Roundup: Missing Boaters, Sakura Trees, I-95 Bridge …

Westport Police offer this update on the vessel that sank near Cockenoe Island on Sunday:

Just before noon yesterday, they located the boat near buoy #2. The search for 2  missing boaters continued all day — even as the WPD was dealing with a major incident involving 2 stolen vehicles, and the arrests of 9 suspects.

At 4:30 p.m., the Westport Police Marine Division was notified of a body in the water approximately 3 miles northeast of the sunken boat. A Bridgeport Fire boat was first on scene, and recovered the body from the Sound.

At Bridgeport Harbor they were met by Westport Police, Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office, and the family of the victim. He is 38-year-old Juan Gabriel Valle Pineda of Spring Valley, New York.

His body was taken to the office of the chief medical examiner for an autopsy.  Westport Police extend their sympathies to this family, and hope to recover the second missing person. That search was suspended last night, at 9 p.m.


It’s been a while since the weeping cherry blossom trees in front of Sakura were in the news.

No news is good news.

After being slated for destruction during the Post Road renovation project, it appears they’ve been saved.

Sakura blossoms (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

Andrew Colabella — the Representative Town Meeting member whose initial involvement helped draw attention to the plight of the beloved cherry blossoms — passes along word from Joseph Sorcinelli, construction project engineer for the state Department of Transportation.

The trees may still be pruned, for utility clearance. There is also a concern involving the planned sidewalk elevation, and the pine tree on the property just west of the Sakura driveway.

But it does appear that — as noted during discussions in March, with town officials, the property owner and restaurant owner, Earthplace, Connecticut DOT and Eversource — the icons will remain.

That’s good news indeed.

And next spring, the only weeping will be the trees’.


The long-anticipated traffic-opalypse — resulting from the “bridge slide” replacement on I-95 over Saugatuck Avenue — did not take place until Sunday afternoon.

Here’s what it looked like at dusk:

(Photo/Ward French)

The new span sat lonely and still unopened. Meanwhile, southbound drivers sat.

Or took alternate routes, everywhere in Westport.


Meanwhile, kudos to all who made the “slide” happen.

AI Engineers (who probably named their firm long before ChatGPT was a thing) posted this on LinkedIn:

“Major milestone on I-95 [sic] in Norwalk, CT! This past weekend, our talented team oversaw the first successful Accelerated Bridge Slide for the project. As the prime consultant, AI Engineers is not only committed to the safety and efficiency of the construction, but we’re also keen on sharing our knowledge. Our engineers have crafted an animation to demonstrate this innovative slide in action.

“Balancing the bustling traffic of I-95 in Norwalk, minimizing the impact to neighboring communities in Norwalk and Westport, and adhering to precise schedules – notably the season-specific bridge slide – demands careful planning and flexibility.

“Proud to be at the forefront of innovation, ensuring better and safer roads for everyone!

Additionally, a big shoutout to Connecticut Department of Transportation, and Yonkers Contracting Company, Inc. for executing the slide to perfection!”

AII Engineers’s LinkedIn post includes an animation, to show how the “slide” worked. Click here to see. (Hat tip: Neil Brickley)


It’s (almost) that most wonderful time of year.

Stew Leonard’s 32nd annual Hanukkah menorah lighting celebration is set for Thursday, December 7 (5 p.m.).

Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht of Beth Israel Chabad will light an 18-foot menorah. Everyone is invited to enjoy live music, holiday songs and pre-packaged kosher refreshments. Hot potato latkes, dreidels and chocolate gelt will be distributed to all.

The 2021 menorah lighting at Stew Leonard’s


David Berkman sold out his first “Jazz at the Post” shows.

This Thursday (October 26, 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399; $15 cover charge), he’s back for more.

He’s joined by Dayna Stephens, an exciting saxophonist and one of Greg Wall’s favorites. (“The Jazz Rabbi” — who will play too — is no slouch on sax himself.)

Rounding out the quintet are bassist Marty Kenney and drummer Curtis Nowosad.

Reservations are strongly encouraged:


Lynn Flint’s special 1-day estate show, to benefit Bridgeport artists in need of help with rent, food, fuel and materials, is this Thursday (October 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 1 Belaire Drive on Saugatuck Avenue near the Norwalk border).

A few of the many items available at the estate sale to benefit Bridgeport artists.


“Westport … Naturally” has featured many of our town’s most interesting creatures.

Today we introduce a short-tailed weasel, last seen at the Westport Community Gardens.

Hey, guy!

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)


And finally … in honor of the good news from Sakura (story above):

(Let “06880” be the first to wish you a Happy Hanukkah! And let us remind you for the umpteenth time: Westport’s hyper-local blog relies on reader support. Please click here to help. Thank you!)

8 responses to “Roundup: Missing Boaters, Sakura Trees, I-95 Bridge …

  1. There will also be weeping for the WCG. I’m happy about the tree but disappointed that there is more interest in saving it than there is in the nationally recognized garden

  2. With all the distressing news in the world, it made me smile to know the beautiful trees will remain. Thanks to all involved!

  3. What an adorable little weasel!

  4. Isn’t it amazing how the site of the beautiful Sakura cherry tree makes us feel better as does the adorable smiling weasel who lives at the WCG? Life – be it an explosion of colorful blooming flowers, the sound of birdsong and humming bees, the colorful, delicate butterflies fluttering about or a bounty of vegetables ready to be picked – nurtures our souls. Nature – gardens – are a gift from our Creator and should be treasured and protected with great care.

  5. Has anyone told this lovely short-tailed weasel he may be losing his home to an astroturfed ball field??

  6. Victoria McGovern

    Hello adorable little weasel! I know how much work it took to build you a home at the Long Lots Preserve and the WCG. Volunteers planted hundreds of native trees and shrubs around the preserve in 3 phases. As those trees and plantings took root, those volunteers collected old tree trunks and logs to create a stick pile! Not just any stick pile, when you have enough sticks and big logs, you can create a dead wood habitat which supports a multitude of insects and pollinators, provides a hunting ground for small mammals (like you!) and shelters over-wintering and hibernating wildlife.

    This pile of logs turned into a flourishing wildlife community! Where small mammals like our weasel friend can thrive, and where fungi and wood-boring insects can find homes in the wood and go on to support their predators the spiders, frogs, hedgehogs, and birds.

    This preserve is slated to be bull dozed and replaced with an artificial turf baseball field, but I hope Westport politicians can see reason and retain these increasingly valuable natural green spaces. Perhaps even build more of them!

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