Category Archives: Economy

Roundup: Lynsey Addario’s Ukraine, Mrs. London’s Credit Cards …

Yesterday’s New York Times featured a Page 1, top-of-the-fold story about a female Ukrainian soldier. It begins:

Just over a year ago, Yulia Bondarenko’s days were full of lesson plans, grading and her students’ seventh-grade hormones.

When Russian missiles shattered that routine and Russian troops threatened her home in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, Ms. Bondarenko, 30, volunteered to fight back, despite her lack of experience, the grave risk to her life and Ukraine’s apparently impossible odds.

“I never held a rifle in my hands and never even saw one up close,” Ms. Bondarenko said. “In the first two weeks, I felt like I was in a fog. It was just a constant nightmare.”

The harrowing text is accompanied by Lynsey Addario’s haunting photos. The 1991 Staples High School graduate — a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur fellowship grant winner — made 5 trips to Ukraine last year.

She followed Bondarenko’s journey on four4 of them, reporting from the Kyiv, Kharkiv and Cherkasy regions.

Click here for the full story, and Lynsey’s powerful photographs.

Yulia Bondarenko learns how to use a rifle. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)


Alert “06880” reader Gil Ghitelman is a fan of Mrs. London’s Bakery — to a limit. He writes:

“Mrs. London’s is a welcome addition to the Westport dining experience. While I miss the vibe engendered by Java at the same Church Lane location several years ago, their pastries, albeit pricey, are quite delicious.

“What I find disturbing is their 3.5% surcharge for credit card use. The only outfits (other than gas stations) that I’m aware of using this ploy are online gun dealers.

“Mrs. London’s is only shooting itself in the foot if they continue this practice.”


Longtime Westporter Phyllis Makovsky died in her home, surrounded by her family, following an inspiring fight against leukemia. She was 80 years old.

The Queens native graduated from Barnard College with honors, and earned a master’s degree in teaching from Harvard University.

She was passionate in the classroom. She taught advanced math at the Brearley School in Manhattan and Great Neck South High School on Long Island, before turning her skills and compassion to her family, and through prominent roles in the community.

In 1972 Phyllis met Kenneth Makovsky. They married within months, and shared a partnership of 50 years. The couple enabled each other’s successes in business, at home and in their social and philanthropic lives. She served as a crucial strategic advisor to Ken as he built the public relations agency Makovsky & Company.

Phyllis was a doer. Her work came in many forms. She served Temple Israel as a board member for 10 years. She established a scholarship at Washington University in St. Louis dedicated to music. After her second diagnosis with breast cancer, she returned to Norwalk Hospital as a volunteer in the chemo-infusion center. She spent 20 years there — and returned to the same room for her final leukemia treatments. She was greeted with big hugs.

Phyllis used her talents as a teacher, and her combination of grace, grit and empathy, to make sure that her family could shine. As a friend and a sister she did the same. Phyllis was present, kind and insightful, and her love and good energy was returned to her by many.

Phyllis is survived by her husband Kenneth, sons Matt and Evan, and brother Stephen.

Funeral services will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, February 21, 1 p.m., Temple Israel). Burial will follow at 225 Richards Ave in Norwalk. Shiva will be observed at her Westport home tomorrow (Tuesday, February 21, post-service until 8 p.m.), and Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m..

To livestream the funeral service, please click here. Go to the YouTube page; it will be the first “live” video listing for the day. To share a condolence message, click here. Memorial contributions may be made to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

(Phyllis Makovsky was the subject of a song written by her son Matt. Click here for that story, posted last Friday on “06880.”)

Phyllis Makovsky


We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: There’s nature all over Westport, including the heart of downtown.

Claudia Sherwood Servidio captured this “Westport … Naturally” scene, just a few feet from the Parker Harding Plaza pavement.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)


And finally … speaking of Mrs. London’s pie’s: Does she know Mrs. Wagner?

(“06880” is “where Westport meets the world (including America).” Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

$80, 80 Years

$80. 80 days. 80 years.

Those are the numbers Staples Tuition Grants want you to know.

And act on.

Since its founding in 1943 — 80 years ago — the non-profit has helped thousands of graduates with financial need achieve their dreams of higher education.

There was one grant that first wartime year: $100. David Hughes leveraged the important aid to earn a bachelor’s degree from Harvard. He added a master’s, Ph.D. — and stayed on, as a professor of music.

