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- “Food In Literature”: Staples’ Most Tasteful Course
- Pic Of The Day #1417
- COVID Vaccine, Restriction Rollback Update:
- Roundup: Vaccine, Joe Duffy, Wheels2U …
- Ian O’Malley: Hear, Hear!
- Pics Of The Day #1416
- Remembering Khaliq Sanda
- Unsung Heroes #180
- Roundup: Outdoor Dining, P&Z Records, Food Drive …
- “Know A Good Therapist?” Lauren Barnett Does.
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DISCLAIMERThis blog is personal opinion, and is not representative of the views of the Westport School District or Board of Education.
The latest COVID news, via Kerry Foley and Facebook’s “Westport Coronavirus Info” page:
- “Tens of thousands” of additional doses should be added to the system this week. That means appointment slots will open up soon.
- If you have a vaccine appointment in April May or June, you should be able to get an earlier date in the next 3 weeks. If you do get an earlier date, cancel your later appointment.
- The state is on target to open appointments to the 45 to 54 age group on March 22.
For several years, a Birthday Bash in honor of Leah Rondon raised money for several scholarships. It honored the 6-year-old daughter of Bedford Middle School teacher Colleen Rondon, who was killed when struck by a car while playing at a friend’s house.
COVID canceled the most recent event. But the show goes on — literally.
This Saturday (March 6, 6 p.m.), a cabaret with young performers from around the globe will be livestreamed on Triple Threat Academy‘s Facebook and YouTube pages. Triple Threat founder/noted “Fame” actress/Staples High School grad Cynthia Gibb co-hosts, with Leah’s mom Colleen.
Performers – most of whom train with Triple Threat in Westport and Hollywood — include Makayla Joy Connolly of Broadway’s “Harry Potter,” and Westport’s own Jamie Mann, of Netflix’s new show “Country Comfort.”
Leah’s brother Sam joins on sax, Cooper Sadler tears it up at the Levitt Pavilion, and Sophie Walther sings her heart out from the UK.
It’s been a tough year for non-profits. In-person fundraising has suffered, while demands for their services has spiked.
But thanks to one organization, another can continue its work.
Westport Rotary Club recently donated $1,075 to Homes with Hope. The funds will provide transportation for children living in supportive housing to HwH’s After School Academic Program, where they receive food, tutoring and mentoring. It’s especially important with the rise in online learning, and the widening academic gap for children without a parent to assist them.
Westport Rotary will distribute all of the funds donated by the community to its 2020 LobsterFest Charitable Giving fundraiser. More grant recipients will be announced soon.
Rotary meetings now held virtually 3 Tuesdays a month (12:30 to 1:30 p.m.). For more information, click here.
March is Women’s History Month. For 25 years, Winged Monkey has been a woman-owned Westport business.
To celebrate both the month and their 25th anniversary, the popular Post Road East shop is offering — yes — 25% sales. There are other promotions all month long too.
And finally … 3 big birthdays today. They represent a wide range of genres.
Karen Carpenter was born March 2, 1950. She died in 1983.
Jon Bon Jovi was born today in 1962.
And happy 50th birthday to Method Man.
The social, mental and physical health — and the health of several school buildings — were the focuses at last night’s Board of Education meeting.
On the student side, Brian Fullenbaum reports that townwide health and physical education coordinator Chris Wanner and Staples phys. ed. teacher CJ Shamas presented an update on social and emotional learning.
Embedded in the high school curriculum for juniors, it addresses social and emotional skills from a growth mindset point of view. Video testimonials showed students enjoying the health classes.
Board member Elaine Whitney and Westport Public Schools chief financial officer Elio Longo provided an update on capital projects.
Paving is needed at Greens Farms, Coleytown and Long Lots Elementary Schools, plus Bedford Middle and Wakeman. All roads there are at least 20 years old.
The $1.6 million estimated cost is significantly lower than expected, due to a partnership with the town’s Department of Public Works.
The Saugatuck Elementary roof project is out to bid. Work is scheduled for this summer. It should proceed without state assistance, because the roof is beyond its useful life.
Staples’ roof replacement can be deferred for a year. State assistance may be available.
In the area of capital maintenance projects — from $500,000 to $2 million — superintendent Thomas Scarice noted that outside companies can help maximize value, and stay on schedule and within budget. He would like to create a school modernization master plan, then use help from an OPM to get through the process, including larger maintenance projects. The board discussed collaborating with the town on capital projects.
The board approved a new policy for minority staff recruitment. It updates the former document with more inclusionary language.
Supervisor of health services Suzanne Levasseur’s COVID report noted a slight uptick in cases in Westport schools last week, to 13 cases. The district’s first vaccination clinic for staff — run in conjunction with Weston and Easton — is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday, March 3) in the Staples fieldhouse. 250 people are expected to get shots.
I’ve been writing a lot of “Remembering…” posts lately.
In just 3 months, Westport has lost many memorable residents. Doris Jacoby, Lee Greenberg, Shirley Mellor, Jack Shiller, Joan McCarthy, Gloria Cole Sugarman, Matt Johnson … they and several other notable men and women died.
They left lasting imprints on our town. The arts, recreation, religion, medicine, human rights, youth activities — no part of Westport life was untouched by their efforts and energy.
Some of their contributions were professional. Much of it was volunteer work. All of it made our town a better place.
Many of those men and women were longtime Westporters. They were active into their 80s, 90s, even (Lee Greenberg) their 100s.
But they began when they were in their 30s and 40s,
Now it’s time for a new generation to take their place.
Specifically, all you newcomers.
The past year has seen an influx of arrivals unrivaled since the 1950s. The impetus then was the post-war baby boom. Today, it’s a global pandemic.
But the opportunity is the same: a chance to make a mark on your community.
You chose this place over others for reasons — the schools perhaps, or the beaches, Longshore, the Library, the arts, the restaurants, the sense you got that people here really care about the environment, social justice and neighbors in need.
Whatever those reasons, they are part of something bigger: community. You got the sense that Westport is more than just a collection of nice homes in a beautiful setting.
You understood, perhaps without realizing it, that Westport is a place where people get involved.
None of the many parts that make up Westport happened because they were destined to. They exist because people made them happen.
And they will continue to exist because — and only if — other people take up the cause.
We have Longshore because a group of officials — elected and volunteer — had the foresight to buy a failing country club moments before a developer snatched the land to build 180 homes.
We have an outstanding school system because we support it. With our tax dollars, sure — but also with countless volunteers, who give untold hours to every aspect of it.
We have music and arts and civic organizations and sustainable agriculture and sports teams and a remarkable Remarkable Theater and a ride-on-demand program for the same reason.
People had a vision. People cared. People acted.
Now it’s the newcomers’ turn. Every group in town needs help.
We need you because you are smart. You are energetic. You are motivated. You are young.
First, we need you to step up. Then we need you to take over.
Whatever your interest, there is a spot for you.
The Westport Young Woman’s League. The Westport Woman’s Club. AWARE.
Earthplace. Wakeman Town Farm. Friends of Sherwood Island. Aspetuck Land Trust.
Boy Scouts. Girl Scouts.
The Westport Arts Advisory Committee. Westport Permanent Art Collections. MoCA Westport. The Westport Country Playhouse.
Westport PAL. Westport Soccer Association. Westport Baseball and Softball. Any other sport you can think of.
The Westport Weston Family YMCA. The Senior Center.
PTAs. The Westport Library. The Maker Faire.
The Democratic Party. The Republican Party. The League of Women Voters. The Representative Town Meeting. Every board and commission in town.
You can’t do it all. You can’t do it alone.
But if you pick one or two areas of interest — and every other newcomer does the same — then we’ll have enough volunteer man and womanpower to propel this place to unfathomable heights.
And 40 years from now, whoever is writing the 2061 version of “06880” will remember your legacy too.
I get over 250 emails a day. I’m pretty good at separating the real “06880” readers from the fakes, frauds and grifters.
But the “free piano” story I posted yesterday is — despite its perfect grammar and syntax — probably a scam. A reader warned me that he’d heard the same story.
I Googled “piano sale fraud,” and found this, from a music educators’ website:
I wanted CEOMTA to be aware of a recent iteration of the “free” piano scam. One of our members received an unsolicited email from someone claiming to be an elderly woman who was downsizing and looking to give away her late husband’s piano to a loving home.
The piano was a Yamaha baby grand. The email came from a legitimate sounding Gmail account and included several pictures. The teacher did have an interested student, so the student made contact and arranged the delivery with a moving company they were referred to.
However, the moving company was a fake. Although they sent a convincing invoice that included details like the size and weight of the piano, the parents realized after payment that the invoice had a different name than the company they were originally referred to.
After being contacted again regarding the discrepancy, the moving company immediately took down their website and the family were unable to get back the money they had already sent. The original email said that she got the teacher’s name from a friend in her piano teacher’s association, so please be careful if you are contacted with a similar sounding situation.
So, if you contacted “Charles Webb”: I hope you did not get into any financial transaction with “him.” If you did: cancel immediately. My profuse apologies!
The Staples High School girls basketball team is on a hot streak. The Wreckers are undefeated — 6-0 — in FCIAC play.
Last Friday they went to Cold Fusion. When it opens this spring, the gelato shop will be one of the hottest spots in town.
On a cool afternoon, 22 varsity and junior varsity girls spent some bonding team decorating the storefront, during construction.
It was their way of making Main Street look a little brighter — and of bringing a bit of attention to a truly great team.
Go get ’em, girls. You give new meaning to the hoops term “in the paint.”
Jesse Levin believes in being prepared.
The 2003 Staples High School graduate owns the Readiness Collective — an emergency training club and outfitter. He’s had a pop-up shop in Bedford Square.
Now he’s offering a special Civilian Medical Course. The material — which includes Basic Life Support and Tactical Combat Casualty Care national certifications — adapts combat life-saving techniques to everyday emergencies.
Two US Army Special Forces medics, a Special Ops surgical team leader and a flight nurse will prepare people with the skills and confidence to provide medical care to themselves and their families, in the critical time before first responders arrive.
Hiking accident? Car crash? Active shooter scenario? Whatever you worry about: Be prepared.
The course runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 5, 6 and 7 at the Readiness Collective in Norwalk’s SoNo Collection. Click here to register.
And finally … today in 1998, “Titanic” became the first film to gross over $1 billion worldwide. “You jump, I jump!”
364 days a year, “06880” chugs along quietly.
A few times each day, I post something: a 5 a.m. feature story. Breaking news. A roundup of upcoming events, new business openings, whatever. An Unsung Hero, Friday Flashback or Photo Challenge. Every night at 9, a Pic of the Day.
I do it all as my contribution to Westport. One day a year, I ask you for a contribution to “06880.”
I do it on the anniversary of my blog’s birth. It began in early March, 2009. In 12 years I have not missed a day of posting — ever.
Last year’s “please contribute” story came 10 days before Westport changed forever.
When our schools, stores, restaurants, library, Y — and everything else — shut down, I worried I would have nothing to write about.
For the past year, I’ve worked harder and longer at “06880” than ever. I’ve written about how to get COVID help, and how to help others. The pandemic’s effect on people, businesses, the town and the world. I began the daily Roundup and Saturday art gallery.
When WestportNow folded, I added obituaries and a bit of meeting coverage. I hope to do more.
“06880” is now, pretty much, my full-time gig. I spend nearly every waking hour working for you.
You see the stories I write. But there’s so much more.
I conduct interviews and research. I take, find and edit photos. I moderate the comments section. I answer every single email.
When a natural disaster like Tropical Storm Isaias hits, I find a place with power to work. And I keep working.
I even spend my own money on “06880,” on software upgrades, hosting — and keeping this space ad-free.
Which is why this year, more than ever, I hope you will respond to my once-a-year appeal for donations.
I’m honored that more than 11,000 of you are daily (free!) subscribers. Another 5,000 to 8,000 check in each day, without subscribing.
I love you all. But only a small percentage of you contribute each year.
That means the vast majority of you enjoy my 1,200+ stories a year, and our wonderful online community, for free. You are, to use the technical term, moochers.
So: If you like what you read, please consider supporting “06880.” Click here for details (via credit card, check, Venmo or PayPal) — or scroll to the bottom.
Am I worth $1 a month? $1 a week? Perhaps (my choice!) $1 a day. Choose whatever amount you’re comfortable with. It’s greatly appreciated!
I hope that if “06880” has ever:
- made you laugh, cry, think or wonder
- spurred you to go to an event, read a book, try a restaurant or patronize a store
- helped you meet a neighbor, or connect with an old friend
- kept you up to date in a blizzard, hurricane, windstorm or power outage
- made you feel connected to your new town (or the place you grew up)
- alerted you to a new housing or zoning development
- provided a forum for you to rant about an issue, rave about a place, or complain about my own personal politics
- delivered news about a favorite person, place or thing
- galvanized you to support a cause
- publicized your event, book, appearance or concert
- published your photo
- honored someone you loved or admired, or gave them a kind “Remembering …” sendoff
- connected you to your hometown from many miles away
- saved you time or money
- opened a window on Westport’s history, helped you think about its future, introduced you to someone in town you never knew, or helped you look at someone or someplace in a new way
- inspired you
- made you sit up and say “Wow!” (or “Holy f—!”)
you will consider tossing something my way. First-time supporters are joyfully welcomed!
Thanks for 12 great years. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, whether anyone sends an anniversary gift or not. I’ll still answer every email.
It’s all part of “06880.” It’s my honor and privilege to help share it with you.
You can donate by PayPal or credit card: click here. It’s easy, safe — and you don’t even need a PayPal account.
Checks can be mailed to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Put “06880” on the memo line. It won’t do anything for the IRS, but it may help you remember at tax time why you sent me something.
I’m also on Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Thank you!
Robert “Bob” Comstock — a legendary New Jersey reporter and journalist, who moved to Westport nearly 20 years ago to be near his daughter and grandsons — died earlier this month, from complications of COVID-19. He was 93.
He was active here in the Unitarian Church and Y’s Men. But many Westport friends may not have known of his background.
He was editor of The Record for more than a decade; press director for Governor Brendan Byrne; associate professor at Rutgers University, and a public relations executive.
According to The Record:
Described by one former reporter as running The Record’s newsroom with “an iron fist and a velvet glove,” Comstock oversaw the newspaper in the pre-internet age when print was still king. His tenure at the helm of the paper covered everything from the Iran hostage crisis to President Ronald Reagan being shot to the Challenger space shuttle explosion and the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s.
Former governor Tom Kean called Comstock “a first class guy. He did a tremendous job for the paper and the state. He was not a Republican, so we had some disagreements along the way. But always in friendship. You could disagree with him/ But you never lost respect for him.”
A New York City native, his mother had come to the US from Australia to tour on the the vaudeville circuit with her sister and parents. His father was an insurance salesman during the depression.
After graduating from Ridgewood High School he joined the Navy, shortly before World War II ended. He then attended Rutgers as a journalism major. Doing presswork for summer stock theater in Corning, New York he worked withBurt Lahr, Kim Hunter, June Havoc, Zasu Pitts and Jerry Orbach.
At The Record, former columnist John Cichowski said, “He was the political editor and a damn good one. He had such insights into how politics worked. Who all the movers and shakers were. He was able to straddle those boundaries between how to present the news objectively, yet still use the solid contacts with these people.”
Stints with Byrne, Rutgers and in public relations followed. Comstock was a member of the NJ Public Broadcasting Authority, the NJ Committee for Humanities, the advisory committee on Judicial Conduct of the NJ Supreme Court, and a trustee of the Bergen Museum of Art and Science.
Comstock was predeceased by his wife Barbara Corner Comstock, to whom he was married for 59 years, and sister Doris Auger. He is survived by daughter Kate Comstock Davis; son Eric Taylor Comstock; grandsons Alexander, Benjamin and Theodore Davis; his son, Eric Taylor Comstock, and his sister, Margot Comstock Tommervik.
A memorial celebration will be held in the fall. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the ACLU or Rutgers University Scholarship Fund.
(Click here for Bob Comstock’s full obituary.)
Longtime Westporter Martha Nachman is downsizing. She has a few items that might interest “06880” readers.
One is a nice Naiad Einsel framed poster of the Westport Schools Spring Art Show at Jesup Green.
She also has a number of Al Willmott’s small prints of Westport scenes.
Many are in great shape. Some have stains.
]UPDATE: ALL THE PIECES HAVE BEEN SOLD!]