Category Archives: YMCA

Roundup: WTC, RTM, Y …

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A crowd of 100 people gathered in the cold yesterday evening at Town Hall, for a candlelight vigil to support Ukraine. Mark Yurkiw reports:

“I was surprised to learn how many Ukrainians and non- Ukrainians showed up. and how concerned so many were for their friends and family in Ukraine.

“They told stories of intermittent conversations between scrambles to bomb shelters, and children sleeping on thin mats on concrete. An invisible yet potent bond wove through the crowd.

“It took me by surprise, and made me realize how cathartic it is for a crowd of strangers to feel almost instantly connected.”

A rally in Westport is set for this Saturday (March 5), at 11 a.m. on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown.

Ukraine rally at Weston Town Hall (Photo/Mark Yurkiw)

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February 26 marked the 29th anniversary of the first World Trade Center bombing — the one in 1993.

There’s a new memorial on the site, built after the 2001 terrorist attack. For almost a decade, RTM member Andrew Colabella has gone there on that date, to pay respects and join the survivors who gather there.

His cousin was one of 6 people killed in the 1993 attack.

This year, Andrew met Daniel Geraghty there. In November, the former Staples High School English teacher published Cast Away Stones: An Eyewitness Account of 9/11 and Memoir of a Survivor, Soldier Citizen, a gripping account of his 20-year battle to overcome PTSD.

Andrew Colabella (left) and Daniel Geraghty, at the 9/11 Memorial.

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Speaking of the RTM: Sure, you hear about it all the time. (Like in the item just above this one.)

But admit it: Do your know what it does? Or even what the acronym stands for?

On March 23 (7 p.m., Westport Library in-person and Zoom), Westport’s League of Women Voters presents “Know Your Town: The RTM.”

Former moderator (what’s that?!) Velma Heller will discuss its history. Current member Matthew Mandell will explain what it can do — and what it can’t. Current moderator Jeff Wieser will offer his insights too.

Click here for more information, and registration.

Okay, okay: RTM stands for “Representative Town Meeting.” Impress your friends!

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The other day, “06880” published Carl Addison Swanson’s “Kvetch of the Week.” He noted that an 80+ North Avenue neighbor was afraid to get her mail, for fear of being hit by a speeding car.

Carl noted his frustration at trying to get blinking lights or other traffic control devices on the heavily traveled road, home to 4 of Westport’s 8 schools.

Fast (ho ho) forward a few days. There’s now a sign showing “Your Speed” at the base of the hill, near the Bedford Middle School entrance.

Congrats, Carl — and everyone else who lived in the area. And let’s hope there are more such solutions to come.

“Your Speed” sign on North Avenue. (Photo/Carl Addison Swanson)

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The new manager and vice president of People’s United Bank’s Westport office is … Matthew Cummings.

It’s a homecoming of sorts. He’s a 1986 graduate of Staples High School, where he captained the ski team and played football and baseball. He lifeguarded in the summers, then graduated from the University of Colorado.

Matt’s (very proud) mother is Betty Lou Cummings, former 2nd selectwoman, Apple Festival co-founder, and volunteer with countless other organizations and projects.

She’s also a former Michigan State University cheerleader. And Betty Lou never stops cheering for her son.

Matthew Cummings

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After 34 years leading the Westport Weston Family Y’s gymnastics program, Sally Silverstein has retired.

But she won’t be forgotten.

This Friday (6:30 p.m.), the Y, hosts a naming ceremony for the Gymnastics Center’s new Sally Silverstein Viewing Area. Many of the program’s 500 gymnasts will be there. Of course, Sally’s many friends — and all her former athletes, and their families — are invited.

Sally Silverstein

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Speaking of plants: Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows some nice basil, flowering in Molly Alger’s windowsill:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally …  it’s March 1. It’s the month that comes in like a — well, you know:

Unsung Hero #228

Sally Silverstein was raised in Norwalk. But she grew up — literally and figuratively — at the Westport YMCA.

She swam with the Water Rats, competed on the gymnastics team, and worked as a counselor and swim instructor at Camp Mahackeno.

Sally knew legendary director Matt Johnson well. A few years after college — when she’d taught phys. ed. at Norwalk High for a couple of years, and started raising her own children — he called.

Sally Silverstein’s last photo with Matt Johnson, at the downtown YMCA.

He wanted to grow the Y’s small gymnastics program. He invited her to see.

Class was held in the upper gymnasium of the then-downtown building. There was no equipment. She figured, why not?

Staples High School was getting rid of its gymnastics apparatus. She took a van, and picked up vaults, beams and bars.

The equipment had to be set up each day, then broken down after each session. But Sally was all in. Quickly, the program grew.

Sally Silverstein

After Johnson retired, new CEO Dotty Kyle offered Sally a full-time job as sports and recreation director. Soon, she took over the dance department too.

The gymnastics program moved to the 3rd floor of the old Y. The ceiling was 12 feet high. Sally’s gymnasts were good. She worried they’d leap off the high bar and hit it. The Y built skylights there, for extra room.

The long path to a new YMCA at the Mahackeno campus was controversial for many reasons — including elimination of the gymnastics center, for budget reasons.

Y officials wanted to end the program altogether. But parents and staff fought to keep it. Space was found in Norwalk. The program thrived.

Finally, a sparlking gymnastics center was built during Phase 2 at the “new” Y. At 11,000 square feet, it’s nearly double the Norwalk space — and triple the downtown YMCA.

The Westport Weston Family YMCA Phase 2 project added a gymnastics center (right).

Sally is a firm believer in the importance of the gymnastics program. Beyond coordination, it teaches importance lessons like discipline, organization and accountability. And, she says, those all carry over into enhanced academic performance.

She’s proud too of the family environment she’s created. Parents are eager to help, and children know that they have a warm, embracing home at the Westport Y Gymnastics Center.

More than 3 decades later, members of Sally Silverstein’s first YMCA gymnastics team still keep in touch. The other day, they met for lunch.

COVID has taken a toll on the program. Some youngsters have been in gymnastics for 2 years, yet only now compete against other teams. When parents came — finally — to the holiday exhibition, it was the first time for many they’d even seen the new Y facility.

Earlier this month — after 34 years directing the gymnastics program — Sally retired. On her last day, she sat everyone in a circle and asked them to share their favorite experience.

Because of the pandemic,  younger gymnasts had never traveled on Sally’s trips across the country, and to Europe. They had never marched in a Washington parade, or gone to Olympic trials. They listened in awe to the stories of her older gymnasts.

Sally Silverstein’s showtime exhibition team win gold at USA Group Gymnastics Nationals.

As she retires, Sally holds those memories close. She also thinks of her staff — another family she created over the years. Like Sally, many grew up in the Y program. “They made everything we did possible, she says gratefully.

“I wouldn’t have stayed if the community hadn’t been so wonderful,” she says. “Parents — and others — always wanted to help.”

Among those others: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. They always covered expenses for youngsters who could not afford a trip, or new gymnastics outfits.

(Newman knew Sally well. When she took down equipment at the old Y, it was so the actor could play badminton. If there was a fundraising bake sale in the building, he always bought a brownie.)

For 34 years, Sally has directed, coached and taught 7 days a week. She’s too young and energetic not to keep working at something. She will take a bit of time off though, before figuring out what’s next. She may give back to a hospital, which has helped care for a sick family member for many years.

She looks forward to taking her grandchildren to Disney World, spending time with her 99-year-old mother, and her husband of 41 years, Tim — “my best friend.”

Sally and Tim Silverstein with their grandchildren Jonathan and Nicole.

“I still love the Y,” Sally says.

After 34 years of service — and many more, as a growing-up kid — Sally Silverstein deserves the thanks of a grateful Westport Weston Family YMCA.

