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When the 2020 (’21) Paralympic Games begin Tuesday in Tokyo, Westporters should pay attention to swimmer Matthew Torres.
The 20-year-old Fairfield University sophomore — born without part of his right leg and missing all but one toe on his left foot, along with curvature of his hands — will compete in the 100 and 400 meter freestyle, and 100 meter backstroke.
He’s a proud alum of the Westport Weston Family YMCA Water Rats program — and winner of the 200 individual medley at the 2019 World Para Swimming World Series.
Go get ’em, Matthew. And congrats to the Water Rats, who helped get him there!
The Westport Police Benevolent Association Car Cruise scheduled for today (Saturday), has been canceled due to weather concerns. The new date is October 2 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
All 3 sailors from Longshore Sailing School’s week-long regatta in honor of the late Doug Sheffer are Staples High School students. In the photo below, winner James Russell is flanked by second place finisher Annabelle Lott, and bronze medalist Alex St. Andre.
Who knows what Henri will bring?
But even as the clouds rolled in, there were few worries last night at Compo Beach:
Who is Grace Salmon, and why is there a park named for her? (Arlene Yolles)
According to Woody Klein’s history of Westport, Grace King Salmon was a founding member of the Westport Woman’s Club.
The wife of Frederick Salmon — Connecticut state comptroller, and president of Westport Bank & Trust — she died in 1939. She left a trust in her own name to benefit the town.
Virginia Sherwood, Westport Garden Club chairman, applied for grants from the trust and other agenciees to design a park on 3 acres of Saugatuck River landfill across the river from where the Salmons lived (now the Assumption Church rectory).
It took several years to solve the site’s environmental problems. But the Garden Club developed Connecticut’s first park built on a former landfill, and won an award for its efforts.
Today, Grace K. Salmon Park is one of Westport’s hidden-in-plain-site treasures. It’s on Imperial Avenue near Baker Avenue — a few yards from the Westport Woman’s Club, which its namesake helped found.
The scene from Grace Salmon Park across the Saugatuck River, near where the Salmon family once lived. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)
When did the junior high system start in Westport? (Joyce Barnhart)
From its opening in 1884, and for the next 42 years, Staples High School included 7th through 9th graders.
In 1926, construction of a new “Bedford Junior High School” — aided, in large part, by a $145,000 gift from E.T. Bedford — was nearly complete. Situated across a field from the original Staples High School on Riverside (where the auditorium of what is now Saugatuck Elementary School now sits), the building (now Kings Highway Elementary) included an “unusually good” gymnasium, auditorium and stage — all of which would be shared by the high school.
The 18-acre plot between the schools was planned as a well-equipped “playground” (athletic fields) for students and adults.
So 1926 was when the first junior high — for 7th, 8th and 9th graders — opened in Westport. Long Lots followed in the early 1950s, Coleytown in 1965.
Kings HIghway Elementary School was originally Bedford Junior High. Fields separated it from the first Staples High. Look closely, and you can still see “Bedford” above the front door.
What’s the story with the Mercedes station wagon that’s been parked in the same spot for months on Myrtle Avenue, in front of Town Hall? (See photo below.)
The tracks around it from the street sweeper are clear evidence it has not moved. It’s covered in dust, still containing someone’s belongings. No tickets on the windshield, or other signs of official notice, just yards from Town Hall. (Michael Moore)
Believe it or not, I’ve never noticed it — and I drive past Town Hall every day.
But hey, “06880” readers: If you’ve lost your Mercedes-Benz, we know where it is.
If Westport is located on the eastern side of Long Island Sound, why is it not named Eastport? (Ray Broady)
Well, first of all, Westport is north, south, east and west of a lot of things.
How we got our name in 1835 — when our town was officially incorporated, carved out of the towns of Norwalk, Wilton, Weston and Fairfield — has been a matter of dispute for nearly 200 years.
One theory is that it is a port west of Fairfield (our original European settlers came to what is now Greens Farms, from Fairfield).
Another theory is that because the new town was not named Saugatuck — a state representative claimed it sounded too much like “succotash” — the name “Westport” paid homage to that neighborhood, which was a port on the west side of the Saugatuck River.
Robert Lambdin’s Saugatuck mural. The “port” was on the West bank of the Saugatuck River.
