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Listen to live high school football games or hear the reports of weather emergencies,  Something old is new again???

This column did not appear online, for no particular reason...it was in the print edition.
About Town — November 6, 2014   

(Suggested title: “Emergency”)

“Emergency – everyone to get from street” was my favorite line from the 1966 movie “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.”  Who would have guessed that a cold war mentality would ever return? 

We are in our brave new world.  Chances are that use of the word “cloud” these days has to do with technology, rather than natural phenomena.  And some of the recent news reminds me of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, with Russian tanks rolling across borders in Eastern Europe.

But when bad things occur in Weston they are usually the result of natural events.  The storms of 2011 and 2012 pretty much brought Connecticut to its knees.  Has anything been done to better prepare us for another such emergency?

I don’t know about the rest of Connecticut, but right now Weston’s Global Facilities Committee is ready to explain their plan for improved emergency services.  In developing the plan they labored over a complex set of needs involving the school system, public safety providers, and town departments.  What remains now is approval from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  Which in turn might delegate that responsibility to the Westport Weston Health District.  And then, presumably, the voters at Town Meeting and a Referendum will discuss and decide.

How will runoff be handled from the added roof area of the proposed new public safety complex?  And from the added impervious surface which will be needed for parking?  There is a plan for that, although we haven’t seen it.  Will existing septic systems be able to handle effluent from the enlarged Town Hall/public safety complex and the Library?  This does not have an answer yet, as far as I am aware.

But this is why I really enjoy what goes on in Weston government.  Almost everything seems to come back to how a town of 10,000 people can and should live in harmony with nature. 


I didn’t make any bets or predictions as to the outcome of Connecticut’s gubernatorial election.  Nor did I get involved in the Congressional contests, or even pay much attention to gubernatorial elections outside our borders.

Right now political party members are outnumbered by unaffiliated voters in many places.  It used to be, perhaps, that people did not affiliate because they felt that differences between individual candidates tended to be more relevant than the party affiliations of the candidates.  Now it seems that many people don’t affiliate because they want to be harangued with as few begging letters and robo calls as possible.

I don’t know about you, but I had the most fun when I voted this Election Day when I marked the entries near the right side of my ballot.  For candidates I know and like, who deal with subjects that are dear to my heart. 

And then, moving from right to left on the ballot, I finally faced a choice among candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.  As this is being written, I do not know if we will spend the next few years living in a world where one party controls all the levers of state government.  And at the same time gets a green light, if Question 1 on the ballot has passed, to make free with how elections are to be conducted.  Will we just “’phone it in” someday?

That would indeed be a brave new world, not entirely unlike Aldous Huxley’s dystopian vision.  And not entirely unlike the 1950’s, when I would come home from elementary school and watch our Congress at work during the Army-McCarthy hearings!

NOTE:  “About Town” is also a television program.  It appears on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access).  Or see it at www.aboutweston.com.   Allen Swerdlowe, Chairman of the Building Committee, is this week’s guest.


This column did not appear online, for no particular reason...it was in the print edition.
About Town — December 27, 2012

(Suggested title:  “The Plan”)

What is the Plan for the central part of town?   Is there one, that is intended to be implemented?  And is there a map describing it?  Which properties are in that central area, that perhaps being a whole discussion in itself!

If there is one, is the map associated with it located somewhere in the First Selectman’s office?

As part of their 2010 rewrite of the Town Plan of Conservation and Development, perhaps the Planning and Zoning Commission has one?  If so, it would be located over at the Town Hall Annex.  Which, interestingly, is the aged structure that is inspiring town interest in North House.

If P&Z doesn’t have one at the appropriate planning scale, they could put one together.  But true to planning theory, they would hold workshops with the public first. 

Perhaps the Board of Finance has put one together.  Perhaps this would be in the form of tables or spreadsheets summarizing the relevant cost tradeoffs.

More likely, the Building Committee either has one or could put one together in a snap, assuming the necessary funds were available in their budget.  Last time I looked, though, their budget was not even four figures for a year’s worth of activities.
In drawing a map we have to take into account the existing land uses, where buildings are located, and roads and access to structures as well as pedestrian circulation.  And the locations of infrastructure such as drainage, pipes, and utility lines.  Not to mention natural features that might impede any development.

Once we get this base map prepared, the fun begins!


It’s the vision thing.  Or the blind men and the elephant.  Everyone sees things differently.  But in my opinion the Board of Selectmen, through the years, have always tried to have good visions for the Town of Weston. 

They saw opportunities to preserve Weston in a sustainable way, with respect to its natural features, and they took action.  They showed leadership in modernizing the schools and town facilities.  Their vision allowed the community to come together over school expansion.

A lot of these things happened in the face of sharply divided public opinion.  I did not agree with a lot of the objections that were voiced, but many other times I felt that the anti-whatever faction made sense.

In all of these fights, the Board of Selectmen were honest and forthright.  And they didn’t always win.  In the end, Weston found a way to come together.

The present Board of Selectmen can match any previous one for intelligence, achievement, and devotion to duty.  What they need right now are some scenarios and visions for the future of the center of town.

The new Town Plan called for pedestrianization of central Weston and other neighborhoods.  The Selectmen took a first step in this direction by closing School Road this year for a day.  That’s a start!

NOTE:  “About Town” is also a television program.  It appears on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access).  Or see it at www.aboutweston.com.   This week’s guest is Dr. Floyd Lapp, Executive Director of SWRPA.


"About Town" interviews online
Stephan Grozinger, Former Chair., P&Z, effective 2012, one of our favorite interviews!!!


Still many who have not subscribed...many claim to pick it up at Peter's Market.
The Weston Forum will become a paid paper in July

Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 11:49

The Weston Forum, currently a free publication mailed to all Weston homes, will become a paid newspaper starting in July, Forum Publisher Thomas Nash announced this week.

The change will reduce mailing and printing expense, a continuing challenge for weekly newspaper publishers throughout the country. It will also bring the paper into conformance with its sister papers throughout the Hersam Acorn Newspapers chain, including those in Redding, Wilton and Easton, all of which are paid.

“Since 1970, The Forum has been Weston’s main news source, from its beginnings under founder Patricia Heifetz to its ownership for the last 20 years under Acorn Press and Hersam Acorn Newspapers. Most of our other papers are paid publications with high penetration in their community. Our goal is for The Forum to also become a high penetration paid newspaper,” Mr. Nash said.

Subscription cards will be in The Forum’s Weston Answerbook next week, and delivered with the paper throughout June.

The cost of an annual subscription will be $30. Discounts will be offered for multiple year subscriptions.

Subscription requests should be sent to Circulation Department, 42 Vitti Street, New Canaan, CT 06840, or call 800-372-2790 and ask for the Circulation Department.

The cost of a single copy will be $1. The Forum is currently sold on newsstands in a variety of locations, including Peter’s Market in Weston Center. There are plans to add more newsstand locations.

Beginning July 1, the paper will continue to be mailed to non-subscribers on a random, rotating basis for several months to remind readers of the change.


The Weston Forum’s Patricia Gay is grilled cheese contest finalist

Weston FORUM
Written by Stephen Saxton
Thursday, 26 April 2012 00:00

Out of more than 100 original recipes, Weston Forum Assitant Editor Patricia Gay was selected as one of six finalists in the second annual grilled cheese sandwich contest for Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro, an upscale restaurant in New York City.

Ms. Gay's submission was her Three-Cheese Crisp Sandwich, which consists of baked parmesan cheese crisps tucked between layers of gruyere and fontina cheese on sourdough bread grilled in rosemary butter. (Click for recipe)

Her inspiration came from the parmesan cracker-like crisps she has made for years for parties. "Since I like parmesan crisps and French onion soup with melted gruyere and fontina, I thought I would combine all three cheeses into one sandwich," she said.

Ms. Gay heard about the contest on Facebook in an announcement made by Artisanal stating it was holding a contest for original grilled cheese sandwiches in honor of April being National Grilled Cheese month.

Ms. Gay liked the fact that the winning sandwich would be featured on Artisanal's menu and 10% of the proceeds from its sale would be donated to the charity of the winner's choice.

For Ms. Gay, this meant an opportunity to help Neighborhood Studios, a Bridgeport-based non-profit organization that provides art education programs for underprivileged and special needs children.

Ms. Gay first learned about Neighborhood Studios when she attended a fund-raising gala for it featuring Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell. "I wrote a story about the gala for The Weston Forum because Dorothy Nevas Freedman of Weston is on the studio's Board of Directors," said Ms. Gay.

The final grilled cheese judging was held Wednesday, April 18, at Artisanal.

Artisanal's chefs prepared the six sandwiches for a distinguished panel of food judges which featured Artisanal's chef and co-proprietor Terrance Brennan; Helen Rosner, editor at Saveur.com; Alyssa Shelasky (Grub Street and New York Magazine); Ann Saxelby (Saxelby Cheesemongers); James Mulcahy, editor at Zagat.com blog; and Lauren Scala of NBC New York.

Judges rated the sandwiches on taste, quality of ingredients, and originality.

Ms. Gay's Three-Cheese Crisp received unanimous praise from the panel. Ms. Rosner called the usage of parmesan crisps "ingenious," and Mr. Brennan complimented the combination of cheeses and its texture.

The other sandwiches were Grilled Cheese with Crisp Pork Belly, Apple Chutney and Aged Cheddar; Grilled Cheddar with Indian Mango Pickle; Diana Rowell's Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Pierre Robert, Barely Buzzed Cheddar, Gruyere and Apple; Mac & Cheese Grilled Cheese; and "Drunken" Raclette Grilled Cheese.

Lizz Spano of New York was the winner for her "Drunken" Raclette Grilled Cheese, inspired by a classic Swiss dish, featuring raclette cheese on peasant bread, smashed red potato, Dijon mustard, cornichons, and onions caramelized in Irish whiskey.

Ms. Gay was happy for Ms. Spano and was not disappointed at all by the results. "While my grilled cheese did not take top honors it got many positive comments. Alyssa Shelasky said it was her favorite and she gave me a high five afterwards. I also really liked meeting the other contestants and Terrance Brennan," she said.

Mr. Brennan presented each finalist with an autographed copy of his Artisanal Cooking cookbook and a sample menu with each finalist's sandwich listed on it.

In the week leading up to the contest, Ms. Gay devised a "Plan B" to ensure Neighborhood Studios would benefit regardless of the contest's outcome. She made platters of her grilled cheese for friends and co-workers to sample and asked for donations in return. At the end of the contest, she presented an envelope of donations to Don Rainone of Neighborhood Studios and Janet Freedman, daughter of Dorothy Nevas Freedman, who had stopped by to cheer her on.

"This experience was so much fun," said Ms. Gay. I'm proud just to have been named a finalist. As the song goes, I had the time of my life," she said.

Ms. Gay will hold a cooking demonstration for her Three Cheese Crisp on Saturday, May 5, at the Weston Farmer's Market at Norfield Grange, 12 Goodhill Road.

For more information about Artisanal and the Grilled Cheese contest, including the recipes of all six finalists, visit artisanalbistro.com.

Three Cheese Crisp recipe
Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay
Thursday, 26 April 2012 00:00

Patricia Gay's Three Cheese Crisp Sandwich


2 slices sourdough bread, 1/2 inch thick

2 ounces Fontina cheese, grated on large holes of a box grater

2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated on large holes of a box grater

2 Parmesan Crisps (See recipe below)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped


1. In a small bowl combine butter and rosemary.

2. Spread half the rosemary butter on outside of one slice of bread.

3. On the unbuttered side, sprinkle with the grated Fontina cheese. Cover with two Parmesan Crisps, then sprinkle with the grated Gruyere cheese.

4. Top with second slice of bread, spread the top with the remaining rosemary butter.

5. Place sandwich in a non-stick frying pan or skillet over medium/medium high heat. Place a 9-ounce cook's press weight on top (or other weight or just flatten with a small flat metal lid or spatula) and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Flip and top with weight/lid/spatula and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until that side is golden brown.

6. Remove from pan, cut sandwich in half and garnish with a Parmesan Crisp.
Parmesan Crisps

These can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container until ready to use. This recipe will make more crisps than needed for one sandwich.


8 tablespoons fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Use imported Italian cheese, not domestic it's too oily, and never the canned green stuff, it won't crisp), grated on the large holes of a box grater.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line a rectangular baking pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

3. Place a 2 1/2-inch biscuit/cookie-cutter on the mat at least one inch from the top and side of the pan, and sprinkle one tablespoon of cheese evenly into the mold. Remove mold and repeat with remaining cheese, spacing cheese mounds at least one-inch apart from each other and the sides of the pan.

4. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the cheese crisps start to turn golden brown.

5. Remove from oven and let set a minute, then remove crisps and place on cooling rack until cool. Yield 8 crisps.

For a good cause, as well!

New Fairfield woman makes grilled cheese to please
Erik Ofgang, Danbury News-Times
Updated 10:49 p.m., Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When it comes to making grilled cheese, New Fairfield's Patricia Gay might just be a master.

Gay's unique three-cheese grilled cheese sandwich was chosen as one of six finalists in a New York City grilled cheese recipe contest held by the Artisanal Fromagerie Bistro and Wine Bar, an upscale restaurant at 2 Park Ave. in Manhattan.

At 3 p.m. Wednesday, Gay's grilled cheese recipe will square off against other finalists at the Artisanal Bistro in an event can be described as a cheese fest.

The grilled cheese creations will be judged by culinary experts including celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Rocco DiSpirito, several food editors and Terrence Brennan, a chef and owner of Artisanal and other restaurants in New York.

The winner's recipe will be added to the menu at Artisanal, and 10 percent of the profit from each sandwich sold will go to a charity of the winner's choosing.

The contest celebrates April as National Grilled Cheese Month. This is the second year of the competition and about 80 recipes were submitted.

Gay said she is a huge fan of the Artisanal restaurant and learned about the contest because she follows it on Facebook and Twitter. A woman who enjoys cooking as a hobby, Gay decided to enter the contest and developed a grilled cheese recipe.

"It took me a long time to think about what sandwich to make. I created one that definitely reflects me," she said.

She said her recipe includes Parmesan cheese crisps, which are among her favorite snacks to make and serve to company.

Called the Artisanal Three-Cheese Crisp, Gay's sandwich is made on sourdough bread with shredded Fontina cheese on one side, Parmesan crisps in the middle and Gruyere on the other side.

The sandwich is grilled in a frying pan, on the stove, in butter infused with fresh rosemary.

Gay said she was surprised it was selected as a finalist. "I wouldn't have thought that my recipe would be complicated enough for such a fine restaurant," she said.

Gay was New Fairfield's first selectman from 1997 to 2001 and today she is an assistant editor at the Weston Forum.

If she wins, she said, she will donate proceeds from the sale of her sandwich to Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County, a Bridgeport-area nonprofit organization that provides arts education programs for at-risk children and those with special needs.

Gay saw a concert performed by children associated with Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County and fell in love with the group, she said. Members of the group are expected to be on hand Wednesday to cheer her on and taste her recipe.

Win or lose, Gay has already raised money for the organization by bringing grilled cheese to work and asking for donations. She said she plans to write a check to Neighborhood Studios.

Considering what makes grilled cheese special enough to have its own monthlong celebration, Gay said, "Grilled cheese is the ultimate comfort food. It starts when you're a little kid. I think it's something that we all treasure and have good memories of."

Come Wednesday, Gay said, she doesn't care if she wins. This has been a great experience.

"This is just the most fun thing. I'm just having a blast with this."

She said she was excited to meet the celebrity judges.

"Mario Batali is going to be eating it," Gay said. "I didn't really think that through before I submitted it."

SAMPLE HOME SECTION ARTICLE, APRIL 6, 2006 FORUM...more changes to the website of the Weston FORUM and how it is hoped to be used two years later...