And of the greater community too. Which is why she is this week’s “06880” Unsung Hero of the Week. Congratulations, Sally!

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email 06880blog@gmail.com)

Sally and Tim Silverstein with their son Michael and daughter Lindsay.

Roundup: School Visitors, Stop & Shop, Lunar New Year …

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With COVID cases decreasing, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice has announced that as of January 31, visitors will be allowed back in buildings. All visitors will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test administered 72 prior to the visit.

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Stop & Shop may still be confounding customers with its “redesign.” But they are on the ball with one thing. Last week, “06888” called the supermarket out on their flyer, which announced their “reopening” (though they never closed) as taking place in “East Westport.”

This week, they got it right:

Now, if we can just figure out where they moved the coffee to … (Hat tip: Beth Keane)

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In just a year of operation, AAPI Westport has made its mark on Westport.

Next up: a Lunar Year celebration. It’s set for the Westport Weston Family Y, on Saturday, February 5 (1 to 3 p.m.).

On tap: crafts, games and a cooking demonstration (dumplings!). Everyone is welcome.

The event is free. Registration is recommended, but not required; click here.

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Congratulations to the Staples/Stamford/Westhill girls ice hockey coop team. They’re the Ruden Report Team of the Week, following a great 0-0 tie against powerhouse Darien.

The girls practice at 5:30 a.m. — in Stamford — once a week. But you can catch them working out on Fridays after school, at the Longshore PAL rink.

The Staples/Stamford/Westhiill girls ice hockey coop team.

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Ever since COVID struck, Westporters have discovered the wide open spaces and beauty of Sherwood Island State Park. Fred Cantor took this “Westport … Naturally” photo last week.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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And finally … today is the birthday of Chita Rivera. The actress/singer/dancer is 89 years old.

Roundup: Homemade Pies, Swim Records, Will Haskell …

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The Westport Young Woman’s League’s newest holiday fundraiser may be its sweetest one yet.

They’re selling Lyman Orchards homemade pies and cookies. Each purchase supports the WYWL grants program that funds local non-profit organizations.

Orders may be placed through Tuesday (November 23) with WYWL for a variety of pies and cookie dough, frozen fresh for delivery. They can be kept fresh in the freezer until ready to bake and serve.

Orders can be picked up at the Westport VFW (465 Riverside Avenue) on Friday and Saturday, December 17-18. 

WYWL members also offer holiday gift wrapping, for a recommended donation of $5 per gift. Items can be dropped off at the VFW on those same  days (December 17-18).

Click here to place pie and cookie orders.

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It sounds like a broken record: The Staples High School girls swim tam broke 4 records again.

Wednesday night’s eye-popping performances came at the class LL (extra large schools) state finals at Southern Connecticut State University. Freshman Annam Olasewere rewrote the state and LL record books in 2 freestyle races. The freshman wowed the crowd with a time of 22.67 in the 50 free, breaking the 2016 record of 23.02. She also took the 100 free in record time, with a blistering 50.14.

Staples, which placed 4th overall, also saw 2 relay teams finish first in record times. The 200 freestyle foursome of Jessica Qi, Ella Alpert, Ayaan Olasewere and Annam Oleseree broke the 25-year-old state record, with a time of 1:35.75. Qi, Alpert, Ayaan and Annam Olasewere came back to win the 400 freestyle relay in yet another state record time: 3:28.54.

Up next: the state open meet tomorrow (Sunday) in West Hartford.

Congratulations to coaches Mike Anderson, Elaine Rankowitz and Kuku Fleming. — and of course to the girls! Can you imagine what they’ll accomplish as seniors?!

Staples’ record-setting 400 meter free relay team (from left): Ella Alpert, Annam Olasewere, Ayaan Olasewere, Jessica Qi.

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Speaking of swimming: Earlier this month, the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Water Rats swim team ran a food drive. They collected 880 pounds of food — nearly half a ton — for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. Those donations will provide 735 Thanksgiving meals.

