Tag Archives: Marigny

Roundup: Aloha, Bonjour …

A much-needed mid-winter touch of Hawaii came to the Westport Library Sunday night.

The Staples High School Orphenians put on an aloha-themed cabaret, as part of their fundraising efforts for their summer trip to the Aloha State.

Longtime Staples music aficionado — and former Fairfield music teacher — Ellen Kuroghlian was there. She writes:

“The benefit was outstanding. The singers were better than I have ever heard at Staples. The program included individual singers, with Broadway star Kelli O’Hara singing the last number — “You’ll Never Walk Alone” — with all Orphenians.

“David Pogue was the emcee. He worked on Broadway for 10 years, and is an expert at the piano, so he used it to emphasize a story or point. What a wonderfully dedicated father of a current Staples student, and 2 college age ones. And what wonderful gifts from these 2 pros.

“Choral director Luke Rosenberg sang too. He is a terrific performer. ‘Excellent modeling,’ as we educators say.

“Staples culinary instructor Chef Cecily Gans deserves ‘extra credit’ for the wonderful and bounteous ‘aloha-themed bites’ (which were large ones). Aliso Milwe Grace was there too, helping out.

“The performance, and the whole evening, was totally special.”

If you missed it — or just want to add something to the Orphs’ fund — click here.

Two of the many performers. James Dobin-Smith sang “My Way,” while Ethan Walmark played “Piano Man.”


Yesterday’ Roundup item about the regular weekend pop-up clean-up projects around town led several readers to ask: When is the next one?

It’s Saturday, February 5, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot (11 a.m.). Bring gloves and trash bags, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty in.

There will be more than enough garbage to go around!

Questions? Email acolabellartm4@gmail.com

This past weekend’s trash pick-up on Greens Farms Road. Next up on February 5: the imperial Avenue parking lot.


Earlier this month the mayor of Marigny — Westport’s French sister city — announced they’d be joining us, in offering aid to Lyman, Ukraine.

Marigny has not forgotten the help our town provided in the years following World War II.

Want proof? Check out the banner on the top of the region’s daily newspaper:


Today’s Kings Highway Elementary School students have no clue about the 1980s. Some of their parents may be too young to remember it too.

But the KHS PTA hosts a “totally tubular ’80s-themed prom fundraiser” on Saturday, February 4 (7 to 10 p.m., Norwalk Inn). All KHS parents – past, present and future are invited. So is everyone else in town, no matter what you though about (or did during) that decade.

It’s a fundraiser for the school’s Outdoor Learning Center. Money is needed for raised planter beds, special bat-watching cameras, a greenhouse and more.

There will be dancing to ’80s tunes, and auction items from places like Modern Dermatology, Splatterbox, and Wakeman Town Farm, plus field passes to a Mets game, and a chance to have kids driven to school in a police cruiser.

While satin prom dresses, shoulder pads and “Miami Vice”-inspired pastel suits are encouraged. Tickets include a full open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, and charcuterie, crudité and pasta stations. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Artists’ rendering of Kings Highway Outdoor Learning Center.


For 60 years, Weston Emergency Medical Service has provided free care to town residents — and mutual aid to Westport, Wilton, Fairfield, Redding, Norwalk, Easton and Georgetown.

On March 25 (6:30 p.m., Rolling Hills Country Club, Wilton), the 100%-volunteer organization celebrates those 6 decades in a very Weston way.

Tony Award-winning director/longtime TV and movie star/proud Weston resident James Naughton will emcee.

Dan Micciche — music director of “Wicked” — will perform, along with other Broadway stars.

Weston EMS hopes to raise $100,000 to continue their mission of neighbors helping neighbors with the highest level of emergency care services and state-of- the-art equipment — all free.

An online raffle begins March 10. Tickets will also be available at the gala, plus silent and live auctions.

To become a sponsor, advertise in the program, or donate a product or service to the raffle or auctions, email abelport@westonems.com

Tickets are on sale now.  To purchase tickets, click here and scroll down. Questions? Email gala@westonems.com. 


Sarah Jane Cion returns to Jazz at the Post this Thursday (January 26, shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7).

First place winner of the 17th annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition, and a thoughtful composer, her songs “Cat in the Hat” and “Golden Song” were featured respectively in “The Mule” and “Thor: The Dark World.”

Joining Sarah Jane are bassist Peter Brendler, drummer Michael Camacho and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

The cover charge is $15. Reservations are strongly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Sarah Jane Cion


It took a while for last year’s jetty project to be completed at Burying Hill Beach.

Now — with crowds gone — it’s a perfect home for gulls.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from one of the few folks at Westport’s “other” beach: Eric Bosch.

