Category Archives: technology

Special “06880” Podcast: Wynston Browne

A year ago, “06880” introduced Wynston Browne to Westport.

He was a non-speaking autistic 15-year-old. But in the previous month — using a spelling board — he’d made stunning advances.

Suddenly, his parents Lynda and David realized, he was not only not intellectually disabled — he is very intelligent.

Very, very intelligent.

Wynston and Elisa Feinman, with his spelling board last year.

That was just the start. A year later — now using a QWERTY keyboard — Wynston continues to amaze. His goal is to become a neuroscientist.

Wynston’s story is remarkable. But don’t take my word for it.

See for yourself.

Today’s “06880” podcast is just 13 minutes — the shortest I’ve ever done.

Yet it may well be the most powerful, important and inspiring of all 62.

Wynston, his mother Lynda Kommel-Browne and trained communication partner Elisa Feinman joined me last week at the Westport Library.

I visited him at home a few days earlier. We chatted for nearly an hour.

Because of his motor control issues, typing is not easy. But every word was his. Watching them emerge on screen was profoundly moving.

The podcast shows him typing answers to the first couple of questions. Verso Studios producer David Bibbey edited the rest, for ease of viewing.

I hope you’ll take 13 minutes to watch the video below.

You won’t hear Wynston’s voice.

But you will never forget his words.

Roundup: Smoky Skies, Staples Baseball, Startup Westport …

As predicted, the Singapore-style haze that smothered Westport yesterday has started to lift.

But Paul Delano was out early this morning. He reports: “It was a hazy red sunrise — although you couldn’t even see the sun until about half an hour after it rose.”

Here’s some of what he saw, at Compo Beach …

… and Sherwood Mill Pond:

(Photos/Paul Delano)


Play ball!

The Staples High School baseball team shoots for their 3rd state championship in 7 years this Saturday. (And one year was lost to COVID).

The 21-5 Wreckers — seeded #3 in the “LL” (extra large schools) division — face next-door foes, and close rivals, 4th-ranked Fairfield Warde.

The first pitch on June 10 is 12 noon, at Palmer Field in Middletown.

Staples is 21-5 this year. But two of those losses came to the Mustangs. After a 5-4 win in April, the Wreckers fell to Warde 7-0 in their second regular season meeting in May. The Fairfielders took the FCIAC semifinal too, by a razor-thin 3-2 score, en route to a 6-1 championship victory over Westhill.

Can’t make it to Middletown? Click here for the livestream.

Fans of all ages will be cheering for the Staples baseball team — in person, and virtually — on Saturday.


A crowd of 150 theaded to La Plage Tuesday evening, for the first big Startup Westport meeting.

The public/private partnership hopes to make our town Westport a special suburban center of an ecosystem of tech people and investors.

Attendees called the networking meeting “energetic, creative and productive.”

Plans are underway for a special event September 14, at the Westport Library. Dan Bikel — tech lead at Meta — will take about AI.


From left: Startup Westport board members: Peter Propp, Cliff Sirlin, Jay Norris; 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker; board member Sam Hendel; Police Chief Foti Koskinas; board member Dan Bikel.


Westport Police report 2 custodial arrests, for the period of May 31-June 7.

One man was arrested for larceny and credit card fraud. An Instacart delivery person became suspicious after receiving several orders from BevMax, for a person sitting in a car in front of a house under construction very close to the store. Several high-order deliveries had been requested, using different credit cards.

Another man was arrested for larceny, identity theft and forgery, after a resident’s check was stolen, altered and deposited.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 4 citations
  • Failure to comply with state traffic regulations: 4
  • Failure to renew registration: 2
  • Following too closely: 1
  • Failure to yield right of way: 1
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 1.

Frequent orders from one liquor store led to an arrest.


Recent “06880” stories about the Westport Country Playhouse have elicited plenty of ideas for the future — and memories of the past. Nearly everyone in Westport has opinions about what’s right, and/or wrong, with one of our town’s artistic jewels.

But no matter where you stand, here’s a question: Who (or what) is that figure standing at the upper left, on the top of the Playhouse in the photo below?

Peter Hirst — a member of Staples Players back in the 1960s — noticed it. He assumes it was photoshopped in. But by whom? When? And why?

If you know, please click “Comments” below.

PS: I never noticed it before. Did you?


Club 203’s first year will end with a bang.

Westport’s social organization for adults with disabilities celebrates June 15 (6:30 to 8 p.m., Westport Library), with an end-of-year karaoke bash.

Along with singing and dancing, there’s dessert, and party art with MoCA.

The cost is $10 per person. Newcomers should click here, and follow the prompts.

Next on the Club 203 calendar: summer meet-ups. Details coming soon!


Two great kids’ activities are among the events this Sunday (June 11) at Blau House & Gardens’ “Last Lollapaloosa”:

Book reading and signing of “Pinkalicious: Fairy House” by author/ illustrator Victoria Kann: 11 a.m.; $15 per child (maximum 25 children). Each child received 2 Pinkalicious books; other activities include coloring, plant a bean to take home and watch grow; find the fairy houses in the garden.

Book reading and signing of “The Frog Who Wanted to See the Sea” by author/illustrator Guy Billout: 2:30 p.m.; $20 per child (maximum 20 children). Also: find a frog along the stream; plant a bean to take home and watch grow.

Blau House & Gardens is located at the end of Bayberry Ridge — a narrow, rutted road off Bayberry. The home — designed by theatrical stage set designer Ralph Alswang — is set between towering great oaks.

The grand gardens — by advertising executive Barry Blau — were created in response to the house. They incorporate native plants interspersed with a blend of exotics.

Other events on Saturday include:

Planting ceremony: Native rosebud trees; 9 a.m.; free (maximum 40 people)

Tour of Blau Gardens: 10 a.m.; $20 per person (maximum 36 people)

Gentle yoga with Millie: 1 p.m.; $20 per person (maximum 20 people)

Tour of Blau Gardens: 4:30 p.m.; $20 per person (maximum 36 people)

Garden reception: 6 to 8 p.m.; $75 per person (maximum 50 people). Help create a Blau House & Garden future.

Click here to register (deadline: June 5), and for information on payment and shuttle transportation from Coleytown Elementary School.

Just one part of Blau Gardens.


Friends of Sherwood Island State Park hold its annual meeting this Sunday (June 11, 4 p.m., main pavilion.

It’s a chance to meet our board, learn more about the non-profit, discuss plans to support the park, and say hello to new Supervisor Jeff Dery, his staff and interns.

Everyone is welcome, including prospective members. Entrance to the park is free for vehicles with Connecticut license plates.


James Naughton is a man of many talents, and passions.

The Tony Award-winning actor and Weston resident is finishing his run in “On Golden Pond” at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Ge’s very involved with Wildlife in Crisis.

And next Thursday (June 15, 11:30 a.m., Waveny Park main house, New Canaan) he will address the League of Voters there about his 6-year effort to get a Medical Aid in Dying law passed in Connecticut.

It’s come close — and approximately 75% of state residents support it. But it has still not been enacted.

Naughton’s advocacy honors the legacy of his wife Pamela. She died in 2013, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

James Naughton


Even the most passionate Westport sports fans probably did not notice that Luca Koleosho scored his first professional goal for Espanyol on Sunday, in their 3-3 draw with Almeria. At 18 years old, he’s the 3rd youngest player ever to score in La Liga, the Spanish soccer league that is one of the best in the world.

But Melissa Vallera sure did.

A former All-Region and Academic All-America soccer player at the University of Bridgeport, she’s Luca’s mom. She is also a physical therapist, who has spent many years working with Westport student-athletes, in a variety of sports. Her clients rave about her.

Luca was born in Trumbull. His family now lives in Greenwich. But he’s been playing in Europe since he was 11.

Luca’s father was a football running back at the University of Oklahoma.

Great genes — and a great accomplishment! (Hat tip: Vince Kelly)

Luca Koleosho


Former CBS radio and TV producer Tom Curley addressed the Westport Rotary Club at its Tuesday meeting. He discussed his sometimes chaotic personal experiences working with Lesley Stahl and Dan Rather (“a really nice guy” he said).

Now, after 10 years in retirement, he has created a TV studio in his basement. He produces humorous video programs called “Get Off My Lawn!” and “Media War Stories.”


Frederic Chiu is an internationally known pianist, and co-founder of Beechwood’s innovative Arts & Innovation series.

Turns out he’s also a superb nature photographer.

Here’s his submission for our daily “Westport … Naturally” series:

(Photo/Frederic Chiu)


And finally … Astrud Gilberto died on Monday. She was 83.

The first song she ever recorded — “The Girl From Ipanema” — was an international hit. It introduced Brazilian bossa nova to the US. And though she never replicated that success, she was a successful recording artist for decades. Click here for a full obituary.

(Sports, shows, gardens, cops — “06880” delivers it all, every day. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

[OPINION] Social Media: A Teenage Perspective

The Surgeon General’s report about social media’s effects on young people is may not surprise many adults.

But what do teenagers themselves think? I asked one.

Staples High School senior — and “06880” intern — Colin Morgeson writes:

Last Tuesday, the New York Times ran an article about the dangers of social media. Surgeon General Vivek Murphy issued a public warning, citing social media’s possible “harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

I mean, yeah, fair enough.

From my own experience, it’s the addictiveness of social media that’s truly the problem. As a regular Instagram user and a semi-frequent Twitter browser, I’ve spent hours on end scrolling through reels I don’t truly care about, and wading through endless seas of tweets about the latest controversies that don’t affect me in any way at all.

Of course these platforms don’t have any feature to remind you to stop browsing, so it’s easy to lose track of time.

Colin Morgeson checks his social media feed, in the Staples High School cafeteria.

The article also mentions the health detriments of social media use displacing sleep and exercise. While I think any technology is capable of distracting from more important activities, I often push my bedtime back (in small, “okay, this time is actually the last one” increments) to accommodate particularly interesting events unfolding on social media. (I will not remember anything about them in a week.)

The article also highlights social media’s destructive potential towards mental health, claiming “as social media use has risen, so have self-reports and clinical diagnoses among adolescents of anxiety and depression, along with emergency room visits for self-harm and suicidal ideation.”

It’s not difficult to see how social media can cause such negativity towards oneself. Online, people tend to present idealized versions of themselves and their lives, making the reality of one’s own life pale in comparison.

It’s amazing to see the contrast between idealization and reality: the accounts of many of the people I follow present over-exaggerated happiness and success, which I know is completely different from their real life experiences. It becomes clear how addiction and idealization can be a dangerous combination.

A 2022 study noted in the article points out a positive effect of social media. Social media allows young people to connect with others that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, allowing them to find communities and build connections.

Finding community, within the social media chaos.

In my experience, this is social media’s greatest strength. But I also believe social media’s ability to connect people is overstated. I’ve had online exchanges with others with similar interests, allowing me to learn new perspectives and the prevailing issues of the day in certain online communities. Movies, sports, music — everyone seems to have an opinion on everything.

However, I think these exchanges primarily serve someone’s own interest, rather than building genuine connections. Unless you truly commit to delving into the (often dangerous) world of regularly corresponding with strangers, at the end of the day the only “community” you’ll have built is a collection of familiar usernames and profiles.

Can social media be used for good? Absolutely.

For example, I use the “story” feature of Instagram to collect information for “06880 On The Go.”

Ultimately, I believe it’s a matter of spending time wisely — and remembering the value of real world experiences and connections.

Westport Tech Museum Welcomes (Virtually) The World

New York City boasts remarkable museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History and dozens more (including the Museum of Sex).

Hartford is known for the Wadsworth Atheneum; New Haven, the Peabody and Yale Center for British Art.

Westport has MoCA, and the Museum for History & Culture.

And now, the Westport Tech Museum.

You probably never heard of it. Unless you’re a family member of friend, you can’t get in.

But founder/curator Jay Babina has amassed — and displays, in an attic and online — an astonishing collection of over 400 computers, video games, calculators, cameras, radios and more.

That’s one fascinating fact.

Here’s another: Jay is just 17 years old.

The private school junior comes from a tech family. His father was into computers; his grandparents started radio station WMNR.