Team members also collected $205 in cash, good for 82 more meals.

The entire Water Rats team participated, from pre-competitive swimmers to seniors.

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Yesterday, driving around his old Drumlin Road neighborhood, Fred Cantor saw former neighbor Gordon Hall.

The longtime — and long-respected — Staples social studies teacher turns 94 today. Happy birthday, Mr. Hall!

Gordon Hall (Photo/Fred Cantor)

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Will Haskell is in his 2nd term as Westport’s state senator. When he was elected in 2018, he was the youngest legislator in the country.

He’s still not far removed from his Georgetown University days. He’s a proud alum — and his school is proud of him.

The other day, the school newspaper The Hoya interviewed Haskell. Click here to read his thoughts on government, politics, his college experience and more. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

State Senator Will Haskell

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The early bird gets the Westport Country Playhouse summer camp worm.

“Early bird pricing” is available now through December 5 for CampWCP, a social justice theater program for 20 middle school students (June 27 through July 23).

The camp “empowers young artists to activate their creative voice on issues that matter to them and turn it into something theatrical — so that they can ignite social change for their community and beyond.”

Campers explore the art of playwriting, and create and perform an original play. devise their own play. They learn acting techniques, and participate in workshops with Playhouse staff. For details and registration, click here.

CampWCP is open for registration.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image shows the Saugatuck River at sunset. This natural resource never gets old.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

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And finally … music photographer Mick Rock died recently. He was 72.

Among his subjects: David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Queen, Syd Barrett, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Motley Crue, T. Rex, Blondie and Thin Lizzy. He shot the covers of albums like “Queen II,” Reed’s “Transformer” and “Coney Island Baby,” Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the Stooges’ Raw Power.

He also directed Bowie’s music videos for “I’m Only Dancing,” “Jean Genie,” “Space Oddity” and “Life on Mars.”

Click here for a full obituary. (Hat tip: Amy Schneider)

 

All campers are

Pic Of The Day #1676

During the summer, the slides at Mahackeno are filled with happy campers. During fall, they lie fallow. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

Roundup: Paul Newman, Food Drive, Local Brands …

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Paul Newman died in 2008.

But the actor/philanthropist/race car driver lives on in many Westporters’ memories.

Next fall, he’ll live on in a memoir. And it began right here, in the town he lived in and loved for 50 years.

According to the New York Times, he was frustrated by unauthorized biographies and other stories. So he recorded his own oral history.

But the transcripts were “forgotten in the basement laundry room” of his home.

Newman’s family will turn the transcripts into a book. Knopf will publish it next fall.

He spoke about “his difficult relationship with his parents, as well as his troubles with drinking, his shortcomings as a husband in his first marriage, and his flaws as a parent. It is candid about his sorrow when his son, Scott, died of a drug and alcohol overdose at 28.”

Click here for the full Times story. (Hat tips: Johanna Rossi and Fred Cantor)

The man. The legend. The US postage stamp.

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The Westport-Weston YMCA Water Rats are a great swim program.

They’re also much more.

This Saturday (November 6, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), they host their annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, to benefit the Bridgeport Rescue Mission

Food will be collected in the Y’s drop-off/pick-up circle. Just pop your trunk. the Water Rat swimmers will happily collect donations.

Needed items include cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, gravy, canned green beans, canned corn, canned peas, soup, canned sweet potatoes, peanut butter and jelly, tuna, canned chicken, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, dry cereal, powdered drink mix, coffee, sugar, powdered creamer and frozen turkeys.

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Local to Market — the new curated shop in the old Talbot’s/Remarkable Book Shop at the Main Street/Parker Harding Plaza patio — introduces some exciting Connecticut-based vendors this Saturday (2 to 5 p.m.).

Shoppers are invited to meet the founders of some cool brands. They’ll tell their founding stories, and showcase their products.

