Tag Archives: David Hidalgo

Roundup: Affordable Housing, Ukraine Help, Punk …

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Affordable housing is an important topic in Westport. What’s Westport’s plan for it?

Tomorrow (March 16, 7 p.m. Town Hall),First Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin kick off the planning process for our town’s “Five Year Affordability Plan.” The public is invited.

For those who can’t attend, the event will be livestreamed at www.westportct.gov.

In other housing news, both Tooker and Dobin testified yesterday before the Connecticut General Assembly’s Planning & Development Committee. They spoke against House Bill 5429, which would permit up to 15 housing units per acre within a one-half mile radius of any train station in Connecticut.

For decades, Hales Court has offered affordable housing in Westport.

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Buck Rosenfield is one of those people who always lends Westporters a helping hand.

Now the 1976 Staples High School graduate is doing it for Ukrainian refugees — overseas.

He posted on Facebook:

“Tonight I worked at a cluster of medical tents. About 2,000 to 3,000 people have passed down this makeshift tent corridor from the Polish checkpoint at the border. There is everything here from pampers to candy, kids’ toys, gloves, clothing, and a human warmth that betrays the long lines and long waits to enter.

“I took a night shift so doctors could sleep. Unknown to me, the border stayed open to the checkpoint. Usually it closes around midnight. There were donated blankets in front of the med tents. I tried to cover children and babies as they passed our way. Their eyes and smiles needed no translation, at the the entrance of Poland from Ukraine.

“Mostly girls, women and children. Men between 16 and 60 must stay in Ukraine.

“Tomorrow will be different. We heard the sounds of a few explosions earlier. Two too many.” (Hat tip: Chip Stephens)

The scene at the Poland border. The 3 smaller lights are in Ukraine. (Photo/Buck Rosenfield)

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Here’s word of a Ukraine Relief Supply Drive nearby.

Medicine, warm clothes, toiletries, hygiene items, blanks, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, batteries, flashlights and baby items can be dropped off today and tomorrow (March 15-16), from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the POTOO garage lobby, 40 Richards Avenue in Norwalk. (Hat tip: Bob Weingarten)

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“Hey, punk!”

Yeah, you — punk fans.

MoCA Westport next exhibit is “Punk is Coming.” The group show features over 50 photographers, filmmakers and artists whose work defined the punk era in 1970s New York, London, Los Angeles and other cities around the world.

The exhibition includes never-before-seen videos and photographs, artworks created by the punk era’s musicians, and contemporary works heavily influenced by the movement.

An opening reception for the exhibition is set for Saturday, March 26 (6-8 p.m., MoCA Westport, 19 Newtown Turnpike). The public is invited. Click here for details.

Patti Smith and Fred Sonic Smith, in 1980. (Photo/Sue Rynski)

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Replacement of the Burying Hill Beach jetty is moving ahead rapidly.

Yesterday (below) equipment moved into place:

(Photo/William Weiss)

This morning, it was already at work:

(Photo/Art Schoeller, president, Greens Farms Association)

The site is set up to allow pedestrian access to the beach — and the ability to view construction, as it occurs.

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Some good news about David Hidalgo, the beloved local carpenter, handyman, home improvement guy extraordinaire from Costa Rica with 2 young kids, who has battled leukemia.

While he continues treatment, and prepares for a bone marrow transplant, he is working on a new business.

David’s sister and brother-in-law moved from New Jersey to Connecticut to be closer to David and his family. Ariel is a gardener and landscaper, who is eager to find new clients around here. He can do spring clean-ups, plantings, yard maintenance, weekly or biweekly mowing – whatever you need.

He will be guided closely by David, who understands the service level of people around here, and will ensure that clients are as happy with Ariel’s service as they have been with David’s work for many years.

Contact David Hidalgo (203 919-3321) or Ariel Blanco (732 288-3453) for details. (Hat tip: Jennifer Zorek-Pressman)

David Hidalgo and family.

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Staples High School sent one gymnast to the New England championship last weekend.

Mia Guster made the most of her chance. Placing 8th in the vault (9.45 score), 12th in the floor competiton (9.15) and in the top 30 for beam (8.9), she qualified for the high school national meet in Florida this June.

Congratulations, Mia! (Hat tip: Nancy Lally)

Mia Guster

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Speaking of sports: The Westport Weston Family YMCA hosted the Connecticut State Short Course 10/Under Age Group Championship last weekend. The host Water Rat swim team placed 1st place, out of 43 teams.

