Pop-Up Pyrotechnics

Westport has welcomed pop-up outdoor dining.

A pop-up Halloween shop.

Now — just in time for July 4th — we’ve got a pop-up fireworks stand.

It popped up in the parking lot of the Rio Bravo/Julian’s shopping center — the one near Maple Avenue that was once anchored by Pier 1.

Of course, this being Connecticut, you can’t get the real, big, honest-to-goodness finger-losers here — not in the parking lot, or anywhere else in the state.

For those, you have to go to Pennsylvania.

You know: the Keystone State.

Pavilion Progress

Midway through the Compo Beach pavilion roof removal project, here’s what’s happening:

The view is certainly different — a lot lighter. But where will the seagulls perch?

Meanwhile, the picnic tables had to go somewhere. They’re outside the pavilion, on the cannon side.

At midday today, they got a bit of use.

Unsung Hero #4

Most of us don’t know our trash collectors.

They arrive before we’re awake, or when we’re not home. If we do see them, we seldom interact.

But Bill Malone is special. According to Jo Ann Davidson — one of his 82 customers at Harvest Commons — he takes care of everyone, in all kinds of weather.

“He is always cheerful and helpful,” she says. “He lets us know if the holidays change the schedule. A real pro.”

Jo Ann is a retired 1st grade teacher. She is proud of all her former students — especially her recycler, Bill Malone.

Bill Malone

Mike Rea Suspends 1st Selectman Campaign

Jim Marpe’s route to re-election as first selectman just got easier.

Last night, Mike Rea announced he was suspending his potential run for the town’s top post.

The vice chair of the Board of Finance formed an exploratory committee in March.

Now, he says, business commitments prevent him from dedicating the time to the effort. Rea serves as vice president of corporate services and global real estate for Gen Re.

Mike Rea (left) after his first Board of Finance victory. On the right is current 2nd selectman Avi Kaner.

Rea notes that he was “overwhelmed with the support and encouragement from Westporters across the political spectrum.” He looks forward to serving out his finance board term.

The lifelong Westport resident, 1970 Staples High School graduate and 35-year volunteer in town government believes that the challenges Westport faces today “require new thinking. The state of Connecticut has thrust financial issues upon Westport. Residents should and are expecting more, requiring new creative thinking from our town leaders.”

He adds, “This is a good time for new and younger people to step forward and volunteer to serve our community. Contact the political party of your choice and sign up to run for office. Westport is counting on you.”

Pic Of The Day #72

Tubing off Compo Beach (Photo/Kristina Bory)

Tuesdays @ The (T)rain

Call it a “dry run.”

Except a sudden, unexpected thunderstorm sent dozens of commuters, parents, kids and random Westporters scurrying for the safety of tents set up by food vendors, local organizations and the sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — while knocking out the live music that had just kicked in.

And except for a storm-related Metro-North overhead wire problem that created delays of up to 30 minutes, and caused trains to shuttle back and forth between Westport and Rowayton.

Apart from those glitches though, the 1st-ever “Tuesdays @ the Train” event went swimmingly, at Luciano Park next to the station.

The sun came out. There were games and eats. Everyone relaxed, went with the (still-wet) flow, and had a great time.

Mark your calendars for the next 2 Tuesdays @ the Train: July 18 and August 8.

First Selectman Jim Marpe checks out the “Tuesdays @ the Train” tents in Luciano Park.

Kids played in a variety of ways.

Meanwhile, all around town, a rainbow lit up the skies. Here’s a sampling:

Compo Beach (Photo/Rich Stein)

Burying Hill Beach (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

The downtown view, from iFloat (Photo/terry Stangl)

Compo Pavilion Roof: The Sequel

According to initial reports from Westport Parks and Recreation, the Compo Beach pavilion roof is being removed and replaced.

Like Republican promises about Obamacare however, that might not be exactly what’s happening — at least, right now.

In fact, this week the roof is only being removed.

For a while now, Parks and Recreation director Jen Fava has been on the Board of Finance July 5 agenda, to ask for funds for removing and replacing that roof.

However, when a consultant reported that the roof was structurally unsound, Parks and Rec decided to remove it ASAP.

That project began yesterday.

The Compo Beach pavilion — including the soon-to-be-removed roof.

