Mikey’s Way is a Fairfield-based foundation. Named for Mikey Friedman — whose brother Brian and family live in Westport — it helps youngsters cope with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses during treatment, by choosing an electronic device.
Mikey’s “Make-a-Wish” wish was simple, and generous: He wanted to go on a shopping spree for electronics, so he could give them to other kids.
Mikey’s Way supplies electronics to 80 or so hospitals across the country. You can help too. On September 10 (7 p.m.), they’re hosting an event at Fairfield’s Penfield Pavilion.
“Light the Night” includes food and drinks from local restaurants and breweries. They’ll set up their trucks or stations all around the area.
There will be memories of Mikey and his legacy, live music by Tangled Vine, and silent auction items. Click here for more information.
Rikki Gordon’s family has lived near Compo Beach for 4 generations.
Her grandparents bought a cottage in the early 1950s. Summers there — 6 family members crammed together, escaping New York City’s heat — were the happiest times of her life.
For the next 7 decades, she cherished that beach address — and the phone number that never changed.
After her parents died in 2008 and ’09, Rikki and her husband Allen Pack built a Nantucket-style home on the property. It was a new chapter, but a continuation of their beloved summer life. The phone number remained the same.
When COVID struck, Rikki — she’s a psychologist; he’s a psychiatrist — worked from Pacific Palisades, California. They rented out their Westport home.
When they returned this past June, Rikki was stunned at the tenant’s damage. Still, she consoled herself, they were all just “things.” They could be fixed.
Yet when she phoned Altice — Optimum’s parent company — to request a service appointment, they said she was calling from an unfamiliar number.
Rikki’s tenant had changed the phone number on her own, apparently as part of a promotion to get a lower rate than she was paying.
Realizing that her “227” number — actually, “CApital 7,” when that was the format — was gone devastated Rikki.
“That number belonged to my grandparents, my parents, my family,” she explains. It was part of her identity — and, of course, the way friends reached her. She started to cry.
Then she called Optimum, and was connected to a “wonderful, bright and thoughtful man named Mohamed.” Rikki told him about the damage to her home, but said the loss of her phone number meant far more.
“Mohamed understood the importance of family and history,” she says. He plunged right in.
Rikki Gordon’s “227” number dates back to these days.
For the next 3 hours, he wrote code to recreate her phone number. He enlisted a team of technology troubleshooters to help.
They — along with Mohamed’s expertise and dedication — worked a “small miracle.”
Throughout the ordeal, Rikki stayed in touch with Mohamed using neighbors Patricia McMahon and Matthew Levine’s landline.
Every 10 to 20 minutes he came on, with an update.
“Mohamed was not sure if this would work,” Rikki reports. “But I felt like he was a doctor doing delicate surgery, keeping me informed every step.
“This gentleman Mohamed was so kind, so dedicated to restoring my family’s link to friends and neighbors.”
After 3 “nail-biting, prayer-filled” hours, he had restored Rikki’s family history.
“He could have said, ‘sorry, the number is irretrievable.’ But he genuinely heard my distress, and devoted himself to helping. I cannot thank him enough. I want to acknowledge his work, and the fact that he cared about a stranger. Thank you, Mohamed!”
Done! Mohamed: You are our Unsung Heroes of the Week!
(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
If it’s a day that ends in “y,” it’s a good time for wine.
The Westport Woman’s Club plans a wine tasting for Friday, July 23 (6-8 p.m., 44 Imperial Avenue). Net proceeds benefit Staples High School scholarships, and grants to community organization. A portion of the wine orders at the event will be donated to the WWC, too. Door prizes are donated by Castle Wine and Gaetano Catering.
Tickets are $30 each. To order, and for more information, click here.
Gwen Goldman McLoughlin’s star turn as New York Yankees’ bat girl — 60 years after the team rejected the 10-year-old’s request — has gotten plenty of national media attention. “06880” covered the inspiring story on Sunday.
One of the best pieces was in yesterday’s New York Times.Click here to read. Then click below for a tweet that will have you smiling all day.
Whether you love the Yanks or hate them, you gotta admit: This is pure class.
At 10 years old, Gwen Goldman wrote a letter to the Yankees asking to be a bat girl.
Optimum will “dramatically reduce” upload speeds for new customers on July 12, according to published reports.
The Verge says that the cable company — owned by Altice — will slice some plans from 35 Mbps to 5 Mbps.
The change affects new customers serviced by Optimum’s non-fiber network. It will impact current subscribers only if they upgrade, downgrade or otherwise change their service. Download speeds should remain the same,
The change, Altice told The Verge, is to bring the plan “in line with other ISPs and aligned with the industry.” (Click here for the Verge story; click here for a longer story from Ars Technica. Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)
Concerts at the Levitt Pavilion is an Angus family tradition since they moved here in 1993. He grew up watching the Hall Family Band Night (and was part of Music for Children for a long time).
Some of Drew Angus’ most memorable Westport nights were with legends Nile Rodgers and Chic, John Fogerty, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and most recently Bruce Hornsby.
He remembers too when his grandmother brought panties to throw on stage for Tom Jones.
He’s seen great regional acts like Philly’s Low Cut Connie and Brooklyn’s Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. He enjoyed some of the country’s best blues and rock acts at Blues Views & BBQ. One of his all-time favorites was a Latin zydeco band from California, Incendio.
Drew long dreamed of playing on stage. He fulfilled that dream in 2018. It’s a stage I dreamt of playing as a kid and did for the first time in 2018
This Friday (July 2, 7:30 p.m.), Drew Angus is back. He’s joined by a 7-piece band, including Westport’s Russ Crain. They were fellow Class of 2007 Staples graduates.
They’ll play songs from Drew’s upcoming record, and familiar covers. It will be a special night for one of the Levitt’s favorite musicians — on both sides of the stage. (Click here for tickets, and more information.)
Last month’s Westport Fine Arts Festival was a cold washout.
Weston hopes for a better forecast for their own Fine Arts Festival. It’s July 17 and 18, on School Road.
The juried event includes over 100 artists working in painting, sculpture, jewelry, ceremics, wood and fine crafts, plus children’s activities, art demonstrations, musical guests and food trucks. Weston’s own Jose Feliciano performs live on Saturday.
Speaking of art: Sorelle Gallery’s next show is “Quiet Moments.” Works by contemporary coastal realist painter Daniel Pollera, and abstract artist Kelly Rossetti, are on display from July 10 through August 1.
A reception is set for July 10 (3 to 5 p.m.), in the Church Lane space. For more information, click here.
Yesterday’s “06880: The Podcast” upload featured Helen McAlinden. The CEO of Homes with Hope discussed homelessness and food insecurity in Fairfield County, with her well-known passion and trademark Irish brogue.
As it happens, she’s spending this week visiting relatives back home. She took time to send this photo of Westport — Westport, Ireland, that is.
Westport has taken a big step toward adding more bus shelters.
Last night the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-0, with 1 abstention, on a text amendment. It adopts a definition for “bus shelters,” and exempts them from being considered a “structure.” That removes many obstacles from where they can be located.
Transportation and employment advocates have pushed for more bus shelters for years. Before last night bus shelters were deemed to be structures, and could not be located within the 30-foot setback along roads.
Thus, except for one shelter near Stop & Shop, bus riders on the Post Road must stand in all kinds of weather, on sidewalks or even the roadway.
Approval for new bus shelter locations will be made by the director of Public Works, in consultation with the Police and Fire Departments.
Among the people working for years for this change are members of the ad hoc Bus Shelter Working Group (Pippa Bell Ader, Harold Bailey, Ross Burkhardt, Ron Corwin, Jennifer Johnson, Melissa Kane and Larry Weisman), plus Peter Boyd of Sustainable Westport, and Planning & Zoning director Mary Young.
Click here for full details of the text amendment.
Waiting for the bus. (Photos courtesy of Planning & Zoning Commission Bus Shelter Working Group)
Though the Westport Country Playhouse will not host any live productions this summer, the famed theater is opening up for special events.
They include cabaret performances tomorrow (Saturday, June 26, 8 p.m., with Tonya Pinkins and Brad Simmons, and another cabaret July 24); an in-person screening of the virtual production “Tiny House” (Tuesday, June 29), and more. (Click here for details.)
Playhouse managing director Michael Barker filmed a “welcome back” video. Click below to enjoy.
Longtime Westporter Herman Smith died June 17. He was 84
Herman lived in The Villages, Florida for nearly 20 years, but called Westport and Danbury home. He was the second of 4 generations of Westport residents, following his father who started a business in the 1940s.
Herman was educated in the Westport school system, from kindergarten through his graduation from Staples High School in 1955. He then attended the Engineering Institute of Bridgeport. He was also honorably discharged from the United States Air Force, and served in the National Guard.