All 6 relay teams claimed spots on the podium. Individual results were strong too, with every swimmer recording a personal best in at least one event.

Next up: state championship for age groups 11-12 and 13-14 this weekend.

1st place in the 400 yard medley relay: Zadie Schatz, Avery Mihelic, Valentina Belyaev, Drew McInerney. (Photo/Christine Schatz)

Finishing 2nd in the 400 yard free relay, front row (from left): Lewis Meyers, Spencer Cheung. Top row: Miles Pearson, Luke McGuinn. (Photo/Sarin Cheung).

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Who doesn’t love alpacas. They — and sheep, chickens and many more animals — have a home at Wakeman Town Farm. And they’re the stars of today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/Cathy Malkin)

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And finally … today is the Ides of March. So of course:

Roundup: Nile Rodgers, David Hidalgo, Bob Dole …

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Like many musicians, Nile Rodgers has an impressive collection of guitars.

Like very few, he is selling them at auction.

Like even fewer, he’s auctioning them not for personal gain, but for charity.

This month, Christie’s is offering more than 160 pieces from his personal collection. Besides guitars, there are amps, synthesizers and mixing boards — plus clothing and classic cars.

Many are housed right here in Westport. The Grammy-winning composer, producer, arranger, guitarist and Chic co-founder has lived here for years.

Rodgers will donate app proceeds to the We Are Family Foundation. He and life partner Nancy Hunt set up the organization after 9/11. It “promotes cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world.”

And it’s named, of course, for the smash song he wrote for Sister Sledge.

Click here for the full story. Click here for the Nile Rodgers collection, from the Christie’s catalogue. (Hat tip: Adam Stolpen)

Nile Rodgers, at his Westport home. (Photo courtesy of Sky Arts)

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College a cappella came to Westport last night.

Dartmouth College’s Brovertones brought their bowties and harmonies to the Christ & Holy Trinity courtyard last night. There was a bonfire, s’mores, hot cider — and a heartfelt speech by Brovertone Sam Laskin. The Staples High School grad spoke about how great it was to grow up in a town that fosters the arts.

Dinner was next for the group, hosted by Randy Herbertson in his Church Lane studio. Most of the food was donated by Rye Ridge Deli.

Today — after they all slept at the Laskins’ — it was off on the next stop of their holiday tour.

The Brovertones, at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. (Photo/David Goldstein)

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Like many downtown stores, Savvy + Grace has a gorgeous Christmas tree.

But this one is more than decorative.

Owner Annette Norton is working with the Ralphola Taylor Charity, a YMCA community center that serves low-income Bridgeport children. They earn points for good behavior during after-school activities — then redeem those points at the center’s Holiday Store by buying presents for their families.

In return for purchasing a gift for the Ralphola Taylor Charity, Annette will personalize a white dove ornament with the donor’s name, and hang it on the tree.

Gifts can be bought 3 ways:

  • At Savvy + Grace (next to the former Tavern on Main restaurant)
  • Online (at checkout, just choose free delivery to the charity)
  • Purchase something from any other local store, then drop it off at Savvy + Grace. What a great way to support all Westport merchants, and kids in Bridgeport.

Donations are accepted now through December 12. Let’s fill that tree — and the Ralphola Taylor Charity Holiday Shop shelves!

Annette Norton at Savvy + Grace last year. This season, the tree is inside her store.

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In 2020, I reported on David Hidalgo’s battle against leukemia.

The carpenter/handyman/home improvement contractor extraordinaire is beloved by Westporters. They adore his workmanship, care, willingness to tackle any project; his problem-solving, humility, politeness, and ear-to-ear smile.

He had no disability insurance. But many friends — and strangers — stepped up to help. On his 32nd birthday, David was pronounced cancer-free.

Devastatingly, it’s now returned.

He starts treatment tomorrow, and hopes for a bone marrow transplant.

Without health insurance, he, his wife and 2 young children need lots of help.

He has 2 young children and a lovely wife. They have no health insurance and will need a lot of help.

A GoFundMe drive can defray medical costs. A meal train can help too.

David’s many friends and very pleased clients hope that Westport can give generously to this special man, and his family. (Hat tip: Jennifer Zorek-Pressman)

David Hidalgo and family.

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Bob Dole — the World War II hero, Senate majority leader, presidential and vice presidential candidate, veterans’ advocate, and skillful politician in all the positive senses of the word — died yesterday, at 98.

His long and varied life no doubt brought him at least a few times to Westport, for fundraising and other events. I met him once, at the Apple Festival at Staples High School.

That’s been gone for a while, but it was an old-fashioned, community celebration every October. It must have been a presidential election year, though I can’t remember which one.

I was surprised that a man of his stature would be shaking hands at a small event like that. But I was impressed that he met voters with grace, a smile, and a couple of jokes.

I shook his hand — his left one, because his right hand was severely injured during his service with the 10th Mountain Division. I was not going to vote for whoever he was stumping for, but neither would I pass up the honor of meeting him.

It remains a fond memory. If only we had iPhones back then.

Senator Bob Dole

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Former Westporter — and longtime Planning & Zoning Commission member –Ed Van Gelder died last week, at Meadow Ridge in Redding. He was 98 years old.

In 2009, he and his wife Inge celebrated their 60th anniversary. Their son Jeff wrote a beautiful piece for “06880,” about what Westport meant to them both. Click here to read.

An obituary has not yet been published. Condolences may be sent to Jeff Van Gelder, c/o1326 Meadow Ridge, Redding, CT 06896. (Hat tip: Rose Jordan)

Inge and Ed Van Gelder

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“06880” readers are not the only people who love Werner Liepolt’s artwork.

The regular contributor to our Saturday online art gallery has just had his en plein air painting of Sherwood Island State Park juried into the Mart Twain Library‘s 49th annual art show. Submissions came from across the country.

The fundraiser for the Redding institution — which was founded by the legendary writer — runs through December 12.

The Mark Twain Library is a fitting spot for Liepolt’s work. He spent over 30 years in Westport as an English teacher.

Werner Liepolt’s Sherwood Island artwork was featured in the “06880” art gallery last March. It’s now in the juried Mark Twain Library show.

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Speaking of Sherwood Island: Mill Pond residents were surprised to wake up this morning to lights and action.

It was presumably Netflix, filming “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone.” The Stephen King thriller stars Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell, and will be released next year.

A temporary “trailer park” has been erected at the state park. To answer questions from readers: No, it’s not permanent.

Sherwood Island State Park, as seen from the Mill Pond early this morning. (Photo/James White)

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The deer keeping coming. Jill Grayson took today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo at her Berkeley Road home, off Easton Road.

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

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And finally … in honor of Nile Rodgers’ charitable gifts (above) — well, you knew this was coming:

David Hidalgo: The Inspiring Sequel

In December, “06880” posted a story about David Hidalgo.

The 31-year-old Costa Rican man came to the US in search of the American dream.

He works for himself. He’s a carpenter, handyman, home improvement guy extraordinaire. Most of his clients live in Westport. They adore his workmanship, care, willingness to tackle any project; his problem-solving, humility, politeness, and his ear-to-ear smile.

David and Haiying Hidalgo, with their children at home this winter …

He and his wife Haiying have 2 children. David is involved in his son’s Boy Scouts and basketball team, and the Bridgeport community where they live.

Now he faced months of difficult, painful treatment — with no idea when he could return to work. He had no disability insurance.

Before his diagnosis, David was in the process of getting his green card. But because of a law that went into effect in October, if he applied for any form of state or federal financial aid, his green card would be denied.

Westporters, and many others, stepped up to help. Sally Wanamaker put plans to move abroad on hold, and helped raise much of the funds David and his family needed.

David’s health has improved. He’s gotten back both his energy and his hair. After 4 months at Yale New Haven Hospital — on his 32nd birthday — he was pronounced free of leukemia. He is still on heavy oral medication, but life is looking up.

… and at the beach yesterday.

It looked even better on Thursday.

That’s when Sally told him his green card had come through.

She credits Jason Abrams, a Westport resident and New York immigration lawyer — usually for corporate clients — for much of the success.

“He’s got 5 young kids,” she says. “But he saw the story on ‘06880,’ and stepped up as a pro bono attorney. He was so calm, so rational, so giving of his time.”

She also cites Senator Richard Blumenthal. “He got on board after a News12 story. He was fantastic. He said, ‘David Hidalgo is exactly the kind of person we want in this country.'”

However, after President Trump announced a 60-day suspension of all green cards, it looked like David was out of luck. But Blumenthal delivered the good news.

“Everyone is so thrilled,” Sally says. “David just keeps asking, ‘When can I go back to work?'”

It should be soon. And when he does — feeling healthy and good — he’ll also feel secure. Thanks to Sally Wanamaker, Jason Abrams, Senator Blumenthal and many others who helped, he’s got his green card in his wallet.

