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Wild Weather Tops Weston Stories in 2011

WESTON, Conn. - It was a wild weather year in Weston. In 2011, the town was smacked with every weather pattern imaginable. Westonites also dealt with debilitating blackouts, made some changes on the Board of Selectmen, saw a police investigation of a high school teacher and read about a possible conflict of interest case with town politicians.

Here are the top stories of 2011:

Weather

Throughout 2011, Westonites never knew what to expect weather-wise. The year may be ending with some sun and mild temperatures, but most of 2011 found residents hunkering down together through blizzards, tropical storms, earthquakes and a rare and unusual snowstorm that canceled Halloween .

The snowfall in January shattered a half-century-old record for snow in a single month. In 1945, 45.3 inches of snow fell in December. January numbers were close to 5 feet. The January storms disrupted everything in town, closing schools and roads and knocking out power.

On August 23 a 5.9-magnitude earthquake in Virginia sent shock waves up and down the East Coast. The power of the quake was felt across Fairfield County, including by employees at Police Headquarters on Norfield Road.

Just a few days after the quake, Weston was hit by Tropical Storm Irene. Westonites were urged to stay indoors for much of the storm for fear of fallen trees, flooding and downed wires.

And then the unthinkable happened, just three months later, a rare Oct. 29 snowstorm pummeled Weston, causing downed trees, icy conditions, several cancellations across town and another weeklong blackout.

Blackout

Weston residents dealt with weeklong outages twice in just a few months. First Tropical Storm Irene and then the October blizzard left much of the town in the dark. At the peak of the October snowstorm, the entire state and Weston saw record power outages. In Weston alone, 3,052 customers - or 80 percent of the town - went without power.

Due to the power outages and fallen trees, Halloween wasn’t even on anyone's radar. Many residents chose to spend the holiday at the Weston Middle School warming station.

Residents' frustration mounted as the days without power dragged on and Connecticut Light & Power's updates about restoring electricity seemed sporadic and unreliable. It wasn’t just the residents who were frustrated. First Selectman Gayle Weinstein slammed the utility company publicly, claiming there was no communication during the storm.

Teacher Resigns

The Weston High School community was caught off guard in the fall after videography teacher Dave Eger unexpectedly resigned after a police investigation for alleged actions involving former students. Police are still investigating and are mum on specifics in the case. Ethics Violations and Conflicts of Interest

Could a town resident sit on the Board of Finance even though he previously worked as a consultant for a company hired by the Weston school system? That was the question that took up most of the political conversations in town this fall.

The story began when Weston Democrats cried foul over Republican David Finkel 's decision to run for a spot on the Board of Finance. Members of the Weston Democratic Town Committee said Finkel should not have been allowed to run because Weston's schools had hired him as a consultant to study overhead costs.

The town’s ethics board found there was a conflict as long as Finkel's company had a business relationship with the town. But it looks as though the board's findings have been voided after two members were required to resign for overstaying their terms.

The saga over Finkel will continue onto 2012. Two new ethics board members have been appointed and there case will get a new hearing.

The Election

The 2011 municipal election saw a minor shakeup within the town’s three-member Board of Selectmen. While First Selectman Gayle Weinstein and Selectmen Dave Muller were both reelected, former selectmen Dan Gilbert lost his spot to fellow Republican Dennis Tracey, creating a whole new lineup on the town board.

Weinstein , a Democrat, won another two-year term with 1,401 votes to Gilbert's 1,063. In the race for selectman, incumbent Selectman David Muller , also a Democrat, beat Republican Dennis Tracey , 1,248 votes to 1,209.

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