Tag Archives: Melissa Joan Hart

Roundup: Wetland Woes, Beach Rocks, Staples Honors …

March is not yet over. But the month has already set a record.

Not a good one.

The Conservation Department recorded the most number of violations in the last 2 years. Seven notices of violation were issued for clear-cutting, illegal fill, or dumping in or near Westport wetlands and watercourses.

Conservation director Colin Kelly says his staff “would obviously prefer to change this trend, but (we need) help from town residents.

After centuries of using wetlands as landfills and watercourses as sewers, the importance of these valuable natural resources and the vital role they play in our ecosystem has come to light in recent decades. Although wetlands and watercourses are now afforded the much needed protection they deserve, it is easy to leave them underappreciated and undervalued, and sometimes, overlooked.

Wetlands are valuable to us, but like any system, they can be overwhelmed. Our wetlands and watercourses provide a range of valuable functions to everyday life, including flood control, pollution filtration, and wildlife habitat. This is the reason we establish buffers around our wetlands and watercourses. Buffers are vegetated zones located between natural resources and adjacent areas subject to human alteration. There is a 20-foot protected buffer around wetlands and watercourses that limits the unpermitted cutting of vegetation or dumping of debris.

If there are wetlands or watercourses on your property, please respect these common resources. A permit must be obtained through the Westport Conservation Department if you want to remove any trees in a wetland. However, it is encouraged and advisable to add, rather than remove, vegetation.

If you are able, add to the vegetated buffer between your home, driveway or lawn and the wetland or watercourse. The best mix of buffer vegetation includes a mix of native trees, shrubs, and ground cover.

Even if there is no wetland or watercourse on or adjacent to your property, you can still help improve the quality of Westport’s environment through your landscaping. It is advisable to leave mature trees standing and plant additional trees in your yard.

Some of the benefits trees provide to Westport include supplying oxygen, increasing property values, muffling noise, hiding unsightly views, providing food and shelter for wildlife, preventing erosion, and filtering pollutants thereby improving air and water quality.

Questions? Contact the Westport Conservation Department at 203-341-1170. If requested, they will send someone to meet you in your yard.

A pond near the Partrick Wetlands. (Photo/Scott Smith)


Speaking of Mother Nature: This is New England. Rocks keep working their way to the surface.

Preparing for the upcoming beach season, crews are hard at work de-rocking the sand.

They were out this week at Compo Beach …

(Photo/Matt Murray)

… and Burying Hill.

(Photo/Art Schoeller)

It’s the kind of work few folks ever see.

But we’d sure notice it if it hadn’t been done.


Meanwhile, at Burying Hill the sand (and water) was enticing enough yesterday to lure this swimmer in.

He was not wearing a wet suit, but seemed to be enjoying himself — not a rush-in-and-out “polar plunge.” Impressive!

(Photo/Patricia Auber)


Staples High School is known for its academic rigor.

So it is particularly impressive to graduate in the top 4%.

The Class of 2023 will have 21 students in that elite group, called “High Honors.”

Congratulations to all!

High Honors students, front row (from left): Ryan Salik, Kyle Ambrose, Krishna Reddy, Matthew Shackelford, Tom Zhang, Jaden Mello, Eva Simonte, Quinn Mulvey, Meredith Mulhern, Sharmila Green, Lucia Wang, Rebecca Schussheim, Lilly Weisz. Back row:
Witt Lindau, Colin Morgeson, Nikhil Kanthan, Jet Tober, Katherine Valante, Reilly McCaffrey, Julia Herlyn, Janna Moore,


The United Methodist Church’s Easter Egg hunt this Saturday (April 1, 2 to 3:30 p.m.) is at “Rabbit Hill.”

That’s not some cute name they dreamed up for the event.

The church sits on property owned earlier by Robert Lawson. As every child knows (or should), he was the author of the book “Rabbit Hill.”

There will be eggs with treats, crafts, face-painting and snacks. It’s the Methodist Church’s gift to families — but they encourage people to give back by bringing donations of cash or non-perishable food items, for local pantries.

All families are welcome — but children only 10 and under, please!

One of Robert Lawson’s many “Rabbit Hill” illustrations.


Melissa Joan Hart moved from Westport to Nashville.

On Monday, she helped lead kindergartners to safety following a shooting at a private school near her new home. Her children attend another school nearby.

“We moved here from Connecticut where we were in school a little ways down from Sandy Hook, so this is our second experience with a school shooting with our kids being in close proximity,” she said. “Luckily we are all okay.”

Click here to read the full New York Post story. (Hat tip: Tom Greenwald)


Westport Police made 1 custodial arrest between March 23 and 29.

An officer on patrol initiated a traffic stop on Post Rd East near the Fairfield town line. The officer determined that the operator had an active re-arrest warrant from another jurisdiction. He was taken into custody.

The Westport Police system does not report citations issued.


The Westport Weston Family YMCA is branching out into video.

They’re creating a series of shorts, highlighting their impact. The first 2 feature the Water Rats swim team.

Competitive director and head coach Ellen Johnston and assistant senior coach Omar Cruz discuss the team, its 70-year history — one of the first 2 in the state! — and how it fits in with the Y’s core values:

The other video features 2 swimmers, and parents. They talk about learning life skills, achieving goals, building friendships — and the Y’s values:


Among Governor Lamont’s 20 nominees for the Connecticut Superior Court yesterday: Westporter Yamini Menon.

She now works as an assistant state’s attorney in the Civil litigation Bureau of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. Previously, she spent 18 years with the Division of Criminal Justice. She has handled criminal trials, habeas corpus trials, habeas corpus appeals, and juvenile delinquency matters. She also served as a legal aid attorney with Connecticut Legal Services. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

Yamini Menon


Cobb’s Mill Inn has been closed for 7 years.

But while owners Sandra and Kleber Siguenza try to evict 2 people they call “squatters” from the premises –following a Probate Court decision affirming their ownership of the property — the restaurant lives on in Westport.

At least, its sign does.

Anyone walking to Compo Cove by the Sherwood Mill Pond pedestrian bridge can this familiar bit of history, on the side of a house at Old Mill Beach.

(Photo/Jeff Jacobs)


Staples High School Class of 2009 graduate (and Savannah College of Art & Design BFA) David Silverstein is a multi-disciplinary artist, designer and art director based in New York.

His work ranges from paintings on canvas and sculpture, large scale murals and hand-painted furniture to traditional branding, apparel graphics and print design.

An exhibition of his work opens at the Saturdays gallery today (Thursday, March 30 — confusing, no)? It’s 6 p.m., at 31 Crosby Street in Soho.

For a sample of David’s work, click here(Hat tip: Dana Kuyper)

Art by David Silverstein.


Ellen Wentworth’s Highland Road back yard is getting green

This beautiful bird adds a bit of red, in today’s gorgeous “Westport … Naturally” image.

Photo/Ellen Wentworth)


And finally … on this day in 1867, Secretary of State William Seward purchased Alaska from Russia. The cost to the US was $7.2 million — about 2 cents an acre.

It was derided as “Seward’s Folly” — until gold was discovered there in 1898. Alaska became our 49th state in 1959, and is prized now for its beauty (and natural resources).

(“06880” ties together Westporters, wherever they currently live. If you feel connected to our town, please support its hyper-local blog. Click here — and thank you!)

Roundup: Maine, Save Cockenoe Now, Melissa Joan Hart, More

Who doesn’t love Maine?

Tom Kretsch sure does. The longtime Westport photographer has just published “Touching Maine.” The hard-cover book’s 93 pages of images and text capture the essence of that special state: its water, rocks, fog, islands, structures, dinghies and abstract impressions.

A signed copy is $50. For $100, you’ll get a signed copy plus one of the 8×10 prints shown below. Email tom@peacefulplacesphoto.com, or call 203-644-4518.

Lindsay Shurman is searching for a holiday gift for her husband. And she needs “06880” readers’ help.

She wants to give him Walter Einsel’s iconic “Save Cockenoe Now” poster (below). Back in the 1960s, it was everywhere — and played a role in the town’s purchase of the island off Compo Beach, saving it from becoming a nuclear power plant (!).

A few are still floating around. But The Flat sold the one they had. And Lindsay just lost a Westport Auction bidding war.

“Any idea where I may find an original?” she asks.

“Maybe someone is willing to part with it for a price. Or a donation made in their name to a favorite cause. I could even settle for a reproduction. I just need an original to scan.

“Any help would be so appreciated. I’m obsessed with this poster, and gifting it to my husband this holiday season!”

If you’ve got a lead, email lindsay.shurman@gmail.com. And sssshhhh …  don’t tell her husband!

Melissa Joan Hart has been very busy lately.

The Westport resident produced, directed and starred in 3 new Lifetime holiday films.

“Feliz NaviDAD” — yes, the name of the classic song by Westonite Jose Feliciano — premiered Saturday. “Dear Christmas,” with James Priestley, airs this Friday (November 27, 8 p.m.). “Once Upon a Main Street” follows on Sunday (November 27, 8 p.m.). (Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein, via Connecticut Post)

Jason Priestley and Melissa Joan Hart, in “Dear Christmas.”

Distance education isn’t new to Taylor Harrington. The 2015 Staples High School graduate works at Akimbo, a company that creates online learning experiences.

The pandemic — as awful as it is — has created opportunities. Taylor and her team saw a chance to help young people looking to grow.