Fava will still go before the moneymen next month. If approved, a new roof will be installed before next summer.

But for the rest of this season, the pavilion will be open to the sky. Unless, Fava says, another type of roof solution is found.

The rest of the structure — brick walls and cement floor — is not being worked on at all.

The roof removal is expected to be completed before the July 4th weekend crush.

Say “Thank You.” Please.

It’s a big, important — and time-consuming — part of a Staples guidance counselor’s job: writing college recommendations.

With 45 to 55 seniors a year — and each one taking 30 minutes to 2 hours to compose, based on feedback from the student, teachers, coaches, music and drama directors, community members and others — that’s a lot of work.

Because their school days are full, counselors often write recommendations on their own time, at home.

However, writing college recs is not part of a Staples teacher’s (or coach’s, or other staff member’s)  job description.

Officially, that is.

But students often ask. And — because their job is helping teenagers succeed — those teachers often oblige.

On their own time.

The most popular teachers are asked to write dozens of recommendations (and other references — for scholarships, summer programs, etc.) — a year.

You’d think that students would show their thanks with a note — or at least a heartfelt email.

You’d also think that students would eagerly share their acceptances — and final college decisions — with the folks who played at least a tiny role in helping them get in.

Some do.

But nowhere near as many as you think.

Victoria Capozzi

Victoria Capozzi — a longtime Staples guidance counselor, who like her colleagues works hard to craft every recommendation to each student’s personality, accomplishments and goals — talked recently about the ins and outs, ups and downs, rewards and disappointments of college rec writing.

“Kids may not realize, but adults are truly invested in them, throughout the entire process,” she said.

“The teenage brain doesn’t see it that way. They just see it as a checklist item on their college application.”

Once a student completes the application, Capozzi explained, “the teenage brain shuts down. It’s done.”

It’s important, she noted, for adults to remind students of the importance of “a gracious thank-you.” Email is “the minimum.” The best option is a handwritten note, delivered in person.

Those are “old school values,” Capozzi admitted. But they exist for a reason.

She showed an example of a great note. It meant so much, she stuck it on her file cabinet.

But a thank-you like that is rare. Capozzi had 48 seniors this year — young men and women she started with as freshmen. Only 8 wrote notes.

“I don’t need accolades,” Capozzi stressed. “I’m their counselor. I know where they’re going. But teachers pour their hearts and souls into their letters. It’s just common courtesy to let them know where you’ve decided to go.”

She added, “I don’t want to sound negative. These are great kids, and great families. I just want to stress the importance of this.”

Staples’ guidance department tries to educate students and parents about the value of this courtesy. It’s in the PowerPoint presentation made during junior and senior years. Counselors also mention it in face-to-face meetings — including the senior “exit interviews.”

“Don’t forget to thank your teachers!” they say.

Sadly, many do.

Pic Of The Day #71

Not Woodstock — Westport. This was last night’s “Back to the Garden” season-opening concert at Levitt Pavilion. (Photo copyright Dave Curtis/HDFA Photography)

The Palm Tree Lives!

When I posted yesterday’s photo of a palm tree that appeared suddenly last Friday at Compo Beach near Ned Dimes Marina, I thought it was just a cute little piece.

More than a dozen readers responded. Most loved it.

Charlie Haberstroh did not. The chair of Westport’s Parks and Recreation Commission commented:

Just to be clear, it was not planted by the Parks and Rec Department nor was it by the Tree Warden. Hopefully, whoever planted it will remove it and save the tree.

Boo!

One view of the palm tree … (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

When I heard the back story (Butchie Izzo planted it as a replacement for a tree that died) — and posted it this morning — I figured folks would be amused.

Very quickly, over 40 “06880” readers added their thoughts. All of them love the palm tree. It’s fun; it’s quirky; it was done by a great guy, with a huge Westport heart.

Haberstroh heard you.

… and another. (Photo/Randy Christophersen)

A few minutes ago, he wrote:

Since the tree is a replacement for a tree originally planted with town authorization, we have decided to let the palm tree stand. It will replaced by Butchie by contract in the fall. Enjoy!

Yay!

Score one for Westport.

For Butchie Izzo.

And for our friends on the Parks and Rec Commission, who will hopefully enjoy our special palm tree with the rest of us, all summer long.