(Photo/Eric Bosch)


And finally … if you’re ready for the ’80s (as in, the Kings Highway Elementary School fundraiser — story above), then you must get up and dance to this:

(“06880” hasn’t been around since the 1980s. But we’ve covered Westport — and have not missed a day — since 2009. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog.)

Roundup: Marigny, Downtown, Jazz …

Westport’s longtime sister city of Marigny-le-Lozon, France, has officially joined us in support of our new sister city: Lyman, Ukraine.

In his annual January address to the town, Marigny mayor Fabrice Lemazurier said that — with the full support of their Town Council — they will direct aid to Lyman children impacted physically and emotionally by the war.

The project will involve Marigny students, and their parents.

Our connection with Marigny grew out of World War II. Two Westporters who served in the Normandy town encouraged residents here to send food, clothes, Christmas gifts and more.

Marigny never forgot Westport. Now, our 2 towns join together to aid a third.


Westport’s downtown revitalization project is one step closer to reality.

Yesterday morning, the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee approved the design concept. Next up: cost estimates, and advisory and funding body approvals.

Click here for more information about the plan.

This screenshot from the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee shows the Parker Harding lot, and its proximity to the Saugatuck River.


Want to raise your tech skills? Or just get some basic ones?

The Westport Library’s “Anyone Can Use…” classes offer free in-person instruction. The next 2:

  • February 1: Foundation Center Professional Database (registration required; click here)
  • February 15: Social Media for Marketing (registration required; click here).

Both classes are 11 a.m. to noon.

For more tech instruction, click here for the LinkedIn Learning database. It  offers over 16,000 professionally produced courses in 7 languages — everything from tip-of-the-spear technologies to basic computer literacy and photography.

Questions? Email ref@westportlibrary.org.

Technology is not just for kids!


Staples High School alumni do some very cool and creative work.

On January 31 (6:30 p.m., Zoom), they’ll share their journeys.

It’s part of the career exploration “Spark Your Future” series, sponsored by the Staples Counseling Department and Westport Library.

But anyone with an internet connection is invited to watch.

Panelists nclude:

  • Max Samuels (Staples Class of 2011): stage, screen and voice actor based in New York.
  • Jacqueline Devine (Staples ’13): co-owner of The Soze Agency, specializing in social impact campaigns.
  • Noah Johnson (SHS ’14): visual designer at Fjord, an innovation consultancy.
  • Trevor Williams (SHS ’18): animation supervisor at Steamroller Studios.

They’ll discuss their journeys, including the ups, downs and detours that brought them where they are today. Click here to register for the webinar.

In Staples Players, Max Samuels (with Eva Hendricks) appeared in “Brighton Beach.” (Photo by Kerry Long)


Speaking of Staples:

The Music Department’s always popular “Jazz and Java” concert is set for this Thursday (January 26, 7 p.m., cafeteria).

Five high school and Bedford Middle School groups are featured, including the award winning combos and Staples Jazz Ensemble.

It’s free — and light refreshments will be served.

Last year’s jazz concert, in the Staples cafeteria.


Club 203 — the area’s very cool social club for adults with disabilities — celebrates Valentine’s Day early.

A celebration dance is set for February 2 (7 to 8:30 p.m., Westport Country Playhouse).

The club’s own DJ Joe returns. Planet Pizza provides heart-shaped pies. And everyone is invited to “dress for the dance.”

For more information and to RSVP, click here.


The Westport transfer station has installed a new configuration, including scales on the right side for trucks.

To learn more about Westport’s unofficial community center — the place where everyone sees everyone else — click here.

Westport transfer station. (Photo/Seth Schachter)


Today is National Granola Bar Day. (I know: Who knew?)

To celebrate, The Granola Bar offers a free almond butter chocolate chunk bar with any purchase of $10 or more (while supplies last).

Stop by, or click here to order online for pickup or delivery.


TAP Strength sponsors a “deeply restorative and healing night of yoga and singing bowls” on February 1 (6 p.m., 180 Post Road East).

The evening combines stretching, sound and Reiki healing, and essential oil aroma therapy.

Call 203-292-9353,  or email nancy@tapstrength.com for more information.



If you’re an Alan Fiore fan — and who isn’t? — click here for the latest release from the Staples High School Class of 2021 grad. He’s now at the Berklee College of Music.

Alan Fiore


Westport resident Lois Ann Crawford died Wednesday at Norwalk Hospital. She was 90.

Born in Cross Creek Township, Ohio in 1932, she graduated from The Ohio State University. Lois taught school in Downey, California; Mather Air Force Base, Sacramento; Greensburg, Indiana and Englewood, Ohio.

She lived in California, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut, following her husband’s career moves. She married Otis L. Crawford in Nevada, while he was in the US Air Force.

Lois was an active member of the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston, where she was an offering steward for many years. She was an active tennis player, golfer and bridge player. Lois also ran the Komen golf charity event for the 9-hole women’s golf group at Longshore.

Survivors in addition to her husband include her daughters Jean Crawford and Laura Provencal, 4 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter. She was pre deceased by her son Gregory Crawford.

Services will be private. Click here to leave online condolences.

Lois Crawford


Dick Lowenstein spotted these 2 dozen-plus birds — “most likely carrion-eating black vultures,” he says — in a tree in his Greens Farms back yard. They make an intriguing “Westport … Naturally” photo.

Small birds are not bothered, though. They continued to feast at his bird feeder.

(Photo/Dick Lowenstein)


And finally … Westport offers thanks to Marigny. Our sister city in France has officially joined our efforts to help another sister city: Lyman, Ukraine.

So, in the spirit of siblings, we offer:

(We hope you enjoy our daily Roundup. It takes a lot of work! Please click here to support this blog. Thank you!)

Westport Does It: $252,800 For Lyman!

It took just 18 days for Westport to reach an audacious goal — and help change thousands of lives.

On Friday, $6,525 poured into a fund established to help Lyman, Ukraine. That pushed the total raised since December 19 to $252,800. On that date less than 3 weeks ago, “06880” announced a target of $250,000 to help our new sister city.

Lyman — a town in the Donbas region — suffered mightily during 5 months of Russian occupation. Homes, apartments and schools were destroyed. Police and fire stations were stripped of vehicles and equipment. Even a new playground was demolished.

Without housing, heat or electricity, Lyman residents looked to a joyless Christmas, and a grim winter.

This was once a family’s home in Lyman.

Donations paid immediate dividends. Brian and Marshall Mayer — Westporters who left secure jobs to found Ukraine Aid International — arranged for the surprise delivery of 400 homemade meals on Christmas day. They brought 491 gifts too — one for every child still left in the war-torn town.

Brian and Marshall are in Ukraine right now. They’re sourcing building materials and vehicles, to be delivered soon. Details will be announced later, due to security concerns.

When “06880” readers hear what their dollars have bought — and what UAI and their partners on the ground, the Alex21 group — have done to get it to Lyman, they’ll be awed.

Distributing holiday meals in Lyman.

And this is just the start.

The Westport-Lyman sister city partnership will continue, just as its inspiration — Westport and Marigny, France — has, for over 75 years.

In the years after World War II, our town helped the French village recover. They are joining us in our work with Lyman. Next week, the Marigny mayor announces their own aid effort.

Staff and students at Staples High School, and Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools, have expressed interest in helping Lyman’s youngsters — much as Westport did with Marigny, decades ago.

The shape of that help will be determined soon. But harnessing the enthusiasm of Westport students is another important element of our sister city relationship.

New town-wide initiatives are in the works too.

The drive to $250,000 was a community-wide effort. 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker is solidly behind the effort, and has worked behind the scenes to involve other town officials and departments.

On a Zoom call with Lyman’s mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov, she held up a sign that said, “We Stand With Ukraine.” Her counterpart in Ukraine was moved to tears.

Westport, Ukraine and aid organization participants in an early Zoom call.

Westport — plus former Westporters, and friends and relatives beyond our town — contributed that $252,800 almost entirely as individuals. There were no foundation grants, and only a couple from civic groups.

Of course, organizations will have their chance to help in the coming months.

“06880” is proud to have helped kick-start our drive to raise over $250,000 for Lyman. A working group including Mark Yurkiw, Steve Taranko, Polly Newman, Katya Wauchope, Kathleen Wauchope, Clyde Wauchope and Tom Kretsch joined with Brian and Marshall Mayer, the Alex 21 group’s Liz Olegov and Richard von Groeling, Tooker and other town officials to fast-track the fundraising, then get the goods where they needed to go.

Like all of Westport, that group — and “06880” — is in this for the long, long haul.

Our town will continue to assist our friends in Ukraine, always and in all ways.

We’ve only just begun.

Donations to Lyman are still welcome. Just click here for the credit card “Donate” button. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” You can also scroll down on that page for other donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo.) Or you can donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

Marigny Painting: The Barn, And The Back Story

As part of Westport’s fundraising for Lyman — our new sister city in Ukraine — “06880” auctioned off a painting of Marigny-le-Louzon, France.

It was donated by our friends in Marigny, Westport’s other sister city. The relationship extends more than 75 years. We helped the Normandy town rebuild after World War II. Now, together, we are helping another ravaged place, this one in Ukraine.

Wendy Van Wie won the painting, with a bid of $1,500. But there’s more to this story than just a Westport resident helping an important relief effort.

Wendy and her husband Mark Yurkiw live on Cross Highway. Their home — the Meeker homestead — stood on the route taken by British soldiers in 1777, as they headed to Danbury to burn an arsenal. (A musket ball lodged in the door provided evidence of the event.)

The home on Cross Highway. (Photo/Amy Dolego)

Wendy and Mark bought the foreclosed property in 2003. After 2 centuries, the barn and 1728 saltbox house — already half a century old when the British marched past — had fallen into disrepair.

The couple rehabilitated their home, barn and cottage. Their attention to detail earned them a 2017 Historic District Commission preservation award.

interior of the barn, after renovation.

Today it’s known as the Schilthuis-Meeker house. Sally Schilthuis was influential in preventing construction of Merritt Parkway Exit 43 in the area, resulting in the current “No Man’s Land” between Exits 42 and 44.

Schilthuis died in 1975. Her obituary noted that her barn served as a meeting place for Westporters planning aid for post-war Marigny.

Cross Highway barn. (Photo/Amy Dolego)

The barn still serves an important relief role. Mark — whose heritage is Ukrainian — has worked tirelessly since the Russian invasion began to provide help for his homeland.

His current project –besides playing a key role with Lyman — is collecting generators, chain saws, sleeping bags, phone power banks, kerosene heaters, rechargeable batteries, blankets, pillows, warm winter clothing and more. It’s sent overseas, when space becomes available in shipping containers.

The gear — all donated by generous Westporters — is stored in that very same barn. (You can still help. Call Mark:  646-873-0050.)

Donations for Ukraine outside Mark Yurkiw and Wendy Van Wie’s barn — with the country’s familiar blue and yellow symbol of resistance.

As part of Wendy and Mark’s historic preservation work, they received a perpetual easement. Their barn is protected from any future demolition.

That’s where Wendy’s new painting will hang. It will keep the story of the Westport/Marigny connection — and the 2 towns’ new relationship with Lyman — alive.

“Long after Mark and I are gone, this will remind and inspire future generations,” Wendy says.

“The painting, and its back story, will become a permanent part of the permanent barn.”

This Marigny scene by Roger Potier will soon hang in Wendy Van Wie’s Cross Highway barn.

Tax-deductible donations can still be made to Westport’s sister city, Lyman, through Ukraine Aid International. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here).

Roundup: Long Lots Preserve, Lyman Video, Marigny Chocolate …

Long Lots Preserve — the perimeter around the the Westport Community Gardens adjacent to the elementary school — is halfway to its 4-phase, 2-year goal of ecologically restoring the once-neglected town property.

Results are spectacular. Invasive plants are being removed; native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses are planted in their place.

Needed next: dead tree trunks, to cover the forest floor.

Decomposing tree trunks promote the growth of bug populations. They in turn supply local and migrating bird populations with an important source of food, especially in the spring when they feed their young.

Long Lots Preserve team director Lou Weinberg asks for donations of anyone with tree trunks they want to get rid of. Any condition is fine. Tree services or individuals can drop off tree truck logs at the site.

For details, email longlotspreserve@gmail.com . You can also click here for the website, or follow on Instagram: @longlotspreserve. (Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

Earlier work at the Long Lots Preserve.


Westport’s drive to raise $250,000 to help our new Ukrainian sister city of Lyman has neared the $200,000 mark. To be exact: $196,200.

That’s a remarkable outpouring of support from Westport residents (and their friends and relatives elsewhere, and former Westporters scattered around the world).

Whether you’ve already contributed, or just thought about it: Take a few minutes to check out this video.

Brian Mayer (the Westporter who co-founded Ukraine Aid International) and Liz Olegov (co-founder of the Alex21 aid group) filmed conditions on the ground in Lyman. It describes better than words ever could the harrowing situation in our sister city, and the need for help.

(Video editing by Clyde and Katya Wauchope)

Meanwhile, our friends in our other sister city — Marigny, France — are ready to join Westport in our efforts to help Lyman.

Next month — in his New Year’s address to the town — Marigny’s mayor will announce our partnership, and ask residents there to pitch in.

Meanwhile, the Christmas Day delivery of 400 fresh holiday meals, and gifts to 491 children — thanks in part to Westporters’ donations, and our partners on the ground, Ukraine Aid International and Alex21 — jogged the memories of some long-time Marigny citizens.

In 1966, 2 Westporters — David Salfati and his wife — were interviewed by Ouest-France News.

They described how in 1947, a Westport chocolate maker sent 400 kilograms of chocolate — about 800 pounds — of chocolate to Marigny. Residents in the Normandy town were still recovering from World War II.

The chocolatier — whose name has been lost to history — chose that amount because there were 400 children living in Marigny.

Right now, 491 youngsters remain in Lyman.

Seventy-five years later, almost the exact number of children need help, in another war-torn nation. Westport and Marigny are proud to work together, as 2 sister cities aiding a third.

To help, click here for a credit card “Donate” button. Click “I want to support”; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” You can also scroll down on that page for other donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo.) Or you can donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

The 1966 news story about Westport’s aid to Marigny — including 400 kg of chocolate.


The last Jazz at the Post show of the year features Kenny Wessel on guitar.

Known for his “adventurous solo voice, unrelenting swing and sensitive accompaniment skills,” and his “rare blend of tradition and fiery innovation,” he’s a Westport favorite.

Wessel has played with saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall since the early 1990s.

Dave Richards joins on bass, with Steve Johns on drums.

There are 2 shows this Thursday (December 29): 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. Dinner service begins at 7. There’s a $15 cover. Reservations are strongly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.


Morton Silverberg died Christmas day, from heart disease. He was 92.

After graduating from MIT in 1953, he worked as an engineer at Remington Rand, RCA, Xerox and Pitney Bowes. He has over 100 patents in his name, ranging from copier technology to “the perfect paper clip.”

When he and his wife Phyllis moved to Westport in 1985, they began “the best years of their lives.” He sailed, played tennis and became an active participant in the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston. He said he “never had so many friends” in his life.

Mort is survived by his daughters, Judy Ross and Lynn McDonald, and  grandchildren Ben and Tyler Ross, and Amy McDonald. His wife Phyllis died last month.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

Mort Silverberg


“Do they know it’s Christmas?”

“Nobody here but us chickens.”

What’s your caption for today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo?

(If you’re wondering: This coop is on Hillspoint Road, just south of I-95.)

(Photo/Matt Murray)


And finally … you knew this was coming, right?

(Don’t be chicken! Please click here to support “06880.” Thank you!)

Roundup: Auction Winner, Rolls-Royce …

Congratulations — we have a winner!

An “06880” reader bid $1,500. She’ll receive an oil painting, painted by an artist in Marigny, Westport’s sister city in France.

Our friends overseas donated it, as part of our fundraiser for our other sister city: Lyman, Ukraine. Together, Westport and Marigny are helping the besieged city recover from Russian occupation.

The need is great, for building supplies, generators and a water filtration system. We set a goal of $250,000. So far we’ve raised over $186,000. Please help us hit that mark!

Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here).

This Marigny scene raised $1,500 for Lyman, Ukraine.


(Photo/Richard Webb)

Yes, this is a Rolls-Royce.

Yes, it’s parked in the fire lane at Stop & Shop.

And yes, those are Hermès gift bags on the front seats, in a color scheme to match the top of the Very Important Vehicle.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image takes us behind Jr’s Deli & Grille, on the Saugatuck River.

Sure, it’s frigid.

Unless you’re a duck.

(Photo/William Whitmal)


And finally … Happy Boxing Day!

(Wondering how to celebrate Boxing Day? Please click here, for a donation to “06880.” Thank you!)


“06880” Plea: Help Our New Sister City In Ukraine — By Christmas!

This could be the most important community-building post “06880” has ever published.

For the comfortable, sometimes contentious town of Westport. And — far more importantly — for the devastated, frozen yet determined town of Lyman, Ukraine.

An important railway juncture in the Donetsk region, Lyman was occupied by Russian troops from May 24 through October 1. When the forces fled, they left behind unfathomable destruction.

Over 150 of the 240 homes were demolished. Three hundred families have no roofs. The entire town lacks electricity, heat and running water. Nearly every school is gone.

One of the many schools completely destroyed in Lyman.

Lyman does not get the publicity of other towns and cities. You have never heard of it.

But Brian Mayer has.

The young Westporter — a 2002 Bedford Middle and 2006 Hopkins School graduate — put his New York tech career on hold this year to help Ukraine. He and his brother Marshall (Staples ’09) founded an organization — Ukraine Aid International — and personally raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for humanitarian help and medical supplies.

He traveled overseas, and teamed up with the on-the-ground group Alex21 for Ukraine, founded by Liz Olegov and Richard von Groeling, to ensure aid got where it was most needed. Liz and Richard traveled several times to Lyman.

UAI invited Liz and Richard to Westport. They met 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, and introduced the idea of a “sister city relationship.” She knew the concept well.

In the years after World War II, Westport helped rebuild the French town of Marigny-le-Lezon. For many years we sent money, supplies, food and Christmas gifts to our Normandy “sister city.”

They never forgot us. Last spring, they named a room in their town hall for a Staples High School French teacher who was a driving force behind the relationship. In the aftermath, they wondered if our 2 towns — Westport and Marigny — might join together now to help rebuild a third, in Ukraine.

Today, we announce a project to do just that.

On Friday, Tooker and I joined a Zoom call with Brian, Marshall, Liz and Richard; 3 members of a Westport group working on this Ukraine “sister city” project, and 2 officials from Lyman (pronounced LEE-mon).

Using Starlink — the only reliable communication service, after a missile strike just hours earlier — Mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov described the urgent needs of his community: Plywood, roofs, and other housing material. Generators. Medication. Starlinks. Tractors. Trash and debris removal equipment.

Ruslan Goriachenko, chief of the Ukrainian national police human rights department, added more needs: police and fire trucks.

Westport, Ukraine and aid organization participants in Friday’s Zoom call.

It was one of the most powerful conversations I’ve ever been part of.

When it was over, the Westporters stayed on the line. Stunned by the needs in Lyman, yet empowered by the opportunity given us, we asked Brian, Liz and Richard to prioritize their needs.

They said: Building and construction materials to fix windows, roofs and entire houses. Wood-burning stoves. Generators. And a large water filtration system.

How much would that cost? $250,000, they said, would cover every home and apartment building in Lyman that needed it.

And, they promised, they could deliver it all within 3 days.

So that’s the challenge, Westport. Let’s raise $250,000 by Christmas Day. That will provide real, immediate,, on-the-ground help — roofs, warmth, water, electricity, communication — for an entire town that has been attacked, occupied, ravaged, and now ignored by the rest of the world. 

It’s not impossible. It’s imperative.

We’ve done it before. We helped Marigny (and they will join us soon in this effort).

Every family, every resident, every organization, school and religious group in town can help. It’s just $10 for every Westport resident.

And it could not be easier to donate to the non-profit organization. Just click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo.) You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

Your donation will be direct. Your impact will be immediate. This is a Westport-generated project — and it’s Westport run, with the support of our 1st Selectwoman, “06880” and Brian Mayer — but its really universal. Please spread this appeal to your friends and relatives everywhere, via links and social media.

Hope survives in Lyman.

It takes a village to help a village. As 1st Selectwoman Tooker says: “I was so honored to meet with these brave Ukrainian leaders. Their courage and love for their country and people is beyond inspiring. This is a wonderful opportunity for Westporters to make a tangible difference.”

This is just the start. We promised the mayor of Lyman that we will be there for them for a long time — just as we were for Marigny.

But we’re starting now. We’re starting quickly. And we’re starting big.

There’s no better time than the holiday season. We have so much, and Lyman has so little. Thanks for clicking here, Westport.

Apartment building in Lyman.

PS: If I didn’t appreciate what we have here, and what they lack there, I sure do now.

During the Zoom call, I sat in my warm, well-lit home office, a hot cup of coffee on my desk. As the mayor told his counterpart here about conditions in Lyman, she listened with sorrow.

Toward the end of the meeting, our 1st Selectwoman held up a sign. “We Stand With Ukraine,” it said.

The reaction was immediate. We hardly needed an interpreter to understand what the Ukrainians said: “Thank you for not forgetting us. You have boosted our morale today!”

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker with her Ukraine sign.

Jen Tooker’s sign lifted 2 men’s spirits.

Now, our $250,000 — raised by Christmas — will do much more. It will give 13,000 men, women and children shelter, warmth and water.

And the knowledge that they have 25,000 new friends, halfway across this fragile globe.

Slava Ukraini! Slava Lyman!

Christmas in Lyman. More scenes of the town are below.





A Gift From Marigny

Last spring, officials in the French town of Marigny gave Westport a great honor.

In a ceremony that included — via Zoom — 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, our sister city across the sea named a room in their Town Hall for Charlotte MacLear.

She was the head of the French department at Staples High School. A graduate of prestigious Sorbonne Université, in the years after World War II she led a campaign for Westport to “adopt” Marigny-le-Lozon, and help its recovery.

The relationship had its roots during the war itself. Right after D-Day, Westporter Bob Loomis — a gun sergeant — was there. It’s just 25 miles from Utah Beach.

A couple of weeks later another Westporter — heavy machine gunner Clay Chalfant — moved through Marigny with his company on their way to Belgium.

Sparked by MacLear a year later, our town sent clothes, money and Christmas gifts.

In return Marigny created the “Westport School Canteen,” and named the town’s largest square “Place Westport.”

“Pharmacie Westport,” in Marigny.

We forgot the relationship. Marigny never did.

But in June 1994 — as part of the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy — town officials invited 3 Westport middle school students and 2 Westport veterans to stay in the homes of residents. They visited “Westport Gift Shop” and “Pharmacie Westport.”

The 2 veterans were, of course,  Loomis and Chalfant.

Marigny: C’est marveilleux!

In the years since, many Westporters forgot again about Marigny. But our sister city never forgot about us.

The relationship was rekindled last May. Now our French friends have given us another gift.

After “Salle Charlotte MacLear” was christened, René Gauthier — who as a child benefited from Westporters’ kindness — and other residents created a book.

The cover of the Marigny book.

Its 43 pages document, in French and English. the 78-year relationship between the towns. A copy has been sent to 1st Selectwoman Tooker.

It describes the history of Marigny, from its first written reference in the 10th century (!), through the 100 Years’ War, French Revolution, Napoleonic Era, and the terrifying days of World War II.

It relates Westport’s history too. Ours is far shorter. But photos of the Minute Man Monument, Town Hall and the Saugatuck River show that the book’s creators definitely did their homework.

The text and archival images capture every highlight of our relationship. A particularly poignant page notes that every Christmas for 17 years, Westporters sent 200 to 300 packages of toys and gifts to Marigny. Every one was inscribed with the name of an individual child.

Many residents kept them for years. Some are now exhibited in the Charlotte MacLear Room.

Westport also helped rebuild Marigny’s Catholic church. The book notes that the project was initiated by a member of Westport’s Unitarian congregation.

There are reports too of Westporters’ visits to the French town in 1994, and the reciprocal trip here afterward.

There are also photos and accounts of the May 8 Charlotte MacLear ceremony.

The book that is so much about the past ends with an idea for the future. What if, it asks in 2 languages, the people of Marigny and Westport come together again — to help build a Ukrainian school?

It is a marvelous idea. “06880” is ready to help. If anyone wants to work on this project — or knows an organization that might take it on — click comments, or email 06880blog@gmail.com.

Eight decades after D-Day, war is still with us.

So, we hope, is our willingness to help.

Roundup: Community Gardens, Jeff Clachko, Cote Manche …

It was a groundbreaking weekend at Westport Community Gardens.


Work began on the Long Lots Preserve — the area surrounding the 100 plots lovingly tended to on Hyde Lane, where a true “community” of gardeners has grown.

However, the property is overrun with invasive plants. They’re being removed now. Soon, the area will be densely planted with native, pollinator-friendly trees, shrubs, wildflowers and wild grass, making it more ecologically sound.

Stakeholders include the Audubon Society, Aspetuck Land Trust, Earthplace and Westport Community Gardens.

Robbie Guimond and Bartlett Tree Service provided in-kind donation, to get the project off the ground.

Taking a break from working at the Westport Community Gardens (from left): Jeff Wieser, Daryl Kowalsky, Louis Weinberg, Joe Wiles..


Many Westporters know Jeff Clachko. He’s very involved in many local activities. And he has a great sense of humor.

So when he had a close encounter of a deer kind — and realized it was captured by his Ring video — he quickly put it online.

Just as quickly, it went viral. As of last night, it had 8 million views.

And when “06880” readers click this TMZ link, there will be many more. Be sure the audio is cranked up high! (Hat tip: Amy Hochhauser)

Closeup of a screenshot: deer (left) and Jeff Clachko (right).


Saturday’s Roundup item on the 2022 Westport PAL scholarship recipients was noticeable for 2 things: They’re a great group of Staples High School students.

And they’re all male.

Several readers wondered about that in the Comments section. I did too.

I asked PAL president Craig Bergamo. He quickly replied: “No girls applied this year. If they had, they would have gotten scholarships too.”


Earlier this month, a ceremony in France honored a long-forgotten (at least here) Westport woman. Charlotte MacLear — a driving force behind our town’s friendship with Marigny, in the 20 years following World War II — were commemorated by officials in the Normandy village. They named a room in their Town Hall in her honor.

Now the event has been noted in a local website, Coté Manche. Click here for the site; then use Google Translate to read.

The new Charlotte MacLear room at Marigny Town Hall.


The Staples rugby team battled the top teams in the nation — along with injuries and the flu — at this weekend’s national tournament in Elkhart, Indiana.

But they finished 7th in the country. And when their bus pulled off I-95 at Exit 18 yesterday afternoon, they enjoyed a police escort back to the high school.

Congratulations, Wreckers. You’ve done us proud!

On the Sherwood Island Connector. (Photo/Doug Tirola)


It was a beautiful weekend for walking. On Beachside Avenue, Barbara Phillips spotted this gorgeous bird. It’s a handsome start to our “Westport … Naturally” week.

(Photo/Barbara Phillips)


And finally …  today is the birthday of Robert Moog. The inventor of the famed synthesizer was born in 1934. He died in 2005. But his impact will last for a long, long time.

Merci, Marigny!

Here in the US, it’s Mothers Day. Across the country, families gather to celebrate Mom.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker got up early this morning, and headed to her Town Hall office. She was there to honor a sibling — well, Westport’s sibling.

Very few residents here know, but we have a sister town in France: Marigny.

Right after D-Day in 1944, Westporter Bob Loomis — a gun sergeant — was there. It’s just 25 miles from Utah Beach.

A couple of weeks later another Westporter — heavy machine gunner Clay Chalfant — moved through Marigny with his company on their way to Belgium.

When the war ended, Charlotte MacLear — head of the French department at Staples High School, and a graduate of prestigious Sorbonne Université — sparked a campaign to “officially adopt Marigny” and help its recovery.

Our town sent clothes, money and Christmas gifts, thanks to fundraising that included selling toys and buckets with designs painted by Westport artists.

In return, Marigny created the “Westport School Canteen,” and named the town’s largest square “Place Westport.” Charlotte MacLear visited our sister town 3 times. Each time, she was honored and adored.

“Pharmacie Westport,” in Marigny.

We forgot the relationship. Marigny never did.

In June 1994 — as part of the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy — town officials invited 3 Westport middle school students and 2 Westport veterans to stay in the homes of residents. They visited “Westport Gift Shop” and “Pharmacie Westport.”

The 2 veterans were, of course,  Loomis and Chalfant.

Marigny – c’est magnifique!

That was nearly 30 years ago. Once again, Westport has lost its connection with our sister town.

But still, Marigny remembers.

This morning — early afternoon in France — they dedicated a room in their Town Hall in Charlotte MacLear’s memory. It is now, and forever, “Salle Charlotte MacLear.”

For today’s event, Marigny officials put 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker front and center. The other photos show members of the Marigny town government, and a photo from the 1940s.

Tooker participated via Zoom.

Mayor Fabrice Lemazurier explained that the room is where the Town council meets, making “all the important decisions concerning Marigny-Le-Luzon’s future.” It is a town “proud of its history, ready to face its future.”

He noted that “Mrs. MacLear and her fellow Americans gave our territory a helping hand and restored smiles, particularly to our younger citizens.”

He added:

War once again on European soil certainly reminds us of the darkest hours of our history. It is our duty today to do everything to restore and preserve peace. I believe that in a certain way this is what we are doing today – to remember and never forget.

Marigny Mayor Fabrice Lemazurier, via Zoom.

After “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played on trumpet, 1st Selectwoman Tooker spoke. Beginning and ending in flawless French, she described Westport’s location near the United Nations, and noted how many residents have lived and worked abroad.

She said that we understand our connection to the world, and are proud to participate as global citizens. She called this a “remarkable and heartwarming honor,” and said that we share “brotherhood and neighborliness in this volatile world.”

Then deputy mayor Adèle Hommet said that her town wants to ensure that the room “lives up to the spirit of Charlotte MacLear who, as a schoolteacher with a determination to promote international relations, as well as her receptiveness toward all of our citizens whom she met, marked her as an exceptional person.”

She added that she hopes Westport and Marigny students can meet and learn from each other.

… and 1st Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker.

Remarks came too from René Gautier, who as a child benefited from Westporters’ kindness; Gilles Quinquenel, who recalled the dark days of World War II, and Philippe Gosselin, who recounted Franco-American relations going back to 1776.

He included Charlotte MacLear’s name on his roster of great Americans, right there with President Roosevelt, and Generals Eisenhower and Patton.

“Long live La Manche! Long live Normandy! Long live France, and long live the United States!” he said.

The ceremony concluded with Mayor Lemazurier wishing that Americans and French, on both sides of the Atlantic, can “come to the aid of the Ukrainian people in their moment of need, as we were over 75 years ago,” and Marigny’s representative in Parliament expressing the hope of meeting Tooker in France.

Then, saying “It’s not really goodbye; we’ll meet again,” the mayor introduced the final piece of music: “Auld Lang Syne.”

I was involved in some of the emails and phone calls between Marigny officials, and the 1st Selectwomen’s office. French officials asked me if Charlotte MacLear is still remembered fondly in Westport.

Perhaps a few people here still recall her name. In our sister town, our French friends will never forget her.

Marigny and Westport were united today, in red, white and blue.

FUN FACT: Westport has 2 other sister cities, according to Wikipedia: St. Petersburg, Russia and Yangzhou, China. Read the back stories here.