Steady turnout continued throughout the day, at Westport’s 5 polling places.
At 3 p.m., 7,010 voters had cast ballots in person. That’s on top of approximately 8,000 absentee ballots collected earlier.
Greens Farms Elementary School saw the highest turnout: 1,597 voters. Following closely behind were Saugatuck Elementary (1,569), Long Lots Elementary (1,542) and Coleytown Elementary (1,534). All 4 sites include 2 RTM districts.
The Westport Library — where only District 9 votes — saw 768 voters.
Polls close at 8 p.m. To find your polling place, click here.
Coleytown Elementary School, early today.2020 (Photo/Dan Donovan)
Posted onNovember 1, 2020|Comments Off on Roundup: Absentee Ballots, Pumpkin Recycling, Black Holes, More
Counting Westport’s approximately 8,000 returned absentee ballots began at noon yesterday. The goal was to finish today, and attempt to reach voters whose ballots were rejected beginning tomorrow morning.
A herculean effort resulted in the opening of all ballots by 6 p.m. last night. Astonishingly, only 5 ballots were rejected, for errors like improper insertion of the inner envelope, or lack of a signature.
Registrars of voters will contact those individuals. They will be able to vote on Election Day.
Your Halloween candy may be all gone (given away and/or eaten). Your pumpkin probably is not.
Bring it to the Westport Farmer’s Market (Imperial Avenue parking lot) this Thursday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. They’ll “recycle” it.
It’s one small way to lessen the 1.3 billion pumpkins that end up in landfill each year. (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)
2020 may seem like a black hole. The real black holes, of course, are in outer space.
On November 17 (8 p.m.), the Westport Astronomical Society presents a virtual lecture. Yale astronomy and physics professor Priyamvada Natarajan’s talk is titled “Searching for the Elusive Population of Intermediate Mass Black Holes.” It’s available via Zoom and YouTube.
The WAS is also selling their 2021 calendar. It includes astrophotography from talented members, and daily astronomical data.
The cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members, plus $5 shipping for 1 or 2 calendars, $10 for 3 to 5. Supplies are limited. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and include the number you’d like and mailing address. You’ll be invoiced via PayPal.
And finally … if you’ve made it this far without realizing you gained an hour of sleep last night:
Comments Off on Roundup: Absentee Ballots, Pumpkin Recycling, Black Holes, More
After moving to Westport, she became a cheerleader for Westport. She volunteered with a host of organizations — the Westport Library, Senior Center, CLASP Homes — and led the fall Apple Festival for 2 decades. She was elected to the Representative Town Meeting.
In the 1990s, she served as Westport’s 2nd selectman. She ran as a Republican, with Joe Arcudi.
In 2011, the Republicans gained control of several town boards and commissions, after a 14-year hiatus. “We’re back!” Betty Lou told WestportNow.
Now 86, Betty Lou Cummings still cheers for causes that are important to her. Yesterday, Michigan State played Rutgers in football. She dressed in green, gamely grinning through the bad loss.
She also cheered for her presidential candidate. But the longtime Republican is not supporting President Trump.
She’s a Joe Biden fan — as the sign outside her Saugatuck Shores home proudly shows.
In fact, the former Republican 2nd selectman is now a registered Democrat.
When Staples Players fans around the world turn in to tonight’s broadcast of “The Wizard of Oz” (6 p.m., WWPT, 90.3 FM; for the livestream, click here ), they’ll enjoy an old-fashioned radio broadcast, complete with sound effects, music and local ads.
Actors who normally perform on stage have been rehearsing — via Zoom, and occasionally together — for weeks. But other members of the high school’s award-winning troupe have been hard at work too.
Players head of computer sound effects/sound designer Brandon Malin sends along these behind-the-scenes photos. Here’s the live sound effects equipment in the WWPT-FM radio studio:
And here is the control room, where all the magic happens:
Painting With a Twist — the fun, quirky, do-it-yourself-together spot in the Julian’s Post Road shopping center near South Maple — is closing. Their last day after 7 years is December 12.
In a note to their fans, they say “the plaza where we are located is being converted for another use.”
We have had such fun, rewarding experiences with all of you and we carry so many happy memories of helping you celebrate your personal milestones, your festive gatherings with friends and family, and your creative nights out. We hope we have given all of you an escape from your cares and some joyful, festive time that has inspired you and uplifted your spirits.
The artists and I will all miss seeing your smiling faces and spending time in our beautiful studio, surrounded by all our colorful art and all the great music that ignites the soul.
But we still have almost 2 more months! So we hope you’ll come and enjoy some time with us. Plan your girls night out, holiday party, company team building event, date night, child’s birthday party, or just join a public class to forget your concerns and have some fun!
If you’d rather, you can paint in the comfort of home with one of our Twist at Home kits.
And finally … Jerry Jeff Walker died Friday, of complications from throat cancer. He was 78.
Best known for writing “Mr. Bojangles” after spending a night in a New Orleans drunk tank — though the song was not, as many people think, about the legendary tap dancer/actor/singer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson — Walker was also an enormously influential figure in the Austin music scene. He helped create “outlaw country,” popularized as well by Willie Nelson and others.
Alert — and civic-minded — “06880” reader Jeff Seaver wants to vote by mail. But, he says, the state of Connecticut is not making it easy. He writes:
We’re all aware of issues with absentee ballots and voting drop boxes across the US. I assumed Connecticut would be exempt.
But if you choose to vote via absentee ballot from the State of Connecticut, and mail a request, here’s what you see:
1. The paperwork arrives in a fat envelope.
2. Whoever they hired for graphic design, it’s as if they offered a bonus for the least intuitive way humanly possible:
Key messages are buried in body text
Big headers contain unimportant information
There are 5 separate forms
English and Spanish versions are crammed side-by-side, and flipped onto both sides of an envelope, with no explanation
The paperwork arrives in several different colors (why?).
3. Once you’ve filled out your ballot, you might assume you should put it in the mailing envelope, and lick it shut. Then you figure out that’s the wrong envelope.
4. The ballot must go in a different envelope. (These instructions are buried on the back of a printed pamphlet labeled “General Election Statutes of the State of Connecticut.”)
5. You can’t easily open the mailing envelope, since you just glued shut. So you tear or slice it open. Now, even if you re-seal it with tape, you have a mailing envelope that looks tampered with.
6. After all this, you put the ballot in the smaller (correct) envelope, put that inside the larger (correct) mailing envelope, and seal it for mailing.
7. Then you spot a little purple handout still sitting on your desk that came in the paperwork.
8. The printed handout contains this warning:
To ensure that your ballot is received on time by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, please place your ballot into the secure drop box located in your town. Once deposited in the secure drop box, your ballot is considered received by the town.
Your ballot should be deposited in the secure drop box no later than 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020.
Town Name WESTPORT
Drop Box Location TOWN HALL, 110 MYRTLE AVE. — REAR ENTRANCE
9. So: which is it? Do you mail this envelope (it Is clearly marked as a piece of US mail), or do you believe this form, which states you need to deliver the envelope to Town Hall if you want to ensure it’s received on time?
Could I figure all this out? I went to high school and everything. I could probably mail it, but my simple solution is: In an age when “In Everything We No Longer Trust” should be printed on our currency, I’m driving it over to the drop box.
“Hoopers Vote” is a basketball-oriented voter registration and education drive. The point is to use NBA and WNBA players, coaches, retired stars and media members to raise public awareness, as Election Day looms.
The initiative has gotten an important assist from a Westport illustrator.
Elliot Gerard is passionate about sports. When the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title, Gerard designed an enormous mural for their arena.
His work has been featured on ESPN, NBC, CBS, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, the Boston Globe and Washington Post.
He spent several years as vice president, creative director at a Westport-based marketing firm. He worked with corporate partners like IBM and AT&T — and (back to sports) the Super Bowl.
Gerard is now a founder and creative director with Heartlent Group. Combining “heart” and “talent,” the social strategy and creative content agency recently snagged that Hoopers Vote contract.
When Rock the Vote — the initiative’s sponsor — first contacted Gerard, his thought was to create a digital “mural” with 50 basketball stars. Each would represent one state.
