the fire hose, he said.  Conklin advised homeowners to keep propane-fueled gas grills away from the house, and, if possible, to keep the valve connection facing away from the residence.  Contributed photo

Richard J. Sweetnam, Sr.,80

Richard (Dick) J. Sweetnam, Sr., a 43-year Westport resident, died July 29 at home. He was 80. Image
Richard J. Sweetnam, Sr.: ex-IBMer. Contributed photo

The husband of Evelyn Sweetnam was born April 3, 1935 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He graduated from St. Augustine’s High School in 1953,  and Fordham University with a B.S. in 1958.

During his final year of undergraduate school, he was elected president of the Student Council for the Downtown School of Business.  He attended Fordham’s Law School from which he graduated in 1965.  He retired as a member of the Connecticut and New York state and federal bars

He and his family moved to Westport in 1972 from Huntsville, Alabama, where he had been counsel at IBM’s Space Systems Center. 

Getting to Know You Image
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe today welcomes Bill Harmer, the Westport Library’s new executive director, to Town Hall for their first monthly review meeting. Harmer, director of the Chelsea District Library in Chelsea, Michigan, was selected the Westport Library’s new executive director replacing Maxine Bleiweis, who retired after 17 years.(See WestportNow June 2, 2015)  Harmer assumed his duties in Westport on Monday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Westport Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Grand Larceny

By James Lomuscio

Westporter Stephen R. Krawitz, a New York personal injury lawyer charged with stealing more than $600,000 in settlements from more than a dozen of his firm’s clients, pleaded guilty on six counts in New York Supreme Court Wednesday, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Image
Stephen Krawitz: to be sentenced Sept. 29. Westport Police photo

Krawitz, who was arrested at his Ludlow Road home in December (see WestportNow Dec. 12, 2014)  pleaded guilty to four counts of grand larceny in the second degree, two counts of scheme to defraud in the first degree, a spokeswoman for Vance said.

Judge Melissa Jackson promised him a sentence of four to 12 years, though Vance’s office had sought a five- to 15-year sentence, the spokeswoman said.

Krawitz, who has been held since his December arrest, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept 29, at which time the court will also be issuing restitution judgment orders, she said. His bail had been set at $1 million. After pleading guilty, he was remanded until sentencing, according to court officials.

Westport Police Seek Larceny Suspect Image
The Westport Police Department today requested the public’s assistance in identifying the suspect in this surveillance photo. On Sunday,  a customer accidentally left his wallet on the side counter at the Country Store, 332 Wilton Road. After leaving the store, he realized that he had left it there and returned. While reviewing the surveillance video with the manager, they observed that the male customer behind him had picked up his wallet and then left the store. The suspect in the picture is described as a Hispanic male in his late 30s Anyone who may have information about the identity of the suspect is requested to contact the Westport Police Department Detective Bureau at (203)341-6080. Westport Police photo

Spanning Generations, Same Look for New Bridge

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s North Avenue bridge spanning the Merritt Parkway today looked bareboned, much of its concrete deck jack hammered out, exposing steel ribs hidden for more nearly 80 years. Image
The North Avenue Bridge over the Merritt Parkway as it looked today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

As the wind of rushing vehicles moved rhythmically below, Shalal Hussein, project engineer for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT), said it was one of four Merritt Parkway bridges under reconstruction. The others are the ones at Chestnut Hill Road and Perry Avenue, both in Norwalk, and Main Street in Stratford.

Like all of the Merritt’s 69 original bridges, each with a unique architectural design representing 1930s styles, the North Avenue bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s a very gorgeous bridge,” Hussein said as he walked sections of the 1939 art deco structure, for years set apart by its black stone and parapets with fiddle-fern and flower motifs.

New and Used Shoes Wanted Image
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe was Westport’s first donor of a pair of shoes to the Soles4Souls collection box today in the Town Hall lobby. Westport Attorney G. Kenneth Bernhard announced the collection box is available for shoe donations through the month of August.  Bernhard said another collection box is available at the Center for Senior Activities. Bernhard, who led a similar humanitarian campaign in Westport in 2011, said more than 700 pair of shoes were donated in the one-month collection period. The shoes go to people in need in the United States and abroad. (See WestportNow May 27, 2011) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for