They created The Emerging Leaders Program, a free, 5-day online workshop for people ages 16-25,looking to make a difference in the world .

The first 2 sessions were powerful. The next is set for January 4-8. Young leaders — or anyone knowing one — can click here for details. Applications close December 1.

Taylor Harrington

And finally … back in 1961, teenagers were doing (supposedly) the “Bristol Stomp.” Len Barry, lead singer of the Dovells — the band with that hit — died earlier this month, at 78. Four years later, he had another smash with “1-2-3.”

Westport’s Musical Canyon.

For as long as she could remember, Canyon. thought she’d be a dancer.

Growing up in the Sierra foothills town of Nevada City, California, the girl — who in 7th grade shortened her very long name to just the first one, Canyon (and added a period, for good measure) — spent most of her time on ballet.

When she was 16, her mother took her to Manhattan. She fell in love with the city, and vowed to live there.

On her 18th birthday, in 2003, Canyon. moved to the East Village. She had a job — at Starbucks, where she’d worked while in high school — and a dancer’s dream.

But she also had health issues, which made dancing difficult. On a whim, she’d brought her mother’s guitar to the city. Canyon. filled her down time writing songs.

“I never mourned the loss of dance,” she says, looking back now in wonder. “I put all my energy into music.”

Canyon. (Photo/Marion Lynott for Irish Flare Photography)

What kind of songs did she write?

“Really bad ones,” she laughs. “That’s how I processed everything. But that’s also how you get better as a songwriter.”

Slowly, her music became “less bad.” All these years later, Canyon. says, she is still honing and refining her songwriting skills. She describes her music as “chill.”

She sang at open mic sessions. “Cranky sound engineers” taught her tough but important lessons about performing.

Soon after arriving in New York, Canyon. met a model and actor named Mike Sharits. They married in 2006, and moved to Los Angeles. She got a job as a nanny for  Melissa Joan Hart. Canyon. loved the work, the actress and her family.

When Melissa was moving to Westport, she described it as an “artists’ community.” Canyon. and Mike moved here too. She worked for Melissa for a few years. She now manages an apartment building downtown, and remains close to the actress.

Coming to Westport, Canyon. says, “I was expecting Ojai” — meaning the cool Southern California town.

It’s taken her nearly a decade. But finally — thanks to friends like Darcy Hicks and Lissy Newman — she’s discovering the artsy side of Westport.

One reason she did not explore Westport earlier is that she was playing at out-of-town restaurants, house shows and small festivals.

Now — with a 20-month-old son — she’s booking more local gigs. She’s played recently at Jesup Hall, Amis, The Boathouse, Tavern on Main, Rizzuto’s and the Black Duck.

The other day, Canyon. recorded her next single: “Tooth and Nail.” Next month she’ll record 4 more.

It’s taken Canyon. a while to find the arts in Westport. Now her voices echoes with many others’.

(Click here for Canyon.’s website. Hat tip: David Wilson)

Melissa Joan Hart Wants Westport To #StopSucking

America knows Melissa Joan Hart as an actress — the star of sitcoms like “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Melissa & Joey.”

Westporters know her as our neighbor. Like moms all around town, she cares about the environment, and the world we’re leaving our kids.

Melissa Joan Hart, with her family.

One of her major concerns is plastic straws. They’re too light to be recycled, and are one of the most common pollutants found in waters — on Compo Beach, in Long Island Sound, everywhere really.

Melissa is not alone. Other Westporters are working to eliminate plastic straws. Internationally, a Plastic Free July Foundation — based in Australia — is taking aim at all single-use plastics.

But Melissa has taken special action. Spurred by the knowledge that ours was the first town east of the Mississippi River to ban plastic bags, 10 years ago — a move many other communities have emulated — she’s beating the bushes to get restaurants to stop using plastic straws.

Or, to use her favorite hashtag: #stopsucking.

The idea, Melissa says, is for restaurants to move to “straws on request only” — and use alternatives like bamboo, paper, pasta or stainless steel straws. Another option: Patrons can carry reusable straws.

A number of leading restaurants are already on board. Melissa has commitments from The Spotted Horse, Gray Goose, Arogya, Jesup Hall, The Whelk, The Cottage and OKO.

She’s working on Terrain, Amis, Bartaco, Granola Bar and Tarantino’s. Then she’ll keep going, through all our many restaurants and other food places. (She’s got an ally in Westport Farmers’ Market director Lori Cochran).

But that’s not all. Melissa wants influential Westporters to post each restaurant that makes the #StopSucking promise, and drive traffic there.

If it’s posted to Instagram accounts like @LonelyWhale, @LifeWithoutPlastics and @Take3fortheSea, the campaign can reach far beyond Westport, she says.

Melissa Joan Hart loves living, raising her kids — and dining — here.

She’ll love it even more when we all #StopSucking.

