Tag Archives: Isaias

Roundup: Staples High School, Book Sales, Eversource, Landmark Preschool, More


“06880” seldom reports “survey” results. Best Nail Salon in Fairfield County, Greatest Towns for Beach Strolling — those stories land in my inbox every day. Clickbait, all of them.

But I’ll make an exception for this one. It comes from a legit source — and it involves one of our town jewels.

USA Today just published a list of the best public high school in every state. Criteria included student and parent survey responses, teacher absenteeism, standardized test scores, and other measures of academic performance.

The Connecticut representative — complete with a handsome photo — is Staples.

Congratulations to all. At a time of so much educational uncertainty, it’s great to get even a glimmer of good news.

Staples High School. (Photo/Jennifer Kobetitsch)


The Westport Library Book Sale lost its spring and summer dates. But they sold “book bundles” online — and that encouraged them to open an online book store.
that it has opened an online book store.

They’re opening with a curated selection of “Surprise Book Bundles”: used books and CDs in various categories, for adults and children. More categories and items will be added soon. Click here to “enter” the store.

Purchases are available for pickup, by appointment, within 7 to 10 days after purchase, at the library’s upper parking lot.

The Westport Library Book Sale is operated by Westport Book Sale Ventures, a
nonprofit enterprise that supports the library, while providing employment for adults with disabilities.


During Tropical Storm Isaias, Frank Accardi got tired of seeing this message:

“OUTAGE UPDATE: Eversource crews are working hard to safely restore power as quickly as possible. While we always provide the best information possible, sometimes we may need additional time to provide our estimated times of restoration.”

He suggests this replacement, for customers to send after receiving their next bill:

“PAYMENT UPDATE: Westport families are working hard to safely restore solvency as quickly as possible. While we always provide the best information possible, sometimes we may need additional time to provide our estimated time of financial recompense to Eversource.”


Landmark Preschool in Westport reports that 23 new students have enrolled since June. While the school on Burr Road provides in-classroom learning, it also provides “parallel remote learning” from home, via classroom cameras and monitors.

Students will stay in small cohorts; hand washing will be increased, and ventilation improved; there will be additional cleaning crews and disinfecting foggers; faculty and staff will be given special training, and every teacher will be provided a special COVID sanitation kit, and clear face masks so youngsters will not miss visual cues.


And finally … folk/Latin/rockabilly singer Trini Lopez died this week, from complications of COVID-19. He was 83.


 

Roundup: Board of Ed; RL Stine,Eversource, Manna Toast, More


The Board of Education meets tonight at 7 p.m. The Zoom meeting includes 2 important agenda items: superintendent of schools Tom Scarice’s recommendation for reopening, and proposed changes to the calendar.

The session will be livestreamed on westportps.org, and televised on Optimum channel 78 and Frontier channel 6021.


Avery Place — a main component of downtown — has finally been cleared of wires, limbs and debris. More than a week after Tropical Storm Isiais, power has been restored to the area.

But, as photographer Wendy Cusick notes, vines are killing trees here, and throughout Fairfield County. And when high winds roar in, they can help kill utility poles too.

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)


This will send goosebumps down the spines of many youngsters:

R.L. Stine — the bestselling horror story kids’ author — will be the final speaker in the Westport Library’s Camp Explore program.

The virtual (and free!) event — open to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection — is set for this Tuesday (August 18, 4 p.m.).

Click here to register for Stine’s appearance — and click here to watch all previous Camp Explore events.


In the aftermath of Eversource’s twin public relations disasters — a rate hike, and a belated response to Tropical Storm Isaias — State Senator Will Haskell says:

“Public utilities need to be monitored closely, and both legislators and members of the public have a role to play in holding Eversource accountable. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is holding a public hearing (via Zoom) on Monday (August 24, 10 a.m.),

“I encourage anyone interested to submit testimony and join me in standing up to this monopoly that too often lets customers down. This isn’t about one neighborhood left behind or the unpredictability of New England weather — this is about a company that makes billions in profits yet fails to prepare for a storm that announced itself days in advance of arriving in our backyard.

“To submit testimony, email comments to pura.information@ct.gov (mention Docket #20-01-01 in the subject line), or mail them to: Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051.

To attend or participate in the Zoom hearing, click this link.


Manna Toast has been open just a couple of weeks. But already they’re expanding their Church Lane hours — and adding music.

They’re open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to  9:30 p.m.  Entertainment this weekend includes Henry Jones (Friday, August 14, 6 to 9 p.m.), Suzanne Sheridan & Friends (Saturday, August 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.), and Wass (Melissa Wasserman, Sunday brunch, August 16, 12 to 2 p.m.).

Here’s a toast to a new Westport tradition!


Carole Bernstein did her civic duty on Tuesday: She voted in the state primary election.

Two days before, 3 cars — parked in her driveway — were broken into. She’s not alone. She’s seen plenty of Ring videos posted online, showing near-daily brazen break-ins. She’s read several warnings, by town and police officials, to never leave anything visible in your car.

So Carole was quite surprised to see several signs at the Bedford Middle School polling place, telling voters to “leave purses and backpacks in your locked vehicle.”

What’s the reason for the signs? What’s wrong with bringing a purse or backpack into the voting station (which is no longer even a booth — it’s open, for all to see).

Is it a COVID-related rule? If so, what’s the theory behind it? Even so, doesn’t it contradict everything we’re hearing about vehicle safety?

I vote for purses and backpacks in the polling place!


Two years ago — just 15 days after arriving at the University of Colorado — recent Staples High School graduate Corey Hausman died in a tragic skateboard accident on a steep campus pathway. He was unsuccessfully treated at a local medical facility. It was the 3rd college death of the new semester.

Since then, his family has been involved in College911.net. Among their projects: creating a medical emergency checklist with questions and suggestions his family wishes they had considered while sending Corey off to college.

Some of the items pertain to students (“Did you sign a HIPAA release providing a family member rights to access medical records? Do you carry a medical alert card or ID with emergency contacts, in case you lose your phone?”). Some are for parents, if 911 is called on behalf of a child (“What medical rights do you have if your child is over 18? What is the quality of the campus medical center?”).

Nanette hopes all students and parents will review the checklist, before the new school year begins. Click here to see.

Corey Hausman (center) with Lucas (left) and Casey (right): “The Brothers.”


Earlier this summer, Tony Award-winning Kelli O’Hara hosted a great virtual Westport Country Playhouse event, showcasing Fairfield County’s best young talent.

The Westport resident is back this Friday (August 14, 7 p.m.). It’s the capstone for THRIVE — Teens Having Resilience In a Virtual Environment. The online program for area high school students was created by Westport Country Playhouse, the Shubert Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre.

The 15 THRIVE participants — including Westporters Camille Foisie and Raia Morgan, and Weston’s Harrison Solomon — will share their experiences in the virtual summer camp. It’s part talk show, part variety show, and part cast party.

The “Friday Night THRIVE Live!” event is available on You Tube (WestportPlayhouse channel) and Facebook Live (Westport Country Playhouse).

Kelli O’Hara


And finally … yeah, Eversource. We’re talking about you:

One More Post-Storm Update: Get A Refund! Don’t Kill Yourself!

This afternoon, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, the Department of Public Works and Westport’s Emergency Response Team provided this information. It Includes power outages (including Optimum TV), and safety and food tips.

Most roads are passable. But some may be detoured if crews are in the area clearing debris.

Currently 0.32 percent, or approximately 41, of Westport’s Eversource customers are without power. Those customers, and others with specific outage issues are being addressed as quickly as possible.

  • Due to the heat wave and for those in need, the cooling center at Greens Farms Elementary School is open now until 5 p.m. Wear a face covering, and maintain social distance recommendations.
  • Homeowners should contact electricians to manage individual issues, such as wires that were pulled from the home or electrical panels. A certified electrician must re-attach those wires. Neither Eversource nor town DPW crews are qualified to service individual home electric panels.

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)

Cable and internet service

If your power has been restored but your cable/internet access remains down, please contact your provider. Those providers rely upon electrical restoration or pole re-installation before their services can be addressed. Some fiber cables have been compromised. Town officials are also in contact with providers to encourage facilitation of those services.

Optimum (also known as Cablevision/Altice) says that teams have been deployed around the clock restoring services as quickly as possible. The percentage of customers in Connecticut without Optimum service due to the storm has fallen from more than 44% to less than 4% today.

Optimum offers these restoration tips:

If you lost power, restart your equipment using these steps:

  • Unplug your equipment from its power source.
  • Wait 30 seconds.
  • Plug your equipment back into the power source

If your service does not return after restarting, it is possible that:

  • The power that feeds the network in your area comes from a different commercial power source than the power that feeds your home or business location, or there is another issue relating to network power that needs to be addressed. Optimum is coordinating with electric companies to identify these issues and ensure prioritization of repair or restoration.
  • There is damage to the Optimum network, like a downed utility pole or wire break. Crews are working to rectify this type of damage.

