Tag Archives: Mark Blake

Roundup: Restaurant Week, Organic Krush, Mushrooms …

Restaurant Week returns! In fact, it’s “Restaurant 2 Weeks.”

The popular Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event begins  tomorrow (Sunday, September 25). It runs through October 9. Part of an “Eat Local” campaign, it follows the successful Slice of Saugatuck Festival.

This year, 21 restaurants all over town offer prix fixe meals, in a wide range of cuisines and prices. Each eatery sets their own prices and hours.

Here are the participating restaurants. “L” means lunch; “D” is for dinner; “B” for brunch. Click a link where applicable for menus (some are pending — click here for the most up-to-date information).

Allium Eatery (L)
Amis (L,D)
Boathouse (L,D)
Capuli  (L,D)
De Tapas (L,D)
Don Memo (L)
Gray Goose (L)
Harvest (D,B)
Kawa Ni (L)
La Plage (L,D)
Pane E Bene (D)
Rive Bistro (L,D)
Rizzutos (D)
Romanacci (L,D)
Spotted Horse Tavern (L)
TAJ (L,D)
Tarantino (D)
Terrain (D)
The Whelk (L)
Tutti’s Restaurant (L,D)
Via Sforza (L,D)

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The hour-long CNN “Champions for Change” special — hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and featuring Westport’s own Police Chief Foti Koskinas — airs tomorrow (Saturday, September 24, 8 p.m.).

“06880” previously gave an incorrect date of Sunday. Tune in tomorrow! (Hat tip: Alisyn Camerota)

    • Screenshot from CNN: Alisyn Camerota and Chief Foti Koskinas.

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A GoFundMe page has been set up, to help with the education of the children of Mark Blake, the popular and long-serving Westport and Weston Emergency Medical Service supervisor and volunteer, who died Tuesday of complications from COVID. Click here to donate.

    • Mark Blake

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With low-key publicity — and high security — former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak spoke at Temple Israel Tuesday night.

Drawing on his experience as a military leader and cabinet minister, he discussed ongoing tensions in the region, threats from Iran and more.

    • Ehud Barak, at Temple Israel. (Photo/JC Martin)

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As the school year begins, Organic Krush reminds teachers that they get a 10% discount — year round. Founder Michelle Walrath — a former teacher — is proud to honor educators “invaluable service.”

She also adds a plug for their new spiced pumpkin smoothie and pumpkin donuts. “Off the charts!” she says.

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“The Wonderful World of Mushrooms” comes to Wakeman Town Farm on October 24 (7 p.m.).

The free lecture is a deep dive, with experts from Essential Earth Farm.

WTF says: “During a billion years of evolution, fungi have become masters of survival. They are primary decomposers that keep our forests alive. They play an integral role in decomposition.”

Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the intricate relationship between fungi, soil, and environmental and human health. Click here to register.

    • (Photo/Peter Gold)

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Robin Frank writes: “In anticipation of Halloween, let’s remember the dead by investigating art’s historic role in celebrating and memorializing loss.

“Join me for a free lecture called “Hauntings: Death and Desire in American Art” (October 6, 7 p.m., at Museum for History & Culture). Artists of all generations have made the absent present through haunting imagery, ranging from the seductive to the spectral, from portraits to seemingly haunted domestic spaces immortalizing intimate and moving stories.”

Click here for more information, and registration.

    • A haunting image.

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Sorelle Gallery’s next exhibition — “Cosmic Botany” — features artist Roger Mudre.

His work is inspired by patterns of nature, and the circle as the perfect form. Titling each painting after plants, he draws upon “microscopic worlds, cellular growth, auras, the cosmos, and places unseen, only imagined.”

The exhibit runs October 1 through 23. An opening reception and artist meet-and-greet is set for October 1 (4:30 to 6:30 p.m.). Click here for more information.

    • Art by Roger Mudre

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‘Tis the season for nests. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” scary-looking one was spotted on Bermuda Road, by Ken Yormark:

    • (Photo/Ken Yormark)

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And finally … in honor of Wakeman Town Farm’s upcoming lecture on mushrooms (story above):

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Remembering Mark Blake

Mark Blake’s family has released this obituary. The very popular 30- year Westport and Weston Emergency Medical Services volunteer died Tuesday.

