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Fairfield County Focus

Join WSHU hosts as they speak with Fairfield County business and community leaders, cultural figures, and lawmakers about housing, schools, politics, jobs, the economy, the arts, and transportation issues.

Buying or selling a house, or simply watching real estate transactions in your neighborhood, can dominate conversations in Fairfield County. This week host Alison Freeland talks with three local experts about what's hot and what's not, what's making a come-back, how to take the emotion out of a real estate transaction, and what are the biggest misconceptions about real estate. Judy Szablak (left), a realtor for 28 years, has a passion for statistics and for viewing both the buying and selling of a home with a well-informed eye. John Oppenheimer talks about his role as an inspector in home purchases and sales. Ann Anderson is a stager who helps sellers present their homes for the market in the best possible way.

When people start a business that's actually their second career, it's sometimes called a "second act" or "encore career." This week Host Paul Lin visits two Fairfield County small businesses whose owners are living the dream. He chats with Wave Hill Breads' Margaret Sapir and Mitch Rapoport. They've expanded their wholesale baking facilities and added a café. We'll stop by in the early morning hours to bake croissants (left) with Pastry Chef Matt Kirshner and go on a supply run with Chef and General Manager Mike Devlin as he prepares a batch of crab and three-mushroom soup. Then we work off the carbs with a stop in Stamford at Pacific Swim Bike Run. Julie Gabay, the owner of the store dedicated to the sports that make up a triathlon, tells us how she started the business and why, then takes us on a tour of the store, along the way demonstrating some of the special machines used to help train people for grueling races.

There's plenty of debate in this week's show over Governor Malloy's House Bill 5021 that not only would allow Sunday sales of beer, wine and spirits; it also would overhaul the way the liquor business is run in the state. The Connecticut Package Stores Association, which represents roughly 1,200 independent package stores, argues that the proposed rules would favor big-box stores and result in many hundreds of mom-and-pop shops closing and thousands of jobs lost. Host Paul Lin distills the issue, looking at testimony at a hearing by Democratic state legislators in Hartford. He also speaks about the controversy with Republican Sen. Toni Boucher of the 26th District and Republican State Representative Gail Lavielle of the 143rd District. We hear from package store owner Mitch Ancona (left) as well as some of his customers. And it all wraps up with a brief history of alcohol and human efforts to restrict it with noted beverage expert Gregg Glaser, Publisher of Modern Distillery Age.

You may have heard people call small businesses the "engine of the U.S. economy." That's because, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), they represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms, hire half of all private sector workers and pay 44% of the total U.S. private payroll. But how important are small businesses to Fairfield County, and how healthy are they? Host Paul Lin takes a closer look in our small business roundtable on WSHU. On the panel: SBA/SCORE) mentor and instructor Jonathan Naiman shares his anecdotes and expertise on generating a strong business plan, First County Bank's Senior VP Rick Zaremski checks in with advice for small business loan seekers, and Mary Schaffer (left), co-owner and sommelier of Stamford's Napa & Co., shares her thoughts on running a restaurant and her efforts to expand with Bar Rosso, which opened last Spring.

This week the focus is on the collision of humans and nature in Fairfield County. The conversation is about animals' impact on humans, water quality and Connecticut's forests as well as solutions to some of the most pressing problems. Host Alison Freeland talks with Denise Savageau, Director of the Greenwich Conservation Commission about that town's effort to reduce the deer population. Steve Patton, who works with the Nature Conservancy and is the site manager for Devil's Den Preserve, speaks about the ecological impact of wildlife, and Milan Bull of the CT Audubon Society talks about the goose population in Connecticut, and offers an impressive imitation of a screech owl.

This week we focus on how citizens are involved in emergency preparedness and response in lower Fairfield County. Naomi Starobin talks with Nancy Upton, who heads up New Canaan's well-established Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). We also talk with Chris Munger, Special Assistant to the Mayor for Emergency Planning and Training. He describes Stamford's efforts in emergency preparedness and his progress creating a CERT program. We check in with Jon Perelstein, who is the president of the Stamford Amateur Radio Association (SARA), about the role that HAM operators play during community emergencies. Sheldon Yessenow is a veterinarian who coordinates the State Animal Response Team (SART). He talks about how his group helps towns and cities shelter pets during emergencies.

This week the focus is on economic disparity in Fairfield County. The difference between the very rich and very poor in the county is more extreme than possibly anywhere else in the nation. WSHU's Craig LeMoult spoke with Orlando Rodriguez of Connecticut Voices for Children about income inequality in the region. We also hear from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor about new education reform proposals intended to address the student achievement gap. And Rae Ann Knopf, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform weighs in on the Governor's proposals. We also take a look at the impact of economic disparity on housing, with David Fink of the Partnership for Strong Communities. And we discuss how the issue impacts people's health, in a conversation with Elizabeth Krause of the Connecticut Health Foundation.

