Tag Archives: COVID testing

Testing, Testing: Greens Farms Station Site Still Open

The Omicron variant is ebbing. The state’s in-school mask mandate ends February 28.

But COVID has not vanished. Westporters still need tests.

Since January, the Greens Farms train station has been one of the town’s go-to centers. Trains still stop there — for a tiny number of commuters — but most of the action now consists of nasal swabs.

The site is run by Progressive Diagnostics. The 8-year-old company was in the right place at the right time when the demand for same-day RT-PCR tests soared. Their Greens Farms location is one of 8 in the state.

The average turnaround time for results is 6 hours. There is no cost for youngsters in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The state reimburses Progressive Diagnostics through federal grant funds. The state also pays for tests for people without insurance.

Progressive Diagnostics bills insurance companies for the $150 fee for those with coverage.

Progressive Diagnostics has been in Westport since the start of the pandemic. They began with weekly tests of EMS first responders, then did the same for other town employees. Soon, they added a drive-through site at the Saugatuck train station.

When the Omicron surge began, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker asked for additional help. Progessive’s Greens Farms location was up and running within days.

There was concern that slow turnaround times would endanger actually endanger health, says company CEO Curt Kuliga, who lives in Westport. High test prices were another worry.

Kuliga lauds town officials for their support, and help in getting the center running quickly and efficiently.

Progressive Diagnostics’ testing center is inside the Greens Farms train station.

Right now, the Greens Farms station is used by all ages, and all groups: vaccinated and unvaccinated residents, and those who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic.

“We will be here as long as we are needed,” Kuliga says.

“Last July, during the summertime testing decline, people wondered why we were still open. We stayed to serve the community. Even though it was uncertain what would happen long term, we felt there was still a significant need. We want to help.”

Statewide, about 20,000 residents are tested daily. Progressive Diagnostics’ lab volume is close to what it was a few weeks ago. The positivity rate remains above 5%. That’s a far cry from the 30% in January, but still high.

“Increased awareness of testing sites may be more important now more than ever,” Kuliga says. “Testing will continue to be relevant — especially since 50% of positive cases are in vaccinated individuals.”

Roundup: COVID Testing, MLK Followup, Stars On Stage …

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Westport’s newest COVID test center is now open.

Progressive Diagnostics offers same-day PCR results at no cost at the Greens Farms train station. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Appointments are required. To register online, click here.

Progressive Diagnostics’ testing center is inside the Greens Farms train station.

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Martin Luther King Day was Monday. CNBC’s Shepard Smith celebrated with a fascinating story about Martin Luther King’s summers in Connecticut.

As a 15-year-old freshman at Morehouse College, he spent the summer of 1944 working as a farmhand at the Cullman Brothers shade tobacco farm in Simsbury. It was part of a program to raise funds for tuition. He returned in 1947.

The summers were eye-opening. Foro the first time, King saw a world beyond the segregated South. He and his fellow students dined in restaurants with white patrons, and tasted freedoms they’d never experienced.

Smith’s report details those years — and the efforts by Simsbury High School students to delve deeply into King’s summers in their town. They helped lead a successful drive to preserve those 280 acres as a historic site.

What makes that event — and the CNBC story — even more compelling is the Westport connection. Cullman Brothers was a holding company owned by the uncles of current Westport residents Bob Jacobs and Joel Treisman. It was started by Bob’s grandfather, and Joel’s great-grandfather.

Click below for Shepard Smith’s must-see report:

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The last of 3 “Stars on Stage from Westport Country Playhouse” shows airs this Friday (January 21). It’s 9 p.m. on New York’s Channel 13; check local listings for other PBS stations. The New York Times put it on their “What to Watch This Week” list.

Dixon — whose credits include Harpo in “Color Me Purple,” Eubie Blake in “Shuffle Along,” Barry Gordon in “Motown: The Musical,” and of course Aaron Burr in “Hamilton” — taped 2 shows at the Playhouse in September, with a live audience.

The first 2 “Stars on Stage” shows — produced by Westporter Andrew Wilk — starred Gavin Creel and hoshana Bean

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There are few visitors to Burying Hill Beach this winter. Well, few human visitors, anyway. These guys are perfect for a mid-January “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Peter J. Swift)

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And finally … Edgar Allan Poe was born on this day in 1809. He died just 40 years later, under circumstances that remain mysterious. Many of his works endure more than 2 centuries later. Phil Ochs — who also died young — adapted this beautiful poem, and made it his own.

 

Tooker: Update On COVID Testing

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker says:

As we continue to navigate this wave of the pandemic, I want to say thank you to our community. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we collectively work to keep each other healthy and well.

Access to testing remains a priority. The town was informed by the state yesterday that it will receive another allotment of free in-home test kits. This allotment of 1,800 kits (2 tests per kit) is designated for Westport residents whose health, economic and living circumstances place them in a vulnerable situation.

These people include the home-bound, frail/elderly, individuals with disabilities, and those with financial or transportation barriers to accessing COVID-19 testing. Oour Department of Human Services is working closely with the Emergency Management Team to ensure appropriate distribution to those within our community who are most at risk. Surrounding municipalities in Fairfield County are following a similar process to distribute their allotment of free test kits.

Residents with extenuating circumstances as outlined above may contact Human Services (humansrv@westportct.gov or 203-341-1050). Westport’s Senior Center participants may calll 203-341-5099 to request an at-home kit as supplies last.

For others who require testing, as of today the town has arranged for Progressive Diagnostics to set up an additional PCR testing site at the Greens Farms Railroad Station. The appointment scheduler can be accessed via the “Book an Appointment” link on Progressive Diagnostics’ homepage:  https://progressive-diagnostics.com/ Payment and insurance details are provided in the link.

Additional resources for COVID information and access to at-home or area PCR testing may be found by dialing 211 or  clicking here, and at local pharmacies and retail locations.

We encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, including a booster.  This is still the best protection against the virus.  Additionally, people now know how to best protect themselves in public by limiting interaction with crowds, choosing to wear masks indoors, and keeping distance from others. Again, thank you to the entire Westport community for displaying such resilience.

Today’s COVID Home Testing Kit Distribution Is POSTPONED

Governor Lamont’s office has notified Westport that due to a shipping problem, the state’s allotment of 500,000 home COVID test kits have not yet been received.

The distribution planned for today at Staples High School has been postponed. 

Once the test kits arrive, a new distribution date will be set.

An at-home COVID test.

Roundup: At-Home COVID Kits, Tree Recycling, Keith Richards …

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The State of Connecticut has procured 500,000 at-home COVID test kits; each contains 2 tests. Westport’s allotment 3,420 kits.

The kits will be distributed to Westport residents tomorrow (Thursday, December 30) at Staples High School, beginning at 1 p.m.

Each vehicle will receive 2 kits, on a first-come, first-served basis. A driver’s license will be required to receive the test kits.

As early as next week, the state will also distribute N95 masks. Details are still being finalized.

Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani says:

I strongly encourage people to limit gathering sizes during this holiday week. Because of the scarcity of these kits, I ask residents to please take only the kits that you need for your immediate family so that we can distribute as many as possible to help flatten the Omicron curve.

Residents testing positive via the home test should stay home or isolate for 5 days if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. There is no need to obtain a follow up PCR test.

Given the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant, it is vital to wear a mask both in public, and when interacting in close contact with individuals outside of your household. For the latest CDC guidelines, please click here.

Westport Public Schools families should report positive COVID cases of students using the district’s reporting voicemail or email (click here for details). It is not necessary to report positive results from at-home testing to the Westport Weston Health District. (Hat tip: Ernie Lorimer)

An at-home COVID test.

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COVID did not stop you from buying a Christmas tree.

And it won’t stop Boy Scout Troop 39 from hauling yours away, either.

The Scouts’ annual tree pick-up project — one of the town’s most-awaited post-New Year’s events — is set for Saturday, January 8.

It’s simple: First you register (click here).

Then put your tree by your mailbox by 6:30 a.m. on January 8. Tape an envelope with a donation (suggested: $20 per tree) to your front door (cash or check, payable to “Boy Scout Troop 39”).

They’ll do the rest. Scout’s honor! (Hat tip: Jenny Rago McCarthy)

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This has been a tough year for many. It’s been especially difficult for the Colletti family.

Chuck and Roe Colletti have been active with Westport organizations, events and charities since 1974. Their daughter Cassie is married to Sean Mecsery. They have 2 children, 6 and 2 years old. For the past 2 years Sean has battled stage 4 brain cancer for 2 years.

They’ve shuttled between hospitals on both coasts for surgeries, chemotherapy radiation and trial medications. It’s been brutal.

Cassie has been strong, focused and committed throughout the ordeal. Meanwhile, she’s managed Sean’s family’s business — Cos Cob TV & Audio — to help keep the family afloat. COVID has made that especially hard.

Many daily medications and infusions are not covered by insurance. A GoFundMe page has been set up, to help. To donate, click here.

Sean and Cassie Colletti Mecsery, with their kids.