Stratford resident Mark Blake died peacefully Tuesday with his family by his side, after a valiant battle with COVID. He was 61 years old.

The Boston native was an EMS Supervisor on the Westport Emergency Medical Service. After first serving as a volunteer, he was employed there for more than 30 years. His greatest sense of accomplishment was doing what he loved: assisting others when they needed it most.

He was honored to be a Life Member of the Weston Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service. He served the WVFD as vice president and lieutenant. He was also chair of the WVFD Benevolent Committee, Public Relations Committee, and Explorer Post, among others.

Mark established the Child Passenger Safety Program in Weston, and the Fairfield County Chapter of Safe Kids. A child passenger safety instructor, one of his greatest joys was working with parents and families to teach them how to safely transport their children.

Mark Blake

Mark received numerous awards including Firefighter of the Year, the President and Chief Award, and was recognized for Outstanding Service at the Blue Mass by the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Knights of Columbus.

Mark also was a board member and president of the Southwest EMS Council, and vice president of the Southwest Regional Communications Center.

Mark was a mentor to members of his Fire and EMS families. His family and friends have found comfort in the stories and tributes shared by so many individuals whom Mark aided and inspired over the years.

Mark was very proud of his work during the L’Ambiance Plaza building collapse in 1987, and his involvement with the Red Cross, supporting its response to the 9/11 attacks. Mark instilled his love of, and dedication to, community service in so many others, most significantly his brother and sons who carry on his legacy.

Mark was a wicked Boston sports fan. Going to the Boston championship Duck Boat parades and Red Sox games at Fenway with his brother and sons were among his most cherished memories. A member of the Norwalk Police Emerald Society, Mark took every opportunity to celebrate and share his Irish heritage.

Mark and his family express their gratitude to his angels at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Gaylord Healthcare, who cared for him from their heart. They helped him find the silver lining during his battle, and made his journey more bearable. He always expressed his appreciation to them.

Mark is survived by his wife Eileen; children Ryan (16) and Liam (13); mother Mary Blake; brother Terry Blake (Tracy Dayton) and their children Jillian and Jackson; in-laws Mike and Alexine Henzy, Tim (Kerry), Bill (Wendy), and Catherine (Ryan Eastwood), and their children, and many aunts, uncles and cousins whom he loved dearly.

Visitation will be at the Harding Funeral Home in Westport (Monday, September 26, 4 to 8 p.m.).

A Mass will be held on Tuesday, September 27 (2 p.m., St. Matthew Church, Norwalk). Burial will follow at Willowbrook Cemetery in Westport.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Mark’s memory may be made to St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, where his family has established the Mark A. Blake scholarship to be awarded to a student interested in pursuing a career as a first responder. Donations in Mark’s memory may also be made to the Weston Volunteer Fire Department. The Mass of Christian Burial will be livestreamed here.

(A GoFundMe page has been set up, to help with the education of Mark’s children. Click here to donate.)

Roundup: Chief Foti, Mark Blake, Food Inequality …

The other day, Police Chief Foti Koskinas took CNN’s Alisyn Camerota for a spin.

The footage wound up yesterday on the network’s “Champions for Change” segment.

Foti was cited for his innovative community involvement, including helping the department handle demonstrations calmly and respectfully. He spoke candidly about the state of American policing, noting that he would take a knee with George Floyd protesters in solidarity, prayer and against police brutality — but not against police or the flag.

TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey praised Foti’s ability to listen. “There was some change in his position” during discussions after the Michael Brown incident, Bailey said — “and change in ours as well.”

The piece will be rebroadcast this Sunday (September 25, 8 p.m.), as part of a CNN special hour-long “Champions of Change.”

Click here to see the segment. Spoiler alert: I’m on camera for a few quick seconds. And I provide the voice-over intro, conclusion and other thoughts.

It was an honor to be included.

