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Grief Specialist Offers Parents Advice

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Grief recovery specialist Lisa Athan tonight urged Westport parents following two recent deaths at Staples High School to “tell your kid ‘I really appreciate you.’” Addressing about 100 persons at Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church, Athan used humor and props, including the dropping of a box of dominoes, to underscore the importance of being sensitive to what is said to those grieving. “The best thing is to say nothing sometimes,” she said, adding: “And people don’t like hearing, ‘I know exactly how you feel.’”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

‘Remember How They Lived, Not Died’

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About 100 persons tonight attended a talk by grief recovery specialist Lisa Athan at Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. The talk was arranged by local mental health professionals and pediatricians following the deaths of Staples High School freshman Christopher Lanni, 14, and English teacher Cody Thomas, 27, both who took their own lives. “You don’t want to remember how they died but how they lived,” Athan said. She urged parents not to engage in gossip. “We have to stop the gossip train if we want to stop our kids from gossiping.”  Organizers said this is the first of a number of events planned to help community healing. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Cops: Fake IDs, Police Pursuit and Arrests

Westport Police today arrested two Bronx men for attempting to open fraudulent accounts at a Post Road East wireless store and later engaging officers in a pursuit.

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Anthony Okefor (l) and Mamadu Sowe:held in lieu of bond. Westport Police photos

According to Lt. Eric Woods, around 2:14 p.m. police received a call about two men trying to open up accounts with what appeared to be fake identification at the Wireless Zone, 385 Post Road East in the Compo Shopping Center.

When the employee at the store began to question the authenticity of the suspects’ drivers licenses, the suspects quickly left the store, he said.

“Officers responded to Verizon to begin the investigation, while other officers began checking the area for the suspects,” Woods said, adding that a vehicle description and license plate number of the suspects’ car was quickly broadcast.

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 32 Woodside Ave.

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An application for a permit to demolish the house at Westport’s 32 Woodside Ave. in the Old Hill section is in process. Built in 1850, the 1-3/4 story cape has 1,859-square feet, is situated on a .97-acre property and, according to Town Assessor records, last changed ownership in Octobe 2002 for $559,000. Because the house was built more than 50 years ago, the application will be reviewed by the Westport Historic District Commission. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Auto Thefts, Break-Ins Prompt Police Warning

UPDATE Westport police today warned residents of a series of vehicle thefts and break-ins following incidents in the early morning hours on Poplar Plains Road near the Wilton town line.

Police asked residents to lock their cars and bring any valuables inside.

“In the last month we had five actual thefts either from driveways or ones parked on the road, and we had a number of vehicle break-ins,” said Lt. David Farrell.

He said the thefts occurred in areas close to the Merritt Parkway, “and the break-ins are basically all over town.”

Talking Transportation: Don’t Blame the Trucks

By Jim Cameron

Special to WestportNow

Driving to Hartford the other day (no, you cannot really get there by train) I saw a beautiful sight: hundreds of trucks. Yet, motorists hate trucks and mistakenly blame them for traffic congestion and accidents that cause hours of delays.

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Readers of this column know I’m a “rail guy” and would love to see freight trains replace trucks, but that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. But as motorists we should not blame truckers for traffic woes of our own creation.

Check the facts and you’ll find most highway accidents are caused by motor cars, not the trucks.

Do trucks drive too fast? Sure, but don’t we all? Next time you’re on I-95 check who’s in the high speed left lane and you’ll see cars, not trucks.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


10 a.m. – Town Hall Room 201 – Saugatuck River Bridge Study Subcommittee Work Session
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Westport Arts Center – “Enid Munroe: Artist & Alchemist”
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Westport Historical Society – “Window to Westport’s Past & Present”
2 p.m. – Westport Library – Overcoat Film Series: “Above Suspicion”
6 p.m. – Toquet Hall Teen Center – Greek Tragedy through the Art of Video Games
6:30 p.m. – Westport Library – Chess Club for Adults
7 p.m. – Branson Hall, 75 Church Lane – Talk by grief recovery specialist Lisa Athan
7 p.m. – Town Hall Auditorium – Planning & Zoning Commission Public Hearing Continuance
7 p.m. – Westport Arts Center – Drink n’ Draw January
7 p.m. – Westport Library – WestportREADS 2016: Neighbors & Newcomers Discuss “Miracle at St. Anna”

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

Committees Okay Saugatuck Plan Grant Application

By James Lomuscio

A Westport application for a $250,000 state grant to fund a master plan for the Saugatuck section of town got unanimous approvals tonight from three Representative Town Meeting (RTM) committees.

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Railroad Place opposite the Metro-North tracks would be among areas included in the study. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The approvals to apply for the funds came with the proviso that there would be no strings attached to the state Office of Policy and Management (OPM) money.

The request, authorizing First Selectman Jim Marpe to sign the OPM Responsible Growth and Transit-Orient Development Grant application, will go before the full RTM at its Tuesday, Feb. 2, meeting. The deadline for submitting the application is Feb. 4.

Dewey Loselle, town operations manager, presented the request to the RTM’s Long-Range Planning, Planning and Zoning, and Transit committees at a joint meeting.

Merritt Redo Raises Local Traffic Concerns

By James Lomuscio

Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials tonight unveiled a $72 million plan to resurface and renovate 4.95 miles of the Merritt Parkway, including six bridges in Westport from Newtown Turnpike to Fairfield.

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A CDOT engineer cited deterioration on the Newtown Turnpike bridge that could lead to capstone and fascia falling hazards. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The plan presented at a public information session that drew only about 20 persons to Town Hall raised concerns from First Selectman Jim Marpe about the impact of rerouted traffic on town neighborhoods. He recalled CDOT’s repeated delays in repairs to the North Avenue bridge over the Merritt, now scheduled for completion in June.

“We’re concerned about the full closing of the Newtown Turnpike bridge and the detours that will be required,” Marpe said. “In your budget do you include money for traffic control? Factoring in that impact on the neighborhoods will be important.”

Michael Cherpak, CDOT project engineer, said the parkway resurfacing and bridge restorations scheduled to commence in the spring of 2017 are designed to improve safety and enhance the 1938-built Merritt Parkway, while maintaining its historic character and aesthetics.