Broadcasting Christmas

Yesterday’s “06880” looked back at Cynthia Gibb. In 1986, she played fellow Westporter Jean Donovan in the 1986 movie “Salvador” about the rape and murder of 4 Catholic lay missionaries.

Today’s “06880” looks at her latest project.

Tonight at 8, the Hallmark Channel airs “Broadcasting Christmas.” The film stars Gibb — and fellow Westporter Melissa Joan Hart. (Dean Cain — “Superman” — plays a love interest.)

“Broadcasting Christmas” — about the search for a TV host in the days before a holiday telethon — is set partly in Westport.

But you won’t know it when you see it. Shooting took place in Fairfield, Bridgeport and Stamford.

The film crew stayed in Norwalk. Westport did not benefit at all from the millions of dollars spent making a film about our town.

And to all a good night…

Westport's Melissa Joan Hart and Dean Cain, in "Broadcasting Christmas."

Westport’s Melissa Joan Hart and Dean Cain, in “Broadcasting Christmas.”


Sweet Harts In Westport

A new sweet shop is coming to Westport. It’s got a very interesting back story — which may or may not be true.

Betsy Pollak — of the great Our Town Crier fame — sent a link to a post earlier today on Deadline Hollywood. Apparently, Melissa Joan Hart will help develop a new “family docuseries.”


The show will focus on the star of ABC Family’s “Melissa & Joey” show

and her  ex-showbiz siblings as they open and operate Melissa’s dream dessert store – Sweet Harts – in her hometown of Westport, CT. After a failed attempt with other partners in Sherman Oaks, CA, Melissa is ready to try again – but this time, the right way. With her opinionated family by her side helping her, everyone is excited to see this dream to fruition – but of course, it wouldn’t be a dream without a little drama along the way.

“I did  not know that she grew up here,” Betsy said.

Neither did I. For a very good reason: I don’t think she did.

A quick check of Wikipedia reveals:

Hart was born in Smithtown, New York, on Long Island, the first child of Paula, a producer and talent manager, and William Hart, a carpenter, shellfish purveyor, clam hatchery worker, and entrepreneur. Her maternal grandfather Stanley John Voje was a Navy Veteran and Catholic. Melissa grew up in nearby Sayville. Her parents had four other children after Melissa: Trisha, Elizabeth, Brian, and Emily, who are all in acting. Her parents were divorced in the early 1990s, and she moved with her mother and siblings to New York City.

Wikipedia lists her occuptions as “actress, director, producer, singer, fashion designer, business woman.” It does say that her current residence is “Westport, Connecticut.”

Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa Joan Hart

Every journalist needs 2 sources. So I headed to IMDB:

Melissa grew up in Sayville, New York. Her acting career started at the age of four, when she did a commercial for a bathtub toy called Splashy. Her mother, Paula Hart, has been her agent from the beginning. Melissa is the oldest of eight children, some from her mother’s second marriage. Six sisters, Trisha Hart, Elizabeth Hart, Emily Hart, Alexandra Hart-Gilliams, Samantha Hart, and Mackenzie Hart who is the only sibling who never appeared on Melissa’s TV series “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (1996). Her brother is Brian Hart.

According to Deadline Hollywood, “Sweet Harts” will also include Emily, Brian and Trish. No word as to whether Westport is their hometown too.

Home Is Where Her “Hart” Is

Melissa Joan Hart — known to young fans across America for her roles in “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “Melissa & Joey” — is a Westport resident.

So she won’t have far to go on Monday (July 29, 7 p.m.) for a play reading event.

“Any Wednesday” is at — and a benefit for — the Westport Country Playhouse.

Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa Joan Hart

For over 80 years, the Playhouse has hosted some of the biggest names in theater: Paul Robeson, Helen Hayes, Alan Alda, Cicely Tyson — you get the idea.

But Monday’s reading has a decidedly local feel.

There’s fellow Westporter Brian J. Carter. Joanna Gleason and Chris Sarandon will also read — they’re in Fairfield, and no strangers to Playhouse productions.

There are other intriguing tie-ins too.

Sandy Dennis — a longtime North Sylvan Road resident — originated the “Any Wednesday” role on Broadway. She also starred in many Playhouse shows.

Jason Robards — who was in the “Any Wednesday” film — lived in Southport. The Playhouse’s theater is named in his honor, and his son Jake has appeared on the Playhouse stage.

Jane Fonda — who played Melissa’s role in the film — appeared on the Playhouse stage in 1960. Her father — Henry Fonda — preceded her here in 1937.

It’s starting to sound less like “Any Wednesday.” And more like “Six Degrees of Separation.”

(Tickets are $100, $50 and $25, and include a “Meet the Cast” party following the July 29 reading. For information and reservations, call 203-227-4177, or click here.)