Category Archives: Transportation

Harder Parking

It’s 10 a.m., on a weekday.

Hoping to get an early start on shopping, you head downtown. You pull into the Parker Harding lot — but it’s already nearly full.

A great sign of Westport’s booming retail economy?

No. A distressing sign that employees are taking advantage of free all-day parking.

The decision during COVID to lift limits seemed wise. Many stores were closed, or on reduced hours. Why not make things easier on the folks we needed?

Now though — as the holiday season nears — parking needs have changed.

Parker Harding Plaza

A longtime (and very frustrated) Westporter writes: “All day long, the cars just sit there. There’s no room for anyone except the employees. Why can’t they park in other lots and walk a couple of blocks, like they used to?”

Why can’t shoppers do the same? you may ask.

The answer is: Because we’re supposed to make shopping attractive and easy.

The nickname for Parker Harder is “Harder Parking.” Seems like downtown employees — and their employers — make it even more so.

Eyesore Gets Facelift

It’s one of the first things you see entering Westport — getting off Merritt Parkway Exit 42, anyway.

It’s bad enough that the island at the Weston Road/Easton Road/Main Street intersection sends traffic in several confusing directions.

But ever since the demise of Daybreak Nursery it’s been a weed-filled, sign-covered mess.

Longtime Westporter Larry Perlstein decides to do something. Connecticut’s Department of Transportation allows islands to be adopted by companies for upkeep (many in Westport already are). He contacted DOT, to start the process.

Perlstein says it took 6 months of nagging — along with a poke by State Representative Jonathan Steinberg — to get action.

Finally, Northeast Horticultural is giving time (and plants) to maintain the island. They’ve done a first pass at cleanup and planting. They’ll do more this spring.

Weston Road/Easton Road traffic island looks a wee bit better. (Photo/Larry Perlstein)

Perlstein says, “This island is a gateway to Westport. Tons of traffic passes by. I remember what it looked like when it was well maintained, and I was embarrassed for the town it deteriorated so badly.”

Now, if we could only do something about signs for politicians, tag sales and sports sign-ups …

Roundup: Halloween Parade, Jeera Thai, Pickleball …

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In the winter of 2020. Jeff Manchester emailed “06880.” He was concerned about the “incredibly dumb placement” of a utility pole at the southwest corner of the Post Road West/Riverside Avenue intersection.  He sent this photo:

(Photo/Jeff Manchester)

Jeff warned: “It will surely result in a wedged tractor trailer at the intersection (trying to get back to I-95), or worse yet a fatality into the pole.”

There’s been no fatality yet. But yesterday, Jeff saw a bad accident right there. The pole leaned precariously against the building, as police and utility workers were figuring out what to do.

Moving forward, it’s a state road. The decision — to move the pole, or do something to the road — is in the Department of Transportation’s hands.

Don’t hold your breath.

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Get those costumes ready!

Westport’s annual Children’s Halloween Parade returns — after a year’s COVID absence — on Wednesday, October 27. Kids and parents meet on the Post Road at Main Street at 3:30 p.m.

The vent — for all children (“especially those 8 and under”) heads up Main Street, right on Avery Place, left on Myrtle Avenue, and ends at Town Hall and Veterans Green.

Children may trick or treat along Main Street, and in front of Town Hall. Entertainment, refreshments and a small gift will be provided n Veterans Green at 4 p.m.

The event is sponsored by Westport Parks and Recreation Department, the Downtown Merchants Association and Westport PAL.

Seen at a previous Halloween parade.

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Speaking of downtown: It has a new look.

On Saturday afternoon, 5 paintings were unveiled in the walkway to Bedford Square off Main Street. “Westport Illustrated” portrays the history — and future — of Westport.

The mural project is a collaboration between the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, David Adam Realty and Charter Realty & Development, with support from the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.

From right to left: Eric Chiang, “A Vibrant New Community Unfurls”; Iyaba Ibo Mandigo, “The Ground Beneath Their Feet”; Hernan Garcia, “The Tides of Change”‘ Jana Ireijo,. “Keeping Memories Alive”; Rebecca Ross (Westport) “Westport of the Future: Circa 2070.”

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Alert “06880” readers know that Jeera Thai is one of my favorite restaurants. The fresh ingredients, wonderful spices and special flavors — all lovingly prepared — make every meal a treat.

Now my go-to spot is open 7 days a week.

They’ve announced 3 new weekly specials, too:
• Prawn phat phong karee กุ้งผัดผงกระหรี่
• Basil fried rice ข้าวผัดกระเพาะกุ้ง
• Panang curry with chicken แพนงไก่

Jeera Thai — across from Design Within Reach, next to Finalmente — is easy to overlook. But you shouldn’t!

Jeera Thai, nestled in a small space off the Post Road.

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A “Roundup” item last week about the Westport Astronomical Society‘s observance of Observe the Moon Night impelled Paul Delano to head to the observatory on Bayberry Lane.

He reports: “Everyone was very friendly and knowledgeable. Quite a few people were checking out the view. It was a beautiful sky and great to use the telescopes to see the planets. It’s at the highest point in Westport, so it has a great view of the sky. That night the moon, Jupiter and Saturn were the brightest.

“I got a new camera and telephoto lens recently that I wanted to try out. They let me set up my tripod and camera. I was surprised I could see so much more than the naked eye.”

Paul sent along a couple of photos:

Westport Astronomical Observatory, and the moon. (Photo/Paul Delano)

Moon, from the observatory. (Photo/Paul Delano)

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The 2 pickleball courts at Compo Beach get plenty of action.

And when the pickleball players finish, they often hang around and chat. It’s a great sport — and a very social one.

The other day, the pickleballers outdid themselves. Here’s their feast:

To learn more about pickleball in Westport, email Tom Lowrie: tlowrie123@gmail.com.

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A first-ever International Market & Festival is set this Saturday (October 23, noon to 5 p.m.) at Lachat Town Farm in Weston.

It features include vendors representing various countries, cultural music and dance, and markets with food from countries like Italy, France, Kenya, Pakistan, Brazil, Peru, India, Japan, Romania and Mexico. Children will receive a “passport” they can fill up as they visit each exhibit.

Tickets are $20 per family. Click here for more information.

Westport celebrates jUNe Day. This Saturday, Weston hosts its own International & Festival. (Photo/Jeff Simon)

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Westport artist Kelly Rossetti is a featured artist at the Norwalk Art Space’s next exhibition (October 28 through December 2).

An opening reception on October 28 (6 to 9 p.m.) includes a DJ, dance performances, and the indie pop and folk duo East River. Click here for more information.

Kelly Rossetti

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is all about dogwood berries. Scott Smith writes:

“We all get festive celebrating the blossoming of our lovely native dogwood trees early each spring. But Cornus florida deserves a special shoutout this fall.

“The profusion of red berries is the most vibrant I can recall. Whether it’s the summer that just won’t quit or the autumn that can’t get started, I don’t know, but I’m enjoying it.

“So too are the many birds that flock to this windfall of nutrient-rich berries. Robins in particular squabble over the berry-laden dogwood in my yard, even though there’s more than enough to go around. Let’s hope the birds spread the seeds of these treats far and wide.”

(Photo/Scott Smith)

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And finally … Peter Tosh was born today in 1944. From 1963 to 1976 he, Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer were the heart of the reggae band the Wailers. He then became a successful solo artist. He was killed in 1987 during a home invasion, at age 42.

Pic Of The Day #1639

Saugatuck River scene (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Roundup: Supply Chain, Air-Cooled Autos, Entitled Cars …

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David Pogue’s “CBS Sunday Morning” reports are always entertaining — and informative. If you’re not a regular viewer — you should be.

Yesterday’s was particularly educational. It was also quite local.

Our Westport neighbor explained the supply chain crisis — why so many goods are not on shelves, despite gluts — with an opening and closing at the Southport Diner.

Owner Tony Pertesis explains — in clear, direct diner-speak exactly why his customers can’t always count on things as basic as Gatorade and whipped butter. Pogue adds the rest.

Bottom line: Toilet paper hoarding is back. Just in time for the holidays. Click below to see:

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Air-cooled cars stopped traffic along Myrtle Avenue yesterday. They vehicles were parked — and exhibited — on Veterans Green. Sponsored by the Small Car Company, the show raised money for Person-to-Person in Norwalk.

Westport-based Small Car Company — a club for air-cool aficionados — is loosely connected to the car dealership of the same name. It was located on Post Road West, diagonally across from Kings Highway Elementary School. Today we know it as Carvana.

Seen at Veteran’s Green. (Photo/Sarathi Roy)

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Speaking of cars downtown: “06880’s” Entitled Parking feature has very high standards. We now only post photos of cars that take up 3 spaces (or more). Two spots is waaaaay too common.

But today is an exception. This is a true “2-fer”: a pair of cars, each hogging two parkin spaces in the Baldwin lot.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Not too bad, you say?

Look at it this way. If everyone parked like that, the lot would have exactly half the capacity it does now.

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It’s always important to give blood. Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 12, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., VFW, 465 Riverside Avenue) you can donate in honor of a Westporter.

The Charley with a Y Foundation is sponsoring the event. “Charley” was Marine LCPL Charles Rochlin. The 2003 Staples High School graduate spent 7 months in Iraq. He was on leave in Westport when he died in an automobile accident.

Click here for an appointment (use sponsor code VFWWestport), or call 1-800-733-2767.

LCPL Charley Rochlin

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Genevieve Bouchard — owner of Scout & Molly’s, the women’s clothing boutique in Playhouse Square — recently lost her mother, Chantal Haskew.

At her death, the frequent Westport visitor and talented artist was one of the longest living liver transplant patients in the US. She lived one-third of her life because in 1995 a stranger donated organs. Thanks to her liver, Chantal enjoyed the weddings of her 5 children, and the joys of her 8 grandchildren.

In honor of her mom — and all the organ donors out there — Scout & Molly’s is hosting a special shopping day. This Thursday (October 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), a portion of all sales will be donated to Donate Life America.

Transplant recipients will be there, telling stories of their second chances at life.

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A few tickets remain for this Friday’s (October 15, Fairfield Theater Company) “Evening of Motown” benefit for CLASP Homes.

Band Central — “music with a purpose” — will perform America’s favorite hits. Proceeds support CLASP’s work. The Westport non-profit supports adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities, through group homes and enrichment programs.

$40 tickets include a pre-party with lite bites. Art by CLASP residents will be on display. Click here to purchase.

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Congratulations to the Westport Soccer Association’s U-11 blue team. They played 4 games in one day, and won the Bethel Columbus Day tournament.

Top row (left to right): head coach Bardhl Limani, James Tansley, Luke Shiel, John Walker, Peter Shakos, Lochlann Treanor, Nicolas Barreto, assistant coach Jeffery Holl, Bottom: Mason Holl, Atticus Lavergne, Andrew Floto, Matthew Alfaro, Zylan Wang.

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Nearly every holiday, “06880” runs a photo of Jolantha the Pig. For 20 years, the figure has sat — visibly and beloved — on Weston’s Kellogg Hill Road.

Of course, there’s a great back story. To learn more, click below:

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It’s juniper berry season. Peter Gold captured this shot on Old Road, for today’s “Westport … Naturally” series.

(Photo/Peter Gold)

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And finally … in honor of junipers:

 

[OPINION] Stop When You See The Flashing Lights!

Alert — and concerned — “06880” reader Liz Blasko writes:

On Tuesday morning I was standing on the corner waiting for the school bus with my granddaughter, 4 other children and 3 other adults.

We watched the bus approach down the hill on the right as it does every morning, flashing its red lights before it stopped.

Suddenly a car came around the corner from the other direction. making no attempt to stop. The children moved toward the bus, but the car still kept coming.

I ran to it and screamed, ‘You have to stop!” Seeing me, the driver finally stopped. Her window was right next to the bus driver’s window.

The driver did not apologize. Instead she blamed the bus driver, saying, “She didn’t have the stop sign out!” The driver further excused herself, saying, “I was just trying to get out of the way.” She was trying to get past the stopped school bus, with its flashing red lights, before the driver put the stop sign out.

I was aghast that anyone could think that way. Was she thinking about her own children, or the toddler in her back seat when she tried to speed between the stopped school bus with flashing red lights and the group of elementary school children beginning to cross the road to their bus?

I don’t think so. She was thinking about her own agenda.

As a reminder to all drivers, Connecticut law:

Requires a driver meeting or overtaking any school bus from either direction to stop 10 feet before reaching the school bus when the flashing red lights are actuated. Drivers may proceed when the bus resumes moving or the lights are turned off. (Violators are subject to a $450 fine.)

I spoke with the bus driver this morning. She was shaken by the incident. At least 2 equally frightening incidents have occurred since the one I experienced, the driver told me. A high schooler was crossing to reach the bus and was almost hit. In another instance, the police caught a driver passing a stopped school bus and hopefully imposed the $450 fine…all 3 in one day!

My granddaughter, her friends at the bus stop, your children and the children of the driver of the car who passed the bus are too precious. STOP when you see the flashing lights!

