above to read the current "About
Town" column; unofficial information ONLY found on this webpage.
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR THIS SITE HERE.
T O P I C S
O F I
N T E R E S T - M E E
N G S - C O M M E
N T A R Y
LIFE IN GENERAL:
summarizing INTERNAL LINKS by topic!
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND RESOURCE PAGE LINKS (EXTERNAL)
FINE ARTS PROJECT '09 "With
a little bit of luck"
WestonArts has played its part
finding $$ to renovate the high school auditorium in 2008.
FOR MEETINGS OF BOARDS, COMMISSIONS, ETC. IS IN THE TOWN CLERK'S OFFICE: Town
Clerk's room reservation shorthand names
2015 OFFICIAL DATES: How many will actually be held on these dates? Will the record of keeping to these dates be better than in 2014?
2014 OFFICIAL DATES - WE NOTE THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION DESERVES CREDIT FOR AWESOME WEBSITE POSTINGS TO PRESERVE DEMOCRACY! Can be and have been altered by having "Special Meetings"
instead on a different date or time or cancelled - but agenda at "special" cannot
2014 TRANSPARENCY SCORE CARD: What percentage of Regular Meetings were held by the Selectmen in 2014? Twenty-five (25)* divided by twelve (12)** = almost half! Considering
that all but one, and that was due to "cockpit trouble" as my late
father-in-law, who served in the Army Air Force in WWII used to say, makes a record that is indeed praiseworthy!
*Twenty-five Board of Selectmen's
Meeting in 2014 - About Town only missed one (Election Night) - watched
two (2) others from home on Town TV.
**Twelve (12) Board of Selectmen's Meetings were held as scheduled; one (1) snow cancellation; the rest, except for Nov. 4, were rescheduled but shown on Town TV live or to watch afterward.
About Town still
of Weston website (go to "meetings
calendar" on drop-down
menu) for this month's MEETING CALENDAR); below, meetings we plan to
in the near future, or those that are worth watching on Town TV. Non-Town of Weston event we plan to attend also listed.
- Special Board of Selectmen, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014, at
2pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - agenda includes re-appointments to the
Commission on Aging as well as "discussion/decision" re:
submitting a letter to the Board of Education with regard to the North
House Wing of Hurlbutt Elementary School. Plus a second addition for software purchase.
ALL MEETINGS ATTENDED: our
action notes, in reverse chronological order (link directly to those
taken at the Board of Selectmen here)
Posted in the Town Clerk's Office September 8, 2004, the following memo
to Town Employees from the Office of the Town Administrator..."Due to
increase in Freedom of Information requests and the time involved in
audio and video tapes, the Town will no longer provide copies in
All tapes will be sent to an outside vendor for duplication. Cost
for audio tape is $10.00 per tape with a $15.00 round trip delivery
Cost for a video tape is $25.00 per tape with a $15.00 round trip
Check out meeting
videos online at Town of Weston website..
for these meetings previously attended are organized in
reverse chronological order.
- Capital Committee, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, at 2pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- Special Board of Selectmen, Monday, December 15, 2014, notes.
- Capital Planning Committee, Friday
at 7:45a.muse. we think it is the opening "concept" meeting for Town
projects only...we'll see if the First Selectman's update sheds any
light on Capital Budget. And it did.
- Board of Finance, Thursday, December 11. 2014, 7:30pm -
we are in the dark on this...no agenda yet posted online within the 24
hr. requirement - were this a Town Hall - Town Clerk's Office
non-posting, perhaps a problem. Since we have not visited the
legal spot for postings, the Town Clerk's Office, to check it out, this
cannot be considered an F.O.I. complaint. What do we think will be
discussed at the Board of Finance this evening? We expect that
the results of the study requested at the Election Night special Joint Meeting
(minutes not produced in the 7 days required) regarding the Public
Safety Complex will be further discussed at this meeting. Please
note: Thanks to the openness of the Selectmen, it was possible to
find out what we wanted when the subject was actually discussed by the Selectman and a copy of the study given to About Town.
- Board of Selectmen, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- Inspection of lights and sound systems at WHS football field and neighboring properties.
- Z.B.A., Tuesday, November 25,
2014, 7:30pm, Commission Room. Notes.
- WCCOG: Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 12:30pm in Wilton Town Hall - our notes.
- Board of Selectmen, Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Meeting Room - revised notes.
- Hazard Mitigation Workshop, (WCCOG/Nature Conservancy), Wilton Town Hall, Tues. Nov. 18, 2014, 8:45-1:30pm
- GIS bid opening: Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 2pm - bid openings for GIS services - parcel mapping, other web-based services
- ELECTION DAY - VOTE! TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2014, 6AM TO 8PM, WMS GYM;
- Lights Committee quarterly meeting - Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014 at 7:30pm, notes here.
- Global Facilities Committee, Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7:45am in Town Hall - notes.
- Registrar of Voters' Public Testing, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, 5:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room. We attended!
- Zoning Board of Appeals, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Commission Room - notes.
- Special Board of Selectmen, Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 7:30pm, report.
- Board of Finance, Thursday, October 9, 2014, 7:30pm TH - About Town attended thru major items - our notes here .
- Historic District Commission, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 - Library Conference Room, 8pm - cancelled- no applications.
- Lachat Town Farm Commission, Special, Tuesday October 7, 2014, 7:30pm, TH - agenda to included financial plan.
- Special Selectmen's Meeting Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. TH -notes.
- Special Board of Selectmen, Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - notes. (Regular meeting on the 18th cancelled)
- Board of Finance, Thursday, September 11, 2014, Town Hall Commission Room, 7:30pm - no agenda yet posted - cancelled.
- Board of Selectmen, Thursday, September 4, 2014, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- League of Women Voters, Saturday, September 20, 2014,
10:30a.m. - round-up of activities in Town over the summer - "What
happened on the Weston front?" Cancelled.
- Facilities Committee, Board of Education, Sept. 3, 2014, 4pm Town Hall Annex - report on what was done this summer!
- Special Board of Selectmen, Monday, August 18, 2014
(in place of August 28th regular meeting, which has been cancelled). 7:30pm, Town
Hall Meeting Room - note
- Board of Selectmen, Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- Lachat Town Farm Commission, Town Hall Meeting Room, Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 7:30pm.
- Board of Finance, (Special) Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room
- Historic District Commission, Wednesday, July 23, 2014,8pm, MOVED TO TOWN HALL ANNEX - Jarvis-Guidera property "swap" (our term for the item).
- Thursday, July 17th: Lots going on even with the
Finance and Selectmen off - Commission Room: Special Lachat Town
Farm Commission meeting; Meeting Room: Parks and Rec Commission/or
some related organization; Town Hall Annex ("Portables"):
Conservation Commission (we had to re-direct CC public here - I assume
that was the correct spot!!!)...
- Board of Selectmen, July 17, 2014 CANCELLED;
- Board of Finance, Thursday, July 10, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - CANCELLED sometime after lunch. Previous meeting had been a really long one!
- Parks and Recreation Commission, Monday, July 14, 2014, Town Hall Commission Room - agenda. Big thunderstorms, etc. so we did not attend.
- Global Facilities Committee, Friday, June 20, 2014, 7:45am, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- Board of Selectmen, Monday, June 23, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room, notes.
- Board of Finance, Thursday, June 12, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room, - report
- Board of Selectmen, Thursday, June 5, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- Planning and Zoning Commission,
Monday, May 19, 2014 at 7:30pm, TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM - CGA -
8-24 re stadium lights to be televised on Channel 79, at 8:15pm.
- Building Committee, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 7:30pm, Commission Room. Agenda includes Police Station and school summer projects as well.
- Board of Selectmen, Thursday, May 15, 2014 - slim agenda, short meeting.
Historic District Commission at 2pm Monday, Town Hall Meeting Room.- notes.
- Thursday, May 8 - Board of Finance meets to set the mill
rate, assuming Referendum approves the budget...FYI - Referendum vote on education budget was 91 "no" and 133 "yes." Fewer "no" votes on Town and Capital Budget...read our notes here.
- Lachat Oversight Committee, Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room -notes.
- REFERENDUM: Thursday, May 1st in the Weston
Middle School gymnasium from 12:00 pm until 8:00 pm. Voters can also
vote by absentee ballot beginning on Thursday, April 24 thin the Town
Clerk’s office during regular business hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 am
until 4:30 pm. Once voting has ended on May 1st, the Moderator will read
the combined results of both voting sessions.
- Board of Selectmen, Thursday May 1, 2014 at 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION DAY IS SATURDAY APRIL 26, 2014, 8:30AM TO 12:30PM, DPW
- Special Tri-Board Meeting and Executive Session on Security, Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 7:30pm in Weston Library Community Room. CANCELLED
- Special Lachat Oversight Committee, Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 6pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - agenda included many things as plans move forward for Spring planting!
- Board of Finance deliberation meeting, Tuesday, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room. This meeting determines the numbers for ATBM.
- Lachat Oversight
Committee (special), Monday, March 31, 2014 at 7:30pm, Town
Hall. Agenda: http://www.westonct.gov/media/file/locagenda3-31-14.pdfBoard of Selectmen,
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room
Facilities Committee: March 20, we were there as was the Editor of
FORUM. "About Town" report here.
Thursday March 20, 2014 at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Annex. We note
that Lachat is on the agenda
- Board of Finance,
Thursday, March 13, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- Board of Finance,
Monday, March 10, 2014 (Town Budget) and Wednesday, March 12, 2014
(Education Budget), both at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Meeting Room - not
"public hearings" - watching on Town TV channel 79 might be one way to
deal with this...unless you particularly like live theatre. And
these reviews may be full of sharp questions, indeed!
- Lachat Oversight
March 4, 2014 at 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room
- Board of Selectmen,
Monday, February 24, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- Special Board of
Selectmen's Meeting, Tuesday, 7:30pm, February 11, 2014, Town
Hall Meeting Room - Board of Selectmen get presentation on First
- Special Board of
Selectmen's Meeting, Wednesday, 7:30pm, February 12, 2014, Town
Hall Meeting Room - revised agenda here.
Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014 at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Meeting Room - we will
not be attending this because of weather considerations.
- Board of Selectmen,
Feb. 6, 2014 at 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room -
ADVISORY COMMITTEE, THURSDAY JANUARY 23, 2014, 7:45AM, TOWN
HALL MEETING ROOM - we did not get there in this cold weather - but no
actions were scheduled according to agenda.
- Tri-Board Meeting (Selectmen,
Finance and Education), Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 at 7:30pm in the
Library Community Room - It comes
smack in the middle of the education
workshops January 14, 21, 23 at 7pm in the WMS Library, prior
to adoption of education budget. And now we know why!!! So
the budget numbers can reflect the cost of the School Security review!!!
- Special Town
land swap, we assume for engineering purposes, 6:30pm. Bring
I.D. Town Hall Meeting Room.
- Public Hearing
(Selectmen) on COG (Council of Governments), Thursday, January 16, 2014
at 6:45pm, Town Hall Meeting. Town website has info on the
possible bylaws of new "WCCOG."
- Board of Selectmen,
Thursday, January 16, 2014, 7:30pm, same location as above, notes.
- Board of Finance,
Thursday, January 9. 2014 ay 7:30pm - Schools on the agenda, Police
apologies for not making the 7:45am Global Facilities meeting
at Town Hall this morning as well as the 8am Capital Budget committee -
never found out about these until it was too late. Not that we
would have gone out to a 7:30am meeting when the temperature was 4
degrees. But we
did catch our Superintendent live later on CT-N
in late morning at the "Informational Forum" on education mandate
relief held at the L.O.B. in Hartford. We will pursue obtaining
the minutes of both meetings held Tuesday am before Town Hall was
officially open - online. According to both agendas, no decisions
were to be made. Confirmed by First Selectman.
- Special Board of
January 7, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- Lachat Oversight
Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 7:45pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - notes.
- Board of Selectmen,
Thursday, December 19, 2013, Town Hall Meeting Room -notes.
- Board of
Finance, Thursday, December 12, 2013 - notes.
Oversight Committee, Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - CANCELED - agenda
- Education Mandate
Taskforce, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 - Legislative Office Building
(Hartford) 2:00 PM,
Board of Selectmen, Wednesday, December 4, 2013 -notes.
Care Act in CT:
What it Means to You and Your Family" -
LWV of Weston public forum at Weston Library Community Room was
excellent and was videotaped for broadcast on Town TV and the internet.
- Mandate Relief Taskforce
Meeting, Thursday, November 21, at 7:00 pm, at Bedford
Middle School, 88 North Avenue, in Westport. The taskforce was
created during the 2013 legislative session (PA-13-108) "to identify
opportunities to offer relief to public schools." A taskfroce
member is Colleen Palmer, Superintendent of the
Weston Public Schools.
- Board of Selectmen
November 18, 2013, 7:30pm - notes.
notes, most recent; from 2009 as far back
30, 2002; FYI - Selectmen's notes "links" appear in two places...in
Board of Finance
Board of Education
Link to our notes including other
Boards, Commissions and Committees: Capital Planning
Committee, Board of Ethics, former Cemetery Committee, Charter Revision
Commission 2003 and 2011-2012; 2013.
Who are YOUR government
now represented by John McKinney and Toni Boucher in the Senate and
John Shaban of Redding took over the 135th District seat in the House.
reports here from the CT
POST. A recent report here: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/More-guns-seized-by-state-since-Sandy-Hook-5948436.php
to the U.S. Bureau of the Census...it is simple to use U.S. Census
2000 or the new one, Census 2010:
for SAMPLE OF WESTON DATA AND BLOCKGROUP MAP, and for more:
are Weston families? Click here
for University of Connecticut data center.
TRANSPORTATION AND POPULATION, BY
SWRPA TRANSPORTATION ANALYSIS ZONES ("TAZ")
source for South Western Connecticut: http://www.swrpa.org/
the U.S. Census mapping capabilities: U.S.
Census Bureau On-Line
early overview: In
Weston, the population as of April 1, 2000 was...10,037 persons
increase over the previous decade). This is really big news,
speaking. We are still the smallest Town in the sub-region of Weston,
Wilton (10.3% increase) and Norwalk; we were growing the
I-BBC series on global water crisis - HERE.
to Connecticut Fund for the Environment;
to join or just read of their reasons for being concerned about the
old power lines articles.
Unofficial Weston Land Use Map in the works:
Regional Plan 2006-2015 "not inconsistent" with new State Plan of
C&D - providing a basis for future updates of Town Plan;
use/land cover data over the period from 1985 to 2002 available for
This series of maps shows the loss of open areas and introduction of
(Very busy because many planning agencies and others are downloading
GIS data--interactive users also on hold for a while.)
really most accurate data in small towns comes from two places:
the Town Clerk's records and the Assessor's Office. Check out
some of our sources here.
or think tank, we don't have satellite imaging or graduate students
for us...but we have access to real subdivision and zoning.
"drive-by" land use survey opportunities. A different techique
determining land use. So how has Weston fared between 1986 and
(the years for which we had data) according to our mapping
Please check our maps and data HERE.
is it? We
now think about it as it relates to climate change.
picture of Connecticut to the upper left. What about installing
surfaces on School Road (is the Sports Complex proposed surface and
drainage any less permeable than the existing "Great Swamp" natural
we start looking at this report again - especially since it addressed
issue of limitations regarding watering fields? We did! And
now the School Building Committee has retained the firm which did the
(below) to draw up a working plan for water supply for our School
ORDER" SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED (as announced at Special Town
NEMO visits Weston
January 2005 and agrees with P&Z regarding
to care for groundwater resource; FIRST (EARLY) GROUNDWATER
STUDY OF WESTON PUBLIC SCHOOL CAMPUS: summary, conclusion and
do you remember this from YR2000?
Public Hearing Notes--May 25, 2000 continued to June 13, 2000 (by now
night: Weston resident Christopher Plummer, who attended the
on May 25, spoke for us all in a letter to the Editor of the 5-31-00
NEWS, part of which is quoted below:
America because she allows us the freedom to improve and protect our
according to the rules of nature. In short, she allows us privacy
in cohesion with nature."
LANDS, WATER QUALITY...REMEMBER THE DROUGHT? HTTP://www.drought.state.ct.us/
to the links below for H20 Quality and Quantity Data:
in Connecticut...the best there is when it comes to mapping,
The "umbrella agency" for hydrologic data as well. Please find
"estimated use of water" 1995 report along with the chapter on
Release: Wastewater Treatment" which shows that States with heavy
return of treated wastewater to surface water are Illinois and
the big reclaimed wastewater States are Florida, California and Arizona.
ranks in the middle in terms of amount of public water treatment
to surface water. But in 1995, in CT Publicly Owned treatment
there was zero--none-- re-use of treated wastewater ("reclaimed").
has plan for water recycling for high school and middle school...and
voters approved water conservation plan for high school and middle
at machine vote on June 28, 2001. PROGRESS:
contractors finishing up summer '02 on this job. Connecticut
WATER conditions are reported (click below). Nearby monitoring
are: the Saugatuck River (in Redding) and Sasco Brook (in Fairfield):
water news to
Surface Water Information--State Maps
for USGS graphs measuring flow status in current "historical" period:
Daily Streamflow Conditions Plots for Connecticut
reference: Ridgefield Water Company (part of Kelda/Aquarion)
out water from the Saugatuck--December 7, 2000 Board of Selectmen's
discussed this matter.
Police Now Advise Assertive
to Mass Attacks
By ERICA GOODE, NYTIMES
April 6, 2013
The speed and deadlines of recent high-profile shootings have prompted
police departments to recommend fleeing, hiding or fighting in the
event of a mass attack, instead of remaining passive and waiting for
The shift represents a “sea change,” said Chuck Wexler, executive
director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which recently held a
meeting in Washington to discuss shootings like those in Newtown,
Conn., and Aurora, Colo.
The traditional advice to the public has been “don’t get involved, call
911,” Mr. Wexler said, adding, “There’s a recognition in these ‘active
shooter’ situations that there may be a need for citizens to act in a
way that perhaps they haven’t been trained for or equipped to deal
Mr. Wexler and others noted that the change echoes a transformation in
police procedures that began after the shooting at Columbine High
School in 1999, when some departments began telling officers who
arrived first on a scene to act immediately rather than waiting for
backup. Since then, the approach has become widespread, as a succession
of high-profile shootings across the country has made it clear that no
city or town is immune and that police agencies must be prepared to
take an active approach.
“We used to sit outside and set up a perimeter and wait for the SWAT
team to get there,” said Michael Dirden, an executive assistant chief
of the Houston Police Department. “Now it’s a recognition that time is
of the essence and those initial responders have to go in,” he said,
adding that since the Virginia Tech University shooting in 2007, the
department has been training first responders to move in on their own
when they encounter active gunfire.
Research on mass shootings over the last decade has bolstered the idea
that people at the scene of an attack have a better chance of survival
if they take an active stance rather than waiting to be rescued by the
police, who in many cases cannot get there fast enough to prevent the
loss of life.
In an analysis of 84 such shooting cases in the United States from 2000
to 2010, for example, researchers at Texas State University found that
the average time it took for the police to respond was three minutes.
“But you see that about half the attacks are over before the police get
there, even when they arrive quickly,” said J. Pete Blair, director for
research of the university’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response
Training Center and an author of the research, which is set to be
published in a book this year.
In the absence of a police presence, how victims responded often made
the difference between life and death, Dr. Blair said.
In 16 of the attacks studied by the researchers, civilians were able to
stop the perpetrator, subduing him in 13 cases and shooting him in 3
cases. In other attacks, civilians have obstructed or delayed the
gunman until the police arrived.
As part of the research, Dr. Blair and his colleagues looked at
survival rates and the actions taken by people in classrooms under
attack during the Virginia Tech massacre, in which Seung-Hui Cho killed
32 students and teachers before killing himself.
In two classrooms, the students and instructors tried to hide or play
dead after Mr. Cho entered. Nearly all were shot, and most died. In a
third classroom, Prof. Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor, told his
students to jump out the second-story window while he tried to hold the
classroom door shut, delaying Mr. Cho from coming in. Professor
Librescu was killed, but many of the students survived, and only three
were injured by gunfire. In another classroom, where the students and
teacher blocked the door with a heavy desk and held it in place, Mr.
Cho could not get in, and everyone lived.
“The take-home message is that you’re not helpless and the actions you
take matter,” Dr. Blair said. “You can help yourself and certainly buy
time for the police to get there.”
Kristina Anderson, 26, who was shot three times during the Virginia
Tech attack, said that every situation is different but that she thinks
it can help for people to develop a plan for how they might act if a
mass shooting occurred.
“Everywhere I go now, I think about exits and doorways and potential
places to hide and things to barricade and fight back with,” Ms.
Anderson said. “Some person has to take action and lead.”
Two instructional videos, one produced by Houston’s Office of Public
Safety and Homeland Security and the other by the University of
Wisconsin’s police department, recommend that civilians fight an
attacker if options like escaping or hiding are not available.
Dennis Storemski, a former executive assistant chief in Houston’s
police department and director of the public safety office that
produced the video, called “Run. Hide. Fight.,” said the decision to
produce it emerged from a realization that while first responders were
“fairly well prepared” to deal with mass shootings, the public was not.
The video has received over two million hits on YouTube, and the office
gets requests every day from other police departments and government
agencies that would like to use it, Mr. Storemski said.
He said initially, the suggestion that victims should fight back as a
last resort stirred some controversy.
“We had a few people that thought that was not a wise idea,” Mr.
Storemski said, but that in some cases fighting back might be the only
Susan Riseling, chief of police at the University of Wisconsin in
Madison, said the Virginia Tech episode changed her thinking about how
to advise students because it was clear that Mr. Cho had “one goal, and
that seemed to be to kill as many people as possible before ending his
The department’s video, screened during training sessions around the
state but not available online, tells students to escape or conceal
themselves if possible, but if those options are not available, to
fight. In the video, students are shown throwing a garbage can at an
attacker and charging at him as a group.
“If you’re face to face and you know that this person is all about
death, you’ve got to take some action to fight,” Chief Riseling said.
What she worries about most, she said, is that spree shootings are
becoming so common that she suspects people have begun to accept them
as a normal part of life.
“That’s the sad part of it,” Chief Riseling said. “This should never be
REPORT OF 9-11
WTC: Some newly released September 11, 2001 photos
(above)...and some new (to us) pix from Washington POST just below of
Pentagon and Pennsylvania location. .
Snapshots of that Sept. 11, 2001 and afterwards.
F-16 pilot was ready to give
her life on Sept. 11
By Steve Hendrix, Published: September 8, 2011
Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather
“Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to
fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her
orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked
airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the
first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.
The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky
was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a
hostile aircraft. Except her own plane. So that was the plan.
Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age,
faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding
officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.
“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney
recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze
For years, Penney, one of the first generation of female combat pilots
in the country, gave no interviews about her experiences on Sept. 11
(which included, eventually, escorting Air Force One back into
Washington’s suddenly highly restricted airspace).
But 10 years later, she is reflecting on one of the lesser-told tales
of that endlessly examined morning: how the first counterpunch the U.S.
military prepared to throw at the attackers was effectively a suicide
“We had to protect the airspace any way we could,” she said last week
in her office at Lockheed Martin, where she is a director in the F-35
Penney, now a major but still a petite blonde with a Colgate grin, is
no longer a combat flier. She flew two tours in Iraq and she serves as
a part-time National Guard pilot, mostly hauling VIPs around in a
military Gulfstream. She takes the stick of her own vintage 1941
Taylorcraft tail-dragger whenever she can.
But none of her thousands of hours in the air quite compare with the
urgent rush of launching on what was supposed to be a one-way flight to
a midair collision.
First of her kind
She was a rookie in the autumn of 2001, the first female F-16 pilot
they’d ever had at the 121st Fighter Squadron of the D.C. Air National
Guard. She had grown up smelling jet fuel. Her father flew jets in
Vietnam and still races them. Penney got her pilot’s licence when she
was a literature major at Purdue. She planned to be a teacher. But
during a graduate program in American studies, Congress opened up
combat aviation to women and Penney was nearly first in line.
“I signed up immediately,” she says. “I wanted to be a fighter pilot
like my dad.”
On that Tuesday, they had just finished two weeks of air combat
training in Nevada. They were sitting around a briefing table when
someone looked in to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New
York. When it happened once, they assumed it was some yahoo in a Cesna.
When it happened again, they knew it was war.
But the surprise was complete. In the monumental confusion of those
first hours, it was impossible to get clear orders. Nothing was ready.
The jets were still equipped with dummy bullets from the training
As remarkable as it seems now, there were no armed aircraft standing by
and no system in place to scramble them over Washington. Before that
morning, all eyes were looking outward, still scanning the old Cold War
threat paths for planes and missiles coming over the polar ice cap.
“There was no perceived threat at the time, especially one coming from
the homeland like that,” says Col. George Degnon, vice commander of the
113th Wing at Andrews. “It was a little bit of a helpless feeling, but
we did everything humanly possible to get the aircraft armed and in the
air. It was amazing to see people react.”
Things are different today, Degnon says. At least two “hot-cocked”
planes are ready at all times, their pilots never more than yards from
A third plane hit the Pentagon, and almost at once came word that a
fourth plane could be on the way, maybe more. The jets would be armed
within an hour, but somebody had to fly now, weapons or no weapons.
“Lucky, you’re coming with me,” barked Col. Marc Sasseville.
They were gearing up in the pre-flight life-support area when
Sasseville, struggling into his flight suit, met her eye.
“I’m going to go for the cockpit,” Sasseville said.
She replied without hesitating.
“I’ll take the tail.”
It was a plan. And a pact.
Penney had never scrambled a jet before. Normally the pre-flight is a
half-hour or so of methodical checks. She automatically started going
down the list.
“Lucky, what are you doing? Get your butt up there and let’s go!”
She climbed in, rushed to power up the engines, screamed for her ground
crew to pull the chocks. The crew chief still had his headphones
plugged into the fuselage as she nudged the throttle forward. He ran
along pulling safety pins from the jet as it moved forward.
She muttered a fighter pilot’s prayer — “God, don’t let me [expletive]
up” — and followed Sasseville into the sky.
They screamed over the smoldering Pentagon, heading northwest at more
than 400 mph, flying low and scanning the clear horizon. Her commander
had time to think about the best place to hit the enemy.
“We don’t train to bring down airliners,” said Sasseville, now
stationed at the Pentagon. “If you just hit the engine, it could still
glide and you could guide it to a target. My thought was the cockpit or
He also thought about his ejection seat. Would there be an instant just
“I was hoping to do both at the same time,” he says. “It probably
wasn’t going to work, but that’s what I was hoping.”
Penney worried about missing the target if she tried to bail out.
“If you eject and your jet soars through without impact . . .” she
trails off, the thought of failing more dreadful than the thought of
But she didn’t have to die. She didn’t have to knock down an airliner
full of kids and salesmen and girlfriends. They did that themselves.
It would be hours before Penney and Sasseville learned that United 93
had already gone down in Pennsylvania, an insurrection by hostages
willing to do just what the two Guard pilots had been willing to do:
Anything. And everything.
“The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to
sacrifice themselves,” Penney says. “I was just an accidental witness
She and Sasseville flew the rest of the day, clearing the airspace,
escorting the president, looking down onto a city that would soon be
sending them to war.
She’s a single mom of two girls now. She still loves to fly. And she
still thinks often of that extraordinary ride down the runway a decade
“I genuinely believed that was going to be the last time I took off,”
she says. “If we did it right, this would be it.”
story of the now public Flight 93 voice recorder here
In Shanksville, Thousands
Honor Flight 93 Victims
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
SHANKSVILLE, Pa. — The dedication of a memorial here on Saturday to the
40 passengers and crew members who died on United Airlines Flight 93 on
Sept. 11, 2001, provided an opportunity for two former presidents to
appeal for unity.
Neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton specifically mentioned the
fractured state of relations in Washington. But their sharing of a
stage and their comments here in a field where Flight 93 slammed into
the ground stood in sharp contrast to the current discord.
“We have a duty to find common purpose as a nation,” said Mr. Bush, who
was president during the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In a warning that
seemed aimed at his fellow Republicans, including presidential
candidates, some of whom are calling for the United States to limit its
footprint overseas, he warned that “the temptation of isolation is
Mr. Clinton thanked Mr. Bush — and President Obama — “for keeping us
from being attacked again,” and the audience, previously somber and
He also drew applause when he announced that he and the Republican
House speaker, John A. Boehner, who was in the audience, had agreed to
host a bipartisan fund-raising event in Washington to help raise the
$10 million needed to complete the memorial here.
Their comments seemed an attempt to recapture — if only briefly — the
unity that prevailed in the country after the terrorist attacks 10
years ago, which killed nearly 2,700 people at the World Trade Center
in New York, 184 people at the Pentagon and the 40 people who were
aboard Flight 93 when it plunged into a field here.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who also spoke, echoed their
sentiments. He acknowledged Mr. Bush as “the man responsible for
bringing our country together at a time when it could have been torn
apart, for making it clear that America could not be brought to her
knees.” He said that Mr. Bush’s leadership “helped us find our way, and
for that you deserve our gratitude for a long, long time.”
But the heart of this nearly three-hour ceremony was honoring the
response of the passengers and crew on United Flight 93 as they were
hijacked. When they realized from phone calls that a broader attack
against the United States was under way, they voted to rebel against
their captors and tried to seize control of the plane.
They understood that doing so would be likely to cause the plane to
crash, but the alternative was to allow the terrorists to continue to
Washington, just 20 minutes by air from Shanksville, on what appeared
to be a suicide mission aimed at the Capitol building.
The ceremony here drew thousands of people, so many that the National
Park Service, which owns the 2,200-acre site that includes the
memorial, had to turn people away.
As the sun broke through heavy clouds on Saturday afternoon, bells in
front of the crash site tolled 40 times as the name of each passenger
and member of the crew was read. A soft white cloth was peeled away to
reveal the new memorial: 40 polished marble panels etched with each
“Of course we saw 9/11 on the TV,” said Geraldine Lattanzi, 78, of
Ambler, Pa., who drove across the state with her daughter to attend the
ceremony. “But until you see it, and all these names, you don’t know
how sad it really is.”
Again and again, the speakers called the actions of the 40 passengers
and crew extraordinary, astonishing and heroic. Mr. Clinton drew an
analogy between them and the Spartans in ancient Greece as well as to
the Texans at the Alamo; the difference, he said, is that the Spartans
and Texans who opted for certain death were soldiers, while those on
Flight 93 “just happened to be on a plane.”
Mr. Clinton said: “With almost no time to decide, they gave the entire
country an incalculable gift. They saved the Capitol from attack, they
saved God knows how many lives, and they spared the terrorists from
claiming the symbolic victory of smashing the center of American
The ceremony was held one day ahead of the 10th anniversary of Sept.
11, bringing considerable attention to this remote spot in southwestern
Pennsylvania before the world’s gaze fixes Sunday on New York. A second
ceremony will be held here on Sunday, when President Obama is scheduled
to visit. He is also attending events at ground zero and the Pentagon.
The opening of the memorial here offered the public its closest glimpse
of the crash site since it was closed on 9/11. The actual site,
accessible only to family members, was once a smoldering crater filled
with debris; it is blanketed now by wildflowers at the edge of a forest
of hemlocks and maples. A 17-ton boulder marks the point of impact.
Family members are holding a private funeral service there on Monday to
bury three coffins containing some human remains at what has become a
"Ground zero" of Sept. 11, 2001: Has this "blue light" had finally ended
its run...or not?
NYC light beams marking 9/11 paid for
The Associated Press
Updated: 12/17/2009 10:53:20 AM EST
NEW YORK—The agency responsible for ground zero redevelopment will
spend $695,000 through 2011 to fund the twin beams of light that pay
tribute to the World Trade Center victims.
The Tribute in Light memorial has been projected into the night sky
from lower Manhattan around the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist
attacks every year.
The board of directors of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. voted
Thursday to pay for the lights through the 10th anniversary of the
attacks in 2011.
The board also voted to fund an oral history project and a documentary
about the rebuilding of the trade center site.