Tag Archives: George Billis Gallery

Roundup: Le Penguin, Portables, Jim Himes …

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Each year, the American Institute of Architects’ Connecticut chapter sponsors a “Connecticut Treasures” contest.

The public is invited to explore the wealth and diversity of buildings from each of our state’s 8 counties. Then they vote on their favorite — based on design, historical relevance, or just because it’s the county they live in.

This year’s theme is “theaters.” The Fairfield County entrant is the Westport Country Playhouse.

Voting ends Friday (July 23, 11:59 p.m.). Click here for details.

Will the Westport Country Playhouse be this year’s AIA state treasure?

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From the Pickle Barrel to Blue Lemon and — most recently — Le Penguin, the building in the corner of Sconset Square nearest the Post Road has been many things.

It will soon be something else. When we find out exactly what, you’ll be the first to know.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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It took a while. But the portable classrooms at Bedford Middle School are finally back on the road.

They were used when Coleytown Middle School was closed, due to mold. The school reopened in January.

Moving the massive structures was not easy. The turn from into the exit drive, from the north side of the school, was tight. And the parking lots are the the midst of a repaving project, making the going extra tough.

The portables served us well, when we needed them. Now they’re are on their way to some other district, for some other reason.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Congressman Jim Himes was in town last Saturday, for a “town hall” meeting at the Westport Library.

If you couldn’t get there — or want another chance to talk to your representative — he’s hosting a virtual town hall this afternoon (Tuesday, July 20, 5:30 p.m.).

Click here to submit a video question. Click here to watch the event, on Himes’ Facebook page.

Congressman Jim Himes, at a previous “town hall” meeting.

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He’s still 8 years away from his driver’s license. But 8-year-old Dylan Rosen got a glimpse of the good life Sunday, at the Westport PAL classic car show.

This Camaro was cool 60 years before he was born. It still is.

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Dylan may be only 8 years old. But I’d bet the farm he can park better than a somehow-licensed driver, who walked away from this job on Riverside Avenue:

(Photo/Michael Chait)

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Still speaking of cars: This morning’s post about traffic woes in town drew plenty of comments.

Stephanie Bass has her own thoughts. This sign sits outside her Old Mill-area home:

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Ben & Jerry’s is on one side of the Middle East controversy. Morton Williams is on the other.

The Vermont-based ice cream maker announced it will no longer sell in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In response, the New York supermarket change is slashing its Ben & Jerry’s products by 70%, will stop promoting it in its weekly ads, and will demote the brand to the “least desirable locations” of its freezers.

That quote comes from Avi Kaner, Morton Williams co-owner, and former Westport 2nd selectman and Board of Finance chair.

He explained: “Of all the places in the world to boycott, Ben & Jerry’s has chosen to target the one Jewish nation in the world.”

Click here for the full New York Post story.

Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)

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I try to stay away from beach sunrise or sunset photos. I get up to 10 a day, and can’t possibly use 99% of them. (Gentle hint…)

But this shot was different. Here’s how to make the “06880” sunrise cut:

(Photo/Kevin Carroll)

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George Billis Gallery on Main Street hosts a free, open cocktail reception for its next group show tomorrow (Wednesday, July 21, 5 to 7 p.m.).

Featured artists include Derek Buckner, Julian Cardinal, Alice Federico, Paul Pitsker, Jeffrey Reed and Jarvis Wilcox.

“Key Bird” (Paul Pitsker)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image is from Judith Katz’s garden of earthly delights.

(Photo/Judith Katz)

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And finally … on this date in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk walk on the moon. Ten others have followed. The last 2 — Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt — made the journey in 1972.

There are squintillions of songs with “moon” in the title. These are a few favorites:

Roundup: Darlene Love, Emmy Nominees, Kicking + Screening …

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Only a few tickets remain for Darlene Love’s sure-to-be-great benefit show tomorrow night (Friday, July 16, 7:30 p.m.)) at the Levitt Pavilion.

She’s a legend. Under Phil Spector, she sang lead on the Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel.” She worked with everyone from Sam Cooke, Dionne Warwick and the Beach Boys to Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Sonny & Cher. She performed on Broadway (“Hairspray,” “Grease,” and as herself in the first jukebox musical ever, “Leader of the Pack”), then won a Grammy for her featured role in the Oscar-winning “20 Feet From Stardom,” about backup singers.

She’s ranked among Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers. And in 2011, she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

As an added attraction, she’ll be joined by Westport’s own Crispin Cioe. A legend himself — he’s a renowned music director, saxophonist, composer and songwriter who has played and recorded with James Brown, the Rolling Stones, Solomon Burke, Tom Waits, Ray Charles and the Ohio Players — he calls Darlene Love “my soul and inspiration.”

Click here for the few remaining tickets.

Darlene Love (right) and Crispin Cioe (left) will rock the Levitt on Friday.

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The 2021 Emmy nominations are in. And at least 3 have Westport ties.

Two nominees are from the very same Staples High School class. Kerri Kenney-Silver is up for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for her role as Deputy Trudy Wiegel in “Reno 911!”

Here 1988 classmate Eric Beetner was nominated for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured Reality or Competition Program. He edited “The Amazing Race.”

Up for an Emmy for Outstanding Music Supervision for “Halston” is Amanda Krieg Thomas. Her father, Peter Krieg, graduated from Staples in 1969.

I am sure there are plenty of other Emmy nominations with Westport connections. Email dwoog@optonline.net, and I’ll give them their due. (Hat tip: Bonnie Erickson)

Emmy Award

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Kicking + Screening may be the world’s biggest celebration of soccer culture.

Since 2009, the gloriously named organization has screened hundreds of soccer-related films, raised thousands of dollars for soccer charities, and organized panels, parties, soccer poetry readings and soccer art shows.

Kicking + Screening has (of course) strong Westport roots. Co-founder Rachel Markus — a former “ruthless striker,” and 20-year film industry veteran — lives here.

(Co-founder Greg Lalas — brother of former national team star Alexi Lalas — has been MLS vice president of content and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated and The New York Times. He is on the board of Soccer Without Borders.)

COVID brought a halt to in-person movie showings. But Kicking + Screening is ready to start up again.

And their first show is right here in Westport.

The North American premiere of “Men of Hope” is set for the Westport Library on Thursday, July 29 (7 p.m.). The fascinating-way-beyond-soccer documentary follows the Afghanistan national team, as it attempts to qualify for the Asian Cup. Challenges include war, political squabbling, corruption — and some formidable opponents.

Click here for tickets. For more information on Kicking + Screening, click here.

(Can’t make the July 29 Library screening? “Men of Hope” is available to stream from July 30 through August 1, through the link above.)

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For a while, Earthplace has struggled to raise money to feed and support its animals. The need is great, for everything from weekly produce for Animal Hall ($50) to a month’s supply of food for the bald eagles, Cerena and Chatty ($250).

Now — in the midst of a fundraising drive — several donors have stepped up. They’ll match all pledges up to $20,000. That would cover the animal program’s cost for a full year. Click here to help.

Cerena, one of Earthplace’s 2 bald eagles, can’t go hungry!

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Earthplace does not feed bears. But — as part of their educational mission, particularly during this summer when several Westporters have had close encounters of the ursine kind — the Woodside Lane center is sponsoring a free program about bears.

On Wednesday, July 28 (7 p.m., Earthplace amphitheater), Connecticut master wildlife conservationist Felicia Ortner will provide “bear facts” — and dispel myths and misunderstandings.

This was the scene recently, off Weston, (Photo/Denny Galindo)

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Two days ago, our “06880” Roundup featured a photo of a car whose 4 wheels — probably because of the rims — had been stolen, on the top floor of the Wilton Road parking garage.

Today’s shot — eerily similar — is from the eastbound side of the Westport train station.

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

Pretty brazen, in these days of security cameras everywhere.

And boy, those rims must be really cool.

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A closing reception for the George Billis Gallery “Summer Escape” pop-up exhibit is set for next Wednesday (July 21, 5 to 7 p.m., 166 Main Street).

Artwork includes oceans, beaches, pools, sailboats, waterscapes, and paintings inspired by travel around the US and Europe. Westporter Dale Najarian is a featured artist.

“Compo Beach,” oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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Jeffrey Evans died peacefully in the company of family in Cumming, Georgia on Sunday. He was 64., and lived in Westport for over 35 years.

A graduate of Staples High School, Jeff had a successful career in communication technology sales.

Jeffrey Evans

Jeff was known for his ready smile and constant humor. He was an excellent golfer and dancer. He enjoyed music, and went on many travel adventures with his wife.

He is survived by his wife, Diane Evans; daughters Adriana and Theresa of Connecticut; stepdaughters Brandi Garner and Kristin Baxter of Georgia; sister Valerie Russell of North Carolina, and 8 grandchildren. His family says, “His generous heart and wonderful spirit will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”

A memorial service will take place at Christ Church in Greenwich on Sunday, July 25 (2 p.m.). In lieu of Flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Jeff’s name to your favorite non-profit organization.

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The Westport Farmer’s Market is open today (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot).

But a few steps away, at Baron’s South, you can snag some free raspberries. How’s that for “Westport … Naturally”?!

(Photo/Jay Dirnberger)

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And finally … speaking of those delicious raspberries (above):

Roundup: Shore Birds, Sundance, Swimsuits …

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An American oystercatcher is nesting at Compo Beach.

Parks & Rec is on the case.

Department staff has strung rope around the site, keeping people away from the fragile bird and her eggs. A sign offers information about her habits.

Another sign describes other threatened shorebirds. It’s fascinating to read.

And heed.

The oystercatcher sign …

… and another, describing piping plovers and least terns. (Photos/Dinkin Fotografik)

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An excited “06880” reader writes:

I’ll admit I got a little breathless when I received a Sundance email headlined, “Visit Our New Store in Westport.”

Westport?! This catalog has served as my retail therapy vision board for years; the source of countless subtle, dog-eared “tips” I’ve left for my spouse re birthday and holiday gifts.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Robert Redford-stamped brand, think Millie Rae’s meets Anthropologie — high-end, carefully curated, bohemian-Southwest-y silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothes, shoes and housewares.

I can’t wait to see how they deck out their brick-and-mortar store on Main Street (the former Ann Taylor — it’s only their 18th retail location). Am I excited enough about it to get the free gift for booking an “early access appointment”?

Why yes, actually, I might be. If they do this right, I think it’s about as perfect a fit for Westport as any catalogue-come-to-life could be.

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Last year, during the darkest days of the pandemic, the Westport Garden Club’s “Friday Flowers” project brightened up our town. Once a week, members placed beautiful bouquets at very visible spots.

The Garden Club has picked up again this year. The first Friday Flowers of 2021 was delivered to Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Keep your eyes open every week. And if you see a Westport Garden Club member: thank her!

Friday Flowers at the church entrance. (Photo/Pat Nave)

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Speaking of Saugatuck Church: Boy Scout Troop 36 — which they sponsor, and provide meeting space for — helped make yesterday’s mattress recycling drive a huge success.

The Scouts picked up 34 mattresses and box springs throughout town. Then they headed to Earthplace, and helped load the items into a truck.

The Scouts’ efforts doubled the number of items received during Sustainable Westport’s project

Troop 36 Scouts also volunteered at Earthplace, filling containers with free compost for residents.

Boy Scout Troop 36 members, with mattresses and the recycling truck.

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Tracy Rosen offers a shout-out for a local business.

The other afternoon, she and a friend went to Shearwater for coffee. But they close at 4 p.m.

They decided instead to have a glass of wine next door, at Ignazio’s Pizza.

“They couldn’t have been nicer!” Tracy says.

“They set up a table for us outside, and lit a wood-burning fire pit. They were so hospitable,  just letting us sit there with our wine, never pushing us to order anything else. But their pizza smells amazing!”

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Westport PAL’s motto is “It’s all about the kids.”

And kids of all ages love car shows.

The PAL is sponsoring one on June 20 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street). In addition to cool cars, there’s food and raffle prizes.

Tickets are $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are free. Of course.

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The other day, “06880” highlighted the Connecticut Preservation Award for 70 Turkey Hill South.

An award ceremony was held last week, via Zoom. Here’s a video of all 10 awards. The Westport one begins at 16;13. (Hat tip: Bob Weingarten)

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There’s always something new at George Billis Gallery.

An opening reception this Friday (May 14, 4 to 7 p.m.) showcases “A Glimpse Ahead.” The figurative exhibit focuses on summer, with artwork that includes swimmers, surfers, pool scenes and waterscapes. The aim is to create a sense of peace, relaxation and joy.

Among the artists: Westporter Dale Najarian. She contributes abstracted waterscapes on canvas and wood panel.

The exhibit runs through June 13.

“Jewel Landscape,” oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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And finally … Happy Mother’s Day, to every “06880” mother out there.

None of us would be here without you. We love you, moms!

Roundup: Longshore Pool, Chickens, High Honors …

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Several “06880” readers have asked: Will the Longshore pool open this summer?

Parks & Recreation director Jen Fava says: “We anticipate opening. We are awaiting further guidance from the state. We are currently working on procedures based on requirements.”

Westporters eagerly anticipate seeing this again. (Photo/Pamela Einarsen)

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Speaking of Longshore: Jackie Perrotta spotted this hardy tree — growing through a rock — near the golf course:

“We gave it a tug to see if it’s real. It is quite sturdy,” she reports.

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It’s spring, which means you’ve been thinking about raising chickens.

Or maybe you already have a flock, but want to learn more about organic nutrition or chicken swings.

Cluck — I mean, click — on a link next Monday (April 12, 7 p.m.).

Bruce Benedict (Benedict’s Home and Garden) and Mackenzie Chauncey (Kent Nutrition Group) will tell you (virtually) everything you want to know about starting and raising your own backyard flock.

Bruce will walk you through the best coops, breeds and feeders to keep your birds happy and healthy. Mackenzie will guide you through feeding, from baby chicks to laying hens, and all their nutritional needs along the way. You’ll also see how see how WTF is raising their own chicks.

Click here to register. NOTE: Like raising chickens, this is a family affair — suitable for all ages.

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In June, 19 Staples High School students will graduate with High Honors. That’s the top 4% of the graduating class.

Principal Stafford Thomas says, “the most astonishing aspect of this accomplishment is that these students were involved in a number of extracurricular activities and various aspects of school life, which took a great deal of time, focus and concentration outside of the classroom as well. We were lucky to have had them for 4 years. We will no doubt be hearing about their next great achievements in the years to come.”

High Honors students are listed below, under the photos.

From left: Assistant principal Patrick Micinilio, Gary Lu, Principal Stafford Thomas,  Carolyn Everett, Emma Dantas, Claire Redmer, Claire Lee, Sophia Lauterbach, Hanna Even, Simon Rubin

From left to right: Samantha Webster, Nasir Wynruit, Andrea Bautista, Henry Portman, Charlotte Zhang, Rishabh Mandayam, Teagan Smith, Alexander Toglia, Elana Atlas, Konur Nordberg.

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MoCA Westport’s opening reception for its new “Smash” exhibit was — come on, this is too easy — a smash.

Contemporary artist Marilyn Minter’s videos are exhibited together for the first time in a public institution.

The show includes her custom-designed AMC Pacer, featuring an interior, surround viewing of her work “Green Pink Caviar” — shown for the first time ever.

Click here for more information.

Marilyn Minter’s AMC Pacer. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

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Speaking of art: George Billis Gallery on Main Street announces a new show: “Cityscapes.” More than 15 artists exhibit a variety of works.

Opening reception is this Friday (April 9, 4 to 7 p.m.). It runs through May 9.

“Day in the Square” (Glenn Ness), at George Billis Gallery.

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And finally … on this day in 1974, ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Waterloo.” The rest is history.

Roundup: Library Reopening, Light Up Westport, More

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The Westport Library returns soon to its December COVID schedule.

Effective Monday, February 8, appointments will no longer to browse the adult collection, speak with a librarian or use an Express computer.

Patrons visiting the Children’s Library, MakerSpace, media studios and store must still make appointments. Click here for more information.

The Library will be open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. It will remain closed on Sunday. Entrance is only through the upper parking lot doors.

Late fees will continue to be waived. Conference and meeting rooms will remain closed.

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For 4 years, WestportMoms has lit up Westport online. Now the multi-platform group wants to do so — literally.

Megan Rutstein and Melissa Post have launched “Light Up Westport.” The “appreciation project” charity fundraiser encourages people to send luminaries and personal notes of gratitude to friends, local businesses and first responders.

On February 4 (7 p.m.), participants should place their luminary in front of their homes or stores. They’ll light up the town.

They’ll then share photos on social media, and tag #lightupwestport.

Click here to order luminary kits. They include a WSPT luminary, note card and LED tea light. Volunteers will deliver them the day before the event.

All proceeds will go to Filling in the Blanks. The organization provides weekend meals to needy children throughout Fairfield County. WestportMoms have partnered with Ali Dorfman of Purpose 2 Purchase on this initiative.

WSPT luminary. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

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If you haven’t visited George Billis Gallery, you’re missing a great addition to Westport.

The newest addition to Main Street — in space formerly occupied by Jonathan Adler — announces its first big events.

An international exhibition, is set for February 5-28. There’s an opening reception from 3 to 7 p.m., including a Zoom walk-through with juror Lisa Cooper from 3 to 3:30.

The exhibit features over 30 national and international artists presenting painting, photography, sculpture and works on paper.

George Billis Gallery, 166 Main Street.

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“06880” is looking for stringers/interns to cover town meetings: Board of Education, Board of Finance, Board of Selectmen. Town knowledge, enthusiasm, writing chops, ability to watch for hours needed. Perfect for bored college students and anyone else interested in town affairs. Interested? Email dwoog@optonline.net

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Bernie Sanders is a very impatient guy.

He was spotted yesterday outside Gold’s, waiting for bagels and lox …

(Meme courtesy of Our Town Crier)

… and then at Loeffler Field, waiting for the 2021 soccer season to begin.

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And finally … on this day in 1996, “Rent” opened officially at the New York Theatre Workshop. It was a bittersweet moment: composer/playwright Jonathan Larson died hours before, from an aneurysm.

Twenty-five years later, his work is considered one of the most monumental and important musicals of all time.

Roundup: Academic All-Americans, Art Gallery, Ice Giants, More


For the 18th time in 20 years — and the 15th season in a row — the Staples boys soccer program has been honored with a national award for academic excellence.

And they did it with a record-setting GPA, one far beyond the already high standard.

A squad must have a 3.25 grade point average for all varsity players. The award is given for the previous academic year. In 2019, Staples’ varsity players had an average GPA of 3.76 — way higher than the previous record of 3.43.

The Academic All-America award is given by United Soccer Coaches, a 30,000-member national organization. The Wreckers’ coach, Dan Woog — hey, that’s me! — says indications are good that the 2020 squad should also qualify for  the honor.

The 2019 Academic All-American Staples boys soccer team. (Photo/Christina Bassler)


The arts scene in Westport just got even more interesting.

George Billis Gallery has relocated from New York City to Westport. The new space is 166 Main Street, next to Simon Pearce. It features work by national and international emerging and established artists.

When the gallery was established in1997, it was the 12th to open in the Chelsea Arts District. In 2004, Billis opened a 2nd location in the burgeoning art district of Culver City, Los Angeles.

Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment (203-557-9130). Click here for the website.

George Billis art gallery on Main Street.


It’s a new year, and our thoughts turn to … Uranus and Neptune.

On January 19 (8 p.m., Zoom and YouTube) the Westport Astronomical Society hosts a virtual lecture with Dr. Heidi B. Hammel. She’ll talk about a new concept to return spacecraft to explore the 2 “Ice Giants.”

This Dr. Hammel’s 3rd WAS appearance. A rock star in her world, she is vice president for science at AURA, which operates the Hubble Space Telescope and many other observatories. Click here for more information.


And finally … on this day in 1959, Alaska was admitted to the union, as our 49th state. The next year Johnny Horton sang the theme from the film “North to Alaska,” starring John Wayne, Ernie Kovacs and Fabian. Horton was killed in an
automobile accident the day after the movie was released.