Category Archives: People

Remembering Joe Folino

Joe Folino — the former Staples golf and ice hockey coach who is in the national High School Coaches Hall of Fame, and a star hockey player himself for Boston University — has died.

Folino suffered an aortic aneurysm. He was 88 years old, and lived in Boca Raton, Florida.

Joe Folino

His day job was teaching typing and business at Staples. But he was best known as a 2-sport coach. He stressed fundamentals, and produced winners.

Folino came to Staples not long after earning All-East hockey honors at BU in 1950. He played semi-pro hockey, then helped start the Wreckers’ program and coached them when they played at the Post Road rink (near what is now Lansdowne condominiums).

Among his Staples golfers was former PGA tour member Brian Claar.

Folino was inducted in the High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2004. His record at Staples in both sports was 535-86-6. His teams won 6 state golf championships.

After retiring, Folino founded Golf Haus International, an instructional company. He also advised a high school golf team in Florida.

His survivors include his wife, Lorraine. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

(Hat tip: Wally Meyer)

The Best Small House In America

In one corner, we have a 6-story, 48-unit apartment complex proposed for a 1.16-acre parcel of land on the corner of Wilton Road and Kings Highway North.

Right next to it, we have an 1,800-square foot home, on 1.8 acres. In 1988, it won a House Beautiful contest for the “Best Small House in America.”

That home — being cited by opponents of the planned apartments as much more in keeping with the streetscape, scale and marshland environment of the heavily trafficked area — was featured in a March 13, 1988 New York Times story.

Front view of "The Best Small House in America," on Wilton Road near the corner of Kings Highway North.

Front view of “The Best Small House in America,” on Wilton Road near the corner of Kings Highway North…

The house is 42 feet at its highest point. There’s a 30-foot high cathedral, plus 3 bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, office, 3 full baths, 2 half-baths, sauna, exercise room and family room, Not too shabby — or small, really.

Architect Bruce Beinfield’s “whimsical” design, blended modern and traditional architecture. The view from the rear looks across the Taylortown salt marsh and Saugatuck River, to downtown Westport.

...and the rear view, looking across the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

…and the rear view, from the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

The Times said the land — purchased in April 1987 for $213,000 — passed through a number of owners over the years. During construction, workers found evidence of a house from a half century ago.

Asked why no one had developed the site since then, builder James A. Olson Sr. said, “Apparently people didn’t realize the potential of the property.”

The owners of the proposed 48 apartment complex next door sure do.

Bonus fun fact: The home was listed originally for $990,000. A William Pitt broker said, “I guess some people felt that because it’s small, it would sell for about $200,000.”

Water, Electricity From Westport And Israel Transform Uganda

Nearly every day, the “06880” tagline — “Where Westport meets the world” — is proven true.

Today’s story takes us to Uganda.

Last year, the Kaners — 2nd selectman Avi, his wife Liz and their 3 kids — were looking for a new charity for their family-owned supermarket to support.

Innovation: Africa seemed perfect.

Drinking water, for many Africans.

Drinking water, for many Africans.

The 8-year-old non-profit uses Israeli solar technology to bring electricity and clean water to African villages, dramatically improving and transforming lives in 7 nations.

Morton Williams Supermarkets’ annual golf tournament raised enough funds to develop a solar-powered system in Bukaduka, Uganda. Pumping water from deep underground, it saves women and young girls from walking several kilometers, many times a day, to fetch parasite and worm-filled water, shared by livestock, that causes diseases like cholera and typhoid.

The water is also tied in to a drip irrigation system, which provides food and income for farmers and their families.

That’s great stuff. But the Kaners did not stop there.

Last month, Liz — an extraordinary volunteer with a variety of local organizations — and her daughter Julia headed to Uganda. They got a first-hand glimpse of the lives changed by their water system. It pumps 16,500 liters of fresh water a day in the village.

The water supply today, thanks to Innovation: Africa.

The water supply today, thanks to Innovation: Africa.

Touring Bukaduka and other villages, the pair saw the incredible impact solar-powered water and electrical systems have on schools, orphanages and religious institutions. Hospitals too — lights have replaced kerosene lamps, while refrigerators can store medicine and vaccines.

The Kaners were greeted with skits, songs and dances. They were presented with homemade gifts.

But none of those gifts compared to the smiles on the faces of the men, women and children Liz and Julia saw — and the water and electricity that flowed — as they traveled to the remote Ugandan villages that now enjoy the fruits of innovation.

