2019: The Year in Review

The Time Tunnel was a 1960s TV series, for those who also missed The Beatles and the moon landing. So there.

What a year. Here's what happened.


The year began with our report about a fresh and exciting idea in Hartford: let's consolidate school districts. We noted a largely overlooked provision that would empower a commission to regionalize schools whether the legislature liked it or not. Suffice it to say the whole idea created more than a tiny outcry. Later, we were able to report it was all just intended to "start a conversation." (See March.)

Happier news came later in the month with an offer by the estate of Daniel E. Offutt III to donate up to $5 million to renovate and expand Weston’s public library. Plans are still being developed, and the proposal got a lot of attention in October.

Word also came in January that the Aspetuck Land Trust would apply for a State grant to help purchase Weston's Fromson-Strassler property for conservation. At this writing, the application is pending. Funding for the State program was only released in late December.

The Town made a play for State funds as well, and to the surprise of almost everyone got a $1.5 million award to build a more extensive network of sidewalks in Town Center. Design for the project has continued, but State funds are not yet released.

Not as good news in January were the results of 2018's town-wide property revaluation, which showed Weston's Grand List falling by 6.3 percent.

We were pleased to report on the continued success and popularity of the Senior Center's arts and fitness programs.

On January 31, we were pleased to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Weston Today, which we mention here in case you plan to send a card for our second anniversary.


In February, Hartford kept us busy keeping up with Hartford as legislators (not Weston's) proposed pushing down teacher pension fund costs and taking away motor vehicle tax revenues. Those things didn't happen, but the effect on Weston would have been considerable.

There was a ray of hope for Weston's long-dormant Cobb's Mill Inn in February, as the developer of GrayBarns expressed an interest. We kept track through the year. At this writing, we have no definitive word on where things stand.

We were sad to learn and report that an invasive beetle spells doom for every ash tree in Weston.

We had the pleasure of giving you an insider's view of how Broadway works, thanks to terrific guest speakers at a Weston Kiwanis meeting.

At the end of the month, Governor Ned Lamont came to Town Hall. He told us, and we told you, that his budget contained nothing about mandatory school regionalization or shared services. The governor heaped praise on schools in Weston, where, he said, "nothing has to change."


State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, who had proposed the most onerous school consolidation "concept bill," essentially admitted under exceedingly deferential questioning from legislators that the measure was just an idea to get people talking about saving money on education.

Other State potential measures remained a threat, so a rare joint meeting of Weston legislators and the boards of Selectmen, Finance, and Education was held. There was an entertaining side story in that meeting that didn't make its way into our report.

Days before, a legislator had put forward a bill that would have given vast powers to school boards to tax, borrow, and spend. Speculation held that the legislator must have once been a school official in a district with an obstreperous municipal government. Senator Will Haskell confirmed that this was precisely the case, and that the bill had no chance of getting out of committee.

We ended the month with the dramatic story of a chicken who flew the coop and ended up at Peter's. You can make this stuff up, but we didn't.


We loved telling you about Weston students and their Odyssey of the Mind success.

We were pleased to see a great turnout for the first public workshop related to the long-range Plan of Conservation and Development, still being written.

We didn't at all like telling you about a measles outbreak in Connecticut.


A lot of news at the schools in May. Baseball families had, as they say in the diplomatic corps, a frank and candid discussion with the Board of Education about conditions at Revson Field.

The school district showed zero tolerance for threats of violence in two cases (one incident). On a brighter note, the schools noted that the Wingman program would begin at the middle school, all about inspiring children to be more empathetic.

Governor Lamont announced that Weston High School was given the College Success Award by GreatSchools, and the U.S. Department of Education gave the school its Green Ribbon for environmental accomplishments.

In sort of the opposite of an environmental accomplishment, a septic failure at Weston Middle School cost $470,834 to fix.

We spent most of Memorial Day weekend getting to the bottom of why Westport's Board of Finance was so upset with Weston that they threatened to hike beach emblem fees. We reached out to officials from both towns, interrupting festivities and family barbecues. They were all forthcoming and generous with their time. Our thanks to them.

The rest of the weekend was spent at Weston Memorial Day events and, with our friend Namuk Cho, reported from the ground and from the air.


It was our pleasure to profile Weston's 2019 Citizen of the Year, EMS president Jon Weingarten.

Then all hell broke loose. Not about Mr. Weingarten.

On June 5, we reported a Board of Selectmen agenda item: a motion to authorize First Selectman Chris Spaulding to sign an agreement offering to have the Town purchase the Weston Field Club. The next day we reported on the meeting.

We weren't sure if club members were for it, but we assumed they knew about it. They didn't. Absent a definitive response from the club, the Board of Finance tabled allocating funds for due diligence. At this writing, no one as far as we know has said "never," and the Town hasn't officially withdrawn the offer. But it does appear the idea has died on the vine.

As the month went on, young entrepreneurs were honored, the Weston Gun Club made a gift to Weston Police, and the Town got unexpected State funds to do more road paving than planned. Keep that one in mind for a minute.


Our July profile of Weston's School Resource Officers was one of our most-read stories ever. Our video report on the Fourth of July celebration was right up there (another shout-out is due Mr. Cho).

Then came the roads.

We learned from the Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG) that we are not alone in having roads deteriorate prematurely.

Then we heard from a reader, who had heard from a road crew member that paving was to be done in a way that wouldn't last very long. Having sat in on planning discussions for months, we were sure his information was wrong, but contacted Town officials for confirmation. They too were sure it was wrong, but they too looked into it for confirmation. The reader was right.

It took a couple of months for things to get sorted out and have the work done properly. New systems and resources have been put in place to improve road maintenance going forward.


Everyone knows nothing happens in Weston in August. The bicyclist who ran into a bear didn't get the memo. Neither did the Weston police officers who tracked down and arrested an intruder.

A stormy night didn't keep scores of Westonians from making plain their desire for a Town Green. Asbestos didn't stop the Building Committee and school district facilities personnel from fixing Hurlbutt's heating system (but it did wipe out tens of thousands of cost savings).

We were pleased to be the conduit to let everyone know what the owners of Weston Shopping Center think about the idea to have more commercial zoning in town. (They like it.) We were pleased to explore Valley Forge for the second year, thanks to Parks & Recreation.

We ended the month with an article wondering whether a deer hunt on Town property would really matter. (The piece generated a lot of attention on social media. We drew no conclusions, but found the matter far from clear-cut.)


The proposed new Library wing got its first full public airing at the Historic District Commission.

We were pleased to find the Westport-Weston YMCA eager to have you know about a major expansion and renovation. We suggested correcting the alphabetical order of the Y's name. No word yet on when the change will be made.

The month rounded out with our report on how mosquito-borne diseases were a threat in Connecticut this year.


The offered gift to add an innovation and art wing to Weston Public Library was thrown into doubt at a commission hearing. Residents made their preferences clear, including in one of our largest sets of letters.

The proposal was eventually approved in an unusually short meeting. Currently, costs are being estimated and plans progress.

Hundreds attended Weston's first Founders Day celebration.

The Nature Conservancy received a gift that provides funds to expand Devil's Den by 77 acres.


We profiled the candidates in 2019's largely uncontested municipal election and reported the results. We enjoyed the small-town charm of a swearing-in ceremony a few days later.

The town's Veteran Affairs Committee put on a memorable Veterans Day event, tailor-made for one of our video reports.

Weston's reputation for being attentive to nature was enhanced by its Sustainable CT certification.


Nature was not as kind to a Weston child and mother when they were attacked by a rabid raccoon.

The newest member of the Weston Today team reported on a proposed AT&T tower that will improve cellular coverage.

The Westport-Weston YMCA, name not yet corrected, awarded grants to non-profits that serve the community.

The State Bonding Commission released long-awaited funds to help renovate the library Children's Room.

Finally, Weston High School football fans got a long-unfulfilled wish: a State championship.

Editor's Note: Thank you for reading Weston Today. In a few weeks, we begin our third year of publication. It would be impossible to describe how much we appreciate the encouragement and support we receive every day.

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