To check on service status:

  • Go to optimum.net/support/outage  Sign in with your Optimum ID and password. Next, under Support (upper right corner), click “Service status.”

To report service issues:

To request a credit, click here: optimum.net/support/request-a-credit

Safety Information:

Homeowners are often seriously injured trying to do their own post-storm cleanup work.

  • Consider consulting a professional before undertaking any major restoration or tree / large limb removal.
  • Do not use a chain saw if you are not experienced in properly and safely operating it, or if you are not physically fit.  If you must use a chainsaw, work only on the ground, not in a tree.
  • Use extreme caution with ladders.
  • Stay safe in hot weather; hydrate; pace yourself.
  • The Westport yard waste site on Bayberry Lane is open fto discard tree limbs and branches.

Food safety reminders: 

  • Any food remaining in a refrigerator or freezer during the outage should be considered contaminated. Do not rely upon appearance or smell to determine if it is safe to consume. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • When power comes back on, clean out your refrigerator and freezer before putting new food in it. Wash the inside of the refrigerator and freezer with soap and warm water, then wipe with a mild solution of ½ tablespoon bleach in a gallon of water. Keep doors open to allow to dry. Once dry, allow the unit to get cold before placing food inside.

Unsung Heroes #155

This one’s a no-brainer.

It’s been 8 days since tropical storm Isaias hammered our homes.

Power is still out in some spots. WiFi, cable and phone service may take longer.

But as we look back on the past week, our town is filled with heroes. If you are …

  • A first responder (police, fire, EMT…) who fielded hundreds of calls
  • A second responder, like the Community Emergency Response Team
  • An Eversource worker — or one that the utility outsourced, who drove for hours to get here — and worked tirelessly, in dangerous conditions, sometimes bearing the brunt of residents’ frustrations with Eversource’s highly paid higher-ups
  • A Department of Public Works worker, who made seemingly impassable roads passable
  • A landscaper or tree guy, who had more work than you ever dreamed of from regular customers, but still found time to help homeowners in dire straits who desperately flagged you down

To the rescue! (Photo/C. Swan)

  • A Human Services Department employee, who did way-beyond-the-job-description things like delivering food and water (and toilet paper!) to stranded seniors
  • Nate Gibbons, the fire inspector who provided sane, soothing and life-saving advice on a continuous WWPT-FM loop
  • The staff of the Westport Library, who made sure the generator stayed on so that (literally) thousands of residents could access WiFi, (literally) 24/7

A small part of the large WiFi crowd. (Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

  • A Westporter who helped a neighbor (or stranger) in any way: offering charging or a hot shower; clearing brush; providing food or shelter or a shoulder to cry or vent on — or anything else
  • A restaurant, deli or market owner, who somehow saved or scavenged food, kept it cold or heated it up, and somehow found a way to serve or sell it
  • A Parks & Recreation Department staffer, who got our parks and recreation facilities cleaned up quickly — a take-your-mind-off-your-woes lifesaver for many, especially over the weekend
  • A town official who fielded countless urgent calls, pleas and requests, along with tons of demands and questions; dealt with impossible-to-deal with utility representatives; got the ear of the governor, senators, our congressman and state legislators; kept everyone as safe as possible — and did it all during a pandemic, while also planning for (hey, why not?!) a primary election

… then you are our Heroes of the Day.

I know I’ve missed plenty of categories. Apologies in advance. Feel free to add your own Heroes; click “Comments” below.

Roundup: Kayak Tacos, Roads, Library, Remarkable Movies, More


If you’re stressed — and between COVID-19, Isaias, the state of the nation and the world, who isn’t? — you can talk to a shrink. You can take it out on your spouse or kids.

Or you can spend an hour or two on the Saugatuck River, on a kayak or paddle board.

For relaxation (and cost), I’ll take the water. On these hot August days, there is nothing like a leisurely (or harder workout) paddle up toward downtown, or down toward Long Island Sound.

And one of the most popular places to do it is Westport Paddle Club.

The facility — at Bridgebrook Marina, on Riverside Avenue between the VFW and Saugatuck Rowing Club — has quickly become the go-to place for rentals, group activities, and a very popular summer camp for kids.

Now there’s more. Last night was the first “Taco Tuesday” in the parking lot by the dock (near the palm tree).

A taco truck will be there every Tuesday, from 5 to 7 p.m. A nice breeze, the calming river, fun food — you won’t care about the pandemic, a tropical storm, or anything else.

Westport Paddle Club owner Robbie Guimond (left), with employees and Staples High School seniors George Smith and Jack Douglas, at the taco truck.


As of early this morning, 98 Westport customers still lack electricity. That’s 0.78% of the town — meaning Eversource met their promise of 99% by Tuesday midnight.

The utility notes that a derecho storm that caused nearly a million outages in the Midwest caused some crews from those states to be called home to restore power there. Just think of those drives those workers had, getting here and back — and the work they do, here and there.

Eversource says, “at this time, we do not expect this to impact our restoration process” across Connecticut.

However, Jeff Jacobs takes issue with Eversource and the town’s announcement that all Westport roads are now passable.

Kings Highway South is closed just below Birchwood Country Club.

Finally yesterday, a barrier — mostly traffic cones — was erected at the junction of Kings Highway and Treadwell Avenue. There are still no signs or barriers at Post Road West, however, so drivers keep coming. And keep turning around.

Meanwhile, as Westport’s cleanup continues, residents — including David Meth — remain concerned about a utility pole in a very visible spot.

It rests on cables attached to another utility pole across from Willowbrook Cemetery, near the Main Street/Cross Highway split.

“If it crashes, it will pull down all the cables and then some,” David says. “I spoke to 2 Eversource workers nearby. One said he would take a look. The result: nothing.”

(Photo/David Meth)


Today marks the Westport Library’s return to normal — that is, COVID-normal — hours. Curbside pickup is available weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The building is open for browsing and staff support weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Beginning this Monday (August 17), appointments are recommended for the Children’s Library.

A family (or cohort of up to 5 people) will have the Children’s Library to themselves for 30 minutes. If they leave before their 30 minutes are up, walk-ins can book the remaining time.

Click here to reserve an appointment for the Children’s Room.


The Longshore golf course reopened today. The tennis courts will be back tomorrow (Thursday, August 13), after reconditioning.

Some of the damage on the Longshore golf course. (Photo/Brian Sikorski)


Next up in the Remarkable Theater’s remarkable summer drive-in movie series at the Imperial Avenue parking lot: “The Jungle Game” (Thursday, August 13), “Thelma and Louise” (Friday, August 14) and “School of Rock” (Saturday, August 15).

The lot opens at 7:45 p.m. Movies begin around 8:45. Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to reserve a spot, and for more information.

Last night, Darren Spencer and his family made their first trip to the pop-up series. He reports:

“It was a balmy evening in the parking lot with 49 other cars, but you would not have known it.  Tuned in to 90.9 FM with clear audio and a brilliant screen, it made for a memorable evening.

“Thank you, Remarkable Theater, for breathing life into Westport in these uncertain and unusual times, and for turning what used to be unremarkable before the pandemic into the truly remarkable. And to Westport Town officials, I let’s ensure we turn this into a Westport institution every summer for many years to come!”

(Photo/Darren Spencer)


Still need a place to work? Serendipity Labs —  the co-working space which opened at 55 Post Road West just a month before COVID hit — is offering complimentary day passes for the first visit.  Click here to learn more.

Serendipity Labs, 55 Post Road West


Many voters in yesterday’s Democratic and Republican primaries sent ballots by mail. But those who ventured to the one polling place in town — Bedford Middle School — gave high marks to local officials.

Everyone working wore masks. They hand voters plastic gloves. They strictly enforced the 6-foot rule. And — though you couldn’t see them — they did it all with smiles.

It’s not easy voting in the midst of a pandemic, right after a treacherous storm. In Westport at least, we proved we can multi-task. On to November 3!


First, an outdoor volleyball court popped up at the old Save the Children property on Wilton Road.

Now there’s a floating water polo game in the waters off Compo Beach.

Click “Comments” if you know what’s next.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)


And finally … you may not recognize the name Wayne Fontana. The lead singer of the Mindbenders died last week in England, at 74. But if you’re a certain age, you probably remember his signature song:

Pics Of The Day #1210

How did you spend your post-Isaias Day 5?

Doerte Inett’s family was visited by a “fantastic crew” from Nova Scotia. They took care of a tree that fell on the power line on their Sturges Highway property — and restored power. Their 10-month old supervised, from the screen porch. 

Cleaning up in the Old Mill neighborhood (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Pleading for help off North Avenue (Photo/Ed Paul)

A few smiles at the Colony Road/Pumpkin Hill intersection (Photo/Christie Stanger)

Flying kites at Sherwood Island State Park (Photo/Ilene Mirkine)

This was the scene late today, at the corner of Fairport Road and Westfair Drive (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

The traffic light works at Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza. But Avery Place is still blocked by downed wires and limbs. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

 

Roundup: Rye Ridge, Small Businesses, Honey Bees, More


As of 7 a.m., Eversource reported 6,258 Westport customers without power. That’s less than half the town — but by the slimmest of hairs. We’re down to 49.54% in the dark.

The utility “expects” to have 90% of all Eversource customers in service by tonight. That would mean 1,263 would still be waiting.

Of course, Isaias is not our only worry — or theirs. The utility notes, “In light of COVID-19, work practices and reporting procedures have been altered to protect our employees’ health, and those of our communities we serve. Pandemic guidelines have been reinforced across the system and they will be maintained while restoring service to all customers.”

PS: Saugatuck Avenue is closed from the train station parking lot to Duck Pond Road (the Norwalk line), through approximately 5 p.m. today.

PPS: Karen Solicito reports at 9:30 a.m. that the charging station at the Westport Weston Health District on Bayberry Lane is full. There’s a wait to use it. And though WiFi there works, it takes a few minutes for the phone to locate it. “Don’t fret if it doesn’t show up in the WiFi queue right away,” she says.

The cleanup continues. (Photo/C. Swan)

 


Rose Akin posted this yesterday, as a Comment on the Pic of the Day. But it deserves a much wider audience. So here it is:

“We moved to town recently. My husband and I and our 2 little ones picked up an amazing lunch from Rye Ridge Deli today. Finally made it to Compo Beach and realized we had way too much to carry with one trip from the car to the beach.

“My husband dropped off a few bags, and ran back to the car to grab more, and me and the boys. All of this happened within 60 seconds — and Compo seagulls! ☺️

“Rookie move on our part. They feasted on all of our lunch.

“My husband went back to Rye Ridge to get us lunch again, as the kids were starving. Guess what? Rye Ridge comped him the whole lunch. I mean … what a gesture!

“We were so beyond touched. I texted my friend Lisa Newman, telling her what a great choice we made moving here. She said, ‘you have to email Dan!'”

Thanks, Rose. And welcome to Westport. Once COVID and Isaias are gone, you’ll really love this place!


This was already a disastrous year for restaurants, markets, retail shops, fitness centers — just about any small business you can think of.

Just when they had mastered curbside and online sales, and then adjusted to the new rules and regulations regarding opening — they got whacked by Isaias.

We’re all in this together. We’re all restocking our refrigerators, paying extra for tree removal and new outdoor furniture, and on and on.

But still: Let’s figure out ways to help Westport’s own. Let’s redouble our efforts to shop local. Let’s go out for more restaurant meals than normal (eat-in or takeout) — and leave a large tip too.

If you’ve got an idea for helping the mom and pops who have sustained us for so long — and struggled so mightily — click “Comments” below.

Gold’s reopened a couple of days after Isaias struck. The popular deli had no power — but they improvised, sidewalk sales-style. Customers loved owner Jim and Nancy Eckl’s resourcefulness.


Speaking of small businesses, Savannah Bee’s store manager — the wonderful Julie Cook — writes:

“Nothing keeps us down on Church Lane. I was decorating my windows for National Honey Bee Day next Saturday (in the dark, sweltering heat), and miraculously the lights came on midday yesterday.

“What a bonus! We thought we’d be out until Tuesday night. As a thank-you (to all those tireless electrical  crews from South Carolina — and the universe), please let folks know we’re open for business, we have cold spring water, delicious honey roasted coffee, lovely artisanal teas, all-natural Italian energy drinks called BEEBAD, all-natural plant-based antibacterial soaps with a huge sink to check them out, a large restroom, and the best part: People can charge their phones!

“We’d love to share our Southern hospitality today and next Saturday for our 3rd annual National Honey Bee Celebration. From 1 to 4 p.m., people can meet local beekeepers. We also have a live hive demonstration (safely encased in glass). And we’re making honey sips and sweets, plus beautiful flower crowns for all the queen bees in town.

It’s free and open to all! We’re happy to share the bee love, and our good fortune. It’s the simple things that make us smile these days❤️👍🏻🐝


How tough are things for businesses? Born of Earth spa is leaving its space near Whole Foods.

David Gerard — who has owned Born of Earth for 27 years — cited increasing rent, overhead and COVID-19 as reasons for the decision.

Fortunately, they’re not closing entirely. They’re merging with Artistex Salon & Spa, less than 2 miles away at 260 Post Road East. The entire Born of Earth team will continue at the new location.


Sandy Rothenberg asks: “How are we supposed to contact emergency services with no phone or WiFi at home? Especially in Weston as I’ve heard Westport has set up remote towers.”

Anyone know? Click “Comments” below.


And finally … if you’re waiting for a utility crew from South Carolina, Missouri, Canada or wherever: