Thanks to all who submitted photos of today’s Memorial Day parade and ceremony. I received hundreds, and can’t run them all.
Today meant a lot to Westporters. It touched our hearts. It made us think about who we are, and what we want to be. And it made us deeply proud of our neighbors, our community, and all who have sacrificed to make this day possible.
World War II veterans like Joe Schachter had a special place of honor … (Photo/Ted Horowitz)
… and there were several cars with them. (Photo/Molly Alger)
Navy veteran Rick Benson (Photo/Ted Horowitz)
Leonard Everett Fisher (Photo/Ted Horowitz)
Bill Vornkahl — a Korean War veteran — has organized over 65 Westport Memorial Day parades. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Boy Scouts honor the flag. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)
The Fire Department held its annual ceremony, honoring its members who have served. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)
1st Selectman Jim Marpe leads the political contingent … (Photo/Ted Horowitz)
… and the Blue Jays follow. (Photo/Whitney D’Angelo)
The Westport Paddle Club’s float echoed this year’s parade theme: Honoring Women in the Military. The WPC won “Most Creative Float” honors. (Photo/Robbie Guimond)
A Revolutionary War soldier (with sunglasses), aka Miggs Burroughs. One youngster — who really needs to learn history — asked, “Is he a pirate?” (Photo/Dan Woog)
Besides publishing (and taking photos for) Westport Local Press and working as an educator Jaime Bairaktaris volunteers as an EMT. He marched proudly with them today — and wore out his shoes. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Remarkable Theater founder Doug Tirola (left) and Marine Corps veteran Michael Calise share a taste in shirt themes. (Photo/Dan Woog)
This morning, the 2nd selectwoman announced she’s running for the town’s top spot. First Selectman Jim Marpe said yesterday that he will not run for a 3rd term.
Tooker was elected with Marpe in 2017. Her running mate this time is Andrea Moore, vice chair of the Board of Finance. Like Marpe, both are Republicans.
As 2nd selectwoman Tooker launched Westport Together, an alliance between the town and Westport Public Schools.
She also created and hosts Westport Means Business, a series of events through which business owners and entrepreneurs make connections, exchange ideas and promote Westport.
Last May, in the early months of the pandemic, Marpe appointed Tooker as chair of the ReOpen Westport advisory team.
Tooker — a longtime member of the Board of Finance, Board of Education and Conservation Commission — left her 22-year career with Gen RE’s US and European reinsurance markets in 2013.
Since then — and continuing as 2nd selectwoman — Tooker has created ties with the Westport and Fairfield County business communities. She served on the board of directors for the Women’s Business Development Council, which provides training and financial education to female small business owners around the state.
Tooker is also involved in education, with a focus on closing the achievement gap in Connecticut. She was a board member of the State Education Resource Center, the Education Commission for the Diocese of Bridgeport, and the Adam J. Lewis Academy.
Tooker’s other volunteer efforts include the Westport Weston Family YMCA board of trustees and Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund committee; Westport Sunrise Rotary Club and its 21st Century Foundation board, and coaching with the Westport Soccer Association.
Second selectman Jennifer Tooker’s shirt sent a message at a meeting to promote local women-owned businesses.
Tooker earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics and international relations from the University of Notre Dame. She and her husband Mo have 3 children: Jack, Riley and Nicole. Her parents recently moved to Westport.
“It has been a privilege to serve Westport as second selectwoman,” Tooker says. “This is an amazing town where we enjoy an excellent quality of life. I’ve been part of the team that has worked diligently to ensure Westport is a great place to live and work.
“This community deserves a local government that is accessible and accountable with leadership skills, management expertise and a strategic perspective. As first selectman I will continue to bring these skills to Town Hall every day. It would be an honor to lead Westport, the community we all call home, and foster an even greater sense of community and belonging for all our residents and business owners.”
Tooker’s running mate was elected to the Board of Finance in 2017, and selected as vice chair 2 years later. Moore also serves on the board’s audit subcommittee.
Previously she represented District 9 on the RTM. Her committee work included Education, Public Protection, and Library and Museums.
Moore has worked for over 20 years in financial services, with positions in institutional equity sales, equity research and investment banking at firms including UBS, BT Deutsche Bank and Salomon Brothers.
