Tag Archives: Andrew Colabella

Online Art Gallery #151

Two striking photos, and a reproduction/adaptation of a famous work open this week’s online art gallery.

Other readers submitted their usual intriguing array of paintings and drawings too.

Remember: This is your feature. Everyone is invited to contribute. Age, level of experience, subject matter — there are no restrictions.

All genres are encouraged. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, collages, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage and (yes) needlepoint — whatever you’ve got, email it to 06880blog@gmail.com. Share your work with the world!

Untitled (Andrew Colabella)

“GULLable” (Patricia McMahon)

“Pieter Claesz’s Dinner at the Katzes/” Artist Norm Siegel based this on “the famous Dutch 17th century still life food artist– updated with all the foods I loved that now give me heartburnand acid reflux.”

“A Little Snow” (Karen Weingarten)

Artist Lawrence Weisman calls this “Character of Westport,” then adds, “or one of them at least.”

Untitled (Mona Brown)

“The Tennis Players: Igor Stravinsky and His Taller Friend” — acrylics (Peter Barlow)

“Whelk” (Amy Schneider)

“A Very Little House on the Prairie” (Steve Stein)

Photographer Rindy Higgins describes this monotone: “I was impressed with the gray on gray on gray, illustrating that the Saugatuck River is the same as the Sound is the same as the sky: the oneness of all.”

(Admission to “06880”‘s online gallery is free. But contributions are gladly accepted. Please click here — and thank you!)

Remembering Joey Arciola

Westport native and longtime, well-respected Parks & Recreation Department employee Joseph “Joey” Arciola died peacefully on February 14. He was 52 years old.

Joey came from a long line of family members who served the town of Westport, as Public Works employees, police officers, firefighters and teachers.

Joey was retired from Parks & Rec, where he started his career as dock master at the age of 19. He worked his way to foreman for the department.

Joey Arciola

Joey was an avid sailor, hiker and camper. He loved Cockenoe Island. He was a passionate sports fan who never missed a Yankees, New York Rangers or Dallas Cowboys game.

His family says: “Joey devoted himself to his friends and family with unwavering commitment, love and loyalty. Throughout his life, he prided himself on making everyone around him a better person as well.”

Joey is survived by his parents, Sam Arciola Jr. and Jo Ann (Austin) Arciola, brother Sam Arciola III (Kelly), nephews Sam Arciola IV and Dominic Arciola whom he adored and treasured, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joey’s memory to Save the Sound.

Friends are welcome to attend a Mass of Christian Burial this Friday (February 24, 10 a.m., Assumption Church).


Longtime friend Andrew Colabella adds a tribute to Joey. He writes:

Joey Arciola lived and loved like every day was his last day fearlessly. He was a man who lived life to the fullest.

Today, Joey would have been 53. Six days ago, Joey left the earth, after making an imprint on thousands of lives.

Joey grew up in Westport, with his wonderful brother Sam. His hardworking parents, Samuel and Joanne, who still live in the same house today, still happily married. They followed in the same footsteps as their father, serving Westport.

Their father worked at the sewage treatment plant. Sam recently retired from the Westport Police Department, with over 30 years of service. Joey started working for the town on the docks and marinas, eventually making his way to the Parks & Recreation maintanence division as a laborer.

Joey spent the next 20-plus years in that department shape the town’s athletic and recreational fields. His work partner was Joey Saviano (click here),

The 2 Joes could be seen riding around in Truck 100, a blue single cab long bed, checking on all their hard work. Joey was easy to spot, always in cargo shorts, sneakers, a Yankees ball cap with perfectly trimmed short hair, walking fast on the ball of his feet.

He never stopped moving, except to stop at Junior’s Hot Dog Stand. He’d sit at the counter having lunch with the other Westport local legends and celebrities. His cousin Jeff was behind the counter.

In 8 hours his crew of guys had the lines stripped, grass rolled and cut, PH soil levels balanced, sprinklers timed, baseball fields ready, beach raked, trash picked up, guardrails weed whacked, and equipment ready to go. It all fell under Joey.

The town was ready to go, for all to enjoy. His style of management was sincere, yet tough. He expected the work that day to be done. But if variables beyond our control prevented completion, Joey would either show up to pitch in and help, never afraid but excited to teach, or call before it was started so that no one’s time was wasted. Joey was resourceful, fast thinking and organized.

Joey was elected president of his union, AFSCME 1303-194. He fearlessly went head to head with any and all for fair wages, incentives, protecting pensions and benefits for his employees. Joey knew the value of his talented workers and colleagues, and how much family meant to him.

Joey Arciola, enjoying Cockenoe Island. (Photo courtesy of Linda Gilleran)

Joey had no kids, but was there every step of the way from the birth of his nephews Samuel and Dominic. Those independent and successful bright boys both graduated from Staples, and went on to the University of Alabama.

Joey’s extended family members all too were influenced by his strong determination to give all and be all. Hard work, dedication and loyalty runs in all their blood.

If he had not employed me in his department for 9 years seasonally as I juggled school full time, I am not sure where I would be today. Joey gave me a chance. He gave me life, an education, knowledge, strength, determination, laughter (a lot), honesty and integrity. But he was also a boss at the same time. Respect was given and returned.

So whether you are an Arciola or a Meier, a child or adult who played on any of our athletic and recreational fields in town, or visited the Saugatuck restaurants and bars, or if you were lucky enough to go to a Yankees game with Joey, his impact is eternal.

So as I write this, knowing I unfortunately will not see Joey tomorrow, or every other tomorrow for the remainder of my existence, the ripples of his fingerprint on earth in this town will remain for decades to come.

Online Art Gallery #149

This week — as we near our 150th online art gallery — our “06880” artist/readers set a new record.

With 16 submissions, this is the most number of works we’ve run since the feature began. (It started early in the pandemic, as an outlet for everyone stuck at home.)

Thanks to all who participated this week — regulars and newcomers.

Remember: This is your feature. Everyone is invited to contribute. Age, level of experience, subject matter — there are no restrictions.

All genres are encouraged. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, collages, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage and (yes) needlepoint — whatever you’ve got, email it to 06880blog@gmail.com. Share your work with the world!

“Happy Hearts Day” (Rowene Weems

“Neurographic Heart” (Amy Schneider)

“Foggy Compo Companionship” (Andrew Colabella)

“Hugs to Westport” (Mona Brown)

Fairfield Furniture Store — now National Hall, 1970s (Diane Van Gelder, Staples High School Class of 1970)

“The Black Pearl” — mixed media (Peter Barlow)

Untitled — taken from a boat off the Napali Coast on Kauai, Hawaii (Robert Augustyn)

“Clouds or Waves?” (Pam Kesselman)

“Is This Seat Taken?” Photographer Mike Hibbard says, “This friendly spirit rides the train between Cusco, Peru and Machu Picchu.”

“Oui @ One River” (Jonathan Alloy)

“I See the Light!” (Linda Sugarman)

“Ceramic Pitcher in Blue Rutile” (Diane Yormark)

Untitled (Tom Doran)

“A Small Barn” (Steve Stein)

“Mystery Balloon” (Lawrence Weisman)

“Fly Me to the Moon” (Karen Weingarten)

Lighting Up The Holidays: Part 2

Last week, “06880” featured a series of photos by Andrew Colabella. They showed homes lit for the holidays, in a wide variety of colors and styles.

There are many others, of course. Andrew — a Representative Town Meeting member, Staples High School graduate and longtime advocate for all things Westport — took a second tour recently. Here’s what he saw on Saugatuck Shores:

(All photos/Andrew Colabella)

And here’s a bonus, from Gabriela Hayes on Sylvan Road South:

(Photo/Gabriela Hayes)

Lighting Up The Holidays

Andrew Colabella is a busy man.

He works. He’s an RTM member. He moonlights as Santa Claus.

But he had time last week to cruise around Westport. He spotted plenty of homes with holiday lights. He stopped at each, and snapped photos.

Here is Andrew’s tour of our town. Now all we need is snow…

(All photos/Andrew Colabella)

Apologies to any we missed. If you’ve got a favorite holiday lights photo, please email 06880blog@gmail.com. If we get enough, we’ll run Round 2.)

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog — and holiday headquarters. Please click here to support us with a gift. Thank you!)

Roundup: Ukraine, Santa, Brien McMahon …

The war in Ukraine has moved off the front pages.

But it’s still very close to Mark Yurkiw’s heart.

The Westporter (who has Ukrainian heritage) continues to work on a variety of projects to help that embattled country. He writes: “Missiles are raining down on Ukraine today. They are specifically meant to destroy access to heat, light and water.

“A group I am working with was given the chance to fill the balance of the next shipping container going to Ukraine in 5 days.

“‘06880’ readers can save lives by donating used generators, chainsaws, sleeping bags, flashlights and cell phone power banks. Non-working chainsaws and generators are fine. We will repair them.”

They can be brought to 190 Cross Highway and left by the barn any time. For questions or pickup arrangements, call Mark: 646-873-0050.

NOTE: Other containers will follow soon. The equipment collection is ongoing.

Mark Yurkiw has not forgotten his native Ukraine.


Last night’s party honoring Westport Lifestyle magazine’s 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards winners featured fantastic food, an exciting venue (Christian Siriano’s Collective West) — and the most buff Santa ever to hustle down a chimney.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

This one bore a striking resemblance to RTM member/Staples High School graduate/longtime volunteer Andrew Colabella.

Ho ho ho!


Westport’s has a new pop-up shop: Megan’s Martha’s Vineyard Boutique.

The women’s clothing and accessories boutique on Church Lane has a season location on the actual Vineyard.

Owner Molly Kopp is from Westport. Her family moved around a bit, and she landed on the island full-time while in college.

She worked for Megan, and after graduation asked about partnering on a Westport location.

The store opened last month. It will be here — opposite Spotted Horse — until at least January 1.

Megan’s Martha’s Vineyard pop-up.


Staples and Brien McMahon High Schools compete against each other in many FCIAC (Fairfield County league) sports.

Now the Westport mother of former Wreckers is trying to help the Senators.

Lisa Marriott — whose sons were Staples  track stars — heard that McMahon boys indoor track coach Valerie Kalunian needs used track spikes and/or running sneakers for some of her athletes. Without them, they cannot participate this winter.

“Those shoes can be very costly for students, and hard to find in local stores,” she says. “Over the years we have tried to gather extra spikes/racing shoes/training shoes for those that may not have them, but our selection is limited.”

Running shoes can be dropped off at the Town Hall front desk starting Monday (put Lisa Marriott’s name on the bag or box). For other options, email lsmarriott@gmail.com. To donate cash, click here for a GoFundMe page.


Ring-around-a-rosiesPocket full of posies …

Come on, Westport students. You can write a much better garden-related poem  than that timeworn ditty.

Here’s your chance. The Westport Garden Club has partnered with the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, town poet laureate Jessica Noyes McEntee and the Westport Library to sponsor a Youth Poetry Contest.

Affiliated with the National Garden Club’s Youth Poetry Contest, it’s open to public and private school students in kindergarten through 9th grade, plus those who are home schooled.

The competition encourages youth to embrace their creativity, using nature as inspiration.

The theme for the 2023 competition is “Seeds, Trees, and Bees…Oh My – Celebrating the Diversity of Nature”

Poems should be emailed to westportctgardenclub@gmail.com by January 6. Click here for guidelines, and more information.

Inspiration may come from this Westport Garden Club arrangement.


