Roundup: Chino Cortez, School, Drought & Lanternflies …

In December 2020, I posted an email from Katherine Calise.

After a big snowstorm, her trash collector — Chino Cortez of Cortez Refuse — had shoveled his own path to her cans.

“He is the kindest person — all around, the nicest person you could meet,” she wrote. “In the summer he sprays the garbage cans so you will not get sick.”

Others agreed. On social media they praised him for hauling away Christmas trees, making sure cans were safely stored in the wind, and texting customers if they forgot to put the trash out.

The other day, Katherine contacted me again. This time, it was about helping out with Chino’s medical bills.

At work earlier this month, a bungee cord snapped and hit his eye. His retina was severely damaged. He’ll have surgery soon, as doctors try to save his sight.

A grateful customer has organized a GoFundMe campaign. Click here for more information, and to help.

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It’s an annual tradition: On the first day of school, parents take photos of their kids at the Juniper Road/Caccamo Lane bus stop.

Here’s this year’s edition. Parents: Save for posterity. Kids: Don’t be embarrassed — decades from now, you’ll appreciate this.

PS: The little ones on both ends? They’ll be graduating before you know it.

(Photo/Pam Long)

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Speaking of school: The Porch @ Christie’s on Cross Highway is located close to 4 of them: Staples High, Bedford Middle, and Coleytown Middle and Elementary.

It’s also on the route for people heading into and out of Westport.

A good number of folks passing near, or by, are teachers. To celebrate a new school year, The Porch is offering free coffee and tea to all educators, now through September 9, with any purchase (6:30 to 9 a.m.) or salad, bowl, sandwich or grill item (3 to 5 p.m.). Just show your school ID.

What a great way to honor teachers. Owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello have learned their customer service lessons well.

Free coffee or tea for teachers here.

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Speaking of local businesses that care:

On Sunday, Tutti’s Ristorante held a fundraiser for Jimmy Nuzzo. “DJ Jimmy James” — a friend to the owners (the Funicello family) and many others — needs a new heart and liver. 100% of the proceeds from the $25 penne-and-meatball dinner went to help.

Westporters, Norwalkers and others came through — big time. Tutti’s raised nearly $4,000 for Jimmy.

Maria Funicello asked me to thank the “06880” community. Consider it done — and thank you, Tutti’s, too!

Tutti’s owners Pasquale and Maria Funicello opened their restaurant (and hearts) to Jimmy Nuzzo.

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There are many new families on Ludlow Road, Wright Street and Orchard Lane recently.

So the neighborhood near Old Hill threw an old-fashioned block party on Sunday.

There was food and drinks. Adults chatted; kids romped. It was a great way to come together at the start of the school year.

One attendee suggested that every neighborhood with new families should do the same.

Or how about: Every neighborhood in Westport, with or without newcomers?

Send us your block party photos. Party on!

Seeking shade, and familiar and new faces.

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Weston is taking steps to address its drought.

Yesterday, residents received this message from 1st Selectwoman Samantha Nestor:

“I am reaching out to remind residents that Weston (and all of Fairfield County), have been experiencing Stage 2 drought conditions since mid-July due to below normal precipitation levels across Connecticut. Stage 2 identifies an emerging drought event that could potentially impact water supplies, agriculture, or natural ecosystems.

“Per Governor Lamont, ‘Residents should be mindful of their water consumption and take sensible steps to reduce impacts on other water uses and on the environment. We must begin early steps now to mitigate the potential for harm should the drought become prolonged.'”

Weston asks residents to voluntarily take measure to help reduce the impact of the drought conditions, including:

  • Reduce watering lawns, gardens, and other landscaped areas; if watering is essential, late evening hours are best
  • Avoid burning in or near woodlands or brush-lands
  • Take shorter showers
  • Run dishwashers and clothes washing machines with full loads
  • Shut off water while washing dishes, shaving, brushing teeth, and lathering up to wash hands, rather than running the water continuously
  • Avoid washing vehicles or power-washing homes and other buildings
  • Do not use water to clean sidewalks, driveways, and roads
  • Postpone planting new lawns or vegetation
  • Minimize overall water use by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures
  • Follow any additional conservation requests

For more information from the Connecticut Drought Information Center, click here. (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)

Meanwhile, one more indication that Westport is in a drought too:

Near Levitt Pavilion. (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Speaking of environmental threats, consider the spotted lanternfly.

It’s crossed Connecticut’s southwest border — that’s us — and could threaten businesses, nurseries and homeowners, causing billions of dollars in damage while devastating the landscape, in 2 years.

The SLF is a sap-feeding plant hopper native to China. It is believed to have entered this country as an egg mass stuck to a shipment of stone sent to Pennsylvania in 2012. Since then, that state’s agriculture, vineyards, forests, nurseries and residential areas have suffered serious damage.

The SLF started making its way into Connecticut last year. The state Agricultural Experiment Station issued a quarantine order. The hope is that the pest will be slowed long enough to find a treatment to control or eradicate it.

The beautiful-looking insect affects fruit trees, grapes, hops and ornamental trees. The nymphs (immature stage of the SLF) and adults feed on sap from trees and vines, causing them to weaken. Excretions from the SLF stick to the leaves; black sooty mold grows, reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesize properly.  This reduce crop yields, and weaken trees and plants further, eventually destroying them.

Spotted lanternfly

It can also wreak havoc on lawn furniture, sidewalks, sides of buildings, car tires and everything else outside, making them a sticky mess.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station urges everyone to report any sightings.

If you spot an SLF, kill it right away. Report it here; include a photo if possible. (Hat tip: Susan Iseman)

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Jenni Kayne opened its 4th store last weekend. The location for the “California lifestyle brand” is Sconset Square.

It showcases the interiors arm of Jenni Kayne Home, with furniture set in “real-room environments,: and home accessories. The store also carries Jenni’s skincare line, Oak Essentials.

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“Westport … Naturally” returns to the theme of drought. Deadman Brook looked particularly low the other evening:

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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And finally … in honor of back-to-school (and The Porch @ Christie’s celebration of teachers — see story above), here’s this long-forgotten Elton John classic.

Okay, the lyrics are not exactly a paean to a classroom education. But still …

3 responses to “Roundup: Chino Cortez, School, Drought & Lanternflies …

  1. Early morning is a much better time to water. Watering at night encourages disease because the water remains on the plants.

  2. Thank you for this write up and mention about Chino Cortez. He has been working for our family for years (too many to count) and I can tell you that you would be hard pressed to find a harder working man as he is. He has always gone over and above, always asking what else he can do for us without us ever asking. This man is one of a kind and it truly makes me so happy to see to see him being supported with so much love and kindness. Thank you!

  3. The picture of the spotted lanternfly above is in the late nymph stage. It looks a bit different at different life stages. A lifecycle chart with illustrations can be found here: https://www.montgomerynj.gov/sites/njd9montgomerytownship/files/media/bc-stc/image/8659/slf_lifecycle.jpg

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