Category Archives: YMCA

Roundup: Shonda Rhimes, Moving Up, Pollinator Pathway …

Shonda Rhimes — the producer/screenwriter/author/global media company CEO/Television Academy Hall of Fame inductee — entertained, inspired and wowed a sold-out crowd at last night’s Westport Library “Booked for the Evening” fundraiser. Actors Tony Goldwyn and Scott Foley were there too.

The leader in both her industry and for women of color, Rhimes is known for telling great stories (check out Netflix!). On stage before an appreciative audience, in a conversation with Vanity Fair editor Rhadika Jones, she spent her evening in Westport doing exactly that.

Shonda Rhimes, at the Westport Library. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

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This is “Moving Up” week.

Ceremonies are held at Westport’s 2 middle and 5 elementary schools.

Dylan Chatterjee captured this scene yesterday, outside Bedford, where his sister Mia was celebrated. It seems symbolic: 8th graders moving toward the light of Staples High School, both literally and figuratively.

(Photo/Dylan Chatterjee)

Congratulations to all 5th and 8th graders — I mean, rising 6th graders and freshman — all over town!

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Happy Pollinator Week!

To celebrate, Pollinator Pathways organizers in Westport and surrounding towns are showcasing properties — both public and private — where habitat-friendly landscaping is done. They’ll also provide information on how homeowners can create Pollinator Pathway yards of their own.

It’s this Saturday (June 25) at 4 separate Westport sites, all 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Earthplace (3 gardens), Prospect Road (privately owned), Smith-Richardson Wildlife Preserve (2 meadows) and Wakeman Town Farm (a 100-foot pollinator border).

Weston’s Onion Farm tour is also Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Guides and gardeners will be on hand, to answer questions.

Click here, then scroll down to plan your tour. You’ll also see Pollinator Pathway tours throughout Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester Counties.

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 The Westport Public Schools and Westport Weston Family YMCA have teamed up to coordinate child care — before and after school – for youngsters in grades K-5, during the coming school year.

The program includes arts and crafts, STEM activities, themed projects, outdoor and physical activities, homework help and snacks.

Transportation will be provided to and from the elementary schools, and YMCA.

The before-school program runs from 7 to 9 a.m. for Coleytown, Greens Farms, Kings Highway and Long Lots Schools, 7 to 8:30 a.m. for Saugatuck.

The after-school program runs from dismissal until 6 p.m. Students who sign up for any youth programs taking place during after-school care hours — karate, swim lessons, soccer shots, basketball, gymnastics, fencing or dance — will be accompanied to their program by a staff member. There is a separate fee for those programs.

3-, 4 and 5-day signups are available. Click here for more information, and to register.

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Sure, it was 2 days ago. But we can’t resist a good photo. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the Levitt Pavilion during Sunday’s Michael Franti & Spearhead show:

(Photo/JC Martin)

Encore: Here’s a video of Michael, complete with a shout-out to Westport:

Looking ahead, the Levitt celebrates the final days of Pride Months with 2 performances.

Isle of Klezbos is this Thursday (June 23, 7:30 p.m.). New York magazine says their repertoire ranges from “rambunctious to entrancing: Neo-traditional folk dance, mystical melodies, Yiddish swing & retro tango, late Soviet-era Jewish drinking song, re-grooved standards, and genre-defying originals.”

It’s about time Levitt had some Yiddish swing and late Soviet-era Jewish drinking songs! Click here for (free!) ticket information.

Next week, it’s “Queer + Quiet”: an evening with Treya Lam (Tuesday, June 28, 7 p.m.). They’ll “lift up the underrepresented, quiet, marginalized voices in the BIPOC trans, non-binary, queer community.” Click here for (also free!) ticket information.

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Speaking of Pride: Fairfield County Story Lab opens this Sunday’s Write-In to all LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly writers and creatives — for free.

At 2 p.m. June 26, there’s an hour of socializing. Work on projects follows from 3 to 4:30; then there’s a wrap-up chat.

The Story Lab is a shared workspace, on the 4th floor of Saugatuck’s 21 Charles Street office building. Click here to reserve a spot.

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The June 27 (7 p.m.) Westport Library showing of the award-winning documentary “Four Winters” is noteworthy.

The film tells the story of the 25,000 Jewish partisans who battled the Nazis and their collaborators from the forests of Eastern Europe. The men and women — many in their teens — blew up trains, burned electric stations and attacked enemy headquarters.

But there’s also an important local connection: “Four Winters”‘ writer/producer/director Julia Mintz is a Weston High School graduate.

For more information, click here.

NOTE: “Four Winters” supporters have designed a program for screenings and talkbacks at colleges that don’t have Jewish Studies departments, or funding for Holocaust programming. Click here to donate.

Weston native Julia Mintz, with an interviewee for “Four Winters.”

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Lou Weinberg is the passionate, creative and very hands-on director of the Westport Community Gardens. He knows flowers, trees, grasses and bushes — and birds, bees, rabbits and all other wildlife there.

He’s also a gifted photographer.

Here’s his description of today’s stunning “Westport … Naturally” photo: “This gray catbird is eating a berry from a serviceberry tree. This native tree produces flowers and an abundance of fruit for a multitude of birds this time of year. If you like birds, plant serviceberry trees!”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … because this is the first day of summer:

(Do you like our daily “Roundup”? Help keep it coming. Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution to “06880” — and thank you.)

Roundup: TTCS & Ukraine, RTM & Roe, Holocaust Talk …

The Conservative Synagogue continues to help Ukrainian refugees.

The congregations sponsored a planeload of 132 refugees. The flight left from Budapest on Tuesday, for Israel.

Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn reports that the families have been welcomed to Israel as new citizens.  Mazel tov!

From Ukraine to Israel — with help from The Conservative Synagogue of Westport.

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The Representative Town Meeting’s next session is June 7.

In addition to the usual requests for appropriations and ratifications of Planning & Zoning Commission decisions, there is this agenda item: to adopt a sense of the meeting resolution “that Westport supports the constitutional rights and principles established in Roe v. Wade, and opposes the elimination of those rights by any subsequent Supreme Court decision.”

The town’s non-partisan legislative body has passed similar “sense of the meeting” resolutions before — including, in 1969, a resolution asking President Johnson and Congress to “take immediate action to withdraw from the (Vietnam) war.”

Joanne Woodward spoke in support. After 3 hours of long, impassioned debate, the RTM voted 17-15 in favor of the resolution. The New York Times ran a long story about it.

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On Thursday, Holocaust survivor Judy Altmann gave an important presentation to all Bedford and Coleytown Middle School 8th graders.

The Westport school district has made the link publicly available (and posted it on their website). Click here for her talk. To learn more about Judy Altmann, click here.

Judy Altmann

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The Levitt Pavilion kicks off the holiday weekend with a pair of free “open house” concerts this weekend. No tickets are required for the 2 shows, today and tomorrow (Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29, 5 p.m. both days).

Tonight it’s Michael Coppola and Harvie S Jazz Duo. Tomorrow features The Esperanto Duo: Dave Giardina & Chris Payne (“old time and gypsy jazz”).

Click here for more information.

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Just in time for Memorial Day, a new flagpole has been installed outside the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Long may she wave!

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Also just in time for Memorial Day: The ice cream hut at The Porch is open for business.

A servicemember and his family kicked off the holiday weekend yesterday, with a treat.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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Jerry Kuyper snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo in his unmown meadow (“aka yard,” he notes).

The snapping turtle’s shell was about 12 inches long. And, Jerry adds, “the scars on the back might be from a lawn mower.”

No wonder the turtle snaps.

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

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And finally … on this day in 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. It denied many Native Americans their land rights, and forcibly relocated them.

Thus began one of the most shameful parts of our nation’s history.

 

Photo Challenge #386

Seth Schachter’s industrial-looking photo stumped all but one reader last week.

There are not many steel girders visible in Westport. Good guesses included the train station elevator shaft and tracks, Urban Outfitters, and construction at the Bankside condos and Main Street.

Only Andrew Colabella recognized the beams as part of Anthropologie. They’re remnants of the old YMCA, which stood on that downtown site from 1923 until the early 2010s. Click here to see.

You have to get up very early to fool Andrew. Will he (or you) get this week’s Photo Challenge?

If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Kevin McCaul)

Roundup: Pete Wolgast, Scholarships, Kowalsky Property …

Westport’s 2 Rotary Clubs honored Pete Wolgast yesterday morning. with a prestigious District Governor’s Citation. The ceremony was held at the Sunrise Rotary meeting at Greens Farms Church. In addition to top Rotary officials, attendees included 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, her predecessor Jim Marpe, RTM moderator Jeff Wieser and Westport Weston Family YMCA CEO Anjali McCormick.

Wolgast’s service to Sunrise Rotary (he’s a former president) — and the entire town — is legendary. The University of Michigan and Harvard MBA graduate:

  • Was elected to the Representative Town Meeting, and chaired its Finance and Parks & Recreation Committees
  • Was executive assistant to 1st selectman Doug Wood; been a member of the Westport Republican Town Committee (2 terms as chair)
  • Twice chaired the Y’s board of trustees (2007-11 and 2013-20); chaired its Endowment Committee (2000-06); Volunteer of the Year honoree 2020
  • As president of the Westport Historical Society, chaired the committee that supervised the writing of the town’s definitive history
  • Been part of Westport’s Charter Revision Committee
  • Chaired Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s board, and volunteered on its Finance Committee
  • Joined the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston in 1987, and been its president
  • Served as a Boy Scout troop leader and board chair
  • Coached youth baseball and basketball for nearly 20 years, in Westport and London.

Wolgast and his wife Janet have been married for over 65 years. They have 4 children, 7 grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Congratulations, Pete, for this well-deserved honor. And thank you for all you have done, for all of us.

Pete Wolgast, at yesterday’s ceremony. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

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Staples Tuition Grants’ annual awards evening is one of the feel-good highlights of the year.

The 2022 event — set for Tuesday, May 31 (6 p.m., Staples auditorium) — will be particularly special. The $400,000 in scholarships will be the most ever — a whopping 14% higher than last year.

The average award will be $3,700. That too is a record — about $1,000 more than STG’s 10-year average.

The average help is 19% of net need. They can’t fill the aggregate net need of $2.4 million, but STG provides more assistance the even the federal government ($370,000 in Pell grants).

Help is provided to 8.4% of the graduating class of 2022. About 10% of the class needs help paying for college. The cost of tuition, room and board has reached $85,000 at some schools. Meanwhile, the funding gap widens — up 50% from 2 years ago.

Grants will help 108 students attend 76 colleges.

Nearly 700 Westporters and friends donated to STG’s general fund, named or endowed awards. Click here for more information, and to help Staples Tuition Grants.

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Speaking of scholarships: Westport PAL awarded its scholarships on Monday night.

Awardees included Charlie Howard, Jaden Mueller (Chief Luciano Athletic); Alex Harrington, Kyle Harrington (Chief Luciano Good Citizenship); Brian Fullenbaum (PJ Romano Scholarship); Colin Konstanty (Greg LaValla Scholarship); Nick Augeri (Buck Iannacone Scholarship); Jack Oakley (Bernstein Family); Matthew Spada (Deputy Chief John Anastasia Scholarship).

Westport PAL scholarship awardees and officials.

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If you missed the Staples Spring Choral Concert earlier this month — what a shame. It was a wonderful show. All the music was selected by students. They performed difficult pieces, in a wide range of genres and styles, at their usual spectacularly high level.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (and of videographer Jim Honeycutt), you can watch the whole concert now. Just click here — and enjoy.

Screenshot from the Staples High School Spring Choral Concert.

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An application to subdivide the 12-acre Kowalsky property on Morningside Drive South, bordered by Clapboard Hill Road and Turkey Hill Road South, has been withdrawn. It will be resubmitted at a future date.

The Planning & Zoning Commission meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss it — and the Westport PAL clubhouse at PJ Romano Field — has been canceled. (Hat tips; Dick Lowenstein, Art Schoeller)

109 Morningside Drive South

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When Suzanne Tanner lived in Los Angeles, she met a Holocaust survivor named Rachel Goldman Miller.

After writing a multimedia musical documenting Miller’s life, Tanner is dedicating this Memorial Day weekend to her.

“Resonant music, lyrics and modern art can help us understand that history is only as strong as memory, a poignant reminder for today’s mounting war atrocities,” Tanner says.

Miller narrates her life story from a background movie that peppers the show with impactful visuals and testimony, while Tanner plays her role live — from her childhood in pre-war Paris to her elder years as a valuable Shoah participant and loving mother of a son who died of AIDS.

“Beyond Me: A Song Cycle in the Key of Survival” will be performed next  Saturday (May 28, JCC, Sherman, CT). Tickets are $25 and $20, available at the door, but reservations recommended. Click here for details.

Suzanne Tanner

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The Westport Weston Family YMCA Livestrong program –a  free, 12-week program of physical, educational and social activities for adults living with, through and beyond cancer — filled up fast. There were 25 applications, for 8 spots.

The good news: The Wilton Y is starting the same program the first week in June. Five spots are open; Wilton residency is not required. Email magenuario@riverbrookymca.org for more information. (Hat tip: Amy Weiss)

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The Westport Book Shop‘s almost-summer celebration is set for Saturday, June 4 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Jesup Green). There’s a DJ, safety tips from Stewie the Duck, crafts and snacks.

The almost-summer celebration takes place across from the Westport Book Shop.

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No one is a fan of Canada geese — especially at Compo Beach.

But you gotta admit, these goslings in today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo look kinda cute.

(Photo/Pam Washburn)

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And finally … this weekend’s Westport Woman’s Club art show includes a treat not often associated with art shows or woman’s clubs: live music by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Mark Naftalin.

He’s best known as a Paul Butterfield Blues Band keyboardist. But the Westport resident played on many other famous recordings — including this one, sent to “06880” by Dave Lowrie.

Roundup: Little Rock 9, Indie Movies, Lice …

Three years after Brown vs. Board of Education, public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, were still segregated.

But on September 25, 1957, US Army soldiers escorted 9 black teenagers into Central High School. 14-year-old Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest

On May 24, 2022 (7 p.m.), Carlotta — now in her 70s, and the last survivor of that courageous group of 9 — will join her friend, Westporter Steve Parrish, “In Conversation” at the Westport Library.

Carlotta will describe what it was like to be escorted by armed soldiers through an angry mob, and what happened to her and her family in the months and years after. She’ll reflect on her journey — and ours, as a country and a society.

Click here to register.

Carlotta Walks LaNier

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Staples High School’s Independent Learning Experience allows to move beyond the classroom setting, tackling projects or courses not otherwise offered there. Through an Independent Learning Experience, students spend a semester or full

Several students have produced films (giving new meaning to the phrase “indie movies”). They’ll be screened on Tuesday (May 10, 6:30 p.m., Staples auditorium). Each is about 10 minutes long.

Themes and filmmakers include:

  • An ex-criminal turned interdimensional defense officer investigates a lead on a former partner (Jacob Friedman)
  • Co-dependency and instability challenge 2 teens as they deal with daily life (Leah Chapman and Tate Mullineaux)
  • A high school girl struggles with mental illness (Elen Macaluso)
  • A couple preys on victims in a twisted game of betrayal, manipulation and psychosis (Ben Seideman).

A question-and-answer session and small reception follow. The public is invited.

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I don’t have any young kids. Nor do I have much hair. So I would not know about what I’m told are lice outbreaks at some Westport schools (and pre-schools).

But Liz Solovay is on the case.

The Westport resident owns Lice Treatment Center. She’s been helping local families with in-home and treatment center services for over 15 years.

As if you don’t need more reasons to call Liz: This is Small Business Week. So while you’re taking care of some “small business” of your own, you’re also helping one.

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Lynsey Addario has taken some haunting, harrowing photos of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

But one that the 1991 Staples High School graduate (and Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist) published in yesterday’s New York Times may be among her most sorrowful.

Nothing illustrates the depravity of the Russian invasion — and its toll on innocent people — more than this simple shot.

Aleksandr, a resident of Kramatorsk, sat in a room of his destroyed apartment after it was hit by a Russian airstrike yesterday. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)

Thank you to Lynsey, fellow Staples grad and Times photographer Tyler Hicks, and all others in the war zone, for showing the world what is going on half a world away.

To learn more about the history, geography and culture of Ukraine, listen to Professor Walter Zaryckyj at the Westport Library on Monday (May 9, 7 p.m., in-person and Zoom). He’ll speak on “Understanding Ukraine: Past, Present and Future.” Click here to register.

“06880” is a proud co-sponsor of this important educational event.

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The 2022 rugby high school nationals will be televised.

That’s of interest to “06880” readers, because Staples High School will be in them.

The Wreckers — ranked #5 in the nation — head to Elkart, Indiana soon. They compete for a US title from Thursday to Saturday, May 19-21 (times TBD).

Can’t make it to “The RV Capital of the World”? Go to Little Barn instead. Matches will be shown there, on a big screen.

In March, a crowd gathered at Little Barn for the rugby team’s kickoff tournament in Virginia.

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The Joggers Club is moving — from Compo Beach to the Greens Farms train station.

They invite everyone to stop by, every Saturday at 8 a.m. The first run is free. They offer a variety of distances and paces. All are fun.

Plus coffee, treats and music after each run.
·        When: Every Saturday @ 8:00am
·        Where: Green’s Farms Train Station

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The Westport Weston Family YMCA will offer 15 needs-based lifeguard certification scholarships this summer.