No, the Ned Dimes Marina was not on fire yesterday.

It was just the Westport Fire Department doing what they always do, to keep us safe: checking equipment, and training.

(Photo/Matt Murray)


Everyone in Westport goes to Compo Beach in the summer.

Plenty go in late spring and early fall.

December — not so many.

If you don’t know what it looks like when the wind is whipping and the skies are gray — as they were earlier this week — check out today’s “Westport … Naturally” scene:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)


And finally … the Westport Garden Club’s youth poetry contest reminded me of …

(Promises, promises … please click here to help support “06880,” your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Online Art Gallery #132

Today’s online art gallery includes Mona Lisa — unrolled.

That’s just one of the very intriguing near-dozen submissions today.

As I always say: This is your feature. All readers are invited to contribute. Age, level of experience, subject matter — there are no restrictions.

All genres are encouraged. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage and (yes) needlepoint — whatever you’ve got, email it to 06880blog@gmail.com. Share your work with the world!

“Calming Connection” — Photographer Mike Hibbard explains: “The lead mule was in a string bringing supplies to a crew repairing trails and bridges in Olympic National Park.”

“Mona Rolla” — Artist Norm Siegel says: “Oil on canvas with real rollers
attached to the canvas.”

“Clouds” (Sharon Paulsen)

Untitled — Photographer Laurie Sorensen says: “I took this photo in New York City by the ferry to Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty. I see why the birds voiced their complaint!”

“Trying to Stay Awake in the Subway” (Lawrence Weisman)

“A Grocery Cart Checks Out Her Shadow” (Peter Barlow)

“Sorry, I Won’t Repeat That” (Steve Stein)

“In the Clouds” (Karen Weingarten)

“Pre-Dawn Fall Morning” (Sunil Hirani)

“Dark Oasis” (Andrew Colabella)

Roundup: WTC, RTM, Y …


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)


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.


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!


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)


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


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


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

(Photo/Molly Alger)


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

Roxy’s Final Journey

Longtime Westporter, RTM representative and animal lover Andrew Colabella writes:

We are born to die, but we’re living until then. The same goes for pets. I consider them like people. They have feelings, emotions, habits, schedules, wants and needs.

Many of us have had this discussion with ourselves or others: What do we do when we think the end is near?

As I searched for the answer as a human, I realized that we try to tie up loose ends every day, thinking about our families and loved ones to leave them with the least amount of issues, surprises and unanswered questions, along with something for them to remember us by, or even improve their quality of life.

The end is unknown. But for our pets, a service can help our beloved fur kids or fur siblings.

For 14 years, Roxy was part of Andrew Colabella’s family.

Final Journey is an in-home pet euthanasia service that brings comfort and peace to loving families during a challenging time. Based in Monroe, 4 expert veterinarians are a call away to come to your house. They help you decide if it’s the right time to pass.

A call was made in the morning. We were told they would be at our house at 12:15.

A veterinarian and assistant showed up then. They wore robes, scrubs, masks and gloves. Each carried a bag. One was filled with medical supplies; the other, blankets and a book.

They asked us where our dog Roxy wanted to be, and where we felt comfortable as a family to sit. We chose the fireplace, next to one of her 4 beds (we all spoil our dogs).

We described Roxy’s recent medical history, detailing her sleepless last couple of nights, restlessness, tripping, coughing and panting. We said she still had a great appetite, a schedule, and still wagged her tail.

We were torn.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Sarina Hinsley, spoke to us about lymphoma and its side affects, as well as palliative care for dogs. Chemotherapy would extend time by a little, but would not improve quality of life, habitual behavior or energy.

She took Roxy’s vitals, listened to her heartbeat and breaths, and checked her lymph nodes. Our dogs cannot speak like us, but they do show pain.

We knew. It would be selfish for us to keep her alive while she suffered, trying to keep up with what she’d done every day for the last 14 years.

At that moment, our questions were answered. The other bag opened. We were shown urns. They said she would be cremated, then returned to us with her name inscribed on the box and prints.

A piece of hair was trimmed. Roxy had her last snack (chicken): her motivation and favorite word.

The Colabella family, with Roxy.

The sedative made its way through her. She relaxed in my arms, becoming at ease and at peace.

Roxy was warm, and snuggled into my shoulder and elbow. Her breathing became slow; her noises — bear cub-like, just as when she was a puppy and healthy — pinged our ears.

Her heart, beating just like it was 14 years ago when we adopted her from Virginia, slowed down, and came to a rest. I held my hand there, hoping it would keep going another second. Just one more. Even a half.

Roxy was diagnosed last week. She passed today as we surrounded her with love, just like when she came into our world.

I carried her out in a blanket with dogs on it that said, “I love you.”

We did. We all did.

Andrew Colabella

She exited our home with love, into the caring arms of these people who love their dogs too. They are professionals who took their time with us. They talked us through the whole process, telling personal stories of how their own pets died at early or late age, due to cancer or illness.

I carried Roxy out of the house one last time, her black fur shining, her wet nose now cold and drying, her feet sticking out with dirt still on them, smelling of fresh bread, Fritos, and her home.

I put her in the lap of the assistant. I kissed Roxy goodbye, telling her I loved her and will always miss her as she goes for a ride.

It’s the first time in 14 years she’s not home under our roof. The hallways do not echo with her claws clicking the wood floors, or her loud, deep hibernating bear snore that could be mistaken for an earthquake.

Our society has become more compassionate about our animals over the last couple of decades. How we buy or rescue our pets is just as important as how they leave. While they are only here for a part of our lives, they stay with us for the rest of our lives — and we are their entire life.

My experience with Final Journey was more than I expected. Passing at home with us, where was all she knew, put her at ease. It made her comfortable on her own next journey.

Hillspoint Road Work: Help Is On The Way

Alert “06880” reader, RTM District 4 representative and frustrated driver Andrew Colabella writes:

The condition of Hillspoint Road left by Aquarion was subpar. Dipping and diving while driving along the roadway, I thought that after digging up the entire road, they would come back and either repave what they had previously dug up to be smoother, or mill the entire road or lane.

The last 2 weeks, only certain areas were dug up and repaved.

Hillspoint Road has looked like this for a while …

Hal Kravitz, Chris Tait, Robin Tauck, Jenny McGuinness, myself and many other members of the public were deeply upset. Even 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Director of Public Works Peter Ratkiewich were displeased by the work.

However, good news came in a letter from Peter Ratkiewich. He wrote:

Due to the condition of the asphalt, Mr. Marpe has authorized me to place a sacrificial cover of pavement, about 1” thick, over the entire road to make it acceptable for the summer. This will buy us some time and make the walking surfaces safe for the summer months.

We will do this from Compo Road South to Lamplight Lane, which is the worst of the worst. This takes away the Optimum problem too, as they can install their trench any time (it’s only for a couple of services, not the whole length like the water line).

We will use FGB Construction to do the work. They will try to get started next Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest. The work should only take 2 days or so, then everyone should be out of there.

We will eventually end up milling this up and putting down a full 2 inch mat, but the temporary pavement could possibly give me a one year window so that I might be able to fix the sidewalk too.

… and this. (Photos/Andrew Colabella)

This is a road many of us drive every day. I want to thank everyone who spoke out and politely objected to the current condition of the road.

The importance of speaking up when there is an issue or question should always be addressed with haste, and no hesitation.

Residents who live in town and have issues with primary or secondary roads can call Town Hall: 203-341-1000.

If there’s a pothole, damaged curb from a snowplow, dead animal or issues with town infrastructure, email publicworks@westportct.gov or call 203-341-1120.

Also, never hesitate to reach out to your RTM representative about any town issues. We are all here to help you.

Here’s to a smoother future, as we come out of hibernation from the pandemic.