A bill that would have banned municipalities from imposing high fees that might restrict non-residents from using public beaches — and from barring out-of-towners in order to prevent the spread of COVID — will not come up for a vote in the state legislature.
Politicians are spending their time on 2 other controversial measures — zoning reform and affordable housing — instead. The deadline for moving bills out of committee is April 5.
Speaking of our Parks & Recreation … they say:
“It has been nice to see so many people out using our facilities as the weather has improved, including some people using the Longshore golf course as an open space for walking. As of Monday (March 29), it will be open for play, and no longer available for those not actively playing golf.
“Please keep in mind, even using the roadways through Longshore can be dangerous as errant golf balls can cause serious injury or damage. For your safety, we urge you to use other locations for getting outside.”
Even with social distancing, Longshore golf course is off limits. (Photo/Mary Sikorski)
Westport Country Playhouse’s popular “Script in Hand” series returns next month, with a virtual play reading of “Rent Control.” The Off-Broadway hit comedy tells the true story of a struggling-to-survive New York actor who invents a moneymaking scheme that (of course) backfires.
After premiering April 26 (7 p.m.), “Rent Control” is available on demand from April 27 through May 2.
Virtual tickets are available online, at 203-227-4177, or by email: email@example.com.
Earlier his week, Westport firefighters assisted the Westport Weston Health District and Department of Human Services by providing COVID vaccinations to homebound residents.
And … while delivering the vaccines, Fire Department members performed home safety inspections, including inspecting flammable substance storage, and checking and installing smoke and CO2 alarms.
Then yesterday morning, our firefighters helped Human Services by loading and unloading food boxes from the Connecticut Food Bank. 60 will be distributed to food-insecure households in Westport. Two more pick-ups are scheduled next month.
For more information on food resources, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-341-1050.
Kudos to all involved. It takes a village — and ours is a great one. (Hat tip: Jennifer Gallini Petrosinelli)
Firefighter Liz Ferguson helps with food distribution.
Yesterday, the Board of Selectman unanimously adopted this resolution:
WHEREAS, Asian-Pacific American communities are suffering acts of discrimination, hate crimes, and microaggressions, which have been exposed and heightened due to COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, anti-Asian rhetoric and sentiment is stigmatizing, tends to incite fear and xenophobia, and numerous Asian-Pacific Americans are experiencing increased racial profiling, hate incidents, and, in some cases, hate violence; and
WHEREAS, in an effort to bring attention to baseless and xenophobic actions, hate speech, and bias, and most particularly, those against the Asian American and Pacific Island community, the Town of Westport must demonstrate its support for neighbors, families and friends who are adversely affected and traumatized by these acts.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Westport Board of Selectmen emphatically denounces xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment. The Town of Westport joins municipalities, counties, and states across the country in affirming its commitment to the safety and well-being of Asian-Pacific Americans and in combating hate crimes targeting Asian-Pacific Americans; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Westport remains committed to condemning all manner of racism, stigmatization, hate speech, hate crimes, xenophobia, discrimination and violence. Protecting residents, business owners, workforce members, and victims of hate through supportive programs and policies that embrace inclusivity, diversity, civil discourse, and acceptance for all, remains at the forefront of our intentions as a community to combat hate and racial injustices.
After 38 years as founder and chair of the Susan Fund — where she oversaw raising and distributing nearly $2 million in scholarships to 285 Fairfield County students diagnosed with cancer — Ann Lloyd has stepped down from her role.
Incoming chair Jeff Booth’s first official act was to name Ann chairman emeritus.
That’s her second recent honor. Last month, the indefatigable Westporter was an “06880” Unsung Hero of the Week.
And speaking of sports: Dave Briggs is a great interviewer. (He should be: He spent more than 2 decades at Fox News, NBC Sports and CNN.) His Instagram Live sessions have become must-see viewing for ever-larger audiences.
It helps that he snags great guests.
Today’s is Jay Williams. The NBA analyst and ESPN radio host is — like Dave — a a Westport resident.
It’s live at 2 p.m. today (Thursday, March 25; @WestportMagazine). The 2 guys welcome your questions. Shoot!
The chain offers “wholesome, healthy food that not only tastes great, but makes you feel great.” Food is “carefully sourced … from farmers and purveyors we trust, guaranteeing all of our food is gluten-free and better for you.”
The menu includes make-your-own rice and quinoa-based meals, poké and other bowls, vegetable sides, and breakfast sandwiches, parfaits and oatmeal.
Little Beet would open that summer, I confidently said.
COVID and (perhaps) other issues intervened. The storefront sat empty. But now, work has begun.
Many “06880” readers know what a disc golf course looks like
Many others have seen one at Sherwood Island — even if they had no idea what it was.
Plenty of readers know both: that last week’s Photo Challenge offered an overhead view of one of the disc golf “holes,” at Connecticut’s first state park.
Janine Scotti’s image showed a basket with chains above it. When a “disc” (Frisbee is the trademarked name) hits the chains, it drops below. There are now over 8,000 courses, in 54 countries. (Click here for the photo.)
These readers knew one — or both — elements of last week’s Challenge: Rindy Higgins, Ellen Greenberg, Rich Stein, Chip Stephens, Clark Thiemann, Janet Amodio, Luke Garvey, Molly Alger, Wendy Crowther, Ralph Balducci, Brad French, Howard Potter, Laure Goldberg, Jalna Jaeger, Amy Schneider, Seth Braunstein, Janet Avon, Diane McCoy and Bruce Salvo.
Okay, sports fans: Here’s this week’s Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments.” below.
(Photo/John Videler Photography)
FUN FACT 1: The name “Frisbie” comes from the Bridgeport-based Frisbie Pie Company. In the 1950s they supplied pies to Yale University, where students started the fad of tossing empty pie tins stamped with the company’s logo.
FUN FACT 2: Staples High School had one of the first “Ultimate Frisbee” teams in the nation. Click here for details.
“I am the mother of a seventh grader at Coleytown Middle School. Unfortunately I have developed a secondary cancer as a result of my original treatment, and will need a bone marrow transplant. If you are willing and able please register as a donor (click here). Most of the time it’s just like donating blood and not painful at all. Bonus if you are 18-44!”
The more matches, the more chances someone like Amy can be helped. (Hat tip: Frank Rosen)
You can celebrate with Charlie Heath. The Staples High School Class of 1987 graduate was in the 1994 horror classic “Leprechaun 2.” It runs all day — with the other “Leprechaun” films — on the Syfy network. (Hat tip: Rich Stein)
Registration for Westport Parks & Recreation spring and summer programs begins online on March 22 (9 a.m.). Click here for all offerings, including sports, Camp Compo and RECing Crew. Click here to register.
The Parks & Rec office remains closed to the public. Staff is available via email (email@example.com), phone (203-341-5152 weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and mail (260 Compo Road South, Westport, CT 06880).
For registration, check your online account tnow. Log in, then click “Manage Family Members” on the bottom right. To view more details, click the name of a specific family member. Make any changes, then hit “save.” For address changes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you cannot log into your online account, do not create another profile. Email email@example.com, or call 203-341-5152.
Despite the new COVID world, spring and early summer of 2020 were exciting times for Emily Clare and Jon Cafasso.
The Westport couple were expecting their first child.
Emily Clare Cafasso, last spring.
Emily Clare had an uneventful pregnancy. They worked at home, in sweatpants. She’s in wealth management; he’s in finance for a global supply chain firm.
She was fit. At Staples High School (Class of 2000), Emily Fenn had been an All-American swimmer and Olympic trial qualifier. She went on to the University of Michigan, where she was a 2-time Division I All-American, and held 2 school records.
The baby’s heartbeat was good. There was plenty of movement.
But on July 1, Benjamin was stillborn.
Emily Clare and Jon tell their tale in gut-wrenching detail: The moment when she no longer felt a heartbeat. The drive to the hospital. Praying that the ultrasound will show life. Induced labor. Holding. then saying goodbye to their precious son. The knowledge that their lives had changed forever.
Talking about the loss of a child is one of society’s last taboos. Few people know what to say. Medical professionals don’t prepare parents for that possibility — even though, as Emily Clare notes, “8 million things” can go wrong from conception to delivery.
Jon and Emily Clare Cafasso hold Benjamin for the first — and last — time.
A devastating event like this can strain a marriage. It did that to the Cafassos, and tested their faith and strength.
But they had the support of “phenomenal” family and friends. That — and therapy, and virtual support groups — got them through those darkest days.
They mourned. They tried to moved forward.
And then one day, Emily Clare got the hospital bill.
“It was the height of my grief journey,” she recalls. “I had been fully prepared to pay for the delivery. But I hadn’t thought of this bill coming. It felt like a slap in the face — another reminder of everything that was supposed to be, and now wasn’t.”
A couple who lose a child lose every future milestone: first words, first toddling steps, first day of school. The hospital bill was one more devastating reminder of all the things the Cafassos would never experience.
Jon and Emily Clare will carry Benjamin’s name — tattooed on their arms — always.
Suddenly, Emily Clare wondered: What if we could take that moment away from another family in the future? It would not be a huge thing. But it would be important.
Her mother thought it was a great idea. When she told Jon, he embraced it too.
In the months since, Benjamin’s Gift has become a reality. The Cafassos earned 501 (c) 3 status as a non-profit public benefit corporation.
They created a comprehensive website, highlighting their story and information about stillbirth.
And they fundraised, starting with very generous friends and colleagues.
Now, Benjamin’s Gift will pay the hospital bill for stillbirths. It will still arrive. But parents can send it off to without even opening it. They’ll be spared one more reminder of their painful loss.
Three area hospitals — Stamford, Bridgeport and Yale New Haven — are including a letter from Emily Clare and Jon in the packet of materials they give to parents after losing a child. Emily Clare and Jon are contacting doctors and therapists too, to let them know of the service.
In a post-COVID world, they hope to organize an annual fundraiser. In the meantime, they spread the word however they can.
“There are a lot of great organizations out there,” Emily Clare notes. “This one is super-personal to us. And we think anyone with kids or grandchildren can relate to it.”
Nothing will ease her and Jon’s pain. But — one small step at a time — they are sparing others of one more reminder of how large a loss one tiny life can be.
(Click here for more information on Benjamin’s Gift. Click here for Emily Clare and Jon’s story about the day that changed their lives. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Instagram: @benjaminsgift. Checks can be sent to PO Box 368, Westport, CT 06881.)
Everyone says it, but last night — right in front of Joe’s Pizza — we had proof:
Westport’s gone nuts.
Six Staples High School students have earned Scholastic Connecticut Regional Arts Awards recognitions. The 98-year-old nationwide program includes a juried exhibition.
Congratulations to Silver Key winners Poppy Livingstone (painting) and Akira Maidique (digital art). Honorable Mention recipients include Kate Davitt and Nate Kolek (drawing and illustration), Matthew Genser (photography) and Alexandra Lam (painting).
Randy Herbertson replaces Dewey Loselle as chair of the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee. Loselle — former chief operations for the chair — resigned recently, after many years in the post.
Herbertson is president of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. He owns The Visual Brand, a design agency on Church Lane.
The DPIC is responsible for carrying out the Downtown Master Plan. Under Loselle, the group implemented streetscape improvements on Elm Street, new sidewalks and lights on Main Street, Veterans Green sidewalks and more.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe — who appointed Herbertson to the post — thanked Loselle for his long service.
Neighbors watched warily all winter, as activity began on 12 acres of land bordered by Clapboard Hill Road, Morningside Drive South and Turkey Hill Road South.
Stakes with pink strips appeared in the ground, and a new gravel path was built from Clapboard Hill.
Is one of the town’s last large tracts of private property being developed?
Plans are underway for several new homes. There are wetlands issues, and the Conservation Commission required those borders to be withdrawn. The permitting process with other town boards is still in the early stages too.
Meanwhile, another home nearby is being built on a separate property.
I usually avoid posting links to listicle stories: “50 Best Suburbs For Seniors!” “Top 500 Schools in America!”
They’re clickbait. Their methodology is dubious at best, and manipulable for their own demographics. Besides, if Staples High School is #1 in one poll, then #2 in the next, taxpayers get all their knickers in a twist.
But Coastal Living’s “Best Beach Towns: Dreamy Places to Live” issue is worth noting — if only for the writeup. It’s the way the world (or at least that portion of it that reads Coastal Living) sees us:
“You can’t imagine the volume of COVID refugees,” says Shari Lebowitz, citing the cheering sight of new families with baby strollers and slow-waling toddlers along the tidy sidewalks of this leafy enclave on Long Island Sound.”
The magazine says that Lebowitz — owner of Bespoke Designs — moved here for “a cultured little town that supported entrepreneurs. Westport, driven by small waterways with open space for wildlife, also has a charming stretch of tawny beach that serves as the town’s outdoor living room all summer long. (Dogs and their happy owners take over in the off season.)”
MoCA Westport is a “small contemporary art museum that punches well above its weight with arts education, performances, and world-class exhibitions.”
Lebowitz gets the last word: “I can make coffee and drive down to drink it on the beach every morning before work. What more could I want?” (Hat tips: Lisa Gold, Tom Feeley)
What better way to mark the 1-year anniversary of the COVID lockdown than with a horror show?
This Sunday (March 14, 6 p.m.), a worldwide audience can fire up the computer and listen to “Dracula.” Staples Players presents the 4th in their winter radio shows via livestream, at www.wsptfm.org.
Following 6 previous radio shows this pandemic year, “Dracula” promises to be another smash. It’s a great drama. Cast and crew have been hard at work perfecting timing, sound effects, and (of course) their Transylvanian accents.
Jamie Mann, David Corro and Violet Cooper have key roles. David Roth and Kerry Roth co-produce the show; Don Rickenback is music director, and Geno Heiter oversees the audio.
NOTE: If you missed the original broadcasts of 2 previous Players radio shows — “Little Women” and “Sorry, Wrong Number” — they’ll be on the WWPT-FM livestream the following Sunday, March 21 (6 p.m. and 7:10 p.m., respectively).
The cast and crew of “Dracula.” (Photo/Kerry Long)
Last night — for perhaps the first time in Wrecker swim team history — 3 siblings swam on the same relay team.
Justin (senior), Jason (sophomore) and Jared (freshman) Lessing joined Daniel Rosenkranz. The foursome placed 2nd in the 200 freestyle relay at the Senior Day meet against Danbury. Staples’ other relay team won that race; both helped the Wreckers to take the entire meet.
Coach Todd Gordon fulfilled the Lessings’ longtime dream of swimming on a high school relay squad together. He’s a former swimmer and pitcher at Harvard University. Justin plays both sports at Staples too. This was his first meet of the year, after suffering tendinitis in his pitching arm.
From left: Jason Lessing, Jared Lessing, Daniel Rosenkranz and Justin Lessing. Daniel and Justin are co-captains.
More Staples news: Congratulations to Students of the Month Moses Beary, Marley Brown, Gianna Amatuzzi, Camryn Zukowski, Sophie Hekmat, Quinn McMahon and Maggie Montoya.
The awardees — nominated by teachers — are students who help make Staples High School a welcoming place for peers and teachers. Principal Stafford Thomas calls them “the ‘glue’ of community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together.”
State Senator Will Haskell is the new chair of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee. He previously chaired the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee.
“For the last 2 years, I’ve kept a Metro-North timetable from 1970 on my desk in the Senate,” the 2014 Staples High School graduate says.
“Over the last 5 decades those trains have gotten slower, not faster. It’s time to reverse that trend by investing in green infrastructure, creating good-paying jobs and helping our constituents get where they need to go.”
State Senator Will Haskell, with a Metro-North train.
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