Roundup: Cribari Bridge, Mahackeno, Bedford Wind Ensemble …

The state Department of Transportation is working on the Cribari Bridge from 10 a.m. through noon today.

They plan intermittent openings and closings. Police officers will be stationed on both sides of the bridge — with one at Post Road West/Wilton Road/Riverside Avenue, and one on Post Road East/Imperial Avenue — to assist with traffic, as it is diverted to the Post Road.

Traffic congestion will be heavy. Drivers are urged to avoid the area if possible.

The Cribari Bridge will be closed intermittently through noon today. (Photo/Adam Goldberg)


The Westport Weston Family YMCA had a split decision this week.

The Planning & Zoning Commission agreed to their requests to increase the capacity of their Mahackeno camp from 360 youngsters to 400, and for 1 more hour of morning practice for the Water Rats swim team.

No whistles may be used at the pool, and someone must be available 24/7 in case of neighbors’ concerns.

But the board denied a request for extended hours for the splash pad and large slide.

The Mahackeno Outdoor Center pool.


Lou Kitchner has had some great bands, during his 16-year career as a beloved Westport music teacher.

But none ever received a 99 score (out of 100) at the Fantastic Festival — an adjudicated event — until this year’s Bedford Middle School Wind Ensemble.

They’re also his first concert band to win 1st place. They beat out 65 bands from 4 states for that honor.

Lou told parents: “A professional trumpet player with a degree in performance commented she has never heard a band at this age, this good. She said, ‘your band puts high school bands to shame. I cannot believe they are middle schoolers and can play like this.’ She went on to compliment their tone, style, mechanics and musicality.”

Congratulations, Lou and all the musicians. Staples High School looks forward to hearing you play! (Hat tip: Maggie Gomez)

The Bedford Middle School wind ensemble. Director Lou Kitchner is in the back row, center.


Speaking of middle school: This year’s 5th graders are headed there next year.

These Kings Highway Elementary School friends are ready for their next adventure. Go get ’em, guys!

From left: Dylan Rosen, Jacob Selzer, Gavin Nash.


The newest Staples Tuition Grants named award honors Dick and Paula Leonard.

For decades, they were fixtures in the Westport community. As a long-time English teacher at Staples High School, president of the Westport Education Association and a labor lawyer, Dick inspired educational excellence for generations of Westport students.

A successful real estate broker, Paula gave generously of her time in many ways. She helped lead construction of the Westport Senior Center and convert the original Saugatuck Elementary School into The Saugatuck, providing moderate income housing to aging town residents.

Paula Leonard died last month. A celebration of her life is set for June 25 (3 p.m., Senior Center).

The award commemorates the spirit of community and volunteerism that Paula and Dick embodied. Click here to donate; click here for the Staples Tuition Grants home page.

Paula and Dick Leonard.


Rindy Higgins was inspired by yesterday’s “06880” story on the Interfaith Refugee Resettlement Committee, and their work to help a Syrian family find a home in Stratford.

The longtime Westporter works with the extended family of 11. She helped get household supplies, offered job ideas, and provided tutoring and love. She’s especially excited at the great progress made by their 6-year-old.

She notes that the 16-, 14- and 11-year-olds need pro bono tutors in math, reading and English. Volunteers can email; I’ll pass your information on to Rindy.

Volunteer tutors are needed for 3 Syrian younsters.


Club 203 wrapped up its fantastic first year yesterday, with karaoke at the Westport Library.

The social organization for adults with disabilities welcomed dozens of partiers. CRUMBL Cookies donated goodies, MoCA took care of the art, CTFSN presented on taking new friendships to the next level, and volunteers made everyone feel welcome.

Club 203 kicks up again in September. Click here for more information.

Club 203 karaoke at the Westport Library. (Photo/Stacie Curran)


As if traffic wasn’t bad enough yesterday — the Cribari Bridge was stuck in the “open” position for a while — this supposedly licensed driver ignored the “One Way/Do Not Enter” sign, plus 2 lines of cars facing him, to cause chaos on Main Street.

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

We’re used to seeing occasional wrong-way automobile drivers. We seldom see wrong-way truckers.

Jamie Walsh describes what happened around 2:30 p.m.: A state trooper pulled the driver over. Cars had to back up onto the Post Road to let the truck pass.

