Thursday, December 02, 2021

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Westport Miscellany: Panic Rooms and Sales Tax

With the increased terrorism threat, Westport has seen an upsurge in installation of panic rooms, those places tucked away in homes where the homeowners can survive all kinds of attacks (except probably the munchies).

The town is cited by Richard Soloway, chief executive of NAPCO Security Systems in New York, who told the Hartford Courant newspaper that sales are also up in Weston, Greenwich and Stratford.

The business is so hush-hush, he says, that often domestics who work in the homes don’t know the safe rooms exist.

“Lots of times, even the help in the house doesn’t know about it. People who install the rooms are brought in when nobody else is there, or on the weekend,” Soloway said.

Also reported by the newspaper—an upsurge in patriotic bills introduced in Hartford that would give additional benefits to those serving on active duty or veterans of past conflicts.

Among them was one introduced by Westport’s Sen. Judith Freedman. It would exempt military members on active duty outside Connecticut from having to pay sales tax on new vehicles.

Freedman, a Republican, said, “At a time when so many men and women are leaving their families behind to defend our nation, this is something we can do to show our respect and appreciation.”

Fatal Crash After Dinner at Longahore Gets Woman Two Years in Prison

Westports Splash restaurant at the Inn at Longshore played an unwitting role in a fatal car crash on I-95 that led to a two-year prison sentence Friday for a New York woman.

According to an account in the Advocate of Stamford, the woman, Jan Jepsen, 38, had dinner there with her boss on May 8, 2001. During the meal—appetizers and three bottles of wine that ran up a $410.26 tab, her boss told her she and her entire department were being laid off.

The court heard that following the meal, she got on I-95 the wrong way. She drove up an exit ramp, then went northbound in the southbound lanes for one to two miles before smashing into a car driven by Sidney Davi, 27, who worked at Fairfields transfer station. He died instantly.


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Trucks on the Merritt? A

Trucks on the Merritt? A Train Alongside?
Fridays discussion at Yale University about the future of the Merritt Parkway touched on a number of possibilities. Among them trucks on the roadway and a train track alongside.

According to the Connecticut Post, the occasion was the annual meeting of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.

Keynote speaker was Peter Szabo, director of the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, who addressed the future of the parkway.

Meanwhile, the Post reported that safety issues will take center stage when the State Department of Transportation holds informational meetings about using the breakdown lane of I-95 for traffic during rush hours. One is scheduled for Westport on April 16.


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Losers in Staples High School

Losers in Staples High School Principal Selection Comment
We know the local reaction to the selection of John Brady as principal of Staples High School (overwhelmingly positive). But what about the two other finalists who didnt make it?

Both commented in interviews with their local newspapers. Assistant Superintendent Tom Mulvihill of New Milford, Conn. told his local paper:

ғThere is no shame in losing out to someone with his record, Mulvihill said of Brady. ԓHes a great guy.Ҕ

Peter Sack, who is retiring as a high school principal in Swampscott, Mass., told his newspaper:

“I’m both disappointed and relieved. It would have been a great challenge. I think I’m up to the challenge, but it would have been disruptive having to move.”


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Bernhard and Others Bash Siting

Bernhard and Others Bash Siting Council
Theres no love lost between Connecticut municipalities and the state agency overseeing placement of cell towers, the Connecticut Siting Council.

Some of those feelings spilled over in Hartford Friday as Connecticut legislators, including WestportҒs State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, told agency members they should keep their opinions about policy matters to themselves and let lawmakers shape policy.

According to an account in the Advocate of Stamford, Bernhard, a Republican, said city and town governments have long held the belief, right or wrong, that the Siting Council does not listen to their concerns and possibly has its own unknown agenda.

“You have reinforced that perception by coming here today and testifying,” Bernhard said.


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Fairfield, like Westport, Debates Revising

Fairfield, like Westport, Debates Revising Fees; Cuts Directors Salary
As municipalities struggle with rising costs and rising taxes, they are eyeing fees charged for specific services. Westport is revising its Conservation Department and Planning and Zoning fees, but neighboring Fairfield has yet to do so.

So last night, the townҒs Board of Finance cut the salary of the Conservation Department director by $50,000 to give him a little added incentive to revise the fees.

According to the Connecticut Post, the board member proposing the cut told the director it was nothing personal but that he knew of no other way to convince the Conservation Commission to raise the administrative fees it charges to developers.

Westport֒s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) will consider ordinances revising such fees at its May meeting after completing work on the annual town budget.

Update: At its April 2 meeting, Fairfield’s Board of Finance voted to restore the $50,000 to the official’s salary after the town’s Conservation Commission agreed to vote on increasing its fees within several months.


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NY Times: Corrupticut,Ӕ Connection-icut,Ӕ CriminalicutӔ

NY Times: Corrupticut,Ӕ Connection-icut,Ӕ CriminalicutӔ That֒s Us
In case youve been riveted on war news, you may have missed The New York Times story today on corruption in Connecticut. ItҒs worth a read.

Fortunately, Westport is not mentioned anywhere in the story thank goodness. It֒s one category we should be thankful that we’re not taking the lead in the state.

Nevertheless, the repeated cases of Connecticut corruption give all Nutmeggers a black eye. Its an argument for even more vigilance and openness on the part of all local officials, even those whose salary begins and ends with zero.

And for an especially watchful press corps.

Update: Saturday’s New York Times commented editorially on Connecticut’s scandals. After recounting the players and their deeds, it focused on Gov. John Rowland and concluded: “This is no time for a governor who is simply interested in trying to run out the clock.”


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Area Resident Was Connecticuts First Suspected SARS Victim

No one will comment on the record, but area health officials are relieved that the mysterious global respiratory disease that has claimed deaths and illnesses worldwide has not spread in southwest Connecticut.

Concern was raised when the state determined that an area resident who came down with a cough and fever last month after traveling to an Asian country experiencing the illness was likely the states first confirmed case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

The individual suspected of having SARS recovered without hospitalization, and there is no evidence that he or she infected others in the state, according to the state Department of Public Health.

The department has refused to disclose anything about those believed to have contracted the virus, including gender, age or hometown. But word that a southwest Connecticut resident was involved reached area medical officials who were asked to be especially vigilant about suspected cases.

Since the department announced the first suspected case last Monday, it has said at least two other suspected cases have been found in the state Җ a University of Connecticut student who is now listed in fair condition and another person who had traveled to Guangdong province in southern China and to Hong Kong.

That person is not seriously ill and is recovering at home, officials said, according to the Hartford Courant.

Stamford Advocate: Now is the

Stamford Advocate: Now is the Time to Copy Westports Action on Pills
WestportҒs decision to purchase and distribute potassium iodide pills to its residents in case of a nuclear incident ought to be duplicated in the Stamford region, says The Advocate of Stamford.

In an editorial headlined Precaution Against a Nuclear Incident,Ӕ the newspaper said: Westport’s action well before the latest heightened terrorism alert and the Iraq invasion in hindsight should make officials in other communities consider a similar commitment. Now seems the time to do so.Ӕ


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