Category Archives: Library

Roundup: High Honors, Restaurant News, Playhouse Tours …

As graduation nears, every night brings a different celebration.

All are special. But the High Honors dinner at Staples last night was particularly meaningful.

Nearly 2 dozen students — the top 4% of the Class of 2023 — were honored for their achievements.

Each invited one teacher. Each educator spoke for a few minutes about “their” student.

Bonds between the teachers and teenagers were strong and deep. A wide variety of disciplines was represented: English, social studies, science, math and music.

There were stories of STEM students who found loves for literature and government; of conversations about life before and after school that transcended classrooms; of challenges made and surpassed.

Each student thanked their teachers — and their parents — for getting them where they are today.

There are many reasons to be fearful about the future of our world. Last night offered 21 reasons to be very, very optimistic.

High Honors students, front row (from left): Ryan Salik, Kyle Ambrose, Krishna Reddy, Matthew Shackelford, Tom Zhang, Jaden Mello, Eva Simonte, Quinn Mulvey, Meredith Mulhern, Sharmila Green, Lucia Wang, Rebecca Schussheim, Lilly Weisz. Rear:
Witt Lindau, Colin Morgeson, Nikhil Kanthan, Jet Tober, Katherine Valante, Reilly McCaffrey, Julia Herlyn, Janna Harrison Moore.


Two bits of culinary news, both from Bill Taibe:

Kawa Ni’s rooftop now offers cocktails, wine, beer, sake bombs and snacks “up top” on Fridays and Saturdays (5 to 9 p.m.). Seating is first-come, first-served.

The rooftop is available all other nights for private events. Email

Meanwhile, Don Memo offers music every Thursday from 6:30 p.m. on, at the patio in front of the Post Road restaurant. (Westport’s original Town Hall, for those who remember.)

(Speaking of dining: Don’t forget our “Restaurants” tab at the top of the “06880” home page (and here). It’s a handy link to our sponsors — including one-click menus.)

Music at Don Memo. (Photo/JC Martin)


The taping was not until 11 a.m. And it was not a Westport story.

But an NBC camera crew was at Staples High School’s Laddie Lawrence track before 9 a.m. yesterday. They were setting up for a few shots of Craig Melvin — the anchor who lives in Westport — as part of a “Today” show piece on a father-son track coaching duo.

They’re from Pittsburgh. But who’ll notice?

NBC’s “Today” camera crew at Staples. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Briggs)


Also yesterday morning:

A Metro-North employee handed out computer and smartphone screen wipe cloths to commuters.

It was part of a “safety reminder initiative.”

On the back of the cloths is information about suicide prevention, including a phone number (800-273-TALK) and text (NEXT2U, to 741741) for people in crisis to use.

At the Westport train station yesterday. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)


Have you ever wanted to go backstage at the Westport Country Playhouse?

On Saturday, June 10 (1 to 4 p.m.), you can do that for free. See where sets and costumes are made. Hang out in the green room downstairs, and peek in the dressing rooms where Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Eartha Kitt, Paul Newman and so many other stars once dressed.

The day includes kids’ activities, music, food trucks and beer tastings.

The box office will be open too, for special ticket discounts.

Former Playhouse company manager Bruce Miller, with some of the 500 head shots near the dressing rooms, underneath the stage.


Westport Police made 2 custodial arrests between May 24-30.

An investigation following a mail theft led to an arrest for illegal possession of personal ID, identify theft, and illegal trafficking in personal identification.

An investigation following complaint that a check with stolen, altered and deposited led to an arrest for larceny, identity theft and forgery.

Police also issued the following citations:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 2 citations
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 2
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 2
  • Distracted driving, not cellphone: 1
  • Failure to obey stop sign: 1
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 1
  • Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations: 1
  • Failure to comply with federal regulations for a flotation device: 1
  • Failure to comply with federal regulations for a distress signal: 1
  • Operating a boat without certification: 1
  • Operating an unregistered vessel: 1

    Boats are like cars: They must be registered! (Photo/Daniel Rosenkranz)


Yesterday’s early June weather was gorgeous. Sunset was early-June late; only 3 weeks remain until the days start getting shorter.

The sign at Hook’d said they’re open until 7:30 p.m. That’s part of their contract with the town.

But a few minutes after 7, this was the scene:

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Looks like another summer of uncertainty for the beach concessionaire.

And another summer of big business at Old Mill Grocery & Deli, just down the road.


The Westport Library Adult Summer Reading Challenge returns for its 7th year. There’s a fresh set of categories, to keep readers involved from now through the end of August.

There are 25 challenges: Read a book about an antihero, or one that should be a movie, or one with a neuro=diverse protagonist … you get the idea. Click here, then scroll down for the challenges.

After reading a book, fill out this form. There’s a leaderboard, to track your progress (and see what others are reading).

There are only 2 rules: Each category may be filled only once. And each book can be used for only 1 category.

Happy reading!


Speaking of the Library:

Don’t forget tomorrow’s (Saturday, June 3, 7 p.m.) record release party. Verso Studios has produced the first vinyl record ever recorded, produced and released by a public library.

Tomorrow’s event features live performances from The Problem With Kids Today (New Haven), indie rock mainstay Ports of Spain (New Haven), Lulu Lewis duo Dylan Hundley & Pablo Martin (New York), and folk/Americana artist Kierstin Sieser.

The release party is free. A $25 ticket option includes a copy of Verso Records: Volume One (and a free drink). No record player? A digital copy will be available for $10.

Click here for more details about the record, and the release party.


The Verso Records release party is not the only entertainment in town tomorrow. In fact, it’s not the only one at that parking lot.

Grammy-winning Gen Z jazz artist Samara Joy takes the Levitt Pavilion stage for a 7:30 p.m. show. This is a ticketed event; click here for tickets, and more information.

Samara Joy


The spotlight still shines on Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County will honor the longtime Westporters with a special President’s Award. It recognizes their “significant impact on arts, culture, children’s education and illness and environmental preservation” in the county.