Herman was in management at United Parcel Services, working in the South New England District for over 30 years. He retired in 1995.
Herman was an original member of the Gents, and a long time member of the African American Club at The Villages. He enjoyed his time with the Frogs and Flakes, and the ROMEOs with his neighbors on Lawson Loop.
He was also a collector of baseball hats, an avid golfer and a world traveler. He and his wife Mary Fran traveled to over 25 countries, and visited all 7 continents.
His favorite spots and activities included his gardens in Westport, boating on Candlewood Lake, golfing at the Villages, watching the ocean at Daytona Beach Shores and making memories at Disney with his family.
He was predeceased by his parents, John Herman and Jane Smith, and sister, Jane “Patsy” Smith. Herman is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Mary Frances; children Mark of The Villages, Florida; Susan of New Haven, and Scott (Jane) of Westport, CT), and grandchildren Brandon, Jacob and Joshua.
Herman’s family will celebrate his legacy by establishing a scholarship in his name to advance the education and talents of promising youth. In lieu of flowers, they ask for contributions to that scholarship once it is established. Donations may also be made to another charity that fittingly honors Herman’s kind spirit, generous soul and full life.
A memorial service is planned for July 10 (11 a.m., Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, The Villages, Florida). A celebration of Herman’s life will also be held in Connecticut in September.
The reopening of the Senior Center on July 1 is good news for hundreds of Westporters. For over 15 months they have missed the classes, lectures and social events that were so meaningful and fun.
It’s good news too for all those seniors who need help learning a new electronic device, figuring out how to Zoom, or otherwise coping with the digital world.
Before the pandemic, they got help in person from teenagers. A dozen Staples High School students were part of SMORES (Social Media Outreach Educators), a group started by Jake Motyl.
SMORES members and their “students,” at the Senior Center before the pandemic.
The coronavirus forced them all online. It was not easy teaching someone unfamiliar with a tablet or phone how to use it remotely, but both the teens and their “students” persevered.
Earlier this month, Jake graduated from Staples. This fall, he heads to the University of Southern California.
But SMORES is stronger than ever. The new leader is his sister, rising junior Caroline Motyl.
She’s been Jake’s vice president since freshman year. She shares his enthusiasm for helping older Westporters. In fact, it’s one of her passions.
“I’m pretty active in social justice — racism, sexism, environmentalism,” she says. “But people don’t usually talk about ageism. A lot of people look down on older people. They think they’re not in touch.”
Caroline admits that she’s sometimes guilty herself. “When my mom can’t post on Instagram, I’m like, ‘Come on!’ She says, ‘I didn’t grow up with this. You did.’ I’m trying really hard to prevent myself and others from being like that.”
Through SMORES, Caroline has learned to look at perspectives different from her own. “It’s so easy for me to use a cellphone. My generation does it so fast. We do everything fast. But that’s not the case for older generations. They do things more slowly.”
The importance of “non-digital natives” navigating the complex universe of devices, social media, printers and routers was driven home last Thanksgiving. Caroline helped a woman set up her iPad, so she could Zoom with family members.
“That’s such an important holiday. It meant so much to her to be together, even just on Zoom,” Caroline says.
She looks forward to helping, live, again. “I thought online school was hard. But trying to help someone use a phone while actually n the phone was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I couldn’t point to something, or touch the screen. But it’s so important for them to feel connected. Somehow we did it.”
In 8th grade science class, Caroline had to write detailed instructions on how she made a Lego structure. This year, she hopes to use that concept to create step-by-step instructions for some of the most frequently asked questions.
“So many other countries treat older people with the utmost respect,” Caroline notes. “Our country does not treat them as we should.”
She and her fellow SMORES members are trying to change that. One cellphone, tablet and laptop at a time.
(For more information or help, text Caroline at 203-644-7749, or call the Senior Center: 203-341-5099.)
Some residents praised it as much-needed technology. Others feared it would ruin the view of our “gateway to the beach.”
After several months of hearings, comments and hand-wringing, the applicant — North Atlantic Towers — quietly dropped the proposal.
Now, Tarpon Towers II has retained All Points Technology. They’re evaluating a “wireless communications facility modification” at the same site: 92 Greens Farms Road. That’s on the south side, abutting I-95 and not far from Hillspoint Road.
The cell tower was — and is again — planned for the house on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)
The facility would include a 124-foot tall monopole tower with a new 35′ x 64′ gravel-based fenced equipment compound. An access drive and underground electrical and telephone service would extend from Greens Farms Road. The new tower and equipment compound would allow for multiple service providers to be located there in the future.
To comply with the National Historic Preservation Act, the public has until July 7 to submit written comments regarding any potential effects of the facility on historic properties. Send to: All-Points Technology Corporation; Attention: Jennifer Young Gaudet; 567 Vauxhall Street Extension, Suite 311, Waterford, CT 06285. The phone number is 860-663-1697 ext. 231; email is email@example.com.
A cell tower.
Although the proposed tower facility location is at a private residence, under state law the Connecticut Siting Council has exclusive jurisdiction over telecommunication facilities like this monopole.
Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission and other local land-use bodies have no jurisdiction over such a facility. If Tarpon Towers continues to seek this location for its proposed tower, the CSC will have oversight going forward.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe says, “As noted, we have dealt with this specific request once before. It is at the very preliminary stage of a larger process.
“Following the evaluation of the proposed tower facilities on historic properties, Tarpon Towers would be expected to file a petition with the CSC and seek consultation with the town. It is anticipated that the town attorney will seek to understand the necessity of the proposed tower facilities, as well as whether other sites may be available.
“Depending upon timing and procedure, eventually, there would be a public hearing on the matter. The town will make every reasonable effort to keep the public apprised of additional requests for input or revisions to the proposed plans.”
American oystercatchers — and many other birds — will do anything to protect their young. (Photo/Tina Green)
He unearthed some fascinating facts. For example, The Spruce says:
When drones are flown too close to rookeries or bird nests, the noise and unfamiliar presence of a drone could drive adult birds away. This can lead to neglect or abandonment of vulnerable eggs and chicks, reducing the breeding success of sensitive bird populations.
Some birds, particularly raptors, are very territorial about their nesting areas, and if drones are perceived to be a threat, the birds may attack the remote vehicles. This diverts the parent birds from caring for their hatchlings, foraging or otherwise tending to their own survival needs. Birds that attack drones could also be injured by moving blades or other parts of the equipment.
Birds that congregate on leks for courtship displays can be particularly sensitive to disturbances, and if a drone appears to be a flying predator, the birds may scatter prematurely. This can drastically impact their ability to find suitable mates, and if the lek is not revisited, it may take generations for birds to find and begin using another suitable site with the same success.
If a drone disturbs a foraging bird, the bird may abandon a good food source and be forced to seek less abundant or nutritious resources. This type of disruption can have a catastrophic impact on overall bird populations, as malnourished birds do not breed as successfully or raise as many healthy chicks.
Hold that drone!
Drones are banned from Connecticut Audubon Society sanctuaries. Click here for details.
Meanwhile, longtime Westporter Elaine Marino worries about the Saugatuck River “sludge” she sees lapping at the corner of Parker Harding Plaza, near the pedestrian bridge and “Starfish” sculpture behind Rye Ridge Deli.
Elaine says: “It appears to be composed of plant material (algae, grasses, reeds), oils of some type and some trash. I am concerned because I saw ducks swimming near the sludge.”
Parker Harding “sludge” (Photo/Elaine Marino)
“I would be happy to use a pool leaf skimmer net and try to remove as much as I can, if that is advisable. Do ‘06880’ readers have any thoughts? I want to make sure I do the right thing.”
If you’ve got ideas for Elaine, click “Comments” below. If the answer is “go for it,” she will!
Westporters know that this is a great community for music.
Now it’s official. The Westport Public Schools are officially a “Best Community for Music Education.” The designation comes from the NAMM Foundation — part of the National Association of Music Merchants.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because this is our 9th “Best Community” honor in a row.
The award is for school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. School officials answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs.
The schools benefit from partners like the Westport Library, Levitt Pavilion, PTAs, Westport Permanent Art Collections and Westport Arts Advisory Committee.
No word on whether there’s an official ceremony for the award. If so, there will be no shortage of entertainment.
Staples and middle school musicians work hard to put on good shows. (Photo/Inklings)
And speaking of the theater (again): The Westport Country Playhouse is still going strong. However, due to COVID, its 4 productions are online this year.
But the stage won’t be completely dark. Three cabaret performances will take place live. The special shows — music and comedy, with limited seating — are benefits for the storied theater.
On June 26, Brad Simmons and Tony Pinkins present Broadway favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.
Larry Owens’ “Sondheimia” (July 17) explores time, love and ambition through Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics.
Tony Award winner Ali Stroker shares songs from her repertoire on July 24.
Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday (May 14, noon). Click here for information and purchases.
Meanwhile, the Playhouse is partnering with the Connecticut Comedy Festival to present Michael Ian Black. The show is this Saturday (May 15, 7 p.m.) — and while it’s live, it’s outdoors. Attendees should bright chairs, to set up in the parking lot. Food will be available for purchase in the garden.
Black is remembered for the cult classic film “Wet Hot American Summer” and the Netflix series of the same name, as well as his work in the comedy troupe The State. Click here for tickets and more information.
The Westport Country Playhouse offers limited seating for this year’s cabarets.(Photo/Robert Benson)
Speaking of which: The Westport Garden Club’s plant sale is not the only place to ask questions.
This Monday (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), Wakeman Town Farm’s Pollinator Pathway talk offers a an opportunity to ask master gardeners: What to plant where? What’s eating my plants? How can I keep them happy?
Work on the Aquarion water tank opposite Staples High School is moving along. Earlier today, a huge concrete pour was captured by alert “06880” reader — who was probably stuck momentarily in traffic — Seth Schachter.
Staples High School Class of 2011 graduate (and swim team captain/musician) Margot Bruce is finishing up an MFA in cinema at San Francisco State University. Her thesis project is a film called “Harbor.” But she needs to raise $15,000 to make it.
Margot has launched an Indigogo campaign (click here). Click below for a short video, in which she explains the film’s intriguing themes.
Click below to see Margot’s first-year film. Filmed entirely underwater, it is a metaphor for grieving the loss of a loved one.
There’s a “For Lease” sign outside the old Post Road West building, near Wright Street.
But, Frank Rosen notes, the building is in disrepair. Paint is peeling; shingles are askew. It will take a lot more than a new tenant to bring back some of the beauty to this once-handsome mansion-turned-office.
There was a school bus accident yesterday, on Easton Road near Bayberry Lane. In the photo below, a small car was wedged under the far side of the bus.
Sandy Rothenberg says: “I have traveled this intersection for the past 35 years. It has become increasingly dangerous. The sight lines are very limited, and cars fly around the curve on Easton Road towards Westport. A very small sign indicates ‘slow curve.’ I hope this brings needed attention and improvements to this road.”
Speaking of the Library: One of the “star attractions” of the transformed space is Verso Studios. The state-of-the-art audio and broadcast studios can help anyone become a music, podcast, video or audiobook star.
Yesterday, the library launched a new Verso Studios website. Click here to watch and listen to a wide variety of recordings, podcasts and videos — and to find out how to use the studios yourself.
The Planning & Zoning Commission has granted a permit for a second floor addition, interior and exterior renovations, and site work for apartments for 4 special needs people, and another unit for an income-eligible staff member.
More approvals are needed. But this is good news for special needs individuals and their families. And it’s 5 more important affordable housing units for our town.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and former 2nd Selectman/Board of Finance chair Avi Kaner shared a stage last night.
The New York Board of Rabbis honored both men with Humanitarian Awards , for their work during the pandemic.
Dr. Fauci’s contributions are well known. Kaner’s may be less famous. But the co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets was cited for the work his family-owned business did during the pandemic.
Morton Williams stores never closed. Employees kept working; senior executives ensured that the supply chain continued.
The company became a lifeline to New York. They worked with the CDC to adjust trucking regulations so that truckers would be comfortable making deliveries. They were among the first in the nation to set aside special hours for seniors and immunocompromised customers; they lobbied aggressively for mask use, and ensured that supermarket workers were included in phase 1B of the state’s vaccinations.
Staples High School Class of 2019 graduate Anthony Salgado met Pierce Slutzky years ago, at Camp Laurel. Anthony says:
“Pierce was an amazing kid who was taken from us at age 17. He was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 14, and tirelessly fought medulloblastoma for 3 years.
“Pierce did not complain. He continued in high school, achieving an A average and making National Honor Society and Foreign Language Society.
“It is my honor to ask people to join in a CT Challenge bike ride to keep Pierce’s fight alive forever. I want to help those who are currently diagnosed, and those who may be diagnosed in the future.” Click here for the link.
And finally … Lloyd Price died last week in New Rochelle, from complications of diabetes. He was 88.
He had “Personality.” He had many other hits, including “Stagger Lee” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” He’s a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. He led quite a life inside and outside of music. Click here for a full obituary.
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