But the artwork was so compelling that everyone wanted more. So far, Heartlent has created nearly 250 “voter graphics.” The goal is 300 by Election Day.
The expanded campaign delights Gerard. “I wanted to reach as many voters as possible,” he says. “The more influencers, the bigger the campaign.”
The graphics include a checkmark — representing the famous “Rock the Vote” logo — going across each face. Click below for a video:
Gerard wanted to give a consistent but unique look to all of the pieces. He used graphics representing a basketball court, voting form, elements from state flags, even US postage symbols (to encourage voters to mail in their ballots).
Gerard says this is one of the biggest and most important projects he’s ever worked with. He and his former boss, Keith Stoeckeler created Heartlent “exactly for campaigns like this. Our mission is to be an agency that puts our entire hearts in not only all our work, but also in the causes we’re part of.”
“I went beyond just telling the overall story of these voters,” Gerard explains.
“I visually explored each hooper’s career and life.” He added easter eggs and icons representing the teams they played or rooted for, colleges they attended, awards and championships they won, charities they are part of, and other symbols for their lives.
A gallery of Hoopers Vote graphics.
Special stories — like Stephanie Ready as the first woman to coach men’s professional basketball, and Jason Collins as the first openly gay active NBA player — got special representation.
The next step was to create templates that any basketball player — or voter — can use. They can put their face in with their favorite NBA or WNBA team colors.
Now it’s up to the basketball community to get voters registered, and to the polls.
That’s no slam dunk. But thanks to Elliot Gerard, the basketball community will rock the vote.
(To see dozens of “Hoopers Vote” graphics, click here.)
The Westport Police Department is non-partisan. But — like every Westporter – every fall they get caught in the great political sign crossfire.
With the approaching November elections comes the traditional posting of political signage.
Once again the Westport Police Department has begun to receive complaints related to the disappearance, removal, and/or theft of these signs.
Residents and visitors are advised against taking it upon themselves to remove
signs that do not belong to them, from either public or private property. The
enforcement of the town’s rules is the responsibility of the town of Westport, not
The removal of signs from public or private property by someone not authorized to do so by the town, or by the owner of the sign, may constitute theft.
Entering onto private property to remove signs may also constitute
trespassing. Both of these acts can ultimately result in arrest.
Political signs are considered an expression of free speech, and are allowed on
It is not advisable to place signs on state property (including rights of way and islands along Routes 1, 136, 57, 33, and the Sherwood Island Connector, nor on the exit or entrance ramps of I-95 or the Merritt Parkway), as the state may remove them.
No sign may be placed on any school property without the prior permission
of the Superintendent’s office.
No sign may be placed within the interior of Compo Beach or Longshore.
No sign may be placed on Town Hall property.
No sign may be placed on trees or utility poles.
No sign may interfere with traffic visibility.
Signs on private property require property owner approval. Signs on private
property must not extend beyond the property line or into the town right-of-
way. It is suggested they be removed within 2 days after the election.
Finally! A candidate we can all agree on. (Photo/Luke Garvey)
A sign in Positano’s window says, “We are closed.”
The phone message elaborates: “We are now closed. We wish the new owners the best of luck. We thank our customers for their patronage over the last 20 years. Arrivederci!”
The popular Italian restaurant opened in July 2015 next to the Westport Country Playhouse. It relocated there from Old Mill Beach after a long run, replacing the Dressing Room restaurant founded by Paul Newman and Michel Nischan.
Despite what the sign says, Positano is now closed.
It’s the perfect storm: Election Day this November will be held during a pandemic. Officials traditionally rely on retirees to serve as poll workers. But finding willing workers may be hard this year, as older people opt not to spend hours indoors, assisting voters in close quarters.
Which makes this the perfect opportunity for another group affected by COVID-19: college students, forced off campus and back home for distance learning.
Poll workers earn around $200 a day. Some work half days (5:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., or 12:45 p.m. until the end of voting) for half pay. During the recent primary election, full-day workers also received a meal allowance of about $40 (subject to change).
Training is required. Before the coronavirus, the session was 2 hours. Video conferencing may lengthen the presentation.
Registrars also seek high schoolers in the past. They’ve been great in the past — especially with recent technological advances. There is no school on Election Day.
Interested students — or anyone else — can contact email@example.com for more information. (Hat tip: Lynn Goldberg)
Westport poll workers, in 2017.
This Sunday (August 30, 1-4 p.m.), Saugatuck Church runs a food drive to support Person to Person in Norwalk.
Non-perishable food can be dropped off in the church parking lot. Volunteers will collect donations directly from drivers’ trunks. Among the most needed items:
• Spaghetti sauce
• Canned vegetables
• Dry red or black beans
• Jam and jelly
• Mac and cheese
• Granola/snack bars.
Saugatuck Congregational Church (Photo/Storm Sorrentino)
In other religious/community caring news: Every Saturday, David Vita — director of social justice of Westport’s Unitarian Church — brings hundreds of brown bag lunches to take Bridgeport shelters.
The lunches — of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, a drink, snack and a treat — are made by church members.
Since April 18, over 4,000 lunches have been made and distributed. To help, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-227-7205, ext. 14.
Westport Unitarian Church.
Yesterday’s Roundup noted that Balducci’s parent company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
An email from the store’s CEO Judy Spires to customers says: “Our stores will continue to be fully operational, offering the quality product and selections you have come to expect. And of course, they will continue to be staffed by all of your favorite people. Please be assured that the wages and benefits of all of our Associates will continue as usual, and our Associates will continue to provide you with the top-quality service you depend on.”
How to rehearse in a pandemic? Outdoors.
The other night, Any Given Thursday — that’s the band’s name — held its final session before their show at Black Rock’s BRYAC (Thursday, August 27, 5 p.m.). They tuned up outside the Gig Center on the Post Road, near Southport.
A small crowd stopped by. It will be bigger on any given Thursday — well, this coming one, at least. (Hat tip: Lou Weinberg)
“06880” loves the Little Free Libraries popping up all over town. It’s simple: bring a book, or borrow a book. That’s it!
Amy Schneider spotted this one at 11 Hillyfield Lane, off Marion Road:
And finally … Happy 76th birthday to Walter Williams of the O’Jays!
During his 50-plus years in Westport, Paul Newman was everywhere in town.
We saw him in supermarkets, shops and restaurants. He picked up hitchhikers. When I played summer soccer, his helicopter landed on the Coleytown Junior High School field (we scattered first). “Hi boys!” he said as he hopped out — wearing shorts, carrying a briefcase — and walked around the corner to his home.
Paul Newman, in a photo project promoting community involvement. (Photo by Robert Satter)
The actor/philanthropist/race car driver/all-around great guy died in 2008. But this Saturday, he returns to Main Street.
Once again, he’ll do something great — for his town and his country.
Newman’s daughter Melissa is a giver in her own right. For 20 yeas, she volunteered at a woman’s prison.
She was casual friends with a social worker there. For 2 years, he said he had a present for her. Finally — a decade or so ago — he handed her the gift.
It was a framed poster of her father. Looking straight at the camera — and pointing sternly — the young actor urged all “Young Citizens for Johnson” to register to vote.
Melissa had never seen that poster. “It was one of the best presents I ever got,” she says. She hung it on her kitchen wall. It’s been there ever since.
Melissa always wanted to share the poster’s message — register and vote! — with a broader audience. Now she’s got her chance.
In these polarized times, she wants the poster to be non-partisan. Besides, LBJ is no longer on the ballot.
So Melissa enlisted her friend Miggs Burroughs to help. The talented graphic designer changed the message to “Research. Register. Vote.”
Last weekend, Melissa handed out copies of the poster on Main Street, near Brooks Corner. She’ll be there this Saturday (August 29) too, at 12;30 p.m. — complete with mask and hand sanitizer.
“I’m literally a poster child for voting,” she laughs.
She hopes everyone — whatever their political affiliation — will pick up a flyer, reminding themselves to register and vote.
And why not? It’s one more Paul Newman/Westport story to add to our list.
Melissa Newman last weekend, with her poster on Main Street near Elm.
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. Or Zelle: email@example.com. Thanks!)