Applicants must be 15 to 23 years old, with strong swimming skills. There are 2-day courses May 7-8 and 14-15, and June 4-5 and 11-12. Click here for the application, and more information.

Questions. Contact Julia Marshella by email (jmarshella@westporty.org) or phone (203-226-8984).

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The other day, our “Westport … Naturally” feature showcased a handsome swan, sitting on her eggs.

She must have been foraging for food yesterday. Here was the scene:

(Photo/Elaine Marino)

And we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Don’t get too close! Give her and her cygnets-to-be plenty of space.

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And finally … on this date in 1940, John Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath. It was a novel — but it cut very, very close to the truth.

 

Roundup: Gloria, Aqua Fit & Veterans, Touch-a-Truck …

Gloria has long been a part of Westport.

It was Alan Sterling’s working oyster boat for years. In the winter, he moored it in Gray’s Creek.

It stayed there after he died, in 2014. Michael Calise and others tended to it well.

Now — nearly a decade later — it is on its last legs.

Gloria, in Gray’s Creek. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Click here for an “06880” archive of Gloria stories.

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The men and women of the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Aqua Fit classes are an energetic bunch.

They’re also community minded. All month long, they’re joining with Westport veterans’ groups, to raise awareness and help.

Yesterday, after class, a coffee hour and informational table in the Y lobby was staffed by members of VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399, and the VFW Auxiliary. They explained all the good things they do, for veterans and Westport.

Next Saturday (May 7, 10 a.m.), the Staples high School girls golf team — coached by beloved Aqua Fit instructor Patty Kondub — will tidy up and pay respect at veterans’ graves in Assumption Cemetery on Greens Farms Road. Everyone is welcome to help.

On Saturday, May 21 (4:30 to 5:30 p.m.), the public is invited to join a “drop-in” Aqua Fit class. Get healthy, see why members are so loyal — and the $20 fee for the drop-in class will benefit the VFW Auxiliary.

All month long, the Aqua Fit program is sponsoring a donation box, with “Wish List,” in the Y lobby. Both collections support Homes for the Brave, the nonprofit that helps homeless veterans.

For more information, email Patty Kondub (nortonpk@icloud.com) or Joan Evon (joanevon@optonline.net).

Westport Weston Family YMCA CEO Anjali McCormick (directly under the “Y” signs) joins members of the Westport VFW, VFW Auxiliary and Aqua Fit to promote the month of awareness of veterans’ issues.

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Beginning yesterday, stickers are required for parking at all Westport beaches.

The lifeguard chairs are not yet in position, but will soon be. Meanwhile, 2 varieties are being stored — along with what look like new chairs — at the Soundview lot.

(Photo/Robin Myers)

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The Westport Weston Cooperative Nursery School hosts a great, on-brand event this Saturday (May 7, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot). It’s presented by Longshore Sailing School.

The 15th annual event includes vehicles of all shapes and sizes (for kids of all ages to climb on, and take photos of): fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, cranes, dump trucks, buses, big rigs, boats and more.

Plus food trucks, live entertainment, merchandise for sale, raffle tickets, “roaming railroad trackless train rides,” face painting, balloon animals, sensory play and more.

It can get loud. Guests with sensitivity to noise can enjoy a quiet hour from 9 to 10 a.m., with no sirens or horns.

Admission is $35 per family. Click here to purchase. All proceeds benefit the Westport Weston Cooperative Nursery School.

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Saturday night’s benefit concert in Trumbull for cancer research began with a “stick tap” honoring Charlie Capalbo. The former Fairfield Ludlowe High School goalie died last month, after battling 4 cancers. He was one month shy of 24 years old. Charlie’s grandparents are Westporters Richard Epstein and Ina Chadwick, and his mother is Staples High grad Jennifer Wilde Capalbo.

Click below to see the very moving ceremony.

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Skunk cabbage makes its first appearance in “Westport … Naturally” today.

Claudia Sherwood Servidio spotted this field at Earthplace.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

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And finally … on this day in 1952, a De Havilland Comet made the first jet flight with paying passengers. The route was London to Johannesburg.

Roundup: Livestrong, Walk, Dream …

The Westport Weston YMCA is for everyone. Including — especially — cancer survivors.

On May 9, they introduce the Y’s Livestrong program. The free, 12-week program of physical, educational and social activities is for adults living with, through and beyond cancer

Small group sessions meet twice a week. Goals include rebuilding muscle mass and strength, increasing flexibility and endurance, reducing fatigue, and improving confidence and self-esteem.

The Y staff is trained to customize the program to individual needs. Participants may use the Y for free throughout the program.

For information, click here or contact Judy Klein: jklein@westporty.org; 203-571-6035.

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After a 2-year COVID hiatus, Walk & Roll for STAR — a family “FUNdraiser” with face painting, kids’ crafts, DJ, dancing, t-shirts, games, food and more — returns to Sherwood Island State Park this Sunday (May 1, 9 a.m. to noon).

It’s a benefit for STAR Lighting the Way, the great local organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.

Click here for more information, including how to register and start a team.

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Of many great nonprofit evenings, A Better Chance of Westport’s Dream Event is one of the best.

Each year, graduating seniors from ABC — the program that brings wonderful young men to Westport, to attend Staples and give back to the community — are honored. Their speeches — and those of alumni — are inspirational.

The energy in the room is contagious. It’s a feel good time for everyone.

A few tickets remain for this year’s event (Friday, May 13, 6:30 p.m., Shorehaven Golf Club). The price includes entertainment, live and silent auctions, dinner and cocktails.

Click here for tickets, and donation and sponsorship information.

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Westport women roar.

And no one helps them find their voice more than JoyRide.

On May 13 (5 p.m., 1200 Post Road East), the popular spinning and fitness center hosts “Westport Women Roar: Local Leaders Share Their Female Professional Paths.”

