Category Archives: Weston

Roundup: Smoke & Neon, Fencing Team, Lash Studio …

There’s a new smoke shop in town.

Mohegan has moved into the mini-strip mall near Stanton Miles, on Post Road East by the Southport border.

Alert “06880” reader Stacie Curran noticed — particularly, the lights.

(Photo/Stacie Curran)

“I thought neon signs were prohibited in Westport,” she wrote.

I emailed my go-to at Town Hall: Planning & Zoning director Mary Young.

She was out of the office. But zoning official Laurie Montagna replied:

“Yes, we have a regulation that prohibits neon signs. 33-3.14 says, ‘Directly-illuminated gaseous signs, such as neon tube signs, that are visible from outside the building shall be prohibited.’

“Unfortunately, almost all signs installed today that look like neon, are actually LED signs.”

I’m no signage expert (or chemist). But if it looks like a duck …

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Tonight’s kickoff of a 3-part Westport Library series on cardiac health has been postponed, due to anticipated bad weather.

The session on coronary artery diseases planned for this evening (March 14) has been pushed back to March 22. The discussion on valvular heart disease planned for that date will be rescheduled. The atrial fibrillation talk is still set for April 17.

The cardiac series is curated by Andrew Wilk, and led by Dr. Robert Altbaum.

Andrew Wilk’s first session on heart disease will now begin on March 22.

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The Staples High School boys basketball took a huge step toward the state championship last night.

Ranked #7 in the CIAC Division II tournament, the Wreckers upset #2 Holy Cross-Waterbury 61-47, in the upstaters’ gym.

The quarterfinal win vaults the blue-and-whites into the state semis. They’ll meet #3 Fairfield Warde tomorrow (Wednesday, March 15), at a neutral site and time TBD.

The Mustangs defeated the Wreckers 51-44, in their regular season matchup earlier this year.

Staples was led by Chris Zajac and Cody Sale (16 points) each, Sam Clachko (11) and Charlie Honig (10).

The 2023 Staples High School boys basketball team.

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Staples’ boys basketball team has snagged all the headlines this winter.

But the school also fields a fencing team.

And not just any fencing team. A 2-time state champion one.

The Wreckers’ boys foil fencers defended their Connecticut crown last weekend.

And they’re only 2 years old.

In that time they’ve grown from 9 participants to over 20 male and female fencers. Beginners are welcome.

They practice 3 times a week, all year long. They’re coached by Westport resident Delphine DeVore, a world-ranked fencer. She’s a member of the Columbia University fencing team, and volunteers her time to work with Staples.

Club leaders, including founders and co-captains Max Peterbarg, PJ Loranger and Gleb Symonchoy are pursuing full recognition as a team sport. They hope to have enough fencers to field both boys and girls teams next year in foil, epee and saber — at both the varsity and junior varsity levesl.

For more information, check out the Instagram account: @staplesfencing.

From left: Coach Delphine DeVore, and team members Gleb Syomichev, PJ Loranger, Eric Wilson and Max Piterbarg

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Speaking still of sports:

TOPSoccer — a national program for youngsters in grades kindergarten through 8 with physical or learning disabilities — is coming soon.

Together with trained soccer coaches, each player is paired with a volunteer buddy to learn teamwork, soccer skills, and have fun.

Staples High School junior Daisy Fording and Weston High sophomore Cole Johnson are spearheading the effort.

Click here for information and registration. Questions? Email dkfording@gmail.com or Colerobertjohnson@icloud.com.

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Refined Lash Studio on Post Road East — across from Design Within Reach — is closing.

A note to clients from “Miss Vic” says: “It is with great hesitation that this chapter of my life must come to a close. I have decided to move back to the West Coast.

“I want to thank every person who ever booked with me, shared personal stories with me, and those who’ve been with me since the beginning. I hope to remain a part of your life even without a professional relationship.

“I will do my best to accommodate all schedules and send updates of my departure. I don’t have a definitive end date, I just wanted to give as much notice in advance possible.”

Sounds like it’s your “lash chance.”

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Today’s weather forecast forced the postponement of the Connecticut Appalachian Mountain Club’s presentation of “Exploring the Colombian Amazon” with Ida Lowe.

The new date is next Tuesday (March 21, 6:15 p.m., Saugatuck Congregational Church). Appetizers, pasta dinner, salads, drinks and desserts will be served. It’s $10 for members, $15 for non-members. For more information, email easasso7@icloud.com.

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This week’s “What’s Next in Weston” is part 1 of a 2-part program. 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor discusses  her town’s upcoming property revaluation , including how’s done, by whom, and how it leads to the mill rate used going forward.

The podcast (click below to listen) comes courtesy of the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

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Grammy nominee Paul Bollenback headlines this Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (March 16, shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399).

He’s joined by a hot rhythm section: Essiet Essiet on bass, Sylvia Cuenca on drums, and Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” on sax.

Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

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This serene “Westport … Naturally” scene from the bay at the mouth of the Saugatuck River was taken (naturally) before today’s weather.

(Photo/Dan Vener)

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And finally … in honor (?) of Westport’s newest store, and its bright lights:

(Whether it’s a new smoke shop or a lash store closing, “06880” has got our retail scene covered. Please click here to help support all that we do. Thank you!)

Roundup: Lyman Apartments, Milwaukee Bucks, Coffee & Food …

Supplies have been delivered. Now construction has begun on apartment buildings in Lyman, Ukraine. Work on 2 is already completed.

Lyman apartments.

Funds for building materials to shore up the structures — nearly demolished during 5 months of Russian occupation — came from $252,000 donated by Westporters to our sister city.

Work is being done by local contractors, hired by Ukraine Aid International. The non-profit was founded by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer.

At work in Lyman.

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The Milwaukee Bucks may not seem, at first glance, to be the 3rd most valued US sports franchise.

But if the reported 25% sale of the NBA team by co-owner — and Westporter — Marc Lasry goes through, at a valuation of $3.5 billion, it would be the 2nd-highest for an NBA team (behind the Phoenix Suns’ recent $4 billion), and 3rd overall (the Denver Broncos went for $4.65 billion in June).

Marc Lasry (right), after the Bucks won the NBA championship. (Screen shot photo/Fred Cantor)

Lasry and fellow hedge fund titan Wes Eden bought the Bucks for $550 million in 2014, from former US Senator Herb Kohl. They won the NBA championship in 2021. (Click here for the full story: Hat tips: Michael Catarevas, Chris Grimm and Fred Cantor)

Marc Lasry’s Beachside Avenue estate includes this full-size basketball court — including the Milwaukee Bucks’ slogan, “Fear the deer.”

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The Granola Bar has joined Nobu Restaurants.

Well, in a coffee partnership, anyway. Parent company TGB Hospital Group has partnered exclusively with Coffee of Grace, a Black woman-owned brand. It will be served — and sold by the bag — at The Granola Bar’s 5 locations, plus Old Mill Grocery & Deli.

Nobu is the only other group to offer a Coffee of Grace custom blend.

Coffee of Grace emphasizes environmental stewardship, and supports farmers (particularly female coffee growers) by sourcing directly from co-ops in Rwanda, Peru, Guatemala and Brazil.

All coffees are 100% arabica, specialty grade, organically grown, and ethically sourced from small lot coffee farmers through 100% Direct Trade business.

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Speaking of food:

Months after a “Coming Soon…” sign appeared at 793 Post Road East — the new retail/residential complex at the foot of Long Lots Road, behind Shearwater Coffee and Pizza Lyfe — Gallo Express is finally open.

The takeout and delivery-only store offers salads, pasta, pizze, panini, and plenty of full meals. Click here for a menu, and more details.

Screenshot from the Gallo Express website.

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Aspiring interns can apply now apply for the 2023 Joanne Woodward Internship Program at the Westport Country Playhouse. Interns work directly with senior staff in the areas of development, education, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Interns also attend weekly seminars with guest speakers including Playhouse staff, visiting designers and artists, commercial producers and more.

Due to the Playhouse’s shortened season, production internships are not available this year.

The program runs from May 27 through August 12. The stipend is $600 a week. The application deadline is March 17. For more information, click here

Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo), during his 1950 apprenticeship at the Westport Country Playhouse. Also in the photo: future film director Frank Perry (front row, left) and Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary (2nd row, 4th from left).

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Tonight’s Malloy Lecture in the Arts has been postponed, due to weather.

Artist/musician Richard Butler will now appear on Saturday, April 1 (7 p.m.), in conversation with Chris Frantz.

That’s the 3rd day of the 2nd annual VersoFest. The April 1 lineup for the music and media event now features Butler, Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club drummer (and Fairfield resident) Frantz, and legendary producer Steve Lillywhite, reuniting 3 rock icons who rose to international prominence in the late 1970s and 80s.

Butler was part of the Psychedelic Furs, one of London’s leading post-punk bands.

Lillywhite delivers his festival keynote — also a conversation with Frantz — on Saturday, April 1 at 1 pm.

The Spring 2023 Malloy Lecture in the Arts with Butler replaces the previously scheduled laser light show at VersoFest. It will be rescheduled.

The Malloy Lecture in the Arts is a gift from Westport artist Susan Malloy. The Westport Library created the lecture series in 2002 as a free, public discussion by an individual who has had a significant cultural influence. and whose work has enhanced understanding and appreciation of the arts.

Richard Butler

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Speaking of the Westport Library: it opens at noon today.

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Also postponed: tonight’s FCIAC boys basketball semifinal. #4 Staples High School now takes on #1 Ridgefield tomorrow (Wednesday, March 1, Wilton High School). Tipoff is 7:15 p.m.

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The latest “What’s Next in Weston” podcast features part 2 of 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor’s interview with Public Safety communications director Larry Roberts.

They discuss the cost and coverage of the statewide emergency communications system, and how it will benefit town residents.

The podcast is produced by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

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Guitar master Bob DeVos kicks off March  in Westport with a blend of originals and masterpieces, at this Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (March 2, shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399).

He’ll be joined by Organ Trio bandmates Dan Kostelnik and Steve Johns, plus Greg “Jazz Rabbi” Wall  on saxophone.

Recommendations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

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Naturally, today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature features snow.

The first of 2023 made this intriguing mark on Nancy Axthelm’s back yard:

(Photo/Nancy Axthelm)

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And finally … It was the perfect snowfall, in fact.

Just enough to be pretty. Not enough to be onerous. No wind, drifts or bone-chilling temperatures.

So although the weather outside is far from frightful, it’s about time to let this song rip:

 (Take a break from shoveling. Sit by the fire. Have some hot chocolate. And please, consider a donation to “06880.” Click here — thank you!)

 

Roundup: Super Bowl, Ukraine Fur Coats, Moon Telescope …

Westport was not represented on the field, at last night’s Super Bowl.

But our neighbor Christian Siriano was part of the action. At least, part of one of the multimillion-dollar ads.

The fashion designer — whose Collective West store is a popular Post Road East destination — was there in the front row, in a “Clueless”-themed Rakuten advertisement with Alicia Silverstone.

(Screenshot and hat tip/Dave Briggs)

There must have been other “06880”/Super Bowl connections. If you know of any, click “Comments” below.

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Speaking of the Super Bowl: On Saturday residents flocked to Stop & Shop, stocking up for the big game.

Many paused at both entrances. Members of the Sunrise Rotary Club, Westport Police Department, Westport Police Athletic League and Representative Town Meeting were there to collect non-perishable items.

From a couple of cans to a few full shopping carts, generous Westporters reaped rewards for 2 great causes: Homes with Hope, and our Department of Human Services food pantries. (Hat tip: Andrew Colabella)

Westport Police Department officials and others, with food at the Gillespie Center. Rear, from left: Officers Sean Doyle and David Lovallo, Chief Foti Koskinas, RTM member Andrew Colabella, Officers Scott Thompson and Dominique Carr. Front: unidentified, and Anna Rycenga of the Westport PAL.

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Not everyone who wanted to, could make it to the coat-and-more collection drive for Ukraine, at the last 2 Westport Farmers’ Markets.

Organizer Mark Yurkiw said he’d accept donations at his home.

Yesterday, he welcomed a big one. Several Rowayton residents showed up in 5  cars. All were completely filled with clothes and other gear — including fur coats. It took an oversized van to truck it all to Redding, where it will be crated and shipped overseas.

The Rowayton folks said they felt powerless to help — until they heard of the coat drive. They asked what else they could bring, and do.

Mark continues to accept donations. Email mark.think3d@gmail.com for details.

From Rowayton to Ukraine, with live. Artist Mark Yurkiw created the Ukrainian symbol on his garage door.

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The next community trash pick-up takes place this Sunday (February 19, 11 a.m.) at the Westport train station.

The meeting place is the lower level parking lot on the New York-bound side, next to Luciano Park (near the EV chargers).

All volunteers are welcome. Bring trash bags, gloves and boots, and dress warmly.

Questions? Email acolabellartm4@gmail.com.

A previous trash pick-up, on Greens Farms Road.

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The Westport Astronomical Society’s 25 Obsession telescope has been a workhorse for over 30 years.

But it’s a beast — and very difficult to set up and take on the road. With great attendance at their public nights, the WAS needs another instrument.

It’s got to be powerful — but light enough to pack it up and set it outside, for sidewalk astronomy.

They’ve got their eyes set (ho ho) on a New Moon Telescope — 20″, with an f3.5 mirror and some cool add-ons.

For nearly a decade, they’ve fundraised on Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Giving Day. They’ll do it again on February 23. Their goal is $10,000.

The 24-hour online drive is a local competition. All tax-deductible contributions could help WAS win major prizes. Mark your calendar for February 23 — and bookmark your calendar here.

New Moon telescope.

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It’s hard to know who had a better time Saturday night, at the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s first-ever Winter Ball: the young girls, or their dads (or other loved ones) who escorted them.

A crowd of over 100 danced to a DJ, enjoyed refreshments, and visited a photo booth and nail painter.

Attendees also brought food items, and made other donations to Homes with Hope.

Jay and Sophia Skye Norris visit the photo booth, at the Y’s first Winter Ball.

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The other day, 12 Coleytown Middle School students participated in the Southwestern Connecticut “Mathcounts” competitions. Adan Wang, Adrianna Gavriloiu, Ayush Rudra and Owen Wood finished second. All 4 mathletes will represent the school at the state competition next month. 

Ayush, Owen and Adan finished #1, 7 and 11 respectively in the individual competition.

Other Coleytown competitors included Adrianna Gavriloiu, Akil Arvind, Anit Arvind, Zylan Wang, Luke Cooper, Ulysses Nixon, Alex Liakh, Justin Jendrock and Luci Trinchi.

Congratulations to all!

Joining the competition host and Coleytown Middle School Math Club coach Archi Rudra are (from left) Adan Wang, Ayush Rudra, Owen Wood and Adrianna Gavriloiu.

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Marcello Deaguero is a noted local DJ for schools, charities, parties, bar and bat mitzvahs — and the instructor for the popular “Dance with Marcello.”

He recently relocated his class to a new studio. It’s in the back of the Dance Collective building (222 Post Road West).

Marcello is celebrating the move with free classes throughout the month. Everyone — from people who know him through his DJ work, to newcomers looking for a good dance or fitness class — is welcome for free, all month long.

Click here for more information.

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Today is the 47th anniversary of Dorothy Hamill’s near-perfect, gold medal-winning, ice skating performance at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

The Greenwich native became an international superstar. In 1993, an AP poll ranked her and Mary Lou Retton as the most popular athletes in America, far ahead of people like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana and Nolan Ryan.

Today, Greenwich’s town-owned rink is named for Dorothy Hamill.

But in 1976, Westport took pride in her accomplishments too. As a youngster, she frequently skated on Round Pond, off Compo Road South — just opposite the entrance to Longshore, where her relatives lived.

Click here for more on Dorothy Hamill, thanks to “Today in Connecticut History.”

Dorothy Hamill, in 1976.

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Last week John Hamilton and Fiona Wilkes of Liberation Programs — a Bridgeport-based nonprofit that provides support to people with substance use disorders — addressed the Westport Rotary Club.

Liberation president and CEO Hamilton noted that fentanyl has surpassed heroin and other opiates as a leading cause of drug overdoses. With 100,000 overdoses per year nationally, the need for recovery programs has increased dramatically. But only 1 out of 10 people who qualify for treatment reaches out and accepts it.

Wilkes — the director of development and communications — said that all households should have the opiate overdose treatment Narcan in their medicine cabinets.

John Hamilton of Liberation Programs, at the Westport Rotary Club. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)

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Today’s “What’s Next in Weston” podcast features 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor’s interview with the town’s public safety communications director, Larry Roberts.

It’s the first in a 2-part discussion of the Connecticut Land Mobile Radio Network, the statewide emergency communications system that will provide important coverage for area towns.

Click below to listen. The podcast is a service of the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

Weston’s Jolantha gets ready to pig out.

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

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At Christmastime, there are only 7 swans a-swimming.

The other day, “Westport … Naturally” photographer Rick Benson counted more at Sherwood Mill Pond.

He did not see 6 (Canada) geese a-laying. Happily, there was not even one.

(Photo/Rick Benson)

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And finally … Peter Tork was born today, in 1942.

The Monkees’ keyboardist and bass guitarist grew up in northeastern Connecticut; his father was an economics professor at the University of Connecticut. He was a member of the first-ever graduating class at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs.

Tork — whose real last name was Thorkelson — had cousins who attended school in Westport.

He died in Mansfield, Connecticut in 2019, 10 years after being diagnosed with cancer.

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog — and a non-profit. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: FOIA, Blue Coupe, Dog Poop …

A WordPress issue prevented some subscribers from receiving “06880” from Friday afternoon through last night.

If you’re one of those who missed your more-than-daily dose of Westport life, my apologies (on behalf of my content management system).

To access everything you missed, go to http://www.06880.org, then scroll down. Enjoy — and thanks for your patience.

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In today’s “What’s Next in Weston” podcast, 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor addresses a serious situation involving the substantial abuse of FOIA by a Weston couple who have made numerous allegedly frivolous claims and requests from the Freedom of Information Commission regarding Weston Town government and the Board of Education.

The requests have been honored — at great taxpayer expense — but have shown no misdeed or mismanagement, Nestor says. The situation costs the town both volunteer time, and taxpayers’ money.

Nestor offers her view, and explains the town’s response. “What’s Next in Weston” is produced by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

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Music fans can hardly wait for VersoFest ’23.

Now they’ve got 3 weeks less to wait.

Blue Coupe — the supergroup formed by Alice Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway, and Blue Öyster Cult founders Joe and Albert Bouchard — headlines a Westport Library show on Friday, March 10 (7 p.m.).

Proceeds from the show benefit VersoFest. The music/multimedia and more event runs March 30 to April 2. It features live performances by Sunflower Bean, Amilia K Spicer and the Smithereens, plus programs and workshops featuring music luminaries, and people behind the scenes. Producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Rolling Stones, Talking Heads) offers the keynote address on April 1.

Sisters Tish and Snooky Bellomo of Manic Panic join Blue Coupe for the show. DJ B The T Sr. starts the night spinning the rock, R&B and blues music that influenced Alice Cooper and Blue Öyster Cult.

Dunaway — a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee — co-wrote Alice Cooper hits like “I’m 18” and “School’s Out.” Multi-instrumentalist Joe Bouchard — a VersoFest 2022 alum — and drummer Albert Bouchard co-wrote and arranged many of Blue Öyster Cult’s biggest songs, including “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Hot Rails to Hell” and “Astronomy.”

Blue Coupe has released 3 albums. They have performed at major music festivals, and been livestreamed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Tickets to see Blue Coupe live in the Trefz Forum are available on Eventbrite.

Blue Coupe

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Speaking of the Library:

Along the Riverwalk yesterday, an “06880” reader was taking photos of the birds and swans.

Then she spotted a gorgeous purple flower.

She was inspired, but realized: despite the warm temperatures, it’s way too early for spring.

She zoomed in — and realized it was a discarded dog poop bag.

Ugh.

She suggests a trash can by the bridge.

That’s one solution. I’ll add another: If you pick up dog doo, hold onto it until you find a trash can. Your inconvenience should not be everyone else’s problem.

Although it is a very lovely color for a poop bag.

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This week’s Jazz at the Post is special.

Thursday’s sets (February 2, 7:30 and 8:45 p.m., VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399) salutes Howard Silver. The legendary singer/composer/arranger graduated from Norwalk High School in 1947.

Grammy-nominated Michael Mossman trumpeter knows Silver’s music well: They played 1ogther from 1989-91. Bassist Phil Bowler was also a member of that band.

They duo are joined by drummer Dennis Mackrel, pianist David Berkman and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

There is a cover charge of $15. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

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Who says the Westport Town Clerk’s office doesn’t have a heart?

Check out the door — all dolled up for Valentine’s Day.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

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More than a week ago, the “06880” Roundup included a picture of dozens of bagels, strewn around High Gate Road off Maple Avenue South.

They’re still there.

Now though, they’re a bit grottier.

(Photos/Chris Grimm)

Both photographer Chris Grimm and I wonder why wildlife and weather have not taken more of a toll on the food.

And why no one in the neighborhood has gathered them up for the garbage.

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Sunil Hirani captured today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo a few days ago, at Compo Beach.

The dramatic shot is unfiltered. And, he says, “given that it was cloudy and rainy all day, it’s pretty incredible this happened, 20 minutes before sunrise. I would not have believed it if I didn’t see it myself.”

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)

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And finally … Weston’s ongoing issue with the Freedom of Information Act (story above) leads of course right into …

Regarding freedom: What have you got to lose by supporting “06880”? Please click here to contribute. Thank you!)

Roundup: Aloha, Bonjour …

A much-needed mid-winter touch of Hawaii came to the Westport Library Sunday night.

The Staples High School Orphenians put on an aloha-themed cabaret, as part of their fundraising efforts for their summer trip to the Aloha State.

Longtime Staples music aficionado — and former Fairfield music teacher — Ellen Kuroghlian was there. She writes:

“The benefit was outstanding. The singers were better than I have ever heard at Staples. The program included individual singers, with Broadway star Kelli O’Hara singing the last number — “You’ll Never Walk Alone” — with all Orphenians.

“David Pogue was the emcee. He worked on Broadway for 10 years, and is an expert at the piano, so he used it to emphasize a story or point. What a wonderfully dedicated father of a current Staples student, and 2 college age ones. And what wonderful gifts from these 2 pros.

“Choral director Luke Rosenberg sang too. He is a terrific performer. ‘Excellent modeling,’ as we educators say.

“Staples culinary instructor Chef Cecily Gans deserves ‘extra credit’ for the wonderful and bounteous ‘aloha-themed bites’ (which were large ones). Aliso Milwe Grace was there too, helping out.

“The performance, and the whole evening, was totally special.”

If you missed it — or just want to add something to the Orphs’ fund — click here.

Two of the many performers. James Dobin-Smith sang “My Way,” while Ethan Walmark played “Piano Man.”

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Yesterday’ Roundup item about the regular weekend pop-up clean-up projects around town led several readers to ask: When is the next one?

It’s Saturday, February 5, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot (11 a.m.). Bring gloves and trash bags, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty in.

There will be more than enough garbage to go around!

Questions? Email acolabellartm4@gmail.com

This past weekend’s trash pick-up on Greens Farms Road. Next up on February 5: the imperial Avenue parking lot.

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Earlier this month the mayor of Marigny — Westport’s French sister city — announced they’d be joining us, in offering aid to Lyman, Ukraine.

Marigny has not forgotten the help our town provided in the years following World War II.

Want proof? Check out the banner on the top of the region’s daily newspaper:

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Today’s Kings Highway Elementary School students have no clue about the 1980s. Some of their parents may be too young to remember it too.

But the KHS PTA hosts a “totally tubular ’80s-themed prom fundraiser” on Saturday, February 4 (7 to 10 p.m., Norwalk Inn). All KHS parents – past, present and future are invited. So is everyone else in town, no matter what you though about (or did during) that decade.

It’s a fundraiser for the school’s Outdoor Learning Center. Money is needed for raised planter beds, special bat-watching cameras, a greenhouse and more.

There will be dancing to ’80s tunes, and auction items from places like Modern Dermatology, Splatterbox, and Wakeman Town Farm, plus field passes to a Mets game, and a chance to have kids driven to school in a police cruiser.

While satin prom dresses, shoulder pads and “Miami Vice”-inspired pastel suits are encouraged. Tickets include a full open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, and charcuterie, crudité and pasta stations. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Artists’ rendering of Kings Highway Outdoor Learning Center.

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For 60 years, Weston Emergency Medical Service has provided free care to town residents — and mutual aid to Westport, Wilton, Fairfield, Redding, Norwalk, Easton and Georgetown.

On March 25 (6:30 p.m., Rolling Hills Country Club, Wilton), the 100%-volunteer organization celebrates those 6 decades in a very Weston way.

Tony Award-winning director/longtime TV and movie star/proud Weston resident James Naughton will emcee.

Dan Micciche — music director of “Wicked” — will perform, along with other Broadway stars.

Weston EMS hopes to raise $100,000 to continue their mission of neighbors helping neighbors with the highest level of emergency care services and state-of- the-art equipment — all free.

An online raffle begins March 10. Tickets will also be available at the gala, plus silent and live auctions.

To become a sponsor, advertise in the program, or donate a product or service to the raffle or auctions, email abelport@westonems.com

Tickets are on sale now.  To purchase tickets, click here and scroll down. Questions? Email gala@westonems.com. 

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Sarah Jane Cion returns to Jazz at the Post this Thursday (January 26, shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7).

First place winner of the 17th annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition, and a thoughtful composer, her songs “Cat in the Hat” and “Golden Song” were featured respectively in “The Mule” and “Thor: The Dark World.”

Joining Sarah Jane are bassist Peter Brendler, drummer Michael Camacho and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

The cover charge is $15. Reservations are strongly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Sarah Jane Cion

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It took a while for last year’s jetty project to be completed at Burying Hill Beach.

Now — with crowds gone — it’s a perfect home for gulls.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from one of the few folks at Westport’s “other” beach: Eric Bosch.

(Photo/Eric Bosch)

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And finally … if you’re ready for the ’80s (as in, the Kings Highway Elementary School fundraiser — story above), then you must get up and dance to this:

(“06880” hasn’t been around since the 1980s. But we’ve covered Westport — and have not missed a day — since 2009. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog.)

Roundup: Intensity, Longevity …

The ad said: “INTENSITY — everything must go!” 

Westporters worried that the tennis/squash/fitness/dance center just over the Norwalk line would close. 

Racquet sports are still there. But the health and fitness component is changing.

Clair Mason, owner of Elliptica, and co-owner of Intensity — says that the health and fitness industry has changed. COVID, and the rise of paddle and pickleball, provided an opportunity to remodel both businesses.

Elliptica developed a virtual offering, with a class and partnership with a machine manufacturer. 

And all Intensity fitness classes are now under the Elliptica brand at a new (and nearby) location: 345 Post Road West, Westport. They include barre, Herman Walker Body Design System, dance fitness, bodypump, Pilates, bootcamps and more. For more information on Elliptica, click here

On January 1, Intensity became a racquets-only club. There are 6 indoor tennis courts, 4 squash courts, 4 pickleball courts and 2 new paddle courts. A warming hut opens soon. For more information on Intensity racquets, click here

Clair Mason owns both Elliptica and Intensity.

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Speaking of fitness: For Peloton, COVID was just what the doctor ordered.

The stationary bike company’s sales surged during the pandemic. With gyms closed, home workouts — which Peloton delivered, via its equipment and streaming platforms — were the only game in town (or anywhere else).

Since 2018, Peloton had a retail presence here. The Main Street store — one of the few of its 80-plus outlets not in a mall — closed temporarily, along with nearly every other retailer.

It reopened (though supply chain issues made it difficult to meet the enormous demand for bikes and treadmills).

This coming Sunday, it will close for good. The decision is part of an “aggressive” reduction in retail stores (and, last summer, the elimination of roughly 780 employees.

Peloton’s fortunes crashed as quickly as they rose. As COVID eased, people returned to the gym.

The Main Street tenant before Peloton sold Sperry boat shoes. There is no word on what kind of business — sports and leisure-related, or not — will replace it.

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Speaking still of fitness: Longevity Westport — the center offering non-invasive, quick and very sophisticated testing of muscle mass, bone density, metabolism, cardiovascular health, oxygen consumption and more — opened on Post Road East in 2021.

But — true to their name — they may be the business with the longest time before hosting an official ribbon-cutting.

It’s set for this Saturday (January 21, 1835 Post Road East). First Selectwoman Jen Tooker does the honors at 1 p.m.

She’ll be followed by 3 speakers: Ralph Esposito, a naturopathic physician and head of nutrition at Athletic Greens; Atlas Nutrition chiropractic physician Dr. Beth Atlas, and Sherpa Westport’s Jean Paul Desrosiers.

All will offer specials for customers. In addition, Longevity will provide 50% off a second test, with the purchase of a full price test (and 20% off a bundle package).

There’s food too. Healthy, of course.

Inside Longevity. The DEXA scan machine is at left.

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Hard to believe, but Westport Book Shop is 2 years old.

The used book store (and much more) honors the milestone with several community events.

A Volunteer Appreciation Celebration is set for January 28 (10:30 a.m. to noon), at the Westport Library across Jesup Green from the shop.

A “Show Your Love” competition offers a $50 Westport Book Shop gift card. Just film a short video showing why you love the Book Shop, then post it on social media.

Every entrant receives a free vinyl record, CD or book of their choice from the current inventory ($6 or less). The deadline is 6 p.m. January 27. Click here for details, and the entry form.

Meanwhile, story time for kids at the Book Shop runs on Saturday and Sunday, January 28-29. Call for details: 203-952-0070.

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Westport favorite Melissa Newman — one of our own — headlines this week’s Jazz at the Post (Thursday, January 19; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner from 7 p.m.; $15 cover; reservations strongly suggested: JazzatthePost@gmail.com).

Joining Melissa: guitarist Tony Lombardozzi, bassist Phil Bowler and drummer Arti Dixson.

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PFAS chemicals in the Weston water supply?

On this week’s “What’s Next in Weston?” podcast, 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor describes how her town has addressed the issue, with remediation and clean water for every family.

The bi-weekly series is produced by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston. Click below to listen:

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Aspetuck Land Trust’s first “Lunch and Learn” webinar of 2023 is called “Landscapes for Better Living.”

On January 27 (noon to 1 p.m.), Jay Archer of Green Jay Landscape Design will discuss how ecological landscape design, organic horticulture and land stewardship can improve human health (and save the planet).

In addition to designing, building, managing and maintaining beautiful, natural ecosystems and plantscapes, Archer has taught, lectured and consulted with organizations from NYBG and The Institute for Ecosystem Studies to the Native Plant Center, Nature Conservancy and Audubon International.

For more information and to register, click here.

One of Jay Archer’s ecological landscapes.

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Many “Westport … Naturally” photos are gorgeous.

This one isn’t.

A reader who lives nearby writes: “I saw these giant birds in the dumpsters behind Gaetano’s.

“The dumpsters are open, and so is the door on one side. There were others in a tree, walking nearby, and sitting on the roof of a house, all waiting their turn. Apparently they are black buzzards.

“I called Gaetano’s. The woman who answered said, ‘yeah, it’s been like that all week.’ I said, ‘just close the dumpsters.’ She thanked me.”

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And finally … today is the birthday of Muhammad Ali. “The Greatest” boxer — and an important political activist was born in 1942. He died in 2016, age 74.

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(If all the stories above about fitness leave you exhausted … take a break! As you rest, please click here to support “06880.” Thank you!)

Roundup: Teardown, Hamlet, Real Estate …

Westport’s latest teardown now looks like every other:

(Photo/Matt Murray)

But unlike many homes that smooshed by the wrecking ball, this one will have few mourners.

Here’s what it looked like, pre-demolition:

174 Hillspoint Road is the house that — ever since it was built in 1968, across from Sherwood Mill Pond — never fit in.

Westport Journal’s Thane Grauel described it as “a single-story house with a sort of terracotta mansard roof, white stucco-ish sides, narrow vertical windows and greenhouse windows like a fern bar.”

Architect Christopher Pagliaro was more succinct. He called it the “offspring of a Burger King and a diner.”

And, says Historic District Commission chair William Harris, “When we put the (demolition) sign up, people walking by started applauding.”

I have no idea what will take its place. But it will have to go a long way to be as universally disliked as its predecessor.

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Speaking of real estate:

If you think the real estate market has slowed a bit lately: You’re right.

There were 472 closed sales in 2022, a decrease of 22.2% from 2021.

But the average days on market dropped from 57 days in ’21 to 52 in ’22. So homes sold a bit more quickly this year.

Average sales price: $2,250,197 in 2022 (up 29% from 2021).

The months supply of inventory was flat from 2021 to 2022, at 3.2 months. A historically normal market is considered to have 6 months of supply. The low figure for Westport could indicate that demand for homes in the area is outstripping the supply, potentially leading to further price appreciation.

About those prices: The average sale in Westport was $2,250,197. That’s a 29% increase over 2021. (Hat tip: The Riverside Realty Group)

The most expensive home on the market is this 11,000-square foot, 6-bedroom, 7 1/2-bath property on 3.45 acres on Charcoal Hill Road. It is listed for $12.5 million.

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If you own a house in Westport — like the one above, or perhaps smaller — you think about leaves.

One of the noisiest items on the Representative Town Meeting agenda — a leaf blower ordinance — cranks up at tonight’s meeting (Tuesday, January 3, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall).

Click here, then scroll down to Slide #26 for the regulation itself, and explanatory materials.

Many sides — homeowners, landscaping company owners and town officials — have been heard already. They’re loud and clear, on all sides of the issue.

Checking in recently has been another concerned party.

Tanvi Gorre — president of Staples High School’s Club Green — wrote to support the proposal. Her words are a model of clarity and objectivity. She says:

“This ordinance isn’t perfect, though I am most definitely not the first person to tell you this.

“But we cannot wait for the perfect move, the perfect step against climate change. That step will never come, because it doesn’t exist.

“There will always be a problem with every solution we come up with. The best we can ever do is try to get closer to a solution. What has brought us some of the best solutions we have today is trial and error.

“But in order to get to good solutions we need to try. This ordinance is a way for us as the town of Westport to take a step towards getting to a better solution. So perhaps one day when my generation has to face the ramifications of the climate crisis we can have a great solution. We, the young generation, need your help more than ever.”

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Meanwhile, the RTM’s Planning & Zoning Committee meets Thursday (January 5, 7 p.m. Zoom; click here for the link). They’ll begin discussing the Westport Planning & Zoning Commission’s approval of text and map amendments that would create a district in Saugatuck, which could lead to the development of The Hamlet at Saugatuck retail/residential/hotel/marina complex.

A group of residents — the Saugatuck Sensible Zoning Committee — has petitioned the full RTM to review the P&Z’s decision. Their goal — for the RTM to overturn it — requires a 2/3 vote.

The group says that are not “against development, change, improvements or re-zoning of the 4.82 acres and 11 properties that comprise the area under consideration.”

In fact, they add, “we enthusiastically support the revitalization of Saugatuck that will result from the Planning & Zoning Commission proactively engaging in a rigorous process to craft carefully planned changes in the zoning.”

However, the SSZC urges, “we want the re-zoning and subsequent development to be sensible, of appropriate scale, and respectful of Westport’s past, present and desired future.”

The group is concerned about the size and density of the possible project; traffic, congestion and parking; precedents, and other issues.

After Thursday’s meeting, the RT& P&Z Committee will meet again next Tuesday (January 10), and if necessary January 17.

They will then make a recommendation to the full RTM, which will meet and vote on January 17 or 19.

The shaded area includes the new text and map amendment boundaries.

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Speaking of town politics: Anna Rycenga has resigned as chair of the Conservation Commission. She has taken a full-time job.

She has served as chair since 2010. Anna says that she and her fellow members have helped “ensure the protection, preservation and restoration of local wetlands and watercourses in Westport by making provisions to protect these wetland soils, water bodies, environmental functions and the wildlife habitat.”

Hers is not an easy job. She and fellow commissioners must balance the sometimes competing wishes and needs of property owners, neighbors, developers, environmentalists and other town officials.

Anna did it for 12 years, with dedication, understanding, dedication and grace. Thanks for your service!

In addition to the Conservation Commission, Anna has helped lead many charitable projects, including food and holiday toy drives with Westport PAL.  She’s also the unofficial “mayor” of Westfair Village, keeping the neighborhood connected and fun. She’ll keep doing that.

PS: Anna’s new employer has made a very wise hire.

Anna Rycenga

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We’re used to seeing a few hardy souls “plunge” into the water on January 1. Yesterday’s Roundup carried one such photo– a gorgeous shot, just as the sun rose.

But I can’t recall anyone ever enjoying a New Year’s swim at Sherwood Mill Pond.

Perhaps “enjoying” is not the right word. These 4 dudes do not look happy at all.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Hey — as photographer Matt Murray notes, at least they heeded the oft-disobeyed “No Jumping or Diving” sign.

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MoCA Westport’s annual collaboration with the Westport Public Art Collections Committee — “Paul Camacho: El Ritmo y La Unidad” — is set for this month.

The opening reception is January 12 (5 to 7 p.m.). It’s a ticketed event (free for MoCA members; $10 general admission). Click here to register.

The museum’s annual high school exhibition — “Who Are You When You Are Dreaming” — is on view simultaneously.

Nearly 200 student artworks will be on display. As always, Westport artists are represented creatively.

Among them:

“I Have Always Wondered Why, You See” — digital collage/composition (Allison Cancro, Staples High School sophomore)

“Vast Voyage” — Adobe Photoshop (Maxwell Maurillo, Staples junior)

“Who Says We Dream?” — digital illustration (Shivali Kanthan, Staples junior)

 

Both exhibitions run through February 26.

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In this week’s “What’s Next in Weston” podcast (click below), 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor chats with Police Chief Ed Henion about personnel plans, road improvements, driver safety and state grants.

The series sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport & Weston, and hosted by Dick Kalt.

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Just when I think I never want to post another “Westport … Naturally” sunrise … along comes a photo like Mary Sikorski’s, from yesterday morning.

Living here, we are truly blessed.

(Photo/Mary Sikorski)

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And finally … Anita Pointer died Saturday, at her Beverly Hills home. She was 74, and had battled cancer.

The New York Times called her “the sweet and occasionally sultry lead vocalist” on many hits with her siblings: the Pointer sisters.

They “occupied a middle point in pop history between the doo-wop innocence of the Ronettes and the stilettoed girl power of Destiny’s Child. Anita’s voice had a lot to do with that. She sang with the speed and flavor of molasses. Though she commanded the virtuosity to trill prettily, she tended to sing too softly to sound overpowering. In ‘Slow Hand’ …Anita cooed.” (Click here for a full obituary.)

(Real estate, politics, art, music … “06880” covers it all. Please click here to help support this hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

 

 

“What’s Next In Weston”: Police Chief Speaks

In Episode 4 of “What’s Next in Weston,” 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor interviews Police Chief Ed Henion.

He speaks about a new hire, the rest of his force, community involvement, school resource officers, and more. Click below to learn everything you always wanted to know about the Weston Police Department.

 

“What’s Next In Weston”: Sidewalks!

Weston has never had sidewalks.

Never say never.

With $3 million in state and federal money, a 5K loop will tie together Weston center, schools, churches and Town Hall.

But wait! There’s more!

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds will pay for pickleball courts too.

That’s the latest news from our neighbor to the north. Click the link below, to hear details straight from 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor. It’s the 2nd installment in the Y’s Men of Westport — and Weston’s — “What’s New in Weston” podcast series.

“What’s Next In Weston”

The Y’s Men of Westport/Weston take the last part of their name seriously.

The very active, 400-plus member social-and-more club recently inaugurated a bi-weekly podcast with Westport 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.

Now they’ve expanded north.

Under the direction of Dick Kalt, “What’s Next in Weston” features 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor. Every 2 weeks, she’ll discuss projects, programs and activities in her town.

In the first episode, she talks about Weston’s return to normalcy from COVID, including 3 new sidewalks, the Town Green, pickleball courts and Lechat Town Farm.