Liz and Julia Kaner, with some new friends.

Liz and Julia Kaner, with some new friends.

Watch Liz and Julia Kaner turn on the solar-powered fresh water system for the first time in Bukaduka Village, Uganda:

Watch Julia speak to the villagers during the water system dedication:

(Click here for many more photos and videos from the Kaners’ journey.)

Sapersteins Battle Mankind’s Scourge

It’s been a mild winter so far. (We’ve already forgotten about that 1-day blizzard.)

That’s good news to everyone. Except maybe Larry Saperstein.

Dr. Lawrence Saperstein

Dr. Lawrence Saperstein

The Westport resident — a radiologist on the faculty of the Yale School of Medicine — wanted to protect his own immune system. For years, he suffered from debilitating winter colds.

Saperstein knew the benefits of zinc and vitamin C. But he wanted more.

He learned about liposomal formulations. Ingredients are enclosed in hollow spheres (liposomes) that enter the bloodstream more easily than conventional water-soluble supplements. In addition, many more active ingredients are absorbed by the body.

Saperstein added an all-natural patented black pepper fruit extract. It’s believed to enhance absorption even further, and give an energy boost.

Saperstein has 3 school-aged kids. He works in a hospital. Since taking Zyta-C, he has not had a cold in 4 years.

zyta-cThere are plenty of nutritional supplements. Most taste icky. Saperstein and his wife Amy — a marketer — convened a group of Westport preschool moms to test different flavors. They settled on citrus.

The Sapersteins named their company High Point Laboratories, for the road they live on. From her home, Amy is spreading the word about their product.

She’s starting by giving out Zyta-C at health-conscious spots around town. Westport Tennis Club and Joyride have already signed on.

Amy wants to include “06880” readers. For a free box (a 1-week supply sells for $14), go to http://www.zyta-c.com, then enter the code “zytafree06880” at checkout.

Let’s hope the mild winter continues. But whatever the weather, let’s also hope that Larry and Amy Saperstein continue to prevent common colds.

 

Tyler Mitchell Dresses With Levatee

Mitchells does not sell t-shirts.

But Tyler Mitchell does.

The 1997 Staples grad — a 3rd-generation family member, who co-owns and runs Mitchells’ 2 Wilkes Bashford luxury stores in San Francisco and Palo Alto — has embraced the Bay Area’s entrepreneurial, tech spirit.

And — although this is a solo, private venture — he’s married it to the apparel business he knows so well.

The Levatee app offers plenty of options.

The Levatee app offers plenty of options.

Tyler — who hangs with friends like the co-founder of Instagram — has created an app. Users can quickly and easily design t-shirts with their own words or phrases, in different colors, styles and fonts. Shirts are printed within 24 hours of an order.

They’re available in V-neck, crew, neck and tank styles. (Of course, they’re made from high-quality material.)

Tyler is not the first person to offer the service. But, he says, his shirts are digitally printed, creating a better look. And the ordering process seems quicker than competing companies — 30 seconds, not 30 minutes.

Users can share their design by text, or on Facebook and Instagram (duh). Shirts can be sent as gifts via a phone’s contact list.

The app is called Levatee. “Levity” and “t-shirts” — get it?

You can’t get it at Wilkes Bashford. Or at Mitchells.

Tyler’s out in San Francisco. This is all about the web.

Tyler Mitchell poses with a vareity of Levatee shirts. (Photo/San Francisco Chronicle)

Tyler Mitchell poses with a vareity of Levatee shirts. (Photo/San Francisco Chronicle)

Special Carnival Honors A Very Special Girl

Last year, all Leah Rondon wanted for her 6th birthday was dinner with her parents and brothers, and Peachwave for dessert.

This year is different. Leah was killed in August, just a few days before starting 1st grade. Her death devastated her hometown of Ansonia — and Bedford Middle School, where her mother Colleen is a much-loved science teacher.

Leah Rondon's 6th birthday treat.

Leah Rondon’s 6th birthday treat.

Leah’s birthday is soon. To honor her memory — and give something back to others — her family will celebrate with a carnival for elementary school children.

It will be held next Saturday (February 6), from 12-3 p.m. The site is Kolbe Cathedral — the Bridgeport High School where Leah’s dad, Henry, is principal.

The carnival includes games, food, raffles and entertainment. Kids everywhere (and their parents) are invited. Admission is free — but money spent on tickets for individual events will go to a scholarship fund, for a senior girl at Kolbe hoping to attend college.

Colleen says: “We hope this will be a great time for kids and their families, during an otherwise dreary and cold time of year. We are ready to memorialize our daughter in a happy and positive way.”

The Rondons’ world was rocked when Leah — riding in a wagon at a friend’s house — was struck by a car. They knew that joyous occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Leah’s birthday would be tough.

“Leah was always having fun,” Colleen says. “We have so many memories of her enjoying the regular routine of a child’s life: going to school, playing in the yard, attending camp, competing in soccer, basketball and softball.”

Leah Rondon

Leah Rondon

In just 6 1/2 years of life, Colleen says, Leah made her mark. “She was fun-loving and joyful. She made other people laugh and be happy too.

“Having a carnival to provide some fun for other kids continues to bring those joyful memories to us. Raising money to help high school students continue their education is a bonus.”

Most students at Kolbe Cathedral need help for college.

Colleen hopes that the girl who receives scholarship help from the carnival will be like Leah: someone who loves school, is involved in it, and is genuinely kind to others.

And like Leah, she will be a winner.

(If you can’t be at the carnival on Saturday but would like to help, there is a “Donate” button on the upper left side of the Kolbe main home page: http://www.kolbecaths.org. Hat tip: Julia McNamee)

 

 

Online Petition Plea: No Wilton Road Apartments

An online petition opposing the proposed 4-story, 48-unit apartment complex at the corner of Wilton Road and Kings Highway North is picking up steam.

In its first 2 days, nearly 200 Westporters asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny an application to build on the environmentally sensitive, heavily trafficked site.

Petition organizer Adrian Little — a 19-year Westport resident — lives a mile away. He says, “People in Green’s Farms and Coleytown should be just as concerned about this as those who live nearby. We have only one town.”

Little notes that most residents signing the petition also leave comments. They cite 3 overwhelming concerns: traffic, the environment and aesthetics.

The fact that some of the units will be deemed “affordable housing” is not an issue, Little notes.

“No one is troubled by the notion of affordable housing,” he says. “The problem is the location, bulk, and sheer lack of concern for our environment.”

(To see the petition, click here.  For more background on the proposed apartment complex, click here.)

The Taylortown Salt Marsh abuts the proposed apartment complex at 122 Wilton Road.

The Taylortown Salt Marsh abuts the proposed apartment complex at 122 Wilton Road.

Entree Nous: For Valentine’s Day

No, the headline above is not misspelled.

Just between us: “Entrée Nous” is a beautifully produced, creatively conceived and cleverly named concept.

The hard-cover book features a dozen Fairfield County restaurants.

But it’s more than just gorgeous photos of food. If you call for a reservation, tell the restaurant you’ll be using “Entrée Nous” — and bring the book — you’ll receive 1 complimentary entrée.

That sure beats flowers for a Valentine’s Day gift.

“Entrée Nous” is the brainchild of Weston residents Mica DeSantis and Elizabeth Menke. They met through the Weston Women’s League.

Mica DeSantis and Elizabeth Menke.

Mica DeSantis and Elizabeth Menke.

Mica is a New Jersey native with an IBM marketing background, and plenty of volunteer experience with charities.

Elizabeth grew up in Minnesota, earned an MBA and spent years in Europe as an investment banker. Overseas, she was intrigued by “passport-style” guides that introduced residents to area restaurants, while offering complimentary meals and donating part of the proceeds to charity.

For the Fairfield County edition — the prototype of an idea they hope to replicate in similar areas around the country — they sought an interesting, eclectic mix of dining options. They wanted a variety of price points, cuisines and towns.

Westport is represented by Kawa Ni. The women like Bill Taibe’s concept, and strong flavors.

Kawa Ni's photo in "Entree Nous." (Photo/Lauren Santagata)

Kawa Ni’s photo in “Entree Nous.” (Photo/Lauren Santagata)

Other “Entrée Nous” restaurants near Westport include The Spread and Cafë Chocopologie in SoNo, Barcelona and Martel in Fairfield, and Artisan in Southport.

Like a chef who sends out an unexpected dessert, the book delivers a couple of delightful surprises. A section toward the end explores Fairfield County’s “food support system,” including the Westport Farmers’ Market.

And a page dedicated to Community Plates explains how the non-profit transfers fresh, usable food that would otherwise be thrown away by restaurants, markets and other food industry sources, to folks who need it.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will benefit Community Plates.

Mica and Elizabeth plan to keep that concept — a wide range of restaurants, a focus on local markets and farms, and a page dedicated to a food-oriented  volunteer organization — in every “Entrêe Nous” they produce.

"Entree Nous" features a handsome hard cover, and gorgeous photos inside.

“Entree Nous” features a handsome hard cover, and gorgeous photos inside.

A US Customs delay pushed delivery of the books to December 22. Elizabeth drove to New Jersey, then hand-delivered pre-ordered copies in time for Christmas.

Reaction has been very positive. In addition to introducing newcomers to the culinary delights of Fairfield County — and expanding the horizons of longtime residents — “Entrêe Nous” is popular with realtors and stores specializing in local products.

The dozen restaurants featured are happy to spread the word about their menus. They appreciate the luscious photographs, showing off their food and decor. (None of them paid for inclusion.)

And, of course, lovers everywhere are delighted they can give the gift of a complimentary meal — not chocolates or flowers — on Valentine’s Day.

(To order a copy, click on http://www.entreenous.net. For information on bringing “Entrêe Nous” to your community outside of Fairfield County, email info@entreenous.net.)

3:58.74!

When Henry Wynne ran for Staples, everyone knew he was destined for stardom. The question was not if he would break a 4-minute mile — but when.

The answer is: yesterday.

Henry Wynne, after yesterday's race.

Henry Wynne, after yesterday’s race.

Running for the University of Virginia at Boston University’s John Thomas Terrier Invitational, the 2013 Staples grad — and Connecticut high school state mile record holder — roared to a 3:58.74 finish.

Even more remarkable: He was tripped, and had to hurdle another racer en route to his mark.

On hand for the performance — the 2nd-fastest in UVa history — were Wynne’s father Craig, sister Grace (a Staples junior), former Staples runners Luis Cruz and Erica Hefnawy, and former Staples track coach Malcolm Watson.

One of the first people Henry called after the race? Longtime Staples track legend Laddie Lawrence.

Bonus fun fact: The very 1st Connecticut runner to run a sub-4-minute mile was another Staples grad: Steve Wheeler. He ran a 3:59.4 in 1974 for Duke University — an ACC rival of Virginia. 

Nothin’ But…

In 2008, Jerri Graham was not happy with snack bars. The ones on the market lacked the taste, texture and ingredients she wanted to eat — or feed her family.

So the Westport woman created her own. Her “Nothin’ But” bars were a hit, at local cafes, farmers’ markets and gyms. Yet as a solo entrepreneur, she could not take advantage of their surging popularity.

Around that time, Steve Laitmon tried a bar at Doc’s — the old Saugatuck coffee shop. Impressed he stepped into the parking lot, found Graham’s number and called her.

An attorney who also owns the Calendar Group — a Westport-based staffing firm for high net worth individuals and families — Laitmon asked where Nothin’ But was sold besides Doc’s. She was in the farmers’ market, a couple of gyms and cafes, and Arogya.

Jerri Graham and Steve Laitmon.

Jerri Graham and Steve Laitmon.

Laitmon went door-to-door — literally — expanding the market. His 1st target: the Hamptons. He was successful — and so were Graham’s bars.

A few years later, Nothin’ But is now sold in a couple of thousand outlets. Costco and Whole Foods carry them, in 3 regions each. Hudson News sells them nationally. In March, they’ll be at 7/Eleven.

Last year, the company grew by 300%. Sales are in the low 7 figures.

Laitmon did it by old-fashioned pavement pounding. He also brought in a vice president of sales, a sales assistant and an operations guy. That’s it, though. Nothin’ But is nothin’ but them.

Success comes from the product itself, Laitmon says. “We’re taste-driven, with clean ingredients. Nothing artificial. No garbage.”

Right now there are 4 granola bar flavors, and 4 types of cookies. The Nothin’ But brand has plenty of potential, Laitmon notes. But they’re solidifying their current offerings, before expanding.

Nothin' But

Speaking of expansion: Nothin’ But’s offices just moved from Westport to Stratford. The company needed a loading dock — and that’s hard to find here.

Doc’s — where Laitmon made that 1st phone call to Graham — is no longer around. But Nothin’ But bars are.

Thanks to that Westport connection, they’re more popular than ever. And all over the country.