Monday, June 17, 2024

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Lori S. Bigelow, 66

She was instrumental in the Bigelow family’s purchase of the Charleston Tea Garden in South Carolina in 2003. Today it is a thriving destination spot.

Lori deeply loved her niece and nephew with all her heart and was so very proud of them. She was also a wonderful and loving mother of many dogs over her lifetime.

One of her favorite events was dressing up with her dog on Halloween and distributing candy to the kids in downtown Wilton.

Lori is survived by her parents, Eunice and David Bigelow, her sister Cindi Bigelow, her niece and nephew, David Bigelow O’Hara and Meghan Campbell O’Hara. She also leaves behind her partner, David McDonald.

The wake will be held on Friday, March 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Shaughnessey Banks Funeral Home in Fairfield. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, March 14 at 10 a.m. at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield followed by inurnment in the Memorial Garden.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Lori’s memory to the ASPCA, P.O. Box 96929, Washington, DC 20090, https://secure.aspca.org/donate/donate. Lori will be missed by all of us who were blessed to know her.

Five Things to Know About Coronavirus and What CT is Doing to Prepare

The governor said the Department of Public Health and other state agencies are in constant contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and will be regularly updating the state website as new information comes in.

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Connecticut yet.

“This is not a call to make you nervous, it’s a call to give you confidence that we’re ready for what’s going forward here,” said Lamont. “Right now I feel like Connecticut is a little ahead of the game, in terms of our preparation going forward.”

Earlier today the Connecticut Emergency Management Association wrote a letter to Lamont expressing concerns about an “extreme shortage” of personal protection equipment, asking the governor to take immediate action to ensure health care and public safety providers have the materials they need.

The association also asked the governor to partially activate the state’s emergency Operation Center and launch plans to respond to a pandemic.

Lamont acknowledged “there’s a scramble” to find medical equipment given the global spread of the disease, but he said hospitals are ready to start accepting patients, and that officials are looking for other protective equipment “wherever we can find it. That’s true of every state in the country.”

Hartford HealthCare routinely prepares for emergencies like the coronavirus, said Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief medical officer for the hospital system, which activated its Emergency Preparedness Plan in early January.

Kumar said Hartford HealthCare currently has a more than 30-day supply of the necessary medical equipment, but would continue to monitor that supply as the situation evolves.

“This is always a concern for us,” Kumar said. “We keep a constant watch on that. Obviously things can change very rapidly, but we feel very well prepared on that at this time.”

Jennifer Jackson, CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association, said the state’s hospitals are prepared to care for patients with the virus.

“This is what hospitals do. We regularly prepare, we plan, we train for outbreaks of disease,” Jackson said, noting hospitals are working with the Department of Public Health and other state agencies and are in regular communication with each other as they learn more about the virus, also called COVID-19.

Concern is rooted in uncertainty about the virus

The mystery surrounding this new virus, and what could happen if a hotspot forms in the U.S., has driven the public attention — and fear, said UConn Assistant Professor in Pathobiology Steven M. Szczepanek.

“People’s responses to these viruses, I think, is about the novelty. Every time we see a new virus pop up we see this happen. We had similar kind of scares with MERS, and that kind of died out. We had a lot of uncertaintly with Zika. And now people are concerned with COVID-19,” he said.

Szczepanek contrasted the public’s focus on coronavirus with its response to influenza.

“The flu, we’re used to it. We see it every year and the numbers are staggering and the numbers are so much more impactful – and yet the flu hasn’t caused millions of people to be quarantined, it hasn’t caused substantial losses in the stock market the way that COVID-19 is.”

It is unclear if coronavirus is more fatal than the flu

The almost 2% mortality rate of those infected with COVID-19 that has been widely reported is flawed, according to Szczepanek.

It is likely that many people are contracting mild versions of COVID-19, or that they are even asymptomatic carriers and are spreading the virus, but these are unconfirmed cases that are not factored into that 2% mortality rate. If they were, the percentage would be much smaller, the professor said.

“That number is somewhat artificially inflated,” he said. “I think when we look back on this several years from now, we are going to see that it is not as virulent as is being reported.”

By comparison, the flu is extremely widespread and deadly. Tens of thousands of people have died from the flu already this winter.

“I think a lot of the hysteria around this is associated with the newness of the virus,” he said.

Trying to avoid it? Face masks won’t help.

“A lot of people buy [masks] thinking that they are protected, but that does not stop respiratory droplets from getting into your face,”  said Szczepanek. “They essentially provide no protection. A lot of people think they do. I won’t say that it won’t help you absolutely at all. But they are nearly useless at protecting you from someone else who is sick.”

Even the N95 respirator mask, which is recommended for health professionals and is designed to fit tightly and filter out small particles, doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of contracting the illness.

Symptoms of coronavirus include cough, shortness of break, fever and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Masks should be worn by those who do have the virus, however, to protect others from the spread of germs, Szczepanek and health care professionals said.

To protect yourself from the coronavirus, follow the basic hygiene guidelines you learned as a child: wash your hands often and thoroughly, and sneeze and cough into a tissue.

“People tend to dismiss things that sound simple,” said Jackson, of the hospital association. “It sounds simple, but it works, and it’s going to be one of the biggest weapons that we have against this.”

Matt Carter, the state’s epidemiologist, said because the disease isn’t currently spreading throughout the state, new recommendations could come later.

“There will be other social distancing measures that come into play later on,” Carter said, like standing six feet apart from others or cancelling large group gatherings. “These kinds of activities may well be recommended, and something that we’ve actually never seen in the 35 years that I’ve been here.”

If you get coronavirus, there’s not much you can do but self-isolate

There are no vaccines or antivirals to treat this virus, yet.

“You can’t really stop it,” Szczepanek said. “If it does transmit, then the virus is going to spread like wildfire. This virus seems very difficult to contain, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes almost impossible to contain. It will require herculean efforts to contain.”

It is recommended that those who test positive stay home to avoid spreading the disease. Research into the first 425 confirmed cases of the virus by Edward H. Kaplan, a Yale Professor of Public Health at the Yale School of Medicine, showed that isolation will quell outbreaks.

“The good news is that, in principle, case isolation alone is sufficient to end community outbreaks of [COVID-19] transmission, provided that cases are detected efficiently,”Kaplan wrote.

Modeling the Future

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Student Adi Mittal today shows his model, entitled “Electropia,” as the Westport Library hosted the annual Utopia Fair for seventh grade students from Bedford Middle School who participate in the school Workshop Program under the supervision of teachers Kerstin Rao and Martel Rynderman. According to school administrator Coleen Banick, the goal of the Fair is for the students to create a model for a community that reflects what an ideal future would look like. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Amendment Seeks Regulatory Relief for Waterfront Homes

Current regulations for such projects require the slope of the sand dunes and all man made slopes not to exceed five horizontal to one vertical, which is 20%. However, dunes are more effective with slopes greater that 20%, the announcement said.

Young said the proposed amendment has received support from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), as well as the town’s Conservation Department.

“It is resource intensive to fight Mother Nature and restore what storm events deplete in the form of sand,” Young said. “By reducing the requirements to submit an application and await public hearing review, residents’ resources can be focused on their nourishment and replenishment projects.”

Copies of the amendment are available at the Planning Zoning Department, the Town Clerk’s office and online at http://www.westportct.gov

Two Landscape Competition Winners in Westport

The Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (CTASLA) has announced the winners of its annual Connecticut Professional Awards competition with two winners in Westport.

The award recognizes excellence in landscape architectural design, planning and analysis, communication, and research. To be eligible, applicants must be a landscape architect or designer in the state of Connecticut, and the entrant or project location must be based in Connecticut.

The Westport winners include a Merit Award to Langan of New Haven for Bedford Square in the Landscape Architectural Design / Municipal/Public Spaces category and Artemis Landscape Architects of Sandy Hook, an Honor Award for Coastal Contemporary Landscape for a private beachside residence off of Beachside Common.

The jury for this year’s competition was comprised of members of the Ohio Chapter of ASLA.

Getting Ready for Beechwood Arts Exhibit

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Volunteers were busy at the Jesup Gallery in the Westport Library today preparing for the Beechwood Arts exhibit, “Do or Die,” which opens Thursday at 9 a.m. and runs through May 25. Beechwood Arts is collaborating with the Westport Library to host its winter season, exploring and interpreting a central theme, “Do or Die”, inspired by Beethoven and his tumultuous creative journey. “Do or Die,” the art exhibit explores the theme through the lens of leading visual artists whose own journeys have been marked by highs of creative inspiration and success and lows of creative despair, doubt or intervening life events. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Street Sweeping Begins Monday

Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich announced that the spring street sweeping program will commence on Monday, weather permitting.

There will be up to three crews sweeping 123 miles of town roadways. Work should be completed on all public roads by mid-July, he said.

Some of the work is done early in the morning in order to avoid interference with vehicles in parking lots and school buses. Ratkiewich asked the public for their cooperation and patience during the operation.

Questions regarding the project may be directed to the Public Works Office at 203-341 1120.

Granger at the Movies: ‘The Call of the Wild,’ ‘Sonic the Hedgehog,’ ‘The Report’

Then he’s adopted by cranky, hard-drinking outdoorsman John Thornton (Ford), who takes him on an exciting trek into Alaska’s uncharted wilderness where Buck discovers his inner ‘spirit’ wolf. (Ford also serves as the growly narrator of Buck’s story.)

Inevitably, there’s a melodramatic villain, Hal (Dan Stevens), a ruthless gold-seeker with a bristling mustache and a streak of sadistic cruelty.

And it’s magnificently photographed by Janusz Kaminski, best known for his collaboration with Steven Spielberg on “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Munich.”

FYI: Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild,” first published in 1903, has been adapted on film five times, not counting the “Peanuts” and animé. That includes the 1935 version with Clark Gable and Loretta Young, followed by Charlton Heston’s in 1972 and Rutger Hauer’s in 1997.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Call of the Wild” is a crowd-pleasing, resilient 7, a PG-rated, family-friendly adventure suited to children age eight and older.

After scoring a record-breaking opening weekend, the success of this iconic Sega character “Sonic the Hedgehog” proves that there’s still potential profit in CG/live-action video game movies.

Blue-furred, spiky-haired Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) comes from a faraway planet, where his phenomenal ability to run fast got him into trouble. A wise old owl (an “Obi-Wan who eats mice”) gives him a bag of magic teleport rings that open gateways to alien worlds but cautions him to keep a low profile and not attract unwanted attention.

So Sonic winds up near the tiny town of Green Hills, Montana, where he pretends to be part of the Wachowski household, although they don’t know he exists. To him, Sheriff Tom (James Marsden) and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter) are Donut Lord and Pretzel Lady.

But Sonic is lonely, very lonely. So lonely that he plays baseball by himself, racking up such speed that he creates a mysterious crackle of blue energy which knocks out power throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Panicked about the cause of the blackout, the Pentagon dispatches villainous Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to trap the “blue devil” whose motto is “Gotta go fast.”

Robotnik tells his henchman, Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub), that he was trained by “Native American Shadow Wolves,” referring to the real-life trackers who work for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Eventually, Sheriff Tom becomes Sonic’s ally, traveling to San Francisco to retrieve Sonic’s lost bag of rings from atop the Transamerica Pyramid.

Scripted by Pat Casey and Josh Miller, it’s directed by Jeff Fowler, who persisted after the outraged negative reaction to the original visual design of Sonic’s character, particularly his teeth.

Historically, movies based on video games — “Super Mario Bros,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Resident Evil,” even “Tomb Raider” — have not done as well as anticipated. But Sonic’s box-office bonanza may launch a new era of game adaptations.

On the Granger Gauge, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is a speed-demon 6, a blue blur, marking the 60th anniversary of Sega.

Gaining relevance in the wake of Washington D.C.’s recent whistleblower accusations, writer/director Scott Z. Burns’ hard-hitting thriller “The Report” chronicles the real-life struggle of Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver) to deliver a massive report on the human rights abuses committed by the CIA’s post-9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program.

Working on behalf of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, led at that time by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), Dan obsessively delves into CIA malfeasance with quasi-messianic determination.

But Feinstein realizes they must proceed with caution, since a strategic misstep could suppress their revelations.

Yes, there are highly disturbing flashbacks picturing the torture of suspected terrorists, including Gul Rahman, who died in captivity. The real villains turn out to be unqualified psychologists Bruce Jessen (Douglas Hodge) and James Mitchell (T. Ryder Smith), hired by the CIA to develop the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques program.

“I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to show that but then I spoke with Alberto Mora, general counsel for the United States Navy,” Burns explains. “He said the original sin is that the CIA destroyed these (interrogation) tapes because they knew if people saw what they did, it would have been over. He told me, ‘If you don’t show this, then you are compounding the sin.’”

“Accountability and the responsibility of Congress to provide oversight of the executive branch is a big part of what this movie is about,” concludes Burns, best known for his collaboration with Steven Soderbergh on “The Informant,” “Contagion,” “Side Effects” and “The Laundromat.”

Both Adam Driver and Annette Bening deliver convincing performances that were, unfortunately, overlooked last year during Oscar season — with supporting turns from Jon Hamm, Corey Stoll and Matthew Rhys.

Yet the grim Epilogue admits that no one responsible for the torture was ever punished, even when President Obama signed Executive Order 13491 which forbids torture, only “unless the Attorney General provides further guidance.”

On the Granger Gauge, “The Report” is a slow, yet significant 7, streaming on Amazon Prime.


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(Editor’s Note: Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See her reviews at www.susangranger.com.)

Meetings Set on Traffic, Pedestrian, Bicycle Safety

The Selectman’s Office, in coordination with the Public Works and Police Departments, has scheduled a series of meetings with Representative Town Meeting (RTM) districts to discuss some of the issues facing the town in dealing with traffic, pedestrian and bicycle safety.

“Having these meetings will provide an opportunity for residents of each RTM district to talk about problems they are facing in their particular area and ask questions about possible solutions,” an announcement said.

Each meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium on the following schedule:

Tuesday, March 3 Districts 2 & 3; Monday, March 9 Districts 1 & 4; Monday, March 16 Districts 6 & 8; Tuesday, March 31 Districts 5 & 7, and Monday, April 13 District 9.