A native Westporter and Staples High School graduate, Moore is member of the YMCA board of trustees. She has served on the National Charity League’s Westport board, and is a former president of Staples Tuition Grants, Saugatuck Elementary School PTA, and A Child’s Place preschool board. She also co-chaired the Westport Public Schools’ Workshopo Committee.
Moore received a bachelor of science degree in finance from the University of Massachusetts School of Management. She and her husband Dave have 3 daughters: Tessa, Janna and Ella.
Moore says, “It is an honor to run alongside Jen Tooker, a truly accomplished leader for Westport. I am continually impressed with the effective, bipartisan way Jen solves problems and drives positive change. Westport is a truly special place to call home, and I know Jen will work every day to bring people together, represent our community with the utmost integrity, and employ a fresh perspective to meet challenges and new opportunities in the days ahead.”
As Westport Pizzeria’s days dwindle, local politicians — and News 12 — gathered to honor the legendary restaurant. Among them (from left): 2nd Selectman Jen Tooker, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (in a Pizzeria 50th anniversary shirt), owner Mel Mioli, state legislators Tony Hwang and Gail Lavielle, and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell.
When word got out that Patty Haberstroh’s family was promoting a hot pepper challenge to raise funds for ALS research, some big names responded:
Shaquille O’Neal. Charles Barkley. Domonique Foxworth. Dan Le Batard. The Miami Heat.
Now the popular Department of Human Services’ program specialist’s fellow town employees have done the same.
Yesterday 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Staples principal James D’Amico, assistant principals Jim Farnen and Rich Franzis, and former principal John Dodig gathered at Town Hall. After a bit of banter, they all ate eye-tearing, sinus-clearing, unfathomably hot habaneros.
It was not easy. But they did it for Patty.
And when they were done, they challenged others to do the same.
D’Amico dared the Staples science department (whose chair grows his own peppers). Farnen challenged the Staples athletic department (which includes me, as Staples boys soccer coach — yikes!). Dodig named the guidance department.
Marpe topped them all. He dared the entire Board of Education — and superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer — to eat a habanero or jalapeño.
Videos will be posted soon.
But don’t laugh too hard. We may challenge you next.
(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page. Video by Justin Nadal, Staples High School media lab instructor.)
BONUS VIDEO: Check out this new video. It features plenty of celebrities — and tons of Westporters too. And after you click on — please keep the ALS Pepper Challenge going!
For the past 4 years, Jim Marpe has been a familiar presence at First Night. Westport’s 1st selectman sits happily at Saugatuck Elementary School, welcoming families to the fun, festive New Year’s Eve event.
As he begins his 2nd term, Marpe is not the only selectman volunteering at the turn-the-calendar celebration. Running mate Jen Tooker will belt out karaoke at Seabury Center on Church Lane.
Jim Marpe takes service to a new level. Every December 31, he volunteers at First Night.
Those are just 2 highlights of our 24th annual First Night. The family-friendly, alcohol-free festival has become an integral part of local life. This year it’s stronger than ever — even as other First Nights around the country have faded away.
Westport’s First Night survives because leaders like Marpe and Tooker — and plenty of area residents — value its small-town ambience, relaxed fun and wide range of activities.
Everyone loves the train guy.
No one knows what 2018 holds. But everyone can count on these December 31 activities:
Musical performances from Broadway, movies, jazz and the blues — including Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mark Naftalin, award-winning pianist Chris Coogan, musical theater great Michele Grace and the School of Rock
Saugatuck School’s Kids Park, with indoor bounce houses, dancing, sing-alongs, balloon twisters, caricatures, a Magic Genie and ventriloquist
Horse-drawn carriage rides
A warming fire
Stargazing with the Westport Astronomical Society
Family Zumba classes
Fireworks by the river
John Videler’s drone captured 2016’s First Night fireworks over Westport.
Sites include Saugatuck Elementary School, Toquet Hall, the Westport Historical Society, Christ & Holy Trinity Church, Seabury Center, Jesup Green and more.
All performances are within walking distance. Free shuttles run from Jesup Green to Saugatuck Elementary.
First Night kicks off at 3:30 p.m., and runs through 10. Fireworks shoot off at 8 p.m.
All you need is a button. They’re $15 each (kids under 2 are free), available online or at Trader Joe’s, Westport Library, Westport Historical Society, and Westport and Weston Town Halls. They’re also for sale on First Night itself at Town Hall and all venues.