No matter who is crossing — children or deer — STOP when you see the school bus’ flashing lights. (Photo/Paul Delano)

Roundup: Bagelfest, Bobcat, LGBTQ …

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Yesterday, “06880” reported that Adam Goldberg’s pop-up bagel store — the one behind Cycle Dynamics that draws dozens of devoted customers every Saturday — was entering the Brooklyn Bagelfest contest.

Sure, Westporters love them. But — as the only out-of-state entrant in the bunch — Adam was sure that others had a home borough advantage.

Well whaddayouknow: The boys from the ‘burbs won it all!

Congratulations to Adam. Now all of New York knows whose bagels are the best.

And it ain’t theirs.

Da winners!

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A reader writes:

“At the Y this morning, we were shocked to see a very big wild cat walk by on the paved path outside the fitness center. This is an area used frequently by children and adults. I called 911 because in my experience, coming from California, large wild cats are dangerous. They should not be seen in urban areas alongside humans, as this indicates a lack of fear or illness that is even more dangerous.

The big cat.

Animal control assistant Peter Reid responded by email. He wrote:

“That is a decent-sized bobcat, and he is certainly walking around like he owns the place!

“That YMCA property used to be a summer camp, and was mostly woods. Now they have developed almost all of it, and with reduced cover, animal sightings have increased. We had a bear move through that property on several occasions this past summer.

“I will talk to the YMCA about some signage. I know there was at least one previous sighting earlier this week.

“And I will add that area to my patrol route!”

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October 11 is National Coming Out Day.

To celebrate, Westport Pride is sponsoring a virtual panel discussion. From 7 to 8:30 p.m. that day, an “A team” of LGBTQ area residents will answer “When did you know?” They’ll tell their own personal stories of self-realization, acceptance and coming out.

Panelists include

  • John Dodig, former Staples High School principal
  • Zac Mathias, Weston High School senior and media influencer
  • Samantha Webster, Staples High graduate and former Staples Player
  • Luke Foreman, Staples grad and varsity tennis captain
  • Jen DeLoyd and Bethany Eppner, Westport parents
  • Kayla Iannetta, Staples teacher and founder of the Westport Public Schools’ Pride Coalition
  • Brian McGunagle, Westport parent and founder of Westport Pride.

Email westportctpride@gmail.com for a Zoom link.

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Yesterday’s Police Benevolent Association classic car show drew plenty of old-time autos — and throngs of admirers — to the train station.

Among beauties:

(Photo/Sarathi Roy)

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Halloween is all about dressing up. And what better place for a costume than the Westport Country Playhouse.

On the day before the holiday — October 30, noon to 4 p.m. — the historic theater hosts an outdoor family event. On tap: activities for kids, food trucks, a food drive for the community, beer tasting, scavenger hunt, raffle, and a costume parade (dogs welcome!).

Westport Country Playhouse (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

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One of last month’s Photo Challenges showed “Onyx Perpetual” — the sculpture by Sally Mttikow that stands near the Riverwalk downtown. It’s part of the Westport Public Art Collections.

It was also — as JC Martin’s image showed — overgrown with weeds and brush.

That’s been removed. Passersby can see the artwork as originally intended.

Except for one thing. As Werner Liepolt noted, it is now heavily damaged.

(Photo/Werner Liepolt)

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Spotted on Route 33:

“Maybe the driver works for Campbell’s Soups,” says photographer June Rose Whittaker.

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Today, “Westport … Naturally” heads to Sherwood Island State Park. Here are some pods in the dunes:

(Photo/Elena Naseruddin)

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And finally … in honor of Pop-up Bagels bagging the Brooklyn Bagelfest gold, this nugget says it all:

 

Pic Of The Day #1628

View from the Cribari Bridge (Photo/Rose Porosoff)

School Traffic Drives Residents Crazy

This was the scene Tuesday on Post Road West, at 3:30 p.m. Cars lined up from Burr Street to the light by Kings Highway North. It looked like Cape Cod on a summer Friday. Or Woodstock in 1969.

(Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

Dick Lowenstein thought it was remarkable enough to send to “06880.”

But anyone who passes by Kings Highway Elementary at the end of school — or any other one in Westport — knows it’s a daily occurrence.

Bus ridership is down. Personal transportation is way, way up.

“Is it because of parents’ fear of COVID?” Dick asks. “Or are there not enough bus drivers?”

It’s a great question.

So, “06880” readers: Have at it.

Do you drive your kids to school? If so, why? If not, why not?

What are the upsides — and downsides — to all these one-kid-per-car trips? Are there alternatives?

How long will it last? Any solutions? What can schools — and parents, and everyone else — do to ease the crunch?

Click “Comments” below. And please: Be objective and constructive!

Bedford Middle School traffic. (Photo/Adam Vengrow)

Roundup: Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Networking, No …

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Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s new book will not be released until tomorrow. But — based on pre-orders — Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic — is already a best-seller.

The book by the former FDA commissioner (and our Westport neighbor) describes how the coronavirus raced through our nation. Gottlieb had a front row seat: he was in regular contact with President Trump, key players in Congress, and the drug industry.

Meanwhile, new dangers lurk around every corner. Gottlieb addresses our preparations for the next virus. Are we ready?

Click here for more information, and to order his book.

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Connectalent is a Westport-founded firm that connects skilled employees with employers who value work/life balance.

They’re partnering with Indeed to sponsor a workshop and networking event for mothers — “Returning to Work with Confidence” — on October 5 (6:30 p.m., Westport Library).

Among the topics: positioning yourself for jobs, how to fill in any resume gaps, and helpful interviewing and networking tips.

There will be time to network — and enjoy light refreshments and cocktails. Click here to register.

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Miggs Burroughs spotted this sign in a car at the Trader Joe’s parking lot:

(Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

He adds one more “no”: “No education. Bidon?!”

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Speaking of cars: The longtime Sunoco station across from the Westport Country Playhouse is now a Shell.

Probably not much will change, besides the sign. Prices will no doubt be in line with every other gas station in town.

Except the Mobil next door. It’s one of the last actual “service” stations — as in, they do repairs too — in town.

But their prices are always $1 a gallon more than anywhere else.

The new Shell station. (Photo/Mark Mathias)

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September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. To raise awareness, Kings Highway Elementary School was filled recently with gold ribbons.Staff and students wore gold, and donated funds.

“KHS” means more than the school’s initials. You could also say: “Kind Hearts Shine.”

Staff members support Kings Highway School’s Childhood Cancer Awareness drive.

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Speaking of kids doing good: In August 2020, 10-year-old Suzuki violin students Isabella and Alexander Mariani — with help from their mom, Carole Chinn Mariani — created “Make Music Feed.” The small, socially distanced concert raised money for the Connecticut Food Bank. The young musicians are products of Westport’s Suzuki School of Music.

A year later — with food insecurity still rampant — Isabella and Alexander once again gathered friends. On Saturday, a second concert was held on the Marianis’ front lawn. The beneficiary was Connecticut Foodshare.

Joel Pitkin accompanied his children Mia and Noah Jung-Pitkin, and Grant Zimmerman.

A special guest was Staples High School sophomore Janna Moore. She was Alexander’s “Practice Buddies” partner. The program pairs Staples musicians with 5th grade orchestra students.

Contributions are still being accepted. Click here to help.

Suzuki concert musicians (from left): Alexander Mariani, Noah Jung-Pitkin, Isabella Mariani, Mia Jung-Pitkin, Grant Zimmerman, James McNamara, Julie McNamara and Janna Moore.(Photo: Carole Chinn Mariani)

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Quietly — just like an electric vehicle — the EV Club of CT is getting pumped for National Drive Electric Week. (It’s September 25 through October 3, if you’re celebrating.)

A Green Wheels EV Parade and Showcase is set for Saturday, October 2 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

The parade begins at the Westport train station, and ends at Bob’s plaza lot in Fairfield.

For details and registration, click here.

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When COVID canceled Emory University’s varsity soccer season last fall, former Staples High School captain Josh Berman decided to stay on for one more semester. He will graduate this winter.

His team is glad he did. Berman scored with just 14 seconds remaining Saturday night, lifting the Eagles to a 1- victory over the University of Lynchburg.

After playing a great match as a defender, Berman raced up the left side on the attack. then blasted a shot past the diving Hornet keeper. It was his first goal of the season.

It was as exciting as it sounds. Click here, then scroll down for the video.

Josh Berman

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They’re not quite Canada goose-level obnoxious. But — when they steal your food and poop on your head, seagulls can be pretty annoying.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows them in a different, um, light.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … the Harvest Moon rose last night. It’s called that because its bright early evening light was very helpful to farmers harvesting late summer crops.

Of course you know what that means for today’s song …