Category Archives: Police

Roundup: Toy Drive, Y Pool, More


If it’s Thanksgiving, it must be time for the Westport Police Department’s annual Toy Ddrive.

Local union 2080 and the Westport Police Benevolent Association are sponsoring the event. Each year, thousands of toys are distributed to underprivileged children throughout Fairfield County, and at Bridgeport and St. Vincent’s Hospitals.

Westport police officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys at the ASF parking lot (1560 Post Road East) on the first 2 Saturdays and Sundays in December (5, 6, 12 and 13), from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition, collection boxes will be set up now through December 14 at:

  • Age of Reason, 9 Post Road West
  • ASF Sports & Outdoors ,1560 Post Road East
  • Awesome Toys and Gifts, 429 Post Road East
  • The Toy Post, 180 Post Road East

Questions? Email anowinski@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-6000.

What a great gift for a kid!


Swimming at the Y has been my COVID happy place. Nothing like a pool-ful of chlorine to keep the coronavirus at bay.

No longer. The Westport Weston Family Y announced yesterday that effective immediately, both the lap and warm pools will be shut down indefinitely.

The decision was based on updated guidelines from the governor’s office. Under those rules, only 4 swimmers could be allowed at any time.

The wellness center, gymnastics center, group fitness classes and school-age childcare programs remain open.

The Westport Y pool will look like this for a while.


And finally … c’mon! You didn’t really expect anything different today, did you?

Roundup: COVID, Outpost Pizza, New Cop, More


Here’s one way to look at Westport’s COVID numbers: Since March, we’ve had 516 cases (483 confirmed and 33 probable).

Here’s another: With a population of 26,213, 1.97% — nearly 2% — of the entire town has been infected. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)


Outpost Pizza — an outpost of the Stamford spot — opens Monday. It’s in the mini-shopping plaza with Coffee An’, across from the new Hudson Malone restaurant (most recently, 323). The space was formerly a dry cleaner.

Need a job, as well as a pie? Outpost is looking for cooks, prep workers, cashiers and drivers. Call 203-323-7678. (Hat tip: Jerri Graham)

(Photo/Jerri Graham)


The Westport Police Department has sworn in a new officer: Dominique Carr.

The Hartford native earned a BS in justice and law administration at Western Connecticut State University, where he also played football. He comes to Westport from the Windsor Police Department.

Welcome to Westport, Officer Carr!

Officer Dominique Carr


If you missed “Pride and Prejudice” — Staples Players’ 2nd radio play of the fall — you’ve get another chance this Sunday (November 15, 6 p.m.).

It will be re-streamed by the high school radio station, WWPT. Click here for the link. NOTE: It’s available on the website only — not on the radio dial itself.

Seniors Sophie Rossman and David Corro rehearse “Pride and Prejudice.” (Photo/Kerry Long)


Speaking of teenagers and the arts: High school students throughout Fairfield County are invited to apply for the just-announced Westport Country Playhouse Youth Council.

Meeting 6 times a year (virtually, to start), members will learn about the workings of a professional theater. They’ll also contribute creative solutions for how the Playhouse can broaden its appeal to a more diverse community.

Youth Council members will also participate in a speaker series, attend Board of Trustees meetings, create an event, and have behind-the-scenes access to the Playhouse.

The application deadline is November 20. Click here for more information.


The Leonard Schine Preserve got a spruce-up last weekend. And we can thank a bunch of SLOBs.

The group — okay, they’re actually Staples High School’s Service League of Boys — worked with Meg Armstrong and Barry Guiduli at the Natural Playground, a hidden children’s gem off Weston Road.

(From left): Nick Seitz, Ben Berkley, Bruno Guiduli, Gabe Maiolo at the Leonard Schine Preserve.


I don’t spend a lot of time at Sherwood Island. (I know. My bad.)

But Chris Swan does. The other day, he sent photos of what seemed to me like a strange sight.

But, Chris says, horses (and riders) are a regular occurrence at Connecticut’s first state park.

(Photos/Chris Swan)


And finally … today is a day to honor our veterans. As Billy Ray Cyrus sings, some gave all. And all gave some.

Isaias: Lessons Learned

Next month (November 9, 6 p.m., online), the Westport Emergency Management Team will discuss its response to Tropical Isaias.

Meanwhile, a 15-page report on the storm and its aftermath has been posted on the town website.

It’s a fascinating document. From acknowledging the unique challenges of responding to a major weather event during a pandemic, to statistics on the thousands of phone calls and incident reports that poured in to first responders, and nuggets like the importance of hiring a retired Eversource engineer (and Westport resident) to lend expertise, the report is a blueprint for what went right during the August storm.

And what did not go so well.

Several days after Isaias, this was still the scene on Charcoal Hill Road. (Photo/Pat Blaufuss)

The document summarizes challenges, including staffing, technology, data and reporting, call dispatching, WiFi and charging stations.

It concludes with “Lessons Learned.” They include:

  • The importance of flexibility. For example, Westport planned for a flood event. Isaias’ damage came mainly from wind.
  • Anticipating that technology will fail. Downed wires and power outages rendered cell phones inoperable. Backup plans are always needed.
  • The importance of advertising Staples High School radio station WWPT (90.3 FM) as a resource, and reminding residents to have a radio at home — with batteries.
  • Aggressive tree pruning and removal “should be more seriously considered.”
  • Continued participation in regional emergency response drills. These simulate multiple simultaneous crises, and encourage creative solutions.
  • Nixle “is best used for short concise emergency notifications.”
  • The Police Department is acquiring more emergency signs.

Cones — not signs — confounded drivers on Post Road West. (Photo/Leah Nash)

Among the specific recommendations:

  • Developing a plan for technology failure — specifically, internet issues.
  • Improving senior-level communications and relationships with Eversource, cable and telephone utilities, and especially internet and wireless carriers.
  • Continuing to urge residents and businesses to sign up for town news, and follow the town on social media.
  • Establishing a town-wide mailing with emergency and preparedness information.
  • Establishing an annual plan for community preparedness educaiton.
  • Sending all department supervisors — not just Fire Department personnel — to national emergency training.
  • Developing a shared Excel file for tracking and coordinating road closures and downed wires, between departments.
  • Updating the Local Emergency Operation Plan, and dedicating time for all departments to train.
  • Investing in minor technical improvements to WWPT-FM.
  • Closing all Parks and Recreation facilities immediately upon advice of incoming storms, and reopening them only after each location has been deemed safe.

Click here for the full Emergency Management Team Isaias after-action report.

(The Emergency Management Team meeting on November 9 will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and broadcast on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Members of the public may submit questions and comments to webmaster@westportct.gov with the subject line “Storm Isaias After-Action Meeting” before November 9. Relevant uestions and comments received during the public comment portion of the meeting will be read aloud.)

It took a while for utility crews to arrive in Westport. The post-Isaias report recommends better communication with utilities and technology companies. (Photo/Peter Nussbaum)

Roundup: Munchkins, Drugs, Halloween, More


Hey, Westport kids (age 5 to 13 ). If you’ve wanted to be in an amazing Staples Players production, here’s your chance!

Players’ radio theatre kicks off with “The Wizard of Oz” this Sunday (October 25, 6 p.m.) — and they want to hear your best munchkin voice.

Send a recording of you saying “follow the yellow brick road!” (munchkin-style). Players’ senior officers will pick 5 winners. Those recordings will be played on air during the live “Wizard of Oz” broadcast. (Click here for details.)

Winners also receive a $10 gift card to Saugatuck Sweets.

Click here, then click the blue “Submit Recording for Munchkin” button to upload your file. Include your name and phone number in the recording. The deadline is 6 p.m. Friday (October 23).

Need inspiration? Click below.


This Saturday (October 24) is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

You can celebrate with the Westport Police Department. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., they’ll be at the Senior Center collecting unused and/or outdated pills and patches. Vape pens are okay if the batteries can be removed.

If the vape pen battery cannot be removed, try an electronics chain store. Also not accepted on Saturday: liquids, needles and sharps.

The service is free and anonymous — no questions asked. For more information, click here.

PS: A year-round collection bin is located in the lobby of Westport Police headquarters. Prescription drugs can be properly disposed of there at any time.


The good news is: This Saturday  (October 24) over 100 Westport kids will take part in the 10th annual Window Painting Contest. They’ll vie for prizes in 3 categories: Scariest Artwork, Best Halloween Theme, and Most Original.

The more good news; 48 businesses all around town — shops, restaurants, services, delis, fitness centers and more — have offered up their windows.

The bad news: That’s not enough. The sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce needs at least 20 more, to fill the demand.

They plead: Please donate your business window! You’ll do the town a service. In fact, it will be the perfect Halloween “treat.” Click here to register your window.


This Saturday (October 24), the United Nations turns 75 years old.

For over 50 of those years, Westport has celebrated that birthday with colorful flags. They fly every UN Day on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. That’s fitting: its namesake founded by the local United Nations Association, and Westport’s’ UN International Hospitality Committee.

On Saturday (11 a.m., Town Hall front steps), a public ceremony marks United Nations Day. First Selectman Jim Marpe, Hospitality Committee vice chair Bill Hass, and Staples High School Model UN president Lucas Slater and vice president Aidan Rogers will speak.

Special guest speaker Aye Aye Thant will discuss the importance of the UN. She should know: The Westport resident’s father is former UN Secretary General U Thant.

After the event, a bipartisan expression of support for the UN takes place at the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. Marpe and local legislators will gather near the flags of UN member countries — which have flown there proudly, for decades.

(Photo/Jeff Simon)

Mike Burns spotted this sign on Compo Road South, near Longshore.

Finally, a candidate we can all agree on!


The Westport Public Schools’ guiding principles include social and emotional awareness, sincere kindness, principled thoughts and actions, and constant learning.

Several students have been selected, for embodying those principles. They are Caroline Caggiano, James Dobin Smith, Rachel Greenberg, Colin Konstanty, Natalia Maidique and Kyla Race.

Congratulations to all!

Three honorees (from left): James Dobin-Smith, Colin Konstanty, Caroline Caggiano.


How foggy was it last night? Very, as Andrew Colabella’s shot of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge shows:

And finally … in honor of Staples Players’ “Wizard of Oz” radio broadcast (see story above):

 

 

Police Arrest 2 For Threatening Flyers

Less than 2 weeks ago, threatening political flyers were posted throughout Church Lane. Today, the Westport Police Department made 2 arrests. They say:

Through a review of surveillance video, detectives obtained footage featuring  images of 2 suspects. Both individuals were positively identified.

A juvenile was charged with breach of peace in the 2nd degree via a juvenile referral.

The second suspect was identified as Max Bernegger, age 18, of Westport.  An arrest warrant was sought and ultimately granted for Bernegger in connection with this investigation.

This morning, Bernegger turned himself in at police headquarters. He was charged with breach of peace in the 2nd Degree. He posted a $500 bond and was released. He will be arraigned at Norwalk Superior Court on the morning of Tuesday November 17. 

Two of the flyers posted on Church Lane.

Roundup: Sidewalk Stroll, Bank Robbery, Spencer Gabor, More

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With great weather forecast all week, Westport Moms quickly organized a Shopping Stroll.

Set for this Friday (October 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Elm Street courtyard across from Serena & Lily), it’s drawn vendors from the tri-state area selling unique merchandise: waterproof blankets, winter wear, pajamas, athleisure, masks, fun home accessories, jewelry and more.

The Moms hope Church Street and Main Street stores will put merchandise outside, and restaurants will offer lunch and coffee discounts. Masks are (of course) required.


Yesterday afternoon, a man robbed the People’s United Bank branch inside Stop & Shop.

A suspect has been tied to 3 other bank robberies, in Fairfield, Norwalk and Shelton. Westport Police ask for the public’s help in identifying the suspect. A reward of up to $1,500 is offered.

The detective bureau can be reached at 203-341-6080. [NOTE: The video originally posted with this story is now inoperable.]

A screen shot of the suspect.


After graduating from Staples High School in 2015, Spencer Gabor headed to Fordham University to study business.

But he’d always liked drawing. As he pursued his degree he spent every moment outside class drawing, learning Adobe Suite, and taking on art projects. He reached out to startups and did pro bono work, just to amass a portfolio.

Today he’s illustrating and designing for major brands around the world, like NPR and (go figure) Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

Dribble — a website for design professionals — recently interviewed him about his “drastic but fulfilling” career change. Click here for the full story.

Spencer Gabor (Photo courtesy of Dribble)


And finally … in honor of Friday’s Sidewalk Stroll:

 

Roundup: Statehouse Debates, WitchCraft Cocktails, Police Probe, More


Jake Tapper called Tuesday’s presidential debate “a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.” That’s being kind to dumpster fires and train wrecks.

But fear not! Normal political discourse will be on display next Tuesday (October 6, 12 p.m., Zoom). The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library are sponsoring an actual “debate” with 4 candidates for 2 local state House of Representatives seats: Jonathan Steinberg vs. Chip Stephens, and Stephanie Thomas vs. Patricia Zucaro.

Click here to register (required). Questions may be taken from the audience.

Coming up on October 13: a debate with candidates for the State Senate.


Speaking of debates and dumpster fires: After Tuesday night’s “shit show” (Dana Bash), we all need a drink.

Wakeman Town Farm will help you make a special fall craft cocktail with mixologist Julia Halina Hadas, author of WitchCraft Cocktails. She’ll share recipes for adult beverages designed for healing, spells, offerings and fun.

It’s Friday, October 2, 5 to 6 p.m. And it’s virtual, so you can drink alone (or at least at home). To register, click here.


In the wake of threatening fliers found downtown Sunday morning, the Westport Police Department says:

We understand that this incident has caused a great deal of alarm and varying levels of concern for many living within our community. We have been working diligently to identify the responsible individual(s). The investigation has remained extremely active. The probe has featured close collaboration with federal law enforcement officials, based on some of the statements expressed in these postings.

Investigative efforts of the Westport Police Department Detective Bureau have yielded information on 2 responsible parties. The Department assures all that there is currently no viable threat to the community relative to this incident. This investigation remains open and active, and any additional developments will be detailed later.


And finally … we continue to lose music stars. The New York Times reports that Mac Davis — “the pop-country crossover star who wrote hits for Elvis Presley and had a No. 1 pop single of his own with Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me'” — died Tuesday. He was 78.

Threatening Messages Posted Downtown

From a distance, they look benign:

But those flyers on Pink Sumo’s wall do not promote an upcoming concert or fundraiser.

They promote hatred and violence.

Similar messages were posted nearby on Church Lane:

(Photos/Marcy Sansolo)

The work of Westporters? Out-of-towners?

Scare tactics? A sick “joke”?

No one yet knows. Police have been notified. They will do their usual professional job to find out what’s going on.

And to keep our town safe.

Roundup: CHT Outreach, WPD Distracted Driving, More


Every year at this time, the Men’s Group of Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church cooks beef through the night. In the morning they carve it up, and serve sandwiches for the parish picnic.

This year, COVID canceled the picnic.

But the Men’s Group still cooked the meat last night. This morning, CHT Outreach volunteers and the Women’s Spirituality Group made sandwiches. They brought them to King’s Pantry in Bridgeport, which will distribute them to the homeless.

Taking a break from cooking (from left0: Randy Abrams, John Sarsgard, Lloyd Nash and Rob Feakins.


Never drive distracted.

Especially from October 1 through 15. That’s when the Westport Police Department plans a high-visibility enforcement campaign.

Distracted driving includes talking or texting on a cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in the vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that divers attention from safe driving.

Texting may be the worst. Sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field with eyes closed.

Connecticut fines for distracted driving start at $150. They rise to $1,000, depending on the operator’s driving history and location of the offense.


Due to heavy cloud cover, the Westport Astronomical Observatory will not be open for tonight’s International Observe the Moon Night.

You can of course try to see the moon at home. It’s still there.

Rolnick Observatory will not be open tonight. (Photo/Frank Rosen)


And finally … I never heard of Sterling Magee. But the bluesman who died this month of COVID, at 84 — sounds fascinating. His New York Times obituary say he “played a furious, thoroughly original style of blues under the name Mr. Satan, first as a solo act on the streets of Harlem and then as part of the duo Satan and Adam….

“Half bluesman, half street preacher, Mr. Magee was a fixture on 125th Street throughout the 1980s, parked one block east of the Apollo Theater, where he drew crowds of curious onlookers and fans. He played electric guitar, sang and stomped out a rhythm with a pair of hi-hat cymbals simultaneously, a feat of musicianship often overshadowed by his otherworldly charisma, bushy Moses-like beard and koan-like sayings.” Click here for the full story, and below to hear Mr. Satan.

Roundup: RBG, EV, IVF, More

A crowd of 75 people — of all ages — gathered last night at Westport’s Unitarian Church to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The vigil was held while the late US Supreme Court justice was being honored in Washington, DC.

(Photo/David Vita)


Pink Aid is going semi-virtual.

The renowned breast cancer organization celebrates their 10th anniversary on Saturday, October 10 at Mitchells of Westport.

There’s a fashion show featuring Brunello Cucinelli; video appearances by the CMA-winning band Old Dominion, Hoda Kotb, Giuliana Rancic and Susie Essman from “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; a photo booth, and mixologist.

But you can also enjoy Pink Aid’s gala at home.

You can pick up a “Pink Aid Party in a Box” at Mitchells’ Westport or Greenwich stores. Charcuterie boards and dinners from Marcia Selden Catering will be delivered in Fairfield and Westchester counties.

For tickets and more information, click here.


Who doesn’t love a parade? Particularly one that — these days — includes everyone driving their own cars.

As part of National Drive Electric Week — who knew?! — 1st Selectman Jim Marpe will wave the checkered flag on Sunday (September 27, 10 p.m.). The site is Donut Crazy, in the Westport train station eastbound parking.

Organized by the Electric Vehicle Club of Connecticut and Sustainable Fairfield Task Force, a parade of 30 EVs will be led through downtown and into Fairfield by

Organized by the Electric Vehicle Club of Connecticut & Sustainable Fairfield Task Force as part of National Drive Electric Week. Marpe will speak and wave the checkered flag to kick it off, and the parade of ~30 decorated & flagged electric vehicles will be led through downtown Westport and into Fairfield by Police Chief Foti Koskinas. He’ll drive (of course) the department’s Tesla Model 3.

Electric vehicles in the parade include a 1903 Baker Torpedo, Vespa Elettrica scooter, Porsche Taycan, Volkswagen E-Golf, Jaguar i-Pace, Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul, Chevy Bolt, and Tesla Models Y, S, and 3.

Socially distant spectators welcome all along the parade route. Click here to see.


Timothy Cole’s The Sea Glass Mysteries goes on sale October 6. He says:

“I want to take the reader on a fun romp through the seamy underside of a wealthy seaside suburbia.

“In this case, the scene of the crime is a highbrow enclave within Westport, Connecticut…yes, home to solid strivers, but with a light sprinkling of moguls and misanthropes.

“Our unlikely protagonist? Ex-CIA intelligence officer Dasha Petrov. Think Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple with a Russian accent.

“She’s now retired from her secret life in America’s clandestine services. But her skills remain pin sharp as she teams with a Westport police detective and a local television reporter. Sergeant Anthony DeFranco becomes Westport’s finest as he confronts treachery in his own ranks….

To learn more — and order — click here.


What is called Connecticut’s “first non-conventional IVF center” opens in Westport on November 2.

Rejuvenating Fertility Center is founded by Dr. Zaher Merhi. He has served Manhattan residents for more than a decade. One of the managers is Jessica Haroun, a 2014 Staples High School grad.

RFC services include ovarian rejuvenation, natural (non-medication, no blood draw) IVF, and ozone sauna therapy. The location is 225 Main Street.


And finally … Roy Hammond — better known as Roy “C” — died last week at 81. A soul singer, he also wrote and produced the Honey Drippers’ “Impeach the President.” The New York Times called it “a political funk barnstormer released in 1973 as the Watergate scandal unfolded around President Richard M. Nixon. It was resuscitated just over a decade later by the Queens hip-hop producer Marley Marl, who sampled its crisp drum intro for MC Shan’s ‘The Bridge.’ Released in 1986, that track caused a tectonic shift in the sound of New York rap.”