David Hughes’ writeup in the 1943 Staples yearbook.

Last year, STG provided 4,000 times that amount — $400,000 — to 108 graduating seniors, and Staples alums already in college. Grants ranged from $7,500 to $1,500.

The money did not fall from the sky. It came from nearly 700 individuals, families and organizations. They contributed to over 80 named awards, and to Staples Tuition Grants’ general fund.

Now there’s a new one: the 80th Anniversary Community Award.

It’s accepting donations for just 80 days — from last Thursday through April 30. Contributions can be made in increments of $80: $80, $160, $320, $800, $8,000 — whatever feels right.

Donations can honor a teacher, coach, administrator, student, loved one, friend — or, say, the entire graduating class of 2023. “In honor” donations will be recognized at this year’s award ceremony.

The $100 awarded to David Hughes in 1943 went a long way. Harvard’s undergraduate tuition in the ’40s was about $400.

This year, tuition alone is $52,569. Add room, board, other fees and more, and you’re talking real money.

In-state tuition at the University of Connecticut is $18,524 — without room, board and other expenses.

Many Westporters can afford the full boat. Many more can’t.

Staples Tuition Grants honorees gathered in 2021. (Photo/Pamela Einarsen)

But — whether you have children of college age or not; whether you graduated from Staples, or college, or not — think in terms of $80 increments.

Staples Tuition Grants hopes many Westporters, and former residents, do.

If so, then in 80 days from now, a number of worthy graduates will be a bit closer to a college education.

It’s something that could serve them well, for their next 80 years.

To donate to the 80th Anniversary Community Award, click here. For the Staples Tuition Grants home page, click here. To read the backgrounds and biographies of the 80-plus named awards, click here.

After the 2018 Staples Tuition Grants ceremony, pediatrician Dr. Albert Beasley and his wife (3rd and 4th from left) posed with 4 former patients (from left): Nicole Greenberg Donovan, Dan Woog, Dan Donovan and Lynn Untermeyer Miller. Dr. Beasley has since died, but his named award lives on. (Photo/Paddy Donovan)

Westport’s Grand List Lives Up To Its Name

The Grant List is official.

According to town assessor Paul Friia, the net 2022 Grand List of $11,312,004,303 represents an increase of approximately 1.9 percent from the 2021 valuation.

The Grand List is the sum of the net assessed value of all taxable property – real estate, motor vehicles and personal property. Motor vehicles and personal property are valued annually. Real estate is updated based on the market values determined as of the town’s last revaluation date (October 1, 2020).

Homes like this one near Compo Beach — which sold for $11.4 million — keep Westport’s Grand List high.

All 3 categories showed increases.

The 1.4 percent increase in real estate assessment results from continued residential and commercial new construction, plus renovation activity.

Construction continues on 32 condominiums at 41 Richmondville Avenue, and 12 at 60 Wilton Road.

In addition, improvements to buildings on Main Street and the construction of approximately 66 new homes contributed to the increases in the 2022 real estate Grand List.

Personal Property increased approximately 14 percent, suggesting a reinvestment in local new and existing businesses to include equipment and leasehold improvements.

Motor Vehicles increased a total of 4.7 percent. Although less of an increase than the previous year, Friia says it reflects a return to a more typical market.

The current adjusted 2022 Grand List totals are:

Assessment 2022 % of List
Real Estate 10,447,786,476 92.36
Motor Vehicle 486,524,740 4.30
Personal Property 377,693,087 3.34
TOTAL 11,312,004,303 100%


Friia also announced the Top 10 taxpayers in Westport:

 Connecticut Light & Power Inc          Pers. Property                         141,398,240

60 Nyala Farms Road LLC                Real Estate                                83,335,700

Bedford Square Assoc LLC               Real Estate                                51,520,000

Aquarion                                             Real/Pers. Prop.                        34,668,193

Equity One Westport Vill. Center      Real Estate                                32,310,568

Bridgewater Associates LP                Pers. Property                           25,676,660

Byelas LLC                                        Real Estate                                24,856,700

LCB Westport LLC                            Real/Pers. Prop.                        22,302,600

1735 Ashley LLC                               Real Estate                                20,310,660

Westport Riverside Assoc LLC          Real Estate                                19,470,500

Southern Connecticut Gas Co            Pers. Property                           19,077,130

The Nyala Farms office complex — which includes Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund — is Westport’s 2nd highest taxpayer.


Roundup: Grand List, Nomade, Antarctica …

How grand is the Grand List?

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker discusses that important financial document — what it is, how it’s grown, how it helps fund town services, and what it all means to residents — on the latest “Westport … What’s Happening?” podcast.

Click below to listen. The series is sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.


Connecticut Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants” list is out.

And the statewide winner — in the “Readers’ Choice” poll — is Nômade.

The Main Street spot with the international menu did not make the “Experts’ Picks” list.

But what do they know?

Click here for the full poll.



Just in time for the Super Bowl, the Westport Police Department and Westport Sunrise Rotary Club are sponsoring a “Souper Bowl of Caring” food drive. All donations support Homes with Hope, and Westport’s Department of Human Services food pantries.

Non-perishable foods can be brought to Stop & Shop this Saturday (February 11, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Can’t make it then? Hammer & Nails — the new men’s grooming lounge at 606 Post Road East — is accepting food donations all week long.


Westporters love to travel. Some have climbed Mount Everest; many roam far and wide. But visiting all 7 continents is still quite rare.

Last month, 3 Westporters completed their quest to visit all 7 continents.

Rick and Totney Benson, and Mark Mathias, visited both South America and Antarctica, qualifying us for membership in the 7 Continent Club.

Mathias was with his wife Kim. That’s her 6th continent; she’s missing only Australia.

They were with one group. Meanwhile, the Bensons traveled with Wilton-based Tauck Tours.

They found out about each other when the Bensons arrived in Buenos Aires, and saw Mathias’ name on a card from someone picking them up at the airport.

It’s a small world indeed. But, as Stephen Wright said, I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.

Rick and Totney Benson in Antarctica …

… and Mark and Kim Mathias, with friends.


And — because “06880” truly is “Where Westport meets the world” — here is another local story from Antarctica. Bill Kutik writes:

“I love adventure travel. I just rode an expedition ship from the southern tip of South America, hugging the coast of Antarctica, and finishing near the southern tip of New Zealand.

“It took 30 days to get from the Western Hemisphere to the Eastern Hemisphere under the bottom of the earth. Despite being upside down the whole time, we didn’t fall off once!

“An intrepid hiker (and founding editor of Backpacker magazine in 1972), I had to tour New Zealand’s famous mountains used in the movies Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Power of the Dog.’ Here’s a photo of me from Fiordland National Park on the southwest coast (fresh from the helicopter).

Bill Kutik above Doubtful Bay.

“But my heart was captured by this eager, welcoming sign outside Westport, New Zealand. It’s a former port town — just like us.”

Bill Kutik in Westport — New Zealand.


Expanding our horizons even beyond Antarctica: “Our galaxy was a quasar.”

That’s the topic for the next Westport Astronomical Society lecture. This one — with Professor Joshua Tan of LaGuardia Community College — is live, in the WAS classroom (February 21, 8 p.m.).

This will be Tan’s third appearance at the Astronomical Society. An optical astronomer, he studies short-period binary millisecond pulsars, open problems in binary modeling, neutron star physics, and 3-body dynamics.

Joshua Tan


Each year, Westport middle and high school students rock the National History Day competition.

They do it thanks to beyond-the-call help from their teachers — and extra attention from community members, who help students through the research and writing process.

Dr. Lauren Francese, townwide social studies coordinator, invites community members to help in a new capacity this year: as judges in the Fairfield County regional competition (Saturday, March 18, Sacred Heart University).

Judges do not need to be history or education experts. What’s needed is engaged, empathetic feedback to students on their papers, websites, museum exhibits, performances, and documentaries). Training is provided to all volunteers the morning of the event.

Click here to sign up as a judge. Questions? Email

The Bedford Middle School National History Day team, at the 2018 national competition.


Hey! It’s Henry Hey!

The keyboardist — who has toured and recorded with David Bowie, George Michael and Rod Stewart, and served as musical director for Kennedy Center extravaganzas — headlines this Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (February 9, VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.; $15 cover).

Hey will be joined by Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall, Dave Richards and Jason Tiemann. Reservations are highly recommended:

Henry Hey


After 2 weeks, bagels are still sitting on High Gate Road.

Chris Grimm reports on the scene, off Maple Avenue South: “The 2 piles have been joined by a smaller, breakaway third pile, to the left, while a few to the far left seem to be trying to flee. Behind the larger pile to the right seem to be a large number of casualties.”

(Photo/Chris Grimm)


A full moon brings out a full complement of “06880” photographers.

This one was captured by Rick Leonard, on Wright Street. Naturally, it’s today’s “Westport … Naturally” image.

(Photo/Rick Leonard)


And finally … in honor of Mark and Kim Mathias, Rick and Totney Benson, Bill Kutik, and anyone else who has traveled the world (see stories above):

(From Connecticut to New Zealand, “06880” is where Westport meets the world. Please click here, to continue helping us do all that we do. Thank you!) 


“06880” Podcast: Matthew Mandell

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce is unlike any other Chamber, anywhere.

Instead of lobbying for business interests, it organizes on-the-ground events to actually help businesses succeed. The Slice of Saugatuck, Dog Festival, Supper & Soul concerts, Pizza and Hamburger Contests — they’re all Westport Chamber efforts.

And they’re all spearheaded by executive director Matthew Mandell. The other day, I chatted with him at the Westport Library for an “06880” podcast.

His route to the job was intriguing. His work for the Chamber (and the Representative Town Meeting, where he represents District 1) is fascinating. And his insights into this town — its retailers and restaurants, its politics, and what makes it tick — are delivered clearly and strongly.

Click below to view.

Roundup: Techno Claus, Ukraine Aid, Blue Sunday …

For the 14th year in a row yesterday, “CBS Sunday Morning” featured modern gift ideas from “Techno Claus.”

Each year, the clever, rhyming St. Nick bears a striking resemblance to David Pogue.

And, as often happens, some of the shots in the segment bear a striking resemblance to our Westport neighbor’s home and neighborhoood.

Click below to see if you agree. As a bonus you’ll get some great ideas, on everything from a Zoom meeting “mute alert” and rechargeable hand warmers to a “cable crud” organizer and automobile back window message system.


It was not the usual collection request.

Rather than toys, food, books or cash, Mark Yurkiw asked for new generators, chainsaws, kerosene heaters, flashlights, sleeping bags, cellphone power banks — the kind of important, durable things Ukraine needs to withstand the continued bombardment by Russia.

A shipping container was headed overseas in a few days. Westporters responded to Mark’s request — quickly and generously.

He received at least one of everything he requested, in an “06880” post. This photo shows some of the donations (in the nation’s famous blue and yellow colors).

But, Mark, notes, “Ukraine is a large country. They can use everything.”

There is still a day before a truck will be loaded.

Donations can be brought to 190 Cross Highway and left by the barn. For questions or pickup arrangements, call Mark: 646-873-0050.


The last concert of Mark Naftalin’s “Blue Sunday” jazz series filled the Westport Library yesterday with great music, and appreciative music fans.

James Montgomery headlined the finale. In a long career, he’s earned plenty of honors.

So has the series host. Naftalin — a Westport resident — is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, for his work with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

James Montgomery (center), Mark Naftalin (piano, far left) and friends, at yesterday’s Westport Library “Blue Sunday” show. (Photo/Dennis Jackson)


As seniors race to finish their college applications before the January 1 deadline — and their parents worry about paying for the next 4 years — there’s help in sight.

Staples Tuition Grants is open for applications (click here). Seniors and current college students with demonstrated financial need have until April 9 to apply for STG aid.

Last year, the 81-year-old organization gave over $400,000 in grants, to more than 100 students.

STG could not do it without the help of donors. As they gear up for another season of high demand, the non-profit reminds “06880” readers of the importance of donations. Click here to help.



Last week’s Greens Farms Garden Club annual wreath-making and holiday lunch was both festive and functional.

The group gathered at the Connecticut Audubon Society. Their work can now be seen throughout Westport, Fairfield and Bridgeport, at the Bigelow Center for Seniors, Earthplace, Gillespie Center, Greens Farms post office, Wakeman Town Farms, CT Audubon Society, Fairfield Historical Society, Victorian Cottage, St. John’s Family Center, Mercy Learning Center, St. Timothy’s, STAR Inc., Sturges Ridge, CLASP, nOURish Bridgeport, and the Greens Farms, Southport and Fairfield train stations.

Greens Farms Garden Club members, and their wreaths.


Westport Community Gardens director — and nature photographer extraordinaire — Lou Weinberg explains today’s “Westport … Naturally” image:

“The winter plumage of the goldfinch is muted. They love when we leave the coneflower stalks standing. Coneflower is an important food source for the birds and the bees. Don’t cut it down!”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)


And finally … today is National Ding-a-Ling Day. (Don’t believe me? Click here.)

We’re supposed to get in touch with (“ding-a-ling”) family and friends we’ve lost touch with.

Most of us are too busy today to do that. (Which is why we lost touch in the first place). But for a couple of minutes, we can listen to Chuck Berry’s only (somehow) #1 hit:


(Where else but “06880” can you find David Pogue, the Greens Farms Garden Club and Chuck Berry on the same page? Please click here to support this blog. Thank you!)




“Getting Me Cheap”: Women Who Make Our Lives Work

The woman caring for an affluent family’s children had just had a baby of her own. Health issues followed.

“We need you back now,” her employers said. “If you can’t come, we’ll find someone else.”

She faced a choice: Stay with her child, without pay. Or return to work, and pay someone to take care of her own baby.

That’s a common dilemma for low-wage women in America. It’s a situation people in places like Westport seldom think about.

Ir’s also one that’s rarely explored. Most studies of working women focus on professionals — how they balance office work and family life, for example.

Amanda Freeman knows all about the women who take care of children, serve our Starbucks and ship our Amazon packages.

Dr. Amanda Freeman

An assistant professor of sociology at the University of Hartford — and a Westport mother, with an undergraduate degree from Brown, an MFA from Columbia and a doctorate from Boston College —   she has just published her first book.

“Getting Me Cheap: How Low-Wage Work Traps Women and Girls in Poverty” is the result of more than a decade of interviews with women balancing motherhood and difficult, low-paying jobs — without public aid.

And how that struggle perpetuates itself, generation after generation.

Freeman has written about the subject for years, in academic journals and publications like the Atlantic, Parenting and the Washington Post Magazine.

The book, she hopes, will draw more attention to an issue fundamental to not only the women trapped in the spiral of low-wage work, but the families that employ them and benefit them, in places like Westport.

Freeman and co-author Lisa Dodson — her grad school professor at Boston College — spoke to 200 women across the country. They worked in childcare and eldercare; at Stop & Shop and ShopRite, McDonald’s and Panera, and Amazon warehouses. Many were people of color; they’re over-represented in that sector.

The authors also interviewed women — including working mothers, stay-at-home moms, and those active in labor movements — in well-off neighborhoods.

That was for ‘so what?’ — the policy part, the ‘what can and should we do?’ part,” Freeman says.

“We wanted to see what responsibility moms like me have. I know mothers here who are very interested in these issues. They do think about what do you do with someone you employ in your home?”

Freeman says that, unlike women with means, low-wage workers do not often talk about “work/life balance.” They see their lives as “impossible demands.”

She explains: “Motherhood is the most important thing to them. They want to be present for their kids’ educations and lives. But they have to be employed — and they want to work.” Many are also taking courses to try to improve their job prospects.

They are well aware, however, that society may stigmatize, stereotype or misunderstand them.

Low prestige and childcare issues are just some of the problems faced by workers in low wage jobs.

While women in white-collar jobs may have difficulty balancing work and parenting, Freeman says, most employers understand at some level that they’re taking care of children (and/or their own parents).

Employers of low-wage workers tend not to be understanding at all. “There’s a constant churn of losing or changing jobs” because of those issues, Freeman says.

She notes too that 2/3 of the women she spoke to were single parents.

That leads to situations where, for example, a woman may have no choice but to bring her child to work. That’s often frowned upon — or not allowed.

When childcare fell through, a Shoprite baker tried to hide her 5-year-old. She was fired.

“Westport mothers tend to obsess over the health and safety of their kids,” says Freeman. “But these women have real, immediate health and safety concerns.’

“They’re proud of their kids,” Freeman says of the workers she interviewed. “But sometimes they won’t talk about them. They don’t want to be seen as mothers.”

When someone saw photos of one woman’s youngsters, she said they were her sister’s.

Another difference: Many companies offer paid maternity leave to salaried and professional workers. But it’s seldom provided to hourly workers.

“Ask about your company’s policy,” Freeman advises readers. “And be aware of what you can do to change it.”

Freeman and her husband — award-winning novelist, Emmy and Peabody-honored filmmaker, playwright and professor of screenwriting in the Graduate School at Columbia University Trey Ellis — have the luxury of arranging their teaching schedules so they don’t need a lot of childcare.

From left: Maia, Pamela and Amanda Freeman; Chet, Trey and Ava Ellis. Front: a friend.

But during COVID, she ordered much more from Amazon. She thought about those workers, some of whom she had already interviewed for her book. They were working harder and longer than ever.

“They were risking their lives for people like me,” Freeman says. “And for very little pay.”

On November 29 (7 p.m.), the Westport Library hosts Amanda Freeman. She’ll talk about the sometimes invisible, often overlooked women whose work makes our own lives here possible.

It should be an eye-opening and educational evening. Book your babysitter now. (For more information and to register, click here.) 

(“06880” highlights many aspects of life in Westport — some visible, some under the surface. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog, and keep stories like these coming.)

Wilton Road Apartment Approvals Begin

In March, Westport’s 8-30g moratorium ends.

Four months from now, developers may again apply to include “affordable housing” in their plans. Some believe in it. Others use it as a ploy for approval of projects otherwise too big to pass zoning muster.

(8-30g is a state statute requiring at least 10% of a community’s housing stock to be “affordable,” according to a state median income formula. Westport would meet that standard if all affordable units were included. However, only those built after 1990 — when the regulation was adopted — are included.)

Meanwhile, an 8-30g project approved before the moratorium is moving through Westport’s approval pipeline.

122 Wilton Road — the 1.16-acre parcel bordered by Wilton Road, Kings Highway North, the Saugatuck River and Taylortown Salt Marsh — is the planned site of a 3-story, 19-unit,  20,078-square foot apartment complex.

122 Wilton Road is the site of a planned 3-story, 19-unit apartment complex.

In 2018, the state Appellate Court denied a plan by Garden Homes of Stamford to build a 7-story, 48-unit apartment complex.

The developer returned with the smaller, 19-unit proposal, which included an 8-30g component.

Again the P&Z rejected the request. The scale was still too big; there were still traffic and fire safety issues.

But Garden Homes appealed, and a court overruled the P&Z. According to 8-30g, affordability trumps traffic and safety concerns.

COVID pushed back the 122 Wilton Road schedule. But last month the Conservation Department issued a permit. Still ahead are permits from the Water Pollution Control Facility and Building Department.

But with the court’s okay, the project moves steadily ahead.

Roundup: Paul Newman, Free Money, Brooks Corner …

The Paul Newman story continues.

In the aftermath of a 6-part television series on the legendary actor/race car driver/philanthropist, attention is now focused on a posthumous memoir.

“The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man” — set for official publication tomorrow — has an extraordinary back story. Melissa Newman — one of his and Joanne Woodward’s daughters — spoke about it, in a long story in yesterday’s New York Times.

His long life in Westport is mentioned, of course — and there’s a photo from inside his North Avenue home.

Click here for the full, fascinating story. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)


A recent “06880” Roundup story on free money — well, money that’s yours, but is being held unbeknownst to you by the Connecticut state treasurer — intrigued Ken Stamm. (Click here and stop reading immediately, to go to the website.)

In August, he had already gone hunting for hidden treasure. When he returned to the site following the “06880 notice, he found good news: Notarization is no longer required.

The bad news: Despite the website’s promise that you will be “reunited with your money as quickly as possible,” Ken says “it appears nobody’s home.”

Despite duly filing a valid claim with all evidence online (and keepin records of everything), he has yet to receive a response.

“Apparently,” Ken says, “this issue is enough of a problem to rise to one of the top 6 on which one of the state treasurer candidates is running.”


COVID is still with us.

Curbside pick-up — not so much.

Except at Brooks Corner.

In the small shopping plaza on Main and Elm Streets, the first three parking spots are reserved for store employees to scurry out and — with the windows down or trunks popped — deliver goods to well-protected customers/drivers.

But not all retailers.

You can’t drive up and pick up your Brooks Brothers suit (or even a tie). Before New England Hemp Shop Farm opened, you had to park and walk inside for your CBD oil, topicals and edibles.

Nope. The 3 spots are for Lux, Bond & Green only.

I’m not sure how that little perk came about — or why it continues. But it sure seems like those are 3 parking spots everyone in Brooks Corner would like back.

Including — probably — Lux Bond & Green.


Yesterday — for the 12th year in a row — the Westport Woman’s Club team took part in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at Sherwood Island State Park. Team members posed below:

From left: Vivien Rosenberg, Audrey Rabinowitz, Barbara Raffel, Arlene Johnson, Kate Weber, Toni Donahue, Leah Scherzer.


Also yesterday: a Westport Library’s free concert.

Andrew Wilk produced the event, featuring American String Quartet violinist Peter Winograd and famed pianist Rohan De Silva. They met at Juilliard.

Peter Winograd and Rohan De Silva. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)


“Busy as a bee” is not hyperbole.

Werner Liepolt captured a swarm recently. They gathered pollen from English ivy and delivered it to their hive. It’s one more piece — though often unseen — of “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Werner Liepolt)


And finally … Jeanne-Paule Marie “Jeannine” Deckers  — aka The Singing Nun– was born today in 1933, in Brussels. The singer-songwriter/guitarist (and nun) reached the top of the charts with her upbeat tune “Dominique” in late 1963. A few weeks later the Beatles arrived in the US, and changed the music industry forever.

She and her close friend Annie Pécher died by suicide in 1985. They took overdoses of barbiturates and alcohol. In a note, they wrote that they wished to be buried together with the funeral rite of the Catholic Church.

(“06880” prays for reader support. Please click here to contribute.)


There’s Nothing Funny About Homelessness. Except On October 15.

As Connecticut’s housing crisis worsens — buffeted by the perfect storm of an economic downturn, rising rents and decreased stocks of affordable units — Homes with Hope becomes more important than ever.

For nearly 40 years the non-profit (originally the Interfaith Housing Association) has provided area residents with emergency shelter, supportive housing, a community kitchen and food pantry, and much more.

It offers beds for men and women downtown, in the shadow of Tiffany. There are also small individual and group homes throughout Westport — unobtrusive yet critical housing at a time when the need for affordable units is critical.

The Gillespie Center is a few feet away from Tiffany. (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

Since 1983, Westport — town officials, other non-profits and countless individuals — has supported Homes with Hope. That support continues.

A $1 million renovation of Gillespie Center and Hoskins Place — nestled next to Barnes & Noble, Walrus Alley and Don Memo — will add security measures, insulation, and air conditioning for volunteers in the food pantry (plus refrigeration, for perishable goods).

Plans are moving now through the permitting process. The target date for construction is early next year.

Not far away, on Compo Road North next the Little League fields and tennis courts, Project Return will transition from an emergency shelter to supportive housing for young women ages 18 to 24. With longer stays they’ll be able to access more services, including education, jobs and social work.

If approved by town bodies, 6 units will be added to Westport’s overall affordable housing stock.

Project Return’s “Susie’s House,” on North Compo Road.

All of Homes with Hope’s work — which goes on 24/7/365 — costs money. Exactly 2/3 of their budget comes from donations.

Which is why “Stand Up for Comedy” — the annual fundraiser — is so crucial.

This year’s event is October 15 (8:30 p.m., Fairfield University Quick Center). Pat McGann headlines the comedy special. The Chicago-based comic has performed at Madison Square Garden, Gilda’s LaughFest, the Great American Comedy Festival, the Nashville Comedy Fest and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival.

He’s been on the Late Show with David Letterman — twice — and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. His riffs on his wife, kids and marriage were spot on.

After a COVID-canceled 2020 event and a Westport Library hybrid version last year, Homes with Hope executive director Helen McAlinden, and event co-chairs Allyson Gottlieb and Becky Martin, are thrilled to be back at the Quick Center.

“This is a great opportunity to be together, laugh and support a very important cause,” McAlinden says.

The laughter pays off. Last year, Homes with Hope served 951 different people: men and women at the shelters; individuals and families in 8 other housing programs; children in after-school programs, and the community kitchen and food pantry.

The non-profit also covers, on an as-needed basis, costs like security deposits, or first and last month’s rent, for clients moving into their own rental places.

McAlinden notes that in this part of Fairfield County, people need to earn $38.50 an hour to afford a studio or 1-bedroom apartment. Connecticut’s minimum wage is $14, so even 2 full-time jobs would not cover that.

“There’s nothing more meaningful than helping someone get on their feet, and plant roots,” says Gottlieb.

She and Martin hope many Westporters will get on their own feet too, on October 15 too — to stand up for both comedy, and Homes with Hope.

(For tickets and more information on “An Evening of Comedy with Pat McGann,” click here.) 

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog. Please click here to support our work.)