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The “06880” tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.”

It doesn’t get more global than this.

Bert Spenkelink lives in Amsterdam. He loves the Rolling Stones. He has 25,000 photos of them in his library, and posts about them often on Instagram.

He just uploaded this one:

The photographer — uncredited — took this shot of Keith and his daughter Theodora the other day, at Sherwood Island State Park.

Avid “06880” reader (and Stones fan) Fred Cantor sent it along to me. He got it from our former Staples High School classmate Alan Bravin, who now lives in California.

So, to be clear: A fan in the Netherlands found this photo of Weston’s most famous resident, celebrating the holidays in Westport — and it came to me, a couple of miles from where it was taken, by someone on the West Coast.

Happy holidays, Bert, Fred, Alan, Keith and Theodora!

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As reported on “06880” last month, Savannah Bee has left its hive.

The Bedford Square store — which branched out from (great) honey products to become both an educational center and gathering place for ecologically minded Westporters — was shut by the owners of the largely Southern chain.

There’s a big hole in the heart of Church Lane today. No word yet on what will fill that very sweet spot.

Meanwhile, just a few feet away, Franny’s Farmacy closes Friday (December 31). Click here for details, reported earlier this month on “06880.”

It too is for rent.

The former Savannah Bee. (Photo/Sal Liccione)

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Fourth-generation Westporter Jonathan Maddock died December 19, after fighting a courageous battle against ALS. He kept his positive attitude and wonderful sense of humor until the end. He was 66 years old.

Jon grew up here surrounded by the love and friendship of his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins,  sisters and parents Larry and Fran Maddock, who he believed were the best parents anyone could have.

Jon loved the outdoors, and enthusiastically embraced life. He bicycled more than 5,000 miles from Westport to California and back, alone. He served as commodore of the Sandy Hook (New Jersey) Catamaran Club, sailing and racing catamarans.

He skied, mountain biked, ran long distances, ice skated, and enjoyed trout and fly fishing. He was an avid photographer of nature, as well as silly things. Jon was a skilled woodworker, building furniture and special wooden boxes as Christmas gifts. He loved listening to music, played trombone (which he laughingly balanced on his nose), and long ago enjoyed being part of the Fred Robinson Big Band.

Jon graduated from Staples in 1973, then from the University of Maine in 1977. After following a variety of career paths he and his family settled in Wolfeboro. New Hampshire, where he was employed as senior designer at Lars Heating Systems. He worked there for 20 years, and made good friends who supported him through his ALS journey.

Jon is survived by his wife Karen; daughter Kelsey; loving sisters Becky (Ray) Racine, Judy Anderson and Sandy Hasket, and many nieces an nephews and good friends. He was predeceased by his parents.

Until the end Jon was was loving, kind, understanding, compassionate, smart, funny and brave. To help carry on Jon’s fight to stop ALS, click here.

Jon Maddock (Photo/Barbara Marks)

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For a few days now, a Christmas tree has dangled from a crane over the boatyard near the railroad station.

(Photo/Nancy Vener)

There must be a back story. But I sure don’t know it. If you do, click “Comments” below.

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We like serene scenes for our “Westport … Naturally” feature — especially at the end of this chaotic year.

It doesn’t get more calming than this:

(Photo/Bobbi Essagof)

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And finally … in honor of the Keith Richards/Amsterdam/California story (above):

Roundup: COVID Testing, GFA Holiday …

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A few weeks ago, I wondered how long the Same Day Health COVID testing clinic near Fortuna’s would stay in business.

Now I know: Quite a while longer.

A reader wrote last night: “After receiving the superintendent of schools’ COVID update (and knowing 2 of my own fully vaccinated children were part of that number), I thought this photo was relevant — and so sad that here we are again.

“I’ve been to Same Day Health every day this week (and luckily continue to test negative) — but today there was a line! Evan, Diego and Nadeen (we are on first name basis now, because of my frequency) said each day is busier than the previous one. Thank goodness they are kind and patient souls.

“I’m scared what January will bring — even for the fully vaccinated and boosted.”

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On a lighter note, Greens Farms Academy head Bob Whelan strikes again.

He’s already internet famous for 2 snow day announcements (click here and here).

Now he’s produced a holiday video that will be the gold standard for all educators, everywhere. Click below, smile — and give thanks for educators like Bob!

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We’re always looking for “Westport … Naturally” firsts. Here’s our premiere mushroom photo. It’s from the Weston Road/Main Street area. Is there anything that doesn’t grow here?

(Photo/Joan Battino)

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And finally … tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. Enjoy it while it lasts!

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.