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Granola Bar founders Dana Noorily and Julie Mountain, Party City chief marketing and experience officer Julie Roehm, Rebel & Rose Tattoo owner/artist Amanda Mas, and Westport Police officer Lt. Jillian Cabana will inspire women, with stories of blazing professional paths in male-dominated areas.

Tickets are $20. Venmo @joyridecycling, or click here.

Just a few days later (May 21, 11:30 a.m.), JoyRide sponsors an Out of the Darkness fundraiser, for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Donations are $25 and up. Click here to register.

And on June 4 (9:30 a.m.), JoyRide’s Mackenzie Pretty leads a HIIT + Strength class outdoors, at the Compo Beach Pavilion. It’s free, bur registration is needed: info@westportmoms.com,

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Parking in Brooks Corner is always tight.

With the Baldwin Parking lot closed for renovations — as it was yesterday — things got even tighter.

There’s still plenty of parking downtown. You may have to walk a few yards more than usual — and it may not be in Brooks Corner — but it’s there.

Don’t be this guy. There’s only enough room to squeeze by on the best days. Park your truck, and walk.

(Photo/JM Nevin Jr.)

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MyTeamTriumph — the wonderful program pairing children, teens and adults with disabilities (“captains”) with volunteers (“angels”) who help them participate in triathlons and road races — has a busy schedule.

On Saturday, they participate in the Westport Young Woman’s League’s Minute Man 10K and 5K Runs, and 5K Walk.

On May 15 it’s the 25K (about 15 miles) Bloomin’ Metric bike ride at Sherwood Island State Park. Click here to sign up. For more information, email KZiebell@myTeamTriumph-CT.org, or call 203-216-1146.

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Noted Westport landscape designer Jay Petrow leads Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch & Learn” session.

“Transforming Your Lawn Into a Meadow” (Friday, April 29, noon to 1:15 p.m., Zoom) will show you how to replace part of your lawn by planting or seeding a native meadow garden. You can introduce plants that are beneficial for pollinators and birds, are mostly deer-resistant, are more drought-tolerant than your lawn — and look beautiful.

Click here to register.

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JL Rocks is expanding its cult following of fine jewelry lovers to the younger set. Its new line of 14K gold and enamel earrings, bracelets and necklaces, called Rock Candy — get it? — offers a colorful range of options for kids ages 7 to 13.

Owner/founder Jamie Camche made the move after seeing so many new clients, with young children. They were particularly interested in earrings, so the gold and enamel studs take the form of emojis, ice cream cones and empowering statements like “Yes.” Necklaces and bracelets come in rainbow hues.

Click here to purchase and for more information, or check out Jamie’s 292 Post Road East or Greenwich stores.

Kids’ bracelets and earrings at JL Rocks.

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Hot on the heels of another trip to Guatemala, Builders Beyond Borders hosts an open house for students and parents interested in learning more about the travel-and-work program.

It’s this Sunday (May 1, 3 to 4:30 p.m., 66 Fort Point Street, Norwalk), Click here to RSVP, or email b3news@buildersbeyondborders.org.

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Mila Grieb — well known locally for her 45 years as a realtor — died April 17.

Born in El Dorado, Arkansas, she considered herself to be from Shreveport, Louisiana where she spent most of her youth. She then lived in Weston and Westport for more than 65 years.

Mila worked at Helen Benson Associates for 15 years, before founding Mila Grieb Village Realty in 1984. The boutique agency succeeded due in part to her creative promotions and advertising. She sold it to Coldwell Banker after more than 15 years. “We were proud to have her on our team,” Coldwell said.

Her friends and associates in real estate industry called her “a class act … She was an amazing woman who achieved great success in a challenging business while still maintaining her grace, charm, kindness, humor, and integrity.”

Mila graduated from Northwestern University. She was a former Conover model and a stage actress. She and her husband Warren were co-presidents of the Weston PTO. They founded the Weston Memorial Day Fair, which continues today.

During the 1970s, she and Warren also owned and operated the Arnold Palmer Driving Range and Miniature Golf Course in Westport. Mila was a member of the First Church of Christ Scientist, Westport, CT.

Mila’s family calls her “a good friend, a fabulous mom, and a wonderful and supportive wife. She made a tremendous difference in the lives of those who knew her. She will be remembered for her outgoing personality, creativity, kindness, humor, wit, and deep love of family.”

Mila is survived by her daughters Nancy Joy (Evan) Wilsnack of Boynton Beach, Florida, Janet Adams-O’Keefe of Westport, and Wendy Grieb (Robert) Moore of Coronado, California; grandchildren Justin Hopfer of Los Angeles, Jarrod Hopfer of Bozeman, Montana, Christopher Wilsnack of Bentonville, Arkansas, Alisha Holden of Boynton Beach, Weston Moore of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Sarah Moore of Coronado, and 7 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The First Church of Christ Scientist Westport, 55 Compo Road South, Westport, CT 06880 or the Humane Society of Connecticut, 455 Post Road E, Westport, CT 06880. Mila will be remembered and celebrated privately by her family.

Mila Grieb

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Today’s graceful, peaceful “Westport … Naturally” image comes from Wendy Levy, at choppy Compo Beach:

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally … today is the birthday of Sergei Prokofiev. The Russian pianist, composer and conductor was born in 1891. He died in 1953. Among his most famous works:

Roundup: Y & Ukraine, Descendants, myTeamTriumph …

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The world knows Lindsay Czarniak as a Fox Sports anchor and reporter.

Westporters know her as our neighbor.

Westport Weston Family YMCA members know her as a fellow cardio fitness class member. Instructor Ashlee Grieb is a longtime friend.

The other day, Lindsay posted a story to her 180,000 Instagram followers. She described how Ashlee introduced a song requested by Jane Laska, a fellow group member.

Jane came to the US from Ukraine years ago, as an exchange student. She fell in love with a man from Alabama, and married him. They live here now, where she’s raising a family.