Running against 3 opponents, Jim Marpe was chosen by almost exactly half of all Westport voters last night.
The Republican incumbent 1st selectman — and new running mate Jen Tooker — earned 4,187 of the total 8,380 cast (49.96%).
That was 452 more than the 44.57% received by Democrats Melissa Kane and Rob Simmelkjaer.
Trailing far behind were petitioning candidates John Suggs (430 votes, 5.13%) and T.J. Elgin (28 votes, 0.33%).
The results were far different for other races.
Democrats Brian Stern and Lee Caney were re-elected to the Board of Finance. Republican Andrea Moore fills the 3rd seat. Her running mate Vik Muktavaram fell short, and is expected to remain on the Board of Education.
The 4 Board of Ed candidates up for re-election — Democrats Elaine Whitney and Candi Savin, and Republicans Karen Kleine and Jeannie Smith — were all re-elected without opposition. They finished in the order above.
While the Board of Finance and Board of Ed remain in Democratic hands, the Planning & Zoning Commission switches control, from the GOP to the Dems. Democrats Greg Rutstein, Michael Cammeyer and Danielle Dobin won, beating Republican Jon Olefson and Coalition for Westport candidate Jennifer Johnson.
For all Westport election results — including RTM — click here. At the top of the page select “November 2017 Municipal Election,” then choose Westport from the map or drop-down menu below.
Tip O’Neill said that all politics is local. On North Avenue, it doesn’t get more local than water tanks in your neighborhood.
In what may be the only time this year the Democratic and Republican candidates for 1st selectman speak in the same home on the same day — though not together — Melissa Kane and Jim Marpe meet tonight with residents concerned about the planned expansion of Aquarion’s water towers.
The events take place at 66 North Avenue — opposite the Aquarion site.
Last month, Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve the 3- to 5-year-construction project. Located directly across from Staples High School, it will more than triple the current water capabilities. Two new 40-foot tanks will replace the one current 12-foot tank.
Aquarion cites fire safety and increased daily usage as reasons for the new tanks. The fire department supports the proposal.
Over 200 residents have signed a petition opposing the project, and a legal challenge is underway.
A photo shows the height of the proposed new water tanks. Since the photo was taken, taller trees have replaced those in the photo.
Anyone can ask the 1st Selectman candidates what they think about taxes, traffic and the future of Main Street. Their answers may not be surprising.
But “06880” wants to know more. We’d like to know what makes these men (and woman) tick. And what makes them Westporters, as opposed to politicians.
So we asked each candidate the same 10 questions. Here are their replies. I chose the fairest way to post them: alphabetically. But — since as a “W” I’m always last — they’re in reverse order. Hah!
What got you to Westport?
John Suggs: My wife and I were looking for a community in which to raise our newborn twins, with great schools, friendly neighborhoods and unique community character. A place that our kids would always be proud to call home. That is Westport.
Jim Marpe: Our family moved to the New York City area 30 years ago at the request of my employer, Accenture, following a lengthy expatriate management assignment. By coincidence 2 of our best friends had moved to Westport while we were overseas, so we had already visited several times and gotten a preview of the community. Our daughter was entering elementary school, so the world-class quality of the school system was the primary attraction. But the other attractions were the physical character of the town, the cosmopolitan atmosphere and the wide variety of activities that did not exist in similar places we had lived.
Melissa Kane: I began coming here as a child and have loved it ever since.
TJ Elgin: My grandparents helped save me from a dark path with my father.
John Suggs and his dog Monty. The photo was obviously taken between October 1 and March 31.
What kept you in Westport?
Suggs: The friendly people, the community ties and the schools which have become a second home for our children.
Marpe: The Westport public schools are the primary reason we stayed, but by then we were involved in leadership roles with a variety of interesting community service organizations that help a wide cross-section of Westport, including Homes With Hope, the Westport Weston Family Y, Green’s Farms Congregational Church, the Rotary Club, Westport Country Playhouse, the Young Woman’s League, and Neighbors and Newcomers of Westport. My wife, Mary Ellen, was a successful small business owner for over a decade (Westport Academy of Dance). Moreover, we had come to appreciate the wide variety of high quality amenities that Westport offers (Library, beaches, Longshore, performing and visual arts, attractive open spaces) as well as proximity to New York City. In the end, it’s the great friendships we have developed with an amazing array of interesting and involved Westporters that will keep us here for many years to come.
