Category Archives: Weston

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 …

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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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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.