Tag Archives: Ken Bernhard

Roundup: Wreaths, War, WPD Toys …

Each Christmas season, the Wreaths Across America program honors fallen servicemembers, and all who serve. Over 2 million volunteers take part, in all 50 states and overseas.

This year, for the first time, Westport joins in.

The date is December 17. The time is noon. The cemetery is Assumption, on Greens Farms Road.

It wouldn’t have happened without Patty Kondub. The popular Westport Family YMCA and Senior Center (and Staples High School girls golf coach) is the local coordinator.

As part of her many other Westport activities, she’s also vice president of the VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 Auxiliary.

Click here to sponsor a wreath (the deadline is November 29). To designate a wreath for a specific veteran at the Assumption cemetery, email Patty: nortonpk@aol.com. You can also email her to volunteer to mark graves before December 17, and place them on that date

For Patty, the project is personal. Her father — John Kondub — was a World War II Marine, and VFW Post 399 member. He earned a Purple Heart, for hand-to-hand combat in the Japanese Islands.

He is buried at Assumption Greens Farms Cemetery — almost across from the farm where he was born, before I-95 was built.

“There are over 200 veterans buried in this cemetery,” Patty says. “I hope they all get wreaths.”

=====================================================

Liz and Richard are true heroes.

She’s from Florida, and speaks 5 languages. He’s a German attorney. They met and formed a group that braves drones and missiles to drive desperately needed supplies to the front lines in Ukraine. Their supplies include water filtration systems and wood burning stoves for civilians, who are starving and bracing for a cold winter.

In Ukraine they met Brian Mayer. The Westporter spent several months helping coordinate relief efforts. He also helped fund Liz and Richard’s work.

After several months of non-stop work, the pair needed a rest. Brian invited them to Westport, for a few days of R&R.

On Monday they met with 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Ken Bernhard, another Westporter deeply involved in humanitarian aid.

Liz and Richard were taking a breather. But they did not stop working. The group discussed how Westport can be even more helpful in the global fight against Russian aggression.

(From left): Richard, Brian Mayer, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Liz and Ken Bernhard discuss how Westport can aid Ukraine.

=====================================================

One of Westport’s favorite toy drives takes place soon.

The Police Department Benevolent Association and Westport Police Athletic League will again collect gifts for underprivileged children in Fairfield County.

Officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys — plus cash donations — in the ASF Sports & Outdoors parking lot (1560 Post Road East), on Saturday and Sunday, December 3-4 and 10-11, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Toy collection boxes will also be available at:

  • Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road
  • ASF Sports & Outdoors, 1560 Post Road East
  • PAL ice rink, Longshore
  • Awesome Toys & Gifts, 429 Post Road East
  • The Toy Post, 180 Post Road East.

Questions? Contact Officer Craig Bergamo: 203-341-6000; cbergamo@Westportct.gov.

Westport Police accept toy donations at ASF.

======================================================

Speaking of police: As they do every year just before Thanksgiving, dozens of Staples High School students dodged cops.

The teenagers and officers had a ball.

The event was the annual Dodge-a-Cop dodgeball tournament. Each team of students included at least one member of the Westport force.

They hurled dodgeballs at each other. They protected their teammates.

The event — sponsored by the Westport Youth Commission and Staples’ Teen Awareness Group — was for a great cause. Entry fees supported the Toys for Tots holiday drive.

Staples school resource officer Ed Woolridge (back row, white shirt, blue headband) was on the winning Dodge-a-Cop team. The winners posed with Andrew Colabella — longtime Dodge-a-Cop referee, former Youth Commission member, and current RTM member. (far right).

======================================================

The poster evokes the Roaring ’20s:

That’s appropriate. Longshore — the site of this Saturday night’s first-ever Café Noir — is said to have been the setting for nearby resident (okay, renter) F. Scott Fitzgerald) when he later wrote “The Great Gatsby.”

But the music and vibe will be “classic house, funk and disco” at 9 p.m., when a pair of Westport DJs (self-described “middle-aged British dudes, aka “Bangers and Mash”) host the event at Longshore’s La Plage restaurant.

“We’re looking to introduce a bit of suave and sophistication to the evening,” says Phil White, who is Banger.

Tom Fielding is Mash. He’s also an accomplished house DJ. He founded London’s famed dance club The End back in the late 90s.

White DJed in college, then toured Europe putting on raves. before getting sucked into “the big bad world of global advertising.” (Hey, at least he’s advertising Café Noir well.)

The pair will run their Saturday night events at La Plage through Christmas. In the spring, they’ll take their act out on the terrace.

“So get out,” White urges. “Get your groove on. And dress to impress!”

=======================================================

Westporter Jen Dennison and her colleague Kelly Gipson (who grew up here) are teachers at the Learning Community Day School on Hillspoint Road.

Recently, their class read “Pearl and Squirrel Give Thanks.” (The plot, if you don’t have a preschooler, is about 2 homeless pets.)

The class talked about people who have no homes, or money for food. They decided to help.

The children took home a letter about donations. In 3 days, they collected a truck full.

“They were so proud,” Kelly reports.

On Tuesday, they brought their donations to Operation Hope in Fairfield.

It’s never too early to learn about giving. Thanks and congratulations — you are a true Learning “Community.”

Giving back, at the Learning Community.

====================================================

Given the alleged nature of La Plage at Longshore ( the original millionaires party venue for the Great Gatsby?)…we’re looking to introduce a bit of swarve and sophicats to the evening proceeding and get 06680’s well healed and otherwise housebound cognoscenti to get out and get their groove on!

No shoe? No problem!

Ryan Smith — Bates College’s men’s cross country captain, and a Staples High School running star with the Class of 2019 — lost a shoe in the first mile of the 8K NCAA East Regional Championship, at Bowdoin College.

When his shoe was stepped on, there were 100 runners behind Smith. He could not slow down to fix it, so he kicked it into the woods and kept going.

He finished 11th out of more than 200 runners, helping the Bobcats to 2nd place overall. That helped them qualify for the NCAA Championships, (Hat tip: Brian Strong)

Ryan Smith

====================================================

Westport’s founding fathers did not wear t-shirts. And they sure didn’t have mouse pads.

But you can sport a tee (or tank top, sweatshirt or hoodie), wrap yourself in a fleece blanket, drink from a mug or use a mouse pad that commemorates 1835 — the year Westport became its own town.

Those items are part of Finding Westport’s newest offerings. There are 2 lines: the 1835 Collection, and one called Westport Est.

Daniel Nash would be proud.

===================================================

The Y’s Men of Westport and Weston took a brisk 5-mile walk Monday — in Manhattan.

The group headed out from Grand Central to the United Nations, Sutton Place, Rockefeller University, Carl Shurz Park and Gracie Mansion.

It was the 7th in their series of New York City explorations. Many Y’s Men spent their careers working there. They seldom had a chance to be tourists, though.

Y’sMen at the New York Daily News building. (Hat tip and photo/Dave Matlow)

======================================================

It’s not even Thanksgiving, but the raccoons are scavenging.

Jill Grayson went to fill the back yard bird feeder, and found a skunk. A short time later, these 2 guys appeared.

All creatures, great and small — and smelly — are part of our “Westport … Naturally” world. Happy Thanksgiving1

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

=======================================================

And finally … Michael Butler, the wealthy financier and producer who brought “Hair” to Broadway in 1968, died earlier this month in a nursing home in California. He was 95.

He was hardly a hippie. But he made his mark on American theater with the “tribal love-rock musical.” Click here for a full obituary.

(“Easy to be hard …” — and easy to support “06880.” Just click here. And thank you!)

Roundup: Back-To-School Help, Online Returns, Hate Incidents …

If it’s August, it must be back-to-school time.

Which means, it’s time to help local youngsters whose parents can’t afford all the bells and whistles — or perhaps even notebooks and pencils — that their kids need.

Not to mention, after-school childcare.

Last year, Westport’s Department of Human Services helped 115 children from 70 families with back-to-school needs. They also provided 15 children with financial assistance to participate in programs while their parents were at work.

Human Services seeks Walmart gift cards to allow families to shop for essentials. Monetary donations provide access to after-school programs. Both are tax-deductibel.

Donations can be made online. Click here; then click on “Family to Family Programs – Seasonal Program – Back to School.” Checks can be made payable to the “Town of Westport/DHS Family Programs,” and sent to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave Westport, CT  06880.

If you or someone you know requires assistance, call 203-341-1050 or email humansrv@westportct.gov. All calls are confidential.

Every child deserves access to school supplies.

======================================================

First came the excitement of Lily’s Market. There’s new (and convenient) life in Weston Market.

Starting Friday, Lily’s will offer something else: returnable online returns.

“Returnable” is a subscription service. Members drop returns for items bought online in a bin, at Lily’s — skipping the hassle of printing labels, packaging, and hauling them to a shipping location.

To subscribe, scan a QR code on Lily’s returnable bin. To return an item, email rose@returnable.com with purchase/return information. Returnable processes the info, and provides next steps.

It’s all good. Plus: the first month is free!

Lily’s Market, Weton.

=======================================================

With hate incidents rising in Connecticut, Stacey Sobel’s appearance yesterday at the Westport Rotary Club was timely.