Why are Westport sidewalks not maintained, not ADA compliant, and not cleared of snow on a timely basis? Why are there no continuous sidewalks on Post Road? Why can’t I walk from Sylvan to Whole Foods? (Monica Buesser)
I asked Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich. He says:
“ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps with detectable warning pads are only required at roadways, not at driveways. The reason you see some sidewalks without ADA ramps at roadways, or with ramps that appear to be non-compliant with the current ADA regs, is that they may have not been replaced recently, and may have been constructed incorrectly, constructed to an earlier ADA standard, or constructed before the ADA regulations were made stricter. As we reconstruct sidewalks around town, we are correcting that situation by installing appropriate ramps where the ADA regs dictate.
“Currently residential properties are cleared of ice and snow by the town. There is no requirement for residential zoned properties to clear their sidewalks. Commercial use properties are required to clear ice and snow from the front of their establishments within 24 hours.
“Having said that, with approximately 23 miles of residential sidewalks, it often takes us multiple days to clear all the sidewalks after a big storm, and if we have back to back storms we prioritize the roads first, then the parking lots, then the sidewalks. We appreciate residents helping us out any way they can during the winter, by clearing the walk in front of their property.”
A new sidewalk was on North Avenue last year. It’s now ADA-compliant. (Photo/Michael Fleming)
When will the 1-lane bridge on Bayberry Lane/White Birch Road go back to 2 lanes?
Another one for Public Works director Ratkiewich. He says:
“The Bayberry Lane bridge over the Aspetuck River is tied up in federal permitting right now with the Army Corps of Engineers. We hoped to go to construction this year, but due to the Army Corps’ backlog it appears we will bid this winter. and start construction in the spring of 2022.”
When did the Westport Fire Department move its headquarters from Church Lane, next to the old YMCA (now Bedford Square) to the current Post Road site? (Dorrie Thomas)
1982, says Chief Robert Yost.
I did not ask — but probably should have — if that was the same time they discontinued their Saturday noontime horn test. It could be heard all over town. Nor do I know when the Department stopped alerting volunteer firefighters to the location of a blaze by horns. The short/long codes could be found on the inside of telephone directories. Remember them?
Former Fire Department headquarters, on Church Lane. The YMCA is on the left.
Posted onJune 5, 2021|Comments Off on Lighting Up Main Street
One follows the other. And if one group has its way, there will soon be more lights down.
With more action sure to follow.
The Westport Downtown Association’s newest project is “Light Up Main Street.” The idea is to continue the string lights — currently on Church Lane — all the way down Main Street.
Speaking of action: Josh Allen and Robert Cornield have offered to match up to $2,500 for any donations made.
Church Lane lights.
They’re parents who have each spent the last 12-plus years raising their families here, and supporting the community however they can.
From Coleytown, Greens Farms, Bedford and Staples schools, to Wakemen Town Farm, Little League baseball, DARE, Catch A Lift and other interests close to this town’s heart, both love this town.
Now they turn their eyes downtown.
Josh — who sits on the Westport Downtown Association –and Robert say,
“Tremendous progress has been made downtown, and there is no letting up. With the continued beautification of Church Lane with ornamental baskets and hanging lights, live music on the weekends and outdoor dining, there is a desire by local merchants and community members to have this atmosphere flow right into Main Street.
“Bright lights always bring joy and happiness. However making these improvements comes with a cost. We’ll match up to $2,500 for any donations made to lighting up Main Street.”
The Westport Downtown Association hopes many Westporters will “contribute to the continued beautification of our town, and feel a part of this positive change. The sense of community will be enhanced as we continue to make our surroundings more welcoming to all.”
Tomorrow (Thursday, May 20) is Asian Gold Ribbon Day. Gold ribbons — symbolizing opposition to anti-Asian violence — will be available for pickup tomorrow at the Westport Farmers’ Market (Imperial Avenue parking lot), and today and tomorrow at Arogya (131 Post Road East).
Speaking of entertainment: Westport Country Playhouse Radio Theater — a free broadcast series — presents its first audio play, “The Return,” on Saturday, May 29, (noon; rebroadcast on Sunday, May 30, 4 p.m.). It’s on all WSHU stations, and www.wshu.org.
“The Return” is a haunting tale, based on a Thai folk legend. It takes place after World War II, when a young soldier returns to his village to reunite with his wife and new baby. He is finally home — yet he feels completely alone.
Run time is 35 minutes. A brief discussion with the director follows. Click here for more details.
After broadcast on WSHU, the show will be accessible on the Playhouse website from May 31 through June 20.
Speaking of signs: This one on a fence near North Avenue is a little hard to figure out at first — it’s “Stop Noise Pollution / Ban Leaf Blowers” rather than “Stop Noise Pollution Ban” — but it reflects the sentiment of a segment of Westporters.
Plans are underway for a traditional Memorial Day parade. And there’s no better tradition than the grand marshal.
This year’s honor goes to Nicholas Rossi. The 98-year-old World War II veteran has captured the hearts of Westporters since moving here several years ago, to live with his son, daughter-in-law and 3 grandchildren.
The Oyster Bay, Long Island native was a 4-sport (football, basketball, baseball, track) high school athlete.
After graduation in 1940, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. His flight crew was part of the 305th Bombardment Group of the 364th Squadron, assigned to the 8th Air Force Bomber Command in England. A technical sergeant, Rossi flew multiple bombing missions as a B-17 gunner over occupied central Europe.
He was discharged in March 1945, but remained in Liege, Belgium after the war. As a civilian, he was employed by the government to work with the American Graves Registration Command, locating and identifying unrecovered dead military personnel.
Rossi married in 1956 and raised 5 children (Paul, Christine, Caren, Carla and Peter) in the house he built in Mill Neck, New York. Since moving to Westport, he has gotten involved in the town. When his grandchildren were at Staples High School, he attended their many plays, concerts and athletic events.
Congratulations, Mr. Rossi, on this great honor. See you at the parade!
Church Lane is once again closed for outdoor dining. And the Westport Downtown Association is doing its part to make the area even more alluring.
They’re producing 40 nights of dinner music, starting April 30. Every Friday and Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m., area musicians will play. They’re paying gigs. Funds come from sponsorships, and a GoFundMe page.
The WDA will also add lights, outlining details on the Patagonia building and beyond.
In Death, The Gift of Life — the powerful anthology of 10 Westporters who embraced death on their own terms — has won two 1st place awards in the Connecticut Press Club’s annual communications contest.
The honors were for editing (Dan Levinson and Alison McBain) and design (McBain and Miggs Burroughs). The book now moves on to national competition.
A community-wide book launch will be held at the Westport Library this fall.
Abilis is hiring. The non-profit, which serves more than 800 people with special needs and their families — holds a job fair on Saturday, May 1 (9 a.m. to 5 .m., 50 Glenville Street, Greenwich).
Full- and part-time positions include management and assistant management roles, day program and residential roles. Click here to see open positions. Prospective employees should bring resumes. For more information, call 203-531-1880.
May 1 is also the date of Abilis’ 70th anniversary gala (6:30 p.m., virtual). There’s family entertainment, with comedians, actors, musicians and dancers.
To learn more, register for the show link, see “Giving Garden” needs, check out the online auction or by art by Abilis clients, click here.
An “06880” reader sits for a 4-hour infusion once a month at Norwalk Hospital. It is often cool in the room, so patients are given a hospital blanket.
The other day, she received a real blanket, made by a group at Staples High school called Lovee’s Charity. They’re usually given to pediatric patients, but sometimes they’re handed out in the infusion room.
“It was so nice, soft and comforting,” the reader says. She emailed faculty advisor Natalie Odierna, letting her know how much joy the blanket brought.
Now thousands of other “06880” readers know about the joy Lovee’s Charity brings too.
A Lovee’s Charity blanket.
Major League Soccer has kicked off its 26th season. And for the 5th straight year, Elliot Gerard was commissioned to create the opening day graphic.
The Westport resident Gerard is a founder and creative director with Heartlent Group, a social strategy and creative content agency.
This year’s concept is “Where’s Waldo?” Gerard worked with eMLS to hide Easter eggs in the artwork (below). The campaign is interactive, giving fans the chance to make their own versions on Instagram stories. A customizable background is available. Click for Twitter and Instagram links.
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