But her own family, and many friends, remain in Ukraine.

Ashlee then played a song — “Good Evening, We Are From Ukraine” — as a way to support Jane. And she added her own choreography.

It was a special moment, for Ashlee and Jane.

It was special enough for Lindsay to post about it. It already has over 10,000 likes. Click below to see for yourself. (Hat tip: Julie Maciejewski)

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Didn’t get a chance to see “Descendants: The Musical”?

Staples Players’ lively musical has 3 more dates: tomorrow (Friday, April 8, 7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (April 9, 3 and 7:30 p.m.). Click here for tickets, and more information.

Not sure about it? Need a little push?

Disney executives came to Westport during rehearsals. Staples is piloting the show, and they wanted to see it in action.

They brought a camera crew. The teenage actors and tech crew were eager to talk about the show’s message — and its energy.

The result is a sizzling sizzle reel. Click below to see:

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Speaking of live theater, here’s a message to the woman sitting next to me at last night’s powerful Westport Country Playhouse performance of “Next to Normal”:

Unless you’re waiting for a kidney, there’s no need to check email messages on your phone in the middle of a show.

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It was Staples Day yesterday, when Middlebury and Union faced each other in a college baseball game.

Both starting pitchers were former Wrecker teammates: Justin Lessing for the Panthers, Harry Azadian for the Dutchmen. George Goldstein also pitched, for Middlebury.

George got the victory, 7-5. But the real winner was Staples baseball.

George Goldstein (Photo/David Goldstein)

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In a town filled with volunteer opportunities, myTeamTriumph stands out.

The program pairs children, teens and adults with disabilities (“captains”) with volunteers (“angels”) who help them participate in triathlons and road races. In those events, everyone truly is a winner.

The next big event is the Westport Young Woman’s League’s Minute Man 10K and 5K Runs, and 5K Walk, on April 30.

MyTeamTriumph always looks for more captains (special needs athletes). They’re also short of angels (volunteer runners). This is their first time participating in the Minute Man.

They’re excited to provide an opportunity for people with special needs (and their families) to have increased visibility, and be involved in a great community event.

There is no cost. Angels can be any ability of runner or jogger.

Captains and angels can click here to sign up. MyTeamTriumph will take care of race registration.

Questions? Email kziebell@myteamtriumph-ct.org. For more information on myTeamTriumph, click here.

Sami Leskin, racing with myTeamTriumph in the 2018 Westport Triathlon.

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The Westport Library’s Spring Book Sale returns soon.

From April 29 through May 2, thousands of “gently used” books, in over 40 categories of fiction and non-fiction, for children and adults, plus antiquarian volumes, CDs and DVDs, will be on sale (and cheap!) in the Library.

Of special interest this year:

  • Vintage matchbooks from around the country
  • Antique photographs and daguerreotypes
  • Psychology texts for the practitioner
  • Large selection of books in German and Czechoslovakian
  • Many “Great Courses” DVDs.

Vinyl records (and of course more books) are available across Jesup Green, at the Westport Book Shop.

Admission is free, though there’s a special “early bird” admission on Friday, April 29 (8 to 9 a.m.; click here for tickets, beginning April 18 at 9 a.m.).

For exact times and more information, click here. To volunteer to help, click here or email volunteers@westportbooksales.org.

Can’t make it? Shop 24/7 on the book sale’s online store, or at their new eBay store.

Westport LIbrary Book Sale.

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In June, 22 Staples High School students will graduate with high honors. The distinction goes to those with a GPA in the top 4% of the graduating class.

Principal Stafford Thomas says, “This class is extremely talented. The most
astonishing aspect is that these students were involved in a number of
extracurricular activities and various aspects of school life which took a great deal of time, focus and concentration outside of the classroom as well.

We were lucky to have had them for 4 years, and we will no doubt hear about their next great achievements in the years to come.”

High honor graduates include: Emma Alcyone, Natalie Bandura, Gregory Beal, Zachary Bishop, Michael Brody, Oliver Clachko, Sabrina Didner, Erin Durkin, Matthew Genser, Alexandra Maskoff, Aidan Mermagen, Gabriella Messenger,
Tessa Moore, Luke Morelli, Chloe Nevas, Emma Nordberg, Talia Perkins, Finn Popken, Ishan Prasad, Jessica Qi, Allison Schwartz and Julian Weng.

Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas (back row, far left) and assistant principal Chase Dunlap (back row, far right), with Class of 2022 high honors graduates.

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Though dogs are banned for the spring and summer at Compo Beach, they’re still welcome at Sherwood Island — but only through April 14.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows a bit of canine joy at Connecticut’s first state park.

(Photo/Cathy Malkin)

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And finally … people of a certain age knew him as a smooth-voiced, good-looking pop singer in the pre-Beatles days. He had 19 Billboard Top 40 hits,.

People of a younger age knew his name only because it was a fictional high school in “Grease.”

He was Bobby Rydell. He died Tuesday near Philadelphia, his longtime home, from complications of pneumonia. He was 79. Click here for a full obituary.

Roundup: Green Acre Teardown, Tax Help, Ukraine Aid …

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Westport teardowns happen so often, they’re not news.

This one might be.

A 5,400-square foot, 5-bedroom, 4 1/2-bathroom 1930 Tudor at 36 Green Acre Lane — well known by visitors to nearby Haskins Preserve — will be demolished soon. A 180-day waiting period set by the Historic District Commission has expired.

Westport Journal reports that property was sold in 2020 for $2,570,000. 

36 Green Acre Lane will be demolished soon.

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Who you gonna believe?

The sign on Jersey Mike’s says “Permanently Closed.” A couple of screen shots on social media show the Westport location as “Temporarily Closed for Renovation.” The app and website list it along with all the others as open.

Meanwhile, the phone rings there, but no one answers.

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It’s late March. April 15 — Tax Day — is closer than you think.

Help is closer than you think too — at least, for preparing your forms.