Sobel — the state’s regional director of the Anti-Defamation League noted that while violence has been minimal here, white supremacists have increased their physical and online presence.

She commended Connecticut legislators and media for their vigilance in exposing and combating hate speech. “We are focused on preserving democracy,” said Sobel about the ADL. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

Stacey Sobel holds up a “New England Nationalist Social Club” flyer at the Westport Rotary Club’s meeting, at Greens Farms Church. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

=======================================================

Yesterday’s “06880” highlighted the volunteer efforts in Ukraine of Westporters Brian Mayer and Ken Bernhard.

They’re hard-working. They’re inspiring.

And on August 15 (7 p.m.), they’re at the Westport Library.

They’ll discuss UkraineAidInternational.org, the not-for-profit Brian co-founded, as well as the triumphs and difficulties of the Ukrainian people as they fight the Russian invasion. Click here for more information, including in-person and Zoom registration.

(From left): Ken Bernhard, and Jeff, Nancy and Brian Mayer, unloading supplies for Ukraine.

======================================================

Elizabeth Petrie-Devoll is the August artist exhibitor at the Westport Book Shop.

Eleven works will be on display this month. Elizabeth creates new art from old object, enlivening history and questioning the border between the past and present.

She says, “In a disposable age I reconfigure, repurpose and compose well-worn and often utilitarian relics.

All work is available for purchase. To see more of her work, click here.

Elizabeth Devoll, at the Westport Book Shop.

======================================================

Actor Pat Carroll died Saturday. She was 95 years old.

She was well known to Westport Country Playhouse theatergoers. Her 4 stage appearances spanned 4 decades: “Once Upon a Mattress” (1961), “Something’s Afoot” (1975), “Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein” (1982) and “Nunsense II” (1993).

In 1995, she directed the Playhouse production of “The Supporting Cast.”

Longtime WCP PR manager Patricia Blaufuss calls Carroll’s “Nunsense” performance “a master class in comic timing and delivery. She made the show fresh, vibrant, and a sellout. She was a remarkable stage presence and a memorable woman in entertainment history.”

Click here for a full obituary. Click here for an in-depth video interview.

Pat Carroll in “Gertrude Stein.” (Photo/Gerry Goodstein)

==================================================

Admit it: Secretly, you’d love to do improv.

This fall, the Westport Community Theatre will once again offer a master class in the art. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced.

Second City-trained actress Heather Delude will teach both short- and long-form scenic improvisation, along with musical improv. This is not her first WCT rodeo; she’s instructed there many times before.

The class meets Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information and registration, email WCTJuniors@gmail.com, or call Cindy Hartog at 203-858-6993.

Heather Delude

===================================================

Problems with the Westport Library air conditioning yesterday were nothing to crow about.

But this guy beat the heat, with a special spot outside the café, where manager Heli Stagg captured the image, for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Heli Stagg)

=======================================================

And finally … were there other crows at the Library too?

We’re not sure. We were not …

Ken Bernhard: Report From Ukraine

Ken Bernhard has a very impressive resume, as an elected official and volunteer. 

He spent 8 years representing Westport in Connecticut’s General Assembly, rising to assistant minority leader. He was our 3rd selectman from 1987 to ’89, then served on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Ken Bernhard

The longtime Westporter has been a board member of the Westport Library, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Norwalk Human Services Council, Earthplace, Westport Historical Society, Levitt Pavilion, Aspetuck Land Trust, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, and Connecticut League of Conservation Voters,

Further afield, he has worked with Syrian refugees. His latest project is in Ukraine. Ken writes:

I just returned from Poland/Ukraine. I helped deliver medical supplies, including (tourniquets, compression bandages, catheters, bandages and more.

All was donated locally, to Westport EMS, Colonial and Achorn’s Drug Stores, Walgreens, CVS, and Norwalk Hospital.

The equipment was requested by Westporter Brian Mayer, who has been in country for 3 months helping with the crisis. His parents, Jeff and Nancy, joined me with duffle bags of their own list of requested supplies.

(From left): Ken Bernhard, and Jeff, Nancy and Brian Meyer, unloading supplies.

Brian is a remarkable young man (34), who helps, works and coordinates efforts  in Ukraine each day until 3 p.m. Then, with the 6-hour time difference, he goes online to work at his US office for hours.

He is connected with a  group of fascinating young volunteers (in their 20s) from all parts of the world. They drive supplies from Kviv to the troops on the front lines (round trip takes 40+ hours).

After working all day, these volunteers stopped for a beer. One has been in Poland/Ukraine since the first week of the war. He plans to stay a year. Another drove 18,000 miles in June, taking wounded soldiers to Germany for medial care.

