Roundup: Chief Foti, Mark Blake, Food Inequality …

The other day, Police Chief Foti Koskinas took CNN’s Alisyn Camerota for a spin.

The footage wound up yesterday on the network’s “Champions for Change” segment.

Foti was cited for his innovative community involvement, including helping the department handle demonstrations calmly and respectfully. He spoke candidly about the state of American policing, noting that he would take a knee with George Floyd protesters in solidarity, prayer and against police brutality — but not against police or the flag.

TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey praised Foti’s ability to listen. “There was some change in his position” during discussions after the Michael Brown incident, Bailey said — “and change in ours as well.”

The piece will be rebroadcast this Sunday (September 25, 8 p.m.), as part of a CNN special hour-long “Champions of Change.”

Click here to see the segment. Spoiler alert: I’m on camera for a few quick seconds. And I provide the voice-over intro, conclusion and other thoughts.

It was an honor to be included.

Screenshot from CNN: Alisyn Camerota and Chief Foti Koskinas.

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Autumn arrives tonight at 9:04.

This morning, Westport said goodbye to summer with a quick thunderstorm. Andrew Colabella captured this dramatic lightning strike over Cockenoe Island:

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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The Westport Police Department and Emergency Medical Services mourn the death of Mark Blake. The popular and generous EMS crew chief died Tuesday.

He was hired in May of 1990, and had a long, rewarding career serving Westport. He was a representative for the Southwest EMS Council for over 10 years, and was most recently its president.

Blake was a certified child safety seat instructor, and organized many car safety seat clinics throughout Fairfield County.

Blake also volunteered with Weston’s fire department and emergency medical services, for over 39 years. He was the department’s vice president, and earned the rank of lieutenant.

Westport Police and EMS say: “Those who knew Crew Chief Blake quickly realized that his passion was to help any way he could. Whether organizing a safety clinic, treating a sick patient or helping at the scene of a fire in Weston, he  was there.  His dedication and passion will most certainly be missed.

Deputy Chief Sam Arciola oversees Westport EMS. He says: “Mark was an incredibly dedicated public servant as well as a widely respected EMT. He never hesitated to put the needs of others above his own.”

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker adds, “I was saddened to hear of the passing of Crew Chief Blake. On behalf of the town, I want to extend my condolences to his friends and family as well as express how appreciative the town is for all his years helping our community.”

Mark Blake

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One more police item: Local departments were recognized recently, in a ceremony at Beth Israel Chabad in Norwalk.

Westport was represented by Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Weston by Police Chief Ed Henion. The event included plaques of appreciation, music and brunch.

Among the officials at the Beth Israel Chabad ceremony: Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht (far left), Weston Police Chief Ed Henion (4th from left), Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas (5th from left) and Westport 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker (6th from left).

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The state of Connecticut will help fund replacement sidewalks near Greens Farms Elementary School, and renovations at the Weston Police Department.

The sidewalk project includes $250,000 from the state, and $100,000 in town funds. The police building includes $500,000 in state funds, and $264,926 from Weston.

State grants come from the Small Town Economic Assistance Program.

A sidewalk replacement project is coming soon to Greens Farms Elementary School.

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Up Next Teens is a Staples High School student-founded and run organization. They’ve just launched a new project: #FeedFairfield County.

The goal is to raise $25,000. That would supply meals for nearly 10,000 hungry residents.

They asked Wakeman Town Farm for help. The result is a great partnership.

On October 6 (6 p.m.), WTF hosts an intimate chef’s dinner. Marcia Selden caters; Greens Farms Spirits supplies the wine and bubbly — and UpNext Teens will serve.

They’ll also speak to guests about their goals and projects. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Massimo Tabacco — the former owner of Bar Lupa, and other restaurants — has a new venture.

He’s partnered with lifelong Westporter Matthew Balk to open Il Pellicano, at 1460 Post Road in Fairfield.

The Italian restaurant features classic and contemporary dishes, including small plates, steaks, fish and piadina (an unleavened thin bread with delicious fillings).

There’s an extensive cocktail menu too, with experienced mixologists.

Il Pellicano opens tomorrow (Friday, September 23). A roof patio has just been approved, and will be ready soon. Click here for more information.