One day in 2018, in his dad’s 15-year-old car, Jay found a circa-2002 iPod. Then, in his basement, he discovered a box of old phones: a Palm Pilot, Treo, Startec and others.

He brought the box to his room. Months later, he put the objects on a shelf. To add context he researched their backgrounds, and added information cards about their designers, production and more.

As Jay added to his collection, he needed more space. The attic was perfect.

Now — even with added shelves — it’s almost too small. His 400-plus items fill most of the space.

A wide-angle view of Jay’s Tech Museum. Not all of it could fit in this photo.

Every day, Jay works on his museum. He does more research, writes new cards, finds new stuff. (Click here for a virtual tour.)

A great source is eBay. He goes to tag and estate sales, and the Elephant Trunk flea market in New Milford.

Westport residents donate objects too. One recently offered a rare Osborne 1 computer.

Jay’s personal favorites include a Commodore Amiga 1000 (his most expensive purchase — $825  — but “definitely worth it”); an original Macintosh, and (newly donated by his grandfather) a 1937 radio. “It’s a work of art,” Jay says.

The actual radio Jay’s relatives used, to listen to news after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

His wish list includes an Apple Lisa (“they’re expensive, and hard to find — all the listings are in places like Slovenia,” Jay says), and a Virtual Boy video game system.

Jay’s creativity is boundless. Here, he carefully recreates Steve Jobs’ iconic photo, with Apple’s ground-breaking Macintosh.

Jay’s museum is not open to the public. He doesn’t want random strangers walking through his parents’ house.

But the people who see it (spoiler alert: I’m a lucky one) are amazed.

Fortunately, the rest of the world can experience the Westport Tech Museum virtually (click here to enter). “Visitors” have come from as far as India, Malaysia and South Korea.

They marvel at his collection.

But they can only see its wonders — including a 1910 Edison light bulb that still shines; a 1905 crank telephone that still rings, and microphones and a 1940s-era television that once belonged to legendary voice actor Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Barney Rubble) — in cyberspace.

A still-working 1910 GE “Edison bulb,” and an early, pre-QWERTY keyboard typewriter.

They won’t get a personal tour, as I did. They can’t hear the excitement in Jay’s voice, as he describes each piece — and its back story — to me.

There are some things technology just can’t do.

But if it’s related to technology — particularly whatever was cutting-edge, whether in the early 1900s or early 2000s — it’s there in Jay’s attic.

He’s not sure what the future holds, for his museum or technology in general.

But perhaps a few years from now, Jay will find a way to display today’s amazing — but tomorrow’s ho-hum — ChatGPT.


Now, scroll down for a tour of a few highlights from Jay’s Westport Tech Museum.


This crank telephone from 1905 still rings.

This 1914 Victrola still plays music.

An early television (top) and microphones owned by Mel Blanc.

The “History of Audio” shelves display short-wave radio, a reel-to-reel tape, 8-tracks and much more …

… and continues with LPs and 45s, cassettes, mini-discs, Walkmen, a Watchman and iPods.

Atari 400 (1979): early personal computer with Pac-Man.

A 1981 Osborne 1 — the first commercially successful portable computer. It was donated to Jay’s Tech Museum by a Westporter.

The very popular Apple IIe (left), and the first commercially successful computer with a mouse: the 128K, introduced with great fanfare as the “Big Brother” Super Bowl commercial in 1984.

A 1984 Commodore 64 — the best-selling personal computer ever.

This Commodore Amiga 1000 (1985) is Jay’s favorite. 

Early Apple laptops.

Jay with a NeXT computer. The company was Steve Jobs’ venture after being forced out of Apple. It was a bit pricey, and sold only 50,000 units. But its graphical user interface was very influential.

An iMac: the first Apple product with a USB mouse (1998).

An Apple Cube (2000-2001) was a rare Steve Jobs failure. Priced incorrectly for its features, it sold only 150,000 units.

Descriptive cards and posters add information about many items. Jay writes every one himself.

Top: a 1992 “brick phone” and rotary phone. Bottom: pagers and beepers.

A collection of camcorders includes the JVC product used in 1985’s “Back to the Future.”

Jay’s museum includes “tech toys.” He also displays Cabbage Patch Kids (which saved Coleco — originally the Connecticut Leather Company — from bankruptcy after its video games were supplanted by home computers. Also, though not high-tech, on the 2nd shelf from the top: an original pie plate from Bridgeport’s Frisbie Co.

(Westport is filled with people doing amazing things. “06880” is proud to bring you their stories. Please click here to support our work.)

Pic Of The Day #2188

Ancient moon, modern cell tower near the police station (Photo/Nathan Greenbaum)

Westport Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

Do you recognize this Westport scene?

How about this one?

In February, I posted a story on the pros and cons of public beach access. It was objective, factual and clear.

Only at the end did I reveal that I did not write it.

It was generated entirely by ChatGPT, the chatbot launched in November that has electrified the world.

But artificial intelligence is not confined only to writing blog posts (or college essays, love letters and anything else anyone can think of).

Alert — and inquisitive — “06880” reader Paul Delano has been working with AI technologies. ChatGPT is not the only one.

DALL-E is another program developed by OpenAI. It can generate images from text descriptions. (The name pays homage to artist Salvador Dali, and animated character WALL-E.)

It is based on the same technology as OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model, which uses deep learning algorithms to generate text.

DALL-E is trained on a massive dataset of images and text descriptions, allowing it to generate original images based on a written prompt.

For example, given the phrase “an armchair in the shape of an avocado,” DALL-E can generate an image of just that.

“DALL-E is seen as a major advancement in the field of AI-generated images,” Paul says.

“It can create images that are both novel and highly specific to the text prompt provided. The technology has potential applications in fields such as graphic design, advertising, and medicine.”

And in creating fake — but very real-looking — images of Westport.

Just for fun, Paul typed “Westport, CT” in the DALL-E AI image generator. It gave him 4 options to choose from.

“I was amazed at how on the first pass it gave 4 different views that could all be in Westport,” he writes. (At least, I hope it was him and not ChatGPT.)

“They are completely made up, yet look like they could be from Compo Beach or the Saugatuck River in different seasons of the year.”

Here’s one more “photo” of Westport:

It looks so familiar.

And yet it so very, very fake.

(“06880” is not fake. We are very real — and we exist on very real reader support. Please click here to help. Thank you!)

Startup Westport: Public/Private Tech Partnership Launches Thursday

Stefano Pacifico founded Epistemic AI — a proprietary mapping technology that helps discover relationships between genes, diseases, pathways, drugs and biological functions — 5 years ago.

It was based in Westport — the town he’d lived in already for a couple of years — but his employees worked remotely.

Back then, that was a novel concept.

Today, it’s the way much of America — particularly tech companies like his — operate.

Now Pacifico wants more startups — many more — to do it too.

And with their headquarters right here in Westport.

Stefano Pacifico

He understands the attraction of a New York or Boston for a tech founder. But — based on his own experience — he knows the attraction of a town with amenities like great schools, a wonderful library, plenty of recreation and restaurants, and much more.

He pitched the idea — making Westport a special, suburban center of an ecosystem of tech people and investors — to Jen Tooker.

The 1st Selectwoman — who often calls our town “the best place to live, work and play” — was all in.

The result: a public/private partnership called “Startup Westport.”

Among the others working on the project: Dan Bikel, Sam Handel, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Gioel Molinari, Jay Norris, Peter Propp and Cliff Sirlin.

A kickoff event is this Thursday (March 16, 6 p.m.). The site is — appropriately — the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum, itself a hub of creativity and innovation.

Matt Gorin

Local infotech and biotech entrepreneurs — and anyone else interested — is invited. The program includes an introduction to the “Startup Westport” concept, and a 2023 tech business outlook by Westporter Matt Gorin, co-founder and general partner at Contour Ventures. Tooker will speak briefly.

Attendees will have a chance to meet other tech entrepreneurs, and find out what they’re doing here.

Pacifico notes that Startup Westport is not an investment vehicle, incubator or fund.

It’s also not a vehicle to learn about entrepreneurship. There are plenty of resources for that online — and at the Library.

And it’s not yet a “formal entity.”

What Startup Westport is, he says, is “a citizen-led organization to promote Westport as the most attractive place for start-up companies.”

Pacifico is not sure where the idea will go. That’s part of the reason for Thursday’s session: figuring out next steps.

But — like any good visionary — he’s already thinking ahead.

“My kids are 6, and almost 4,” he says. “They’re just starting in school. But wouldn’t it be phenomenal if, when they get to Staples, they have access to all kinds of tech startups, right here in Westport?

“I didn’t have that. It would have been amazing for me.”

(For more information on Startup Westport’s Thursday launch event, click here. For Startup Westport’s website, click here.)

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Roundup: Supper & Soul, Winslow AED, Grace Salmon Art …

The pedestrian struck by a motorist on Saturday night has died.

Matthew Balga of Norwalk succumbed at Norwalk Hospital, He was 54.

The Riverside Avenue crash, near the William F. Cribari Bridge, remains under investigation by Westport police, assisted by the Fairfield Accident Team.


Johnny Cash is coming to Westport.

Well, not exactly. The Man in Black has been dead nearly 20 years.

But Johnny Folsom 4 — a great tribute band — headlines the next “Supper & Soul” concert. It’s Saturday, May 13, at the Westport Library.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event is tons of fun.  For $85 a ticket, you get a 3-course dinner at one of 11 downtown restaurants, plus the show.

After the concert, show your ticket at any of the restaurants, and get happy hour pricing on drinks.

Participating restaurants include 190 Main, Arezzo, Basso, Capuli, Casa me, De Tapas, Don Memo, Nômade, Spotted Horse, Goji and Walrus Alley.

Click here for tickets, and more information. (Concert-only tickets are available too — they’re $35.

Johnny Cash was famous for playing in prisons. This may be his — well, his tribute band’s — first library gig.


Alert “06880” reader — and nearby Winslow Park neighbor — Dick Truitt writes:

“Just inside the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot entrance to the Winslow Park dog run is a box containing a defibrillator, placed there to help save people who suffer emergency heart issues.

“The box has gathered filth over the years. But the bin on top has been a sort of lifesaver itself to folks who might find they have lost small and sometimes critical items in the vast park.  It’s the informal “lost and found” headquarters.

“The other day it contained a pair of glasses, a right-hand glove, a tube of lip balm, a military-style dog tag, 3 key tags and, most importantly, 4 residential-style keys — all apparently from someone’s front door.

“A dog walker reported that there is a regular turnover of items in the bin. She noted, however, that no one has yet showed up with a brush and bottle of soap.”

Lost and found at Winslow Park. (Photo/Dick Truitt)


Meanwhile, over at Grace Salmon Park off Imperial Avenue, paintings have mysteriously been hung on trees and placed on benches.

It’s a mystery. Or course, this being Westport, it’s an artistic one.

Here’s the latest scene:

(Photo/Paul Delano)


Nick Diamond was a varsity soccer player at Staples High School. After graduating in 2004, he moved to Seattle.

Nick’s 3-year-old son Noah was recently diagnosed with Sanfilippo Syndrome. Known also as “childhood Alzheimer’s,” it is a rare and terminal disease.

With continued research and advocacy, a cure is possible. Nick and his wife Kristen organized Plunge for a Cure, o raise awareness and funds to support the fight against this disease.

Philip Halpert — Nick’s best friend from Staples — took the plunge yesterday at Compo Beach. His wife Carrie joined in.

Philip Halpert takes the plunge.

To learn more about the plunge — and contribute — click here. (David Halpert)


We seldom think about it, but nearly everything we rely on in our homes — clocks, speakers, kitchen equipment, even toys — contains silicon chips.

David Pogue thinks about it. And because CBS pays him to think about — and explain — things like this, chips were the focus of his story yesterday on “Sunday Morning.”

What makes his piece “06880”-worthy — besides the fact that he is our Westport neighbor — is that when he needed props (to smash with a hammer), he headed to our local Goodwill.

He found all the chip-stuffed stuff he needed. And spent a grand total of $9 on it.


“Westport … Naturally” has highlighted many types of living things. Today’s Compo Beach feature, though, is a first:

(Photo/Monica Buesser)


And finally … speaking of starfish on the beach:

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Roundup: Cell Tower, Tom Kiely, Dr. Winston Allen …

For nearly 9 years, the town and neighbors have battled over a cell tower proposed for 92 Greens Farms Road.

The 120-foot structure — on private property adjacent to I-95 — would address a gap in cell service coverage.

The battle is over. As reported first on Westport Journal, the Connecticut Siting Council recently approved the tower. As those decisions nearly always stand, the town will not appeal the decision.

A cell tower has been approved for 92 Greens Farms Road, the property on the left of the photo. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)


This week’s “Westport … What’s Happening” podcast takes a look behind the scenes at Town Hall.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker interviews Westport’s operations director Tom Kiely, about the many projects that he oversees.

To learn more about priorities and progress in this Y’s Men of Westport and Weston-sponsored podcast, click below.


Dr. Winston Allen — a Westporter, and the author of “I Pried Open Wall Street in 1962” — discusses that memoir, and his life as the first Black man to open a broker-dealer service — this Thursday (February 23, 7 p.m., Westport Museum for History & Culture; $5 suggested donation).

The event includes a Q-and-A session. Click here for more information.

Dr. Winston Allen


Another book talk: Westport author Paul Podolsky shares the challenges of “Raising a Thief,” his memoir of parenting an unusually difficult child, at the Westport Book Shop (March 9, 6:30 p.m.).

He and his wife adopted a baby girl who had been severely neglected as an infant. Their daughter, now in her early 20s, was ultimately diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder.

Paul Podolsky


Fairfield County Giving Day is February 23. But Wakeman Town Farm has their “Donate” button up and ready already.

They ask help for 3 programs. All support their commitment to outreach and inclusion, as WTF makes programs accessible to less advantaged groups by offering them at low — or no — cost.

The first is a project with the Connecticut Transitions Program. It offers services to students ages 18-21 with emotional and physical disabilities, ages 18-21, as they enter adulthood.

WTF provides opportunities to volunteer, gain work experience, and attend social events. Tasks include working in the gardens, gleaning produce, merchandising, setting up the weekly Farm stand, and selling and interfacing with the public.

A second partnership is with STAR: Lighting the Way, for people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities. WTF offers a popular weekly cooking class, along with outdoor experiences in the gardens and animal enclosures.

The third partnership is with Horizons, a national network of educational programs for disadvantaged students grades K-8 from surrounding urban areas.  Their summer curriculum is enhanced by weekly visits to the Farm, where some see a vegetable garden, farm animals, beehives, fruit trees or a working farm for the first time. Youngsters learn how vegetables are grown, retrieve warm eggs from nesting boxes, feed baby goats and pick fruits, berries and vegetables.

Click here to contribute to those 3 Wakeman Town Farm programs.

Wakeman Town Farm programs benefit on Fairfield County Giving Day.


The good/bad news: TAP Strength’s CPR/AED training session on March 11 is sold out.

The better news: They’ll offer a second session on Saturday, March 18 (3 to 5 p.m., 180 Post Road East.)

The cost is $50; $10 of each registration is donated to Westport EMS. For details, email, or call 203-292-9353.


Grammy Award-winning pianist Dave Kikoski headlines this Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (February 23; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399).

Kikoski emerged on the New York jazz scene in the 1980s and quickly established himself as a go-to performer working with top musicians. He is known for his adept post-bop style, and spontaneous swinging play. Chick Corea calls his playing “sparkling.”

Also sitting in on this week: bassist Yuriy Galkin, drummer Vinnie Sperazza and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

Reservations are highly recommended:

Dave Kikoski


Jonathan Prager is intrigued by the “super-ugly sign/signal affixed to a metal stake” that has been up for some months near the Compo Beach cannons.

He thinks it may be a storm warning device. Flipping up the lower section of the metal turns it from white to red.

But he’s not certain. I sure don’t know.

So, “06880” readers: What’s up down at the beach?

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo — and naturalist lesson — comes from Lou Weinberg.

The Westport Community Gardens director writes: “Chickadees nest in tree cavities. Their natural food sources consist mostly of insects. Insects love tree bark and dead wood. So, when possible, leave trees standing even when dead. Nature wins!”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)


And finally … Huey “Piano” Smith, a 1950s pioneer of Top 10 New Orleans R&B, died last week in Baton Rouge. He was 89.

He wrote and recorded — among many other songs — “Don’t You Just Know It,” “Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” (later covered by Johnny Rivers) and “Sea Cruise” (which was taken by his record company and given to a white singer, Frankie Ford).

For a full obituary — including other examples that forced Smith to pawn his piano and declare bankruptcy — click here.

(If you enjoy our daily Roundup — bringing together people, events, and random bits of Westport — please consider a contribution to “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)

Public Beach Access: A Deep Dive

The issue of public beach access has been a topic of debate in Connecticut for many years. Connecticut’s shoreline is home to many private beaches, which are often inaccessible to the public.

The debate over public beach access in Connecticut dates back to the 1800s, when wealthy landowners began to build homes along the state’s shoreline. In the early 20th century, public pressure led to the creation of several state and local parks, which provided public access to some beaches.

However, the issue of public beach access remained contentious, and in the 1960s and 1970s, several lawsuits were filed in an attempt to secure public access to private beaches. In 1971, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in the case of Matthews v. Bay Head Improvement Association that the public has a right to access the beach up to the mean high water mark. This ruling established the so-called “public trust doctrine,” which states that the state holds certain natural resources, including tidal waters and the shore, in trust for the public.

In 1975, members of Ned Coll’s Revitalization Corps demonstrated in Old Saybrook, for access to the beach. (Photo courtesy of Bob Adelman)

Despite this ruling, public beach access in Connecticut remains a contentious issue, and many private beach associations continue to limit access to their beaches. In recent years, there have been efforts to increase public beach access through legislation and legal action. In 2021, for example, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill that requires beach associations to allow the public to use their beaches in exchange for tax breaks.

Overall, the history of public beach access in Connecticut has been marked by conflict and controversy, but there have been some positive developments in recent years that have increased access to the state’s beautiful coastline.

Public beach access in Connecticut involves both pros and cons.


Equal access: Public beach access ensures that all people, regardless of income or social status, have the right to enjoy the state’s natural resources. This creates a more equitable and inclusive society, and allows everyone to enjoy the beauty and benefits of the state’s coastline.

Economic benefits: Public beach access can have positive economic impacts on local communities, as it can attract visitors, boost tourism, and support local businesses such as restaurants and hotels. This can result in increased revenue and employment opportunities.

Environmental protection: Public beach access can promote environmental protection and conservation, as it raises public awareness about the importance of preserving natural resources, such as beaches, dunes, and coastal habitats. This can encourage people to be more responsible and respectful towards the environment.

There is plenty of room at Compo Beach. But how crowded is “too” crowded? (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)


Cost: Providing public beach access can be costly for towns and cities, as it requires investment in infrastructure, maintenance, and staff. This can be a burden on local budgets, and may result in higher taxes or fees for residents.

Overcrowding: Public beach access can lead to overcrowding, especially during peak tourist season. This can result in congestion, traffic, and litter, which can negatively impact the environment and the quality of the beach experience.

Property rights: Some people argue that public beach access infringes on property rights of private beach owners, who have invested in maintaining and improving their beaches. They argue that it is unfair to force them to allow access to their beaches, which can result in security and liability issues.

Overall, public beach access in Connecticut can provide a range of benefits, but it also has some challenges and limitations. The debate over how to balance the interests of property owners, local communities, and the general public is ongoing, and requires careful consideration of the potential impacts and trade-offs involved.

Interesting, no? But I have a confession to make: I did not research or write this. Neither did an “06880” reader. Today’s post was generated entirely by ChatGPT, the chatbot launched in November that has electrified the world (and terrified educators).

My only involvement with today’s post was generating the questions for ChatGPT, selecting the photos, and writing the headline and this end note.

My takeaway: We have much more to fear from this new technology, than from opening our beaches to non-residents.