There’s music too, plus works from the Westport Artists Collective.

Among the brands:

  • Cloud Lane Bakery
  • Nitnoi Provisions
  • Ivy Gourmet Granola
  • Alma Mexican Foods
  • Wise Guy Sauce
  • Kneads
  • Stylish Spoon
  • The Bites Company
  • Wonderland Jam

The Local to Market patio.

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Also this weekend: The Westport Woman’s Club‘s annual Clothing Tag Sale.

It starts tomorrow (Friday, November 5) and continues Saturday (both days, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Sunday hours are noon to 3 p.m.

Among the items on sale inside the clubhouse (44 Imperial Avenue): clothing at great prices for men, women and children, plus shoes, handbags, jewelry, scarves, hats and more.

Funds raised support the Woman’s Club many philanthropic efforts.

The Westport Woman’s Club opens its doors for a great clothing tag sale.

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Did these guys pose for today’s “Westport … Naturally” shot?

No. But it sure looks like they did.

(Photo/JC Martin)

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And finally … Ronnie Wilson, a founding member of The Gap Band — has died. He was 73.

NPR says the group’s” distinctive electro-funk style (defined the 1980s’) increasingly synth-heavy R&B sound.” Click here for a full obituary.

 

Roundup: Car Robbery, NY Marathon, Election Debate …

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The weather was great — and crowds large — for yesterday’s Westoberfest.

It wasn’t just about the craft beers. Among the scenes at the Westport Downtown Association-sponsored event: fun for kids.

(Photo/JC Martin)

A Post Road West business owner writes:

A technician was in my store Thursday evening, fixing our Wifi network and cameras.

Around 10 p.m. he saw a guy trying to break into his car, which was parked in front. He banged on the window to get him to stop. He didn’t want to step outside, because the man had a backpack. My network guy didn’t know if there was a weapon inside.

My guy called the police. The cops arrived very quickly.

Incredibly, while waiting for the police, my guy started praying for a safe resolution. When he looked outside, the robber stopped trying to break into the car. He started sobbing and praying as well.

My guy said that somehow his prayer had something to do with the change of heart of the would-be robber.

The police took him in without incident. But they said that was the third call of a car break-in that night.

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Todd Suchotliff moved to Westport this summer. He’s enjoyed running through town. Next Sunday (October 24) he’ll run the New York Marathon — right here.

He encourages his new neighbors (and strangers!) to cheer him on, or join him for part of the route.

It’s his 9th straight NYC Marathon — and the 2nd virtual one. He runs in memory of his mother, who died of chronic lymphocytic leukemia 9 years ago this Tuesday. It’s his way of keeping her fighting spirit alive (and supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society — click here to help).

Todd has been training with his kids, and been motivated by the beauty of Westport.

His long runs start at his home on River Lane. He goes down Wilton Road, across the Saugatuck, up Cross Highway to Sturges Highway, down across Post Road to Greens Farms Road, turning at Hillspoint Road to Compo and through Longshore, then back across the Saugatuck on Bridge Street, up to Wilton Road and home.

“I realize it looks crazy, written out like that,” todd says. “But that’s more or less (actually more) the marathon route.”

His shorter runs, with his kids, include Compo and Longshore. They finish at the beach playground, and top the day off with donuts from Coffee An’ on the way home.

Todd Suchotliff and his kids.

Todd’s “NYC Marathon” route through Westport.

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As the days dwindle before the election, the League of Women Voters Westport is gearing up for a pair of debates. They’re set for Monday and Tuesday, October 25 and 26 (7 to 9 p.m.).

The first debate includes candidates for first and second selectmen, and the Boards of Finance and Assessment Appeals.

The second is for the Board of Education, and Planning & Zoning Commission.

Candidates will be in Town Hall, but there is no live audience. The debates can be watched on Cablevision Channel 79, or livestreamed from the town website.

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There must be a reason this driver chose this parking spot at Long Lots Elementary School.

But I sure don’t know what it is.

Guesses are welcome. Click “Comments” below.

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In the midst of COVID, Staples High School Class of 2002 graduate Sarah Kesselman and her boyfriend Hermes Arriola filmed a series for YouTube. it features snacks from other countries.

It was a hit. Viewers soon sent in their own snacks,. Sarah likes the sweet ones; Hermes, the salty ones. Hence the name: “Salty and Sweet.”

Click here for the channel. below to enjoy “Oreos from Around the the World.” Who knew?

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Halloween comes early to the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Nest Saturday (October 23, 5 to 6:30 p.m.) — 8 days before the holiday — they’re sponsoring a “Spooktacular,” for children 10 and under.

Events include costumes, cookie decorating, Halloween crafts, face painting, ring toss, bean bag throw, and free play in the gym.

The cost is $5 per child. A parent or caregiver must attend. Click here to register.

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Speaking of the Y: Collette Winn took today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo at the parking lot there.

I wonder: “Y” did these 2 birds choose that particular car?

(Photo/Collette Winn)

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And finally … happy 79th birthday to Gary Puckett!

 

Roundup: Bagelfest, Bobcat, LGBTQ …

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

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

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

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

And it ain’t theirs.

Da winners!

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A reader writes:

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

The big cat.

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

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

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

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

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

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October 11 is National Coming Out Day.

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

Panelists include

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

Email westportctpride@gmail.com for a Zoom link.

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

Among beauties:

(Photo/Sarathi Roy)

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

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

Westport Country Playhouse (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

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

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

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

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

(Photo/Werner Liepolt)

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Spotted on Route 33:

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

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

(Photo/Elena Naseruddin)

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

 

Roundup: Saugatuck El, Sustainable Westport, Screenings …

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Over the past week, 15 COVID cases have been identified at Saugatuck Elementary School.

Superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice says, “Although there appears to be very limited transmission within the school as new cases span multiple grades and classrooms, by definition, a sudden rise in the number of cases at this rate constitutes an outbreak.”

Officials asked the state Department of Public Health to review the cases, and the school district’s mitigating measures. Scarice said, “This discussion affirmed that community transmission (i.e. after school activities, large community social events, etc.) has likely contributed to the recent rise in cases at SES. As a result, it appears that in-school mitigating measures have been effective. “

The DPH recommended a round of surveillance testing for all students and staff at SES. Testing is set for tomorrow (Friday, October 1). 

Saugatuck Elementary School

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Once again, the Westport Police Department will do its part to help.

The color of the town seal will change from black and gold to pink.

In addition, many officers will wear pink patches, and pink ribbon pins. It’s all part of a campaign to raise awareness of the deadly disease.

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Sustainable Westport has taken a giant step forward, with the appointment of 2 new co-directors.

Gately Ross has dedicated her career to the health and conservation of wild and domestic animals, and the health of the environment. She combines a deep understanding of ecology and human impact on populations and ecosystems with clinical practice, team leadership and training experience in veterinary emergency and critical care medicine.  

She has an undergraduate degree in biology from the College of Charleston, a masters of science from San Francisco State University, and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Tufts University. A Westport resident since 2007, Gately lives in Greens Farms with her husband, 3 boys and rescue dog.

Johanna Martell has over 15 years experience as a legal and business advisor, with a focus on commercial real estate, corporate, tax and estate planning. She holds an undergraduate degree in political economy from Princeton University and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. A Westport resident since 2013, she also lives in Greens Farms with her husband and 3 sons.

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The Remarkable Theater continues its remarkable fall run. A few tickets remain for some intriguing upcoming screenings at the Imperial Avenue drive-in:

  • “Soul” (tonight, Thursday, September 30)
  • “Footloose” (tomorrow, Friday, October 1)
  • “Coco” (Saturday,  October 2)
  • “The Stepford Wives” (filmed partly in Westport! — Tuesday, October 5)
  • “Clueless” (Thursday, October 7)
  • “Togo” (Saturday, October 9).