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The Westport Library’s Verso Studios are leading-edge.

So they’re a perfect spot for a new education initiative. The Fairfield County-based LiveGirl non-profit will co-host a 9-week Leadership Lab for high school girls there. Sessions start October 3, and run each Monday through December 14.

Founded in 2014, LiveGirl’s mission is to “prepare the next generation of diverse, brave female leaders with the skills, community, and connections so that all girls may thrive and make a positive impact on the world. LiveGirl’s vision is to contribute to a world free from both gender and racial inequality.”

Utilizing state-of-the-art Verso Studios media facilities, the LiveGirl Leadership Lab will focus on creative arts empowerment, multimedia expression and training. Participants will develop storytelling skills through creative channels like video, music and podcast production.

The program is free. Spots are limited, and pre-registration is required.

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The next Amy Simon Fine Art show is “Slow Motions,” with Liz Barber, Christopher Jeffries, Carolanna Parlato and Paul Shakespear.

It runs September 24 through November 5, at 123 Post Road East.

“Summer Fold 2” — mixed media on canvas (Liz Barber)

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Longtime Westporter and former Planning & Zoning Commission member Michael Stashower died yesterday. He was 96 years old.

The Cleveland native attended Hobart College as part of the US Navy’s V-12 Officer Training program, then received BA degree and MBA degrees from Cornell University.

After retiring from a long and successful career in corporate finance, Michael continued used his expertise as an overseas volunteer with the International Executive Service Corps, and to help with New York City’s 2012 Olympic bid.

In more than 50 years in Westport, he was actively involved in the community. He was elected twice to the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission. He was a past president of the UJA/Federation of Westport-Wilton-Norwalk, treasurer of Temple Israel, and served on the board of directors of the Council of Jewish Federations and the Jewish Home for the Elderly.

He loved sailing, tennis, and playing clarinet with the Westport Community Band.

Michael is survived by Gloria, his wife of nearly 72 years; their Susan (Paul Milbauer), Debby Missal (Michael) and Jon (Allison), and grandsons Jordan, Scott and Matthew.

A service is set for tomorrow (Friday, September 23, 10 a.m., Temple Israel). Shiva will be observed tomorrow from 1 to 5 p.m. at 321 Lansdowne.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests consideration of a donation to Temple Israel of Westport.

Michael Stashower

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Staples High School Class of 2010 graduate Keith Gelman moved back to Westport with his wife, in June.

The other evening he saw this barred owl, in his front yard. Classmate Stuart Schmerzler snapped this stunning “Westport … Naturally” photo. Follow @schmerzlertakesphotos on Instagram, for more great shots.

(Photo/Stuart Schmerzler)

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And finally … in honor of the great “Westport … Naturally” photo above, I had to include this song, by this band.

Get it?

(“Who” is going to support “06880”? Please click here to help!)

6 responses to “Roundup: Chief Foti, Mark Blake, Food Inequality …

  1. I was a member of Weston Volunteer EMS and served alongside Mark Blake for years. Without a doubt he was one of the most dedicated and hard-working members. The number of hours he devoted is incredible, and to think he was doing the same for Westport Volunteer EMS is amazing. He will be greatly missed by many. Condolences to his family.

  2. Now that Greens Farms schools are getting sidewalks, it’s time to add Saugatuck Elementary School as well. The Riverside of Riverside Ave has about a half mile gap without much needed sidewalks. This is a safety issue. One cannot walk to town without crossing that awful intersection at post road and Riverside. That is being addressed, which is wonderful. Now let’s complete this area with sidewalks along the River side for pedestrians.

  3. Although the info on Michael Stashower’s “local involvement” probably came from his family, you could also have mentioned that Mike and I together represented Westport on SWRPA (Southwest CT Regional Planning Authority) for a 4-year term.

  4. Dan, great voice over on the CNN video. Why did I not know you were an activist? Of course you are along with 10 other hats. Keep it up.
    Baxter

  5. Thanks Foti for putting Westport on the map for ALL the right reasons

  6. Tried Il Pellicano tonight. Food was excellent and decor was beautiful. Great to see Massimo again.

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