Category Archives: Environment

Unsung Hero #135

For 40 years, Ruth Kuhn and her husband made sure that before tossing garbage bags into the transfer station pit, their keys were safely stashed in their pockets.

For 40 years, the precaution worked.

Last week though, Ruth was distracted. The instant it happened, she watched helplessly as her key chain — holding 4 car keys, house keys, garage key and mini-garage door opener — sailed all the way down, with her trash, into the dump far below.

She heard it all land. And then there was silence.

She feared all her keys were gone, forever.

The dump.

Other people came by. Unaware of her plight, they tossed their garbage onto hers.

Then a wonderful thing happened. Workers Mark Meyer and Buddy Valiante, and John Davis of Malone’s Refuse, noticed her distress.

Without hesitation, they offered to help. While easing her anxiety with good-natured reassurance and support, they used long-hooked poles — from “seemingly out of nowhere” — to locate her keys. They extracted them, then returned them to Ruth.

“For Bud’s steady assistance, and to Mark and John who made it happen, I extend my very deepest appreciations,” Ruth says.

“And not only for what each of you did, but as well for who you are. It would have been so easy to walk away. I owe you each a very considerable debt of gratitude.”

Bud, Mark and John would probably say “it’s all part of a day’s work.”

It wasn’t. It’s part of what makes our town a community.

Thanks, guys. You are Ruth’s — and our — Unsung Heroes of the week.

Buddy Valiante in 2018, helping at the transfer station. (Photo/Cindy Mindell)

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Pic Of The Day #1037

I try to stay away from pure “nature” Pic of the Day shots. Every image should have some identifiable part of Westport — or Westporters — in it.

I’m making an exception for this exceptional photo. Alert “06880” reader Morley Boyd wrote yesterday:

With the reasonably warm weather, our honeybees came out and quickly discovered all the wild crocus growing on Violet Lane. Shortly thereafter, they began returning to their hive with the pollen baskets on their legs loaded up.

For some reason, I always take comfort in these early signs of spring.

(Photo/Morley Boyd)

Another Dam Story

Alert “06880” reader Scott Smith is an astute observer of the many wonders of Westport. Today he writes about the dams that “block the migration of fish and otherwise stymie the natural ecology of the 57,264-acre Saugatuck River Watershed — a rich network of 242 miles of waterways that discharge into the Saugatuck River and Long Island Sound.”

The topic came to mind after reading a New York Times story, “It’s Fish vs. Dams, and the Dams Are Winning.” The article noted efforts underway in Connecticut to eliminate obsolete dams from rivers that connect with Long Island Sound,

“Connecticut has about 4,000 dams,” said Stephen Gephard, a supervising fisheries biologist for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, “and the vast majority are obsolete.” The state owns about 100 dams and is reviewing the list to determine which should be removed. Gephard’s team has also identified 20 to 30 privately owned dams it would like to remove to allow fish passage.

That made me wonder if one of those dams under consideration of removal is the one on the Saugatuck that forms Lees Pond. It’s owned by the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Enjoying the Saugatuck River, at Camp Mahackeno back in the day.

Lees Pond was long an integral part of Camp Mahackeno’s summer activities: swimming, rope swings, canoeing, even a floating pontoon.

In recent years, due to a confluence of factors – insurance, safety, the mythical fear of campers coming home covered by leeches – activities on the pond have greatly diminished.

Judging from the map of current renovations to the property, it doesn’t appear that Lees Pond factors much in that plan.

I wonder if Y leaders’ views of the pond have evolved over the years, and if as stewards of this vital stretch of the Saugatuck, they’d be interested in exploring options to unblock this key local natural resource (whose name literally means “river flowing out”).

I emailed Gephard, writing as a longtime resident of Westport who would like to see our local river rehabilitated as habitat for migratory fish. Of all our town’s jewels, especially natural ones, the Saugatuck seems the most underappreciated.

The river was once renowned for legendary runs of sea lamprey, alewife, blueback herring and American shad. In 1828 the Saugatuck Journal described as “the river of little fishes” because of the many smelt. Over time though, it’s been used and abused.

The Saugatuck River — shown here behind the Willows medical complex, near the Lees Pond dam — has been “used and abused,” says Scott Smith. (Photo/Danny Cohen)

Gephard’s response was impressively detailed, describing the status of dams on the Saugatuck from the head of the tide, just north of downtown, to the natural barrier at Devil’s Den.

He called the Saugatuck “a challenge….Dam 1 (at the head of tide) is the Wood Dam, owned by Aquarion. There is a steep-pass fishway, and we believe it is passing river herring.

“Dam 2 is Lees Pond. Removing this would be challenging. It is owned by the YMCA. Traditionally the Y has used the pond for recreational opportunities, though that may no longer be the case. Twice in the last 20 years, the Y has spent large amounts of money to repair the dam. Additional repairs may be needed. It is expensive to maintain such a tall dam in a heavily developed area.

One view of the Lees Pond dam …

“We own a fishway at the dam—or more accurately—in the dam.  In fact, it is the oldest fishway in Connecticut.  Back in the 1960s, the owner of the pond and dam drained the pond, created a large opening in the middle of the dam and began to mine gravel from the pond bed — without any permits.

“The state and town went after him. He divested himself of the dam, and the YMCA ended up as the owner. But the state got the right to build a fishway in the hole in the dam to close the dam, restore the pond and provide fish passage.

“The fishway is accessed by us via a catwalk through private property, and is not accessible to the public. As originally designed and built circa 1963, the fishway never worked and fell into disrepair.

“In the 1990s, I inherited the care of the facility. I used a grant to gut it and install a newer style fishway (steep-pass). It is still a little steeper than we would prefer (we had to use the space provided in 1963), but we feel it works for river herring and probably sea lamprey.

… and another.

“Dam 3 is Dorr’s Mill Pond at Glendenning. There are 2 fishways there, one at the spillway and one on a stream branch that weaves through Bridgewater’s office complex.

“The DEEP and Nature Conservancy built both, and they appear to be effective.  Dam 4 is privately owned just upstream of Route 57. The owner did not allow us to build a fishway at the dam, but a natural channel bypasses the eastern side of the dam through someone else’s property. Many fish find it and circumvent the dam.

“Dam 5 is River Road Dam, immediately upstream of the River Road Bridge. It has a pool-and-weir fishway on private property, but it can be seen from the bridge.

“Dam 6 is the former Bradley Axe mill dam halfway up to Devil’s Glen and Trout Brook Valley. We had an agreement with the dam owner and spent considerable money designing a cool fishway for that dam. But the owner sold the house before it could be built, and the new owner did not want the fishway.

“The plans remain if the ownership ever changes. If fish get past that dam, they can reach Devil’s Glen, a natural chasm that historically stopped all fish.

Devil’s Glen, in Weston.

“Also, we worked with the Aspetuck Land Trust to have a fishway built on Trout Brook, on the Trout Brook Preserve.  It does not pass anadromous fish, but helps brook trout move around and reach spawning habitat.” (NOTE: This is the only fishway accessible to the public.)

“Furthermore, the Aspetuck River joins the Saugatuck River just upstream of Dorr’s Mill Dam and Route 57. The North Avenue Dam, the first on it, has a simple pool and weir fishway. on private property.

“The second one, the Newman Dam, has a pool-and-weir fishway. It too, is on private property.

“The third dam, the Frankel Dam, was removed by a joint work team of DEEP crew and The Nature Conservancy. That allows anadromous fish to ascend as far as the next dam, a bit upstream of Bayberry.

“After that, there is a dam almost every 300 feet. We would entertain dam removals, but there are so many dams that the cost/benefit is low. We have not made it a priority.

“Farther upstream, we have worked with Aquarion to install a new gate at the Aspetuck Reservoir Dam in Easton. It allows mature silver-phase American eels to pass downstream, avoiding the entrance to the Hemlock Reservoir, which is a dead end for migrating eels. They all die in the treatment plant. These are the females heading out to sea to spawn, so diverting them down the Aspetuck where there are only small dams and no intakes is important.

Aspetuck Reservoir Dam.

“We have done a lot in this watershed, all in partnership with the Nature Conservancy. Fishways are not as good as a dam removal. With a good fishway, you get fish passage of the targeted species. With a dam removal, you get passage of all species plus many other ecological benefits that were outlined in the article, including lower water temperatures, natural stream habitat, natural sediment transport, etc.

“But in Connecticut, many dams are valued, often as aesthetic features in people’s backyards. We cannot force them to remove their dams. All of the work described above was voluntary (except for the Wood Dam, where the fishway was a condition of a permit that Aquarion needed from the DEEP to repair the dam).

