Westport Cops Go Green — Add Tesla To The Fleet

Savvy drivers know what our police cars look like.

They look like cop cars everywhere.

But this is Westport. The next time you’re pulled over, it may be by a … Tesla.

The newest addition to the Police Department fleet is a fully electric 2020 Tesla Model 3. The 310 mile-range electric vehicle has already been delivered. It’s being outfitted now with all the necessary equipment: emergency lights, siren, computer, weapon rack, and tires capable of speeds over 100 miles an hour.

It’s expected to hit the mean streets of Westport by the end of January.

No, this is not a speed trap by the Minute Man Monument. Although it might be.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas says he “believes in being green.” But his main reason for choosing a Tesla was superior performance, crash ratings, and collision avoidance technology.

Officers will pass on the autopilot feature.

While the purchase price of $52,290 is higher than the $37,000 the department normally spends adding another Ford Explorer, Koskinas expects to more than make up for that in fuel and maintenance savings.

Just in the first 3 years, an internal combustion engine squad car requires about $11,000 in oil changes, oil filters, tuneups and brakes.

Teslas require no annual maintenance. Brakes last 70,000 miles or more, thanks to a motor system that slows the car while simultaneously recharging the battery.

A new look for the Westport Police Department fleet.

Savings on gas are significant too. The Department of Energy’s fuel economy calculator shows the Police Department’s cost per mile will be $0.040. The fuel cost for a Ford Explorer is $0.127 per mile — saving $13,770 in the first 3 years.

Charging the battery is not an issue. The vehicle is expected to be used 200 to 220 miles a day. The police already have a gas pump on their property. They’ll add a Level 2 electric vehicle charger, which will take just a few hours overnight.

The cop car will join the 431 electric vehicles already owned by Westporters. 250 are Teslas. That puts us #1 in the state in both categories (per capita).

EV Club president Bruce Becker believes Westport is the first police department on the East Coast with a Tesla.

FUN FACTS:

  • The Model 3 has an extra trunk in the front of the vehicle where an internal combustion engine would usually be. Officers can use it to store emergency equipment that must be kept separate from cargo in the rear trunk.
  • Every Tesla comes straight from the factory with features like front, side and rear-view cameras that a police department would typically install at extra cost. They can also be used in “sentry mode” to monitor the vehicle and vicinity when it’s parked.
  • The Model 3 has a top speed of 162 mph — faster than all other vehicles in the current fleet.
  • Police cars spend lots of time idling. An internal combustion engine must run to power the lights and keep online computers running while not draining the battery. The Tesla will eliminate those tailpipe emissions.
  • This is not the first EV for Westport’s Police Department. In 2007, a Toyota Prius replaced a car that burned 7 to 9 gallons of gas every day. The current Prius is a plug-in hybrid, but operates almost exclusively in electric-only mode for its daily driving needs.

The Police plan an open house in the spring, for the public to see the new car up close.

Though you can see it in action starting next month, if — suspecting a Ford Explorer — you get pulled over by the Tesla instead.

McAlinden Succeeds Wieser At Homes With Hope

It’s not easy following in Jeff Wieser’s footsteps.

But Helen McAlinden seems like a home run.

Homes with Hope has selected the widely respected affordable and supportive advocate to serve as the organization’s next president and CEO.

For the past 35 years, Homes with Hope has addressed the needs and challenges of homeless families and individuals — and those at risk of becoming homeless.

Its services include case management; a food pantry and soup kitchen; emergency shelters for single adults and young women ages 18 to 24; permanent supportive housing; mentoring; youth education, and life skills training.

Wieser is retiring, after leading Homes with Hope through a period of enormous growth. McAlinden succeeds him on January 6.

She brings 17 years’ experience with The Connection, Connecticut’s largest social services provider.

Helen McAlinden

McAlinden’s most recent position was director of homeless outreach and development. She oversaw The Connection’s Supportive Housing Fairfield County program, HomeWorks, Milestone and the Women’s Recovery Support programs.

She is a frequent presenter at the state and national levels on issues related to affordable and supportive housing; a member of the Women and Children’s Legislative Workgroup, and an executive team member of Opening Doors of Fairfield County.

“Helen brings a strong passion to her work and has been a powerful advocate for the homeless throughout her career,” said Homes with Hope board chair John Walsh.

“We are confident that her energy, sensitivity and proven leadership working with people in need of supportive housing will strengthen and expand our network of partners and funders. I am impressed with Helen’s understanding of what makes Homes with Hope so special, and her deep commitment to addressing the challenges of homelessness.”

Now Streaming: 70 North

WWPT-FM was one of the first high school radio stations in the country.

Decades later, Staples again innovated — this time with an in-school TV show.

Now, our high school once again leads the pack.

Welcome to “70 North.”

With a soft launch last week, the site — named for the school’s physical address — became a clever, irreverent, YouTube-like destination for 1,900 students, scores of staff and faculty members, and anyone else in the world who wants to know what’s going on at that active, creative and very fertile campus.

It’s a work in progress. But what a work it is.

70 North marks the next step in the evolution of television. And whether that TV is based in a high school or broadcasts nationally doesn’t really matter, says media teacher Geno Heiter.

What counts is content. “70 North” has plenty of it. Sports, features, upcoming events, guidance and college news, humor, poetry, reviews, music department concerts, artwork — you name, it will find its way onto the site.

For over a decade, the school was served by “Good Morning Staples.” Devised by former instructors Jim Honeycutt and Mike Zito, and filmed, edited and hosted by students, the show aired 3 times a week, at 8:25 a.m. Every class watched — supposedly — an intriguing mélange of interviews, announcements, sports highlights and more.

It was fun, entertaining — and static.

The television landscape has changed a lot since “Good Morning Staples” marked a fresh way of providing information. Americans — particularly teenagers — no longer sit on a couch and watch a show at a predetermined time.

TV today is all about streaming. People watch on their terms, their schedule — and their devices.

70 North is television for the smartphone age.

A poster for one of the many episodes available from “70 North.”

Just as viewers no longer have to gather around a big screen, creators no longer lug around big (or even moderate-sized) cameras. Great video can be shot on phones everyone carries.

Thanks to TikTok, Snapchat and many other apps, students are used to telling visual stories. They have a different way of telling those stories too, than even people just a few years older.

“70 North” allows them to do just that. Yet it’s hard to describe, and still evolving.

Heiter says, “It’s a platform. It’s whatever they want it to be.”

Sam Gold — a crazily creative senior, and one of the driving forces behind 70 North — calls it “School updates that don’t suck.”

Max Dorsey, shooting a “70 North” show.

Heiter likens “70 North” to Netflix. “You choose what you want, from a lot of options. It’s not one video that’s forced on you.”

But it’s not the Wild West of the web. It’s still a schoolwide communication tool. It uses server space provided by the district. And it’s as educational as it is entertaining.

Geno Heiter (left) and Sam Gold, with “70 North” on the laptop.

Heiter says he’s still “teaching skills, teaching technical ability, teaching how to use sophisticated equipment, how to cover stories, how to engage and build an audience.”

But he’s doing it in a way that meets students — those who create 70 North, and those who watch it — exactly where they are.

Which, these days, is in front of a device. Not a TV screen. Accessible any time, anywhere, by anyone.

Once again, Staples High School is at the forefront.

Just as it will be in 2029, when a new, not-yet-invented form of communication supplants “70 North.”

(Click here for “70 North.” Then bookmark it!)

Pic Of The Day #966

Festive entrance to Anthropologie (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Restoration Hardware Leaves This Spring

One of the most visible downtown properties will soon have a new look.

Restoration Hardware is closing in April.

Sources say the reason is not poor sales. Rather, the 11,000-square foot spot opposite Anthropologie, a few yards from Main Street, is not in keeping with the current large-format stores (“galleries,” in Restoration-speak) they’ve opened the last few years.

The home furnishings company — I have no idea where “Hardware” comes from — has been on the Post Road for about 20 years. It replaced the Fine Arts I and II movie theaters, which had been there since the early 1900s.

The closure leaves only one Restoration location in Connecticut: Greenwich.

The lines of the old Fine Arts Theater — including the recessed entryway — are still visible at Restoration Hardware.

(Interested in leasing the property? Email david@davidadamrealty.com, or call 203-856-9674.)

Book Chat: Old Club Invigorates New Library

Longtime Westporter Nina Sankovitch is an environmental lawyer. She is also an author (her new book, “American Rebels: How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution” comes out in March).

For the last 5 years too, Nina has moderated Westport Library Book Chat discussions. She loves her volunteer job — and wants “06880” readers to know all about it. Nina writes:

There is so much in the new Westport Library. Author talks and musical productions; the gift shop with its array of eclectic book-inspired offerings; the new café, a great place to grab a coffee and meet a friend.

Budding fashionistas are welcome to use the sewing room; would-be podcasters can hone their skills in the audio production studio; inventors create in the Makers Space, and the huge screen in the Great Hall means that events like the impeachment hearings and election night can be shared experiences, not suffered through alone at home.

But what brings me to the library on the first Tuesday of every month, at 10 a.m. sharp, is the Book Chat.

Book Chatters chat about books.

It’s not new. We have been meeting for 10 years now, 12 times a year, and our purpose has not changed. We talk about the very best the Westport Library has to offer: books.

Books of all kinds, every genre, published in every era, written by writers from around the world. We don’t meet to talk about a specific book; we to talk about any books we’ve read lately. We talk about books we’ve loved,  books we hated, books we want others to read and know about.

I’ve been attending Book Chat since its inception in the summer of 2009 (when it was known as “Stop and Swap”). Some of us original book chatters are still around, and we welcome all newcomers.

There is no assigned reading for Book Chat, no requirement to participate – but although people show up claiming they just want to listen, after 15 minutes the newcomer’s hand comes up and an opinion is offered.

Nina Sankovitch, in a favorite pose. (Photo by Douglas Healey/New York Times)

People who read books tend to want to talk about them. We share our thoughts on the quality of the writing, or how satisfying (or not) the ending was. We also talk about what the book meant to us, and why we think someone else might love (or hate) it as much as we did.

Book Chat is a drop-in group. Some members attend every single month; others come when they can.

The range of reading interests represented is vast. We have people who love memoirs, and others who favor history but will read poetry. We have mystery and romance lovers, and those who read only literary fiction. We have those who read religious tomes and others who read religious theory (there is a difference).

We have those who prefer classics and those who want to read anything new. What is great about the variety of tastes is that I hear about books I might never have even considered reading.

Thirty to 40 books are discussed at each meeting/ I always come away with new titles to add to my list. This month they include Noon Wine, Ordinary Grace. Outline and Cautionary Tales for Children.

In my 10 years of Book Chat participation, I have seen that our group mirrors the community at large. We may not always agree on books – or politics, social issues, or even the best room in which to meet. But we are always respectful of each other, always kind and generous. We let everyone talk, and we listen. Our shared love of books not only brings us together, but is celebrated. Our common humanity is recognized.

I will always remember the story told by one of our cherished members, of how he wooed his girlfriend in college by reading aloud to her the stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Of course she married this treasure of a man – and they went on to share years of reading aloud to each other.

But only he attended our Book Chat meetings. He was the half of the couple who wished to talk about books. So he came, we talked, and we all swooned when he told the story of his college romance.

When we left at the end of the hour we felt connected, invigorated and more positive about the world – for having shared with each other the books we love.

Every time I attend Book Chat I come away with that great feeling of both belonging and participating.Book Chat is a vestige of the old library taking root in the new. I am grateful for being part of it all.

Pic Of The Day #965

Morning view: Greens Farms train station (Photo/Johanna Rossi)

Photo Challenge #258

Last week’s Photo Challenge was perfect.

Tracy Porosoff’s image of a stone bridge over a small creek drew a number of varied responses. (Click here to see.)

Readers thought it might be on Richmondville Avenue, near Willowbrook Cemetery; at Burying Hill Beach, or nearby across Beachside Avenue; at Winslow Park; Bridgewater headquarters by Ford Road, or Gorham Island.

All good guesses — and all wrong.

But an equal number of readers knew exactly where it is: Morningside Drive South, at the Post Road.

It’s the bridge over Muddy Brook — near Greens Farms Elementary School, just east of the Barnes & Noble shopping center — that floods often, and high.

Kudos to Matt Murray, Bobbie Herman, Morley Boyd, Bob Stalling and Jonathan McClure. You know your bridges!

Today’s Photo Challenge was taken just about 3 weeks ago. (The seasons change quickly around here.) If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/David Vita)

Lynsey Addario Chronicles A Champion’s Death

Lynsey Addario is remarkable.

The Staples High School graduate is a Pulitzer Prize winner — and a MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship awardee.

She’s spent her career photographing life in Afghanistan, the plight of Syrian refugees, conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Darfur and Congo, and humanitarian and human rights issues around the world for the New York Times, National Geographic and Time magazine. She’s a book author too.

“06880” can’t cover all of Lynsey’s projects — there are just too many. But her latest effort deserves a special shout-out.

For 3 years, she and New York Times reporter Andrew Keh followed Marieke Vervoort as the Belgian Paralympic gold-medal athlete wrestled with the decision to die by euthanasia.

Marieke Vervoort at home in Belgium. She did not believe in God, but kept a Buddha statue in her back yard. (Photo copyright Lynsey Addario for New York Times)

Lynsey visited her often at home and in hospital stays in Belgium, and traveled with her on trips to the Canary Islands and Japan.

The result is an astonishing story about the human spirit. It ranges from sports, family, friends to the many ways in which people live and die.

The writing is strong and insightful. Lynsey’s photos add one more dimension. Days after Marieke died, they beautifully honor her life.

In her final hours, Marieke Vervoort embraces her parents. (Photo copyright Lynsey Addario for New York Times)

(Click here for the full New York Times story. Tomorrow [Monday, December 9, 8 p.m.] Lynsey Addario appears at Fairfield University’s Quick Center. She will speak on “Eyewitness Through My Camera Lens: World in Conflict,” as part of the Open Visions forum that celebrates outstanding female leaders. Click here for tickets, and more information. Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein.)

Trimming The Angela Trucks Tree

Scores of Westporters turned out yesterday to honor a wonderful Westporter.

And they did it in a very fitting Westport way.

Angela Trucks — who died last month at 69 — was co-chair of the town’s Beautification Committee. She dedicated her local life to making Westport look good. She was particularly involved in the Re-Greening of the Post Road.

So what better place to light a fir tree — symbolizing beauty, warmth and freshness — than on the Post Road?

The tree sits in front of Jesup Hall — Westport’s original Town Hall. It was donated and decorated by Terrain.

The patio was filled with people of all ages. There was music, mulled wine from Rothbard’s, and s’mores courtesy of Amis.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association contributed ornaments and tags. People wrote loving thoughts of Angela, or other loved ones.

(Photos/Ted Horowitz)

Thanks to all, for this special way to honor Angela’s Re-Greening of the Post Road.