Compo Cove, from Hillspoint Road (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)
Compo Cove, from Hillspoint Road (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)
Hillspoint Road at Soundview Drive (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)
Don Bergmann lives off Compo Hill. He’s been active in neighborhood initiatives, from saving Elvira’s (and then converting it to Old Mill Grocery & Deli) to the Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve and tidal gates.
Don often walks his dog on Hillspoint Road. Like many Westporters — beach residents, and those who live elsewhere in town — he was disappointed when Hillspoint homeowners (whose deeds include Old Mill Beach property across the street) planted large hedges, growing 8 feet or higher.
They provided privacy for the owners, during infrequent times they use their waterfront land. They also prevent the steady stream of walkers and joggers from enjoying the view of Old Mill and Compo Cove, for a significant stretch of Hillspoint sidewalk.
So Don was pleased to see that Stephanie Foster — who lives on Bluewater Hill, but owns shoreline property across Hillspoint — told her landscaper not to let the new privet grow higher than 4 feet.
Don calls Stephanie’s decision “a nice gesture to the many who stroll along Hillspoint Road.”
“06880” calls it worthy of this week’s Unsung Hero award!
(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
(“06880” covers Westport, from the beaches to the woods. Also, downtown, and everywhere else. To support your hyper-local blog, please click here.)
“06880” has performed many civic functions over the years.
We’ve told you where to get COVID vaccines (remember those?).
We’ve given you details on dumping your yard waste after a storm. We’ve provided primers on septic systems.
Today, we’re a Driver Ed teacher.
Alert “06880 reader — and terrified-to-be-on-the-road-these-days Westporter — Lynn Flint sends along these reminders of who has the right-of-way at 4-way stop signs.
Three examples: Hillspoint and Greens Farms Roads; Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane; Cross Highway and North Avenue (tricky, because one of the stops is not visible to all other drivers).
Here are the rules:
1. The first vehicle to arrive has the right of way. Pretty easy: You get there (clearly) first, you go first.
2. Always yield to the right. When 2 vehicles arrive side by side, the one furthest to the right has the right of way. (That’s “right” — an easy way to remember it.) If there are 3 vehicles, the one furthest left goes last (“left = last”).
3. Straight traffic has the right of way over turning traffic. This applies when 2 cars face each other. If they’re both heading straight, or turning in the same direction (say, both left or both right), both can go at the same time. If one is turning, but the other is not, the turning driver yields to the straight-ahead driver. NOTE: This assumes that a driver who is turning uses the turn signal. That’s the little arm on the steering column. It is not difficult to push up or down, and it is not there for decoration.
4. Right turns take the right of way over left turns. This is Advanced Placement Driver Ed. Imagine 2 cars facing each other. One is turning right; the other is turning left. If they both go at the same time, they’ll crash. So the car turning right — the one closest to the turn — goes first.
There is no written test for this — just a practical exam.
See you on the road!
(Hat tip: TopDriver.com)
(Like these occasional tips? Please click here to support your hyper-local blog.)
The latest star to sign up for the Levitt Pavilion’s “Stars on Tour” series is Robert Cray.
The 5-time Grammy winner — whose American roots music has won him fans at concert halls, arenas and festivals around the world — plays Westport on Saturday, September 10 (8 p.m.).
Tickets are on pre-sale now for members. They’re available to the public on Monday (June 27, noon). Click here for details.
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.
It’s been nearly a week since a Maserati was sideswiped on Hillspoint Road, between Schlaet’s Point and Old Mill Beach.
The damaged vehicle is not going anywhere. It doesn’t have to. It has a beach sticker, so it’s legally parked (if a couple of yards beyond the “No Parking” sign).
But other vehicles are going somewhere: around it.
Bike rider Jerry Kuyper knows how dangerous that curve is. He snapped a few photos.
Seems like every car has to cross the double yellow line to avoid the Maserati.
Except for the one that didn’t.
It’s baby season, Amy Weiss notes, so woodland creatures are especially hungry.
She photographed this one — a frequent visitor to her kitchen door — for “Westport … Naturally.”
And finally … Lynn Untermeyer Miller’s photo (above) inspires today’s musical selection:
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.
So why today’s “06880” shout-out?
She’s just been named a Simons Foundation Investigator. This too is a very big deal.
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.
Keep rockin’ the world! (Hat tip: Steve Stein)
Speaking of Staples: Sunday’s “06880” Roundup gave a shout-out to the Class of 1962. They celebrated their 60th year reunion at the Ned Dimes Marina.
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!
The Maserati owner figured he’d be okay on Sunday. His car stuck just a yard or two past the “No Parking” sign on Hillspoint Road, coming from Compo Beach toward Old Mill.
The sign is there for a reason. It’s a dangerous spot. This happened next:
But that’s not the end of the story.
As of yesterday afternoon — 72 hours later — the very expensive convertible was still there.
And debris from its body still littered the road.
Speaking of parking, how about this trifecta near Gaetano’s?
The driver is:
Must have been a deli emergency!
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.
Speaking of writing:
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.
So how many jellybeans were in the Staples Tuition Grants contest?
41,330. The winning guess of 41,472 — off by just 142 — was by Emerson Watkins. In second place (41,501) was Sean Wagner. Both will receive gift certificates to their favorite Westport restaurant.
Hundreds of people entered the contest. Guesses ranged from 540 to 751,000.
STG plans to continue the contest next year. It’s another great (and fun) way to help raise some of the $400,000 that was given in scholarships to Staples seniors and alumni this year.
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)
One store closes, another opens: Westport’s newest business is Wash The Dog. Angela Koza’s “self-service dog wash” just opened at 375 Post Road West.
There are 6 stainless steel tubs, so people can wash — and blow dry — their dogs. Full service grooming also available.
The grand opening is this Saturday (June 25). Arf!
Speaking of creatures, Dave Lowrie writes:
“I’ve been waiting to capture the right ‘Westport … Naturally’ photo. I think I have it: an early visitor to my compost pile.”
And finally … in honor of Mariangela’s galactic work (story above):
(Across the universe — well, across “06880” — readers contribute to keep us going. Please click here to help.)
There’s something new at the Westport Country Playhouse: hosts for the evening.
And they don’t look like anything you’d expect:
Ashton Muñiz(above) and Akiko Akita are proud non-straight, non-white non-men. So why are they welcoming guests (with big smiles and ear plugs) to the current production of “Straight White Men”?
As they explain before the curtain rises, it’s because the audience needs to get out of its comfort zone.
And why are those ear plugs necessary? Well, the music that plays as the audience finds its seats is not what you’d normally hear at the historic, near-100-year-old theater.
The show itself is quite funny and unsettling — sometimes simultaneously. Playwright Young Jean Lee is the first Asian-American woman to have a show on Broadway.
She’s not the type of person you’d expect to write “Straight White Men.” But she — and Ashton and Akiko — are happy to welcome you to it.
(For more information and tickets, click here.)
In an annual ritual, parents gathered this morning at 5:30 a.m., to set up a wider slide at Kings Highway Elementary School.
Their kids did not see them at work. But a few hours later, they’re sure enjoying it.
Merkaz is a place for Jewish students from area high schools and congregations to learn, socialize, explore and strengthen their religious identity.
This fall (Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m.), Merkaz offers a Westport location.
Eve Potts writes:
“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.
Beach-bound traffic was diverted yesterday afternoon, when a moving truck snagged a low-hangiing wire on Hillspoint Road, after pulling out of Edgewater Commons.
The road was reopened a few hours later.
“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)
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.”
Now, the Wall Street Journal reports, the town of Darien is in negotiations to buy the island for “more than $100 million.”
Granted, Cockenoe is no Great Island. And 1969 money is not the same as 2022.
But we got our island for just $200,000. (Hat tip: Adam Stolpen)
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.”
Relaxing recently for their “Westport … Naturally” closeup at Wakeman Town Farm were these 2 beauties:
And finally … in honor of a TV show I would never watch, even though it stars one of Westport’s most famous ex-residents (see story above):