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Friday, June 10, 2011

New First Selectman Tetreau Ready to Get Started:

New First Selectman Tetreau 
Ready to Get Started:
Ceremonial swear-in held 
Friday morning at Sullivan Hall
By Mike Lauterborn
(posted to 6/10)

Fairfield, CT – Looking dapper in a dark blue pinstripe suit and light blue paisley patterned tie, Fairfield’s new First Selectman, Michael C. Tetreau, was excited about his mission and anxious to get started.

In remarks shared prior to a ceremonial swearing-in at 10 a.m. Friday in a conference room on the first level of Sullivan-Independence Hall, Tetreau said, “It’s like the first day of football. You know it’s going to be tough ahead.”

Among his top initial priorities, the 59-year-old named several items. “The train station is the biggest project ahead, ensuring that it opens on time in October,” he said. “I need to meet with all the department heads and review the impact of budget adjustments by the Board of Finance and RTM -- a July 1st deadline is coming up quickly. I also have have a very important meeting with the rating agencies on July 6. Overall, with the multiple transitions, I want to make sure no one drops any balls and all goes smoothly for the town.”

Tetreau also mentioned his predecessors, commending their service. “I have two big challenges – following Ken Flatto, who was in the position over 10 years and accomplished a tremendous amount over time and, on top of that, following Sherri Steeneck who, in 30 days, set a great example for energy dedication and commitment.”

A Democrat who was officially appointed Thursday, Tetreau will serve at least until the Nov. 8 municipal election, in which he is a candidate.

Many friends and family members packed into the conference room to support and congratulate Tetreau. Among them was his mother and father “Fern” and Rowena Tetreau, godmother Rita Jackson Bradtmuller, brother Jack and Jack’s girlfriend Crissy Sepot. Among town and area officials were State Representative Tony Hwang, Fairfield Fire Chief Dick Felner, Probate Judge Dan Caruso, Town Clerk Betsy Browne, Fairfield Police Chief Gary McNamara and Fairfield Police Lt. Jim Perez.

Standing at a podium at the head of the room, Browne administered the oath to Tetreau and the pair shook hands, eliciting hearty applause and cheers from the gathering. The new first selectman then launched into brief remarks, which included a thanks to his brother Bill, currently serving in Afghanistan, and an old high school friend, Dave Seres, who read online that Tetreau had made a remark about receivers and reminded him that he caught every pass that Tetreau threw his way.

With a smile, Tetreau admitted to having a Twilight Zone moment. “I was looking at my Blackberry just after midnight and saw a congratulations from John Sullivan,” he said. “My immediate reaction – uh, oh, he really is still on the job… then I opened it and saw that it was the one from my high school, not the one we’re all thinking of.”

Tetreau further acknowledged Steeneck, saying she approached her job with a long-term view. “She didn’t dodge any task or activity,” he said, “and put in long hours and worked weekends – down to the very last minute. It’s 4:30 a.m. on her last day and what is she doing? Getting up to buy fruit and water for the DPW. That type of commitment will be tough to match.”

In a general sense, Tetreau said, “Fairfield is a great community. There is so much that is special about this town. I appreciate more than ever the many opportunities that Fairfield has given me, and having a Fairfield education prepared me for the challenges at Princeton University and beyond.”

In conclusion, Tetreau remarked, “There have been a lot of people that have helped me throughout my life and it is time for payback. I am ready to get started and I promise not to let you down. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.”

Aspetuck Land Trust Meet Spotlights Explorer Richard Wiese

Aspetuck Land Trust Meet Spotlights Explorer Richard Wiese:
Weston resident shares 
tales of adventure
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – From stories of crocs and dogsledding to climbing the heights of Everest and Mt. Kilimanjaro, the good-natured Weston resident kept the audience rapt.

Explorer Richard Wiese was the highlight of the Aspetuck Land Trust’s (ALT) Annual Meeting, held Thursday evening at Southport’s Pequot Library. The event attracted a full house of Land Trust members, board members, volunteers and curious locals who came to enjoy a welcome reception, Board presentation on ALT’s activities and Wiese’s talk focused on his amazing adventures. Wiese also signed copies of his book “Born to Explore”, which provides skills, projects and information for budding explorers. Wine and lemonade was provided by Newman’s Own, courtesy of ALT board member Lissy Newman.

“We’re all about connecting people to land, which aligns well with Wiese’s book about exploring right in your own backyard,” said David Brant, ALT’s executive director, with regard to choosing the adventurer as the evening speaker.

“Richard has young children now, so his focus is changing to local pastures,” added Princie Falkenhagen, ALT board president. “I think he wants to instill the love of nature and exploration in his own family. ALT is also focusing on young children, the future stewards of our preserves, and offering programs like ‘Short Hikes for Short People.’ Parents need help counterbalancing technology overload with good, natural outdoor fun.”

Before Wiese launched into his tales, Falkenhagen thanked, in particular, fellow Board members for their various efforts, including getting the organization on Facebook and Twitter. “If you build it, they will come,” she said. “Our name is out there, our preserves are being used and our parking lots are suddenly full. Now we’re balancing the needs of the public with the mission of being stewards of the land.”

In terms of Trust business, Falkenhagen, Don Hyman, Jack Light and Ken Bernhard were all re-elected to the ALT Board for four-year terms, as Directors for Easton, Fairfield, Weston and Westport respectively, while Cynthia Williams was tapped as director at-large.

Wiese said he had selfish reasons for wanting ALT to do well. “As a local resident, I’m a user of the product, the product being the Land Trust,” he said. “I hike the trails with my kids, wife and friends. All winter, I skied Trout Brook Valley. I’d like people to look at the outdoors with new eyes, see that nature is nourishment and use it like they do gym time.”

Wiese stars in a new TV show, launching Sept. 3 on ABC, titled “Born to Explore”, like his book. “The goal is to awaken people’s innate curiosity about the outdoors,” he said. “There’s a cultural component to it as well, showing how people live in other parts of the world. I used to go on a lot of expeditions and what you think is going to be the most interesting moment – climbing a mountain, for instance – usually isn’t. It’s the people along the way.”

Wiese said his father was an early inspiration. “My dad was an airline pilot with Pan Am,” he said. “He introduced me to so many things. The first thing we always talked about was the weather. When I was 11, he took me to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’ve since climbed it 18 times.”

When Wiese became president of the Explorers Club, he had the thrill of having a Boy Scout camp named after him. “I stayed in the camp and, in one of life’s ironies, got a case of chiggers on my rear end,” he laughed.

He noted that the North Pole was a highlight experience. “It was often 25 below and the ice was constantly shifting,” he said. “This, and the fact that the sun never set, would keep me awake at night.”

In the TV work Wiese does, he’s often asked to handle snakes. “I was raised in Long Island and we really didn’t have snakes,” he said, smiling.

“Alaska as an outdoor resource is fantastic,” Wiese said. “I had an opportunity to climb a mountain there that had never been climbed before. It’s neat to think about that.”

In terms of adventure value, he said the Everglades is best. “There are crocs and alligators living in the same place, and a wide variety of birds,” he said.

Mt. Kilimanjaro is likely Wiese’s favorite adventure. “It’s so novel and breathtaking,” he said. “It will be a tragedy when it loses its ice cap.”

As thrilling as his world adventures have been, Wiese said the Land Trust is a jewel worth noticing and preserving. “I get as excited seeing bobcat tracks in Devils Den as seeing a moose in Alaska,” he mused.

The Aspetuck Land Trust maintains 42 trails and 113 parcels of land across Weston, Easton, Fairfield and Westport, preserving open space for public benefit. For more information, visit: