State Senator Will Haskell offers this COVID-19 update:
Connecticut this week received 39,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in addition to the thousands of Moderna and Pfizer doses already being distributed on a regular basis. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe, effective, and requires only 1 injection, so we’ll be able to accelerate the rate of immunization significantly in the coming weeks and months.
Currently, 74 percent of state residents over the age of 75 have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine; 59 percent between 65 and 74 have received at least 1 dose, and 17 percent between 55 and 64 have received at least 1 dose. I’m proud that we’ve administered over 1 million vaccine doses.
In light of our vaccination success and the overall decline of COVID-19 cases, Governor Lamont has also announced the rollback of certain social distancing restrictions beginning March 19th, including the full capacity reopening of indoor restaurants.
These new restrictions reflect that we’re moving closer to a fully reopened economy. In the meantime, it is important that all employees and customers continue to wear masks, stay 6feet apart, and wash their hands frequently. The more we do those things, the more likely it is that we will be able to fully reopen and put this pandemic behind us in the near future.
Yesterday’s vaccine clinic in the Staples High School fieldhouse was a rousing success.
Over 500 educators from Westport, Weston and the Easton/Redding district received doses. The health professionals were on top of their game; our Community Emergence Response Team kept things running smoothly. Next Wednesday’s clinic should cover the first dose for the rest of the school staff who want it.
Within weeks, Westport Book Shop has established itself as the go-to place for the best in pre-owned novels, biographies, etc., etc., plus CDs and vinyl.
This month, Norm Siegel is featured at the Drew Friedman Art Place in the back of the Jesup Road spot.
Norm specializes in trompe l’oeil and photorealistic paintings. His paintings of famous and rare book editions are so realistic, you may try to turn the painted pages. Click here for a great interview with him.
Westport Book Shop — and the gallery — are open during new expanded hours: Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5.
Today’s New York Times obituary of Joe Duffy notes that “his antiwar campaign for the United States Senate from Connecticut in 1970 galvanized a generation of campus liberals…. (He) later served as a cultural arbiter in the Carter and Clinton administrations and presided over two major universities.” He was 88.
It mentions one of his key supporters in his political campaigns — Westporter Paul Newman — and (though it does not note that she lived here too), his 1974 marriage to Anne Wexler. She ran his 1970 campaign, became an aide to President Carter, and then a prominent Washington political operative and lobbyist.
Click here for a look at Duffey’s fascinating life.
Joe Duffey and Paul Newman at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. (Photo courtesy of New York Times)
Positive Directions — Westport’s prevention and counseling center — is looking for a new executive director.
During COVID, the 49-year-old organization provided important mental health support to hundreds of residents. The prevention staff collaborated with town governments and other local partners, to help adolescents and families make healthy choices and decisions.
The search committee is looking for a leader with significant management experience and deep experience in the mental health. Resumes and cover letters are due by March 31 to: PositiveDirectionsEDSearch@gmail.com.
Dave Briggs’ fascinating InstagramLive discussions continue this afternoon (Thursday, March 4, 5:15).
His guest is Westport’s own Lindsay Czarniak. As “NFL on Fox sideline reporter Host of “The Athlete & The Artist,” she’s interviewed everyone from Brad Paisley and Danica Patrick to Alanis Morissette and (this week) Eddie Vedder. She’s also the wife of NBC’s Craig Melvin.
Search for @WestportMagazine on Instagram. Send questions any time by DM to @DaveBriggsTV.
We say that a lot. Partly, it’s true. Partly, we want to believe it.
But COVID has caused grief for many youngsters. They’ve lost relatives. They fear others may suffer and die. They’ve lost so much of their own normal lives. And there’s so much uncertainty, day after day after day.
Experience Camps knows a lot about grief. The national, no-cost program for grieving children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver runs great summer camps for children and teens.
When the coronavirus derailed last year’s programs, they focused instead on raising awareness of the many facets of childhood grief.
A key part of that effort is a Zoom panel discussion next Tuesday (March 2, 2 p..m.). Experts from a variety of perspectives will discuss “How the Pandemic of Grief is Impacting Kids.”
Experience Camps founder Sara Deren says the audience is “anyone and everyone. Everyone is grieving now. This is not just for professionals. If you have or know kids, it’s important to understand COVID’s impact on them.”
There’s always a Westport connection to national news.
When the US Senate parliamentarian ruled against yesterday that raising the minimum wage to $15 violated budgetary rules limiting what can be included in the legislation, at least 2 “06880” readers wondered: Who exactly is this parliamentarian.
Google (and Wikipedia) provided the answer: She is Elizabeth MacDonough. And although she grew up near Washington, DC, she graduated from Greens Farms Academy in 1984.
The New York Times reports that MacDonough — the first woman in the post — has “retained both the position and bipartisan respect under the leadership of both parties since she was named in 2012.”
Not much else is known about her local ties. If you’ve got more — or her remember her from GFA — click “Comments” below. (Hat tip: Clark Thiemann)
Elizabeth MacDonough: (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
One of the town’s most important — and least publicized — honors is the James S. Bacharach Service to the Community Award.
Presented annually for the last 32 years by the Westport Youth Commission to one or more high school seniors who live in or attend school in town, it recognizes significant service to Westport. Bacharach founded and served as president of the Youth Adult Council. He was also deeply involved in the organization that is now Homes with Hope.
Any Westporter — adult or student — can nominate a high school senior. Nominees should have a strong record of community service within Westport. Click here for a nomination form.
Submissions must be accompanied by 2 references. A maximum of 2 letters of support can be uploaded to the application or emailed separately to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is March 26.
Back in the days when sex scandals could actually ruin a political career, Fanne Foxe was at the center of a doozy.
At 2 a.m. in October 1974, police pulled over a Lincoln Continental that was speeding, without headlights, near the Jefferson Memorial.
The Washington Post recalls:
A female passenger in an evening gown ran from the car, climbed the stone parapet along the Tidal Basin and — acting on what she later described as a frantic impulse — leaped headfirst into the frigid, inky water. Her splashdown would ripple into one of the capital’s most infamous sex scandals.
The woman, 38-year-old Annabel Battistella, was a plumage-shaking striptease dancer with the stage name Fanne Foxe. She was billed as “the Argentine Firecracker,” and patrons of the local burlesque circuit were captivated by her elaborate costumes — complete with five-foot-tall headdresses and tropical-colored ostrich and pheasant feathers — as well as the artfulness with which she removed them.
On that particular night, after a boozy party at the Silver Slipper club, where she had performed, she got into a loud quarrel with her married lover….
With her plunge into the Tidal Basin, Ms. Battistella (later Annabel Montgomery), who died Feb. 10 at 84, secured her place in the annals of political scandal. Standing near the car — drunk and bleeding — was her paramour, 65-year-old Wilbur Mills, the gravelly voiced chairman of the tax-writing U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and a man esteemed as a pillar of Bible Belt rectitude and respectability.
Mills said that Foxe — a divorced mother of 3 who lived in the same luxury apartment complex as he in Arlington, Virginia — was a “family friend and a social companion of his wife, Clarine.”
Mills was re-elected to his 19th term a month later. But after an alcohol-fueled appearance with the Argentine Firecracker in Boston, he was removed as Ways and Means chairman, and treated for alcoholism.
“With his career in tatters and citing exhaustion, he left office in 1977 and became an advocate for recovering alcoholics until his death in 1992.”
Arkansas Democratic Congressman Wilbur Mills and Fanne Foxe.
As for Foxe — renamed the “Tidal Basin Bombshell” — she soon earned more than 5 times the $400 a week she made at the Silver Slipper. She acted in low-budget films, and an off-Broadway show called “Women Behind Bars.”
She gave up stripping after a December 1974 arrest in Florida, for public indecency. She was cleared of the charge.
So what’s the Westport connection?
The Post story says:
The next year, she was living with her children in Westport, Conn., in an eight-bedroom, seven-bath manse called Tally-Ho that needed constant upkeep. The only stripping she was doing, she told a reporter, involved. paint.
After marrying contractor/businessman Daniel Montgomery in 1980, Foxe moved to Florida. She earned a BA in communications from the University of Tampa in 1995, and two master’s degrees — in marine science and business administration — from the University of South Florida.
Foxe — then known as Annabel Montgomery — died in Clearwater, Florida this month. She was 84.
(Click here for the full Washington Post obituary. Hat tip: Marc Selverstone)
Wendy Crowther helped create the Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve, at the site of the old Allen’s Clam House. She thought she knew everything about that amazing area.
But the other day on Google Maps, she saw a reference to “Chiller Island.”
That’s the tiny spit of land — not an island at all — near the tidal gates leading out to Compo Cove. There were once 3 small homes there. One was destroyed by a 1950s storm. The other 2 were demolished a few years ago, after being damaged beyond repair in another storm.
The area is now a pocket park. Should we call it Chiller Island Park?
If so, we’d need some history. If you know where the name came from — and when and why it fell out of use — click “Comments” below.
Christmas tree at the pocket park on “Chiller Island.” (Photo/Amy Schneider)
Of course, that’s not the only throwback name Google Maps uses in Westport. Some sections of the Post Road are still called “State Street.”
That was changed in the 1970s. Right around the time Sergey Brin and Larry Page — the founders of Google — were born.
Governor Lamont announced today that he is expanding eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine, based almost entirely on age.
Here are the age groups, and the date on which they can schedule an appointment:
Ages 55 to 64: March 1
Ages 45 to 54: March 22
Ages 35 to 44: April 12
Ages 16 to 34: May 3.
In addition, preK to grade 12 teachers and staff, and professional childcare providers, can receive the vaccine in March, at clinics set up especially for them.
Lamont said that this was the least complex and confusing scenario for vaccination, and one that would not exacerbate inequities in distribution. He said he is working with the state Department of Public Health to ensure that vaccines will go to people in the highest-risk communities.
Healthcare providers and medical first responders were included in the first group of recipients, followed by those 75 and over, and then 65 and over.
Not included in the rollout: people who underlying medical conditions, and those considered “essential workers” in other states, like transportation, grocery and agricultural workers.
Lamont’s decision drew a quick response from one “06880” reader. He says:
As a 33-year-old living with type 1 diabetes, I feel left out to dry after multiple reassurances from the governor about vaccination efforts for people with pre- existing conditions.
My timeline is in May, with the largest and youngest bracket. People need to ask why people with pre-existing conditions (who are at the most risk) are being delayed for arbitrary age brackets. Did the governor and his team just assume that most of these conditions will be “mostly” covered in the elderly age brackets?
People living with these conditions have put their lives on hold. Some of us were just told our lives don’t matter because of age.
For more information on Connecticut’s COVID vaccination plan — including how to schedule an appointment — click here.
I know you’ve been waiting for an “06880” link to President Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial.
Here it is: defense attorney Michael van der Veen grew up on Lamplight Lane, off Hillspoint Road near Old Mill Beach.
Michael van der Veen, in the 1978 Long Lots Junior High School yearbook, “Lion’s Clause.”
After Long Lots Junior High, he — like his siblings — headed to Choate Rosemary Hall. He graduated from the private school in 1981, then went on to Ohio Wesleyan University, Quinnipiac School of Law and Temple University School of Law.
At the end of yesterday’s Roundup item reminding commercial property owners that they are responsible for all snow and ice removal from their sidewalks, I noted that residential homeowners must do the same.
That’s true in Westport, Wisconsin — but not Westport, Connecticut. Homeowners only are off the hook.
Boat purchases have risen during the pandemic. There’s a wait list of more than 1,000 people — and they’re waiting up to 11 years for a slip at a town marina.
And those slip fees will rise in 2022.
Yesterday, the Board of Selectmen approved increases for boats in 4 categories. For examples, owners of boats 22 to 26 feet will pay $1,580, up from $1,505; boat owners of slips 35 to 40 feet will pay $3,099, up from $2,695.
There is no increase for slips less than 21 feet.
Ned Dimes Marina, at Compo Beach (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)
“When Caged Birds Sing” — a human rights teaching exhibition created by Westport artist Ann Weiner — has been acquired by MoCA Westport for its permanent collection. It is thte museum’s first such acquisition.
Weiner’s work features 8 life-size sculptures. They represent women’s rights activists who suffered and survived abuse because of their gender, and continue to advocate for the rights of others at risk.
The exhibition will be on view at MoCA Westport every 3 to 5 years. In between it will be loaned to other museums.
Click here to learn more about “When Caged Birds Sing.”
Ann Weiner, with one element of “When Caged Birds Sing.”
Roberta Seret is a United Nations NGO director and NYU film professor. Now the Westporter adds another title: author.
Her book “Gift of Diamonds” will be published February 23. She’s turned government secrets and stories from Romania into fiction, for a journey of self-discovery.
The history of Bucharest Jews forms the center of the story, which begins in 1960s Transylvania. “Gift of Diamons” reveals hidden secrets of how fascism led to communism — which formed the seeds of modern-day terrorism. Click here for more information.
It’s been nearly a year since Staples High School’s “We the People” team won the Northeast US championship, and finished 5th nationally, in the annual Center for Civic Education competition.
The event was virtual — not in Washington, DC, as in years past. But the joy and feeling of success was real.
This year’s team is ready to top that.
State competition — the first step on the road to the finals — begins Tuesday.
As usual, the “Citizen and the Constitution” contest is divided into 6 sections. Each group of students — all members of Suzanne Kammerman’s Advanced Placement Politics & Government class — tackles a different one.
This is not exactly “name the president and your 2 US senators.”
Here for example are 3 questions from Unit 4, asking how the values and principles embodied in the Constitution have shaped American institutions:
Should states be willing “‘to purchase’ what [James] Wilson called ‘federal liberty’ with ‘the necessary concession of their political sovereignty’”? Why or why not?
“On a single day in 1964, the [Supreme] Court in effect declared that almost all state governments were constitutionally defective! … Thus, a bloodless revolution occurred without a shot fired.” Do you agree or disagree with Akhil Reed Amar’s statement regarding the Supreme Court’s opinion in Reynolds v. Sims? Why or why not?
“The doctrine of the separation of powers was adopted by the Convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency, but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power.” How well has the Constitution’s design accomplished what Justice Brandeis described? Explain your position.
Click here — if you dare — for the other 5, and the equally probing subsets of questions.
To prepare, teacher/coach Suzanne Kammerman enlisted the help of some heavy hitters. Attorneys Andy Laskin and Jamie Dockray, former student Sam Laskin and CEO Manoj Wadhwani are honing the competitors’ presentation and oral delivery skills.
Volunteers help Staples students prepare for the 2021 “We the People” competition.
For one of the units — addressing a major freedom of speech case involving students and the internet, just accepted by the Supreme Court — Andy Laskin contacted an attorney involved. In a compelling session, he told the Staples teenagers how he is preparing to argue before the high court.
He’s ready for Justices Roberts, Sotomayor and the rest.
Now, 2 dozen Staples students are just as ready for their own “supreme” competition.
Renovations are coming along well at The Porch at Christie’s — the new breakfast/lunch/dinner-to-go (plus brunch, coffee, smoothies, baked goods and ice cream) spot that will build) upon a Cross Highway tradition dating back to 1926.
Owners Andrea and Bill Pecoriello — “proud Westporters since 1994” — already own Sweet P Bakery in Norwalk, providing job training and employment for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Sweet P will supply most of the baked treats for The Porch. Graduates of its programs will bake there, with 2 amazing pastry chefs. Additional Sweet P staff will work in front-of-house operations.
As the sign below notes, The Porch will open this spring — offering “local food, community and purpose.” Follow online, or on Facebook and Instagram (theporchatchristies; @sweetpbakeryct). For more information, email email@example.com.
There’s a new COVID vaccination site, not far away.
Harry Evans reports it opened this week at 110 High Ridge Road in Stamford (the Lord & Taylor parking lot). He called Wednesday to schedule an appointment, and I got one for the next day.
He was in and out yesterday in 20 minutes — including the 15-minute waiting time after the shot itself.
“Everything was easy and very efficiently run, and extremely easy to reach from Exit 35 on the Merritt,” he reports.
“When the word gets out it may be mobbed. But right now it is the only drive-through facility in Fairfield County.” Harry called Connecticut’s COVID assistance hotline: 877-918-2224.
Though Connecticut is one of the leading states in the nation in terms of percentages of vaccines administered, it is still available only to people over 75, healthcare personnel, medical first responders, and residents of long-term care facilities. The next phase will include people 65 to 74.
Today’s New York Times includes a story on Samuel Fisher — aka Brad Holiday — the 2007 Weston High School graduate/misogynistic dating coach arrested last month for his involvement in the January 6 insurrection at the US Captiol.
Investigators found a shotgun, machetes and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in his Chevy Tahoe
Despite plenty of information about Fisher/Holiday’s social media posts celebrating his role on the storming of the building — along with other videos “denigrating women (and guides on) how to defeat Communists, expose what he claimed were government pedophilia cabals, and properly wield a Glock.”
However, the Times story does not mention Weston. It says simply that he “grew up in New Jersey.” Click here for the full story.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Thanks!)