Screenshot from CNN: Alisyn Camerota and Chief Foti Koskinas.

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Autumn arrives tonight at 9:04.

This morning, Westport said goodbye to summer with a quick thunderstorm. Andrew Colabella captured this dramatic lightning strike over Cockenoe Island:

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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The Westport Police Department and Emergency Medical Services mourn the death of Mark Blake. The popular and generous EMS crew chief died Tuesday.

He was hired in May of 1990, and had a long, rewarding career serving Westport. He was a representative for the Southwest EMS Council for over 10 years, and was most recently its president.

Blake was a certified child safety seat instructor, and organized many car safety seat clinics throughout Fairfield County.

Blake also volunteered with Weston’s fire department and emergency medical services, for over 39 years. He was the department’s vice president, and earned the rank of lieutenant.

Westport Police and EMS say: “Those who knew Crew Chief Blake quickly realized that his passion was to help any way he could. Whether organizing a safety clinic, treating a sick patient or helping at the scene of a fire in Weston, he  was there.  His dedication and passion will most certainly be missed.

Deputy Chief Sam Arciola oversees Westport EMS. He says: “Mark was an incredibly dedicated public servant as well as a widely respected EMT. He never hesitated to put the needs of others above his own.”

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker adds, “I was saddened to hear of the passing of Crew Chief Blake. On behalf of the town, I want to extend my condolences to his friends and family as well as express how appreciative the town is for all his years helping our community.”

Mark Blake

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One more police item: Local departments were recognized recently, in a ceremony at Beth Israel Chabad in Norwalk.

Westport was represented by Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Weston by Police Chief Ed Henion. The event included plaques of appreciation, music and brunch.

Among the officials at the Beth Israel Chabad ceremony: Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht (far left), Weston Police Chief Ed Henion (4th from left), Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas (5th from left) and Westport 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker (6th from left).

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The state of Connecticut will help fund replacement sidewalks near Greens Farms Elementary School, and renovations at the Weston Police Department.

The sidewalk project includes $250,000 from the state, and $100,000 in town funds. The police building includes $500,000 in state funds, and $264,926 from Weston.

State grants come from the Small Town Economic Assistance Program.

A sidewalk replacement project is coming soon to Greens Farms Elementary School.

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Up Next Teens is a Staples High School student-founded and run organization. They’ve just launched a new project: #FeedFairfield County.

The goal is to raise $25,000. That would supply meals for nearly 10,000 hungry residents.

They asked Wakeman Town Farm for help. The result is a great partnership.

On October 6 (6 p.m.), WTF hosts an intimate chef’s dinner. Marcia Selden caters; Greens Farms Spirits supplies the wine and bubbly — and UpNext Teens will serve.

They’ll also speak to guests about their goals and projects. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Massimo Tabacco — the former owner of Bar Lupa, and other restaurants — has a new venture.

He’s partnered with lifelong Westporter Matthew Balk to open Il Pellicano, at 1460 Post Road in Fairfield.

The Italian restaurant features classic and contemporary dishes, including small plates, steaks, fish and piadina (an unleavened thin bread with delicious fillings).

There’s an extensive cocktail menu too, with experienced mixologists.

Il Pellicano opens tomorrow (Friday, September 23). A roof patio has just been approved, and will be ready soon. Click here for more information.

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The Westport Library’s Verso Studios are leading-edge.

So they’re a perfect spot for a new education initiative. The Fairfield County-based LiveGirl non-profit will co-host a 9-week Leadership Lab for high school girls there. Sessions start October 3, and run each Monday through December 14.

Founded in 2014, LiveGirl’s mission is to “prepare the next generation of diverse, brave female leaders with the skills, community, and connections so that all girls may thrive and make a positive impact on the world. LiveGirl’s vision is to contribute to a world free from both gender and racial inequality.”

Utilizing state-of-the-art Verso Studios media facilities, the LiveGirl Leadership Lab will focus on creative arts empowerment, multimedia expression and training. Participants will develop storytelling skills through creative channels like video, music and podcast production.

The program is free. Spots are limited, and pre-registration is required.

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The next Amy Simon Fine Art show is “Slow Motions,” with Liz Barber, Christopher Jeffries, Carolanna Parlato and Paul Shakespear.

It runs September 24 through November 5, at 123 Post Road East.

“Summer Fold 2” — mixed media on canvas (Liz Barber)

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Longtime Westporter and former Planning & Zoning Commission member Michael Stashower died yesterday. He was 96 years old.

The Cleveland native attended Hobart College as part of the US Navy’s V-12 Officer Training program, then received BA degree and MBA degrees from Cornell University.

After retiring from a long and successful career in corporate finance, Michael continued used his expertise as an overseas volunteer with the International Executive Service Corps, and to help with New York City’s 2012 Olympic bid.

In more than 50 years in Westport, he was actively involved in the community. He was elected twice to the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission. He was a past president of the UJA/Federation of Westport-Wilton-Norwalk, treasurer of Temple Israel, and served on the board of directors of the Council of Jewish Federations and the Jewish Home for the Elderly.

He loved sailing, tennis, and playing clarinet with the Westport Community Band.

Michael is survived by Gloria, his wife of nearly 72 years; their Susan (Paul Milbauer), Debby Missal (Michael) and Jon (Allison), and grandsons Jordan, Scott and Matthew.

A service is set for tomorrow (Friday, September 23, 10 a.m., Temple Israel). Shiva will be observed tomorrow from 1 to 5 p.m. at 321 Lansdowne.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests consideration of a donation to Temple Israel of Westport.

Michael Stashower

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Staples High School Class of 2010 graduate Keith Gelman moved back to Westport with his wife, in June.

The other evening he saw this barred owl, in his front yard. Classmate Stuart Schmerzler snapped this stunning “Westport … Naturally” photo. Follow @schmerzlertakesphotos on Instagram, for more great shots.

(Photo/Stuart Schmerzler)

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And finally … in honor of the great “Westport … Naturally” photo above, I had to include this song, by this band.

Get it?

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Roundup: Father Chip, Mark Blake, Downtown …

The recent news that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard had a Westport connection — and not just because Westporters know the island well.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown helped lead the Vineyard response. The church provided shelter for 2 nights, and many meals.

That’s not unusual. St. Andrew’s already runs a winter shelter at the parish house, with cots, a large kitchen, showers and laundry.

The church’s minister is Rev. Vincent Seadale — though everyone on Martha’s Vineyard calls him Father Chip.

He was Chip at Staples High School too, where he was part of the Class of 1978. He was called to St. Andrew’s in 2009, after serving at the Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville, Florida.

After Staples, Father Chip graduated from Colgate University and the University of Connecticut School of Law. He spent 16 years as an attorney, before graduating from Yale University Divinity  School in 2004.

Father Chip Seadale

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Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services says:

“We, and every person who Crew Chief Mark Blake inspired, are heartbroken.

“After 61 years blessing our earth with his kindness, and over 30 years of compassionate, dedicate, and excellent service to our community, Mark passed away yesterday morning.

“An incredibly dedicated public servant and a widely respected EMT who always put the needs of others above his own, Mark leaves behind a legacy of not only thousands of lives saved on the ambulance, but countless more (for decades to come) as he educated and helped raise the future generations of EMS personnel through educational classes, state and regional programs, and as a mentor to many of our community’s emergency medical technicians.

“Always looking for a bright spot in the day, the background of this photo — a brilliant Compo Beach sunrise — was taken by Mark during one of the many sunrises he witnessed while serving the community on duty.”

Visitation is set for Monday (September 26, 4 to 8 p.m., Harding Funeral Home). A funeral Mass will be held Tuesday (September 27, 2 p.m., St. Matthew Church, Norwalk, followed by a graveside service at 3:30 p.m. at Willowbrook Cemetery.

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As plans for “Reconnecting the Riverfront” — the project to redesign parking and pedestrian areas downtown — move forward (a bit more quickly than Parker Harding traffic), the public is invited to participate.

A public survey is now open, Click here to begin.

