Tag Archives: COVID testing

Roundup: Masks, Vaccines, Backpacks …

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The Delta variant is causing concern across Connecticut. Late last night, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe issued this statement:

“As you know, Westport has already re-instituted the requirement for everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear masks indoors in public buildings as recommended by the CDC and the State Department of Health.

“Westport residents have been very diligent in getting vaccinated, with full vaccination rates approaching 90% for the eligible population.

“Nevertheless, the COVID virus knows no municipal or county boundaries, and a significant portion of our workforce commutes into Westport every day from areas of the state that may have had less success in vaccinating their population.

“As a result, I will be working with our COVID Emergency Response team, which includes the Westport Weston Health District leadership, to consider what additional steps our community should take within the Governor’s Executive order to further limit our residents’ exposure to the virus through masking requirements.

“I will be meeting Friday morning with my counterparts from the Western Connecticut Council of Governments to better understand our options, and to attempt some consistency of masking guidelines across the region.  In the meantime, I encourage everyone to wear a mask indoors, particularly in any crowded setting and, for those who are eligible to be vaccinated and have not done so, to please get vaccinated.”

 

1st Selectman Jim Marpe encourages everyone to wear a mask indoors.

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Speaking of COVID: Test lines are getting longer.

This was the scene yesterday, in Westport train station parking lot #8, off Riverside Avenue next to I-95 northbound Exit 17:

(Photo/Matthew Mandell)

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Back-to-school time means many things. Including: It’s time to help youngsters in need go back to school.

Each year, Westport’s Department of Human Services helps local families who lack the financial means to purchase back-to-school supplies and/or provide reliable after-school childcare for their children.

The pandemic has exacerbated that need.

Family program coordinator Annette D’Augelli says, “Ordinarily, the Back-to-School program provides basic school supplies to lessen the financial burden on families struggling to make ends meet.

“The post-pandemic Back-to-School program requires more than backpacks, pens and pencils. Community donations help reinforce a child’s sense of hope and stability by ensuring they have the tools they need to excel in school, and opportunities to participate in after-school activities so their parents can focus on getting back to work.”

Tax-deductible donations, in the form of cash or gift cards (Staples, Target, Walmart, etc.) through “We Care Westport,” Human Services’ donation portal. Click here to donate; then choose “Family to Family Programs – Seasonal Program – Back to School.” Checks payable to the “Town of Westport/DHS Family Programs” can be sent to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave Westport, CT  06880.

If you or someone you know requires assistance, call 203-341-1050 or email humansrv@westportct.gov to speak confidentially with a social worker.

The Department of Human Services’ Back to School program helps youngsters get backpacks — and fill them with supplies.

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In 2011, JoyRide became Westport’s 1st cycling studio.

This month, they become the first local gym to require all customers and employees to submit one-time proof of COVID vaccination to attend any of their Connecticut studios (Westport, Darien, New Haven).

Effective August 16, proof can be provided via an actual immunization card, or a photo of it. It can be presented at check-in, or sent via email to info@joyridestudio.com.

JoyRide also notes that the CDC encourages wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.


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Speaking of exercise: A customized program for people with Parkinson’s starts soon at he Westport Weston Family YMCA. The goal of the program — which includes boxing, yoga and tai chi classes — is to reduce symptoms.

A support group for Parkinson’s patients and their care partners is also offered.

For details click here, and watch the video below.

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Alert — and concerned — “06880” reader Bob Mitchell writes:

“A reminder: Please walk on the proper side of the street, facing traffic on the left side of a 2-way street. It drives me crazy to maneuver around walkers, particularly families with kids, strollers or dogs, walking with their backs to oncoming traffic, oblivious to potential danger.

“Walking the proper way is not only safer and more comfortable (no looking over the shoulder), but it is state law.

I suspect many people don’t know this. We are lucky there have not been any incidents (that I know of).”

The folks in front are walking properly on Canal Road. Those in the rear are not. (Photo/Gene Borio)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is fascinating — and educational.

Photographer Lou Weinberg — who in his spare time serves as director of Westport Community Gardens — says: “Dragonflies are models of flight. They can even fly backwards. Plus they love to be photographed. I love these insects. Nature wins!”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … the New York Times reports:

“Willie Winfield, whose silken lead vocals with the Harptones in the 1950s made him a favorite of doo-wop connoisseurs, even though the group never achieved wide mainstream commercial success, died on July 27 in a hospital in Brooklyn. He was 91.”

I had never heard of him (or the Harptones). But I sure know this beautiful song:

Roundup: Joey’s, Captain America, COVID …

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A year after Elvira’s reopened as Joey’s By the Shore — Featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffee Bar,” there’s more news from Old Mill/Compo’s favorite food spot.

The building is for sale. But Joey Romeo and Betsy Kravitz are not going anywhere. They’re keeping the business just as is — with great eats, an ordering window and a beachy vibe, 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A long-term lease protects the business.

That’s the good great news. Now if only we had some good news about that long-halted home construction project on the site of the former Positano restaurant, a few yards diagonally across the street …

Betsy Kravitz and Joey Romeo, ready for another season.

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Both myTeam Triumph-CT and Remarkable Theater support the special needs community.

It’s no wonder they’re partnering for mTT’s “Spring Into Action” season-opening event. On Saturday, May 1 (gates open at 6:30 p.m.; movie at 7:30), myTeam Triumph sponsors a showing of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”  — the Marvel adventure film — at the downtown drive-in.

It’s not just that the Remarkable Theater employs people with disabilities for screenings at the Imperial Avenue lot. Or that myTeam Triump pairs children, teens, adults and veterans with disabilities with volunteers, who join them in triathlons and road races.

The volunteers are called “angels.” The special needs participants are called … “captains.” So the May 1 film is very fitting.

All proceeds from the event will be shared by Remarkable Theater and myTeam Triumph-CT.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here. To learn more and volunteer with mTT (you don’t have to be an athlete!), click here. To donate, click here.

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Starting tomorrow, there’s another COVID testing center in town.

Progressive Diagnostics opens at 8 a.m. in Saugatuck railroad station parking lot #8. That’s the one off Saugatuck Avenue, between I-95 and the Exit 17 entrance/ exit ramp. They promise same-day PCR and antibody test results.

Weekday hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Speaking of COVID: Who better to answer questions about the virus than Dr. Scott Gottlieb — former FDA commissioner (and Westport resident)?

And who better to ask those questions than Dave Briggs — longtime journalist (and fellow Westporter)?

The event is on InstagramLive today (Thursday, April 22, 6 p.m., @WestportMagazine). You can ask questions now: DM@DaveBriggsTV.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

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Looking for a special Mother’s Day gift? Head to the farm!

Wakeman Town Farm offers spring arrangements, through Hedge Floral. Options include a garden bouquet in twig-wrapped vessel ($95) and posies in upcycled tin cans ($30).

Hedge designs each arrangement with the best of what’s available in early May.  That probably means Queen Anne’s lace, mustard, lilac, pieris, euonymus, viburnum, azalea, honeysuckle and spirea.

Click here to order. Deadline is noon on May 5. Pick-up is Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m. to noon at WTF.

A garden bouquet option.

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Speaking of nature: Jolantha celebrated Earth Day today with a few friends, on Weston’s Kellogg Hill:

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We’ve spent the past 13 months urging Westporters to wear masks.

Looks like we need to talk about helmets too.

An “06880” reader sent this photo, from earlier this week at the Compo Beach skatepark. Several other helmet-less youngsters were nearby, he reports.

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And finally … Jim Steinman died Monday in Danbury. He was 73, and had been in poor health.

His New York Times obituary explains that Steinman “wrote all the songs on Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf’s operatic, teenage-angst-filled 1977 debut album, which remains one of the most successful records of all time.”

