Tag Archives: Governor Ned Lamont

Local Election Results: Democrats Sweep

Every Democrat on the ballot in the “06880” area appears to have won double-digit victories last night.

With 95% of the vote reported, unofficial results show:

Ceci Maher halted Toni Boucher’s attempt to reclaim her former 26th Distrct State Senate seat. She leads, 57% to 43%.

Jonathan Steinberg won his 7th consecutive race for 136th District State representative. He leads Alma Sarelli, 69%-31%.

Dominique Johnson captured the open 143rd District State Representative seat. She is ahead, 57% to 43%.

Lisa Wexler retained her Probate Judge seat over Patricia Zucaro by a wide margin.

4th District US Congressman Jim Himes returns to Washington. He is ahead of Jayme Stevenson, 59% to 41%.

In statewide races, Governor Ned Lamont was re-elected over Bob Stefanowski (currently 55-44%), and Senator Richard Blumenthal was re-elected over Leora Levy (57-43).

In addition, a referendum question to allow the General Assembly to consider early voting passed, 59% to 41.

Turnout in Westport was approximately 57% of registered voters.

Democracy in action. (Photo/Jo Shields)

Roundup: Ned Lamont, Emergency Prep, Queen Elizabeth …

Last week, the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston hosted gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski at the Westport Library.

Yesterday, it was Ned Lamont’s turn.

Former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe moderated the discussion. Asked about affordable housing, the Democratic incumbent said that local communities need to take the lead.

Traffic is a problem in the state, Lamont said — and entrance/exit ramps on highways are the source of the greatest congestion. He also noted that train bridges were not build for high-speed rail traffic, and cause slowdowns.

With unemployment very low in Connecticut, Lamont said there is a job for everyone who wants one. Though recession headwinds are ahead, he said, the state is in good shape.

The governor also noted that Connecticut has the largest unfunded pension debt in the country. However, he said, his administration has reduced interest debt, saving $400 million in interest payments.

Lamont also recalled that he met his wife Annie in Westport. (Reporting by Dave Matlow)

Governor Ned Lamont and former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, at yesterday’s Y’s Men event at the Westport Library. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Last night’s storm knocked out power to 239 customers in the Old Mill Beach area. This morning, Eversource’s map showed no outages remaining.

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Dozens of rescue vehicles — helicopters, tanks, ambulances, you name it — converged on Sherwood Island State Park yesterday.

Fortunately, it was just a drill.

Local and regional authorities and incident management teams shared knowledge, and demonstrated technology for Connecticut politicians and other services. The event was organized by the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, for the 14-town area.

!st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Deputy Fire Chief Nick Marsan represented Westport.

Among the activities:

This bomb squad robot has X-ray vision, and can shoot projectiles.

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There was plenty of pomp yesterday, when Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest.

There was also plenty of music.

Staples High School Class of 1966 graduate Paul Gambaccini is a longtime music journalist. Based in London, he also hosts of “Her Majesty’s Music” on the BBC.

Gambaccini was interviewed by NPR, about the songs that “inspired and defined” the late queen. Click here to listen. (Hat tip: Mary Ann Meyer)

Paul Gambaccini

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Pumpkin spice lattes and muffins have been here since around Independence Day.

Now it’s time for “Fall Pumpkin Centerpieces.”

That’s the title of a session at Wakeman Town Farm (October 4, 6:30 p.m.). Chryse Terrill will instruct attendees on how to create a fall harvest centerpiece inside a pumpkin. Some materials will be harvested from WTF’s gardens.

Of course, everyone can take home their work of art. Click here to register.

A pumpkin centerpiece.

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This Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (September 22, 7 and 8:30 p.m. shows, 6:30 p.m. dinner, 465 Riverside Avenue, $10 cover) is a feast for local music lovers.

“Jazz Rabbi” Greg Wall brings world-class Gospel pianist, choir director, bandleader — and local legend — Chris Coogan to VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399.

The musicians met almost 10 years ago. They share a deep spiritual attachment to American music that digs deep into its roots, and extends up from there.

Joining in are John Mobilio and Jim Royle, both longtime rhythm-mates of Coogans.

Reservations are strongly suggested: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Greg Wall and Chris Coogan

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Saturday’s Westport Country Playhouse gala — the first in-person benefit in 3 years — lived up to its hype.