The trooper followed him with lights on, presumably to a safer location to continue their conversation.

Perhaps the trooper could say: “Don’t you know? There’s a cut-through in Parker Harding Plaza!”


Speaking of downtown: Luke Molina is tonight’s (Friday) featured musician on Church Lane.

The Staples High School graduate plays old-school music — Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, Lead Belly, Hot Tuna — with new flair.

Music for diners and strollers comes courtesy of the Westport Downtown Association. Click here to help support the musicians.

Luke Molina


Everyone in Westport — and, thanks to “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” far beyond — knows the Black Duck.

And everyone in Athens knows it too.

Their Duck does not have sloping floors, and a view of the river. It’s not a former barge.

But, according to Beth Berkowitz — who visited the outdoor café and found it packed with locals (not a tourist in sight) — it too is very relaxing.

“It’s our tour guide’s favorite place for true Greek coffee,” she says.

“More like an espresso shot than like our coffee. And it’s served only black or with a pinch of sugar — no cream or milk. It was great!”

Russ and Beth Berkowitz at the Black Duck — Athens version.


Work on the Evergreen Avenue sewer system between Myrtle Avenue and Washington Avenue begins July 5, and runs through August 4. Through traffic will be detoured from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays. Evergreen Avenue will be open to the residents of the area.

Markings are made for the Evergreen Avenue sewer project. (Photo/Mark Mathias)


The 2nd annual Westport Pride drag show is set for tomorrow (Saturday, June 17, 5 to 8 p.m., MoCA Westport).

“Light Up the Night” is family friendly. The evening includes neon face painting, hair and makeup services, a photo booth, custom pizzas and cocktails.

The show itself begins at 6 p.m. MC Desmond reads from their book “Be Amazing: A History of Pride.” After 3 performers, there’s a Q-and-A about their journeys.

Click here for tickets, and more information.


Kevin Mashia died Wednesday, at his Norwalk home. He was 54, and began his career at Westport Tile & Design, using his creativity and eye for design well. He then moved on to Hastings Tile.

Kevin is survived by his parents, Richard and Martha; his sister Stephanie, niece Sydney, and many friends.

A Mass of Christian Burial is set for Tuesday, June 20 (10 a.m., Assumption Church). The family will receive friends in the Harding Funeral Home on Monday (June 19, 4 to 7 p.m.). Click here to leave online condolences. Contributions in Kevin’s name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Kevin Mashia


“Westport … Naturally” has been swamped with dozens of deer photos.

This is the only one, though, that includes a “dear” little kid.

Yash Lorenzato got acquainted with 2 fawns, in his North Bulkley Avenue yard.

(Photo/Gianni Lorenzato)


And finally … here’s a salute to all the 5th and 8th graders in Westport. It’s time for you to be movin’ up … and:

(Before you move on, please consider a donation to “06880.” We’re a non-profit; it’s tax-deductible. Just click here — and thank you!)

6 responses to “Roundup: Cribari Bridge, Mahackeno, Bedford Wind Ensemble …

  1. Sorry to hear of Paula’s passing. Just wanted to link back to your old article on Mr. Leonard. Among the most beloved teachers at Staples for decades.

  2. I must compliment you on your journalism. You do it so well. Today’s column is a good example of that. Good Job! and Thank you!

  3. No whistles at the YMCA pool?! How about safety taking precedence over some cranky neighbors? Good guards don’t whistle often but it’s a necessary tool for managing a safe environment. As a former ocean lifeguard, can’t imagine being told to “swallow the whistle” from anyone with safety in mind.

    • If I had to guess, I’d bet that was referring to whistle that would start and stop various exercises, drills, etc. I can’t imagine a lifeguard could not use a whistle (though I also can’t imagine there’s much need for it from lifeguards during swim practice).

  4. Petra Krause

    Those swimming at the pool during the extended hours are those on the swim team. So the whistles pertain to swim drills. Hardly a scandal of safety. Also: the Mahackeno pool doesn’t equate in any way with the ocean.

  5. Jack Whittle

    Petra beat me to it – the “no horns / whistles” condition was in respect of the earlier operating hours of the Y’s outdoor pool, which they now can operate beginning at 6:00 am M-F. The Y presented this request as necessary to accommodate the needs of the Water Wrats swim teams. I don’t even believe there are lifeguards on duty for these swim team practices – only coaches.