A “visioning charrette and open house” is set for September 29 (7 to 9 p.m., Westport Library). Residents and stakeholders are encouraged to attend.

The Downtown Plan Implementation Committee is coordinating the project. with Langan Engineering and Environmental Services. The DPIC includes town department heads and residents. They hold public meetings on the 2nd Thursday of each month, at 8:30 a.m. Click here for details.

Screenshot from the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee.

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Compo’s South Beach at sunset was the setting yesterday evening, for a renewal of vows.

After 25 years of marriage, Dr. Lynn Wilson held his bride Nancy’s bouquet, as she read their words to each other. Justice of the Peace Rhona Lieberson was the officiant.

(Photo/Stacie Curran)

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Staples High Class of 2015 graduate Rachel Treisman has covered human interest stories around the royal funeral for NPR. She gained journalism experience while working for Inklings, the school newspaper — and then served as editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News.

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Registration for Westport Parks & Recreation Department winter programs begins online at 9 a.m. on October 3.

Click here to view the offerings. Click here to begin registration.

If you are unable to log into your online account, email recreation@westportct.gov or call 203-341-5152.

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On February 29, 2020, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library sponsored another successful Supper & Soul dinner/concert.

A few days later, COVID clobbered the town.

The event was set to resume this past May. But the band got the virus, and had to cancel. The Chamber refunded all tickets.

Now, it’s full speed ahead.

The next Supper & Soul — the first in over 2 1/2 years — is set for Saturday, October 22. Cris Jacobs — who rocked the 2018 Blues Views & BBQ — brings his high energy to the Library Forum, following dinner at a variety of downtown restaurants.

One ticket entitles attendees to a 3-course meal at any of 11 eateries, plus the show, then a stop at any of the restaurants for happy hour-priced post-concert drinks.

Participating restaurants are 190 Main, Amis, Arezzo, Basso, Capuli, Da Tapas, Don Memo, Manna Toast, Spotted Horse, Goji (Wafu) and Walrus Alley. Dinner is 6 p.m.; the concert is at 8.

Tickets are $90 each for the dinner and concert. Concert-only tickets are $40. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Cris Jacobs and his band.

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Westport Country Playhouse is launching a new mobile unit. It will travel to audiences, grades 6 to 10, for live theatrical performances.

Designed to be adaptable for any kind of space, including cafeterias, libraries and classrooms, the Playhouse Mobile Unit brings to schools a 45-minute, fully staged production with professional actors, sets, costumes and special effects.

The performance is followed by a Q&A with the actors. A study guide and curriculum are provided, with classroom activities and games.

Funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Town of Westport’s American Rescue Plan Act funding for the arts.

 The inaugural play — “Scaredy Kat Presents” — captures the joys and struggles of adolescence, while attempting to destigmatize anxiety and panic disorder. Bookings are underway, for performances beginning in January.

The Playhouse offers financial aid and payment plans, along with group sales and discounts for multiple performances in one day.

For more information, email education@westportplayhouse.org or call Kendall Driffin, education and community engagement associate: 203-571-1133.

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Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church is gearing up for a full season of musical events.

On Sunday October 9 (5 p.m.), noted English vocal ensemble VOCES8 stops by on their international tour. The program includes Renaissance, jazz and the American song book.

Tickets include a post-performance reception. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

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An opening reception for the new show at the George Billis Gallery is set for tomorrow (Thursday, September 22, 4 to 6:30 p.m., 180 Post Road East).

Featured artists include Glen Hacker, Chad Holliday, Karen O’Neil and Stephanie Reiter.

“Fervent Zeal” (Chad Holliday)

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Today’s interesting “Westport … Naturally” photo — of a woodpecker, at the Westport Community Gardens — comes courtesy of Peter Swift:

(Photo/Peter Swift)

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And finally … if you haven’t heard of Cris Jacobs — the star of next month’s Supper & Soul dinner/concert — click below.

Actually, click on if you have heard of Cris Jacobs, too!

(There is a lot going on in Westport — and “06880” covers it all. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog.)