Meat Loaf was one of Westport’s many famous musician residents. When he wasn’t recording operatic, teenage-angst-filled songs, he played softball at Compo Beach and Greens Farms Elementary School, and coached it too.

Just another normal neighbor. (Hat tip: Adam Stolpen)

Roundup: Leaf Blowers, Paper Source, Cable Monopoly …

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Leaf blowers — those must-have yet most-hated suburban scourges — are the subject of a proposed Representative Town Meeting regulation.

The RTM Ordinance Committee meets March 25 (7:30 p.m., conference call). They’ll discuss these rules:

  • Summer (May 16-October 14): Gas-powered leaf blowers not permitted; electric/battery-powered leaf blowers allowed.
  • Fall cleanups (October 15-November 30): Gas- and electric/battery-powered blowers allowed.
  • Winter (December 1-March 31): Gas-powered blowers not permitted; electric/battery-powered blowers allowed.
  • Spring cleanups (April 1-May 15): Gas- and electric/battery-powered blowers allowed.

In addition:

  • No leaf blower of any kind may be used before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
  • No more than 1 leaf blower (regardless of power source) may be used simultaneously on any site less than 2 acres in size.
  • No gas-powered leaf blower may be used on any state or federal holiday.
  • Exceptions: If the 1st Selectman declares an emergency, then gas-powered leaf blowers and/or electric/battery-powered leaf blowers may be used as necessary.

Fines (property owner is responsible):

  • $100 for 1st offense (after a warning)
  • $200 for 2nd offense
  • $500 250 for third or subsequent offense.

The public can call in to the meeting: 646-876 9923. The meeting ID is 850 4769 6393. The passcode is 788806.

 

 

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Paper Source — the Chicago-based stationery store chain — closed 11 stores in the past year.

The downtown Westport shop — between Bank of America and Barnes & Noble — remains open.

It is corporate owned. A recent story on the Well-Appointed Desk blog notes that headquarters “bought a bunch of product from small makers, declared bankruptcy so they would not have to pay the bills, then sell it in the stores for 100% profit.”

It’s great to shop local. But caveat emptor: Supporting this Westport business may mean complicating situations with its corporate owner. (Click here for the full story.)

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The weather’s nice. Time to get the kids moving!

The Joggers Club has opened a group for youngsters. Led by experienced runners, the focus is on form, endurance and fun.

It “runs” Sundays, 2 to 3:15 p.m., April 4 to May 2 at the Staples High School track.

Space is limited to 20 children, grades 3 to 8. The cost is $50 per child.

The Venmo account is “TheJoggersClub-Westport.” Questions? Email thejoggersclub@gmail.com.

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This evening Wednesday, March 10, 6:45 p.m.), Congressman Jim Himes hosts a “telephone town hall.” He’ll discuss the American Rescue Plan. Audience members can ask questions during the call. Click here for the link.

Congressman Jim Himes, at Bedford Middle School.

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Looking for another COVID test center?

There’s an under-the-radar spot right under our noses. Yale New Haven Health operates a drive-through operation at 140 Mill Plain Road in Fairfield, just off I-95 Exit 21.

Hours are by appointment only. Click here for more information, or call 833-275-9644. (Hat tip: Carol Waxman)

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Westport’s MaryGrace Gudis is one of 4 new members of Norwalk Hospital’s board of directors.

Director of the Norwalk Hospital Foundation Board since 2011, she has spent more than 1,000 hours researching and compiling the hospital’s history.

Active at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, MaryGrace is also involved in initiatives providing college educational assistance to disadvantaged students.

The Southern Methodist University graduate has held senior communications positions in the financial industry, including director of public information and senior liaison to the board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank. Her husband Mark is on the board of directors for Nuvance Health, Norwalk Hospital’s parent company.

MaryGrace Gudis

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Last month, “06880” reported that the Tristate Coalition for Fair Internet Service is working on legal challenges to Optimum/Altice through the New York State Attorney General’s office, and promoting alternate providers. They’re also collecting data on customer experiences with the longtime cable service.

That survey data was lost when Google disabled the account without the group’s knowledge. They’re appealing. Meanwhile, they created a new survey.

They ask people to complete the Optimum/Altice survey, even if it was already done before. Click here for the link.

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The Webb Road goose is ready for every holiday. Next up: St. Patrick’s Day!

(Photo/MaryLou Roels)

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And finally … exactly one year ago today, COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

You know: WHO.

Roundup: GF Church COVID Tribute; Real Estate; Sports News …

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A year after Connecticut was locked down, COVID has killed over 7,700 state residents. Nearly 2,100 have been in Fairfield County — 28 in Westport alone.

This Saturday, members and friends of Green’s Farms Church will mark the somber anniversary by placing 2,00 luminarias on Veterans Green.

Bagpipes and a brief service of dedication begins at 7 p.m. Thepublic is invited to walk among the lights (or view them from cars), reflect, and light their own LED luminarias in tribute to a life lost or affected by the pandemic, or as a symbol of hope for the future. The display will remain in place for 24 hours.

A Green’s Farms Church luminaria.

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Sunday’s New York Times Real Estate section explored trends in the tristate suburbs.

Much of the Connecticut focus was on Westport. The paper said:

Gains were perhaps expected south of the Merritt Parkway, whose popularity derives in part from regular train service. Indeed, in the past two months, Westport saw 33 sales of single-family homes priced from $1 million to $2.5 million, compared with 19 sales last winter, according to William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.

There were quotes from a man who missed out on a home here, despite offering a 10% premium (“There seems to be so much irrational behavior”), and retirees from White Plains who very much wanted to move to town,

After two failed purchases, they swooped in last month with an all-cash offer for a four-bedroom house, listed for $1.749 million. And it seemed to do the trick; a contract was in the works.

But a rushed title search missed problems, and on Feb. 24, (they) walked away. (The seller upped the price to $1.849 million a day later.)

The piece is illustrated with 2 photos too. Note the New York license plate! (Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Peter Gold)

(Photo courtesy of New York Times/Jane Beiles)

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1992 Staples High School graduate Susan Izzo co-founded The Sports Management Mastermind. The company helps professional athletes maximize their potential — while never losing sight of who they are as people.

At 7 p.m. today (Tuesday, March 9) and Thursday (March 11), she and another sports agent host a 90-minute virtual sports management masterclass for aspiring pro, college and Olympic athletes, and their families.

I am hosting/teaching tomorrow and on Thursday.  I am joining forces with another female sports agent and we are hosting a free 90-minute virtual sports management masterclass for aspiring professional, collegiate and Olympic athletes and their families.

Topics include building a successful career as a competitive athlete; creating and amplifying your brand; learning what sponsors, agents and coaches look for, and how to build those relationships; NCAA and Olympics regulations, and more.

The sessions are free, but spots are limited. Click here to register.

Susan Izzo

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Speaking of sports: Westport READS continues during March with a fascinating conversation about baseball.

Andrea Williams — author of “Baseball’s Leading Lady” — chats with Westport Museum for History & Culture executive director Ramin Ganeshram about a little-known woman at the center of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley, co-owner and business manager of the Newark Eagles.

The event is set for Monday, March 22 (7 p.m.).

Williams worked in marketing and development for the Negro Baseball Museum in Kansas City. She’s now a fulltime writer.

Click here to register for the free discussion.

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Westporters keep clamoring for COVID tests.

This was the scene a couple of afternoons ago, at the Urgent Care clinic on Post Road East. It’s one of the area’s most popular sites.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

And finally … today in 1997, The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in Los Angeles after attending the Soul Train Music Awards. The case remains unsolved.

Roundup: COVID Tests, Scott Bryce & Jodi Stevens, Animals …

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A hearty “06880” thank you to all who donated to this year’s “pledge drive.” Your support of our online community — and of me, personally — is greatly appreciated. (And yes, there’s still time — click here!)

To the reader who sent an anonymous note saying “calling us moochers won’t get us to contribute” — sorry. Sounds like you were just looking for a reason to not help out.

But hey — at least you paid for a stamp.

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In related COVID news, former Food & Drug Administration commissioner — and Westport neighbor — Scott Gottlieb told “Face the Nation” yesterday that 70% of Americans 75 and older, 60% of those 65-plus, and nearly 20% of all American adults will be vaccinated “probably by the end of this week.”

He also noted growing evidence that all vaccines prevent transmission of the coronavirus — not just symptoms.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

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St. Vincent’s on Long Lots Road has closed. But there’s a new COVID testing center nearby.

Sameday Testing has opened at 1260 Post Road East (near Fortuna’s, Greens Farms Spirit Shop and Vivid-Tek).

Founded just a few months ago, the startup of doctors, scientists and engineers has ramped up to test thousands of people every day, across the country. They offer employer-sponsored programs too.

Click here for an appointment. To learn more, email evan@sameday-testing.com
or call 203-520-7734.

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With a name like “Celebrity Parents,” I expected fluff.

But the current issue features an in-depth, insightful interview with Scott Bryce and Jodi Stevens.

The Westport stage and screen actors talk about how they met (several times); their relationship; raising an athletic son; Staples Players; Scott’s work with the New Paradigm Theater, and Jodi’s pivot to teaching in her home studio during COVID.

Click here for the very entertaining story. (Hat tip: Bobbie Herman)

Scott Bryce and Jodi Stevens (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Parents)

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MoCA Westport’s Winter Lights Festival lit up the town on Saturday.

Highlights included a walk-through light path (in collaboration with the Up | Next Teens organization; a maker space for families to create decorations together, and the high school student art exhibition “Hindsight is 2020.”

MoCA’s Winter Festival light path (Photo/Joel Triesman)

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Horses are back at Sherwood Island State Park. A group regularly trailers in their animals, for walks along the beach and through the beautiful paths. This shot was taken in the grove on the Sherwood Mill Pond side, near the fire gate to Compo Cove.

(Photo/Chris Swan)

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Another animal: This guy was happy to pose yesterday, for a Weston photo op:

(Photo/Steve Rothenberg)

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And yet more animals: Yesterday’s story about dog photographer Jim Boisvert reminded Matthew Mandell of a video he produced in 2013.

Part of the “What’s Up Westport” series, it’s title is “Dogs on the Beach.” Fifi, Fido, Fluffy: Here’s your 4 minutes of fame.

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And finally … Happy International Women’s Day!

Roundup: Mars Robot, COVID Testing, Citibank, More

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The tagline says “06880: Where Westport meets the world.”

Today, it’s “where Westport meets the solar system.”

When Perseverance — NASA’s $2.7 billion robotic explorer — landed successfully on Mars yesterday, it got a boost from a 2012 Staples High School graduate.

Alexandria Rosa spent more than 2 years helping source one of the spacecraft’s arms. She’s a mechanical engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena.

Nice to know there’s now a little bit of Westport on the red planet!

Alexandria Rosa

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The St. Vincent’s/Hartford Healthcare testing on Long Lots Road — a very popular location for several months — now operates only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (8 a.m. to noon).

On March 1, it will close permanently as a testing site.

The scene at St. Vincent’s Medical Center on Long Lots Road, a few days before Christmas. (Photo/Randy Ford)

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Another closure: Citibank’s Post Road East branch — the one by Walgreens — will officially close on April 30. It has been shut for a while, during COVID.

An email to customers says “we assure you that you will receive the same great service, now at a new location.”

The email does not explain where that “new location” is. It does, however, say that “it may be convenient” to use the 399 Post Road West branch.

Many banks have closed branches during COVID. For example, none of Bank of America’s 3 Westport locations are open.

The Citibank branch, in the Walgreens plaza.

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Greg Naughton’s new film, “The Independents,” will be released virtually to art house cinemas on February 26. The wider on-demand release comes March 9.

But there’s a special screening — with Q-and-A afterward — at Fairfield’s FTC on Saturday, February 27.

That’s close to here. But the film has an even closer connection: Some of it was shot in Westport.

“The Independents” is a comedy/drama about 3 solo artists who collide at the same crossroads and discover harmony. They share a rollercoaster ride across America for a shot at musical glory.

The film stars (and was inspired by) the real-life folk-rock Sweet Remains. The Hollywood Reporter called it “an extremely engaging film (that) subverts all the clichés of the star-is-born story and proves there are plenty of offbeat ways to satisfy audiences without hewing to formula.”

Naughton — a longtime Westport resident — had quite a bit to do with “The Independents.” In addition to writing, directing and producing, he stars in it.

Click here for tickets and more information. Click below for the trailer.

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Today’s New York Times carries an obituary of Bruce Blackburn. The graphic designer — famous for creating both the NASA “worm” logo and the American bicentennial star — died in Colorado, at 82.

He also designed the logo for the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Weston, of which he was a longtime congregant, the Times says.

However, the logo appears only once on the church’s website: on the home page.

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And finally … happy 58th birthday to Seal!

Roundup: Veterans Day, COVID Testing, Cottage Thanksgiving


The other day, “06880” reader Ernest Lorimer went for a break-quarantine COVID test at St. Vincent’s Health Center on Long Lots Road. He reports:

“The line was a little over 2 hours long, compared to less than an hour a few weeks ago.

“Three Westport police officers had firm control over the line. Cars were divided into 2 queues on either side of the drive. I imagine that was to get more cars off Long Lots, while keeping the drive open for emergency vehicles.

“Cars were not being taken out of the queue in a zippering fashion, which we are used to from traffic merges, but a string from one queue and then a string from the other.

“Officers kept exact track of those queues so no one was getting ahead of anyone else. But that didn’t keep people from haranguing them about queue management, often in heated fashion. Glad they were there!

“Next step in improvement: a Porta Potty. These lines aren’t going to get shorter.”


Westport’s Veterans Day service — traditionally held in the Town Hall auditorium — has been COVID-shifted outdoors. The Wednesday, November 11 ceremony begins at 11 a.m., at VFW Post 399.

The program includes posting the colors; remarks by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe; placing of a memorial wreath by members of VFW Post 399 and American Legion Post 63, and a Westport Police Department firing detail.

The event concludes with honors to 5 veterans.

Because of the pandemic, attendance is by invitation only. Video of the ceremony will be posted on all town social media pages, plus Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020, soon after its conclusion.

The color guard, at last year’s Veterans Day ceremony.


One of our area’s great organizations is the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport. They fund programs like the Janus Center, which aids at-risk youth; Projecto Nueva Vida, which helps people who have been incarcerated re-enter society; FEED, which assists the less fortunate, and CREATE, which trains disadvantaged adults to be chefs.

Christ & Holy Trinity Church has been delivering donations to several food pantries sponsored by the Council. They also bring fresh produce from the Westport Community Garden to FEED.

Bridgeport’s Council of Churches is sponsoring a virtual “FUNdraiser” next Thursday (November 12, 7 p.m.). There’s music by Chris Coogan, a great auction and much more.

Christ & Holy Trinity asked me to spread the word. I’m honored to do so. Click here for the link.


Looking for a cozy, COVID-friendly Thanksgiving restaurant option?

The Cottage will offer in-house dining from 2 to 7 p.m., with a prix fixe menu ($95 per person; $45 per child under 12).

Reservations can be made via phone only: 203-557-3701.


And finally … On this day in 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented 4th term as president. He was first elected in 1932, during one of the darkest years in American history. This was his theme song.