The Westport Library’s 2 drop boxes — including this one, still bearing the scars of a 2009 drunken driving attack —
— bear these words:
To report problems with Library book drops after hours contact the Westport police non-emergency number: 203-341-6000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 203-341-6000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
That notice has long been one of Westport’s little mysteries to me.
The other day I asked director Maxine Bleiweis about it.
“It’s a national problem — not just Westport,” she says. “You wouldn’t believe how crazy people get when the drop box is full. They don’t know what to do, or who to call.”
Off the top of my head — just like that! — I thought of 2 ways to handle such a crisis.
- Call the library.
- Return the next day.
Later, I came up with a third response:
- Turn in your library card. You are obviously not bright enough to be trusted with books.
This month’s greening of Pasacreta Park shined a spotlight on both the Riverside Avenue hideaway and its namesake, a much-loved police captain who died at age 50.
Many volunteers helped turned the park into a place of beauty; many donors’ dollars helped too. Among the contributors was the Westport Police Benevolent Association. That’s natural — Eugene Pasacreta was one of their own.
It’s natural too that the PBA donated $6,000 for the renovation of Luciano Park. That spot — across from Jasmine Restaurant, adjacent to the railroad station parking lot — is also named for a beloved cop who died too young (former chief Sam Luciano).
But the PBA does much more than hand money to parks named for policemen. In just the past 3 years, the organization has helped fund:
- Field of Dreams
- The American Cancer Society
- Disabled American Veterans
- Camperships through Westport’s Human Services Department
- Governor’s Horse Guard
- March of Dimes
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving
- Sportsmen of Westport
- Hole in the Wall Gang
- St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
- The Hundred Club of Connecticut (for families of cops killed in the line of duty)
- Special Olympics
- Staples Gridiron Club
- Westport Rotary Club
- At least a dozen police officers, firefighters and EMTs who were injured or ill (including $5,000 to an officer with a tumor; they then raised an additional $12,000 for her at a fundraiser)
In addition, the PBA:
- Donated a new bike and helmet for a local teenager
- Collected donations for veterans in hospitals
- Collected toys for kids each holiday season
- Paid for Westport Inn accommodations for a cross-country bike rider
- Provided Halloween glow sticks to children
- Helped pay for their own Honor Guard’s new uniforms
There’s more. But you get the idea.
The Police Benevolent Association is one of Westport’s most consistent, lowest-profile benefactors. Think of that the next time you get a low-key appeal for funds.
Or they pull you over for yapping on your cell phone.
The death of Andrew Chapo earlier this month brought back memories of the most tragic July 4th in Westport’s history.
Around 2 a.m. that morning in 1961 Brendan McLaughlin — a former Marine working as a New York advertising executive — shot and killed his father during a family argument.
The murder took place in the McLaughlins’ old Victorian house on Gorham Island — the site today of a 40,000-square foot office building.
McLaughlin fled. An hour before dawn he burst into the police station on Jesup Road. He pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired at 2 policemen behind the front desk, wounding Donald Bennette.
Officers chased him into the parking lot, where he shot Chapo. A shootout ensued; McLaughlin was wounded.
Chapo and Bennette recovered. McLaughlin died several weeks later.
The police station lobby was renovated in 1988. Mindful of the July 4th tragedy, greater security measures were installed.
Chapo achieved the rank of lieutenant. While on the force, he helped gain improved pension benefits for police officers.
A memorial service for Chapo is set for July 10 (United Methodist Church, 2 p.m.) — almost 48 years to the day after his awful Independence Day.
(Thanks to Woody Klein’s Westport, Connecticut history for some of the information in this post.)