“Our first choice is always dam removal. If owners don’t go for that, we fall back on fishways. Often, that works (we get grants and the fishways don’t cost dam owners anything) and sometimes it doesn’t (like in the case of dam 4).

“We do the best we can. When we first began on the Saugatuck, sea-run brown trout were a main targeted species, along with alewife and blueback herring. Since then we have added sea lamprey and American eel (separate passes). Sadly, the reports of sea-run brown trout are on the decline, likely a victim of climate change and the warming of Long Island Sound, and the Saugatuck River no longer hosts a significant run of brown trout.”

Pic Of The Day #1036

Deer are a common sight in Westport. But what alert “06880” reader Johanna Rossi saw yesterday, just before dusk at St. Vincent’s Hospital on Long Lots Road, was not.

At first she thought a light was shining, reflecting on its antlers. But when she got out of her car, she realized something was stuck on them.

She has no idea what it was, or how it got there. But another deer tried unsuccessfully to help get it off. “So sad,” Johanna says.

(Photo/Johanna Rossi)

A.E. Hotchner: Westport Till The Cows Come Home

A.E. Hotchner — the author and philanthropist who died on Saturday at 102 — was a true Westporter. He moved here in 1953, and — with fellow resident Paul Newman — helped create both Newman’s Own foundation and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Many Westporters knew him through his other passion: tennis. 

In 1986, he wrote a piece about our town for the New York Times. “06880” reader Dick Seclow received it from a friend, Kelsey Libner, and sent it along. Thirty-three years ago, Hotchner said:

WHEN I first came to Westport in the 50’s, it was referred to as ”going to the country.” I rented a primitive little cabin for $300 for the summer, and as far as I was concerned, confined as I had been for most of my young life to the unforgiving streets of St. Louis and New York, Westport was indeed ”country.”

There were shops run by stonemasons and welders and old-fashioned hardware stores with bins of nails that were sold by the scoopful. Greenberg’s on Main Street sold ”notions” (a wonderful word that has gone the way of the pterodactyl), and on Main Street, too, there was a butcher shop where sides of beef hung on hooks and the butcher wore a straw boater, and a fish store that sold fish that had been unloaded from fishing boats that very morning. There was even a blacksmith who would make a grate for you in his forge that would precisely fit your fireplace.

Main Street in 1962 — nearly a decade after A.E. Hotchner moved to Westport.

On the Post Road was Rippe’s vegetable stand, bins heaped with vegetables grown on farmland behind the stand, and crisp apples picked from Rippe’s own orchards. In fact, Rippe operated an old-fashioned cider mill in full view, and the foamy, amber juice that spilled down the trough was sold to the customers right on the spot. I once bought a wooden barrel full of Rippe’s cider, deceived by the barrel’s compact shape into severely underestimating the quantity of its contents. As Thanksgiving gave way to the wintry gusts of December, the spigot of the barrel unceasingly yielded its golden contents that imperceptibly matured, climaxing in a drunken Christmas revel.

After a few years, I forsook my cabin (with some regret) for a grand, Normandy house that I couldn’t afford and still can’t afford. It was straddled by a wheat field on one side and a meadow on the other that yielded fraises de bois if you were willing to crawl along the ground, searching for the tiny, red fruit hidden under the leaves of the plant. I did, on the conviction that whatever you had to do to obtain a bowl of freshly picked fraises de bois was well worth the crawling.

But of all the country pleasures of Westport, none for me was greater than watching the vast herd of black and white Guernsey cows grazing on the emerald pastures of the Nyala Farm, which was located in the Greens Farms section of town, adjacent to the turnpike exit, so that as I arrived on Friday, the woes of the past New York week clinging to me, the first thing I saw as I hit Westport was this Turner landscape filled with magnificent Guernsey cattle.

Nyala Farm (Robert Vickrey painting, courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

The farmhouse, constructed of old New England stone, strongly evoked an English countryside in the cows’ native Guernsey. And every morning, Mike Ferris of the Ferris Dairy delivered a couple of quarts of Guernsey milk, a thick layer of cream extending all the way down the neck and into the shoulder of the bottle. No milk ever tasted like that before or since.

I can’t tell you precisely when the country started to go out of Westport. It didn’t happen just like that, but one after the other, Greenberg’s notions, the authentic hardware stores, the shop of the stonemason, the smithy, the butcher shop and the fishmonger were replaced by Ann Taylor, Laura Ashley, Aca Joe and the Banana Republic. Rippe’s vegetable stand and the fertile, verdant fields that had grown the cauliflower, tomatoes, corn and strawberries, became a packed enclave of condominiums.

But the day I knew the country had irrevocably gone out of Westport was when I made that turn off the turnpike from New York, expecting as always to be solaced by the balming sight of that lovely Guernsey herd, but the herd had vanished – not a single Guernsey cow, a herd that had been grazing that lush, hilly meadow only a week before. Nyala Farms had been bought out by the Stouffer [sic — Stauffer] Chemical Company, and the building where once the Guernseys had been quartered and milked and calved was now occupied by people engaged in the business of dispensing chemicals, many of them, I was sure, antipathetic to the very meadows where the Guernseys once roamed. And, of course, Mike Ferris never came to our door again.

The Nyala Farm office complex. Its 2020 tenants include the Bridgewater hedge fund.

In what I can only think of now as a gesture of angry defiance, I plowed under my wheat field and built a tennis court on the meadow that had nurtured the shy fraises de bois. It was all over, wasn’t it, so why not the coup de grace? The hell with it. Westport had become an extension of New York. Main Street was riddled with Madison Avenue shops. Burger King, Beefsteak Charlie’s, Shoe Town, Waldenbooks, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hallmark Cards, Sam Goody – name it, it was here or on the way. Real-estate developers outnumbered the gypsy moths.

I never again referred to Westport as ”going to the country.”

Never, that is, until Murray McMurray came into my life. I don’t know who suggested that he get in touch with me, but I am forever indebted to my anonymous benefactor. Murray McMurray sent me a letter and a brochure from his hatchery in Webster City, Iowa. On the cover of the brochure were two of the most exotic chickens I had ever laid eyes on, identified as Dark Brahmas, and on the inside cover was a picture of Murray himself, with a Black Giant hen sitting on his shoulder.

Until that moment, apart from a restaurant menu, I had never thought much about chickens, one way or another. But as I marveled over the grace and beauty of what Murray called his Rarest of Rare Breeds -huge, plump Cochins with thick feathers all the way down their legs and feet to the ground, Crevecoeurs native to Normandy, Silver Gray Dorkings bred by the Romans and brought by them to Britain, Phoenix and Yokohamas, ancient breeds that roam Japan’s Imperial Gardens, graceful, long-tailed Sumatras indigenous to the island of Sumatra, cinnamon-colored Cubalayas from Cuba, a very rare breed, La Fleche, from France, Chanteclers, natives of Quebec – page after page of beauties that I’m sure Frank Perdue wouldn’t recognize.

A Westport chicken coop — though not A.E. Hotchner’s.

A local carpenter built a little henhouse for me and I sent away for the Sears Farm Catalogue, from which I ordered a cluster of nest units in which my rarest of rare could lay their eggs, a feeder, a waterer, buckets, scoops and all the other wonderful paraphernalia that a chicken fancier needs. I sent my order to Murray McMurray and awaited the arrival of my day-old chicks.

Murray McMurray has indeed put the country back into Westport for me. Those baby chicks have grown into the most wondrous creatures you can imagine. What do I care if Roy Rogers is building a wretched, fast-food outlet on the nearby Post Road, when I can go out in the henhouse in the morning and take a couple of warm eggs from under an obliging Lakenvelder or Dominique for my breakfast? Last Easter, my son didn’t have to dye any eggs because the Araucanas lay turquoise, blue and green eggs. And for the information of misguided jokers, the Polish hens are not dumb clucks but very austere ladies who wear large round bonnets of feathers.

I wake in the morning now to the muted sound of a Cochin rooster’s strutful cry. I know I’m in the country. No mistaking it.

(Click here for the link to the story in the Times‘ archives.)

Jeff Marks’ Wild Montana Skies

Growing up in Westport in the 1960s and early ’70s, Jeff Marks played plenty of sports. He hunted and fished.

But he was particularly interested in reptiles and amphibians.

He has no idea where the passion came from. He discovered — and studied — it on his own.

Jeff caught snakes, turtles, salamanders and frogs in the woods and ponds near his home off North Avenue. He played hooky from Coleytown Junior High, riding his bike to the Saugatuck Reservoir in Easton.

“My friends were not interested,” he says. “But no one ever gave me crap about it.”

Jeff headed to Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks, to study forestry. But he’d always been drawn to the west. He hitchhiked to the University of Montana, applied, and entered the forestry school.

He took other classes — zoology, wildlife biology, mammalogy — but was especially intrigued by ornithology.

“All I’d known were ducks,” he says. “I’d never paid attention to all the interesting birds around me. But 2 weeks in, I said, ‘This is it. This is what I’m going to do.'”

Jeff got a job with the Bureau of Land Management on Idaho’s Snake River. He clambered over cliffs, studying birds of prey. In his spare time, he went birding.

Jeff Marks in the East Pryor Mountains, Montana.

Long-eared owls became the subject of his master’s degree — and an object of fascination and research for the next 4 decades.

Jeff’s career took him back to the University of Montana as a BLM research biologist. He turned a field study in the tropical Pacific into his Ph.D. project. He examined birds that bred in Alaska, then flew all the way to coral sand atolls.

Back in Montana Jeff served as managing editor of a scientific journal, taught as an adjunct professor, and worked for the Audubon Society.

He married, and — around 50 years old — had 2 children. Though Missoula is a great college town, his wife found the winters rough. In 2006 they moved to Portland, Oregon.

There — and on frequent trips back — he co-wrote “Birds of Montana”: a comprehensive guide to the state’s 433 species.

These days he leads birding tours to places like Ghana, Senegal and Peru. And he’s deeply involved in a non-profit he developed, the Montana Bird Advocacy. It provides information on the status and biology of poorly known species, focuses attention on critical habitats under threat, and promotes conservation efforts.

Jeff Marks with a birding group in Portachuelo Pass, Peru.

Jeff graduated from Staples High School in 1973. He cannot point to any moment in his youth that led to his life’s work with birds and wildlife.

His ties to Westport today are few. But in some way, he is where he is today because of his hometown.

“Growing up where I did, when I did, gave me the intellectual freedom to immerse myself in fascinating things going on in the natural world,” he says. “Everything I’m doing now was grounded in what I did then.

Jeff knows that many wetlands he roamed as a kid now have houses on them. He hopes that some are untouched.

He has another hope too: That some youngsters growing up in Westport today can “be in touch with a place that a lot of people don’t think is wild. And it isn’t — compared to Montana. But there is still a lot of amazing life to see and do, anywhere you look.”

Jeff Marks with Jackson Owusu, in Ghana.

Pic Of The Day #1026

A flock of seagulls (Photo/Tom Lowrie)

Floodplain Manager Saves Property — And $$$

Town employees do many things to make Westport work. They plow roads, put out fires and protect the public, to name only a few.

But they do plenty of other things no one ever sees. Like planning for floods — and then making sure residents in those areas get reductions in flood insurance.

That’s not something every town does. Only 6 other municipalities — of the 169 in Connecticut — get that break. It saves the average policyholder here $190 a year.

For that, we can thank Michelle Perillie. She’s in her 21st year with the Planning & Zoning Department. Last month she became a Certified Floodplain Manager.

Michelle Perillie

It’s not just a title. The training was rigorous; testing was tough. Perillie did it to add to her value as a town planner — and to help the many Westporters who live in flood-prone neighborhoods.

As floodplain manager, she helps manage flood resources, and mitigate flooding. She enforces the town’s flood damage prevention policies; updates flood maps, plans and policies, and administers the National Flood Insurance Program.

She offers information and resources to property owners in the 100-year floodplain. She hopes to initiate a Flood Awareness Week in Westport, and make presentations at local schools.

Perillie checks new construction, and issues elevation certificates.

She also inspects flood-prone properties. Approximately 70 homes in Westport have been raised. She makes sure that the lower levels have not been converted to living space.

It’s her work with the Community Rating (flood) System that saves Westport taxpayers all that money. Her goal is for Westport to move one tier up. That will save policyholders an additional $93 annually.

Only a handful of Connecticut towns are part of the Community Rating  System. It’s time-consuming — but clearly worthwhile.

So how prepared is Westport for big floods?

September 2018: South Morningside Drive. (Photo/Dylan Honig)

“Storms are becoming more frequent, and stronger,” the floodplain manager notes. “People have to be ready. But when a year or two passes without a major one, storms and flooding are no longer at the top of their minds.”

Many homeowners think, “I didn’t flood in the last storm. So I won’t flood unless it’s a 100-year storm.”

Yet, Perrillie explains, a 100-year storm is not one that happens once a century. It’s simply a storm with a 1% chance of happening in any given year.

Superstorm Sandy devastated Westport in 2012. And that did not meet the definition of a “100-year storm.”

Superstrom Sandy struck in October of 2012. (Photo/Mary Hoffman)

More generally, she says, the town must prepare for sea-level rise. That means making existing facilities “resilient,” as well as monitoring new construction.

State officials know what’s ahead. They’re planning for sea levels to rise up to 20 inches, by 2050.

That seems far in the future. But it’s only 30 years from now.

There’s no telling how many 100-year floods we’ll have by then.

At least Michelle Perillie can help us prepare.

It’s In The Bag: Avi Kaner Says New York City Is Not Like The ‘Burbs

On March 1, New York state’s plastic bag ban takes effect.

Westport has had one since 2008.

Avi Kaner knows both places well. He served our town as 2nd Selectman and Board of Finance chair.

But it’s in his role as owner of New York City’s 16-store Morton Williams grocery store chain that he’s quoted in today’s New York Post.

Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)

The new state law allows retailers to charge 5 cents per paper bag. Morton Williams won’t do it.

They’d lose money, Kaner told the paper. Paper bags cost 13 cents each. Plastic bags are just 2.5 cents apiece.

Instead, his chain will stock up on the sturdy reusable bags that they already sell for 99 cents. They’ll also offer cotton and polyester bags for 15 to 20 cents — about what they cost.

But that wasn’t Kaner’s money quote.

Here’s what he told the Post about the difference between people in the town where he lives, and the city where he works:

“A lot of people don’t carry around reusable bags when they are commuting. It’s not like the suburbs where you have the bags in your car.”

(Click here for the full New York Post story. Hat tip: Peter Gold)

Avi Kaner with a different kind of environmental issue: plastic bottles. (Photo/Buck Ennis for Crain’s New York Business)

Cold Fusion Comes To Westport

About 3 years ago, Eric Emmert and his wife Kelly got the entrepreneurial itch.

He was commuting from Westport to New York, where he traded high-yield bonds. She worked in sales and marketing.

They looked at various options, including a medical supply company. Meh.

Then they found a gelato business. Bingo!

“Everyone loves the ice cream guy,” Eric notes.

Eric and Kelly Emmert, and their gelato.

At the end of 2016, the couple bought Cold Fusion. The Massachusetts-based firm makes and distributes gelato and sorbet — all by hand, using all-natural, locally sourced ingredients. There’s a line of vegan sorbets, and every item is kosher-certified.

The website explains: “The result of all of this love and dedication is a silky, cool, uplifting fusion of flavor.” (Eric’s favorite: salted caramel chunk.)

A Cold Fusion sampling.

“Gelato is healthier than ice cream,” Eric says. “There’s less fat and fewer calories. And the taste lingers more.”

Sure, it’s a great, fun product. But the couple did not sit around smacking their lips. They restructured Cold Fusion, and grew it.

Working with a new distributor, they’re marketing Cold Fusion up and down the East Coast. You can find it here at Mystic Market and Rizzuto’s; it’s also sold at Walrus + Carpenter restaurant in Bridgeport, and other restaurants around Hartford and Providence. There’s a retail store in Newport, Rhode Island.

The factory is in Massachusetts. Eric and Kelly hope to move the facility closer to home. “I’ve looked at half the vacant spaces in town,” he says.

In their 13 years in Westport, raising 2 daughters here, both have sunk roots into the community. Eric has coached basketball and softball, and been an age-group commissioner. Kelly has coached basketball and volleyball, been a Girl Scout leader, and a member of the Westport Young Woman’s League.

The owners donate Cold Fusion products to local functions, like Homes with Hope’s White Party, the Staples High School PTA holiday lunch and Kings Highway Elementary School’s 5th grade moving-up ceremony.

Gelato is now Eric’s full-time business. Kelly continues in her corporate job, but adds her marketing acumen to Cold Fusion.

The Emmerts are so excited for future growth, they can almost taste it.

Something they might not be able to say if they’d bought that medical supply company, instead of this one 3 years ago.