Their stories of determination and courage of providing supplies and equipment, where the government and not-for-profits are overwhelmed, leave me in awe.

For 5 days we met dozens of other volunteers who have come to Ukraine because they felt the need to do something to help. The internet and chats groups are remarkably effective. Strangers connect, meet, organize and mobilize in efforts to bring food and medical supplies where they are needed.

This young volunteer has driven several times to the border towns, delivering supplies. She saw Russian drones overhead, and sped up to hide. She has helped wounded people after missile strikes. She is 25, speaks 5 languages (including Russian), and feels she has found her mission.

It was a true honor working with each and every one of them. The crisis is so much more palpable and critical when seen first hand.

I would be remiss if I didn’t pass along a request.

Mykolaiv (population of 200,000) is a key shipbuilding city in the south. Its infrastructure, including water purification systems, was destroyed by Russian missiles. Most drinking water is contaminated. There is a need to construct new systems.

The group that Brian works with has located a supplier who will deliver and construct small purification systems, each capable of providing enough daily potable water for 4000 people.

The first system was installed at the local firehouse a few weeks ago. Water is piped from a tributary off the Black Sea, and exits at a pipe in the firehouse where it can be accessed 24/7. Each system costs $6,000.

Jeff, Nancy and I can vouch for the dedication and trustworthiness of this hard-working international team of volunteers. For more information, click here. for Brian’s blog.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made to Brian’s newly created not-for-profit, Ukraine Aid International.

The need is urgent. Our help is impactful, and greatly appreciated by the people of Ukraine. Thank you in advance.

Lines of cars leaving Ukraine for Poland. (All photos courtesy of Ken Bernhard)

Roundup: Affordable Housing, Gilbertie’s, I-95 Noise …

=======================================================

Last night’s meeting on a 5-year plan for affordable housing — co-sponsored by the Democratic, Republican, Save Westport Now and Coalition for Westport political parties — drew some interesting comments.

Among them: a proposal to install metered parking downtown. The proceeds — estimated to be $1 million or so annually — could be used to create a substantial affordable housing fund.

With Westport’s credit rating, the town could borrow $20 million.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin at last night’s Town Hall meeting on affordable housing. (Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

=======================================================

A couple of months ago, “06880” gave a shout-out to Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center. This year, Westport’s 2nd-oldest family business celebrates its 100th anniversary.*

At the time, they were beginning to plan a huge celebration. Now they’re ready to announce details.

The free bash is set for June 4, from noon to 5 p.m. at the garden center on Sylvan Lane South.

The very popular Mystic Bowie’s Talking Dreads will headline the bash. Reggae artists Kale Wale will warm up the crowd.

There’s a petting zoo for kids, and artisans and craft vendors for older folks.

Also on tap: a town-wide scavenger hunt too, with prizes. It will focus on the town’s most historic business, ending (of course) at Gilbertie’s.

Plus 3 food trucks, an ice cream truck and beer vendors.

Antonio Gilbertie — who arrived in Saugatuck in 1919 from Italy, and started out selling flowers from a Sylvan greenhouse — probably listened to opera, not reggae. But he’ll probably be looking down from above, with a proud smile.

*Who’s #1? Gault — by a long shot. The energy company was founded in 1863 — nearly 60 years before Gilberties!

=======================================================

“06880” reader Jim McKay* wants to raise a ruckus.

His subject: noise.

Jim writes: “In 1958, I-95 sliced through Saugatuck, and other areas of Westport.

“A lot has changed since then. There’s more people, more traffic, more trucks. And more noise.

“The Connecticut Department of Transportation has a number of redesign plans for sections of 95. They include Greenwich, and Westport/Norwalk.

“A few days ago, under pressure from Greenwich town leaders and citizens, Governor Lamont asked CT DOT to revisit the Greenwich project and include possible noise mitigation plans.

“Now is the time for our Westport town leaders and citizens to demand equal revisions to the existing plans, to make sure it include noise mitigation.

“Noise has gotten worse. It will continue to do so. We have a unique opportunity to include noise mitigation before the project goes forward. It must be an incremental cost now — not a massive capital project 20 years in the future.”

*Not the sportscaster. He died in 2008.

Traffic — and noise — have increased since I-95 (then called the Connecticut Turnpike) neared completion in 1957,

=======================================================

Staples Players’ production of “The Descendants” drew raves. Audiences old and (particularly) young delighted in a never-bef0re-seen production of Disney’s tale.

It’s a tradition for the high school troupe to raise awareness of important causes — and funds — at their shows. This year was especially important.