No-cost, full-service tax preparation assistance is available, with special attention to seniors and low- to moderate-income households.

The program — offered by Westport’s Department of Human Services, through VITA/IRS volunteers — includes both personal counseling by appointment at Town Hall and the Senior Center, and virtually through a secure website.

Counseling at Town Hall is available Mondays (1 to 6 p.m.) and the Senior Center (Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.). Appointments are required; call 860-590-8910.

Click here for the virtual option.

The free Tax Assistance Program is available to all individual filers regardless of income or age. Last year, more than 5,000 returns were prepared and filed – almost all electronically – by the counselor group that services Westport. Federal refunds totaling $4,500,000 were received by clients..

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Staples High School Class of 1972 graduates Tom McCann and his wife Mary-Jo Birtwell McCann live on Nantucket now.

But they’re helping Ukraine relief efforts. And they invite Westporters to participate.

For the past 10 days, Mary-Jo shopped and shipped for items to send to 2 refugee centers in Poland. Next week, Tom and 4 others from the island will head to those centers, to assist personally.

Financial support is needed for the mission. Venmo this link, or send a check to: Tom McCann, 35 Hummock Pond Road, Nantucket, MA 02554.

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Speaking of Ukraine: Steve Taranko reports that a recent shipment of tourniquets — donated by generous Westporters and others — has arrived overseas.

Unfortunately, they’re desperately needed.

Tourniquets in Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Steve Taranko)

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Bob Knoebel — longtime Westport YMCA aquatics director and Water Rats coach — now lives in Idaho. The other day, he traveled east and visited with his own Staples High School swim coach from 51 years ago, Bruce Gardiner.

Bruce is retired, after a long career as director of admissions at Lehigh University. Bob posted a photo on Facebook, adding: “Thanking you properly for being a fantastic coach, and apologizing for the awkward, tongue-tied thank you I delivered at the banquet as team captain in 1971.”

Bob Knoebel (left) and Bruce Gardiner, at Lehigh University.

Bob also sends along an update on his godson Enrique, profiled 4 years ago on “06880”:

He’s graduating from Bates College in May with a double major in economics and Latin American studies, and landed a job at First Republic Bank in San Francisco.

In the Small World Department: He worked remotely from campus this year for native Westporters and Water Rats David and Danny Platow who are at a New York branch of First Republic.

Bob had nothing to do with it, though. Enrique was linked to them by his boss, after interning for her last summer in San Francisco.

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Staples just wrapped up a very successful World Language Week.

Each day began with music related to the Language of the Day — Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin and Mandarin. Morning announcements (including the Pledge of Allegiance) were made by students, in the language of the day.

Language clubs raised awareness — and funds for less fortunate youngsters in other countries.

The Italian Club, for example, collected $400 for at-risk youths in Napoli. The club  also offered Italian pins, bracelets, lanyards and Italian goodie bags. Grazie! (Hat tip: Bruno Guiduli)

Italian Club members outside the Staples cafeteria, with goodies (from left): Luca Caniato, Bruno Guiduli, David Sedrak, Amanda Rowan, Maisy Weber, Caroline Motyl.

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In September, the Westport Unitarian Church high school youth group embarked on an intensive environmental initiative. The goal was to become more mindful of how everyday decisions profoundly affect the Earth.

That effort culminates next month in a trip to Alaska, to see the effects of climate change close up. Members hope to return both nourished by nature, and awakened to the realization that we live on an amazing planet that we often take for granted.

To help fund their trip, the youth group presents an “Afternoon of Music and Laughter.” It’s this Sunday (March 27, 2 p.m., both in-person at the Unitarian Church and via Zoom). The program includes vocal music, classical piano and guitar, comedy routines and more.

Tickets are $25 each. They’re available at the door, and online (click here).

Unitarian Church high school youth group.

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Thomas Howard, a well-respected economist, lifelong adventurer and Westport resident, died last week while mountaineering in the Adirondacks.  He was 63.

His family says, “Many will remember him for his deep morality, thoughtfulness, loving nature, intellectual capacity, generosity, and playful sense of humor.”

He was born in 1958 in Richmond, Virginia. At both the Highgate School in London and Hopkins School in New Haven he was an avid track and cross country runner, at one point setting the 10K record in Britain for his age group.

At Dartmouth College he studied math under John Kemeny. and became his teaching assistant. He completed an honors thesis exploring the equations and logic required to teach computers to talk. He earned a doctorate in economics from Yale University, where he expanded on an interest in econometrics and completed a dissertation on employment uncertainty under advisor Robert Shiller.

During his 40-plus year career Tom worked as a computer programmer for the Pentagon, a macroeconomist for Fuji Bank, and a consultant for Arthur D. Little and PIRA Energy. He was skilled in forecasting, econometrics, data analysis, and formulating options trading strategies. Other employers included Louis Dreyfus, Statoil and, most recently, the Department of Defense.

Tom was an accomplished mountaineer and hiker. He spent over 40 years climbing some of the most challenging mountains on the globe: ascending Mt. McKinley, Mt. Huascaran in Peru and Xixabangma Peak in the Himalayas, to name a few. He hiked the 273-mile Long Trail in Vermont and the entirety of the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia. In October 2021 he crossed the entire White Mountain Presidential Range in one day. Tom aspired to climb the second-highest mountain on all 7 continents. Hw finished the first part of this journey when he scaled Mt. Kenya in the fall of 2021.

Tom is survived by his wife, Zhu Zhang Howard (Julie), and daughters Gwendolyn and Madison Howard. He met Julie while working in New York; they married in 1993, and moved to Westport in 1997. He is also survived by his siblings Margaret Paar of Niantic; James Elbert of Wallingford; Amy Howard Chase of New Rochelle, New York; Mary Howard of Branford; Martha Howard of Guilford, and Emily Howard of Washington, DC, plus many nieces and nephews.

Visitation hours at the Courtyard Marriott, 474 Main Street, Norwalk will be tomorrow (Friday, March 25, 5-8 p.m.). A Funeral Mass will be held Saturday, (March 26, 11 a.m., St. Luke Church), and can be viewed via livestream. A reception will follow to celebrate his life. Masks are recommended.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in the name of Tom Howard to Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks, benefitting search and rescue efforts in the Northern Adirondacks, or St, Luke Church.

Thomas Howard

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Today is pretty gray. Two days ago, dogs romped on Compo — as our “Westport … Naturally” feature shows. Their time is limited though. On April 1, they’re banned from the beach for 6 months.

(Photo/Cathy Malkin)

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And finally … in honor of Staples High’s World Language Week (story above), and the fundraising work of the school’s Italian Club, here’s a song everyone loves:

Roundup: Affordable Housing, Ukraine Help, Punk …

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Affordable housing is an important topic in Westport. What’s Westport’s plan for it?

Tomorrow (March 16, 7 p.m. Town Hall),First Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin kick off the planning process for our town’s “Five Year Affordability Plan.” The public is invited.

For those who can’t attend, the event will be livestreamed at www.westportct.gov.

In other housing news, both Tooker and Dobin testified yesterday before the Connecticut General Assembly’s Planning & Development Committee. They spoke against House Bill 5429, which would permit up to 15 housing units per acre within a one-half mile radius of any train station in Connecticut.

For decades, Hales Court has offered affordable housing in Westport.

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Buck Rosenfield is one of those people who always lends Westporters a helping hand.

Now the 1976 Staples High School graduate is doing it for Ukrainian refugees — overseas.

He posted on Facebook:

“Tonight I worked at a cluster of medical tents. About 2,000 to 3,000 people have passed down this makeshift tent corridor from the Polish checkpoint at the border. There is everything here from pampers to candy, kids’ toys, gloves, clothing, and a human warmth that betrays the long lines and long waits to enter.

“I took a night shift so doctors could sleep. Unknown to me, the border stayed open to the checkpoint. Usually it closes around midnight. There were donated blankets in front of the med tents. I tried to cover children and babies as they passed our way. Their eyes and smiles needed no translation, at the the entrance of Poland from Ukraine.

“Mostly girls, women and children. Men between 16 and 60 must stay in Ukraine.

“Tomorrow will be different. We heard the sounds of a few explosions earlier. Two too many.” (Hat tip: Chip Stephens)

The scene at the Poland border. The 3 smaller lights are in Ukraine. (Photo/Buck Rosenfield)

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Here’s word of a Ukraine Relief Supply Drive nearby.

Medicine, warm clothes, toiletries, hygiene items, blanks, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, batteries, flashlights and baby items can be dropped off today and tomorrow (March 15-16), from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the POTOO garage lobby, 40 Richards Avenue in Norwalk. (Hat tip: Bob Weingarten)

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“Hey, punk!”

Yeah, you — punk fans.

MoCA Westport next exhibit is “Punk is Coming.” The group show features over 50 photographers, filmmakers and artists whose work defined the punk era in 1970s New York, London, Los Angeles and other cities around the world.

The exhibition includes never-before-seen videos and photographs, artworks created by the punk era’s musicians, and contemporary works heavily influenced by the movement.

An opening reception for the exhibition is set for Saturday, March 26 (6-8 p.m., MoCA Westport, 19 Newtown Turnpike). The public is invited. Click here for details.

Patti Smith and Fred Sonic Smith, in 1980. (Photo/Sue Rynski)

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Replacement of the Burying Hill Beach jetty is moving ahead rapidly.

Yesterday (below) equipment moved into place:

(Photo/William Weiss)

This morning, it was already at work:

(Photo/Art Schoeller, president, Greens Farms Association)

The site is set up to allow pedestrian access to the beach — and the ability to view construction, as it occurs.

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Some good news about David Hidalgo, the beloved local carpenter, handyman, home improvement guy extraordinaire from Costa Rica with 2 young kids, who has battled leukemia.

While he continues treatment, and prepares for a bone marrow transplant, he is working on a new business.

David’s sister and brother-in-law moved from New Jersey to Connecticut to be closer to David and his family. Ariel is a gardener and landscaper, who is eager to find new clients around here. He can do spring clean-ups, plantings, yard maintenance, weekly or biweekly mowing – whatever you need.

He will be guided closely by David, who understands the service level of people around here, and will ensure that clients are as happy with Ariel’s service as they have been with David’s work for many years.

Contact David Hidalgo (203 919-3321) or Ariel Blanco (732 288-3453) for details. (Hat tip: Jennifer Zorek-Pressman)

David Hidalgo and family.

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Staples High School sent one gymnast to the New England championship last weekend.

Mia Guster made the most of her chance. Placing 8th in the vault (9.45 score), 12th in the floor competiton (9.15) and in the top 30 for beam (8.9), she qualified for the high school national meet in Florida this June.

Congratulations, Mia! (Hat tip: Nancy Lally)

Mia Guster

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Speaking of sports: The Westport Weston Family YMCA hosted the Connecticut State Short Course 10/Under Age Group Championship last weekend. The host Water Rat swim team placed 1st place, out of 43 teams.

All 6 relay teams claimed spots on the podium. Individual results were strong too, with every swimmer recording a personal best in at least one event.

Next up: state championship for age groups 11-12 and 13-14 this weekend.

1st place in the 400 yard medley relay: Zadie Schatz, Avery Mihelic, Valentina Belyaev, Drew McInerney. (Photo/Christine Schatz)

Finishing 2nd in the 400 yard free relay, front row (from left): Lewis Meyers, Spencer Cheung. Top row: Miles Pearson, Luke McGuinn. (Photo/Sarin Cheung).

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Who doesn’t love alpacas. They — and sheep, chickens and many more animals — have a home at Wakeman Town Farm. And they’re the stars of today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/Cathy Malkin)

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And finally … today is the Ides of March. So of course: