Meet Tom Kiely: Westport’s new operations director. He assumes the position immediately.
He graduated from Plymouth State University, with a BS in public management. He spent 21 years with the Connecticut State Police in a variety of roles and supervisory positions, including 11 years as a detective with major crimes. His work involved relationships with local, state and federal agencies.
His honors include Outstanding Service Awards from the State Police and United States’ Attorney’s Office; a District of Connecticut Department of Justice Award, and numerous Unit Citation Awards.
Kiely says, “My entire professional life has been in public service. I am very excited to begin a new career as operations director of this great community. I look forward to meeting new people, accepting new challenges, and collaborating with the team of town employees, business owners, and residents – confident that I bring a fresh perspective and life experience to this important role in town government.”
1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker welcomes Kiely, and thanks town audit manager and senior accountant Lynn Scully, whose work as interim operations director was “exceptional. Her input, advice and guidance as she deftly managed the multiple jobs that we asked her to perform on behalf of the town were invaluable, and we owe her a debt of gratitude.”
Some big names will attend the 9th annual Recovery Celebration — called “The Road Together” — this Sunday (October 9, Westport Library, 3 p.m.).
Liberation Programs and local partners — including Mitchells — host the event. There’s live music, refreshments, remarks from Senator Richard Blumenthal and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, a panel moderated by NBC’s Craig Melvin, and a recovery story from Steven Stone.
Click here for more details.
Calling all painters!
The annual Halloween Window Painting Contest takes place Saturday, October 22. Who wants to paint?!
Last year, over 100 children painted scary scenes on windows offered by local businesses. Participants can paint their own window, or team up with friends.
Judging follows. Winners get a gift certificate from Gofer Ice Cream.
Click here to sign up (or sign up your young Rembrandt) as a window painter.
Another call: This one is for all organizations, businesses, artists, crafters and sustainable groups: Westport’s Holiday Green Festival is looking for exhibitors.
The event is Saturday, November 12 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Staples High School fieldhouse). Interested exhibitors should click here by October 31.
“Black Excellence Night” — a free communal celebration of Black life and history — takes place next Wednesday (October 19, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Westport Country Playhouse). The event leads into an 8 p.m. preview performance of “From the Mississippi Delta,” a gripping tale of a Black woman’s rise from poverty to prominence.
“Black Excellence Night” is a spinoff of “Black Out,” inspired in 2019 by playwright Jeremy O. Harris, author of Broadway’s “Slave Play.” The goal is to create an environment for a Black-identifying audience to experience theater.
Guests will enjoy drinks from 822 Mixology, a Black-owned, New Haven-based business, and food tables. Live jazz is courtesy of the William Fluker Quartet.
“The Great Migration” — an exhibit curated by the Westport Museum for History & Culture — will be displayed, in conjunction with the “From the Mississippi Delta” storyline. The exhibit chronicles the relocation of more than 6 million Black Americans from the rural South to cities in the North, Midwest, and West from 1916 to 1970, sparked by economic conditions and segregationist laws.
“When did you know you were LGBT or Q?”
That’s the question a panel of “experts” — lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, trans people and those calling themselves queer — will answer on October 11 (6 p.m., Westport Library Trefz Forum and Zoom).
The date is significant: It’s National Coming Out Day.
Panelists will talk about, and offer advice from, their own experiences. Audience members can ask questions too.
On the panel:
- Brian McGunagle – President, Westport Pride
- Kayla Iannetta – Chair, Westport Public Schools Pride Coalition
- Anthony Crisi – Executive director, Circle Care Center
- Sarah Ferro – Westport Pride member, activist, musician, mom
- Staples Pride Coalition Members
The moderator is yours truly.
Interested, but not in person? Click here for the Zoom link.
Peace came to the Westport Rotary Club yesterday.
John Miksad of Wilton — founder of Fairfield-based World Beyond War, a global peace advocacy group — spoke during the lunchtime meeting at Greens Farms Church.
He identified 3 existential threats to human existence: pandemics, climate change, and nuclear war.
“We’re missing the big picture and no one nation can solve these on its own,” he said. “We need relentless diplomacy.” (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)
Arline Gertzoff’s family has released her official obituary:
Arline Patricia Gertzoff, 76, passed away peacefully at St. Vincent’s Hospital on September 28 from esophageal cancer. She is remembered as a true daughter of Westport, a dedicated, tireless volunteer for many organizations that contribute to the vibrancy of the town.
Arline was born in Norwalk. Her family moved to Westport, establishing a local dry cleaning business, where she often worked after school. Arline was active in Staples Players and SSTS, the backstage crews. She was head of costumes for several productions, and SSTS President as a senior.
Arline was a proud graduate of Staples and Westport schools, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston University in history and education. She taught in New Canaan, and at the International School in Antwerp, Belgium for 25 years, where she was involved with the Model UN.
Arline enjoyed people, the arts, travel, good food and wine, and Belgian chocolate. Students and friends from around the world stayed in touch with her. She returned to Westport in 1979 to help care for her mother, and dove into her community activism.
She loved Westport, and took great pride in its history and contributions. She was filled with local lore and stories, emphatically setting the record straight on Westport history with people newer to town.
For 20 years Arline was a tireless poll worker with the Westport League of Women Voters. Active with Westport’s Democratic Town Committee, she co-chaired the Community Outreach Committee. Arline served on the Board of the Democratic Women of Westport, and in 2016 received the DTC Dora Stuttman Campaign Leadership Award.
She was a familiar face and trusted cashier at the Library Book Sales, and a longtime member of the United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut, often bringing interesting speakers and dialogue to the community.
One of Arline’s favorite activities was jUNe Day, which for more than 55 years has welcomed UN delegates and staff to Westport for a day of food, fun and friendship. Serving on the board of directors as membership chair, she was also treasurer of UNASWCT, and on the advisory body for the national UN Association.
Long-time friend Melody James says, “Arline earned a seat at the leadership table of our town the old-fashioned way: through volunteerism, pitching in, and showing up. She was a doer. You could count on her. True in high school; true in 2022.”
When Arline died, she was serving a 3rd term as a District 3 member on Westport’s non-partisan Representative Town Meeting.
Another classmate remarks, “Arline was a connector. She had the ability to connect with different types of people, across age, sex, class, race, religious and nationality lines. She was the thread that joined together a very wide community.”
Back in Westport, Arline became lead coordinator for her Staples Class of ’64, orchestrating several class reunions. At the 50th she appeared with arms full of roses to cast on Long Island Sound for fallen classmates.
She was the confidante, treasurer and detail master who tracked marriages, divorces, deaths, births and career changes. Arline supported her friends and local artists, showing up often to performances and exhibits.
Arline was a leading voice to establish the Laddie Lawrence Track at Staples High School, challenging the argument that a great teacher and coach could only be honored after they died.
Her friend Jennifer Johnson calls her “a lifetime Westporter, and a citizen of the world. She was a champion of democracy and international understanding.”
DTC chair Mark Friedman adds, “Through her work, she strengthened the fabric of our civil society and touched the lives of people in Westport and around the world, creating a family of friends and admirers, imbuing her friendships with insight, wit and love.”
Arline was predeceased by her brother Stewart. She is survived by cousins Steven Gertzoff of Florida, Ken Bean of Colorado and their families. A memorial service is planned for November 12th (Westport Town Hall, 2:30 p.m.).
There’s still plenty of greenery here — as seen in today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, taken at Hillspoint Road.
But it’s October 5. We’ll see lots more color soon.
And finally … Loretta Lynn — who overcame harsh poverty to become a beloved country star — died peacefully in her sleep yesterday, in Tennessee. She was 90.
Click here for a full obituary.