Costumed actors were on hand as audiences left the theater. It turned into a great photo opportunity for children, and their new high school heroes.

Their parents gave generously. Over 2 weekends, Players collected $8,400 for Save the Children’s Ukraine relief efforts.

Quinn Mulvey (Mal), and a new friend. (Photo/Kerry Long)

=====================================================

On Saturday, a Westporter was out for a run. A few yards over the Fairfield line, where Old Road becomes Wakeman Lane, he spotted a car balanced on a stone wall, halfway into the woods.

That was bad enough. But the kicker is the bumper sticker.

It reads: “Please Be Patient. Student Driver.”

=======================================================

There are matching grants. And then there are amazing matching grants.

Two anonymous donors have told Westport Country Playhouse they’ll match every dollar raised — up to $150,000 (!) — between now and June 30.

That’s great news, as the historic theater enters its 91st season. They’ve got an ambitious set of plays planned, and will leverage the funds for greatest artistic and educational impact.

Tax deductible contributions can be made online, by mail (Development Department, 25 Powers Court, Westport CT 06880), or by texting DONATE to 475-453-3553. To learn more about the perks of donating at various levels, click here. For more on this matching drive, click here.

A historic theater has a historic opportunity to raise funds. (Photo/Robert Benson)

=======================================================

There are runners. And then there are amazing runners.

Monday’s New York Times included a story on Oz Pearlman. He’d just run 19 loops of Central Park — 116 miles — in a single day.

Because “06880”‘s tagline is “Where Westport meets the world,” there is (of course) a local connection.

The main photo showed Oz with a group of runners. Just to his right — wearing a blue-and-yellow hat, to match Oz’s Ukrainian-color outfit — was Alex Freedman.

Alex Freedman (blue and yellow cap) next to Oz Pearlman. (Photo/Hilary Swift for the New York Times)

Freedman — the 1996 Staples High School salutatorian — is now back in town, and running with the local Joggers Club. He is also a founding member of the Central Park Running Club. Both are led by another Westporter, Dave Menoni.

Freedman runs with a third group, the Henwood Hounds. That’s where he met Oz. Freedman joined in for “a small part” of Oz’s Central Park (and record-breaking) journey. (It was also a fundraiser for Save the Children’s Ukrainian relief. Oz busted well past his goal of $100,000.)

When he’s not outside, Freedman is the director of Advantage Testing of Westport,

Notice I resisted the impulse to say he “runs” the highly regarded educational counseling and private tutoring organization.

=======================================================

Savvy + Grace’s new sign has brought color to that stretch of Main Street, and smiles to passersby.

Most probably don’t know that it’s the work of a noted artist.

Jana Ireijo is famous for her “vanishing murals.” Created with charcoal from wildfires, they are meant to disappear — just as the coral reefs, manta rays and other living things she portrays are, unfortunately, dying out.

Ireijo — a member of the Artists Collective of Westport — has created vanishing murals here. She drew a koala bear opposite Design Within Reach, and a sperm whale on a Winslow Park fallen tree trunk.

She’s worked far from Westport too — in Santa Fe and Maui, among other places.

The peonies on Jana’s Savvy + Grace sign is not meant to disappear. It’s just a colorful addition to a bright downtown spot.

PS: Savvy + Grace offers great custom and pre-made Easter baskets. Click here to see.

=======================================================

Among his many civic efforts — all of them volunteer, pro bono — attorney Ken Bernhard is a state Department of Agriculture animal (victim’s) advocate. He appears in court proceedings involving animal cruelty cases.

At yesterday’s Westport Rotary Club meeting, he talked about his work. He connected animal abuse with spousal abuse and other crimes.

Bernhard noted:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

“When humans act with cruelty, we characterize them as ‘animals.’ Yet the only animal that displays cruelty is humanity.

“Animals are the real victims on this earth. They didn’t declare war, they don’t have weapons, and they don’t want to destroy humans or impose religion. Their only crime is they exist.”

Ken Bernhard, at yesterday’s Westport Rotary Club meeting.

=======================================================

The Fresh Market ospreys get most of Westport’s love.

But they’re not the only ones in town.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is a two-fer. Here’s one of the Longshore ospreys:

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

And a pair at Burying Hill:

(Photo/Alan Phillips)

======================================================

And finally … all his life, Julian Lennon refused to sing “Imagine.”

The only time he could consider singing his father’s signature song, he said, would be “the end of the world.”

The war in Ukraine is not that (yet). But it spurred John Lennon’s 59-year-old son to reconsider.

It is “an unimaginable tragedy,” he said. “As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could.”

He performed at a #StandUpForUkraine funddraiser in Prague on Saturday. The event raised $10 billion in pledges for Ukrainian refugees.

Imagine!

 

 

 

Ken Bernhard Leaves State Senate Race

Ken Bernhard has ended his campaign for State Senate, from the 26th District.

The attorney — active in many civic causes, at the local and international levels — is a former Republican State Representative. He switched his party affiliation several years ago. He was running as a Democratic to succeed retiring Senator Will Haskell.

Bernhard says:

“It appears that my past affiliation with the Republican party is viewed by many in the DTC as an insurmountable obstacle to securing the Democratic nomination in May. I do not wish to undermine the strength and unity of our party by engaging in a contentious primary challenge.

Ken Bernhard

“It is my sincere hope that my campaign has brought focus and attention to some of the important issues facing Connecticut, and that it generated productive discussions on how best to deal with them.

“As I return to my active law practice and continue to serve the public in my work with non-profit humanitarian organizations, I want to express my gratitude to my many friends and supporters — on both sides of the aisle — for their confidence, encouragement, and generous campaign contributions.

“I wish Ceci Maher the best of luck in her campaign and urge all voters in the 26th District to support her on November 8.”

Maher, a Wilton resident long active in many Westport-based organizations, is the lone Democrat still running. Westporter Michael Gordon — a former Board of Education chair — entered the race, but left due to time constraints with his full-time job and family.

For Westporter, Ukrainian War Is Personal

Many Americans became aware of Ukraine only recently. We’d heard the name for years — usually as “the Ukraine” —  but knew little about its remarkable history, culture or people.

We’re learning quickly. Just as Ken Bernhard did, a few years ago.

A former state legislator (now running again), and a volunteer working hands-on with a long list of local and international organizations, his day job is attorney.

Ken Bernhard

In 2005 he was invited to join the Center for International Legal Studies. One of the non-profit’s goals is to spread understanding of legal principles around the globe.

After a week-long course at its Salzburg, Austria headquarters, Bernhard headed off every year to a new country. Latvia, India, Mongolia — wherever he was, he explored the land, taught, and learned.

Three years ago, Bernhard traveled to Ukraine. After a 12-hour train ride from Kyiv (the country is nearly as large as Texas), he was warmly welcomed in Berdyansk, on the Sea of Azov, a northern extension of the Black Sea.

He knew little about Ukraine before he went. But he was captivated by the museums and architecture of Kyiv, and the friendliness of the people he met everywhere.

His Berdyansk University law students were “terrific,” Bernhard says. “They were very engaged. They had a real desire to become effective advocates for the rule of law.”

Berdyansk University

They acknowledged their nation’s “endemic corruption,” he says. And they had “a palpable desire” to change it. Their enthusiasm inspired him.

“We don’t fully appreciate in this country what we have,” Bernhard notes. “Our concerns here are minor, compared to what people endure there, and in other places around the world.”

When he returned to Westport, Bernhard — a Sunrise Rotary Club member — wanted to do more. At his urging, the Sunrise Rotary and noontime Rotary Club joined in raising funds to construct a moot courtroom in Berdyansk. It was another way for students to learn courtroom skills.

Ken Bernhard (left) with students in Berdyansk, Ukraine. They hold a Connecticut state flag.

The news from Ukraine has become very personal. He fears for the professor he worked most closely with, and who became a good friend, along with his former students.

Bernhard — who helped found The Syria Fund, a non-profit providing education, medical supplies, household goods and food to families living in dire, desperate areas — draws parallels between that nation, Ukraine, and other trouble spots around the world.

“People are the same all over. They worry about putting food on the table, getting their car repaired, educating their kids. They are normal, productive people, wanting to live a decent life.

“Suddenly they are uprooted. I can’t imagine having to grab luggage and flee, before a missile strikes. Americans don’t have any sense of what that’s like.”

Ukrainians, Bernhard says, “had worthy aspirations, which they thought were achievable. The last few days have quashed that.”

He waits for the next update from his professor friend in Berdyansk. And he worries about the 40 million people who want to live free and in peace, in a land now under siege.

A bombed-out apartment building in Kyiv. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for The New York Times)

Roundup: Ukraine, Cavalry, Law & Order …

==================================================

Ukraine update:

Ken Bernhard’s friend and colleague from that embattled nation sent him this report yesterday:

Ken, this is all so violent and surreal. At the moment it is hard to get thoughts together.

Kiev is in big danger. But heavy fighting is all over eastern part. A group of enemy armored vehicles is somewhere close to (where we are in) Berdyansk now. Moving in the direction of Mariupol to block it from 2 sides. I am personally disappointed  about Western sanctions and their little impact on Putin. They can not even agree on cutting Russia from SWIFT.

Also yesterday, more of Staples High School Class of 1988 graduate Tyler Hicks were published by the New York Times. 

This was the most harrowing. It shows a Russian soldier lying dead, next to a Russian vehicle in Kharkiv, Ukraine:

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

Meanwhile, Staples 1991 graduate Lynsey Addario took this photo, showing destruction at an apartment building after Russian bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine:

(Photo/Lynsey Addario for The New York Times)

(Hat tips: Tommy Greenwald, John Nathan, John Hartwell and Beth Cody)

======================================================

Installation of beams at the Cavalry Road Bridge replacement project, between Crooked Mile and Rebel Roads, will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. this coming Wednesday through Friday (March 2-4).

The contractor will use local roads to access the site to deliver the oversized crane and bridge beams, resulting in additional detours and possible delays in the area, including Red Coat Road and Hermit Lane.

Cavalry Road bridge (Photo courtesy of Weston Today)

======================================================

Fred Cantor doesn’t miss a Westport reference — or a chance to tie loose ends together. The longtime Westport report:

“Near the beginning of Thursday’s return of the flagship franchise, ‘Law & Order,’ a suspect told police his alibi: ‘I was at home in Westport.’”

“Where did that line come from? Possibly the show’s executive producer, Peter Jankowski, who is also president of Dick Wolf Entertainment, and who grew up in Westport. Dick co-wrote the show.

“In the same show Sam Waterston, seen in the recent documentary ‘Gatsby in Connecticut’ — he was filmed inside the South Compo cottage the Fitzgeralds spent the summer in back in 1920 — returned to his role as the Manhattan DA.”

Sam Waterston, Manhattan DA.

======================================================

Westport piano teacher Nadine Cherna has been selected for a Steinway Top Teacher Award. She was cited for “care and commitment.”

Steinway & Sons president Gavin English added, “The young people who develop their craft under your guiding hand will be the artists who fill our future with music.” (Hat tip: Roger Kaufman)

A Steinway piano.

===================================================

Here’s a first for “Westport … Naturally”: mushrooms. Claudia Sherwood Servidio spotted these great ones at the indoor Westport Farmers’ Market:

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

=======================================================

And finally … Sandy Nelson, who had improbable hit records as a drummer, died earlier this month in Las Vegas. He was 83, and had suffered a stroke in 2017. Click here for a full obituary.

Ukrainian Update

Several years ago, Westport attorney, politician, civic volunteer, international humanitarian and Sunrise Rotary Club member Ken Bernhard taught law in the Ukrainian port city of Berdyansk.

He’s stayed in touch with a professor with whom he worked. Yesterday, the educator told Ken:

We are ok for now, thank you. Thank you for being with us, for caring for us.

We fled Berdyansk to a village 20 miles away, for the night. For the kids’ safety primarily.

Berdyansk military airport and radio station were attacked at 5 a.m. I heard several missile explosions, and that was stressful enough. The explosion wave took off the gates at my parents’ shop.

And all the news during the day. It’s just awful.

I’m afraid this monster president has only turned the first page of his evil plan today.

Stay with us. This makes us stronger.

This New York Times photograph by Staples High School graduate Tyler Hicks, shows a large rocket that landed in the middle of a Kharkiv street, but failed to detonate. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

Ken Bernhard Seeks Return To Hartford — This Time, As A Democrat

Ken Bernhard spent 8 years representing Westport in Connecticut’s General Assembly. He rose to assistant minority leader.

Now Bernhard — who was was also 3rd selectman from 1987 to ’89, then served on the Zoning Board of Appeals — wants to return to Hartford.

He’s running for Will Haskell’s 26th District State Senate seat. The legislator is heading to law school, not running for a 3rd term.

And Bernhard — who spent his entire political life as a Republican — is doing it as a Democrat.

Ken Bernhard (Photo/Dave Matlow)

The longtime Westporter and civic volunteer — he’s been a board member of the Westport Library, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Norwalk Human Services Council, Earthplace, Westport Historical Society, Levitt Pavilion, Aspetuck Land Trust, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, and Connecticut League of Conservation Voters — told “06880”:

I was disappointed to learn that Will Haskell is planning to vacate his senate seat, but I admire him for his decision to attend law school and to focus on his future.

Having received the news about Will’s decision, I felt a sense of responsibility to ensure that the 26th District will continue to be well represented, and that it will remain a part of the Democratic Party caucus. I would consider it a privilege to represent our community in Hartford once again, this time as a Democratic state senator.

As an experienced legislator, I understand the political process and how it works in Hartford. If elected, I would be ready to represent the district effectively on day one. Additionally, I am available to devote my full time and attention to this important work.

