Category Archives: Police

COVID-19 Roundup: Small Businesses And Loans; Face Masks; Realtors; $1200 Checks; Good Deeds; Podcasts; More

The Staples High School Gridiron Club has a great idea.

They emailed all members, reminding them of the many local businesses that supported them over the years with donations to fundraisers, ads in program books and (much) more.

Now is the time to pay it back. “Please take every opportunity to support our sponsors by purchasing their goods and services whenever and wherever possible,” they say. They included a list of dozens of sponsors, just as a reminder.

Think how many Westport organizations have been helped by local merchants. If you know of someone who donated to your cause in the past — well, what are you waiting for?

ASF often contributes to local fundraisers. You can shop online to help them — and many other merchants — now.


Jennifer Hrbek reports that Yale New Haven Health desperately needs hand sewn masks.

Click here for a pocket pattern. Donations can be mailed to Yale New Haven Health (Attn.: PPE Donations), 600 Derby Ave., West Haven, CT 06516. They can also be dropped off there Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You can donate sewn masks that do not follow the pocket pattern too. YNHHS will pass them on to homeless shelters.

Jennifer and her friend, Bedford Middle School teacher Caroline Davis, have been making masks regularly. “They’re desperately needed. And working on them with kids is a great way to teach life skills,” Jennifer says.

Jennifer Hrbek, with sewing machine and mask.


Connecticut’s 0% interest loan program for small businesses and non-profits with fewer than 100 employees is great.

Unless you’re on the list of prohibited applicants.

You’re ineligible if you are “involved in real estate, multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, cannabis or firearms.” You also cannot be a state elected public official or state employee.

I understand the possible conflicts of interest around state officials and employees. But it seems to me the other groups listed have just as many small business worries as any restaurant, market, gift shop or toy store.

And realtors? I can’t imagine there were any open houses last weekend — or will be, over the next few weeks.


Amy Messing writes: “My husband and I plan to donate whatever we get from the government to help during the crisis. Other people may be moved to do the same.

“Do any local fundraising efforts distribute money to restaurant workers, small businesses and others in need? Also, are there any needs for volunteer help that you can identify?”

There are many. This morning, Westporter Stephanie Webster’s great CTBites.com featured a list of many restaurant funds. Click here to see (and note that locally it includes both Match Burger Lobster and Artisan).

I told Amy that I’d crowd-source others. Please click “Comments” below, and let us all know your favorite fundraisers and volunteer opportunities.


One positive side effect of the coronavirus: crime is way down.

I’m on the email list for regular updates from the Westport Police. Usually, the list of arrests for things like distracted driving and speeding is 6 or 8 pages long.

This morning there was just 1  (for “failure to obey control signal.”)

Often too there are 4 to 6 “custodial arrests” (aka lockups), for crimes like domestic violence, larceny and sexual assault.

For the last week, there have been none.

Nice to know that even criminals are self-isolating.


This weekend Elise, Penelope and Daphne Eisenberger painted hearts and positive messages on rocks they, their dad Nico and mother Robin Bates collected at Burying Hill Beach. 

Yesterday they put them (in places no one would need to touch) by the entrances to Westport EMS, the police station, Greens Farms fire station and post office, their pediatrician’s office and a few other spots. They saw similar signs around town.

“It won’t stop anyone from getting sick, or make anyone better who is,” Nico says. “But we hope it’s helpful in some small way to those who work hard to keep us all safe.”

Coincidentally, just a few minutes before I published this piece, I got an email from EMS deputy director Marc Hartog. He writes about those stones:

“We don’t know who placed them there or when, but everyone here is incredibly moved that someone, or some group, thought about us and wanted to show their support.

“This is another example of everyday people doing whatever they can during this crisis, even just to boost the morale of our personnel on the front lines. We wish we could thank them, let them know that this gesture is so appreciated. Maybe if you post this, even though we can’t do it in person, they will know.”

Done. And PS: Now you know!

Elise, Penelopoe and Daphne Eisenberger.


Lauren Braun Costello is making lemonade — more accurately perhaps, lemon tarts or meringue pie — during this time of lemons.

Every day during the pandemic, she’s on Instagram Live with tips and tricks to stretch pantries, and help us feed our families.

Lauren is a classically trained chef, with an impressive CV. Check out itslaurenofcourse.com on Instagram.


Yesterday’s rain did not stop Doris Ghitelman.

The Westporter had to go shopping. So she called 4 high-risk neighbors and friends, and asked what they needed.

“It makes me happy to the core to help,” she says. “There’s always a silver lining 😊🧡”

PS: Nice gloves!


Across the world, John Karrel reports, people are putting teddy bears in all kinds of places: windows. Front porches. Roofs.

The idea is for parents to walk around with their kids, counting as many as they find. It’s a scavenger hunt anyone can help with.

John’s already spotted a couple of teddy bears in Greens Farms. Time to add yours! (And if you don’t have one, plenty of toy stores in Westport can help.)


Every week for decades, the Y’s Men meet to hear intriguing speakers.

COVID-19 has halted that tradition. But the Y’s Men are resourceful and resilient.

They’ve developed a podcast series — and they’re sharing them with the world.

Recent guests included internist Dr. Robert Altbaum and epidemiologist Dr. Pietro Marghello, plus that guy who writes the “06880” blog.

Today John Brandt interviews the CEO of a major wholesale distributor to national supermarkets. He’ll talk about the supply chain.

Click here for all the Y’s Men podcasts.


A former Westporter — now a college professor — is asking her students to interview (by phone or video) someone over the age of 70, with pre-selected questions.

Westporters and non-Westporters who are chatty and game should send names, brief bios and contact info to kochel491@gmail.com by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“At a time when people are lonely and the lessons I’d originally planned seem increasingly irrelevant, I hope this project will be meaningful to both interviewers and interviewees,” she says.


And finally, here’s a gift from Berklee College of Music. It’s been home to a number of Westporters. They’ve chosen well.

COVID-19 Roundup: Farmers’ Market Supports Vendors; Aid For Small Businesses; Videos, Art, And More

The Westport Farmers’ Market is between seasons. But they never stop helping their shoppers — or their farmers.

At a time when healthy, fresh food is especially important; when supermarket shopping carries risks, and purveyors — like all of us — have been rocked by COVID-19, the Farmers’ Market has a plan.

Just click here. Scroll down; click on a logo to select a vendor (there are 8: Calf & Clover Creamery, Seacoast Mushrooms, Wave Hill Breads, Farmers & Cooks, Two Guys from Woodbridge, Paul’s Custom Pet Food, Herbacious Catering and Ox Hollow Farm).

Place your order. Pay directly on their site, by Wednesday noon.  You’ll receive info about your scheduled pickup time by 8 a.m. Thursday. (Delivery is available too — but only in Westport.)

If you’re picking up, at the appropriate time head to the Winter Farmers’ Market site: Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens, 7 Sylvan Lane South. Your order will be bagged and waiting outside. Only the vendor and you will touch your bag.

Bring your own totes, if you’ve ordered several bags. “Bring your patience too,” the Farmers’ Market says. “We will figure this out together.”

Seems like the Farmers’ Market has already figured out most of it. Now all we have to do is order — and thank them, and their awesome farming partners.


Alert reader Marshall Kiev passes along a great summary of the relevant small business relief portion of the recently enacted CARES Act.

“This relief package should be an important  lifeline to many small businesses in Westport – coffee shops, butchers, hair salons, etc.,” he says. “Let’s get the word out to everyone. Many of these businesses are shut down, and owners may not be aware of the available funding.”

Click here to view — then forward far and wide!

Many shuttered Westport businesses can benefit from recent legislation. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)


I’ve written before about Cup of Sugar: the fantastic local group providing deliveries of food, medication and anything else for people in need. (Just click here, then click “Request a Delivery.”)

Nick Ribolla was ready to graduate this spring, from Columbia University. He’s finishing online, but wants to help his home town. He signed up with Cup of Sugar. Still, he is eager to do even more.

He has a lot to offer. He’s sharp, multi-talented, funny and fun. (He’s also got plenty of experience with kids, as a longtime camp counselor).

Nick can help youngsters via Zoom with humanities (“especially English and creative writing”), and Spanish. He’ll also help them manage their workloads. “Whatever I can do, I’ll do,” he says simply.

Call or text: 203-451-9453. And of course, say “gracias.”

Nick Ribolla


The Westport Police Department has put together some great videos. A variety of Westporters (see how many you know!) offer messages — “stay strong!” “keep your distance!” “keep buying local!” — via their Facebook page.

Just search on FB for “Westport Police Department.” Or click here for the latest (with a cameo by yours truly); click here for another, and click here for the first.


Once again, Dr. Scott Gottlieb appeared on a Sunday morning news show, direct from his Westport yard.

This morning, the former FDA commissioner told “Face the Nation” that coronavirus restrictions should remain in place ahead of a “difficult April,” and that the US might have “millions” of cases over the next few months.

Click here for the interview.


Coleytown Elementary School art teacher Deb Goldenberg is working with her colleagues around town to help every school share positive messages — through art, of course.

Students are drawing or making designs, then adding brief ideas like “Spread kindness and love.” They’re encouraged to experiment with patterns and fonts. Messages will be included with the school’s Morning News.


In today’s Persona interview, Jimmy Izzo discusses why shopping local is more important than ever. Click here for a clip, then download the app for the full Q&A.

Jimmy Izzo


And finally, if you’re missing a loved one — well, in a pandemic, just follow doctor’s orders.

PS: Sure, get up and dance. No one’s watching!

Very Important Message From The Police

Click here to view.

COVID-19 Roundup: What’s Open And Closed: New Police Procedures; Access To Health Insurance; Earthplace Ideas; Help Your Household Help; Jim Himes Telephone Town Hall, And More

Looking for an up-to-date list of what’s open, closed or semi-operating downtown? Click here for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association list.

Click here for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s list of restaurants that offer takeout and/or delivery services. In addition to ordering delivery directly, Seamless, Grubhub and UberEats also deliver without personal contact. They can leave the food at the door. Payment is automatically processed through a credit card in their systems. Most Westport restaurants are participating in one or more of these services.

Another resource: FindingWestport.com. Their “What’s Open” page includes stores, restaurants, gyms, services, real estate firms and salons around town.


To protect the public and police officers during the COVID-19 emergency, the Westport Police Department encourages telephone contact, rather than visits to headquarters.

Calls made to non-emergency and emergency lines will continue to be answered as always. The operator will ask questions about the nature and details of the call, to determine whether officers are required to respond.

Officers will continue to respond to crimes in progress, violent offenses and medical emergencies. If the call does not meet criteria for response but requires follow-up, the call taker will log the complaint. An officer or detective will remotely conduct a follow-up investigation.

Click here for information on online reporting.

The records division will no longer process requests at the window. All records related inquiries should be directed to 203- 341-6001. Requested records will be sent electronically

In addition, fingerprinting services are suspended indefinitely.  ‘


Effective today, the Saugatuck and Greens Farms railroad stations buildings are closed to the public. This has no impact on normal railroad operations.

The closures are meant to keep people from congregating in close contact. It is unknown how long they will last.

The building is closed. Trains are still operating.


Westporters without health insurance can pick up coverage starting tomorrow through April 2, through Access Health CT. Click here for information. (Hat tip: Mary Jennings)


Earthplace is continually updating its website with ideas and resources for crafts, home study,  and outdoor and online activities. Click here for details.

 


Concerned reader Lindsey Blaivas writes:

Many of us have people come to our homes on a weekly basis — cleaning crews (mine are like family), babysitters (also like family), piano teachers and more.

Each have their own families and rely on their income. Please consider supporting them — for example, through Skype lessons or outdoor alternatives for cleaning crews (grills, outdoor furniture, garage cleaning). Think creatively.

Or maybe just pay them as you normally would, because they (like us) need to survive and protect their families. My cleaning people have reported many clients are cancelling without pay.

Please consider the macro impact on micro thinking. It’s not just one person cancelling — it’s everyone.


Grateful reader Deborah Green called Verizon with a question about her iPhone.  She did not want to come in, because of her age.

