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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Discounts Draw Bargain Hunters to Borders Closing

Discounts Draw Bargain Hunters 
to Borders Closing:
Shoppers mourn bookstore’s loss
(Posted to 3/27)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – “Everything Must Go!”, “Everything 20% to 40% Off” and “Nothing Held Back” signs peppered exterior windows, inside displays and register areas. They were sad signs of the times.

Fairfield Downtown’s anchor, Borders, at 1499 Post Road, which had announced it would close just last week, was already in the beginning phase Saturday afternoon of selling off its merchandise, offering discounts that appealed to area consumers as long lines at all registers showed. Any store events that had been scheduled, like a Lego Racers Kids Event, had been cancelled and the popular in-house café closed.

“I’m definitely sad to see this go,” said Kelly Bishop, of Fairfield, who had an armful of children’s books. “I have a 2 ½  year old and we come here at least once a week. It’s a major loss for Fairfield. I’m taking advantage of the sales, though, while the books are still here. I knew that the other Borders were closing, but didn’t expect this one to close. I thought they did so well. A cashier told me last week – I was shocked as was everyone on line with me.”

Beverly Dacey, of Easton, was similarly loaded up. “I came down today to mourn the loss of the store,” she said. “It was a terrific place to escape from the pressures of daily life and indulge in pleasures of the mind. I’m stocking up on magazines, books, cards, gifts, etc. I might as well take advantage of the sales. This was an anchor, like the Fairfield Store, that started the resurgence of downtown. There’s the Borders at the Trumbull mall, but it’s a totally different ambiance and I never go there. This store gave you the feel of a college bookstore.”

“I’m a speech pathologist and work with children,” said Kathy Mitchell of Black Rock, standing on line with a bundle of books. “So I’m stocking up on books for my students and also my business.”

Sitting in a sunny window spot in the magazine area at the back of the store, Damaris Diaz, 12, of Westport, said she’ll miss the store. “I come here once a week. I was really surprised the store was closing. I like to come to buy magazines and go to the café sometimes. It would be nice to have another bookstore here, similar to this one.”

Mary Bishop, of Fairfield, was another customer that had loaded up with books. “I didn’t think they were going to close this location. I thought it did well and really the company as a whole, too,” she said. “With this store going empty, it may be difficult to attract new business in downtown. I’m taking advantage of sales to buy up gardening magazines. I’m also looking at bridal books as my daughter is getting married. I hope the company’s able to regroup and open another location in Fairfield.”

Jury Still Out on Replacement for St. Pius’ Rev. Carroll

Jury Still Out on Replacement 
for St. Pius’ Rev. Carroll:
Bishop Lori says more 
deliberation needed
(Posted to 3/26)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Parishioners at St. Pius X Church on Brookside Drive got both a treat and letdown at Saturday’s 5:15 Mass. The treat was the personal appearance of William E. Lori, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, to lead the session. The letdown was his announcement that more deliberation would be necessary before a successor to Rev. Lawrence Carroll, who stepped down last weekend, could be named.

“Rev. Carroll served just under ten years,” said usher Charles Chiusano. “His reasons for leaving were not about health or any legal matters. He pointed that out specifically to allay any concerns, but still didn’t give his reason for departing. He did a phenomenal job here, growing the parish. He was a very good man and very spiritual.”

Chiusano said Carroll’s departure was abrupt and surprising. “Everyone was shocked and saddened by the pastor’s leaving,” he remarked. “He was the pastor to everyone. He was all inclusive. It didn’t matter if people had disagreements with something said or done. He was there to provide support and counseling. He was great for that. There was no wall between him and anyone.”

As Lori initiated the Mass, he said, “I thought it would be appropriate to come here personally after last week’s announcement, to pray with you and share with you the experience we are all undergoing, and to pray for Rev. Carroll at this time in his life. After Communion, I will speak about the events of last week and events going forward.”

Acknowledging parishioners’ concerns, Lori said, “The season of Lent has taken an unexpected turn as Rev. Carroll has left the ministry. I’m sure many of you are wondering what the parish holds in the future and for the families of the church.”

Lori thanked Rev. Samuel Kachuba, who has been with the parish for the past three years, for his service and “stepping up to the plate” over the past week as Kachuba stood in for the departed Carroll. In turn, Kachuba thanked parishioners for their “emails, calls and even baked goods,” adding, “You have responded so well with your prayers during this time of transition.”

With regard to announcing a successor, Lori said, “It would be premature for me to make an announcement. We’re not quite ready. I met last Thursday with the priest personnel board and had a chance to review this parish’s strengths and needs to determine the best fit for a new pastor. After a lot of study, the board will consider candidates that might be appropriate for this parish.”

Lori added, “The most important thing in a priest is that he is prayerful and full of integrity, a man who is a priest 24/7. As I arrive at a decision, it will be announced at that point. I will try and do that with as much dispatch as I can.”

The bishop acknowledged that Kachuba had a full plate and that it would not be fair to leave him on his own. To that regard, Lori said he had appointed Father Liam Quinlan, a resident at St. Leo parish, to assist and work with Father Kachuba while awaiting a new pastor.

Parishioner Tony Marone of Fairfield commented, “Whoever they bring in is going to have to fill some big shoes. Rev. Carroll was a great guy. We hope the bishop makes a good choice.”

Usher Dian Palmer said there was no hint about a successor. “There’s been no word on a replacement at this point in time,” she said. “People are longing to find out. They want to know who’s going to lead them. Hopefully we’ll know soon. Father Sam’s got a load on his plate, but he’s doing a wonderful job.”

For his part, Father Kuchuba said, “Rev. Carroll’s announcement was a shock for all of us, but this is a prayerful parish. It was difficult to hear, but we immediately turned to prayer to ask for a blessing. This was an unexpected role for me that I didn’t anticipate. I’ve been praying a lot, I’ve been trusting God. Father Quinlan will assist with celebrating Mass. I love the guy, he’s a wonderful man. It will make this interim period much easier.”

Food For Thought Expo Expands Minds, Tantalizes Tastebuds

Food For Thought Expo 
Expands Minds, Tantalizes Tastebuds:
Fairfield Warde High School event 
attracts hundreds
(Posted to 3/26)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Organic growers, natural products companies, foodies and average folks that just wanted to know how they could eat healthier all came together Saturday at Fairfield Warde High School.

The attraction was the 2nd Annual Food for Thought Expo, which offered visitors a full complement of healthy food resources, over 30 exhibitors from bakeries to health professionals, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, movie screenings and more. The event was hosted by the Fuel for Learning Partnership.

“The Partnership was formed in 2006 to improve the quality of the school lunch program and works to provide solutions to obesity,” said Michelle McCabe, the group’s chairman. “One of its key events is this expo which aims to introduce the community to a large amount of local resources for whole unprocessed nutritious foods. We invite businesses that embrace sustainability and source local ingredients. We also have farmers participate.”

Exhibitors were separated and placed around the school by category. In the farm resources area, Analiese Paik, founder of Fairfield Green Food Guide, was offering information about her online directory for consumers to find local and sustainably grown food resources. Listings range from farms and farmers markets to farm-to-table restaurants and green food events. She said her guide is helpful “for people looking to eat fresh food closer to home from trusted resources” and that the expo is “a great way to educate consumers about healthy food and healthy eating.”

At an adjacent table, Ed Hartz, owner of The Milkman Company of Newtown, was telling expo visitors about his products. “We deliver farm fresh foods, including milk and dairy, directly to homes, old milkman style,” he said. “We distribute products from 20 to 25 different farms throughout New England.”

Hartz added, “Food has become industrial. I’m against industrialization. I believe in local farming and supporting locally grown food. And supporting local farmers boosts the economy, brings good food to people, helps preserve land and improves health.”

Aimee O’Brien, a Partnership committee member and coordinator of the event’s Children’s Nutrition Room, was busy guiding kids and their parents about the benefits of fruits and vegetables. “I ask the kids to make a rainbow on their plates, with regard to the color of the food items and how they correspond to a rainbow. I also ask them about what they already eat and how certain choices benefit specific parts of their bodies. At the same time, I educate parents about ingredients labels and to go for products that have natural elements.”

In the plants area of the event, Fairfield Ludlowe High School students Kim Cortellessa and Morgan Wyckoff, both 14, gave away little pods of soil in which seeds of choice had been planted. “We’re providing people with the opportunity to plant seeds and take them home to start their own garden,” said Wyckoff. “We’ve got seeds that include chicory, gourds, sunflowers, pumpkins, squash and watermelon.”

Providing a cooking demonstration to a roomful of show attendees, Amy Hall, a health and cooking coach, said, “We’re offering local sustainable meal choices, like spicy tacos and lasagna, focusing on farm food, dark leafy greens and root vegetables. We want to make every meal and ingredient count at every occasion.”

In the school’s cafeteria, an array of companies had been arranged, all providing food samples. Visitors could taste organic salsa, local farm-grown cheese, bread, pure honey, juices, salad offerings, fruit shakes, milk and allergen-free cupcakes.

“We have two flavors at present,” said Amy Barnouw, co-owner of Fairfield-based Planet Fuel organic juices. “Cherry Lemonade and Apple Grape. Two more are coming out in April. They’re all organic with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Our goal was to go back to basics – organic juice and water. We only use resealable, recyclable, reusable aluminum cans and each flavor has a “Planet Protector” character like Rainforest Rita and Ocean Olivia. These help convey a healthy kid, healthy planet message and help kids understand their influence as consumers.”

Sampling her Red Bee Honey, owner Marina Marchese said, “We sell to Fairfield businesses and look to promote honey as a sustainable sweetener. There are tremendous health benefits of pure, real honey that include anti-bacterial properties and an ability to balance blood sugar and boost the immune system.”

Tasting cheeses at the Fairfield Cheese Company’s table, Kate Garey of Westport explained that she had just finished culinary school and wants to start a business that only uses local organic products. “The expo is a great way for me to meet potential suppliers.”