Click here for tickets, show times and more information.

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There’s a new program on the youth basketball scene.

The Westport Weston Family YMCA is introducing a basketball program for grades K-4. The program will introduce fundamentals in a fun way. Light competition begins for the 3rd graders.

The program is run by Mike Evans. The Weston High School all-state selection played at Hamilton College, then in Belfast and as a volunteer assistant coach at Harvard. He’s been a shooting instructor for NBA professionals too

High school students will help out.

Kindergartners through 2nd graders will have clinics on Saturdays, in November and December.

Third and fourth graders will have Saturday clinics, plus one weekday practice. They’ll play intrasquad games, and perhaps face an outside opponent too.

Click here for more information, and to register.

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Lewis Grossman is a Staples High School graduate, and professor of law and history at American University. He specializes in food, drug and health law. His new book — Choose Your Medicine: Freedom of Therapeutic Choice in America — examines that topic from the Revolutionary War to the Trump presidency.

He’ll be at the Westport Library on October 12 (7 p.m.) to discuss his findings. The event is both in-person and livestreamed. To register for a seat or watch from home — and purchase a signed copy of the book — click here.

Lewis Grossman

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MaryLou Roels describes her photo — today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature — as “the little things in life.”

(Photo/MaryLou Roels)

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And finally … in honor of tomorrow’s film at the Remarkable Theater:

 

 

Y’s Bedford Fund Aids Non-Profits; Grant Application Deadline Near

In 2014, $40 million fell from the sky. It landed on the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

The money came from the estate of Ruth Bedford. A Y trustee emeritus and noted philanthropist — and the granddaughter of Edward T. Bedford, who established the Y in 1923, and daughter of Frederick T. Bedford, who helped found Camp Mahackeno 21 years later — she died at 99, just 2 days before the Y’s 90th annual meeting. It was the last one held in the original Bedford building.

Ruth Bedford’s bequest — a surprise to Y officials — would enable the organization to “lead the community and change lives for the next 100 years,” they said.

A year later, the Y announced the formation of a $5 million Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund. Money came from Ruth Bedford’s gift, and one from past president and longtime trustee Allen Raymond.

The goal was to provide grants in areas like child welfare, substance abuse, community service and military outreach, serving children and young adults in Westport, Weston, Norwalk and Bridgeport.

The first grants were awarded in 2016. Last year, the Bedford Social Responsibility  Fund made 25 donations, totaling $280,000.

Recipients included Achievement First Bridgeport Academy, Adam J. Lewis Academy, Carver Foundation, Cardinal Sheehan Center, Horizons, Mercy Learning Center, Neighborhood Studios, Norwalk Community College Foundation, Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Silvermine Guild of Artists, and Staples Tuition Grants.

The fund is gearing up for its 2022 grant cycle. Non-profits can apply now — but the deadline is Friday (September 10). Click here for more information.

Libby McKinney Tritschler is Ruth Bedford’s great-niece. She and fellow Y board member Juliane Sunderland co-chair the Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund.

Libby McKinney Tritschler (left) and Juliane Sunderland.

“It’s been so eye-opening to make site visits. We’ve learned so much about the need to close the education gap, and give opportunities to children and young adults,” Sunderland says.

“This is all about community,” Tritschler adds. “The Y is a beautiful facility, but this money is another way we can show we’re part of the community — and communities nearby. I’m honored to be able to continue my family’s legacy of giving back.

“Westport got very lucky that my great-grandfather lived here, and opened the Y. His only request was that everyone in town get behind it. Now, thanks to his children and grandchildren, I can help make sure the Y keep on its mission to serve children and young adults.”

(For more information on the Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund, click here.)

Ruth Bedford (center) with Lester Giegerich (left) and Dr. Malcolm Beinfield. (Photo courtesy of Westport Y)

 

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