Tag Archives: Jack Klinge

Roundup: Another Hillspoint Home, ShoutOut LA, Church Organ …

Yesterday’s Roundup featured a $7.9 million house. It’s being built on one of the most famous spots in Westport: 233 Hillspoint Road, site of the former Positano restaurant.

Diagonally across the street, at 246 Hillspoint, there’s another well-known home. Built in 1930, it’s the last remaining bungalow on the increasingly modern (and pricey)  stretch of water-view road.

Of course you know it:

At 695 square feet, with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom on a 3,049-square foot lot, it could have been yours — for a mere $2 million.

But you had to act fast. Offers were due by Sunday

I don’t know a lot about real estate. But I’m guessing the buyer does not plan to live there as is.

So that $2 million is just a starting point. (Hat tip: John Richers)

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David Winther graduated from Staples High School in 2006. He went on to a career as a talent agent (focusing on music and arena touring. He works now in Los Angeles at Elite World Group as a director of global partnerships. He also owns Winther Agency, which strikes brand and licensing deals for content creators.

The other day, he was interviewed by ShoutOut LA. Asked who deserved credit for his success, he gave shout-outs to 2 people from his Westport past: his mother Lynn, and his mentor Jack Klinge.

David said:

My 2 sisters and I got to grow up in Westport, CT, an affluent town with great education systems that push kids academically, athletically etc. to excel. She worked 2 fulltime jobs to get us a “slot” in that town. Ma missed a lot of soccer games, football games, lacrosse games, band recitals to afford that town. I think there was a certain teenage angst I had where I didn’t understand it and actually grew distant from her for a while. Now, in my mid-30s I see what she did and what she keeps doing and how much she gave for her kids. I know she would do it again in a second.

Second, Jack Klinge. I didn’t have a father figure at all my entire life. The town of Westport has a great program that mentors kids who may not have the “typical” nuclear family… In my case I was a latchkey kid in a rich town. Jack and I met when I was in 2nd grade and we started off our first day by going outside and playing soccer against each other. The relationship was great. He became more like a grandfather figure who would give me sage advice and be at my games. He would be proud. I know he is proud, even though I thoroughly believe he still doesn’t understand what I do, haha!

Thank you Mom. Thank you Jack.

In a follow-up conversation, David told “06880”:

I owe everything I am as a person and a professional to my upbringing and my roots. My roots will always be with Westport. Without the strong leaders like Cathy Schager, Jack Klinge, John Dodig, David Roth and many many more, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

To any parent reading this: Please trust in Westport. There is a special love and care for its community to succeed in whatever they want to do in life.

Click here to read the full ShoutOut LA story.

David Winther (Photo courtesy of Steven Shutters/ShoutOut LA)

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Rick Tripodi was the beloved music director and organist at Green’s Farms Congregational Church.

That organ was close to Rick’s heart. As a teenager in 1965, he attended its  dedication.

Classically trained, with a master’s degree in organ performance from Juilliard, Rick designed the refurbishment of the Peragallo/Walker organ during the church’s recent renovation project.

Sadly, he died just 2 days before the instrument was reinstalled.

The organ will be re-dedicated this Sunday (November 20, 4 p.m.). Justin Bischof — known internationally for his improvisations — will play. His program will include themes submitted by the audience.

The public is invited. A reception will follow.

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More than 5 weeks ago, an “06880” Roundup featured a gaunt deer, whose entire face was entangled in a badminton net.

It was gaunt — probably because it could not see to eat.

The deer is still wandering around Westport. Yesterday, it was in Jilda Manikas’ yard.

The good news: The net no longer covers its eyes. It looks a bit healthier — though certainly not happier.

(Photo/Jilda Manikas)

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Pianist Brian Marsella returns to “Jazz at the Post” this Thursday (November 17; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner from 6:30 p.m.; VFW Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue).

He’s joined by bassist Reid Taylor, drummer Brian Floody and the “Jazz Rabbi,” saxophonist Greg Wall.

The cover charge is $15. Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Brian Marsella

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George Billis Gallery hosts an opening reception for artists Elizabeth Higgins, Dean Fisher and Josephine Robinson.

It’s this Thursday (5 to 8 p.m.) at Billis’ new location: 180 Post Road East. New work is also available.

“Pear Tree” (Dean Fisher)

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The entrance to Burying Hill Beach teems with life.

Peter Gold captured today’s “Westport … Naturally” image at that often-overlooked site.

(Photo/Peter Gold)

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And finally … what will you see and hear if you visit Green’s Farms Church on Sunday, for the dedication of their new organ?

If you’re intrigued by the idea of an improvisational organist (story above), click below:

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(Oh, deer! If you forgot to support “06880,” please click here!)

 

Jack Klinge: Representing The RTM

In 1997, Jack Klinge was a newly retired commuter. Looking for local activities, he discovered the Representative Town Meeting (RTM).

Elected that fall, he has not lost since. Now in his 25th year on Westport’s non-partisan legislative body, the former marketing executive is its longest-serving member.

Of all time.

The first RTM — a change from Westport’s previous “town meeting” government, which was great in theory but unwieldy in a rapidly growing suburb — was elected in 1949. Over 200 candidates vied for 26 seats.

Nearly 3/4 of a century later, competition is less keen. But the RTM — which, among other duties, approves town and education budgets, and any appropriation over $20,000; enacts ordinances, and reviews certain changes to zoning and recreation regulations — remains one of Westport’s most important bodies.

And Klinge is one of its biggest boosters.

A young Jack Klinge

His route to the RTM is as typical as anyone’s. He and his wife Jeanne bought a 1780 Cape on Partrick Road when he began working for General Foods in White Plains. In 1974 they moved with their 3 young kids across town, to Sturges Highway. They’ve been there ever since.

The usual amenities — the schools, beaches, Longshore, sports — kept them here. Jeanne got involved in a variety of civic affairs, including the original Levitt Pavilion.

But Jack — who invented stovetop stuffing mix at General Foods, then helped Arm & Hammer’s marketing team put baking soda in every refrigerator, and made his final name as a Topps sports cards marketing director — was less active in town.

He coached Little League baseball and rec basketball. But beyond fighting proposed developments on the Partrick wetlands and what later became Winslow Park, he was “an apolitical commuting father and husband.”

In 1997, his business — Major League Marketing, headquartered on Richmondville Avenue — was bought out. The new owners moved it to Texas. Klinge retired.

Human Services director Barbara Butler suggested he join Westport’s mentor program. A quarter century later, he still helps his first mentee — and his family.

Having taught night classes at Sacred Heart University for 7 years, Klinge joined the Westport Public Schools’ substitute list. He still subs.

But a chance comment from a friend about the RTM piqued his interest in town government. When he heard what it did — and that candidates ran without party affiliation — he was in.

He got a petition signed by 25 District 7 electors (including, he laughs, “5 Klinges”).

Klinge had no time for door-to-door campaigning. But he did fill out a comprehensive questionnaire, for the League of Women Voters guide.

Besides, there were only 4 candidates, for 4 seats. He couldn’t lose.

Moderator Gordon Joseloff assigned Klinge to 3 committees: Education, Finance, and Parks & Recreation. He’s still on them — and others — today.

Klinge has run unopposed, and against a larger field. By now he’s well known. But he takes no chances. He prints flyers, and gains endorsements.

And — always — he listens to constituents. They send emails. They stop him and Jeanne on their walks through the neighborhood. They ask questions (and offer opinions) on the golf course.

Jack and Jeanne Klinge.

Some know a lot about town government. Others are clueless. But an RTM member’s job is to serve them all.

“I love this job,” Klinge says. “The other night, we met until midnight about the Burying Hill groin. I wanted to use ARPA funds. I said, ‘We need to do this now.'” The vote passed.

Klinge enjoys “every meeting and committee session” — some more than others, of course.

Decisions are not made lightly. Proposals like dogs on the beach and tasers for police consume months of committee and full meeting debates. Westport “never lacks for good issues,” the legislator notes.

He is proud of most decisions. Years later though, Klinge regrets that the RTM failed — by 2 votes — to overturn a Planning & Zoning Commission decision regarding senior housing on Baron’s South.

“That shut off all discussion,” he says. “We need housing for older people in Westport, and having it right next to the Senior Center would have been great.

“Now we worry about finding spots for housing all over town. That vote still hurts.”

When Jack Klinge speaks, people listen.

Now, as head of the RTM Long Range Planning Committee, Klinge is trying to tie ARPA funding in to the 5-year capital forecast. “We need better, quicker decision-making,” he says. “These are the things that keep me up at night.”

They don’t keep every Westporter up, that’s for sure. Many residents — especially newcomers — know very little about the RTM, Klinge says.

Or any other facet of town government.

“Realtors don’t provide ‘RTM 101,'” he says. “I’d have kids learn about how the town works in school. Then they could teach their parents.”

As Westport changes throughout the years, so has the RTM. Fewer seats are contested, and the old civility — “convivial, congenial, lots of laughs” — has eroded somewhat.

The move to virtual meetings has not helped. Klinge misses the days when everyone sat together, in Town Hall.

Still, he says, the RTM remains “non-political. There are liberals and conservatives. But debate is still open to all points of view.”

Jack and Jeanne Klinge with their children, in-laws and grandchildren.

Klinge notes one other change. Though some newcomers know little about town government, others have stepped up to run for RTM seats.

“It used to be an old boys’ club, with a few women. Now probably half the members are under 50, and we’re about half male, half female.”

He hopes the new members will keep it apolitical, while making sure the body is proactive in confronting important town issues.

And, he insists, “always putting Westport first.”

At 83, Klinge says he still has a great deal to contribute to the RTM. He’ll keep running. “I love serving,” he says. “And I hate losing.”

So far, he is 12 for 12. The end is nowhere in sight.

(Hat tips: Matthew Mandell, Eileen Lavigne Flug, Jeff Dunkerton)

David Winther: An Ode To 191 Wilton Road

David Winther graduated from Staples High School in 2006. He went on to a career as a talent agent (focusing on music and arena touring), and is now head of strategic partnerships and operations at Falkon, a trend-setting creative production house.

David Winther and Amanda Schemer.

His life is full. He works with interesting people in sports, culture and music. He and his fiancée Aleasha travel far and wide. He runs and hikes with his dog Arrow.

David lives now in Los Angeles. But he has never forgotten his Westport home. He writes:

My mom, Lynn Winther MD, moved my 2 sisters and me up from Houston in 1994, after I got bullied (and lost my 2 front teeth) in the Texas school system.

My grandparents had lived in the Coleytown area for many years. My mother knew we needed quality schooling and a better town.

Lynn Winther MD

She was a single mom, and did what was best for her kids. I was enrolled at Kings Highway Elementary School. Moving to Westport was the best move my mother could have made for me and my sisters. The support in the town and the school systems made us the successful adults we are today.

My mom made a lot of sacrifices. She went to Westport with little money, but wanted to get into a house in the school district that was best for all of us.

After living in a hotel for our first 2 months, my mom found 191 Wilton Road. We all liked that it was interesting, and different from other houses.

The front of 191 Wilton Road …

She agreed. With a lot of luck from the mortgage lender and real estate agent, she purchased the home. My mom raised my sisters and me in that house.

… and the rear.

The town also raised us.

I did not have a father around. But the school system and Department of Human Services had a great mentor program. I found a mentor named Jack Klinge. To this day, he is still my mentor.

He instilled real character and value in me. I would had a much harder time learning that in a different environment. I still keep in touch and talk with Jack Klinge.

Jack Klinge with David Winther and his sisters.

All the parents of my friends knew that my mom had to work 2 full-time jobs. The community supported me as a kid and a young man. The mothers and fathers in Westport helped raise me.

My best friend from elementary school’s dad taught me how to throw a football. Friends invited me to their tutoring sessions, and other events. It provided a great foundation.

I spent many afternoons with friends at Westport Pizzeria and the library in downtown Westport. They were an easy walk from 191 Wilton Road.

It’s my turn now to thank my mom for everything she has done for me and my sisters. She deserves to retire and live in Santa Barbara, where she can be closer to me and my sisters.

Front row (from left): Matthew Schwartz (Staples graduate), his girlfriend Amanda Winther),  Amanda Winther, Lynn Winther MD. Back row: Shannon Winther, David Winther, Aleasha Schemer.

191 Wilton Road has still so much potential and room to grow with a family. There is a lot of love in that house. We want to share it with a young family who wants to grow in Westport.

It’s not easy in this climate to purchase any house, especially in Westport, which is why we decided to list the price at such a fair rate. The house is perfect for a young family looking to get into a genuine community.

With so much potential to continue to build on the house itself, we can’t wait to see what the next owner will do. The sky is the limit at 191 Wilton Road.

Unique upstairs at 191 Wilton Road.

(To learn more about the Westport Department of Human Services’ mentor program, email edaignault@westportps.gov.)

Compo Beach Improvement Chair: “We Hear You Loud And Clear”

Town Hall’s Room 201 was jammed like the fireworks today, as the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee met for the 1st time since Mike Calise’s public letter lamenting the proposed elimination of perimeter parking.

Chairman Andy Moss opened the meeting by acknowledging the SRO crowd. He said that the committee — whose charge is to “refresh our much-loved town asset” — would define its success by achieving compromise.

“We have no illusions we will please everyone,” the former Parks and Recreation Commission chair added.

Moss noted that the committee was examining issues relating to safety, traffic flow, improving South Beach, pedestrian and bike access and more.

Early arrivals examined a proposed Compo Beach site plan, before today's meeting.

Early arrivals examined a proposed Compo Beach site plan, before today’s meeting.

An unidentified consultant to the committee described the new beach plan. It includes a new entrance area opposite Bradley Street; a roundabout; an “activity area,” and 700 paved (“or gravel,” she quickly added) parking spaces.

A self-described 52-year resident of the town shouted, “Have there been many pedestrian accidents?”

Parks and Rec director Stuart McCarthy described the desire to keep cars and pedestrians separate. He emphasized that the plan was “conceptual,” and that the town and various boards would make the final decision.

Several speakers noted the importance of easy access to the beach for elderly users, and families with small children. A comment about New Yorkers taking “all the early spots” drew applause.

Committee member Skip Lane compared the new plan to a state park like Hammonasset or Sherwood Island, with centralized parking. In response, several speakers said that what is right for a state park does not work well for a town beach.

That caused an audience member to yell, “We’re fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. Please tell me the problem. I’ve been here since 1970, and I came because of Compo. It’s spectacular!”

Westporters never tire of the views from Compo.

Westporters never tire of life at Compo.

Moss pointed out various areas that need improvement: the brick wall near Joey’s destroyed by Hurricane Sandy; traffic that backs up to Owenoke; port-a-potties on South Beach.

“Rather than fixing things piecemeal, we’re looking at the big picture,” he said.

When RTM member Jack Klinge said that he was very pleased with the proposed new entrance and bathhouse, but had been asked by “hundreds” of seniors to protect convenient access to the bathhouse, Moss reiterated: “That’s coming through loud and clear.”

The back-and-forth continued. Bob Driscoll said, “I’ve been coming to the beach for 80 years, and it’s worked out pretty damn well.”

Every day at the beach is not, well, a day at the beach.  But even storm clouds can be beautiful.

Every day at the beach is not, well, a day at the beach. But even storm clouds can be beautiful.

A self-described “traffic and logistics guy” claimed the committee was taking a traffic and safety problem, and turning it into “a major reconstruction.”

Moss repeated, “I hear the concerns about parking along the beach. That’s very important to hear.”

Recent Staples graduate Hannah Dickison had the last word. “I’ve seen a lot of changes here in 10 years,” she said. “Please don’t chip away at the beach too.”

After most of the crowd left, the committee turned its attention to policy issues. Among other things, they discussed the removal of the skate park, and the importance of parking revenue from out-of-towners.

(The committee’s next meeting is Wednesday, April 23, at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall Room 201. To follow the progress of the committee, and make comments, click here.)