This week, the focus is on libraries in Fairfield County. They're busier than ever and always changing. We'll visit an urban public library: Stamford's Ferguson Library, and a suburban one: the Westport Public Library. You can join host Mark Herz and visit an early literacy program in Stamford. We'll also talk to library leaders in Stamford and in Westport, and hear about where libraries have been and where they're headed.

This week’s focus is on former 4th District Congressman Chris Shays throwing his hat in the ring to take on wealthy former wrestling executive Linda McMahon for the GOP's nomination for retiring Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman's Senate seat. Host Ebong Udoma speaks with Sacred Heart University political science professor Gary Rose about the latest developments in the race to replace Lieberman, and he spoke with Stamford State Representative Gerald Fox, co-chair of the Judiciary Committee and State senator Bob Duff of Norwalk (left) co-chair of the General Assembly's Banking Committee about what to expect in the upcoming state legislative session that begins Feb. 8.

This week we talk about getting around: traveling and commuting from and through lower Fairfield County. WSHU's Naomi Starobin speaks with Jim Cameron, chairman of the Connecticut Metro North Rail Commuter Council about what's new on the trains. We'll visit the Norwalk Transit District's bus depot (left) and talk with commuters, and then check in with Louis Schulman, the administrator of the Norwalk Transit District about bus issues. And a conversation about the roads (and the congestion) in the region, with Alex Karmen, a senior transportation planner with the Southwest Regional Planning Agency.

This week our focus is on politics. Host Ebong Udoma talks with Ted Mann, a journalist who got the inside scoop on the first year of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy's (left) administration. Ebong also talks with Connecticut House Minority leader Lawrence Cafero, to get a GOP lawmaker's perspective on the Malloy administration and the Democratic Party-dominated state legislature.

This week, our focus is on the arts in Fairfield County. Host Mark Herz talks with Bruce Museum Curator Ken Silver about Helen Frankenthaler, the renowned abstract expressionist painter and Darien resident who died last week. Then we walk through the Fairfield Museum and History Center's exhibit Bravo: A Century of theatre in Fairfield County, with the center's Kathleen Bennewitz. And for our finale, we talk classical music with Eckhart Preu (left), the conductor of the Stamford Symphony Orchestra.

It's home heating season, and people are looking to save money on heating costs. We talk with oil analyst Peter Buetel, president of Cameron Hanover, an energy risk management firm, about the outlook for fuel prices. Mike Collins of Yankee Gas talks about the cost of heating with natural gas. The president of the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association, Gene Guilford, suggests ways for people to save money on heating their home. Host Craig LeMoult takes us along on a home energy audit (left), hosted by Gault Energy. We also take a look at the impact of cuts to home heating assistance programs, with Ben Daigle of the Connecticut Association for Community Action, US Congressman Jim Himes, and Inera Palmer of the anti-poverty agency in Stamford, CTE.

Representatives of housing non-profit agencies talk about transforming public housing, creating neighborhoods, building affordable housing and helping landlords save money. Teri McCready speaks with Candace Mayer of the Norwalk Housing Authority, Vincent Tufo of Charter Oak Communities, Ross Burkhardt of New Neighborrhoods Inc., and Joan Carty (left) of the Housing Development Fund.


Host Teri McCready talks with Susie Bassler (left) of Project Return, Walter Droz of the Salvation Army, and Bill Okwuosa from the Norwalk Shelter about needy children, families in crisis, and a call for community action.






Host Teri McCready talks the Director of the Stamford Chamber of Commerce, Jack Condlin, Norwalk Chambers of Commerce Director Ed Musante, and Floyd Lapp (left) of the Southwestern Regional Planning Agency, about the economy, housing, and transportation.


Host Teri McCready talks with relief agencies about emergency assistance, national relief efforts, and local preparedness initiatives.


Host Teri McCready talks with Norwalk Mayor Dick Moccia (left) and Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia about education, disaster preparedness and taxes.

WSHU Newsroom
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Groups opposed to hydro-fracking urge study
* Lawmakers advanced spending bills with "credit card"
* Blumenthal calls on Nickelodeon to stop airing ads for unhealthy foods
Connecticut Headlines
* Storm threatens holiday travel in east
* Prosecutors: Conn. gunman's motive still unknown
* Police: Officer's wife grabbed, fired his gun
* Federal mediator to aid Conn. hospital-union talks
* Conn. health dept. offers holiday food safety tips
New York Headlines
* Barnes & Noble swings to 2Q profit
* Storm threatens holiday travel in east
* Roswell Park, U Buffalo reject merger proposal
* Pellet gun stops mail service to upstate NY street
* Hunger survey: Many NYC residents struggling
Headlines
* Home Prices Rise Again, But Market May Be Slowing
* If You Must Fry A Turkey, Listen To William Shatner First
* 'I Am Alive For A Reason,' Says Va. Lawmaker Stabbed By Son
* Big Travel Day Could Be A Big Mess Due To Weather
* Critical Of Nuclear Deal, Israel Wonders What May Come Next