(Hat tip: Frank Rosen)

David Hidalgo: The Sequel

David Hidalgo — the Bridgeport carpenter handyman beloved by many Westport families, whose battle against leukemia was reported by “06880” earlier this month — continues to fight.

Family and friends — including those from Westport — are working hard to get his relatives to come to the US, from David’s native Costa Rica. They may be a match for a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant. But his mother has already been denied a humanitarian visa, and under current immigration policies his siblings may face similar difficulties.

As News12 reports, Senator Richard Blumenthal has gotten involved. That story (click here to see) includes an interview with Weestporter Julie Mombello, and “06880” reader Sally Wanamaker.

Westporters and other area residents were very generous, ensuring David’s family had as nice a Christmas as possible. But he’s still out of work, and expenses continue to mount. Click here to help, via a GoFundMe page.

David Hidalgo, and his family, at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

David Hidalgo Needs Our Help

This is an astonishing story about a local man who needs help. And the many Westporters who have already rallied to his aid.

David Hidalgo is a 31-year-old Costa Rican man. He came to the US in search of the American dream.

He works for himself. He’s a carpenter, handyman, home improvement guy extraordinaire. Most of his clients live in Westport. They adore his workmanship, care, willingness to tackle any project; his problem-solving, humility, politeness, and his ear-to-ear smile.

David met his wife Haiying shortly after he arrived. They have 2 beautiful children: Santiago (age 11) and Dannika (3). He’s involved in his son’s Boy Scouts and basketball team, and the Bridgeport community where they live.

David and Haiying Hidalgo, with their children at home….

Last month, David was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Though devastated, he and Haiying thanked God: If they had waited even a few days longer, doctors said, he’d be dead in 3 months.

David is being treated at Yale’s Smilow Cancer Hospital. He faces at least 8 months of difficult, painful treatment — with no idea when he can return to work.

David was young and strong. He has no short- or long-term disability insurance. There is no “office pool” to collect money. He and Haiying were hesitant to ask for help. But they have no choice.

Of all times for this to happen, the holidays are the toughest. Santiago says he wants nothing for Christmas, except for his father to recover.

With no income — and staggering bills ahead — the situation is dire. Sally Wanamaker — one of David’s many fans — has created a GoFundMe page. Click here for the link.

… and in the hospital.

Meanwhile — despite compelling letters from an oncologist and social worker — David’s mother was denied a humanitarian visa by the US Embassy in Costa Rica. Although he may receive a bone marrow transplant as early as February or March — assuming a match is found — without his mother to help, his children will be shuttled to neighbors and classmates’ homes, while Haiying cares for him in the hospital.

Four of David’s siblings in Costa Rica will be tested, to see if they are a transplant match. The odds are good at least one will be. However, after the denial of David’s mother’s humanitarian visa, the family worries that the siblings might be denied a similar visa.

Incredibly, there is more to this story. Haiying is a naturalized US citizen. Santiago and Danika are citizens from birth.

Before his diagnosis, David was in the process of getting his green card. According to a law that went into effect in October, if he applies for any form of state or federal financial aid, his green card will be denied.

He will lose his dream of living, and raising his family, in a country he loves (and pays taxes in) — a country his family considers their home.

Despite difficult, painful treaments, David Hidalgo keeps smiling.

Westporters have stepped up quickly. A client of David’s donated plane tickets for his mother and a potential bone marrow donor. Hopefully, they can be used.

Another Westport client wrote a check to David’s son’s school, to pay the remaining tuition for the year.

Every little bit helps. The other night, Sally Wanamaker dropped a few items off at David’s house, near the Beardsley Zoo. Every home on the street was decorated for Christmas — except his.

She passed the word. A Westport client — who considers David a member of the family — donated lights, and an inflatable Santa. A landscaping company put everything up. Despite the tough times, Santiago and Dannika’s house now glows too.

This is the holiday season. We’re all going a million miles an hour — and we’re asked often to help out, for very good causes.

I can’t think of a better one than this. Click here for the GoFundMe page.

And then share either this post or the GoFundMe link — or both — as far and wide on social media as you can.

(Letters to politicians may help them intervene in the visa and/or green card situation. David’s mother’s name is Elvia Cecilia Brenes Navarro. Click the links to contact US Senator Richard Blumenthal, US Senator Chris Murphy, Congressman Jim Himes, Governor Ned Lamont, State Senator Will Haskell. and State Senator Tony Hwang.)