Category Archives: Library

Roundup: Henry Wynne, Pops Concert, Teacher Of The Year …

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Ever since he was a Staples High School track star, Henry Wynne has been called an “Olympic hopeful.”

Now that the Olympics are near — they’re supposed to begin next month in Tokyo — how hopeful is the Class of 2013 grad?

Very. And that’s despite a litany of issues that dogged him as a University of Virginia star, and beyond. Since 2016 Wynne has suffered a knee injury, pneumonia, and surgery on his small intestine.

But Brooks Running signed him to a pro contract. And now — with the Olympic trials underway now through June 27 in Eugene, Oregon — Wynne is giving it his best shot.

Yesterday, Runner’s World magazine profiles one of Westport’s top athletes ever. Click here for the full story.

Henry Wynne (Photo/Will Hoffman for Runner’s World)

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Did you miss the Staples High School Pops Concert earlier this month? (No, you didn’t overlook it. Tickets were limited, due to COVID.)

Here’s a highlight reel, courtesy of Jim Honeycutt. Strike up the band!

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Speaking of education: Sure, the Westport Public Schools select a Teacher of the Year. But there’s something special about earning that honor from a different source: the Staples High School football team.

This spring, the Wreckers — used to be cheered for — turned the tables. They gave shout-outs to their favorite educators in a homemade video. At the end, they announced the winner.

Who is this year’s football team Staples Teacher of the Year? Click below to see:

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Another Staples tidbit: The Westport Garden Club has earned raves for their #FridayFlowers arrangements. Each week, there’s a different one somewhere in town.

This week’s was unveiled a day earlier. On Thursday evening, Class of 2021 graduates and their families saw this as they drove into Staples from North Avenue:

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Two more sings that Westport is getting “back to business.”

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce held its first in-person gathering in 20 months yesterday, at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center. Over 60 people gathered in the garden, in beautiful weather. They shook hands, ate food catered by Calise’s Deli, and — as they did for years before the pandemic — exchanged business cards.

Sal Gilbertie spoke about the 100 years since his grandfather began as a flower grower, then turned to herbs. Today Gilbertie’s is a major micro green seller, in addition to their nursery’s plants and trees.

Sal Gilbertie addresses the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

But the Chamber wasn’t the only major Westport organization holding its first live-and-in-person meeting yesterday.

Sunrise Rotary also gathered together, for the first time in over a year. Attendance was solid. Handshakes and hugs were heartfelt.

And for those unable or not yet ready to attend, the event was livestreamed.

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Enrollment is open for MoCA Westport’s summer courses, for toddlers through adults. Among the choices:

  • Summer Sunset Painting Series (High school and adult)
  • The World of Digital Art Animation (High school and adult)
  • The Art of Cinematography (High xchool and adult)
  • Intro To Digital Photography (High school and adult)
  • Skateboard Design (Middle school through adult)
  • Summer Saturday Art Workshops for Kids (PreK to grade 3)
  • Learn How To Code (Middle school through Adult)
  • Robotics (Middle school through adult)
  • Expressive Art for Toddler

For more details and to register, click here.

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Westport Country Playhouse has 4 new trustees. Three are from Westport: Jessica Caldwell, Will Haskell and Margie Jacobson.

Haskell — a state senator whose district includes Westport — has a long theatrical history. As a member of Staples High School’s Class of 2014, he was elected of Players, the drama troupe.  One of his first memories of live theater was seeing “Curious George” as a child, at the Playhouse’s old barn.

Caldwell graduated from Columbia University’s MFA film program. She produced independent feature films, while her feature film productions have premiered at Berlinale, SXSW and Tribeca. Her short film work has premiered at Sundance, Telluride, and Tribeca. Caldwell was also the writers’ room assistant and showrunners’ assistant on “Billions.” She is also a Moth storytelling contest GrandSlampion.

Jacobson is a nonprofit leader and attorney with legal experience spanning a variety of diverse settings. She is currently of counsel to a boutique law firm advocating for students’ rights from birth through post-secondary education, and co-founder of Woman’s Compass Forum. Jacobson previously served on the Playhouse board, from 2010 to 2016. She also serves on the boards of the ADL and the Remarkable Theater.

The WCP board of trustees is chaired by Westporter Ania Czekaj-Farber.

The Westport Library has 2 new trustees too.

Anna Alemani is CFO of Pierrepont School. Previously she had a 15-year career in finance. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Business Administration from Bocconi University in Milan, where she focused her studies on management of museums and cultural institutions.

Dave Briggs spent his career in television, as a sports and news reporter/anchor. He has moved from South Dakota and Oklahoma to Boston, where he covered Red Sox World Series championships, Patriots Super Bowl titles and a Celtics NBA crown. He also hosted “Fox & Friends Weekend,” and (for NBC) NHL, NASCAR, NFL and Olympic tennis, before anchoring “Early Start” on CNN. He currently interviews important Connecticut residents for Moffly Media content.

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We see a lot of old things at the transfer station.

Yesterday morning, it was a Model A Ford. Fortunately, it was running fine. The driver was there just to drop off some newer trash.

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

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The VFW is not just for men!

The other day, Y’s Women’s Trivia group met for their monthly luncheon. The VFW’s great chef, Joe Gallo, fed them well.

Other Y’s Women groups include Tuesday morning Compo Beach walkers, and one that meets in the evening to watch spectacular sunsets.

To learn more about the Y’s Women, email dynamicr@icloud.com.

Joe Gallo hosts the Y’s Women.

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July 4 is the publication date for not one but two Carl Addison Swanson books. The Westporter’s latest works are written “Venezuela Vengeance” and “Brotherly Hate.”

He’s CEO of Bermuda’s CAS Publications, which publishes 14 other writers, and  is a contributing editor at HBO. Click here for details.

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Seen this morning at Compo Beach: either the remnant of a Friday celebration for Staples High School’s graduation, or “saving a spot” for today:

(Photo/Michael Calise)

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Lauri Weiser calls this “Westport … Naturally” photo “Lurking in the Grasses”:

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … Juneteenth has been celebrated — in one form or another — for 155 years.

Today, for the first time, we honor it as a national holiday.

Amen.

This week, immediately after the bill was signed in the House of Representatives and sent to President Biden, the Congressional Black Caucus sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

It’s been called the “Black National Anthem.” But it’s a fitting anthem today for every American, of every color and background.

 

 

 

 

Roundup: Masks, Music, Arts …

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Many “06880” readers have asked about funeral arrangements for Paul Lane. The famed Staples High School football coach died this week, at 93.

A private service will be held in Bethel, where many family members are buried. There will be no public service.

Paul Lane

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With more and more people wearing fewer and fewer masks, it may seem like that’s one part of the pandemic now in the rear view mirror.

But unvaccinated children still need them. And youngsters in Bridgeport summer camp programs don’t always have access to nice masks.

Since March 2020, Virginia Jaffe and her crew of volunteers has sewn over 8,500 masks. They gave them all away — and they’re still doing it.

Last month, they donated 200 masks to New Beginnings in Bridgeport. A thank-you note cited the “wonderful craftsmanship,” adding, “Their beauty will bring joy to our students. This donation has provided some of the most vulnerable children in the state with the resources they need to thrive.”

Virginia wants those youngsters to feel that brand new, unused masks show they feel cared for, and just a little bit safer.

To help in any way, email westportmaskgiving@icloud.com.

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Two of Westport’s most creative institutions are the Library and Artists Collective.

This summer, they’re collaborating on a very creative project.

“Piece by Piece” is a grid of 60 12-inch squares. Each of those 60 artists contributes one square. When assembled together, they form one image.

The work represents the artists’ response to the isolation they felt during the pandemic. E

Each square is available for sale. For $100, you can select one or more of the squares from a grid. Proceeds will be divided between the Library and the artist. The name of the artists, and the iconic masterpiece on which Piece by Piece is based, will be revealed on July 10th.

It, and more works by the Artists Collective, will be on display at the Library from July 10 through September 28.

For more details — including how to own a piece of “Piece” — click here.

Own a piece of “Piece by Piece.”

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Speaking of the Artists Collective: Their great live (!) exhibit ends this Saturday, with artist talks.

Works hang in the barn gallery at Westport Country Playhouse. Among the participants: Miggs Burroughs, Elizabeth DeVoll, Charles Douthat, Susan Fehlinger, Noah Fox, Toby Michaels, Nancy Moore, Melissa Newman, Diane Pollack and Ellen Schiffman.

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When PJ Pacifico plays the Levitt Pavilion June 25 (7 p.m.), the Westporter won’t have far to go. He lives right around the corner.

The singer/songwriter’s new single, “Every Little Heartbreak,” speaks to a world eager to embrace a fresh new day after a time of intense challenges. Sound familiar?

PJ’s perspective on the ups and downs of being an indie artist and songwriter are influenced by his experiences as a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Beating cancer after undergoing months of chemo and radiation, and losing his spleen and part of his liver, made him feel like he had a second chance.

But he suffered with survivor’s guilt and “impostor syndrome.” He’s battled through all that — and is ready to rock the Levitt.

Just down the hill from his home.

The event is free, but tickets are required. Click here to register.

PJ Pacifico

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Monday — the first full day of summer — is the longest day of the year.

Recognizing that for those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, every day is “the longest” — but also, that art has the power to inspire and excite — RaRa (“Real Art. Real Artists.”) is partnering with the Residence at Westport to produce an art exhibit.

The show (June 21, 3 to 5 p.m., The Residence, 1141 Post Road East), is open to the public. There’s wine and cheese, plus  live entertainment. A portion of art sales will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Can’t get out (even on the longest day)? Click here for information on the virtual version of the exhibit.

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In this hybrid summer, the Westport Library offers 2 learning clubs. Both are “blended” — meaning in-person classes at the Library, and a remote option for distance education.

The program for grades 1 to 5 includes week-lonf literacy, math and STEAM sessions. Grades 6 to 8 enjoy  STEAM, book clubs, and other programs that encourage academic independence. They beginning June 29, and end August 19.

For more information and to register, click here.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo includes a Fresh Mark osprey update.

Carolyn Doan reports: “We checked on the nest Monday and Tuesday. The parents were doing such a great job at shielding the chicks from the rain that they were impossible to see. The next day was a different story. Making lots of noise and waiting for an incoming fish, these two were front and center — literally.”

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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And finally … on this day in 1972, 5 men were arrested for burling Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate complex. The crime drew little attention at the time. Of course …

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Roundup: Library Cafe, Granny Rocks, Arts …

=======================================================The Westport Library Café is open again.

Well, sort of. Hours are limited (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). There’s beverage service only — none of the great Mystic Market treats that were so popular before COVID.

But it’s a start. The gorgeous space by the river no longer seems so empty.

Meanwhile, the library store — filled with gifts, cards, and whatnot — has re-emerged from its hiatus in one of the reading rooms. It’s back on the main floor.

Now all we need are dozens of people hanging out on the Forum steps, speakers on stage every night, and water running once again from the bubblers.

(Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

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The Netflix crew that’s spent several weeks filming “The Noel Diary” in Westport has inconvenienced some residents. They’ve also taken taken over the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot, for use as a staging area. Several large trucks are camped there. Closure of the lot has upset some dog-walking regulars, who prefer that spot to the North Compo lot.

But some were particularly upset yesterday, at the mess left in the northeast corner of the lot. A temporary tent used by the production crew was gone.

And this is what remained:

(Photo/Sara Robbin)

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Lisa Doran’s Greens Farms Elementary School distance learning 1st graders welcomed a very special visitor yesterday.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe took time out of his day to pop into her classroom — via Zoom — to chat.

The students were enthralled — and inquisitive. When one asked what Marpe likes best about his job, he got up from his desk, and grabbed the giant pair of scissors — a present from his wife after his first election. He uses them at ribbon cutting ceremonies, which he says is his favorite task.

Another student asked if he knows everyone in Westport. He said that he knows quite a lot of people — especially since COVID, when he met so many Westporters online.

The next student asked if he was like the president of Westport. That’s a great analogy. And Doran’s class thanked the “president” for spending some quality time with them.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe (lower right), Greens Farms Elementary School teacher Lisa Doran (top row, 2nd from left), and her students on Zoom.

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Speaking of Marpe: In not exactly stop-the-presses news, he has endorsed Jen Tooker and Andrea Lawrence Moore in November’s selectmen’s race..

The pair must still be officially nominated by the Republican Party, at their meeting next month.

Jen Tooker (right) and Andrea Moore.

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The Westport Museum of History & Culture’s walking tour of downtown — uncovering the hidden stories of Black life here, over the centuries — has sold out.

So they’ve added 2 more tours: Friday, June 18 (2 p.m.) and Saturday, June 19th (9:30 a.m.).

Tickets are $10. Reservations are required. Click here to register, and for more information.

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For 2 years, Rosemary Cass has enriched the lives of people 55 and older.

Her “Seeing it Clearly Now” blog inspires everyone — retired or not — to learn new things, find purpose, and explore the arts.

Rosemary has just added a 2nd blog. It’s aimed at a special niche: grandmothers.

She says that “This Granny Rocks” — clever name, no? — provides a place where “grannies can brag about their perfect grandchildren, without everyone rolling their eyes. No judgment here.”

Readers can submit stories, their grandkids’ photos and clever sayings, and warm, nostalgic stories about their own grandmothers. The site will also offer helpful granny information, and advice on the art of grandmothering.

It launched with stories from Joan Isaacson (Westport author of “The Red Velvet Diary”), and Sharon Citrin Goldstein of Fairfield. To learn more, click here.

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The arts are crucial to Westport. But — like anything beautiful — they must be nurtured.

To help, MoCA Westport is hosting an open meeting. Representatives from local arts organizations and 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker will talk — and listen — about the best ways to support our arts institutions and community. 

The event is next Monday (June 21, 5 to 6 p.m., outdoors at MoCA, 19 Newtown Turnpike. It’s free; no registration required. Questions? Email ruth@mocawestport.org, or call 203-222-7070.

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Speaking of art: When Harvest Commons renovated their community room, it looked great. But the walls were bare.

So the condominium complex on Post Road East put out a call: Any artistically inclined owners could contribute art.

The result exceeded their expectations. The walls are brimming with Harvest Commons-created works.

Among the donors: familiar names like Rhonda Bloom, Linda and Al Cassuto, Jo Ann Davidson, Judith Orseck Katz and Toby Michaels

“We are finding more talent by the day,” says organizer Peter Swift. “At the rate we’re going, wall space will be the problem.”

Gives new meaning to the term “resident artists,” right?

Some of the art in the Harvest Commons community room.

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Connecticut is one of the healthiest states in the country. Yet there are huge disparities between white people, and those of color.

Wesport’s Unitarian Church — long devoted to social justice — hosts a webinar about health inequities, and what can be done about them (including what audience members can do).

“Racial Health Inequities” is set for June 28 at 7 (p.m.). Guest speaker is Rev. Robyn Anderson, director of the Ministerial Health Fellowship. The event is free to all, but advance registration is required.

The webinar is the Unitarian Church’s second in their series “Revealing History: How We Got Here, Why it Matters.”

Rev. Robyn Anderson

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“Westport … Naturally” turns today to Saugatuck Shores. This is just one of the  scenes Beth Berkowitz walks by — and loves — every day.

(Photo/Beth Berkowitz)

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And finally … on this day in 1967, the 3-day Monterey Pop Festival opened in California. Over 50,000 people were there for the first major American appearances by Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Ravi Shankar; the first large-scale public performance by Janis Joplin and the introduction of Otis Redding to a mass American audience.

If you never watch another “06880” music video, you can’t miss Otis:

“06880” Podcast: Trey Ellis

Trey Ellis is one of the most interesting — and accomplished — people in Westport.

He is a leading chronicle of the Black experience. An award-winning novelist, Emmy and Peabody-honored filmmaker, playwright and professor of screenwriting in the Graduate School at Columbia University, he recently served as executive producer and interviewer for the HBO documentaries “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight For Equality,” and “King in the Wilderness.”

The other day, I spoke with Trey. We talked about writing, creativity, Black lives here and elsewhere, raising children in Westport, and much more.

It was a fascinating, wide-ranging conversation. Click here for the newest “06880: The Podcast” episode.

Screenshot from the Trey Ellis podcast.

Roundup: Craig Melvin, Car Show, Circle Of Friends …

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Fathers Day is June 20. Which makes a perfect tie-in for Craig Melvin.

The NBC “Today” show anchor — and Westport resident — has just written a new book: Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father.

On Thursday, June 17 (7 p.m., in-person and via Zoom) he’ll discuss it — along with fatherhood, addiction and resiliency — in a Westport Library program. He’s got the perfect co-host too: his wife, Lindsay Czarniak. She’s a sportscaster and NFL sideline report for Fox Sports, after 6 years with ESPN.

Melvin calls his book more an investigation than a memoir. It’s an opportunity to better understand his father; to interrogate his family’s legacy of addiction and despair, but also transformation and redemption, and to explore the challenges facing all dads.

Pops also includes tales of the inspiring fathers Melvin has met reporting his “Dads Got This” series on “Today.”

Click here to register, either in-person or via Zoom. Copies of Pops are available for ordering and pickup at the library, or for shipping.

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Speaking of Fathers Day: Here’s a great event for dads (and their kids) (and spouses).

Westport PAL is sponsoring a car show on June 20 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street). In addition to cool cars, there’s food and raffle prizes.

Tickets are $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are free. Hey, this is the PAL: Even on Father’s Day, they’re all about the kids.

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Circle of Friends is a great group. Young volunteers join children and adults with special needs in an array of social programs and weekly play dates.

On June 23 (Beth Israel Chabad, Norwalk, 6:30 p.m.), an evening of recognition will honor more than 150 teen volunteers.

Special honors go to Staples and Weston High School seniors Benjamin Clachko, Mushka Stone, Harley Bonn, Rebecca Ronai and Lina Singh, for their combined 3,000 “Friendship Hours.”

Other Westport and Weston teens being feted are Oliver Clachko, Hannah Sharkey, Evan Trock, Alexa Anastasi, Emmy Bassler, Hannah Bitsky, Jacob Bitsky, Elyana Blatt, Michael Blishteyn, Haley Bloch, Katie Rose Blumenfeld, Marley Brown, Caroline Caggiano, Otto Learsy-Cahill, Jacob Ceisler, Jessica Dell’Isola, Abby Epstein, Emily Epstein, Genevieve Frucht, Cailen Geller, Jordan Gladstone, Jordana Greenspan, Siyar Jabarkhyl, Rebecca Kanfer, Dwight Koyner, Jessica Koyner, Max Krug, Ryan Lapatine, Madison Lebowitz, Connor McGeehan, Noah Robison, Alexis Rozen, Skylar Shapiro, Brooke Saporta, Anabell Sollinger,Harrison Solomon, James Dobin Smith, Aidan Spellacy, Alexandra Spencer, Raychel Stark, Leiba Stone, Chelsea Strober, Isabel Tobin, Reese Watkins and Madison Wilson.

For moroe information on Circle of Friends, click here, call 203-293-8837 or email cof@circleoffriendsct.org.

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The past 15 months have not had much to joke about.

As we emerge from COVID though, there’s plenty to smile about.

There’s no better place than at Homes with Hope’s “Stand-up for Comedy” fundraiser. Set for this Saturday (June 12, 8 p.m.), it’s a livestreamed event with 4 fantastic comedians — and for one of the best non-profits in Fairfield County.

See the link below for comedian details. Then click here for tickets.

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“Pink is my favorite color,” says Lauri Weiser. So that makes her photo perfect for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … Patrick Sky died last month. A folk singing/songwriting contemporary of Dave Van Ronk, Buffy Sainte-Marie and others in the Greenwich Village 1960’s scene, he never achieved their fame. But albums like “Songs That Made America Famous” remain cult classics. Of Irish and Native American ancestry, he mastered the very difficult uilleann pipes late in his career. Click here for his obituary.

 

 

Roundup: Dogs, Deer, Teenagers …

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Yesterday’s rally against antisemitism drew Westporters of all faiths and ages.

Bedford Middle School 8th grader was there too. He took this compelling photo, capturing some of the sentiment at the scene.

(Photo/Preston Siroka)

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Staples Tuition Grants’ annual awards ceremony is one of the high school’s premier events.

Last year’s was particularly impressive. The organization — founded in 1943, with a $100 grant from the PTA — awarded $350,000 in need-based scholarships, to 129 students. Nearly half are seniors who graduate this month; the rest are Staples grads, currently in college.

The grants — ranging from $500 to $5,000 — will help them attend a total of 77 institutions, in 24 states.

Guest speakers included longtime STG donor Dick Fincher, and past recipient/current educator, EMT and Westport Local Press publisher Jaime Bairaktaris.

But — as always — the “stars” were the students. To learn more about Staples Tuition Grants, and donate, click here.

Staples Tuition Grants honorees. (Photo/Pamela Einarsen)

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As your dog enjoys the great outdoors, remember: June is dog license renewal month.

All dogs over 6 months old must be licensed. Fees are $8 for neutered male or spayed female, $19 for others. Additional fees apply for online applications.

A $75 infraction will be issued for any non-licensed dog, and any dog not wearing a current dog tag.

Click here for everything you need to know about dog licenses.

Can I see your dog’s license?

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Kami Evans is all about connections.

Usually she connects Westport shoppers and merchants, and businesses with businesses. Now she’s working with teenagers, through a Teen Job Fair.

ConneCTalent owners Jasmine Silver and Runa Knapp will talk about interviewing and follow-up skills, and conduct mock interviews.

It’s set for June 13 (10 to 11:30 a.m., MoCA Westport, 19 Newtown Turnpike).  Click here to register. The Teacher Marketplace is sponsoring the event.

How can teenagers get jobs? The Teen Job Fair can help.

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Speaking of teenagers: Westport Farmers’ Market‘s 5th annual Young Shoots Photography Contest opens soon. And you can be even younger than 13 to enter.

There are 3 age categories: 8-10 years old, 11-14 and 15-18. Any photo taken at one of the Thursday Farmers’ Markets is eligible. Judging is by a panel of local artists, and the public.

The contest runs from a week from today (June 10) through July 18. Winners — who earn cash prizes, special swag and membership to local art organizations — will be celebrated at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, with catering by Sugar & Olives. Click here to submit photos.

“Starstem” by Calista Finkelstein placed 1st in the 2016 contest, in the 8-10 category.

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What does it mean to be Asian American? That’s the title of a conversation next Thursday (June 10, 7 p.m.) Presented by the Westport Library, TEAM Westport and AAPI Westport, there’s limited seating at the library. But everyone around the world can tune in virtually.

Professors Erika Lee and Jason Chang are the guests. The discussion will be moderated by Westporter Heather Lee. They’ll explore Asian American life through a wide historic lens, as well as the current wave of anti-Asian discrimination and physical attacks, and AAPI communities uniting with others to create an inclusive and equitable society.

To register for in-person seating at the Westport Library, click here. To register for the Zoom link, click here.

A scene from Westport’s Asian-American rally, outside the Library.

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An event last night at Mancini Salon honored owner Carla Morales. The staff surprised her with a party, thanking her for all she did to get them through the pandemic year. She kept all her employees on, under difficult circumstances — and kept them and their patrons safe. The salon reopened exactly a year ago.

Congratulations, Carla. Here’s wishing you and Mancini a great summer! (Hat tip: Patti Brill)

Cheers at Mancini Salon.

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Sustainable Westport’s Zero Food Waste Challenge matching grant has a month left to meet its $7,500 goal. The deadline is July 2.

The aim is to double our town’s food scrap recycling participation in the next 6 months. Funds raised will educate and inspire residents about the project. Click here to donate.

Food scrap recycling – it’s easy!

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Tired of bears? For today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, let’s go back to our old favorites: deer. Lauri Weiser spotted this cute one (in between nibbles) at her Lansdowne condo complex.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Speaking of deer: At least one baby was born yesterday, at Willowbrook Cemetery. May it rest — and romp — in peace.

(Photo/Danny Amoruccio)

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Westport Country Playhouse’s popular Script in Hand play reading series continues with “The Savannah Disputation.” The comedy — filmed on the Playhouse stage — will be broadcast virtually. It premieres June 14 at 7 p.m., and streams on demand from June 15 through 20.

In “Savannah Disputation,” Mary and Margaret are feisty Catholic sisters living in Georgia, who forget about Southern hospitality when a young Pentecostal missionary knocks at their front door to shake up their beliefs. The women call in their local priest for backup, in this entertaining examination of what it means to truly believe.

Click here for tickets and more information.

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And finally … in honor of Kami Evans’ initiative to prepare teenagers for the job market:

“06880, The Podcast”: John Dodig

As Pride Month begins, there is no better LGBTQ role model than John Dodig.

An educator for 47 years, it was only in his last 11 that he was out publicly as a gay man. But what an 11 years those were.

As principal of Staples High School, Dodig fostered an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance for all. He was admired and adored by students, staff, and the entire community.

But it took a lifetime of struggle for Dodig to get there.

The other day, I sat with him in the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum. We talked about his career in education, his journey as a gay man, and what it all means for him and our community today.

As always, Dodig was clear, honest, incisive, and very funny. Click here for the newest “06880: The Podcast” interview.

Happy Pride!

Screenshot from John Dodig’s podcast interview.

Roundup: Book Sale, Fine Arts Festival, Ben Casparius …

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Has the dreary weather got you down?

Think back to a year ago this Memorial Day weekend. Life was a lot worse. So go out and enjoy Westport’s 2 big events. They’re great. Many people have worked hard to make them happen. And they’re important to the sponsors.

The 48th annual Fine Arts Festival runs from now through 5 p.m. Artists on displya includes painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood, graphics and print making.

There’s music, food, and plenty of activities for children. Click here for more details.

Today is also the last day of the Westport Library Book Sale — which means all books, CDs and DVDs are half price.

Every customer gets a coupon for The Westport Book Shop (used book store on Jesup Green). The sale is open from noon to 5 p.m. And you’ll be dry: It’s all inside the library!

Westport LIbrary Book Sale

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The University of Connecticut baseball team plays in this afternoons Big East finals (1 p.m.).

Yesterday, Ben Casparius got them there.

The 2017 Staples High School state championship team captain and Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year pitched 7 innings great innings against Creighton. The Huskies won 2-0 in the conference semifinal, played in Mason, Ohio.

Casparius struck out 13, while allowing just 3 hits. After the game he said, “it was an awesome experience, an awesome day for us, and we’re ready to go [Sunday]. We’re not even close to done yet.” (Hat tip: David Goldstein)

Ben Casparius, in a post-game interview yesterday.

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Speaking of Staples grads: Class of 2012 alum Ellen Kempner leads Palehound, an indie rock duo. She met Melinda (who records as Jay Som) on tour

They realized they’re compatible — “two breathy-voiced songwriters whose music can be fragile or bruising, offering both vulnerability and resolve,” the New York Times‘ Jon Pareles writes — and joined forces.

In January 2020 they rented an Airbnb house for two weeks, and recorded an album. They called themselves Bachelor.

It’s been released as “Doomin’ Sun.” Pareles says:

Kempner and Duterte brought out the best in each other. In the songs they wrote together, satisfaction often stays just out of reach. They look at desire, estrangement, insecurity, pop fandom, shoplifting and, in the album’s title song, climate change. And they sing like sisters who know each other’s secrets.

Click here for the full Times story. (Hat tip: John Karrel)

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Up on Weston’s Kellogg Hill, Jolantha celebrates Memorial Day:

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

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On Friday night, MoCA Westport welcomed the Alexa Tarantino Quartet. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist performed a great set — including the Connectcut premiere of their “Firefly” album. Attendees enjoyed a Firefly aperitif too.

Next up in the Music at MoCA Series: Jocelyn and Chris, a sibling rock duo seen recently on “The Today Show.” They perform outdoors on June 11 (7 p.m.). Click here for tickets.

Alexa Tarantino Quartet, at MoCA Westport.

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Tina Green sent along today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, of a newly hatched peregrine falcon. She notes that the birds been nesting in the Saugatuck area for many years.

(Photo/Tina Green)

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And finally … in honor of Westport’s Fine Arts Festival:

 

Roundup: I-95 Bridge Work, “Different” Cook Book, Happy 90th! …

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Some big bridge projects are in the works.

The state Department of Transportation plans work on 2.5 miles of I-95, from the Yankee Doodle Bridge in Norwalk to the Saugatuck River bridge. It includes reconstruction of the center median and right shoulders, and resurfacing the ramps at Exits 16 and 17.

The bridge over Saugatuck Avenue will be totally replaced. The new superstructure will be constructed adjacent to the existing bridge, and slid into place.

The bridges over Franklin Street and the Saugatuck River will undergo concrete deck repairs, and replacement of expansion joints.

A virtual public information session is set for Thursday, June 3 (7 p.m.). To access the meeting, and for information about commenting or asking questions, click here.

The estimated cost is $90 million. Construction is planned to begin this fall. DOT did not provide an anticipated end date.

This work is substantially more complex than the Kings Highway replacement project currently underway near Canal Street. Fingers crossed …

Traffic will flow less smoothly on the I-95 bridge over Saugatuck Avenue when construction begins this fall. (Photo/Mark Mathias)

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Work is moving ahead on Bankside House, the 12 units of luxury housing rising on the west bank of the Saugatuck River.

A large canvas banner hides construction from drivers passing by (or stopped in traffic) on Wilton Road. So here are 2 bird’s-eye views:

(Drone photos/David Waldman)

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Brette Warshaw’s love of food, food culture and food writing began in Westport.

In 3rd grade, she was reviewing local restaurants for the Long Lots Elementary School paper. (Angelina’s got a rave.)

At Staples High School, the 2009 graduate loved Alison Milwe Grace’s culinary classes. Brette wrote her college essay about working at the Weston Field Club snack shop.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she worked at the Food52 website, moving up to managing editor. Brette the became CFO of Lucky Peach, David Chang’s quarterly food journal.

She works at Apple News now (no food jokes, please!). She writes the daily Newsletter. She also wrote “What’s the Difference” — answering questions we’ve all wondered about. (What’s the difference, for example, between a balcony and terrace? Latino and Hispanic? A dash and a hyphen?)

In Brette’s special area of expertise, what’s the difference between broth and stock? Jam and jelly (and preserves)? Barbecuing and grilling? Chef and cook? Sweet potato and yam? Maître d’ and host?

She’s turned those important questions (spoiler alert: I have no idea about any of the answers) into a new book. What’s the Difference? Recreational Culinary Reference for the Curious and Confused will be published June 8. (Click here for more information, and to order.)

It’s irreverent, informative — and when I get a copy, I’ll let you know the answers.

Brette Warshaw

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Longtime Westporter George Manchester turns 90 in June.

His son Jeff — now raising his own family, in his home town — has planned a special gift. He hopes at least 90 “06880” readers will send his father “Happy Birthday” cards.

George spends summers in Maine. This year, he’ll arrive June 5. Going to the post office is an important part of his day. Let’s inundate him (and the PO) with cards!

Send to: George Manchester, PO Box 202, South Bristol, ME 04568. And feel free to pass this on to others!

George Manchester in 2017, just before the old Saugatuck Island bridge was torn down after damage from Superstorm Sandy. Decades earlier he was involved in the construction of that bridge, as president of what was then called the Saugatuck Shores Island Association (now the Saugatuck Island Special Taxing District).

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The Westport Library’s Memorial Day Book Sale began at 9 this morning.

Forty minutes earlier, there was already a waiting line.

The sale is on today through 6 p.m. It continues tomorrow (Saturday, May 29) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday (May 30) from noon to 5.

Outside the Westport Library, 8:20 a.m. today … (Photo/Karen Como)

… and at 9:02 a.m. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

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For today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, Tina Green writes:

“Some time in the last several days, the American oystercatcher eggs hatched at Compo Beach. This year there are 2 very healthy chicks. The adult female is limping, but will hopefully recover soon.

“The federally protected piping plovers are nesting on the most northern edge of the roped off area. I had the good fortune to witness the first egg being laid while observing the female early yesterday morning.

“Westporters are lucky to have a variety of bird species nest within our borders. About 88 species breed in the wide variety of  habitats around town, including back yards, town parks, beaches and open spaces like Cockenoe Island and Aspetuck Land Trust properties.

“If the pandemic got you into birdwatching while at home, this is one of the best towns in the state to see and observe our feathered friends.”

American oystercatcher at Compo Beach (Photo/Tina Green)

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Longtime Westporter Ronald Joseph Melino died on May 22. He was 91.

The South Bronx native transplanted himself and his family from the city he loved to Westport in 1967.

Melino studied biology at City College, and was a proud employee of American Airlines. He worked his way up from the La Guardia Airport terminal to the company’s executive offices at the Chrysler Building.

Original to his core, naturally charismatic and never shy, he lived life on his own terms. He loved beach walks, tennis with pals at the Westport Tennis Club and Longshore, workouts and saunas at the Westport YMCA, reading, train travel to San Francisco, and above all else his grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Maureen. He is survived by his children Stephen Melino (Margie), Frances Zahler (Gary), Barbara Deecken (George), and James Melino (Ilana); grandchildren Alexsis Adams, Christina Deecken, Cody Zahler, Christian Zahler, Avery Chung-Melino, Rachel Melino, Emily Zahler, and Katey Melino, great grandson Isaiah, beloved nieces and nephews and their families, and his brother Eugene.

A private Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Assumption Cemetery, at a time to be determined.

Ronald Joseph Melino

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Westport’s newest police officer is Stephen Silva has joined its ranks. He was sworn in yesterday at a small ceremony, in front of his family and friends. Two brothers serve with the Trumbull Police Department.

Silva started his career in law enforcement in 2016 with the Bridgeport Police Department. He worked in the patrol division, served as an acting detective, and was a member of the department’s honor guard.

In addition to working full time as a police officer, Silva is pursuing a degree in emergency management at Post University.

Officer Stephen Silva (right) is congratulated by Police Chief Foti Koskinas.

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The Staples girls golf team — ranked #4 in the state — beat St. Joseph yesterday. The win solidified a spot in the FCIAC tournament, beginning next Thursday.

After the match, the Wreckers posed for a special Memorial Day photo.

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While Charles MacCormack traveled the world as CEO of Westport-based Save the Children, his wife Susan Ross devoted her life to public service of a more local scope. For 40 years she worked with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation; for 12 years, she was its CEO.

Susan died 4 years ago this month, after a 7-year battle with breast and pancreatic cancer. In her memory, her husband of 45 years has helped established the Susan M. Ross Fund for Great Leadership at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. It targets the organization’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence, which provides leadership develop opportunities.

For more information or to donate, click here.

Susan M. Ross

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And finally … happy 76th birthday to John Fogerty. I’ve played tribute to his band — Creedence Clearwater Revival — and I will again. So today I’ll honor his solo work. (PS: Thanks again for that great Levitt Pavilion concert in 2017. I’m still smiling.)

 

Roundup: Christian Siriano, Hall & Oates, Joan Isaacson …

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“Antiques Roadshow” took its show on the road recently — to Westport.

The popular PBS series visited Christian Siriano in his New York showroom, then traveled to his Westport home.

His couch, chairs and brass palm tree were appraised by David Rago, and Siriano talked about his quiet suburban digs. He called his home his “sanctuary.”

Click here for the full episode. (Hat tip: Seth VanBeever)

David Rago and Christian Soriano, in the designer’s Westport home.

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Les Dinkin sent along this image (below) of Hall & Oates’ 2021 tour dates.

“Don’t see Westport on the list :)” he says.

Don’t get the joke? Click here.

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Longtime Westporter Joan Isaacson is a wife, mother, grandmother, world traveler and passionate cook. She was born in Naples, Italy, and migrated to New Jersey when she was 8 years old.

She rediscovered her love of writing after retirement. Now she’s a published — and debut — author.

“The Red Velvet Diary” is fiction — based on real life — told in the voices of 3 women. Her grandmother Maria, the daughter of a rabbi, goes to Greece as a young girl and is given a new identity. She takes the reader from her childhood home in Turkey to a girls’ school run by nuns in Athens, where a priest twice her age asks for her hand in marriage.

Isaacson’s mother Lula, Maria’s daughter, comes of age as she lives through World War II in war-ravaged Athens during the Axis occupation. She falls in love with an Italian sailor who is occupying her city. Her journey takes her to Italy and eventually to America, where the author’s story begins.

She studied at Rutgers University, married her high school sweetheart, and together they raised 3 daughters. Isaacson was a stay-at-home mom for several years. When she returned to the workforce she started and managed an international relocation company. She also served on boards for local charities, and remains an avid volunteer.

Isaacson hopes to finish her next book by the end of the year. Click here for a video interview with her, about her first one. Click here for more information, and to purchase “The Red Velvet Diary.”

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This week’s “Friday Flowers” arrangement graces the Westport Library. Each week, the Westport Garden Club decorates another public space.

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Speaking of the Library:

They’re holding a book sale Memorial Day weekend: Friday, May 28 (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.); Saturday, May 29 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and Sunday, May 30 (noon to 5 p.m. — half-price day).

There are thousands of gently used books in dozens of categories: non-fiction and fiction, for adults and children, as well as antiquarian books, CDs, audio books and DVDs. (Vinyl is available at the Westport Book Shop, across Jesup Green.) Click here for more information.

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And finally … today in 1934, bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed by police and killed in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.