The Daniel E. Offutt III Arts and Culture Empowerment (ACE) Awards breakfast is set for June 21, at Norwalk Shore & Country Club. Over 200 arts and culture leaders, legislators, artists and others will attend. Clea Newman will accept the honor.

Over the years, Newman and Woodward actively supported many organizations, including the Westport Library, Westport Historical Society and Westport Country Playhouse. They also dedicated themselves to land preservation in Connecticut, including  the Newman-Poses Preserve near their Coleytown home.

Paul founded, with A.E. Hotchner, the Newman’s Own Foundation. Since 1982, it has given more than $600 million to worthy causes. Paul’s interest in helping children with serious illnesses lead to the establishment of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

The breakfast will also honor Jenny Nelson of Westport. She’ll receive the Educator Award, for her work in Fairfield County.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.


The Westport Community Gardens — and “06880”‘s “Westport … Naturally” feature — proudly announce the birth of 4 killdeer chicks:

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)


And finally … on this day in 1835, PT Barnum — the future mayor of Bridgeport -and his circus started their first tour of the US.

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“06880” Podcast: Brian McGunagle

June is Pride Month.

So “06880: The Podcast” is proud to feature Brian McGunagle.

The other day, the founder of Westport Pride stopped by the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum to chat about all things LGBTQ.

We talked about gay life in Westport; his own experiences here with his husband and 2 sons — and of course, the upcoming Jesup Green celebration June 4, the drag show at MoCA June 17, and more.

Click below, for a rainbow’s worth of info and insights.

Roundup: PAL Theft, STG $$$, Save The Sound …

There are 2 ways to write this story.

1. The Memorial Day was a huge success for everyone. One of the many highlights was the Westport Police Athletic League float, featuring RTM member/PAL booster Andrew Colabella as a Revolutionary War “Minute Man.”

The float also included 4 large pots of geraniums, and an American flag.

Unfortunately, when the float was parked at Saugatuck Elementary School after the parade, someone took the flowers and flag. They must have thought no one else wanted them.

But the plants were borrowed from a local nursery. Unless they are returned, the PAL — a non-profit — must pay for them. (You can keep the flag!). Just email, or Or drop them off at the PAL clubhouse at PJ Romano Field. No questions asked.

Or this version:

2. There’s one in every crowd.

Thousands of people loved the Memorial Day parade. One of the highlights was the Westport PAL float, featuring RTM member/PAL booster Andrew Colabella as a Revolutionary War “Minute Man.”

But — and this is hard to believe, but welcome to 2023 — when the float was parked a few hours later at Saugatuck Elementary School, some asshat stole 4 beautiful pots of geraniums. Plus an American flag, which was zip-tied to the trailer.

It doesn’t get lower than that.

Stealing from a non-profit, which now must pay for the plants it borrowed from a local nursery.


However, there is one good part of this story.

“PAL” stands for Police Athletic League.

That’s right: Police Athletic League.

They’re coming to get you.

The PAL float, before the items went missing/were stolen.


Staples Tuition Grants does 2 things very well.

It raises money. Then it gives it away.

STG celebrated its 80th year last night at the high school auditorium. The organization awarded $405,000 in scholarships to 119 graduating seniors and students already in college.

That’s the highest amount ever.

The average grant is $3,400 — $650 more than STG’s 10-year average. It helps with 15% of net need. That’s not enough to fill the aggregate net need of $2.7 million.

But STG provides more than the federal government, which awards $312,000 in Pell grants.

The money goes to students with demonstrated financial need. Nearly 450 people donated to the general fund this year, or to named or endowed awards that honor Staples’ history — and support its future.

To learn more about Staples Tuition Grants, click here.


Staples Tuition Grants recipients last night, in the courtyard. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)


Connecticut has some great art museums.

On June 6 (2 p.m.), the Westport Library’s Verso University launches an exploration of some of our best.

Connecticut Art Trail president and longtime Westport resident Carey Weber begins the program with an overview of the organization’s mission and member museums.

Future programs will focus on the Housatonic Museum of Art (July 12) and Weir Farm, the only national park service site dedicated to American painting (August 2).

Connecticut art museums.


Speaking of the Library: Registration is underway for kids’ summer programs. They include:

Summer Reading Fun: Children of all ages (and their grown-ups) are invited to read anything, any time, anywhere. For every 100 minutes read, kids can decorate a sun for display in the library. 500 minutes earns a Shake Shack treat. And 1,000 minutes gets you a free book, to keep. Click here for details.

Summer Learning Clubs integrate math, literacy and STEAM activities into a thematic approach. Each class blends inquiry, design, research, writing and the arts. Click here for grade levels and dates.

Camp Explore returns for its 4th year of STEAM exploration. They include Microbit Makery (June 27-29; grades 6-8); African Mask Making (July 10-12; grades 5-6); Jewelry Making (Novel Necklaces) (July 25; grades 6-8); Matica Arts (August 8-10; grades 6-8). A Matica Circus performance (August 8; 10 a.m.) is open to all. Click here for details.

Iyaba Ibo Mandingo leads the African mask making class.


Save the Sound is sponsoring a beach cleanup at Sherwood Island State Park.

It’s this Saturday (June 3, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; just east of the Nature Center). Staff members will be there, to talk about STS’ “CT Cleanup” effort.

Questions? Email

Sherwood Island State Park.


Emmy-nominated composer/pianist Steve Sandberg headlines tomorrow’s Jazz at the Post (Thursday, June 1; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner from 7 p.m.; $15 cover).

His original music blends classical, world music and jazz. He’ll be joined by 7-time Grammy winner bassist Jay Anderson, fiery drummer Tim Horner, and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

Shows have sold out early. Email for reservations.


The Small Car Company is doing big things in Westport.

The informal group of vintage VW and Porsche owners — the brainchild of former Westporters Tom Truitt and Dave Abelow, and named for a Post Road West dealership (now Carvan) that in the late 1960s sold more Volkswagens than any other in the US — helped partner Total Training & Endurance with Northeast Community Cycles. The deal brings the 10-year-old bicycle charity to Westport.

Their mission is to provide safe, refurbished bicycles to underprivileged children and adults in Fairfield County — at no charge. Like Total Training & Endurance, Northeast Community Cycles is all about community outreach and self-empowerment through the cycling.

The Small Car Company, meanwhile, has introduced a bicycle program to reach out to youngsters in need of direction. The goal is to create passion and responsibility through ownership of personal transportation.

Meanwhile, the organization is planning a bike tour October 8. The charity ride (hosted by TT&E) will raise awareness of and money for bicycle ownership for those with less means.


You may think Ferdinand is a bull.

But George Bullwinkel’s Ferdinand is a dog. And he’s the very relaxed and comfortable subject of today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/George Bullwinkel)


And finally … happy 77th birthday to Jimmy Cliff!

(“06880” — your hyper-local blog — is also a non-profit. Contributions are tax-deductible. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: AI, Free Haircuts, Change For Lyman …

David Pogue’s talk the other day about the potential and perils of artificial intelligence had everyone who saw it, well, talking.

Now the Westport Library — which hosted the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston event — has posted it online.

Whether you’re excited or ambivalent about the future of AI — or don’t know what to think — click below.

It may be one of the most important hours you’ll spend as a human being.


Yesterday’s announcement of LymanAID — the July 9 event thanking Westporters for their support of our sister city in Ukraine, and kicking off the next phase of help — created plenty of excitement.

And it brought a great offer from Felicia Catale. She’s not even waiting until July.

Felicia — the owner of Salon Nash, on Post Road West — is offering free haircuts on any Monday in June, for anyone who donates at least $60 to Lyman.

Those cuts and blow dries — for men, women and kids — usually go for a lot more than that.

Click here to donate via the Ukraine Aid International website (under “Designation,” choose “Westport-Lyman” from the dropdown menu).

Then call or text Felicia (203-747-9753) to make an appointment. Be sure to bring your donation receipt to enjoy your free, generous hair session!

Felicia Catale


Speaking of LymanAID: Staples High School sophomore Sam Rossoni is doing his part to help too.

It’s a big one.

He’s joined with Connie Caruso and a few other volunteers to run “Change for Ukraine: Making a Difference, One Cent at a Time.”

They bought boxes of plastic jars, and are distributing them to businesses, organizations and locations throughout Westport and nearby towns.

They in turn will give jars to individuals or families. Staples students can pick up jars at school.

Between now and early July, participants will try to fill each jar with bills, change and checks (payable to “Ukraine Aid International”). Each holds about $65 worth of coins.

Anyone who fills up a jar will have their lid entered into a raffle. One lid will be selected at random, during the July 9 LymanAID event. The winner gets a $1,000 cash prize.

Want a jar? Or want to contribute? Call or text Sam Rossoni: 917-535-0327.

Collection jars for Lyman.


One of the most dangerous intersections in town just got a bit safer.

Two new stop signs have been added to the north and south sides of West Parish and Hillandale Roads.

Previously, there were — confusingly — only 2 signs. Now drivers coming from all 4 directions must stop.

New north side stop sign on West Parish Road. (Hat tip and photo/Bob Weingarten)


Speaking of accidents: There was a bad-looking one yesterday at the Long Lots Road/North Avenue intersection.

I’m surprised there aren’t more. Between the volume of traffic, the 3-way stop that includes a dip in the road, 2 options southbound from North Avenue and westbound on Long Lots, plus the tempting roll-through-the-stop-sign-and-take-a-right from Long Lots, it’s (as the saying goes) “an accident waiting to happen.”


It’s more than a Teardown of the Day. Call this the Teardown of the Season.

Demolition has begun on the old Westport Inn. The 120-room Post Road East property — first built in 1960 as the New Englander Motel — is being developed by Delamar into an 85-unit boutique hotel.

Upgrades include less building and site coverage, and more green areas.

Delamar owns popular hotels in Southport, Greenwich, West Hartford and Traverse City, Michigan. A couple of miles from the old Westport Inn, they’re also redeveloping the Inn at Longshore.

The demolished front section of the Westport Inn. (Photo/Dan Woog)


As Westport prepares for Memorial Day, our beloved Minute Man is ready.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

But those American flags didn’t fall out of the sky.

Kudos to Westport Hardware for their donation.

And to Andrew Colabella, who has placed them at the base every year since 2008.


Another Memorial Day weekend tradition:

This morning, Scouts from Troops 39 and 139 placed American flags on veterans’ graves, at cemeteries around Westport.

This was the scene at the Green’s Farms Congregational Church Upper Burial Ground:

(Photo/MaryAnn Meyer)


“Below Surface” — the 19-minute documentary short film highlighting Patty Kondub’s life-changing Westport Weston Family YMCA Aquafit class — has earned raves. And awards.

On June 9 (7 p.m.), the Westport Country Playhouse hosts a special screening.

After the show, Patty joins the movie’s producers for a panel discussion. Tracey Knight Narang — a Tony Award-winning producer, and a playwright — moderates.

Admission is free. Click here to register.


Just a few days after another “06880” report on another delay in the ongoing saga of the Bayberry Lane bridge …

… it’s open!

Andrew Colabella was there early yesterday morning, to see the finishing touches put on the long-running project — and to (happily and helpfully) move the “Road Closed” sign out of the way.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)


Sotheby’s auction of a vast collection of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s personal belongings — from chairs and rugs to a “White Stag Speedo Leisure Tennis Suit Worn by Newman” — has begun.

“A Life & Legacy: The Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman Collection” is live through June 12. Click here to bid.

Or just gawk. (Hat tip: Debbie O’Malley and Bill Kutik)

This photo of Paul Newman and fellow Westporter Michael Brockman at the 1994 24 Hours of Daytona race is valued at $800 to $1,200. Bidding starts at $200.


Comp Beach lifeguards return on Monday (Memorial Day).

But at least one was in the guard shack yesterday. Among the duties: updating the popular informational/inspirational sign, for the 2023 season.

(Photo/Karen Como)


The newest member of Westport’s deer community poses for its first “Westport … Naturally” photo:

(Photo/Scott Weiner)


And finally … Ed Ames, whose long career stretched from lead singer of the Ames Brothers, to Fess Parker’s Native American companion on “Daniel Boone,” died last Sunday in Beverly Hills. He was 95.

Click here for a full obituary. And click not just on 2 of his most memorable songs, but on one of the most famous moments ever in Johnny Carson history. (Watch to the end!)

(Sure, it’s a holiday weekend. But “06880” is still at work, bringing you all the information you need about Westport. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Metro-North, Super-Duper Weenies, All-Terrain Wheelchair …

The Connecticut Legislature could cut up to $40 million from the $267 million the state pays to fund Metro-North’s New Haven line.

That would slice the number of daily trains from 309 to 260. Both peak and off-peak service would be affected.

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


Club 203 had a super-duper time last night.


The Super Duper Weenie Truck) fed over 100 attendees, at Longshore’s Evan Harding Point picnic area.

The group — part of Westport’s social organizations for adults with disabilities — enjoying dancing, dining, dessert, yard games, art with MOCA, and relaxing, all with great views of Long Island Sound.

Organizers give a shoutout too to their “super-duper volunteers.”

Club 203’s next event is June 15 (6:30 to 8 p.m.), at the Westport Library. Click here for details.

Club 203 fun at Longshore. (Photo/Jacqueline Lobdell)


Wakeman Town Farm is a fantastic resource for people of all ages and interests.

Now, it’s accessible to those with mobility issues.

The Westport Garden Club recently donated funds for a Fold & Go all-terrain electric wheelchair. It’s been delivered, just in time for the spring/summer season.

People with limited mobility, or their friends or relatives, should email before a visit. The Farm’s dducation coordinator will have the wheelchair waiting.

From left: Kelle Ruden, Joan Andrews and Ginger Donaher, with the all-terrain wheelchair at Wakeman Town Farm.


Visitors to yesterday’s Westport Farmers’ Market enjoyed great weather; the usual wide variety of food, herbs and more — and a “Ducks in Buckets” game.

The Westport Sunrise Rotary Club was there, promoting their annual Great Duck Race.

$10,000.00 in prize money will be given away; the grand prize winner gets $5,000 of it. All proceeds go to charities.

The annual fundraiser is Saturday, June 24 at Jesup Green. Attendance is free. Tickets to compete are available online; at the Farmers’ Market next Thursday (July 1); from any club member, and the day of the race.  

Pitching in for the Great Duck Race, at the Farmers’ Market.


Climate change and racial justice are key issues.

And they’re related. Environmental impacts cross borders. They affect every group of citizens.

On June 1 (7 p.m., Westport Library), Roosevelt Institute director of climate policy Rhiana Gunn-Wright will explore the connections between environmental justice and racial justice. Her talk is called “Just Transitions to Regional Sustainability.”

The event is part of a Saugatuck Congregational Church initiative to “embrace our coastal community” and is a partnership with the Library, TEAM Westport, and Sustainable Westport. Click here for more information.

Rhiana Gunn-Wright


“06880” usually bird dogs new businesses.

But we missed the arrival recently of Birddogs.

The mens’ shorts/pants/polo shirts shop is open in Brooks Corner. It’s their 3rd brick-and-mortar store. The others are in New York City and Short Hills, New Jersey.

Click here for their minimalist website. Or check them out for yourself.

(Photo and hat tip/Stacey Henske)


Coming soon at the Westport Country Playhouse:

A reading of the comedy “Quick Service” as part of the New Works series (June 5, 7 p.m.; meet the playwright and director afterward). All tickets are $25. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

A “Script in Hand” play reading of Agatha Christie’s “The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd” (June 12, 7 p.m.). All tickets are $25. Click here to purchase, and for more information.


A longtime tradition continued this morning.

A group of dads gathered at 5:30 a.m. to install a water slide for Kings Highway Elementary School’s field day.

At 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, that’s no easy task.

Even harder, no doubt, will be wrestling it — big and wet — back into its original packaging.

Great weather for a water slide!


Sorelle Gallery on Church Lane showcases Daniel Pollera and Michele Poirier-Mozzone, from June 2 through 24.

He focuses on land and seascapes, while she paints soft, fragmented figures from underwater vantage points. Both explore themes of water and light, and the relationship between them.

Click here for more information.

Artwork by Daniel Pollera


Speaking of art: Around the corner from Sorelle, in Sconset Square, Vanessa Lewis’ recently relocated her Penfield Collective “retail concept” (I’m assuming that means “store”) from Fairfield.

Now there’s a new addition, right outside.

Donna Forma’s sculpture has been installed at the door. Made of laminated walnut, it has been treated to become weather resistant.

The new artwork is all in the family. Lewis is Forma’s daughter.

Donna Forma’s sculpture.


Summer is near. Which means more and more beachgoers will see sights like this — today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)

Horseshoe crabs are fascinating creatures. Scary, ugly, primordial, they send a strong message: “Stay away. This is our beach. We were here first.”

We walk warily past them.

Unless you’re a kid. In which case you pick them up, with a combination of courage and awe.


And finally … Rolf Harris, the Australian singer whose “Tie Me Kangaroo  Down, Sport” was a huge novelty hit, but whose long career on British television ended when he was convicted of sexually abusing teenage girls — died earlier this month in England. He was 93.

Click here for a full obituary.

(Celebrate Memorial Day weekend the traditional way: with a contribution to “06880.” Please click here. Thank you!)

Roundup: AI, Anna Diorio, SLOBs …

Can’t get to the Westport Library this Monday (May 22, 7 p.m.) to hear David Pogue’s “Artificial Intelligence Gets Real!” talk?

Click here for the Zoom link.

Warning: AI is really real. Buckle up!


You gotta love SLOBs.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of SLOBs — more formally, Staples Service League of Boys — stopped by Westport Fire Department headquarters.

They handed a check for $1,340 to the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation. The money — proceeds from a fundraising basketball tournament — will help buy smoke alarms for hearing impaired people.

Not too shabby!

SLOBs deliver.


Speaking of Staples: Anna Diorio has won a national writing award.

The Staples High School senior earned 3rd place in the National Federation of Press Women Education Fund contest. Nearly 2,000 students participated.

Anna qualified by taking first place in the Connecticut contest, for her Inklings opinion piece and May 2022 cover story addressing gender normativity, “The Damaging Effects of: ‘I’m Just teasing.“

Meanwhile, Staples’ broadcast news program “On the Wreckord” took first place in the state, and honorable mention nationally, for “Best Newscast: Radio or Television” for Episode 6. The executive producer was Finnegan Courtney; the team included broadcast directors Diorio and Abby Nevin; anchors Zach Brody, Diorio and Ela Shi; intro producer Diorio, and other students who provided content and theme music.

Joseph DelGobboo and Mary Elizabeth Fulco serve as advisors for Inklings and “On the Wreckord.”

Anna Diorio


The 10th annual Dale Hopkins Memorial Golf Tourney will be held today, on Armed Forces Day. Fittingly, it is his birthday.

The event — this year, in Bermuda — raises money in honor of the man Carl Addison Swanson calls “everybody’s giant.” The Staples High School Class of 1966 athlete gained All-FCIAC honors in football and basketball. But it was his easy-going, friendly nature that attracted so many people of all ages to him.

After graduation, Dale served 2 tours in Vietnam as a Marine. He then moved into the construction business. he died in 2008.

The Dale Hopkins Memorial Fund, in correlation with the Semper Fi Fund, Annie and John Charitable Foundation and the Swanson Charitable Trust, was formed to assist a homeless classmate. It then assisted other Staples alumni who needed helping hands, and the Semper Fi Fund. 84% goes directly to veterans.


The New Works Initiative — the Westport Country Playhouse opportunity to see the first public meeting of a new play (and meet young playwrights) — continues June 5.

The play — “Quick Service,” by May Treuhaft-Ali — is about the precariousness of the food service industry. Four employees of a Chicago empanada shop try to make it through the dinner rush as something sinister rises up from the basement, ex-workers enact their revenge, and the oven has a mind of its own.

All tickets are $25. Click here to purchase, and for more information.


Punk rock from New York-based Darling blasted in MoCA Westport’s gallery Thursday — a different part of the usual “Cocktails and Conversation” event.

The evening also included a talk by Emann Odufu, curator of MoCA’s “Rainbow in the Dark” exhibition of German contemporary artist Anselm Reyle. Inspired by punk and heavy metal, his color palette utilizes Day-Glo colors as an outgrowth of his fascination with psychedelic and punk aesthetics.

The next “Cocktails and Conversation” (Thursday, May 25, 6 p.m.) features a discussion on design and female entrepreneurship with Barbara Sallick of Waterworks and Shari Lebowitz of Bespoke Designs, moderated by Jen Berniker of Designport. Click here for tickets.

Emann Odufu at MoCA.


Bob Gill, a longtime Westport resident and Boy Scout leader, died peacefully at home on Monday. He was 96.

After Trenton High School where he won a New Jersey diving championship, Bob enlisted in the Navy. He became a pilot, serving in the Pacific out of Hawaii’s Hickam Field until 1949.

Upon his discharge Bob was hired by American Airlines as a New York-based pilot. He married Olivia, a stewardess for American, in 1953.

In 1963 they and their 5 children moved to Westport. The next year he became a captain at American. A

As a young man Bob had enjoyed his time in the Boy Scouts, earning Eagle Scout His sons joined Troop 36. Bob became scoutmaster, spending much of his free time organizing monthly hikes and campouts throughout Connecticut. He also led the troop to national and international jamborees.

Bob took great pride in seeing his sons earn their Eagle Scout award, as well as grandson Odin, and watching daughter Kirsten participate in Girl Scouts. Even after his children left scouting, he continued on for years with the troop.

He was also an active board member of the Compo Beach Improvement Association, member of the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston, and a volunteer Red Cross driver.

Bob also flew for 20 years in the Naval Reserves, retiring as a commander.

After 36 years with American Captain Gill retired in 1987, He continued his love of aviation by piloting his Mooney 252, flying all over the US until he was 87. He was named an FAA Wilbur and Orville Wright “Master Pilot” for 50 years of accident-free flying.

Bob was proud and honored to have his children take up professional flying with the major airlines. His granddaughter Amelia become a flight instructor.

In retirement, Robert and Olivia traveled the world by sea and air. He enjoyed physical fitness training, sailing and skiing. He marched in many Memorial Day parades as a scoutmaster, and in his Navy uniform.

He was a member of the Grey Eagles, a retired American Airlines pilots’ organization, and of the First Church of Christ Scientist Westport.

Bob was predeceased by his brother, sister, and oldest son Gary. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Olivia; their children Robert of Hawaii; Jeffrey (Dana) of Elgin, Illinois; Steven (Sally) of Exton, Pennsylvania; Kirsten (Steve Bartie) of Westport, and 10 grandchildren.

Services will be held tomorrow (Sunday, May 21, Harding Funeral Home; viewing at 10:30 a.m., funeral at noon).

Bob Gill


Sometimes, “Westport … Naturally” photographers have to work quickly. Birds, bobcats, and most other creatures tend to move rapidly.

Rowene Weems had no such problem Thursday, at the Library Riverwalk. This trio never budged — not before she snapped her shot, or long afterward.

They may still be there.

(Photo/Rowene Weems)


And finally … on this day in 1927 Charles Lindbergh took off for Paris from Roosevelt Field in Long Island. His Spirit of St. Louis landed in Paris 33 1/2 hours later: the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic.

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Gabi Coatsworth’s “Love’s Journey Home”

In 1979, Gabi Coatsworth left her native England for six months’ work in the States.

She reconnected with a man she’d met 5 years earlier in London. He lived now in Greenwich, but pursued her in Chicago.

Her brief stay in the US turned into a life here.

They married, had 2 children, moved to Fairfield. He drank. They divorced.

A few months later, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He stopped drinking. Gabi’s ex-husband became ‘the man I thought I married.” She cared for him.

After he died, she re-examined her life.

Gabi Coatsworth

Gabi was in a writing group. When she put her thoughts on paper, members said, “This needs more of you. Write as if no one will read it.”

She rewrote her piece. Then she put it away. Publishing it would be “too definite,” she thought.

Years passed. Eventually, Gabi realized, it was time for a book.

“It’s one thing to write,” she says. “It’s another to know people appreciate what you’ve written.”

Gabi was encouraged by other writers. She’d started an open mic group at the Westport Barnes & Noble. where people read their work.

COVID hit, and the group went virtual. More writers joined, all over the world.

She had another open mic group at the Westport Library. Gabi also organized weekly sessions at the Pequot Library — a place where people sat quietly, and wrote.

All of those outlets offered encouragement. “Love’s Journey Home” — Gabi’s memoir — was published last year.

That was just the start of Gabi’s next journey. She recorded an audio version at the Westport Library’s Verso Studios — a first for the venue.

She wrote about the experience for Publisher’s Weekly.

In the middle of all that, Gabi completed a novel. “A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over” takes place — fittingly — in a bookstore. It was published last month.

Next up: a prequel to “Love’s Journey Home.” It will cover Gabi’s life before age 25, when her memoir begins.

(To learn more about Gabi Coatsworth, click here.)

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog — and a non-profit. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Fireworks, Whoopi Goldberg, Chad Knight …

Fire up the celebration!

Westport’s Independence Day fireworks come early this year.

The best party in town is set for Thursday, June 29. The site — as always — is Compo Beach.

The Westport Police Athletic League and Parks & Recreation do the heavy lifting. The event is sponsored — once again — by longtime Westport residents (and veteran fireworks goers) Melissa and Doug Bernstein.

“This is our favorite time of year in Westport, seeing this amazing community gather together for such a joy-filled event,” they say.

Ticket sales begin on June 1 at the Westport Police station (50 Jesup Road) and Parks & Recreation office (in Longshore Park).

Tickets ($50 per car) are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Proceeds benefit Westport PAL, and their programs serving thousands of youngsters.

Middle row: Craig Bergamo, Westport PAL president hands Doug Bernstein the first fireworks ticket. Enjoying the Compo Beach scene are (front, left to right): Parks &  Rec director Jen Fava, PAL fireworks chair Emma Rojas, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Melissa Bernstein. Top: Deputy Police Chief Ryan Paulsson, Police Chief Foti Koskinas. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Whoopi Goldberg was in town last night.

So were Rosie Perez and Natasha Bedingfield. And many other names, boldface and Roman text.

The event was a benefit fashion show for Pink Aid. The site was Christian Siriano‘s The Collective West.

And yes, he’s another boldface name.

Rosie Perez, Whoopi Goldberg and Natasha Bedingfield — but you knew that. (Photo and hat tip: Dave Briggs)


Perfect weather drew a large crowd to yesterday’s Westport Farmers’ Market.

Several new vendors, plenty of old favorites, and fresh food, herbs and more make this the most exciting year yet, for the 18-year-old institution.

It runs every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Imperial Avenue parking lot, through mid-November.

Among the attractions yesterday in the photo below: samples from Alma Mexican food, dished out by their Staples High School interns (from left): Whitman Teplica, Cole Lieberman, Ben Douglas and (preparing a tostada) Steve Divino.


Chad Knight is a Westport legend.

The baseball star — who led his 2013 team to the Little League World Series championship game, then was a 4-year Staples High School starter who paced his 2019 team to the FCIAC championship, and was named Gatorade State Player of the Year — just graduated from Duke University.

Before he did, he capped off his Blue Devil baseball career (during Asian American Heritage Month) with a story for the Duke athletic department. He wrote eloquently about how his heritage shaped his life — both athletically and musically.

Click here for Chad’s insightful, introspective story. (Hat tip: Steve McCoy)

Chad Knight


Traffic alert!

This Sunday (May 21), the Bloomin’ Metric Bicycle Tour roars through town.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., riders will head out from Sherwood Island State Park. There are 4 distances — 25, 40, 75 and 100 kilometers — and 4 different routes.

So be aware: There will be even more bike riders than usual, all over town.


The Westport Library unveils 3 new exhibitions for spring. They highlight the work of Connecticut artists Nancy Moore and Charles Douthat, and “the art of the album” with a display related to the Chicago blues.

All three exhibits run through August 8: Moore’s “Women Telling Stories” in the Sheffer Gallery, Douthat’s “Three Seasons” in the South Gallery, and “Chicago Blues” in the Jesup Gallery.

An event and reception June 4 (2 to 4 p.m.) celebrates the exhibit with a talk between Moore and noted Westport artist Miggs Burroughs at 3.

Douthat comes to the Library June 14 (6 p.m.) for a reception and talk with Burroughs.

Chicago Blues features albums from the collection of Westporters Ellen and Mark Naftalin, the American blues keyboardist inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 2015. It includes album covers of important original blues musicians.

Click here for more information on the artists and exhibits.

Exhibits at the Westport Library.


The Black Duck women-in-the-men’s-bathroom-photo story continues to have, um, legs.

In the wake of yesterday’s story — in which Duck founder and former owner Pete Aitkin gave the back story — Brad French sent “06880” a photo of himself with Mary Scully, one of the 2 lovely bartenders.

It was taken at Compo Beach.

And what happened to the great-looking couple?

They got married.

The story continues …


Coming up at Earthplace:

Wildflower ID: Stroll through the gardens and meadow with a naturalist. (Sunday, May 21, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., $10 per person; register here).

Family Campfire: Earthplace provides the marshmallows and s’mores; bring your own sticks. Meet an animal ambassador; participate in a guided activity. (Friday, June 9, 6 to 7:30 p.m., member families $30, non-member families $40; register here).

Foraging 101: An Earthplace naturalist leads an introductory class on sustainable foraging for wild salad greens and pungent ingredients, including a walk. (Sunday, June 11, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., $10 person; register here).

Group Canoe Paddle: Search the Saugatuck River for egrets, ospreys, ducks, shorebirds and more. Canoes, paddles and personal flotation devices are included. One canoe each trip is reserved for participants and families with special needs. (Sunday, June 18, 2 time slots: 10 a.m. to noon, and 2-4 p.m.; click here for fees and more details, including scholarships for income-eligible residents).

Adult Crafting Night: Bring your adult beverages; use natural crafting materials guided by staff. Unwind while creating beautiful decorations or useful health and beauty products to take home. (Thursday, June 29, 6 to 8 p.m.; $45 per adult member; $50 per adult non-member; register here).


The Westport Weston Family YMCA is ready for their first Holi Color Festival.

People of all backgrounds are invited to the traditional Indian celebration of colors and unity, It’s Saturday, June 3 (10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mahackeno Outdooro Center).

Holi symbolizes the triumph of good over bad, the arrival of spring, the joy of friendship, and equality for all.

The event features activities for all ages, including color play (throwing non-toxic organic colors), BollyX (a Bollywood-style dance class), traditional Indian food, henna, face painting and bounce house.

Westport Y CEO Anjali McCormick grew up in India, and has fond memories of playing Holi as a child.

She says, “This celebration unites people with different beliefs, cultural traditions and experiences in the vibrant colors of friendship, renewal and acceptance. At the Y we believe in creating spaces where people of all backgrounds can come together, learn from one another, and build meaningful connections. We invite everyone to join us as we strengthen the bonds that make our community truly exceptional.”

Pre-registration is required. Click here to register, and for more information. Questions? Email


Moxie Salon & Beauty Bar invites the public to their grand opening May 25 (772 Post Road East, 3 p.m.).

From May 22-26, they offer:
● $19.99 blowouts for first time clients
● $20 off any color service
● $10 off haircuts
● $89 blowout and makeup
● 20% off hair extensions.

Owner Carrie Steele — a Greenwich teacher — offers 20% of all services to teachers, every day.

Moxie is a full-service hair salon. They have 17 locations in the tri-state area.


Lynroy Henry — former assistant track coach at Staples High School — is still working with kids.

He sends word that the Open Doors Foundation is collecting donations for its summer camp.

Items needed are bikes, used sneakers, Mead notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, rulers, backpacks, laptops and electronics.

Donations can be dropped off at 10 Bay Street, by June 4.

Items can also be picked up weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Questions? Email, or call 203-919-0921.


Jill Grayson made the most of being stuck yesterday while stopped on Easton Road by the firehouse.

She saw something she’d never seen in Westport: a pileated woodpecker.

Jill had enough time to take several photos — and then send this one to “06880,” for our daily “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Jill Grayson)


 And finally … on this day in 1895, José Marti — the Cuban poet, philosopher, essayist, journalist, translator, professor and publisher, who helped liberate his country from Spain — was killed by Spanish troops. He was 42 years old.

(“06880” is a non-profit, dedicated to bringing our community together. Donations are tax-deductible. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Mimi Greenlee, Tommy Greenwald …

Everyone in Westport knows how great Mimi Greenlee is.

Now the rest of the state will too.

The veteran (decades!), superbly organized, always energetic, constantly encouraging, ever smiling Westport Library Book Sale volunteer will be honored by the Friends of Connecticut Libraries June 10. She’ll receive their Individual Achievement Award, for her lifetime of work.

Over the years, Mimi has co-chaired book sales; trained and supervised scores of volunteers, and managed inventory. These days, she manages the flow of donations to the Westport Book Shop.

Congratulations, Mimi, on this latest “chapter” in your life!

Mimi Greenlee, surrounded by donations.


Speaking of books: Tommy Greenwald’s “Game Changer” has just won a 2023 Nutmeg Award, in the Middle School division.

The 1979 Staples High School graduate’s novel about the aftermath of a hard hit on the football field was selected for the Connecticut Library Association and Connecticut Association of School Librarians honor by a committee of children’s librarians and school library media specialists.


Westport Police made 1 custodial arrest between May 10 and 17.

A man was charged with reckless endangerment and breach of peace, following a report that a passenger in a vehicle on Post Road East was pointing a gun at another vehicle.

Police also issued the following citations:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 12 citations
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 9
  • Improper use of markers: 8
  • Operating a motor vehicle without minimum insurance: 6
  • Failure to comply with traffic control signals: 4
  • Distracted driving, not cell phone: 3
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 3
  • Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations: 3
  • Failure to register a commercial vehicle: 2
  • Unreadable plates: 2
  • Failure to renew registration: 2
  • Traveling too fast for conditions: 1
  • No passing zone: 1
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 1
  • School zone violation: 1
  • Following too closely: 1
  • Improper turn: 1
  • Theft of plates: 1
  • Failure to display plates: 1

Drive safely everywhere — especially in school zones.


When Clark Thiemann’s 6-year-old daughter took a tumble on the pock-marked, dangerous track at PJ Romano Field, behind Saugatuck Elementary School, she told her father: “You need to tell someone to fix this!”

Clark sent this photo to “06880”:

He’s not the first to do so.

On March 19, I ran a similar photo. Another reader had also written, noting “at least 19 cracks” in the surface.

She said she had been told a year and a half ago that it would be an easy repair, and that funds were already in the budget. The facility is managed by Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department.

We’re still waiting.


The Westport Public Schools search for a new Greens Farms Elementary School principal took them — literally — around the world.

On July 1, Brian Byrne takes over from Kevin Cazzetta, who will retire.

Byrne is currently serves as the elementary principal at South Korea’s Seoul International School. Previously, he was elementary school assistant principal at the International School of Beijing and the Shanghai Community International School.

His career began closer to home. He taught 4th grade at Toquam Magnet School in Stamford, then served as the district’s curriculum associate for elementary mathematics.

Byrne earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business marketing from Indiana University, and a Master of Science in elementary education from the University of Bridgeport.

Brian Byrne


Remarkable progress has been made in treating heart valve disease.

Breakthroughs in non-surgical technology means open heart surgery is no longer required.

Next Tuesday, at the 3rd “Andrew Wilk Presents: The Westport Library Medical Series,” Dr. Robert Altbaum provides an overview of the anatomy of heart valves. Dr. Chirag Shah discusses aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation. Attendees will learn about the newest treatment options. Click here for more information.


Steely Dan is not coming to the Weston History & Culture Center.

But Logical Pretzel — a Steely Dan cover band — is.

They’ll open the 8th annual outdoor summer concert series, “Music at the Barn,” on Sunday, June 4. Doors open at 5 p.m. for food, history, crafts and fun; the music begins at 5:30.

Tony’s Pizza Napolitano truck provides food. Concert-goers should bring a lawn chair and beverages. Click here for tickets and more information.

Last year’s “Music at the Barn”


Giovanna “Jennie” Caiati– part of the Nistico family that opened Saugatuck’s beloved Arrow restaurant — died peacefully Tuesday, surrounded by family. She was 94.

Born to Frank and Giovanna Nistico, originally from of Reggio Calabria, Italy, she was just 13 when she and her mother opened the first Arrow.

Their tiny space at the “arrow” point of Saugatuck Avenue and Franklin Street quickly became a community staple. In a short time, their business grew into a 180-seat “home away from home” for generations of Westporters.

Later, Jennie’s love of flowers led her to open Blossoms Plus, a florist and event planning company. Her creative flair and passion for design caught the eye of Westport residents like Martha Steward, Joanne Woodward, Donna Summer and Rodney Dangerfield, who became loyal clients.

Jennie loved to travel. She was an avid cruise enthusiast, going anywhere with her sister-in-law Helene Nistico and best friend Lorraine. She also enjoyed casinos, and dining out.

Her family says, “Her door was always open, and she frequently said, ‘You don’t need an invitation’ to stop by for coffee. She playing word searches and gin rummy, and spent time in the garden.

“But more than anything, ‘Granny’ valued family. She was the consummate ‘giving tree.'”

Jennie was predeceased by her husband Dominick Caiati, and 6 siblings: Pauline Bottone, Lily Bottone, Rose Pascarelli, and Joseph, Louis and Frank Nistico. She is survived by her children Darlene Pianka (Stephen), Dominick (Erin) and Lorenzo; grandchildren Milissa Malloy (Matthew), Lauren Flory (Richard), Lorenzo Caiati Jr.; Kayla, Nicole and Victoria Caiati, and Jack McElreath, and great-grandchildren Connor, Bryce, Parker, Brynn, and Luke.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held tomorrow (Friday May 19, 10 a.m., Assumption Church). Interment will follow in Willowbrook Cemetery. Click here to leave online condolences.

Jennie Caiati


Linda Doyle shares these stunning azaleas, lilacs, clematis and red honeysuckle plants “coexisting and enticing pollinators up on Rocky Ridge.” They’re perfect for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Linda Doyle)


And finally … in honor of Steely Dan, who are not coming to Weston (story above):

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Roundup: Pizza, Pogue, AAPI …

The Saugatuck space that housed Parker Pizza — which, like its next door neighbor Parker Mansion, closed in March — will have a new tenant soon.

It will be …

… another pizza place.

No further word on Renato’s Brick Oven is available.

Including whether it’s any relation to another Renato’s: the popular jewelry store, across town near the Southport line.

(Photo and hat tip: JD Dworkow)


Earlier this month, David Pogue wowed a Y’s Women crowd with his talk on AI.

Next Monday (May 22, 7 p.m.), he’ll address the same subject — “Artificial Intelligence Gets Real” — for the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

You don’t need to be a Y’s Man to go. Wisely, the public is invited.

A Q-and-A follows the Westport tech/media personality’s talk. Click here for more information on Pogue’s event.

David Pogue


Westport’s Business Network International chapter invites professionals to its upcoming Visitors’ Day.

Each business category has only one member. Classifications that are open now  include printer, security systems, HVAC, photographer, travel agent, caterer, florist, event planner, credit card processing, home inspector, moving company, carpet cleaning, flooring, electrician, dentist, personal trainer and clothing/ accessories.

The event is May 25 (United Methodist Church). Open networking takes place from 7 to 7:30 a.m.; a business meeting begins at 7:30.

Pre-registration is required; email Click here for more information.


The AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Westport Book Club’s next meeting is May 31 (7 p.m., Westport Museum for History & Culture.

They’ll discuss “From A Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement” by Paula Yoo. a young adult novel.

AAPI also hosts a happy hour at MoCA this Thursday (May 18, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.).


The Staples High School sailing team made history last weekend.

For the first time ever, 6 members competed in Boston for the New England Schools Sailing Association Fleet Racing Championships’ O’Day Trophy.

The Wreckers finished 12th overall, in a field dominated by private and boarding schools (and beat Darien High by 10 points).

They finish the season with the Fairfield County Sailing League tomorrow, the state regatta this weekend, and the NESSA girls championships the weekend after.

Staples sailing team coach Gavin Meese (far right) with, from left: Camryn Harris, co-captain Witt Lindau, Tucker Peters, Caitlyn Schwartz, Claire Harris and co-captain Alan Becker.


Organ great Brian Charette makes his first appearance at Jazz at the Post this Thursday (May 18; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner begins at 7; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399; $15 cover).

He’s joined by longtimefriend and mentor Bob Devos, plus drummer Jordan Young and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

Jazz at the Post shows have been selling out. Email for reservations; include the number of people, which show, and your cell phone.


Cactus in Westport?

Who knew?

Johanna Keyser Rossi does. She spotted these plants — today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature — near the 1 Gorham Island office building, off Parker Hardin Plaza. They’re on the side facing the river.

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … in honor of the rare (for Westport) plant above:

(From cactus to new pizzerias: If it happens in Westport, you’ll read about it on “06880.” Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)