Manager Dominic di Pasquale — whom she had never met — answered her question. Then, remarkably, he told Deborah to call if she needed him to shop for groceries or do any other errands!

She thanked him profusely. He replied simply, “We all have to be there for each other during these times.”

She made one more call: to Verizon’s HR department, to praise their magnificent employee.


The other day, Congressman Jim Himes held a fascinating, informative telephone town hall. He’s got another one set for tomorrow (Thursday, March 19, 3:30 p.m.)

The call-in number is 855-962-0953. The streaming link is Himes.House.Gov/Live.

For answers to his most frequently asked questions, click here(Hat tip: Nicole Klein)

Congressman Jim Himes


Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates is — like many small businesses — struggling. But owner Aarti Khosla is still thinking of others.

Customers can buy her “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts, to send to first responders, hospital workers and others on the front lines. She’ll match whatever you buy, to let them know how much we appreciate their work.

She started by campaign by donating 100 hearts to Norwalk Hospital and EMS. Click here to donate.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has extended its Soup Contest through April. They encourage everyone to try soups via restaurant takeout or delivery services.

 

 

Unsung Heroes #138

This one’s a no-brainer.

If you are anyone who, over the past couple of weeks, has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are an Unsung Hero.

Perhaps you:

  • Man and woman the Westport Health District — performing coronavirus tests, administering aid, answering questions, soothing nerves
  • Serve in emergency operations with the police, fire, EMS departments — or anyone else in government called on to plan, execute, render assistance or in any other way help the town
  • Work in a medical practice, helping some patients who may have been infected and many more with their usual ailments, knowing all the while you had more contact with, and less protection from, sick people than anyone else

  • Are teaching students online, while at the same time soothing nerves, offering non-school advice, and ensuring continuity of education despite having never done so before
  • Are a school custodian or maintenance worker elsewhere who put on a mask and gloves, and spent days deep cleaning every square inch you could find, and did it well, despite your very real fears and anxieties
  • Own a business, and decided (or had to) to shut down, for the good of the community, and despite all your fears, still worry more about your employees and customers
  • Work in a store or market overrun by panicked customers; despite your low pay and own fears you stocked shelves, worked registers, answered questions, and did it all with grace and courtesy
  • Ditto all those restaurant workers who are adapting to a rapidly changing environment, preparing and serving food while observing new rules and regulations, and doing it with enormous care and concern
  • Reach out through your religious institution or civic organizaiton– even though its doors are closed and meetings canceled — to someone in need

Temple Israel is one of the many religious institutions now conducting services, classes and programs virtually.

  • Are suddenly thrust into the role of teacher, in addition to the disruption of having to work your own job remotely, or worry about what was going on at the office because you had to be home
  • Calm a child’s nerves, bring food to an elderly neighbor, or help a stranger figure out what to do now that the library, Senior Center, YMCA, Town Hall — and every other gathering place — is closed
  • Or are doing anything else to help someone else during these unprecedented days.

Thank you for helping make this town a “community.”

We’ll need you — and everyone else — to keep doing it for a while.

No one knows what’s ahead. But with all these Heroes in our midst, we’ll get through all this.

There’s no other choice.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net to let us know!)

 

Marpe: We’re Working Hard On Covid-19. Please Wash Your Hands!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe introduced this afternoon’s COVID-19 virus forum, at the Westport Library. He said:

It is important to hold this public information session in order to share the latest information that town and Health District officials have about COVID-19, and how residents can prepare and protect themselves in the event of a local outbreak.

Since Friday, Governor Lamont has announced 2 known cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut and Fairfield County. Both are physicians – one is employed by the Danbury and Norwalk hospitals and the other by Bridgeport Hospital. Both of them live in Westchester County. So, the reality of this virus is coming closer.

I want to emphasize that the town’s and Westport Public Schools’ decisions will be guided by the information and recommendations of the Westport Weston Health District under the leadership of director Mark Cooper. who conduct this forum.

The Health District is in constant contact with the State’s department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. These are the reliable sources of quality information that will guide our decision processes. Director Cooper and I, along with our Emergency Management team, have worked together on past disease control challenges such as Ebola and the Zika virus, so I’m confident that Town and the Public Schools will make decisions based on medical science and sound disease control experience.

I can also assure you that for several weeks, our town administrators, Human Services and public safety officials have been planning and preparing for a town-wide response to this virus related to Westport’s facilities and community activities. There are dozens of “what if’s” to be considered regarding how we deliver essential town services while protecting our residents and employees for a health crisis of unknown magnitude and duration.

Some services can be performed remotely or via the internet, but many of our activities require face-to-face or public actions, from a stepped-up protocol for cleaning and sanitizing town buildings and facilities to prevent the spread of the virus; to serving the various needs of our residents, especially our seniors who are said to be the most vulnerable to this virus; to considering how we conduct the public meetings that are required by statute and charter to legally perform essential public activities in a time of possible quarantine.

I have met with all of the senior staff in Town Hall, the Police and Fire chiefs as well as the key staff from the Westport Public Schools and the library. We continue the internal exercise of planning and strategizing in case there is a need  to limit access to public meeting spaces.

We have considered what functions are essential and how those could be preformed remotely with limited public interactions. Under the leadership of our emergency management director, Fire Chief Rob Yost, we are adapting existing and well tested emergency management protocols. This prospective situation has the potential to be broader and longer than emergency situations of the recent past, such as winter storms and fires.

Our Police, Emergency Medical Service and Fire Departments are equipped with the right gear, apparatuses and devices to respond to emergencies regardless of the status of COVID-19, but like every community we may be vulnerable to limited supplies of those items over an extended period of time. I speak with the superintendent of schools at least daily to be sure we are coordinating our responses to this threat.

Perhaps the most important message I can deliver today is also the most obvious. Please stay aware and informed since each day, and almost each hour, the situation is rapidly evolving. As importantly, as individuals and as a community, we must stay calm and not succumb to fear and panic.  You know the drill:

  • Cover your mouth and nose if you cough and sneeze
  • Wash your hands – I mean really wash your hands – frequently
  • Greet others with an elbow bump or a foot tap

Our advice is to stay connected to the CDC and state Department of Health updates. The town has created its own link on our town website. Go to westportct.gov and search on COVID-19. That is where you will find any changes that we may need to make to the Town’s procedures and policies.

Also, follow the town as well as our Fire and Police Departments on Facebook and Instagram for updates. And very importantly, if you have not already, please sign up for emergency notifications from the Town of Westport Police and Fire Departments by texting “06880” to the number 888777.

As I have noted already, we are receiving excellent support, research and advice on COVID-19 from the Westport Weston Health District.  The remainder of the formal presentation today will be under the leadership Health District director Mark Cooper, who has been a great resource for the community for many years.

Marpe also provided this information for “06880” readers:

In an effort to increase our standard cleaning procedures for all of our Town buildings, the Public Works Department is taking extra steps to enhance cleaning and prevent the potential spread of disease.

  • Handwashing signs have been posted in all bathrooms, hallway and stairwells.
  • Wipe-down of all high touchpoint surfaces has been increased to 5 times per week, especially in areas such as railings, doorknobs, and bathroom fixtures.
  • The daytime custodial shift will check and replenish all bathrooms with soap and paper twice daily, as well as wipe and clean high traffic touchpoint areas with disinfectant wipes.
  • The evening custodial shift will replenish supplies in all bathrooms as well wiping down all high traffic touchpoint areas with disinfectant. This will include all stair railings, doorknobs and bathroom fixtures.
  • A bottle of hand sanitizer and tissues will be provided to each conference room.

To assist us in our efforts, it is strongly recommended that all employees also help out by

  • Cleaning personal desktops at least 3 times per week. (Clear clutter for thorough cleaning).
  • Wiping down high-touch office equipment (desktop phone, computer)
  • Wiping down common equipment such as copiers, fax machines, etc. 2-3 times per day
  • Wiping down public greeting desks at least 2-3 times per day.
  • Using common sense in all contact with others; avoid if unnecessary.
  • Keeping a supply of tissues available for public and staff use.

Thank you and stay safe!

Westport Police Honor Women

The Westport Police Department says:

Happy International Women’s Day to the women of the Westport PD.

They are officers, dispatchers, protectors, enforcers, leaders, educators, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends and friends.

Thank you for all that you do to Lt. Jillian Cabana, Sgt. Jill Ruggiero, Sgt. Sereniti Dobson, Sgt. Sharon Russo, Detective Ashley DelVecchio, Detective Erin Shaw, Officer Ruta Pratt and Officer Rachel Baron.

We also celebrate our amazing civilian staff Dispatcher Lynn Marshall, Traffic Agents Mariah Ventrella and Diane Apicelli, Joyce Cruz, Carmen Figueroa, CJ Sereno, Aleta Franklin, Mary DelFlorio, Joan Lasprogato and Bria Meier.

Tired Of Traffic? Drive To These Meetings!

If you’ve lived in Westport more than 12 seconds, you know the traffic here sucks.

And it’s getting exponentially worse.

Beyond bitching about it to your friends, neighbors and on “06880” though, what can you do?

Well, you can go to a meeting with your RTM members, and representatives of the Selectman’s Office, Public Works and the Police. They want to hear your concerns about traffic — not just vehicles, but pedestrians and bicyclists too.

 

Sessions are set up by RTM district. So you’ll talk about your actual neighborhood — not just the usual chokepoints.

All sessions take place in the Town Hall auditorium, at 7 p.m. The schedule:

  • Districts 2 & 3: Tuesday, March 3
  • Districts 1 & 4: Monday, March 9
  • Districts 6 & 8: Monday, March 16
  • Districts 5 & 7: Tuesday, March 31
  • District 9: Monday, April 13

Don’t know your district? Click here for a map.

There’s plenty of parking at Town Hall. But leave early. You never know about the traffic!

Waiting in line at the Imperial Avenue light.

Car Thieves Strike Again

Last night and early this morning, unlocked vehicles in several Westport neighborhoods were burglarized.

Westport Police received reports from both ends of Greens Farms Road, and the Old Mill Beach area. In addition, an unlocked vehicle — with the keys in it — was stolen from the Compo Beach area.

Police expect more reports as the day goes on.

The department says:

Please let these incidents serve as a reminder that vehicle break-ins and vehicle thefts continue to occur in ours and neighboring communities at great frequency; especially in the overnight hours.

In the majority of Westport cases of vehicles being entered which resulted in thefts of goods from within, the doors were left unlocked. In almost all Westport cases of vehicles being stolen, keys were left inside an unlocked vehicle.

The vast majority of these suspects do not wish to take the time to attempt to force entry into a vehicle. This is especially true in the overnight hours, when doing so could create a significant amount of noise that would draw the unwanted attention of otherwise sleeping neighborhoods. When encountering locked vehicles, these suspects almost always simply move on to the next possible target. We therefore strongly implore our residents not to fall victim to these types of crimes.

Preventive measures taken by the community coupled with the vigilance of our officers is the key to safeguarding our neighborhoods. We ask that you please always lock your car and bring your keys inside. Please remember to take valuables out of your car for the night, such as purses, wallets and electronics, and never leave these items out in plain view within. even if the vehicle is locked.

It is also good practice to keep outside lights on and motion lights activated. Lock your residence and arm the security system, if your home is equipped with one.

We also ask that you please notify the police department if it appears that your vehicle was entered or if you should observe anything suspicious in your neighborhood. No one knows your neighborhood better than you do, and the information you provide is always vital to our crime prevention efforts.

Anyone with information about these incidents should call the detective bureau: 203-341-6080.

All Students Safe In School Bus Crash

The Westport Fire Department, Police Department, EMS and the Norwalk Fire Department responded swiftly, after a school bus crashed into a tree on Sylvan Road North at 8:10 am this morning. The bus was en route to Kings Highway Elementary School.

The scene this morning on Sylvan Road North.

The fire department says that all students had already been removed from the bus by good Samaritans without any complaints of injury.

However, the driver of the bus was trapped by the dashboard and required extrication using hydraulic equipment, by the Westport and Norwalk Fire Departments.

Rescue work today. (Photos courtesy of Westport FIre Department)

The last fire department unit cleared the scene at 9:26. Police are investigating the accident.