Traffic on NewCanaanite.com increased 22% in 2019. Here’s a look at the 10 most-read news stories. Thank you for reading. If you have not already, please consider signing up for our free daily newsletter, which is delivered to your inbox at 6 a.m. weekdays.
10. New Canaan’s Mysogland Family Honored by STAR Inc.— Susie and Ernie Mysogland earned the Anne O’Callaghan Parent of the Year Award from STAR, a nonprofit organization with close ties to New Canaan that serves developmentally disabled people and their families. During an acceptance speech at the October awards ceremony, Ernie shared an illustrative anecdote involving their daughter, Jassinia, and a certain customer of the former Food Emporium, where she works as a bagger through a STAR employment program.
9. ‘Merritt Village’ Developer to P&Z: We’re Building What You Approved—Arnold Karp’s response in January to the Planning & Zoning Commission about its concerns regarding what had been a widely discussed retaining wall facing Park Street drew thousands of readers and many commenters. In a letter to P&Z, Karp noted that “the currently unfinished retaining walls will be capped and partially hidden by the Town’s required planting plan. This will include the use of vine planting material above the wall that will grow over and down in a ‘cascading’ type of effect that will obscure much of that lower wall, for those who are not enamored with the look.” Karp said in June that when the plantings came in, all he heard were positive remarks.
8. Italian Café ‘Dolce’ To Open on Elm Street—Our story in March about Andrea Lombardi’s plans to open an Italian-style café in the former New Canaan Olive Oil space on Elm Street is the 8th-most-read story of 2019. Dolce opened in July and has quickly become a favorite destination for those visiting the business district, though Lombardi’s bid in the fall for a “pole sign” to be placed out front of the café did not win P&Z approval.
7. ‘It’s a Pretty Apparent Conflict’: First Selectman Voices Concern About Parks & Rec Commissioner—The first selectman’s assertion during a press briefing in May that an appointed town official risked a conflict of interest due to her position on a private nonprofit organization whose work involves the very area of municipal government she’s charged with overseeing drew eyeballs as well as comments from readers. Unknown to the first selectman and without permission, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Sally Campbell in 2018 had become vice chairman of the Waveny Park Conservancy, he said. “There are a number of surprising things about how Sally operates,” Moynihan said during the briefing. Campbell, who has been cited for holding non-public meetings in the past and attended another illegal meeting in October, has agreed to step down from Parks & Rec at the end of this year.
6. Police: Empty Bottles of Vanilla Extract Found in Car of Drunk-Driving Local Woman, 50—An 8-sentence article about a DUI arrest downtown in January also ranked among the most-read stories of 2019. As per our policy, NewCanaanite.com withheld the name of the 50-year-old local woman who was arrested after police found several empty bottles of vanilla extract in her vehicle. Though no one commented on the story itself, it went viral through the New Canaanite Facebook page. There, some posted comments making light of the unusual circumstances surrounding the arrest—for example, “This could only happen in New Canaan; I mean, have you seen the price of vanilla extract lately?” Curiously, some of those indicating they personally knew the drunk motorist attacked fellow readers while making the story about themselves, saying they would never post such comments about the arrest.
5. New Canaan Man Unearths Photographs from Sept. 30, 1919 Parade Welcoming Home WWI Soldiers—Carl Franco 15 years ago found rare photos that had been snapped in downtown New Canaan on Sept. 30, 1919. They capture images from a special celebration marking the end of World War I and the return of local men who had served. Though the armistice that ceased hostilities on the Western Front had been signed the prior November—commemorated thereafter as Veterans Day—New Canaan would wait until that Tuesday in September 1919 to hold what Mary Louise King called “the big celebration” in her local history, “Portrait of New Canaan.” At the top of our September article, which ran exactly one century after the celebration, we included a gallery of the photos.
4. Ticketed Woman Accuses Parking Enforcement and Town of Racism, Threatens Lawsuit—Westchester County, N.Y. resident Farva Jafri during an appeal hearing before the Parking Commission in July leveled accusations of race discrimination against the town of New Canaan and parking enforcement. She had received a $30 ticket for stopping in a no-parking zone on Main Street. “This is ridiculous,” Jafri said at the hearing. “This is a completely white town.” After a female parking enforcement officer explained how the ticket was written, Jafri said, “You’re taking this woman’s side because she’s a white lady and she lives in your town.” Though Jafri threatened a lawsuit, she would ultimately pay the ticket—on Aug. 6, and she used New Canaan’s online system, which included a $3.50 service charge.
3. ‘White Buffalo’ Bar and Restaurant in Downtown New Canaan an Early Hit—Our story in April about the rapid popularity of the White Buffalo bar and restaurant was the third-most-read story of 2019. Dave Tonkovich, a 1993 graduate of New Canaan High School who opened ‘White Buff’ with classmate Dom Valente and Doug Harris, said, “We source our weiners from a Hungarian butcher in Fairfield who started in the business in the 1950s. We pick up fresh hot dogs from him every few days.”
2. Baskin-Robbins To Close; Longtime Owner Retiring—New Canaan resident Anna Valente-Krolikowski’s announcement earlier this month that she was closing Baskin Robbins Dec. 28 drew thousands of eyeballs and generated dozens of comments on the site and social media. “Listen, am I excited because I think I need a break? I do,” she said. “I am excited to do something new. I need a change. We all need changes. Am I sad that I am not going to be giving ice cream to little kids? Yes. But I know somebody new will come in here. You never know what the spring will bloom.” The last paid order at Baskins was a small peanut-butter-and-chocolate shake.
1. Accusations of Threats, Lying, Manipulation in Missing New Canaan Woman’s Divorce Case—The single most-read article of 2019, at 37,344 pageviews, examines Jennifer Dulos’s divorce and custody filings. It was published days after the New Canaan mom of five was reported missing. “I am afraid of my husband,” Jennifer Dulos said of her husband, Fotis, in an application for an emergency ex parte order of custody. “I know that filing for divorce, and filing this motion will enrage him. I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way. He has the attitude that he must always win at all costs. He is dangerous and ruthless when he believes that he has been wronged. During the course of our marriage, he told me about sickening revenge fantasies and plans to cause physical harm to others who have wronged him. For example, flying a plane over an ex-client’s home and dropping a brick on his house. I fear for my family’s safety and I believe him to be highly capable and vengeful enough to take the children and disappear.”