On a day when she was mourning the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision — and the polarization it has unleased across the country — Lynn Untermeyer Miller found this little bit of hope, in the garden near the Gillespie Center.
“You never know where you’ll find a little kindness,” she says.
In 2001, Mariangela was a Staples High School rock star.
The senior won the national Siemens Westinghouse Science & Technology Competition. And the Intel Science Talent Search (where she met President Bush). Each came with a $100,000 scholarship (!).
But she did not stop there. Mariangela was captain of the Staples math team, founder and captain of the engineering team, concertmaster of the Chamber and Symphonic Orchestras, and the recipient of honors in Italian and Spanish (both of which she is fluent in.) Of course, she was valedictorian.
Then, at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in San Jose, California, the Harvard-bound graduate was awarded the Glenn Seaborg Nobel Prize Visit Award — earning a trip to the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm.
So what is Mariangela up to these days?
She earned a Ph.D. from Stanford in 2010, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science. She’s been on the physics faculty at Princeton University since then.
A theoretical particle physicist by training, her research focuses on the nature of dark matter. Mariangela’s interdisciplinary work incorporates ideas from astrophysics and data science. Currently, she’s focusing on how variations of the Cold Dark Matter paradigm affect galactic and sub-galactic scale observables.
The Simons Investigators program supports outstanding theoretical scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions, providing leadership and mentoring junior scientists.
Simons Investigators are appointed for 5 years, renewable for another 5. Each Investigator receives research support of $100,000 per year. An additional $10,000 per year is provided to the Investigator’s department
Congratulations, Mariangela. You continue to make Staples, and Westport, proud.
But they’re mere children, compared to the Class of ’52. Let’s hear it for them!
Nine alums just enjoyed their 70th (!) reunion at Rive Bistro — not far from their old high school, on Riverside Avenue. (Today it’s Saugatuck Elementary).
Ed Backus — a 1948 graduate — joined them, making them feel very young.
The class has met every 5 years since graduation day: Friday the 13th, 1952. “Our Staples ties are strong!” says Jess Thompson Huberty.
They are indeed. Hail, Staples! Hail, Class of ’52!
Staples High School Class of 1952 at Rive Bistro: Seated (from left):Lu List Morris, Susan Stokes. Middle row: Roxanne Gette Martin, Barbara Hendricks Chamberlain, Jess Thompson Huberty, Sonja Messelt Ziluca, Don Switter, Ed Backus. Rear: Bill Gault. Sending regrets: Bev Breault, Lynn Lucke Lutkin, Steven Miller, Concetta Palazzo Fedak, Mary Ellen Kottgen McKenna.
The Westport Journal has a new executive editor. Thane Grauel succeeds Jarret Liotta in the top post at the year-old online news site July 1. Liotta will focus on photography and video projects.
Grauel has been a reporter at the Westport News, managing editor at the Westport Minuteman and editor of The Hour, among other publications.
“The news business is so different now,” he told “06880.” “At the Westport News we had 5 guys covering Town Hall, plus sports, business, entertainment and real estate. The chains have gobbled everything up. People are not being served like before.”
However, Grauel says, “Westport is one of the best-covered towns in Connecticut, online. People here are really engaged. They want to know what’s going on.”
Grauel is a 4th-generation Westporter, though after Kings Highway Elementary School his family moved to Milford. He graduated from the University of Connecticut, and is a Navy veteran.
Bilingual journalist and writer Camila Vallejo earns the first-ever Writer-in-Residence prize from Fairfield County Story Lab, the shared workspace in Saugatuck for creative types.
Vallejo covers housing and social justice issues for Connecticut Public Radio and WNPR, and is a member of Report for America. She has been a part-time producer for All Things Considered (read and hear some of her stories here).
The FC Story Lab’s Writer-in-Residence prize is for early-career writers. Vallejo’s residency will enable her to work for free at the Story Lab in Saugatuck. The Lab will install a new media suite, so she can record radio pieces there. While she reports statewide — including pieces on housing disparities in Fairfield County — she often files stories from a closet at home.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t unusual today,” says FC Story Lab co-founder Carol Dannhauser.
“Many media companies have trimmed their newsrooms and all but eliminated their bureaus. This means that young reporters, especially, can’t experience the alchemy that happens in a newsroom, where people bounce ideas off of each other and offer suggestions when stories hit a dead-end.”
During her 6-month residency, Vallejo will host 2 events for students and recent graduates interested in a career in journalism or media.
Last summer, dozens of Fleishers Craft Butchery employees at 4 locations walked off the job after CEO John Adams removed Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride signs that workers had put in windows at the Westport store.
Though they had been there for months, a customer had only recently complained.
After the walkout, most employees quit. The shops remained closed until March, when one in Brooklyn reopened. Now it — the final store in what was once hailed as “the mecca of the good-meat movement,” with “rock star butchers” — has closed too.
New York magazine says that after the Westport incident — and the effects of COVID on, particularly, the Upper East Side location — “Fleishers never again found its footing.” Though owner Rob Rosania apologized and offered employees raises to return, the company was cooked.
With the final closing, you can put a fork in Fleishers. (Click here for the full New York magazine story. Hat tip: Tom Prince)
The Fleishers signs. (Photo courtesy of Chloe Sorvino, for Forbes)
“There is a new Optimum store in the Fresh Market plaza. We noticed the sign this week. We have questions about billing, so we decided to pay a visit.
“An incredible, bright and knowledgeable young man named Alex answered all our questions quickly and completely. it was a very different experience from our visit to the Norwalk office.
“Alex said they’ve been in town since December, but the sign just recently went up and nobody knows they are here. I want to let Westport know that Optimum is here, and has a really great guy on board.”
Speaking of (relatively) new businesses: More than a year after opening — in the middle of COVID — The Porch @ Christie’s held its official ribbon-cutting yesterday.
It was a quick, informal and friendly ceremony — just like the Cross Highway deli itself. The icing on the cake: free cookies, from the Porch’s partner Sweet P Bakery.
Cutting the Porch ribbon (from left): consultant Mark Moeller..2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, marketing director Betsy Weissman, Sweet P Bakery head pastry chef Terri Cahn, manager Iby Rivera.
“The Great American Tag Sale with Martha Stewart” aired last night.
ABC previewed it: “Martha Stewart, known for turning everyday living into an art form, is ready to part ways with pieces from her vast collection of furniture, art and housewares in this new 1-hour special. Over the years, Martha has amassed an assortment of items that ranges from fine art to knickknacks.
“During the special, she will regale viewers with fond memories of how these beloved items were acquired and offer expert advice on how to execute a successful tag sale. Alongside her team of event planners, Martha will host a series of tag sale events including an exclusive cocktail party for celebrities and neighbors to preview the sale.”
I did not watch the show. In fact, there are 27,298.331 things I would have done before I’d even think of watching it.
But — as someone who remembers when the lifestyle guru/ businesswoman/wrtier/television personality/chef/inmate lived in Westport (and the stories that circulated here) — I wonder how many of of items (both fine art and knicknacks) have a Westport back story. (Hat tip: Betsy Pollak)
How much of Martha Stewart’s tag sale started on Turkey Hill?
Last month, “06880” reported that Great Island — the 60-acre property off the Darien coast with a stable, riding rings, “grand house,” and whiskey and wine cellar with contents dating back to Prohibition, all once owned by the Steinkraus family of Westport — was for sale.
It was called “the largest private island ever to be offered for sale on the East Coast.”
Congratulations to May’s Staples High School Students of the Month: jnior Jordyn Goldshore, sophomores Michael Blishteyn and Kervin Joseph, and freshmen Jonah Bernstein and Davi Da Silva.
Principal Stafford Thomas said they were chosen for helping make their school “a welcoming place for peers and teachers. They are the ‘glue’ of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together, making it the special place it is.”
Staples High School Students of the Month (from left): Michael Blishteyn, Jonah Bernstein, Davi Da Silva, Kervin Joseph. Missing: Jordyn Goldshore.
They also make good subjects for our Photo Challenge.
Last week’s image showed a typical — in other words, fairly expensive, handsome, and not at all garden-variety — Westport fence.
It could have been many places. Most readers thought it was somewhere on the water. But not Compo Cove. Not Beachside Avenue.
As Matt Murray, Andrew Colabella, Gloria Smithson, Joelle Malec, Clark Thiemann, Claire Elliot and Lynn Wilson knew, the image by Molly Alger showed the fence near 250 Hillspoint Road. It offers access to a small private beach between Old Mill and Compo. (Click here to see.)
Sure, it interrupts the view of walkers, joggers and bicyclists between Schlaet’s Point and Joey’s by the Shore.
But it’s a lot better looking than the big new house whose construction has been stalled for a couple of years now, just a few yards away.
Check out this week’s Photo Challenge below. Don’t click “Comments” to tell us what it is — that’s pretty obvious.
We want to know where in Westport you’d see it.
That’s right: Cobb’s Mill — at least, the sign — is not in Weston anymore.
Westporters have been talking this week about trees, and their removal near property lines and roadsides. A Planning & Zoning Commission subcommittee is drafting a regulation to protect mature trees in setbacks, stop clear-cutting, and ensure that when mature trees are removed, new trees are planted.
One of the most recent examples of clear-cutting is on Hideaway Lane. Several days ago the lot that fronts Hillspoint Road — opposite Loretta Lane, on the last gentle hill before Old Mill Beach — was stripped of every tree.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for a Westport family.
Marius Sarapinas is a master carpenter, whose work ethic is equaled only by his attention to detail. He is loved by clients and colleagues.
His dedication to his sons, age 13 and 8, is legendary. He suffered a brain aneurysm just before Thanksgiving, and has been in the ICU at Yale New Haven Hospital ever since. He has made some progress, but the road to recovery is long.
The family must pay medical expenses, along with their mortgage, food, utility and Christmas bills.
The fund is halfway to its $25,000 goal. To help, click here. (Hat tip: Danielle Alexander.)
A ring with the inscription “United States Veteran,” surrounding a green stone (photo below), was found in the Staples High School gym. If it’s yours — or you know whose it is — email firstname.lastname@example.org (after the Christmas break).
Today is one of the busiest days of the year.
To help de-stress, just look at today’s “Westport … Naturally” image.
Khaliq won’t be forgotten. The Hillspoint Road bridge over I-95 will be named in his honor.
“Khaliq left an indelible mark on Westport, enriching our town with his kindness, humor and grace,” said State Senator Will Haskell. “Walking through the halls at Staples, it seemed that every student and teacher knew and admired him. In the wake of his passing, I had an opportunity to work with just a few of the many people who loved him to name this bridge in his honor. For those who pass by it each day, I hope it will remind us of his optimism and compassion, bringing out the best of Westport — a town Khaliq loved and a town that loved him.”
State Representative Jonathan Steinberg added, “Khaliq was an outstanding individual who had his future tragically cut short by cancer. During his time in Westport, he made a positive impact on our community. Khaliq was beloved by his peers and excelled in the classroom. He will be sorely missed. Naming a road in Khaliq’s honor will ensure his life and legacy will never be forgotten.”
First Selectman Jim Marpe noted, “He was a talented, deeply compassionate, energetic young man who had a passion for education, community service and a zest for life. It speaks volumes that Khaliq was so highly respected and possessed strong leadership qualities – these are his legacies. Now, he is further recognized with the honor of having this bridge named for him so that his kind heart and good works will be memorialized for generations to come.”
Ben Casparius is one step closer to Major League Baseball.
The former Staples High School star was chosen in the 5th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in yesterday’s draft. He was #162 overall.
The pitcher recently completed his senior season at the University of Connecticut. He was 8-5, with a 4.03 ERA, and a team-leading 15 starts. He struck out 15 Georgetown players in 7 innings, a career high.
According to SB Nation:
Casparius led the Huskies in innings (91 2/3), as well as strikeouts (127), which translates to 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. His strikeout mark is second in UConn history…. This was enough to earn Casparius ABCA First-Team honors for the Northeast region, as well as second-team all-conference honors and a spot on the Big East all-tournament team.
Casparius’ best pitch is his change-up, which MLBPipeline graded a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale, which translates to above-average. His fastball, slider and control were each given 50 grades, which is average. His fastball sits around 91 mph but he has been recorded as high as 95 mph. He projects as a strike-thrower with a solid three-pitch mix. This, despite his slight 6-foot, 208-pound build, leaves him a chance to start through his professional career.
The “recommended signing bonus” for Casparius is $318,200. (Click here for the full SB Nation story. Hat tip: David Goldstein)
Longtime Westporter Leonard Kritzer died Sunday in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 97 years old.
In 2012 — nearly 70 years after he helped liberate France from Nazi occupation — he was named by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to that nation’s elite Legion of Honor. The group was founded in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.
A group of 20 World War II veterans received an insignia from the French Consulate in Boynton Beach, Florida. Their Knight honor was the highest of the Legion’s 5 degrees.
Kritzer spent 50 years in Westport, as a merchant and home builder. He and his wife Lea moved here from Long Island in 1954 to open Country Casuals, a women’s sportswear and country attire shop in Compo Shopping Center. He later founded Kritzer Development Corporation, and built 50 homes in Westport and Weston.
Kritzer was a 19-year-old student (and 6-4 basketball player) at Brooklyn College when he was drafted into the Army, in 1944.
He landed at Utah Beach a month after D-Day. A veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and 3 other engagements, he spent most of his time at the front. His unit calculated the distance to enemy artillery based on the sounds of big guns.
After France was liberated, Kritzer’s unit moved into Germany. They remained there as an occupying force, after surrender. He was discharged in 1946.
He retired 2 decades ago to Florida, with his wife Lea. He was an avid tennis player there.
Kritzer is survived by his wife Lea; son Harry; daughter Lizzz; granddaughters Lauren Hammarstedt and Erin Spillman; great-grandsons Sagan and Julien Spillman, and great-granddaughter Hariet Spillman.
And finally … on this day in 1985, the Live Aid benefit concert for famine relief took place in London and Philadelphia. Concerts inspired by the event were held in the Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, Yugoslavia, Austria, Australia and West Germany.
An audience of about 1.9 billion, in 150 nations, watched the live broadcast — nearly 40 percent of the world population.
Meanwhile, summer is actually almost here. That means more folks walking, jogging, biking and driving past the former Positano restaurant on Hillspoint Road.
For over a year, permit violations have halted construction on what was to be a private residence. The building — half-finished, swathed in blue, surrounded by weeds — has become a neighborhood eyesore.
A security fence now encloses the property. That makes it safer.
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