Okay, so maybe you didn’t win the town’s 4th of July house decorating contest.
Or the Halloween one.
Hey: The 3rd time’s the charm.
Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department is sponsoring its first-ever Winter Holiday House Decorating Contest.
People can decorate the outsides of their homes to show a winter theme, or any holiday they celebrate.
Registration must be done first (click here). Then submit no more than 5 photos or videos of your decorations to email@example.com by December 20. Prizes will be awarded for the top 3 entrants.
And if you don’t win this time, maybe they’ll do a Presidents Day house decorating contest …
One of the first houses decorated in Westport this year. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)
Congratulations to Westport’s newest grandfather: 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.
He announced before last night’s RTM meeting that his daughter Samantha gave birth hours earlier at Greenwich Hospital. Charles James Sandor weighs 6 pounds, 13 ounces — and brought his grandparents great joy.
Jim and Mary Ellen Marpe, with their daughter Samantha in 2017.
And finally … happy 59th birthday to Def Leppard guitarist Rick Savage.
Westport is a place where we live by, and teach our children, the values that we cherish — values that embrace equality, inclusiveness, open-mindedness, and mutual respect.
This Thanksgiving, we reflect upon these qualities in light of a tumultuous year that has, quite frankly, brought heartache, anxiety, and turmoil. There are many among us who are isolated and alone. Emotions and situations brought about by an unseen virus and other national events have caused all of us to re-think how we behave and how we react as a society. No doubt, it has taken its toll and has caused significant adjustments in how we live our lives.
However, recent news and guidance from scientists and health officials is very promising. If we continue to stay aware and respectful, actively follow the protocols in place such as wearing a mask, keeping distance and avoiding gatherings, we can see a path to where we can once again enjoy a way of life without fear of harming our neighbors, friends and family.
Masked up, at the Westport Y’s child care program.
And I would like to echo Governor Lamont’s request to please keep your in-home Thanksgiving celebrations to immediate family and to 10 persons or fewer.
Besides COVID, there were other events that caused upheaval, unrest and concern in this country and on the local level. Westporters have historically been leaders in social movements, and this year was no different. We will continue to have the difficult dialogues about social injustice while encouraging and setting an example of mutual respect for all humankind. We remain grateful and thankful for those in our community who have led the way in standing firmly against hate and intolerance, and for those who protect our health and safety.
Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for our freedoms and our good fortune while recognizing that there are others who are less fortunate. I am personally thankful for our extraordinary teachers, civic leaders, clergy and volunteers of all kinds. They, along with many other residents, work tirelessly and diligently to care for and help meet the needs of those who require additional emotional, family and economic support.
Religious, civic, educational and other institutions are more important than ever. (Photo/Anthony Evans)
COVID has caused us to adjust the manner in which their work is accomplished, but they remain steadfast in their commitment to helping. I want to acknowledge their contributions – they are valued and appreciated.
I wish all the residents of Westport a safe and healthy Thanksgiving Holiday. Thanks to all of you for your ongoing contributions to making Westport an inclusive place where all feel welcome. We are proud to call it “home.”
The State of Connecticut has implemented a color-coded map indicating the average daily rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population by town.
Based on a 14-day rolling average, Westport’s rate is 22.4. That places us well within the “red” category, of 15+ cases per 100,000.
Connecticut’s COVID map.
Given this status, the state Department of Health recommends that:
High risk individuals stay home and stay safe.
Others should limit trips outside of the home and avoid gatherings with non-family members.
Organized indoor activities, as well as outdoor activities where social distancing and mask wearing cannot be maintained, should be postponed.
Gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe notes:
“The new COVID cases are primarily a result of large gatherings, parties and organized sports activities. As such, the Westport Public Schools, Westport businesses and restaurants and other public facilities will continue to operate under the State’s Phase 2.1 guidelines.
“The Parks and Recreation Department acknowledges that it is important for individuals and families to get outside and exercise. As a result,
Fields, beaches and parks will remain open with reinstituted rules regarding court usage. Facility users are expected wear a face covering if a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained with those who do not live in the same household. Higher risk sports, such as boys lacrosse and 11-on-11 football, should not take place.
The Compo Beach skate park and basketball courts will remain open, but may be closed if proper guidelines are not followed.
The Longshore golf course remains open. Beginning Saturday, November 14, golf cart rentals will go back to single rider only (unless in same household).
The Parks & Recreation Department has revoked field permits, and will not issue new permits until further notice.
Permits for use at the Wakeman athletic fields have been revoked..
The Westport Library will remain open with its expanded hours and services. All Library events will continue to be virtual. Click here for details.
Yesterday, 2 officials advised Westporters about the rapid increase of coronavirus in town.
Superintendent of Schools Tom Scarice said that while COVID cases have been discovered in the school population, administrators’ swift response to new cases has resulted in “little to no widespread COVID contamination.”
However, new cases require immediate attention, like quarantining and contact tracing. While the lack of spread demonstrates that the processes in place are working, the schools are continually challenged by new cases resulting from outside activities.
These include recent large gatherings, parties and sports activities involving students or parents. Photos and social media posts caused 1st Selectman Jim Marpe to ask Parks and Recreation director Jen Fava to consider reinstating earlier COVID-related policies at local parks, fields and recreation facilities.
Marpe says: “The ability for our schools to remain open for in-person learning is dependent on the actions of our entire community. I urge all residents to follow the appropriate public health protocols so that our community can remain open, but safe.
“Please refrain from contact sports, wear a mask, social distance, avoid gatherings and practice good hygiene. Residents are strongly urged to avoid gatherings where adherence to social distancing and mask wearing cannot be accomplished.”
Anyone awaiting test results, whether taken because of symptoms or COVID exposure, should not go out into the community until receiving those results.
Staples Players have done most rehearsals for their radio shows remotely. When they do get together, they are diligent about wearing masks. (Photo/Kerry Long)
The Westport Library’s Holiday & Winter Book Sale is always eagerly anticipated by gift givers.
The bad news: COVID-19 has knocked out in-person shopping. This year it’s all online.
The good news: It’s already there.
Fiction, mystery, arts, biographies, photography, cookooks, sci-fi, puzzles, kids’ books, plus CDs, puzzles an games — they’re all available from the comfort of home.
Click here to browse. All books are available for pickup by appointment at the library’s upper parking lot, 7 days after purchase.
New items are added weekly. So bookmark the page, and check back often.
Speaking of holiday gifts: This is my favorite so far.
Savvy + Grace — the wonderful, whimsical Main Street gift shop across from Rye Ridge Deli — sells some very cool Westport-themed items. What stands out is a fleece blanket, featuring an 1890s topographic map of the town.
Click here to check it — and much more — out. In-store shopping, curbside pickup and shipping are all available.
Savvy + Grace’s Westport blanket.
And finally … today is Friday the 13th. Just what we need in 2020!
It is with great sadness that I learned this morning of the death of Gordon Joseloff, former Westport 1st Selectman and my immediate predecessor.
Gordon’s commitment and dedication to Westport, his hometown, was exemplified in so many ways. His first job as a teenage reporter was for the Westport Town Crier, and he founded WWPT, the Staples High School radio station.
Later he served as an RTM member and its moderator for 10 years.
From 2005 to 2013 he served as 1st Selectman, where he exemplified qualities of leadership, transparency, non-partisanship and accountability within his public service.
Gordon Joseloff (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
During his tenure as 1st Selectman he faced a variety of crises that included the Great Recession of 2008-09, and a series of major disruptive storms including Hurricane Irene and Super Storm Sandy, where he led the community’s efforts to recover and to emerge even stronger.
His creation of WestportNow established the national standard for transparent, internet-based community journalism nearly 20 years ago, and it remains a “go to” source of fact-based information in Westport.
Under Gordon’s leadership as 1st Selectman, the construction of the new Levitt Pavilion was begun. He oversaw the initial reforms of the town’s pension plans which have helped to assure Westport’s long-term financial stability. And throughout his public service career, he exemplified a non-partisan approach to governing our community.
On a personal note, he worked directly with me to assure a smooth transition of responsibility when I was elected to the office of 1st Selectman following his announced retirement. Throughout my term in office, I regularly sought his perspective and advice on a number of key issues. I always found his perspective invaluable.
At my request, Governor Ned Lamont has given his permission for Westport to lower its flags to half-staff for the remainder of the week in honor of Gordon Joseloff.
On behalf of all Westporters, I want to express the town’s sincere condolences to his daughter, Anna-Liisa, and his son, Ben, and to his grandchildren who I know he adored.
We will all miss Gordon, and we thank him for his friendship and his service to Westport.
Due to increasing rates of COVID-19 in Connecticut, the state will roll back from Phase 3 to Phase 2.1 effective tomorrow (Friday, November 6).
Phase 2.1 is a slightly modified version of the previously enacted Phase 2 rules. Changes under Phase 2.1 include:
Restaurants will return to or remain at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 8 people per table
Restaurants and entertainment venues will be required to close by 9:30 p.m. except for food takeout and delivery services, which may continue after 9:30 p.m.
Personal services, such as hair salons and barber shops, will remain at 75 percent capacity
Event venues will be limited to 25 people indoor, 50 people outdoor
Performing arts venues and movie theaters will have a capacity of 100 people
Religious gatherings will be limited to 50 percent capacity or 100 people maximun
Residents are urged to remain indoors between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless for essential activities.
Westport businesses will remain open. I encourage those who can to continue patronizing local restaurants and businesses.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, Westport has promoted local and small businesses. A great idea for eating out and staying safe — BYOB (“Bring Your Own Blanket”) comes from the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.
The Westport Weston Health District says that a significant portion of Westport’s COVID cases are related to youth travel sports. These programs are regional, span several states and fall outside of local authority. Updated state Department of Public Health guidance for youth and interscholastic sports is forthcoming.
Town officials are also aware that some very large gatherings of both young people and adults occurred over Halloween weekend. We continue to stress that everyone be sensitive to neighbors, and aware of the risks imposed on those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly.
“On Thursday I announced that on Sunday, October 18, I was in direct contact with an individual who earlier this week exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 and who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.
The result of my subsequent COVID-19 test was negative, and I’m not exhibiting any symptoms of the virus. To clarify yesterday’s statement, despite my negative test, I will continue to self-quarantine for 14 days (until November 1), following CDC guidelines and medical advice.”
1st Selectman Jim Marpe.
Happy UN Day!
As they have been every October 24 for decades, the flags of member nations fly proudly today, on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge.
That’s appropriate. The span’s namesake was a longtime UN advocate, and founder of the local chapter of the United Nations Association. She also founded jUNe Day, our annual summer event.
The Ruth Steinkraus Bridge is quite a hub of activity. Here’s a shot from last night, when this message appeared:
Who doesn’t like free ice cream?
Especially when it’s vegan, allergen-friendly, plant-based, non-dairy, frozen, nut-free, gluten-free, soy-free and refined sugar-free.
Plus, creamy and delicious.
NewBrook Kitchen on Riverside Avenue offers a free Sunscoop tasting event. It begins Wednesday (October 28), and runs through Saturday, October 31 — or until they run out.
Individual pre-packaged sample cups of the dessert are available in wild blueberry crumble, strawberry maca, toasted coconut butter, moringa mint chip, vanilla tart and dark cacao with reishi. There’s no purchase necessary, but there’s a one-per-customer limit.
There’s a discount for buying a 6-pack of pints (one for each flavor).
NewBrook is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For a delivery of the 6-pint case, plus a free tasting cup, call 203-557-6087 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe was in direct contact with an individual who then exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 this week. The individual tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.
First Selectman Jim Marpe
Marpe is not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 himself.
However, in accordance with CDC guidelines and medical advice, he is self-isolating, and awaiting COVID-19 test results.
In an abundance of caution, the town’s chief executive advises everyone with whom he came in contact of the situation.
Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper says:
Mr. Marpe is considered a contact of someone who has had a positive COVID-19 test. While there is the possibility that he had a direct exposure to the virus, based on his actions, he does not appear to have exposed anyone. He is ordered to quarantine for 14-days or until he receives a negative PCR COVID-19 test.
If any symptoms develop or his test result is positive, the WWHD will commence contact tracing to know who he has been in close contact with since Sunday or during the preceding 48 hours of either when he was tested, or when the first symptoms present themselves.
Marpe reminds residents to wear a face covering, social distance and practice good hygiene and sanitary measures.
The Inn at Longshore — a gorgeous, historic (and tired and underutilized) property — may soon get a new “lease on life.”
The Boards of Finance and Selectmen will consider an intriguing proposal foro the town-owned property.
Long-time tenant Longshore Associates of Westport — headed by Rory Tagert — seeks permission to assign their lease to a new group of experienced hotel and restaurant operators.
Tagert has been involved with the Inn for 35 years. He will retire soon.
The Inn at Longshore
Known officially as Longshore Hospitality LLC, the partnership is led by the Greenwich Hospitality Group.
Founded by Charles Mallory of Greenwich, they operate boutique hotels in many states, including the Delamar hotels in Greenwich, Southport and West Hartford, along with the L’Escale and Artisan restaurants in those locations.
Principal Michael Ryan is a Westport resident. Longshore Hospitality was represented by Westport attorney Jim Randel during negotiations.
The current Inn at Longshore lease has 8 years to run. It allows the tenant to assign the lease, with town approval. Those approvals are on the agendas of special online meetings of the Board of Finance (Thursday, October 22, 5 p.m.) and Selectmen (Friday, October 23, 12:30 p.m.).
The ballroom at the Inn.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:
I feel comfortable and gratified that the Inn at Longshore will be in the hands of experienced, local and reputable businesspeople who will represent the Town well in the years ahead.
The Longshore Hospitality LLC proposes to continue operating the Inn and the banquet facility as they have been under the proprietorship of Longshore Associates. Hotel and event staff are proposed to remain in place and all scheduled events will be unaffected. The Pearl at Longshore restaurant will continue to stay open.
Christmastime at the Inn at Longshore.(Photo/Katherine Bruan)
Politicians don’t often send Halloween messages. Then again, it’s not often that the holiday is celebrated amid a pandemic. First Selectman Jim Marpe says:
Halloween is a special holiday for many children and families. Due to COVID-19 however, Halloween in Westport will look different from prior years. I urge residents to be considerate and judicious in how they plan to partake in seasonal activities. It is incumbent upon all of us to insure a safe Halloween and upcoming holiday season.
Because the annual Halloween Parade and trick-or-treating in Town Hall has typically drawn increased foot traffic and crowding, the town regrets that it will not host the event this year.
Instead, the Parks and Recreation Department is sponsoring a Halloween House Decorating Contest. I encourage everyone – young and old – to demonstrate their creativity, and decorate their homes in the spirit of the season. For more information, click here.
The Westport Downtown Merchants Association, in collaboration with the town, is exploring a family-friendly Halloween event on October 25. More information will be available soon.
Please follow these guidelines from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding Halloween:
The CDC considers trick-or-treating to be a high-risk activity that should be avoided. It recommends alternatives with lower risk activities, and small events that allow for reduced exposure and ease of contact tracing.
Consider candy hunts, small “trunk or treats” with friends and family, crafts, virtual contests and other outdoor activities where social distance can be achieved.
The CDC advises against wearing decorative masks over surgical masks. This year consider a costume that does not require a decorative mask, so that a surgical or CDC-approved mask can be worn instead.
A perfect costume for 2020.
Connecticut entered Phase III of its reopening plan yesterday. Phase III continues to cap the number of attendees at all private indoor gatherings at 25. Trick-or-treating and gatherings at locations where Halloween has traditionally prompted increased crowds, either indoors or on town roadways such as Gault Avenue and the Compo Beach area, are strongly discouraged.
If you decide to participate in trick-or-treating on October 31, we recommend that it is done with increased precautions. Trick or treaters should be aware that if a home is darkened, it is likely not partaking in Halloween festivities and that decision should be respected. Limit the number of homes visited.
Town officials advise parents to not drop off children in certain neighborhoods. Instead, it is advisable to keep all trick-or-treaters in their own neighborhoods. We also request that residents not arrange for food trucks or other food, drink or entertainment that promotes gathering in neighborhoods.
In addition to Halloween, the CDC site also has guidance for the upcoming holiday season. Click here before making plans for your holidays.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Thanks!)