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Police Chief: Ensuring Police-Military Line Remains Clear

By James Lomuscio

In the wake of national concerns about the militarization of police departments, an issue brought to the forefront by the police response to rioting in Ferguson, Mo., Westport Police Chief Dale Call weighed in on his department’s receipt of military surplus over the years.

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One of two Humvees Westport Police received as military surplus. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“Define militarized,” Call said in an interview. “Police departments have been organized in the paramilitary structure since the beginning of time, but at the end of the day, we’re don’t function as the military, nor should we ever.”

With Westport being an affluent community and not being strapped for equipment, “we don’t ask for what we don’t need,” from the Department of Defense (DOD) through its 1033 program, Call said. The program gives without charge military resources no longer used, from guns to Humvees.

The Washington Post reported last week that in 2013 the 1033 program gave about $500 million worth of equipment to local departments, mostly for natural disaster responses, items such as tents, generators, ATVs and pickup trucks. However, law enforcement agencies can also tap the program for more formidable items: aircraft, grenade launchers and tactical vehicles.

WN Spotlight: Coffee ‘An

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(Editor’s Note: This is another in our occasional series, WN Spotlight, featuring people and places that make our town special.)

By Larissa Lieberson

There’s nothing better than the smell of warm, freshly glazed donuts. Nothing, perhaps, besides the taste of them, especially when they are handmade each morning at Westport’s Coffee An’ Donut Shop.

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Elias Vlandis took over ownership of Coffee ‘An from his father, George, who bought the shop in 1991. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larissa Lieberson for WestportNow.com

Located at 343 Main St. in a shopping strip that includes Ace Hardware and the Merritt Country Store, this old time donut shop has become a local legend. Daily, people from all walks of life seem to find their way to this rare sanctuary rich in unpretentiousness and a sweet sense of community.

From the moment one steps into the shop, one spies people reading newspapers, talking to each other across tables and the counter, and just letting their hair down.

Regulars credit George Vlandis and his family for the comfortable vibe. Vlandis took over the shop 22 years ago after selling his pizza restaurant in Fairfield. From pizza, Vlandis turned his focus on something sweeter – donuts, glazed, chocolate frosted, coconut, jelly, cinnamon and marble twists. Muffins, too.

WN Spotlight: Poster Animal Hospital

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(Editor’s Note: WestportNow today inaugurates a new occasional series, WN Spotlight, featuring people and places that make our town special.)

By Larissa Lieberson

From the moment your paws step into Poster Animal Hospital at 1677 Post Road East, you can sense the joy only animal lovers know. Dogs wag their tails excitedly, and employees and pet owners mingle like old friends.

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Joan Poster: “Saving a life is one of the best feelings out there.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

This kindred feeling of community is one of the main reasons this mom and pop practice has been in town so long. The animal hospital is currently celebrating 30 years in Westport.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” says Bette Demartini, a client of 20 years.

Animal lover Joan Poster, who earned her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania, first opened Poster Animal Hospital in 1984.

WN Wins 13 Citations in State Journalism Contest

WestportNow has won 13 citations, including six first-place prizes, in the 2013 Society of Professional Journalists Connecticut Chapter Excellence in Journalism competition. The awards were announced Thursday night at the group’s annual banquet in Wallingford.

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First-place winner: Helen Klisser During won a first-place prize in the 2013 Society of Professional Journalists Connecticut Chapter competition for this photo of an anguished girl at the 9/11 ceremony last year at Sherwood Island State Park. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

First place winners included James Lomuscio for his coverage of Westport’s reaction to the Little League’s team success last summer as well as a story on the Blues, Views and BBQ Festival; Helen Klisser During for her photo of a an anguished girl at the 9/11 ceremony at Sherwood Island; Douglas Healey for his photo series on the funeral of a Westport U.S. Marine in Massachusetts and for a photo of the Little League World Series action, and Mark Molesworth for his photo of an Egret in flight.

Other WestportNow awards went to Lomusico, two second place citations for his story on the closing of Sally’s Place on Main Street and his story on the Board of Education’s health insurance account troubles; Healey, a second place citation for a World Series action photo; Dave Matlow, second and third place citations for his photo of a car fire on the Merritt Parkway and his photo of a gas line explosion on Westfair Drive; Lynn U. Miller, a second place citation for her photo series of First Night, and Elena Radu a second place citation for her photo of rowers in Halloween witch hats.

Since the competition was opened to online publications in 2007, WestportNow has won 37 citations in the annual competitions, which are judged by out-of-state professional journalists. See complete 2013 winner list here.

Now Max’s to Become Part of Westport’s Arts History

By James Lomuscio and Dave Matlow

Nina Royce lifted the trap door to the basement, opening up a flood of memories about Max’s Art Supplies where she’s worked since August 1969.

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Max’s Art Supplies on Post Road East, a Westport mainstay since 1956, will close Sept. 1. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

There was a time years back, Royce recalled today, when a young Christopher Blossom, a stock boy who would go on to become a world renowned maritime artist, kept busy going up and down the timeworn, wooden steps.

He would regularly haul up new inventory to keep the main floor well stocked with drafting and drawing tables, easels, brushes, paints, canvases and frames, she said.

Those were the days when Max’s, which opened in 1956 at 68 Post Road Post Road East originally as Fine Arts Stationers next to the Fine Arts Theatre, eventually became Grand Central for the town’s legendary artists’ community. Max Kaplan, then 42, and his wife, Shirley, then 28, were the proprietors.

WN on the Scene: A Mix of Contemporary Art and Cultural Tourism


Frieze New York Art Fair opened this week in a grand tent on Randall’s Island. It is timed to coincide with the influx of global collectors heading to New York for the big contemporary art auctions and offers mix of contemporary art and cultural tourism. The exhibit runs until Monday. Click here for information.  Helen Klisser During, director of visual arts at the Westport Arts Center and contributing WestportNow photographer, provides this selection of views of the exhibit.  Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

Our New Year’s Gift to Readers

WestportNow Year in Pictures 2012

The year 2013 in Westport—the 11th year of publication of WestportNow—was another busy period with extremes of joy and deep sadness.

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A visitor to Westport’s Compo Beach in January found himself the object of much attention from the sea gulls. Maybe it was the old cracker he had in his hand. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The Westport Little Leaguers magic ride to the Little League World Series created a wave of hometown pride while the tragic death of Marine Lance Cpl. Roger W. Muchnick Jr. in a training accident brought tears to many.

Day in and day out, WestportNow was there as we have been 24/7 since 2003. We are deeply grateful for contributions of news and photos from our readers and look forward to continuing to serve you in 2014 with the kind of knowledgable coverage only a hometown publication can produce. We are also deeply grateful for the advertising support received and urge you to patronize our advertisers.

As is our tradition, our New Year’s gift to readers is a photo review of the past year. Entries include major events, and some not so major. But they were all part of life in Westport in 2013. To enjoy, CLICK HERE. Happy New Year!

WN on the Scene: Fall Art Exhibits NYC to Massachusetts


The fall art season is under way from New York City to Massachusetts. Offerings range from Louise Bourgeois’s “Eyes” (above)  at Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass. and Anselm Kiefer’s sculpture and paintings at the MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., to Sol LeWitt’s monumental wall drawings at Paul Cooper’s Gallery in New York’s Chelsea district and Edmund de Waal’s display of tiny white porcelain vases at Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue. They are seen through the lens of Helen Klisser During, contributing WestportNow photographer and director of visual arts at the Westport Arts Center. Click here for information on each picture. Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com