When I served as Westport’s State Representative in the role of assistant minority leader, I was recognized as a moderate-to-liberal legislator who advocated for a woman’s right to choose, promoted the protection of the environment, voted for sensible gun control legislation, and supported voting rights. My record in public and private life embodies those values and I am eager to take on a more active role in advancing them in Hartford and around the nation.

Our republic is under assault. Every day we see this happening in Washington, DC and throughout the United States. We cannot allow it to happen here in Connecticut.

There is much work to be done at the state capitol to address the ongoing threat and ravages of climate change, to ensure that the state’s fiscal house is in order, to improve our transportation infrastructure, to guard against racial injustice, and to enhance community “safety nets.” I want to make certain that the interests of our Fairfield County communities are not overlooked in Hartford.

I believe my record will attract the support of moderate and conservative-leaning Democrats, like-minded Republicans and unaffiliated voters, all of whom want and deserve a state senator who will exercise good judgment, common sense and work hard to get things done. That’s why I am announcing my candidacy for State Senator from the 26th District.

I look forward to meeting with the voters and to have a dialogue about Connecticut’s future. In a couple of weeks, I will be registering my campaign with the State and will shortly create a web page where we can engage. Thank you in advance.

In addition to his Westport activities, Bernhard helped found the Syria Fund, which provides support and education to refugees in Jordan. He’s deeply involved with the Tree of Life Orphanage in Haiti, which educates and feeds over 200 children, while creating jobs for adults.

He organizes shoe collection drives for Soles4Souls, shipping thousands of shoes to children around the world. He and his wife Alice have also raised 7 guide dogs.

Other potential candidates in the 26th district — which has been newly redrawn, eliminating Bethel but adding a bit of Stamford — are considering runs too.

Through Westport’s 2 Rotary Clubs, Ken Bernhard — who once taught law in Ukraine — has been involved in efforts to reform legal education there. In 2018, he posed (left) with law students and a professor, and the Connecticut state flag.

Roundup: Comet: Mystic Bowie; Tree Of Life; PBA $; More


Mark Yurkiw reports:

You’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view a bright comet with tail at a reasonable hour: 80 minutes after sunset, until July 19. (If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, that is.)

Comet Neowise is trucking through the solar system. It will come within 60 million miles of Earth in a week. These next few days are the best chance to spot her.

About an hour after sunset, keep your gaze on the northeast horizon (the further away from bright lights, the better).

If you miss it, Neowise will be visible again in a mere 6,800 years. For more details, click here.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce/Westport Library’s wildly successful Supper & Soul drive-in tailgate concert series continues. Up next: Caribbean/reggae band Mystic Bowie – Talking Dreads.

Because the format is so popular — as is the group is — two concerts are scheduled. They’re Friday and Saturday, August 7 and 8 (7 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot).

As with the Tom Petty Project show earlier this month, cars are set up in every other row. Tailgating begins at 5:30 p.m., using the space in front of each car.

Attendees are encouraged to order takeout from Chamber member restaurants, and bring it to to the show. No food or drink is sold on site.

Tickets are $125 per car (maximum: 5 people per vehicle). They go on sale Monday (July 20, 10 a.m.). Just click here. But note: The Tom Petty Project show sold out in 5 minutes!

Mystic Bowie


Among his many other volunteer efforts, longtime Westporter Ken Bernhard supports the Tree of Life.

The Haiti-based non-profit feeds, clothes, schools and supports orphans; provides a free education and lunch for 200 children; offers micro-financing for single mothers, and sponsors a village soccer tournament.

Founder Roger Garrison is a former classmate of Ken’s. He has spoken several times to Westport’s 2 Rotary Clubs, which support his efforts.

As Roger prepares to retire, the Tree of Life seeks a new president. Ken is casting a wide net — including “06880” readers. If you are interested in that leadership position — or know someone who might be — email kbernhar@optonline.net.


The Westport Police Benevolent Association — with help from principal donors Dennis and Joan Poster — has awarded 13 scholarships, worth $2,500 each.

Though the pandemic knocked out the awards ceremony — and the organization’s major fundraising golf tournament — the PBA is proud to honor Staples High School’s Alyssa Chariott and Julien Zeman, along with these officers’ children: Dominic Arciola, Brandon Benson, Mathieu Colbert, Anthony Falbo Jr., Renee Kelley, Ann Restieri, Emma Simpson, Ella Simpson, Alex Smith, Nicole Thompson and Chris Wolf.


And finally … on this date in 2004 Martha Stewart was sentenced to 5 months in prison and 2 years of supervised release for conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators.