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Community News: Kane joins Commuter Rail Council; Library to operate on reduced schedule; and more

May 23, 2019

Kane joins Commuter Rail CouncilThe state Senate on May 21 confirmed the nomination of Melissa Kane of Westport to become a member of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council.Kane, a selectwoman on Westport’s Board of Selectmen, has a long history of volunteer and leadership service in Westport, along with strong business experience that is well suited to position her as an advocate for Connecticut commuters and riders on the state’s many rail services.“I am honored to have been appointed to the Commuter Rail Council,” said Kane. “Connecticut is home to one of the most heavily traveled and critical sections of the Northeast rail corridor. Facilitating excellent commuter rail service along it is fundamental to our economic and environmental sustainability and success. The Commuter Rail Council has an important role to play in helping make that happen, and I hope to be an asset to the Council.”Chamber presents first Community Champion AwardThe Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce presented the first annual Westport Dog Festival - Jon Nowinski Community Champion Award to Westport Animal Control Officer Gina Gambino.The award is named in honor and the legacy of EARS, Emergency Animal Response Services, founder and long time animal advocate Jon Nowinski, who passed away earlier this year.Receiving the award along with a $250 donation from proceeds from the Westport Dog Festival was Gambino, animal Control officer for the town of Westport. With 12 years of work in this field, the last three and half in Westport, she has stood out as a dedicated resource and friend of animals.The donation will be given to Westport Animal Control and will be used for veterinary care of the strays housed in their facility.Marpe to legislators: Oppose retirement funding shiftFirst Selectman Jim Marpe announced he has written to Westport’s state legislative delegation asking them to oppose the proposed shift of a portion of the “normal cost” of funding the Teachers Retirement System from the state to municipalities.The letter takes the form of an endorsement of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments communication to all the legislators serving the WestCOG municipalities. Westport is a member of WestCOG, along with 17 other cities and towns in Fairfield County.Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed budget includes a provision for sharing a portion of the TRS funding with the state’s municipalities, with a larger proportion of that share going to communities like Westport that have higher median teacher salaries.Marpe noted that if this proposal is allowed to go into effect, it would add $608,000 to Westport’s fiscal year 2020 budget that has just been approved by the Board of Finance and RTM. This additional cost is expected to essentially double to $1.25 million in fiscal year 2021 and increase again to $1.9 million in fiscal year 2022.Historical society kicking off summer with oyster festWestport Historical Society is kicking off the summer with “Westport is your Oyster Festival.”The kickoff will feature local Copp’s Island oysters, prosecco and beer brewed by Westport’s own Full Moon Brewing.The event takes place at the Historical Society on Memorial Day from 3 to 5 p.m.Library to operate on reduced scheduleThe Westport Library’s grand reopening of its transformed library will take place June 23.In preparation for the reopening, the library will be operating on a modified schedule beginning May 28 through May 31. During this time, the Riverwalk Level of the library will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 1 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 1 to 6 p.m. The library will be open regular hours on June 1 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and June 2 from 1 to 5 p.m.To complete the final elements of the transformation, starting June 3 through June 22, the entire library will be closed to efficiently and safely integrate new collections and resources on all three floors, install and test new state-of-the-art technology throughout the library, as well as finalize all the details necessary to prepare for the grand reopening on June 23.The library’s digital collection will continue to be available; however, there may be brief interruptions due to system upgrades. No fines will be levied while the library is closed.The new library will reopen at 11 a.m. on June 23, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a full day of events.Long Island Sound Blue Plan presentationConservation Director Alicia Mozian announced the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will be holding a series of public meetings to present on the Blue Plan and discuss how it may affect you, as well as to gather public comment and input.On May 29 at 7 p.m., the Blue Plan presentation will be held in the Westport Town Hall Auditorium. The public is invited.The plan is also available for viewing on-line at www.ct.gov/deep/lisblueplan. The deadline for comment is June 21.In 2015, the Connecticut legislature passed Public Act 15-66 which outlined a marine spatial planning process for Long Island Sound. This process consists of: 1) Putting together an “Inventory” of the Sound’s natural resources and location of existing human uses; and 2) Using the Inventory to create a spatial “Blue Plan” to guide future uses of the Sound’s waters and submerged lands. The Blue Plan is a new paradigm for management of Long Island Sound.Click It or Ticket campaignAs the Memorial Day holiday approaches, the Westport Police Department is reminding all drivers of the importance of seat belt use.This annual campaign is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s national Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement effort that runs from May 20 to June 2. Aimed at enforcing seat belt use to help keep families safe, the national seat belt campaign runs concurrent with the busy travel season.According to NHTSA, in 2017, there were 10,076 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 55 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts.Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. In Connecticut, the penalty for a seat belt violation is $92. The failure of an operator under 18 years old or a passenger to wear a safety belt carries a penalty of $120.In 2017, almost twice as many males were killed in crashes as compared to females, with lower belt use rates, too. Of the males killed in crashes in 2017, more than half (51 percent) were unrestrained. For females killed in crashes, 39 percent were not buckled up.Residents raise money to educate children in NicaraguaThe Norwalk Nagarote Sister City Project will host its 33rd annual World’s Greatest Fiesta on May 31st at the Westport Inn from 6 to 10 p.m.Westport law firm Brody and Associates is the main sponsor of the upcoming benefit, which will include a silent auction and buffet dinner with beer and wine. Proceeds will help to fund the education programs of this international organization.First conceived as a sister city project between Norwalk and Nagarote, Nicaragua, this small nonprofit has expanded its base of support throughout Fairfield County to include the communities of Darien, Norwalk, New Canaan, Greenwich and Westport. With more than 600 supporters, each year NNSCP serves over 200 children of elementary school age through college with scholarships, tutoring and skills training.The organization is working to start its own preschool program in Nagarote. Three years ago, the first class of college scholarship students graduated. Currently, 20 students are enrolled, studying computer engineering, nursing, dentistry and education.NNSCP President Tom Kretsch, a longtime Westport resident says, “Creating safe spaces and offering positive, empowering alternatives to hardship, illiteracy and gang violence has been the focus of our Project for over three decades. Whether by building the public library and a community center, providing an ambulance, constructing new houses after Hurricane Mitch or offering community service and leadership experiences for children of all ages, NNSCP seeks to enhance the local community’s self-sufficiency, creativity and success.”Tickets are available for sale through www.sistercityproject.org.

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