Kane: My husband proposed to me way out on a sandbar at Old Mill Cove. We love this town and wanted to raise our children here. The overall character, roots in the arts, and the people make it an easy place to love.
Elgin: My family and friends.
Favorite place in Westport to relax?
Suggs: Golden Shadows back porch in Baron’s South.
Marpe: Compo Beach (South) on a summer evening with friends and a picnic dinner. Certainly not Town Hall!
Kane: Walking on the beach.
Elgin: Compo Beach.
Favorite place to go when you’re NOT in Westport?
Suggs: Cape Town, South Africa.
Marpe: Any place that has small, family-owned vineyards and wineries and a small, quiet inn.
Kane: Hiking in the White Mountains with my family.
Elgin: Stratford Pyramid Shriners.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe, in the 2013 Memorial Day parade. Behind him are State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, 3rd Selectman Helen Garten and 2nd Selectman Avi Kaner.
Musical group you’d most like to see at the Levitt?
Suggs: The Boss, Bruce Springsteen.
Marpe: The Rolling Stones.
Kane: Ben Folds.
Elgin: Lights, she is from Canada.
Favorite annual event in Westport, and why?
Suggs: Staples High School Candlelight Concert. The music by our talented students together — during the holiday season — makes my heart soar.
Marpe: Memorial Day parade. Truly a local event with a family focus that reflects our small town character, honors our residents who fought for our freedoms, and marks the unofficial beginning of summer.
Kane: Memorial Day parade. It’s the most wonderful small town, magical event one could imagine. It really captures the spirit of the town like nothing else. My children have been in it; I love to watch and participate in it. I am also always humbled by the sacrifices that were made by our servicemen and women.
Elgin: Fireworks because it’s my first real date with my soon-to-be wife, and Lobsterfest because of old friends I never get to see.
Melissa Kane (right) with her mother, Judith Orseck Katz.
If you could wave a magic wand and change anything about Westport, what would it be?
Suggs: The traffic congestion.
Marpe: Traffic would flow easily and freely through all our intersections. The Waze and Google Maps apps would cease to divert traffic from I-95 and the Merritt Parkway onto our local streets. Our drivers would obey all speed limits and traffic regulations, and observe safe driving etiquette. And our streets would magically widen to become “complete streets” with sidewalks, pedestrian- friendly crosswalks and bicycle lanes, along with plenty of room for cars to pass.
Kane: Making it a place our children could come back to and our seniors can stay in.
Elgin: The entitlement. We live in a world where we all need to help each other and our surroundings, to have a brighter future for our planet.
Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts?
Suggs: Neither. The Sherwood Diner.
Marpe: Dunkin’ Donuts. But my real choices are Coffee An’ and Donut Crazy.
Kane: Coffee An’.
Elgin: Neither. I don’t drink or eat from places that I don’t know where their products are from.
If you were underwhelmed by the presidential debates of 2016, your long national nightmare is over.
On Thursday (October 12, 11:30 a.m. to 1:3o p.m., Westport Library), the 4 candidates for 1st selectmen face off. It should be informative — and substantive.
Republican Jim Marpe, Democrat Melissa Kane and independents John Suggs and Timothy J. Elgin will discuss business-related issues. There’s a good reason: The debate is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.
Moderator Jay Sandak will lead the discussion in areas like the town’s business environment, jobs and taxes.
The event begins with a chance to meet the candidates. At that time, attendees can submit written questions for the debate.
School starts Thursday. (Sorry, kids — and parents — for the buzzkill.)
To raise awareness — and reduce the chances that notoriously inattentive drivers will be surprised to see school buses and kids sharing the streets – the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association just released a public service video.
Viewers all over the state will see it. It’s clever and punchy. The stars on screen include 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, and Westport cops, students, athletes — even our buses.
The message is clear: With buses on the road, allow extra travel time. Be alert. Don’t you dare pass when bus lights are flashing. Remind your kids how to behave too.
Perhaps Westport is featured in this statewide video because local drivers are the worst in Connecticut.
Perhaps it’s because the Concept Studio of Westport helped produce the PSA.
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