The house at the corner of Lyndale Park and Weston Road was decorated so beautifully, for every holiday.
Christmas, Halloween — whatever the occasion, it stood out as a place of celebration.
And because the house is located on such a well-traveled, main road — just a few yards from Merritt Parkway Exit 42 — every Westporter knew it.
Now we know it for another reason.
Thursday’s tragedy stunned Westporters. We grieved for a young girl, her life cut unspeakably short. We felt the anguish of her mother, who for unfathomable reasons believed there was only one way out of her pain. We despaired for other family members, who will forever be haunted by what happened that day.
We thought of friends and classmates of the mother and girls in that house. They suffer now too, as collateral damage.
1 Lyndale Park is off Weston Road, near Merritt Parkway northbound Exit 42.
We’ll continue to drive by the house on the corner of Lyndale Park and Weston Road. The police, yellow tape and TV crews will soon be gone.
Yet it will never be decorated for the holidays again. Now, we will know it for another, much more solemn reason.
Each time we pass, we should think about the people who lived there.
And we should remember that — no matter how beautiful the decorations may look, or how bright the lights shine — we never know what goes on behind closed doors.
The adult female who was found deceased in the home at 1 Lyndale Park has been positively identified as 46-year-old Tracy Do. The deceased juvenile also resided at the above address, and is Ms. Do’s daughter.
On June 18, the 2 deceased individuals were brought to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Farmington to be autopsied. The Medical Examiner determined that the 7-year-old had drowned, and ruled her death a homicide.
The Medical Examiner ruled Ms. Do’s death a suicide. The Westport Police Detective Bureau, along with the State Police Western District Major Crimes Unit, continue to investigate the circumstances related to these 2 deaths.
Chief Foti Koskinas said, “this is a horrible tragedy, and the police department is keeping the family as well as the community that was so deeply affected by this in our thoughts and prayers.”
At this time, we are not releasing any further information.
1 Lyndale Park is off Weston Road, near Merritt Parkway northbound Exit 42.
First Selectman Jim Marpe adds:
The community is dealing with an awful tragedy. Since this terrible event is still under investigation, I cannot comment on the details. My prayers and condolences are with the family.
Police, first responders, public school personnel and students have been directly impacted by this devastating event. The entire community shares in their grief and sadness. Westport is a caring community. and I know we will come together to support those who need to begin the healing process.
Doug Tirola — one of the founders of the Remarkable Theater — is a native Westporter, and father of a Staples High School student. He know we’ve got some remarkable members of the senior class — and that they had a remarkable year.
Tomorrow Doug — whose day job is filmmaking — wants to hear about their experiences. He’s making a short feature starring Staples seniors. It will play before (naturally) the drive-in screening of “The Breakfast Club” later this month.
High school seniors are invited to a quick interview tomorrow (Wednesday, June 16, 3 p.m.) at Staples’ front entrance.
NOTE: Seniors who are not yet 18 should email email@example.com for a release form, to be signed by a parent prior to film.
“The Breakfast Club”: Quite possibly the best high school movie ever made.
But the young staff — overseeing kayaks, paddleboards and the increasingly crowded Saugatuck River — has major responsibilities.
Yesterday, owners Taryn and Robbie Guimond brought Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services staff onto the Riverside Avenue site. EMTs ran everyone through every imaginable safety scenario and protocol.
The entire Westport Paddle Club staff is now certified in CPR, first aid and “stop the blood.” They’re ready for anything — and for you.
“With so much negativity about police in our country, we feel lucky we have a Police Department that responds quickly and professionally to our needs, on many levels.
“On Sunday around 2:30 p.m., my husband Larry and I, 2 Westport friends and our puppy were stranded on our small boat in the Sound. It just stopped, and refused to start again no matter what we were tried.
“To our much appreciated rescue came 2 police officers: a man and a woman. With efficiency, respect and utmost professionalism, we were towed to our marina on Saugatuck shores.
“We are privileged to live in a town with such an incredible Police Department. Thank you!”
The Lefkowitzes’ boat, after being towed to safety.
For weeks, Pequot Trail neighbors have been upset about the clear-cutting done in preparation for a teardown and new home.
Yesterday, News12 reported on the issue.
As noted in the report, owners can do whatever they want with their property. But, Tree Board chair Monica Buesser notes, trees play many roles beyond beauty — including noise abatement and reduced flood risk.
Marketplace at Franny’s of Westport celebrates its first year as a local pop-up partner this Saturday (June 19, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.).
The Bedford Square shop will be filled with live music, free samples and giveaways. Tracey Medeiros will sign copies of “The Art of Cooking with Cannabis,” and Franny Tacy — founder of Franny’s Farmacy — will be on hand too, to say, um, “hi.”
The world is opening up. But plenty of neighbors are still in dire straits.
To help fill Person 2 Person’s Norwalk food pantry, Westport Sunrise Rotary members will collect food donations in the rear of Saugatuck Congregational Church (Saturday, June 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
They urge folks to include these items on upcoming shopping trips: hearty soups, snack and granola bars, pasta and sauce, 1-pound rice boxes, peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, canned tuna and chicken, canned fruits and vegetables, dried and canned beans, pancake mix, cold cereal, oatmeal and shelf-stable milk.
Among the most needed household and personal items: laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner, dryer sheets, toothbrushes and toothpaste, disinfectant wipes, hand and body soap, kitchen sponges, deodorant, liquid dish detergent, diapers and wipes (especially sizes 5 and 6), tissues and Kleenex.
From left: Greg Dobbs (Person2Person food pantry site manger) with Westport Sunrise Rotarians Rob Hauck and president George Masumian.
If you’ve never needed Westport Volunteer EMS — whether at home, out and about, or in an ambulance — consider yourself lucky.
Your time will come.
And whether you have or have not, if you’ve never considered where the funding for this volunteer service — including its 3 ambulances, and every bit of equipment — comes from: The time has come.
Read on. Then pony up.
Established over 40 years ago, Westport EMS is a neighbor-to-neighbor organization. Over 100 members give almost 20,000 hours of their time each year, staffing ambulances. They come from all walks of life. (Because they love Westport so much, some are from out of town too).
Some — but not all — of the 2021 Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service crew.
Nearly every call includes a paramedic — very rare, especially for a community this size. Response time beats the national average (and have you seen the traffic in town lately?).
So how much money comes from the town budget?
EMS is not funded by taxes. The yearly budget — around $1.3 million — is almost entire self-funded. That pays for 7 full-time staff members, 1 full-time Norwalk Hospital paramedic, and other costs like buildings and insurance.
Westport Volunteer EMS — the volunteer arm of the official town agency, run by the Police Department — raises all money needed to buy equipment supplies. That’s everything from Band-Aids (true!) to ambulances (which are substantially more expensive than bandages).
WEstport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service pays for all equipment in an ambulance …
A fully outfitted ambulance costs over $300,000. WVEMS has 3. They should be bought new every 8 to 10 years. For a variety of reasons, all must be replaced soon.
… and the ambulances themselves. Pictured: Mike Burns, WVEMS president.
The stretcher and loading system for each ambulance is over $50,00o. They are replaced when the ambulances are.
A fly car (paramedic response vehicle) costs $50,000. Westport has 3; they are replaced every 10 years as well.
Also in the budget: fly cars.
A Lifepak 15 heart monitoring device costs $50,000. We have 4. A Lucas CPR device costs $15,000. Westport has 3.
Oh, yeah: WVEMS supplies all their own PPE. You might not have thought about that before March 2020. Now you know that vital equipment adds up quickly too.
Raising money — even as a 501(c)(3), even in a town like Westport — is challenging. Most people assume their taxes cover EMS. They don’t.
More than half of all donations are $50 or less; 83% are no more than $100. WVEMS has, admittedly, not done a good job telling their story to Westporters — including the wealthiest families, who already support so many other good causes.
WVEMS hopes to establish a professionally managed endowment, providing self-funding for vehicle and supply needs. Neighboring towns have already done that.
“Every dollar counts,” says Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service president Michael Burns. (Click here to donate; click here for more information, including how to volunteer.)
Burns also encourages Westporters to spread the WVEMS word, to others who might help.
It’s one of our town’s most important services. As noted earlier: If you haven’t needed them yet — one day you will.
Your contribution today will ensure a speedy response — and a new ambulance, if needed — tomorrow.
Westport Police quickly identified the responsible party. They’re working with the state Attorney’s Office on a possible motive, and potential criminal charges.
The Westport Downtown Association quickly installed colored balloons, replacing those that were taken.
Replacing the colored lights. (Screenshot from News12)
And a group of volunteers — including Police Chief Foti Koskinas, RTM members Harris Falk and Sal Liccione, Emma Rojas of the WDA, Rae Suba of Child’s Play Clinic and activist Sarah Manning — hung the same banner that decorated the Pride rally 6 days earlier.
Where is it?
On the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.
Not far from the lights that could not be dimmed by last night’s action.
Hanging proudly on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.
The TriBeca Film Festival is back. This year, it’s very New York-centric.
Among the films: “Bernstein’s Wall.”
The Tribeca website describes the world premiere of the film directed by Westporter Douglas Tirola (4thRow Films; co-founder, Westport’s Remarkable Theater):
In this enlightening look at one of the greatest classical music figures of the 20th century, director Douglas Tirola mines a rich trove of interviews, television appearances, home movie footage, photos, letters to craft a comprehensive look at Leonard Bernstein, whose passion and drive took him well beyond the marvelous music he wrote and conducted.
Spanning the breadth of a life interwoven with key historic moments outside the concert hall, Bernstein’s Wall follows the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who arrives in New York from his Boston hometown to eventually become conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and becomes a household name thanks to his numerous TV appearances, educating the public on all things symphonic, West Side Story, being seen with celebrities and politicians, and his crossing-the-line activism, from protesting the Vietnam War to (controversially) supporting the Black Panthers.
Tirola incorporates Bernstein’s personal life — his fraught relationship with his father, his marriage, his family life, his struggles to be at peace with his sexuality — to paint a complex portrait of a complex, driven individual who produced some of the most memorable music of his time as a product of those times.
(“Bernstein’s Wall” is available for streaming from June 15-23. Click here for details. Hat tip: Kerry Long)
Just in time for the end of the spring sports season: Westport Rotary Club and the Westport Soccer Association are collecting used soccer uniforms, clothing, shoes, shin guards, balls and other equipment.
They’ll ship it all to Nicaragua. Rotary already works there with NicaPhoteo, a non-profit that helps communities.
The soccer equipment is much needed. Soft backpack bags, old balls, socks, jerseys and shirts — it will all go to good use.
The drop-off location is 5 Sugar Maple Lane, Westport (off Whitney Street). There’s a box on the front porch. Please wash clothing items first!
Dr. Donald Cohen’s nationally televised show — in which, well, kids talked (about everything in their lives) is being relaunched. Fittingly for a new century, it’s a livestream, on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.
The first episode of the relaunch is tonight (Thursday, June 10), at 7 p.m. The topic is body image and eating disorders. Teenage guests come from Westport — and around the country.
“Kids Are Talking” started in 1990 at Fairfield University. It became a national radio call-in show on WICC, simulcast on Cablevision. In the late ’90s it found a home on WWPT-FM, broadcast from Toquet Hall.
“Kids Are Talking” and its host, Cohen, have been featured on “The CBS Morning Show” and ABC-TV, as well as in the New York Times.
TAP Strength Lab is the latest business to join the “Summer of Pride” promotion.
The downtown personalized fitness coaching, therapy, nutrition and preventative health center will donate 10% of the first month of membership (for new members who sign up now through August) to Westport Pride. Mention the code “Summer of Love.”
Oh, yeah: They’ve got a special Pride logo for this month too.
Patricia Rogers Suda, died peacefully at home on May 24, surrounded by her loving family after a courageous fight against cancer. She was 69.
Born in New Haven, her family moved to Westport in 1959. She graduated in 1970 from Staples High, where she met and married the love of her life, Mark R. Suda.
Patti and Mark moved to Norwalk. They were married for nearly 50 years, before he passed in 2020.
Survivors include sons, Mark Suda Jr. (Michelle) and Joseph Suda (Amy); grandchildren Skyler, Madyson, Samantha and Joseph Jr.; brothers Bill, Paul and John Rogers; sister Janet Aitoro, and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
Patti loved watching her sons in their sports. From Cranbury League baseball and Pop Warner football, to high school baseball and football, she was there. She also enjoyed watching her grandkids in softball, baseball, gymnastics, soccer and hockey.
Patti retired in December 2017 as a bookkeeper after 32 years, to spend time with her family.
Her words to all family and friends are, “Live life to the fullest, with love and respect to others, because you never know what tomorrow brings.”
Last year, 20 first responders gathered at Veterans Day. A somber ceremony continued Westport’s decades-long Memorial Day celebration, in the midst of a global pandemic.
This year, crowds once again lined the parade route. Police, firefighters, EMTs, school bands, fifers and drummers, Boy and Girls Scouts, young soccer and baseball and lacrosse players, politicians — and many more — marched.
World War II and Korean War veterans rode proudly in convertibles.
Friends greeted each other. Newcomers marveled at what a small town Westport really is.
At the Veterans Green ceremony afterward, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe weaved together past Memorial Days, COVID, and this year’s celebration. He read the names of Westporters lost in the past year (including last year’s grand marshal, Patricia Wettach, a victim of the coronavirus).
This year’s grand marshal, World War II veteran Nick Rossi, was the man of the hour. His grandson, Nick Rossi, delivered a powerful speech. “Taps” rang out.
Westport is back. So is one of our town’s most cherished traditions. This is a Memorial Day we can never forget.
Grand marshal, 98-year-old World War II veteran Nick Rossi (Photo/Ted Horowitz)
WWII veteran, T/SGT Lawrence Aasen, 13th Airborne Division, age 98, at the ready. (Photo/Susan Aasen)
Getting ready for the parade (Photo/Ted Horowitz)
The vanguard of the parade turns onto the Post Road. (Photo/David Squires)
Mireille Perrin Delorey (21 months) at her first Memorial Day parade. (Photo/James Delorey)
In a thrilling gesture, Officer Eric Woods pulled Dylan Curran out of the crowd on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge to march with the Westport Police Department. (Photo/Rosanna Jon)
Dylan stands proudly with Chief of Police Foti Koskinas, and his force. (Photo/Stacie Curran)
Westport Emergency Medical Service (Photo/Matthew Slossberg)
Post Road collage (Photo/Burton Stuttman)
One fife and drum corps … (Photo/Irene Mastriacovo)
… and another, in a timeless shot. (Photo/Stan Witkow)
Post Road salute (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)
Go Blue Sox! (Photo/Molly Alger)
Surprise! (Not!) Once again, the always creative Y’s Men won the grand prize in the float contest. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Former 2nd Selectwoman Betty Lou Cummings (front) and friends.
Decades from now, these youngsters can say they saw World War II veterans at a Memorial Day parade. (Photo/Dan Woog)
For over 60 years, Korean War veteran Bill Vornkahl has organized Westport’s Memorial Day parade. This morning, he acknowledged the crowd’s sustained applause. (Photo/Dan Woog)
The state Department of Transportation plans work on 2.5 miles of I-95, from the Yankee Doodle Bridge in Norwalk to the Saugatuck River bridge. It includes reconstruction of the center median and right shoulders, and resurfacing the ramps at Exits 16 and 17.
The bridge over Saugatuck Avenue will be totally replaced. The new superstructure will be constructed adjacent to the existing bridge, and slid into place.
The bridges over Franklin Street and the Saugatuck River will undergo concrete deck repairs, and replacement of expansion joints.
A virtual public information session is set for Thursday, June 3 (7 p.m.). To access the meeting, and for information about commenting or asking questions, click here.
The estimated cost is $90 million. Construction is planned to begin this fall. DOT did not provide an anticipated end date.
This work is substantially more complex than the Kings Highway replacement project currently underway near Canal Street. Fingers crossed …
Traffic will flow less smoothly on the I-95 bridge over Saugatuck Avenue when construction begins this fall. (Photo/Mark Mathias)
Brette Warshaw’s love of food, food culture and food writing began in Westport.
In 3rd grade, she was reviewing local restaurants for the Long Lots Elementary School paper. (Angelina’s got a rave.)
At Staples High School, the 2009 graduate loved Alison Milwe Grace’s culinary classes. Brette wrote her college essay about working at the Weston Field Club snack shop.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she worked at the Food52 website, moving up to managing editor. Brette the became CFO of Lucky Peach, David Chang’s quarterly food journal.
She works at Apple News now (no food jokes, please!). She writes the daily Newsletter. She also wrote “What’s the Difference” — answering questions we’ve all wondered about. (What’s the difference, for example, between a balcony and terrace? Latino and Hispanic? A dash and a hyphen?)
In Brette’s special area of expertise, what’s the difference between broth and stock? Jam and jelly (and preserves)? Barbecuing and grilling? Chef and cook? Sweet potato and yam? Maître d’ and host?
She’s turned those important questions (spoiler alert: I have no idea about any of the answers) into a new book. What’s the Difference? Recreational Culinary Reference for the Curious and Confused will be published June 8. (Click here for more information, and to order.)
It’s irreverent, informative — and when I get a copy, I’ll let you know the answers.
Longtime Westporter George Manchester turns 90 in June.
His son Jeff — now raising his own family, in his home town — has planned a special gift. He hopes at least 90 “06880” readers will send his father “Happy Birthday” cards.
George spends summers in Maine. This year, he’ll arrive June 5. Going to the post office is an important part of his day. Let’s inundate him (and the PO) with cards!
Send to: George Manchester, PO Box 202, South Bristol, ME 04568. And feel free to pass this on to others!
George Manchester in 2017, just before the old Saugatuck Island bridge was torn down after damage from Superstorm Sandy. Decades earlier he was involved in the construction of that bridge, as president of what was then called the Saugatuck Shores Island Association (now the Saugatuck Island Special Taxing District).
For today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, Tina Green writes:
“Some time in the last several days, the American oystercatcher eggs hatched at Compo Beach. This year there are 2 very healthy chicks. The adult female is limping, but will hopefully recover soon.
“The federally protected piping plovers are nesting on the most northern edge of the roped off area. I had the good fortune to witness the first egg being laid while observing the female early yesterday morning.
“Westporters are lucky to have a variety of bird species nest within our borders. About 88 species breed in the wide variety of habitats around town, including back yards, town parks, beaches and open spaces like Cockenoe Island and Aspetuck Land Trust properties.
“If the pandemic got you into birdwatching while at home, this is one of the best towns in the state to see and observe our feathered friends.”
American oystercatcher at Compo Beach (Photo/Tina Green)
Longtime Westporter Ronald Joseph Melino died on May 22. He was 91.
The South Bronx native transplanted himself and his family from the city he loved to Westport in 1967.
Melino studied biology at City College, and was a proud employee of American Airlines. He worked his way up from the La Guardia Airport terminal to the company’s executive offices at the Chrysler Building.
Original to his core, naturally charismatic and never shy, he lived life on his own terms. He loved beach walks, tennis with pals at the Westport Tennis Club and Longshore, workouts and saunas at the Westport YMCA, reading, train travel to San Francisco, and above all else his grandchildren.
He was predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Maureen. He is survived by his children Stephen Melino (Margie), Frances Zahler (Gary), Barbara Deecken (George), and James Melino (Ilana); grandchildren Alexsis Adams, Christina Deecken, Cody Zahler, Christian Zahler, Avery Chung-Melino, Rachel Melino, Emily Zahler, and Katey Melino, great grandson Isaiah, beloved nieces and nephews and their families, and his brother Eugene.
A private Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Assumption Cemetery, at a time to be determined.
Westport’s newest police officer is Stephen Silva has joined its ranks. He was sworn in yesterday at a small ceremony, in front of his family and friends. Two brothers serve with the Trumbull Police Department.
Silva started his career in law enforcement in 2016 with the Bridgeport Police Department. He worked in the patrol division, served as an acting detective, and was a member of the department’s honor guard.
In addition to working full time as a police officer, Silva is pursuing a degree in emergency management at Post University.
Officer Stephen Silva (right) is congratulated by Police Chief Foti Koskinas.
While Charles MacCormack traveled the world as CEO of Westport-based Save the Children, his wife Susan Ross devoted her life to public service of a more local scope. For 40 years she worked with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation; for 12 years, she was its CEO.
Susan died 4 years ago this month, after a 7-year battle with breast and pancreatic cancer. In her memory, her husband of 45 years has helped established the Susan M. Ross Fund for Great Leadership at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. It targets the organization’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence, which provides leadership develop opportunities.
And finally … happy 76th birthday to John Fogerty. I’ve played tribute to his band — Creedence Clearwater Revival — and I will again. So today I’ll honor his solo work. (PS: Thanks again for that great Levitt Pavilion concert in 2017. I’m still smiling.)
Police Chief Foti Koskinas feels Westport drivers’ pains. He hears their pleas for a traffic cop on Riverside Avenue, at the Cribari Bridge. The Westport Police Department is on the case.
But there is another side to Westport’s traffic woes too.
Driving habits have changed dramatically during COVID, Koskinas and public safety officer Al D’Amura say. Though Westporters have returned to work, all but 1oo or so of the Saugatuck and Greens Farms train station parking spots are empty every day. Those folks drive instead.
The situation is the same at every train station from Greenwich to New Haven. That’s why I-95 and the Merritt Parkway have become parking lots.
Looking for every bit of help, drivers turn to apps like Waze. Offered an alternate route, they take it.
Which is why we see more and more backups on Riverside Avenue. As well as Wilton Road, Cross Highway, Long Lots Road — anywhere Waze says is even slightly better. It’s a problem at I-95 exits 17 and 18, and Merritt exits 41 and 42.
When William Cribari and other officers were posted at what was then called the Bridge Street Bridge, Koskinas says, they facilitated 100 to 200 vehicles to and from trains.
Traffic is no longer timed to trains, Koskinas explains. Moving traffic off the bridge in the morning, and through Riverside Avenue in the evening, sounds like a great idea.
But Waze and traffic apps would immediately sense the smoother flow — making the alternate route off I-95 even more appealing to highway drivers.
A traffic officer will immiediately take over the Riverside Avenue post made famous by William William Cribari (Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)
Still — starting immediately – there will be an officer on Riverside by the bridge, in the late afternoon.
“We’ll monitor the situation, to see if it helps or hurts,” Koskinas says.
“We may find that as much as people don’t like waiting through 4 or 5 light cycles, it’s better than having 300 more cars coming through Saugatuck. We don’t know what we’ll find for sure. We’ll study it.”
That’s not the only new traffic post in town. An agent will be posted from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Post Road/Wilton Road/Riverside Avenue intersection.
Actually, it’s not “new.” As a young officer, Koskinas once manned that corner.
Facilitating traffic there impacts other lights on the Post Road. For example, waving through more cars from Wilton Road might cause more of a temporary backup through the already congested downtown area.
“We understand the importance to merchants, and everyone,” Koskinas says. As with Saugatuck, he and D’Amura will monitor the situation closely.
As for another suggestion from an “06880” reader — installation of a light at the top of I-95 eastbound Exit 18 — Koskinas says, “we fully support it. It’s come up before.” His department — in collaboration with the Board of Selectmen — will make that recommendation to the state Department of Transportation.
Sherwood Island Connector is a state road. There will be engineering studies, and budget issues. It could take a while.
So for now, you might want to get off at Exit 17. A traffic cop there will move traffic along.
Or maybe he’ll inadvertently invite other I-95 drivers to join you.
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