Broadway star Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler in “Hamilton”) headlined the event, with a high-energy concert of Broadway pop and soul music, backed by a 7-piece band.

Attendees also enjoyed a pre-show cocktail party, live auction and after-party with a DJ and dancing.

Renee Elise Goldsberry and her band, at the Playhouse. (Photo/Coppola Photography)

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The other day, Peter Marks complained about “visual pollution” in Westport.

Yesterday, he sent along this example, at the Compo Road South/Post Road traffic island:

(Photo/Peter Marks)

He’s particularly concerned about signs advertising upcoming events that stay up long after they’re over.

Of course, the political season has just begun. We’ll see more — not fewer — signs everywhere, in the weeks ahead.

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Former Westporter Ellen Wisser died Friday in Norwalk. She was 92.

The Brooklyn native attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with classmates and friends Grace Kelly and Vince Edwards. At Brooklyn College she met her future husband and lifetime love, Allen Wisser, who had already performed with the Broadway show “Showboat”‘s national tour.

After they married Ellen taught at James Madison High School in Brooklyn.

Ellen and Allen moved their young family to Westport in 1960. Ellen continued commuting to Brooklyn, then began teaching English, speech and drama at Harding High School in Bridgeport. She also produced and directed the annual school play, influencing the lives of many teachers and students, who continued to stay in touch for decades.

Ellen was active in the Bridgeport, Connecticut and National Educational Associations. She ran for the NEA presidency in 1976.  She was an advocate of the women’s liberation movement at the local and national levels.

Ellen changed careers in her 50’s, attending Bridgeport Law (now the Quinnipiac School of Law). She then practiced family and worker’s compensation law until age 88. Ellen recently survived 3 different types of cancer, forcing her retirement, and defeated unbeatable odds.

She was predeceased by her husband, grandson Tyler Wisser and brother Marvin Borenstein. She is survived by her children, Dr. Jamie R. Wisser (Natalie), Kerry M. Wisser (Debbie), R. Ilise Gold (Fritz Heilbron); grandchildren Davin Gold, Alanna Dayton, Evan Wisser, Caitlyn Wisser, Ryan Wisser; great grandchildren Jack, Sam and Beck Dayton, Claire and Penelope Wisser; sister-in-law Gladys Floch, many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Funeral services will be held today (Tuesday, September 20, 1 p.m., Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home, Fairfield), with interment following at Temple Israel Cemetery in Norwalk.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Connecticut Education Foundation – Children’s Fund.

Ellen Wisser

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Roger Ratchford died earlier this month, at 88. He was a teacher, golf coach, and advocate for people with disabilities.

The Norwalk native was raised mostly by his mother, with the help of the large Hungarian side of his family. Though she died when he was 13, Roger went on to become valedictorian of his class at Fairfield Prep. To supplement a tuition scholarship to the College of the Holy Cross, he worked afternoon shifts at Worcester Quilting Company.

After graduating he returned to Prep to teach Latin, classical Greek, French and English, and coach the golf team for 40 years. He was inducted into the Prep Athletic Hall of Fame, was named National High School Golf Coach of the Year, and held a national record for wins.

Roger was also one of the first to bring American high school students to the French Alps for homestays with French families. He strongly felt that immersion was the best way to master a language.

Until the end of his life, heh could recite by memory passages from Homer’s “Odyssey” — in the original Greek. He was proud of his work helping the nuns at the Convent of St. Birgitta in the proper pronunciation of Latin chants.

But Roger felt his greatest legacy was improving opportunities for people with disabilities. Inspired by his son Mike, he and his wife Gail became actively involved in the growth of STAR, Inc.

He lobbied for the closure of Mansfield Training Center in 1993, and advocated for a shift to group homes and the full integration of people with disabilities into the community. Two-time president of STAR, he was named Volunteer of the Year by the ARC of CT in 1988.

He was a walking encyclopedia of Norwalk history, and was proud of the Ratchfords’ long legacy in this town, from the Ratchford Hotel & Saloon in the first part of the 20th century, to his Aunt Helen’s tenure as a teacher at Norwalk High.

Roger was predeceased by his wife. He is survived by 3 children and 1 grandchild. His family is indebted to Dorrean, Sharon Mack, and her staff for their loving care during hospice. 

A funeral mass will be held on Thursday (September 22, 2 pm, St. Mary’s Church, Norwalk. A Celebration of Life will be held at Fairfield Prep some time in October. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to STAR Lighting the Way.

Gail and Roger Ratchford

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Michael Szeto describes today’s “Westport … Naturally”photo:

“We are infested with deer in Westport, since they lack natural predators and we are not allowed to hunt them. A herd of 5 or 6 deer constantly roams through my backyard.

“But yesterday was a first for me. I saw 2 bucks butting heads in my back yard, apparently fighting for territorial dominance. They don’t seem to realize that I own the land, not them.”

(Photo/Michael Szeto)

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And finally … to honor the Queen (and Paul Gambaccini — story above), here is the quintessential British song:

 

Roundup: Hamlet & P&Z, Lamont & Stefanowski; A Better Chance ….

The Hamlet at Saugatuck — a retail/residential/hotel/marina plan that would reimagine the neighborhood between the train station and I-95 bridge — got its first Planning & Zoning Commission hearing last night.

Representatives from ROAN Ventures — the local developers — and their architectural, environmental, traffic and legal partners began their application for text and map amendments. Both are needed to begin remediation efforts of the contaminated land, followed by construction.

The hour-long presentation included a video, maps, and conceptual artists’ renderings. The actual design process has not yet begun.

Applicants addressed issues like traffic, with solutions that include underground parking, and working with the state to synchronize lights. They also noted that 50% of the land will be open space.

Commission members and residents had mixed reactions. There praised the thoughtfulness of the planning and the depth of the presentation, and questioned density and traffic.

No action was taken. The P&Z will continue its discussion on October 3.

A conceptual view of the Hamlet at Saugatuck project, from the river.

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In less than 2 months, Connecticut will elect a governor.

If you don’t know anything about the candidates — or do, and want to ask a question — you don’t have to go far.

The Y’s Men of Westport and Weston has partnered with the Westport Library to host 2 forums. Both are in the Trefz Forum.

This Thursday (September 15, 10 a.m.), Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski speaks, and takes questions. Incumbent Democratic Governor Ned Lamont does the same next Monday (September 19, 1 p.m.). Both visits will also be livestreamed.

Click here to register for either or both session, in-person or via livestream. Attendees should arrive 15 minutes prior to the start.

(Graphic courtesy of Connecticut Education Association)

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A Better Chance of Westport’s 21st year is off to a rousing start.

New resident directors, 7 multi-talented scholars, and a chance to really be part of (and give back to) the community after 2 COVID years has energized Glendarcy House, the program’s North Avenue home.

The scholars — in grades 9 through 12 — are engaged in a range of activities, at Staples High School and beyond. Because they are not allowed to drive, they need rides after school and in early evenings.

Community volunteers have always come through. To help transport — and get to know — these great young men, and for more information, email abcwestportrides@gmail.com.

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On Sunday, Jeff Manchester took his kids to the 9/11 Memorial.

Not the one at Sherwood Island State Park, though. Jeff is drawn to the one at Oak Lawn Cemetery & Arboretum, off Bronson Road. It’s a 100-acre site where people have remembered loved ones for more than 150 years.

The memorial is a pair of 9-foot granite towers atop a pentagon-shaped granite base. A rock engraved with “Let’s Roll” honors the heroes of Flight 93.

Dedicated last September, it was designed by Dean Powers, a native Westporter and Oak Lawn’s longtime groundskeeper.

He never saw it completed. He died of cancer in 2020.

Click here for the back story on the monument, and Dean’s remarkable contributions to it.

Rock and trees at Oak Lawn Cemetery.

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Do you want some money?

If you’re involved with a non-profit organization, read on.

The Westport Woman’s Club is accepting grant proposals for 2022-2023. Click here for more information, and the form.

Requests for projects that will make a difference in the community may be in the form of funds, or a one-time use of the Westport Woman’s Clubhouse for an event. Grants go each year to organizations in education, health and safety-related programs, and the arts.

Community groups should submit their proposals by October 31 to Westport Woman’s Club, Attention: Community Service Grants, 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.

For more information, call 203-227-4240.

Organizations can apply for a one-time use of Bedford Hall at the Westport Woman’s Club.

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Like many Staples High School reunions, the Class of 1971’s fell victim to COVID.

Organizers Bonnie Housner Erickson, Tucker Sweitzer and Joanne Romano-Csonka felt the 50th was too big to let pass. So — a year later — the reunion is on (September 30-October 2).

