Roundup: Board of Ed; RL Stine,Eversource, Manna Toast, More

The Board of Education meets tonight at 7 p.m. The Zoom meeting includes 2 important agenda items: superintendent of schools Tom Scarice’s recommendation for reopening, and proposed changes to the calendar.

The session will be livestreamed on, and televised on Optimum channel 78 and Frontier channel 6021.

Avery Place — a main component of downtown — has finally been cleared of wires, limbs and debris. More than a week after Tropical Storm Isiais, power has been restored to the area.

But, as photographer Wendy Cusick notes, vines are killing trees here, and throughout Fairfield County. And when high winds roar in, they can help kill utility poles too.

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)

This will send goosebumps down the spines of many youngsters:

R.L. Stine — the bestselling horror story kids’ author — will be the final speaker in the Westport Library’s Camp Explore program.

The virtual (and free!) event — open to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection — is set for this Tuesday (August 18, 4 p.m.).

Click here to register for Stine’s appearance — and click here to watch all previous Camp Explore events.

In the aftermath of Eversource’s twin public relations disasters — a rate hike, and a belated response to Tropical Storm Isaias — State Senator Will Haskell says:

“Public utilities need to be monitored closely, and both legislators and members of the public have a role to play in holding Eversource accountable. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is holding a public hearing (via Zoom) on Monday (August 24, 10 a.m.),

“I encourage anyone interested to submit testimony and join me in standing up to this monopoly that too often lets customers down. This isn’t about one neighborhood left behind or the unpredictability of New England weather — this is about a company that makes billions in profits yet fails to prepare for a storm that announced itself days in advance of arriving in our backyard.

“To submit testimony, email comments to (mention Docket #20-01-01 in the subject line), or mail them to: Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051.

To attend or participate in the Zoom hearing, click this link.

Manna Toast has been open just a couple of weeks. But already they’re expanding their Church Lane hours — and adding music.

They’re open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to  9:30 p.m.  Entertainment this weekend includes Henry Jones (Friday, August 14, 6 to 9 p.m.), Suzanne Sheridan & Friends (Saturday, August 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.), and Wass (Melissa Wasserman, Sunday brunch, August 16, 12 to 2 p.m.).

Here’s a toast to a new Westport tradition!

Carole Bernstein did her civic duty on Tuesday: She voted in the state primary election.

Two days before, 3 cars — parked in her driveway — were broken into. She’s not alone. She’s seen plenty of Ring videos posted online, showing near-daily brazen break-ins. She’s read several warnings, by town and police officials, to never leave anything visible in your car.

So Carole was quite surprised to see several signs at the Bedford Middle School polling place, telling voters to “leave purses and backpacks in your locked vehicle.”

What’s the reason for the signs? What’s wrong with bringing a purse or backpack into the voting station (which is no longer even a booth — it’s open, for all to see).

Is it a COVID-related rule? If so, what’s the theory behind it? Even so, doesn’t it contradict everything we’re hearing about vehicle safety?

I vote for purses and backpacks in the polling place!

Two years ago — just 15 days after arriving at the University of Colorado — recent Staples High School graduate Corey Hausman died in a tragic skateboard accident on a steep campus pathway. He was unsuccessfully treated at a local medical facility. It was the 3rd college death of the new semester.

Since then, his family has been involved in Among their projects: creating a medical emergency checklist with questions and suggestions his family wishes they had considered while sending Corey off to college.

Some of the items pertain to students (“Did you sign a HIPAA release providing a family member rights to access medical records? Do you carry a medical alert card or ID with emergency contacts, in case you lose your phone?”). Some are for parents, if 911 is called on behalf of a child (“What medical rights do you have if your child is over 18? What is the quality of the campus medical center?”).

Nanette hopes all students and parents will review the checklist, before the new school year begins. Click here to see.

Corey Hausman (center) with Lucas (left) and Casey (right): “The Brothers.”

Earlier this summer, Tony Award-winning Kelli O’Hara hosted a great virtual Westport Country Playhouse event, showcasing Fairfield County’s best young talent.

The Westport resident is back this Friday (August 14, 7 p.m.). It’s the capstone for THRIVE — Teens Having Resilience In a Virtual Environment. The online program for area high school students was created by Westport Country Playhouse, the Shubert Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre.

The 15 THRIVE participants — including Westporters Camille Foisie and Raia Morgan, and Weston’s Harrison Solomon — will share their experiences in the virtual summer camp. It’s part talk show, part variety show, and part cast party.

The “Friday Night THRIVE Live!” event is available on You Tube (WestportPlayhouse channel) and Facebook Live (Westport Country Playhouse).

Kelli O’Hara

And finally … yeah, Eversource. We’re talking about you:

13 responses to “Roundup: Board of Ed; RL Stine,Eversource, Manna Toast, More

  1. Thank you Dan!!

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  2. Unfortunately, P&Z closed down the live music on Church Lane this weekend. Something about “rules” per the Downtown Merchants Association.

    • Ok….this odd.
      Why can’t they continue with the music?
      It’s tucked nicely on Church Ln, out the way of first responder vehicles.
      They can have live music at Imperial Ave lot which upset Morley and Peter M but not on a side road of Main St

      • Rozanne Gates

        You’ll have to ask P&Z. All I know is that when the DMA called to cancel Suzanne Sheridan, we were told that P&Z decided that Church Lane was not zoned for music.

        • Now the ‘zoning police’ are going to make things difficult.
          I thought this was going to be the ‘Renaissance of Downtown’ as so many wanted.
          P&Z was just going to do temporary deal for the time being.
          Don’t get my wrong. I’m all following the rules…
          I just thought this was going be a ‘exception’ to generate business.
          Just my thoughts and observations from reading Dan’s stories

          • I hear you Wendy, however there are other stakeholders to consider besides commercial interests. As it happens, there are families living in the downtown area and they are lawfully entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their property. The zoning regs exist to, among other things, safeguard that right.

            • Rozanne Gates

              Morley Boyd, how does having music on Church Lane until 8 PM fare any differently from neighborhood homeowners being allowed to have live and loud bands in their yards (disturbing all around them) until 10 PM? Am I missing something? Or was it just about David Waldman not wanting music on Bedford Square?

              • Your question is a perfectly reasonable one, Rozanne. The answer is that the former was a proposed seasonal public use on commercially zoned property. As a sidebar, our Outdoor Eating Area regs do not contemplate live outdoor music for reasons which become evident when they are ignored in that regard.

                • Rozanne Gates

                  But that still doesn’t answer the part about why music (at any decibel) is allowed in neighborhoods until 10 PM. Why is not the same rule applied to all areas of Westport?

                  • Bill Strittmatter

                    As a disinterested observer, I would think the reason is relatively obvious.

                    While in theory your neighbor could have nightly loud parties until 10PM, loud parties or events in residential neighborhoods, at least historically, tend to be random, one off events and not daily/weekly occurrences at any given location. Further, those events are often neighborhood parties where neighbors (except for the crabapple that complains about parties) are invited and, thus, not disturbed. So they tend not to be regular nuisances for any given person or property though, if you have particularly obnoxious neighbors (say like college kids blasting music), they could be.

                    On the other hand, regularly scheduled events to support commercial activities create the likelihood of frequent, regularly occurring nuisances for nearby properties so are, appropriately, restricted.

                    It is sort of the same reason why you can’t operate a restaurant from your house in a residential neighborhood even though, theoretically, you could have 100 people over every night for dinner.

                    • Thanks, Bill. Your explanation is much better than mine.

                    • rozannegates

                      The Downtown Merchants Association had only the month of August on Friday and Saturday nights designated for music to bring people into an otherwise dead zone of a very boring downtown Westport. How would that have harmed anyone?

                  • OK, that’s fair. I’ll try to explain a bit.

                    In this instance, the difference mostly has to do with the frequency or intensity of use. In the case of Church Lane, I think the plan was to make seasonal, live, outdoor music a regular, weekly feature that was open to the public. That, as you can imagine, presents possible quality of life implications for nearby residents that a private, infrequent outdoor gathering would likely not. This is where the Special Permit and its Conditions of Approval enter to picture. In fairness to the DMA and others, I gather that they were given faulty guidance by staff in the Office of the First Selectman. And that’s unfortunate.

                    Just to clarify, there is actually no regulatory time cutoff on private, residential outdoor music in Westport – technically you could party til dawn if your neighbors were all cool with it. On the other hand, we have a nuisance reg which essentially says that if certain types nuisances (such as amplified music) are detectable beyond the property line of the emitter, such use may constitute a zoning violation. If memory serves, someone in Old Hill recently got a letter from P&Z regarding loud music – and that very reg was cited.