Bonnie and her crew want to make sure “all classmates feel like they matter,” even though some may not have felt that back then. The organizers sought to “remind them they were an integral part of a life-changing period in history.”

In keeping with the late ’60s/early ’70s zeitgeist, they wanted to create an environment of peace and harmony, with “no hierarchy, no difference in status.”

The theme is “Welcome Home” — and the website (hey, this is 2022, not 1971) may be the best for any reunion class, ever. Click here to see.

Bonnie spent hours designing it. Much of it is class-specific of course. But the 1971 flashbacks and photos will interest many people, whether or not they (or their parents) were even alive then.

The reunion itself will feature peace signs, and memories of hangouts like the Ice Cream Parlor and beach. Music is supplied by the Reunion Band — featuring ’71 alums Brian Keane, Michael Mugrage, Bill Sims, Rob and Julie Aldworth McClenathan, Dave Barton and Bonnie Erickson — who rocked the Levitt Pavilion in 2019, the Class of ’70 reunion several weeks ago, and the Class of ’72 reunion last weekend.

Screenshot, Staples High school Class of 1971 reunion website home page.

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Today’s gorgeous “Westport … Naturally” comes from Saugatuck Shores, via Ken Yormark:

(Photo/Ken Yormark)

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And finally … Ramsey Lewis — a towering jazz figure for over 50 years — died yesterday in Chicago. He was 87.

His trio hit the pop charts a few times in the 1960s. In 2007 the National Endowment for the Arts named him a Jazz Master, the nation’s highest honor for a jazz musician.

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog. To support our efforts, please click here.) 

Hundreds Rally For Abortion Rights

Galvanized by news that the Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, 500 people gathered in downtown Westport today.

The crowd on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge included women and men; girls and boys; parents, grandparents and grandchildren, and Governor Lamont, Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Himes.

A portion of the crowd, near the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. Congressman Jim Himes (center, behind the blonde woman) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (right, blue jacket) mingled with attendees.

They held signs. They chanted. They cheered when passing drivers honked in support.

They listened intently to speakers — not just politicians, but two obstetricians, and women with close experience with illegal abortions.

Educator Joy Colon addresses the crowd. Signs held up behind describe resources to help women in states with restrictive abortion laws.

Lamont — who will sign a first-in-the-nation bill protecting medical providers and patients seeking abortion care here, and expanding the type of practitioners eligible to perform abortion-related care in the state — noted that the downtown bridge is the site of many rallies. He called it “the conscience of Connecticut.”

“Keep your hands off our women, our doctors, our justice,” he warned those seeking to curtail abortion rights.

Lamont introduced State Representative Matt Blumenthal, who was a driving force behind the new Connecticut law, also spoke.

Blumenthal introduced his father. The US senator said he was “proud to be in this fight for decades.”

The crowd included many young people — including boys.

Himes said that people who “claim to be conservative want to overturn 50 years of settled law.” He praised 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker — standing at the front of the crowd — as a Republican ally. 

(From left): Governor Lamont and Senator Blumenthal listen to Congressman Jim Himes.

Rally organizer Darcy Hicks then noted that it was time for women to speak.

Rally organizer Darcy Hicks

Dr. Janet Lefkowitz — a Westport native, Staples High School graduate, and prominent OB/GYN and assistant professor at Brown University who provides abortion care in Southern states — recounted her difficult experiences in Mississippi and Alabama. She did not become a doctor to get involved in politics, she said — but it has become part of her patient care.

Fellow OB/GYN Dr. Shieva Ghofrany of Stamford said that people who are pro-choice “truly honor the living.” Noting that comprehensive sex education reduces unwanted pregnancies, she urged those who are pro-life to embrace education, maternal leave, and contraception.

Teacher and Trumbull Town Council member Joy Colon spoke of the impact of overturning Roe v. Wade on people of color. “People who look like me should not die because they don’t want to be pregnant,” she said.

(All photos/Dan Woog)

Staples Students “Voice4Change”

Connecticut has taken a national lead in empowering youth voices.

Now Staples has taken a lead in making it happen.

This morning, the high school welcomed Governor Ned Lamont, Congressman Jim Himes and State Senator Will Haskell. They, and 2 members of the state Department of Education, outlined a new $1.5 million program — part of the national American Rescue Plan — that allocates $20,000 to 85 schools. Current students propose ideas for their building, then vote on which one to implement.

Then the adults sat back and listened, to a dozen student ideas.

Westport Schools Superintendent Thomas Scarice (far right) greets Governor Ned Lamont. Also at the event (from left): Congressman Jim Himes, State Senator Will Haskell and Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas.

Himes noted that while the federal government works “at scale” — allocating $6 trillion in COVID relief — it can’t understand the needs of individual communities. That’s where the “Voice4Change” program comes in.

It was an intriguing morning. Lamont, Himes and Haskell addressed the Staples students as intelligent, involved people. They did not talk down or pander; they did not try to score political points, often pointing out the bipartisan nature of COVID relief funds. They listened and took notes.

Lamont did give props to Connecticut as “an entrepreneur factory.” Why, he wondered, can’t some entrepreneurial ideas come from students?

“I’m all ears,” he said.

Governor Lamont at the podium.

Among the ideas: strengthened school security, including ID cards for student access to the building, and metal detectors; installing solar panels in the parking lot, as at Fairfield Warde High; and enhanced ties between Staples and neighboring, less affluent school districts.

Proposals are due to the state Department of Education by January 9. Each school will have its own ballot, for voting on March 11.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker offered to mentor students who have ideas. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice challenged them to find sources to match the $20,000.

Staples High School students listen to ideas for Voice4Change.

Lamont had to leave for another engagement. But Himes, Haskell, the state Education reps, and town officials stuck around to chat.

It was a tossup who was more inspired: the students, or them.

Staples High School senior Natalie Bandura is the high school representative on the state Board of Education. She spoke to fellow students about the Voice4Change initiative. (Photos/Dan Woog)

 

Roundup: Lamont Shops, Squash Studies …

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The borders of State Representative Jonathan Steinberg’s 136th District have shifted slightly, though it still includes only Westport. He’s lost some area in the western part of town, and gained some voters in the east — all the way to the Fairfield town line.

State Representative Stephanie Thomas’ Norwalk-based 143rd District has changed significantly. She gained some additional voters in Westport and a large number of new voters in Norwalk. They replace Wilton, which has become an entirely new district.

(For more in-depth information on redistricting, click here, here, here and here. Hat tip: Peter Gold

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The other day, Governor Ned Lamont stopped in downtown Westport.

He — and actress Eva Amurri, who lives a few steps from Main Street — visited local businesses, like Indigo Wellness, Kerri Rosenthal and The Toy Post.

Trailed by a camera crew, they shot a video to promote stores and services like those. Amurri has been a big booster of shopping local.

For Lamont, it was a homecoming of sorts. Years ago, he lived right here in Westport.

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US Squash has honored 13 Staples High School squash team members as Scholar-Athletes. They earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher last year, while competing for the Wreckers.

Congratulations to Zachary Allen, Anna Diorio, Nicky Fabian, Sophie Fridland, Brian Fullenbaum, Joshua Jordan, Tucker Peters, Lorenzo Rinaldi, Ryan Salik, Ben Saxon, Rebecca Schussheim, Eli Shorrock and Lilly Weisz,

Staples squash, in action.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” features one more turkey shot.

Perhaps “shot” is not the best word. At any rate, here are 2 of about 30 turkey vultures perched — a couple of days before Thanksgiving — near Long Lots Road.

(Photo/Brian Schiller)

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And finally … happy 82nd birthday to the terrifically talented Tina Turner!

 

Lamont, Blumenthal Visit Westport; Slam Eversource’s “Unacceptable” Response

Post-Isaias, it’s not easy to get to Town Hall.

Avery Place and Myrtle Avenue are shut. Downed wires and trees litter both important roads. Town Hall itself is closed.

But Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and Senator Richard Blumenthal got there an hour ago. (“I had a police escort,” the governor joked.)

Joined by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and 3 state legislators, the bipartisan group met first with Fire Chief Robert Yost, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and other officials behind Town Hall, then faced the press and a few Westport residents by the front steps.

In both places, they slammed Eversource’s actions before, during and after the storm.

Or, as more than one said, Eversource’s “lack of action.”

Clockwise from left: Senator Richard Blumenthal, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Fire Chief Robert Yost, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Governor Ned Lamont and State Representative Gail Lavielle. (Photo/ Brendan Byrne)

Standing next to the absentee ballot box in the back parking lot, Marpe told the governor and senator that he had taken Congressman Jim Himes on a tour of Westport this morning.

There were plenty of places they could not reach, Marpe said. “Lives are at risk. And Eversource should be in touch with local leaders, so we know what’s going on.”

Blumenthal noted, “Eversource bet the storm would pass us by. They lost the bet. And we’re paying for it.”

Press and Westport citizens surround the governor, senator and other officials. (Photo/Kyle Ehrlich)

A few minutes later, facing a battery of microphones from news outlets around Connecticut, Marpe called the fact that 85% of Westporters still lack power “unacceptable.”

He added, “We need help right away. Our Public Works, first responders and Town Hall staff are working full time to get the town back in shape. AT&T and Verizon are here.

“But hundreds of roads are inaccessible. Lives are at risk. Eversource’s response is totally inadequate. I can’t tell you if 10 trucks are here, or 2, or 200. I have no idea of any time estimates.”

Lamont, speaking next, cited the COVID pandemic. “We hope for the best but plan for the worst. That’s not what the utilities have done.

“Eversource should have been pre-positioned. We’ll hold their feet to the fire later. We will have a tough post-mortem. But right now the house is on fire, and we need (the equivalent of) the fire department. That’s our first priority.”

Governor Lamont speaks at Town Hall. (Photo/January Stewart)

Lamont was “surprised” to get a call from the White House last night. “FEMA will reimburse us 100%,” he said. “But that’s small potatoes compared to the action that’s needed right now.”

Blumenthal noted, “I’ve never seen Connecticut more angry, and rightfully so. No electricity and no internet are matters of life and death.

“There can be no more teasing, no more delays, no more rate increases. Eversource’s CEO is well compensated.” (Bysiewicz said he earns $19.8 million a year.) “But he won’t even come out and meet the press.”

State Senator Tony Hwang and State Representative Gail Lavielle echoed the criticism of the utility.

State Representative Jonathan Steinberg added, “This storm hit Westport like a freight train — and it sounded like one. People say that Eversource’s response is unacceptable. Well, the word ‘unacceptable’ is unacceptable.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe at Town Hall. (Photo/Calvin Carson)

Roundup: Governor Lamont; Dr. Jackson; Shel Silverstein; More


On Wednesday, Governor Ned Lamont spoke to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, by Zoom. He discussed a variety of topics, including (of course) business concerns, and took questions from listeneres. Click below to see his talk.


Parks and Recreation director Jen Fava says: “Based upon changes in the governor’s restrictions on gathering size and the Phase 2 reopening guidelines, athletic fields are now open to the general public unless a permit has been issued by the Parks and Recreation department.

“The department is working closely with local organizations like Westport Little League, Staples High School athletics, Continuing Education and others to ensure they have the proper protocols and self-certification in place to meet state requirements before permits are issued. This process is taking place for leagues as well as for other groups that utilize our facilities to run various clinics and summer programs.” 

All valid permits supersede general public use. Gathering size is limited to 100. PJ Romano (Saugatuck Elementary School) and Jinny Parker (Staples field hockey) fields remain closed for the summer due to construction.

Starting yesterday, the Longshore golf ldriving range and practice putting area are open as well. Driving range balls will be available at the ball machine only ($6 per basket). The machine accepts only $1 and $5 bills; exact change is required.

Starting Tuesday (June 23), an additional half hour of tee times will be available Mondays through Thursdays, starting at 7:30 a.m.

NOTE: Social distancing and face covering rules must be followed at all Westport Parks and Recreation facilities.

The Wakeman athletic fields are among those that have reopened.


Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson has an amazing story. She grew up in a tough New Haven neighborhood, developed her singing gift in church, walked to lessons at Yale, and is now an international opera star.

She has many ties to Westport. She has sung at the Unitarian Church, taught at Greens Farms Academy, spoken at the Arts Advisory Council’s “Tea Talk,” and been part of Beechwood’s Immersive Arts Salon.

Dr. Jackson has developed an inspiring one-woman show: “From The Hood To The Ivy League (and Back).” Tonight (Friday, June 19, 7 to 9 p.m.) — in honor of Juneteenth — she sings and performs that show, as part of Beechwood’s Amplify Festival. Click here for tonight’s Facebook Live stream.

Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson


With the Westport Library and Levitt Pavilion closed, it may be a while since you’ve been to the Riverwalk.

But the next time you’re at that beautiful, calm-in-the-midst-of-downtown spot, check out the Storybook Project.

Created by Anne Ferguson, with thanks to the library and Westport Parks & Recreation, it’s a series of 30 or so charmingly illustrated pages from Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving.”

Spaced appropriately more than 6 feet apart, the installation runs the length of the Riverwalk and garden. The pages recount the friendship and conversation between a small boy and a tree. Both lonely, they share their innermost thoughts.

The pages are attached to sticks in the ground, and the intervals encourage visitors onward to read each page as they walk. The black and white sketches are beautiful, and begin below the steps at the back of the library. (Hat tip: Jill Amadio)


This week’s #FridayFlowers can be found on the steps of Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

The beautiful arrangement was created by Dottie Fincher and Janet Wolgast, longtime Westport Garden Club members.


For months, the few people parking at or passing through the railroad station eastbound parking lot have seen a red Ford Escort, plunked in the middle of the lot. It never moved.

Folks were worried. What happened to the owner? Was he okay? A month ago, “06880” ran a photo.

Now, Wendy Cusick reports, the car is gone. Which brings up more questions: Did the owner finally return? Was it towed? Again: What about the driver?

If anyone knows, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)


Just published: About that Wine I Gave You: Dreams of Love, Life and Death in the Vineyard. The novel — about winemaking in San Diego, with themes of friendship, survival, love, aging, immigration, theology and racism — is the debut work of Craig Justice.

A 1977 graduate of Staples High School, he’s had a varied career. After Duke he interned with NATO; learned to speak French, German, Russian and Japanese; wrote for the International Herald Tribune; earned an MBA, and embarked on a career in the projector industry.

He and his wife began making wine in their California garage in 2004. They now have 1,000 vines.

Growing up here, Justice worked at Chez Pierre restaurant. The staff came from around the world, giving him an open-minded world view that he retains today.

Whenever he’s back east he heads to Westport. He walks on the beach, then heads to a coffee shop or library to write (when that’s allowed).

For more information — including how to order Justice’s book — click here.

Craig Justice


And finally … as Westport opens up, this seems like the perfect up-tempo tune. The next time you go inside for some java, think of Al Hirt.

Roundup: Governor Lamont, Marc Lasry Speak; Musicians Play; Helicopter Flies; More


Phase 2 of Connecticut’s reopening begins next Wednesday (June 17). It’s a big day for Governor Ned Lamont. And at 9 a.m., he shares it with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

He’s the special guest and speaker for their virtual “Morning Network” meeting. The event is free — and open to all.

Lamont will give an update on the pandemic, discuss the next phase in reopening, offer his views on the future, and answer questions. They may be submitted ahead of time by email, or through the chat function during the event.

Pre-registration is required; click here.

Governor Ned Lamont


Also virtual — and also featuring big names — is the Westport Library’s next Trefz Newsmakers series.

CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent (and 1988 Staples High School graduate) Jeff Pegues interviews billionaire businessman, hedge fund manager, major Democratic Party donor, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner (and Westport resident) Marc Lasry.

They’ll talk about Lasry’s career, how he gives back, his advice for entrepreneurs, and COVID-19’s effect on business and the sports world.

To register, click here.


Driving around Westport and Weston, Aarti Khosla has been touched by the many yard signs and balloons congratulating high school and middle school graduates. She’s been impressed by the banners on Main Street, not far from Le Rouge — her “aartisan” chocolate shop.

But as she thought about all that’s going on America today, she was inspired to act on the words that she fervently believes in: “Spread love.” And what better place to spread love than nearby Bridgeport?

She called the superintendent of schools, and offered to celebrate their graduates with “Give a Little Love” hearts. Here’s her message to “06880” readers:

“Next week, 1115 Bridgeport students will graduate from high school. This is an enormous accomplishment. We recognize the obstacles they overcame to achieve success.

“Le Rouge asks for your support in celebrating these graduates. We will make chocolate hearts to celebrate every Bridgeport high school senior. If each Westport graduating senior — or a relative or friend, or perfect stranger — agrees to celebrate 3 Bridgeport students with a $25 sponsorship, we can give our love to the entire community via chocolate hearts.

“We have until next Monday to make this a reality. Click here to help.”

Aarti Khosla’s wonderful chocolates

 


Some youngsters returned to their elementary schools for the first time since March today. It was also their last time at “their” school.

“Moving up” car parades were held for 5th graders around town. This was the scene captured by Kings Highway Elementary School parent Tricia Lau-Lewis.

All 5 kids went to KHS. The youngest will be in 5th grade there next year.

Meanwhile, after the Saugatuck El parade, Carolyn Doan’s family headed to Sunny Daes. They met some Greens Farms Elementary folks there (below).

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)


MoCA Westport shut down in mid-March. But their beautiful Steinway grand piano did not sit idle.

As part of their pandemic programming, they invited accomplished local pianists to perform. They filmed them, and shared the virtual concerts free on their YouTube page.

Pianists are invited to play music of their choice. Some — like Chris Coogan — are inspired by MoCA’s current Helmut Lang exhibition. He wrote and performed an original piece.

This week’s performance features two Staples students. Patrick Looby and Lucas Lieberman are rising seniors. They played together in November, at Carnegie Hall.

For MoCA they play Aram Khachaturian’s  lively waltz “Masquerade.” Enjoy!


More music news! Drew Angus — the 2007 Staples High School grad profiled recently on “06880” as an example of a gig worker navigating his way through the coronavirus crisis — performs via Zoom this Friday (June 12, 12 noon).

It’s a Westport Senior Center production — but it’s open to everyone who wants to hear the work of this talented young singer/songwriter.

Click here for the Zoom link (meeting ID: 883 1489 6846; password: 2DHJSV). It’s also available on Facebook (click here, or search for Toquet Hall).


Here’s a sight you don’t see every day: Yesterday, a helicopter apparently headed for a landing at Old Mill Beach or Sherwood Island State Park.

If you know the back story, click “Comment” below.


And finally … this is a poignant song at any time. Particularly at graduation. And really particularly this year.

Here’s to the Class of 2020. You haven’t seen each other for a while. But you’ve come a long way from where you began. I hope you see each other for a long time, soon.

He’s A Winner! Simmelkjaer Named CT Lottery Chair

It’s a good bet that Westporters know the new chair of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation’s board of directors.

The other day, Governor Ned Lamont named Rob Simmelkjaer to fill the vacant position.

A former member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Democratic Town Committee, he was 1st selectman candidate Melissa Kane’s running mate 3 years ago.

Rob Simmelkjaer

He’s now founder and CEO of Persona Media, the interview and conversation-focused social media startup.

His face is also familiar to many beyond Westport. Simmelkjaer was an on-air contributor for NBC Sports, where he also served as vice president of NBC Sports Ventures. He previously worked at ESPN and ABC News.

So how does that prepare the Dartmouth College and Harvard University Law School graduate to head up the Connecticut Lottery, which since it began in 1972 has contributed more than $10 billion to the state’s general fund?

Simmelkjaer says that at NBC, he learned about the impact of sports betting — and the effect of all legal gaming on state economies. He spent time with CT Lottery CEO Greg Smith, and learned about its opportunities and challenges.

Lotteries are well established in every segment of American society, the new chair says.

Many Westporters buy tickets, especially when the jackpot is high. Simmelkjaer did too. (Iin his new position, he’s prohibited from winning.)

“I’ve always seen it as a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment,” he says. In the 1960s and ’70s his grandmother played the underground numbers in Harlem for $5 a week. When lotteries became legal, his father played the big jackpots.

Of course, Simmelkjaer says, with any form of gaming there is a potential for a small percentage of people to become addicted. Any expansion — such as online lottery sales, online casino games or sports betting — must provide help for anyone in trouble.

Lamont said his appointee’s “sharp eye and keen management style will provide the agency with a greatly-needed refresh.”

That’s a reference to the fact that although the lottery sold $1.3 billion worth of tickets last year, and contributed $370 million to the general fund, the agency has been rocked by a retailer fraud scandal, and a mistake-filled New Year’s Day promotion.

As chair — an unpaid position — Simmelkjaer will help set strategies and priorities. He’s a conduit between the governor and legislators.

“Responsible gaming can play an important role in the fiscal recovery of Connecticut from the current crisis,” the new chair says. “I look forward to working with the CEO and other key stakeholders to ensure that we grow the state’s gaming revenue, while ensuring the highest standards of compliance and oversight.”