Tag Archives: Optimum

Unsung Hero #200

Rikki Gordon’s family has lived near Compo Beach for 4 generations.

Her grandparents bought a cottage in the early 1950s. Summers there — 6 family members crammed together, escaping New York City’s heat — were the happiest times of her life.

For the next 7 decades, she cherished that beach address — and the phone number that never changed.

After her parents died in 2008 and ’09, Rikki and her husband Allen Pack built a Nantucket-style home on the property. It was a new chapter, but a continuation of their beloved summer life. The phone number remained the same.

When COVID struck, Rikki — she’s a psychologist; he’s a psychiatrist — worked from Pacific Palisades, California. They rented out their Westport home.

When they returned this past June, Rikki was stunned at the tenant’s damage. Still, she consoled herself, they were all just “things.” They could be fixed.

Yet when she phoned Altice — Optimum’s parent company — to request a service appointment, they said she was calling from an unfamiliar number.

Rikki’s tenant had changed the phone number on her own, apparently as part of a promotion to get a lower rate than she was paying.

Realizing that her “227” number — actually, “CApital 7,” when that was the format — was gone devastated Rikki.

“That number belonged to my grandparents, my parents, my family,” she explains. It was part of her identity — and, of course, the way friends reached her. She started to cry.

Then she called Optimum, and was connected to a “wonderful, bright and thoughtful man named Mohamed.” Rikki told him about the damage to her home, but said the loss of her phone number meant far more.

“Mohamed understood the importance of family and history,” she says. He plunged right in.

Rikki Gordon’s “227” number dates back to these days.

For the next 3 hours, he wrote code to recreate her phone number. He enlisted a team of technology troubleshooters to help.

They — along with Mohamed’s expertise and dedication — worked a “small miracle.”

Throughout the ordeal, Rikki stayed in touch with Mohamed using neighbors Patricia McMahon and Matthew Levine’s landline.

Every 10 to 20 minutes he came on, with an update.

“Mohamed was not sure if this would work,” Rikki reports. “But I felt like he was a doctor doing delicate surgery, keeping me informed every step.

“This gentleman Mohamed was so kind, so dedicated to restoring my family’s link to friends and neighbors.”

After 3 “nail-biting, prayer-filled” hours, he had restored Rikki’s family history.

“He could have said, ‘sorry, the number is irretrievable.’ But he genuinely heard my distress, and devoted himself to helping. I cannot thank him enough. I want to acknowledge his work, and the fact that he cared about a stranger. Thank you, Mohamed!”

Done! Mohamed: You are our Unsung Heroes of the Week!

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Roundup: Yanks’ Bat Girl, Playhouse, Ireland …

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Gwen Goldman McLoughlin’s star turn as New York Yankees’ bat girl — 60 years after the team rejected the 10-year-old’s request — has gotten plenty of national media attention. “06880” covered the inspiring story on Sunday.

One of the best pieces was in yesterday’s New York Times. Click here to read. Then click below for a tweet that will have you smiling all day.

Whether you love the Yanks or hate them, you gotta admit: This is pure class.

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Ninety years to the day after it first opened, the Westport Country Playhouse celebrated a new season last night.

The audience was COVID-limited in size. They enjoyed a recorded — not live — presentation of “Tiny House,” a clever comedy.

But — after last year’s remote-only season, and some decisions about how to present this year’s shows — there was a palpable sense of joy among last night’s theater-goers.

The Playhouse has survived one of the toughest times in its 9-decade history. They’ve got a full schedule of events this year (most remote, a few cabarets and such in person).

The doors were open again last night, exactly 90 years after the former tannery in an apple orchard began its run as one of America’s premier summer theaters.

Here’s wishing 90 more great years, to one of Westport’s greatest jewels!

Welcome back! (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Optimum will “dramatically reduce” upload speeds for new customers on July 12, according to published reports.

The Verge says that the cable company — owned by Altice — will slice some plans from 35 Mbps to 5 Mbps.

The change affects new customers serviced by Optimum’s non-fiber network. It will impact current subscribers only if they upgrade, downgrade or otherwise change their service. Download speeds should remain the same,

The change, Altice told The Verge, is to bring the plan  “in line with other ISPs and aligned with the industry.” (Click here for the Verge story; click here for a longer story from Ars Technica. Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

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Concerts at the Levitt Pavilion is an Angus family tradition since they moved here in 1993. He grew up watching the Hall Family Band Night (and was part of Music for Children for a long time).

Some of Drew Angus’ most memorable Westport nights were with legends Nile Rodgers and Chic, John Fogerty, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and most recently Bruce Hornsby. 

He remembers too when his grandmother brought panties to throw on stage for Tom Jones.

He’s seen great regional acts like Philly’s Low Cut Connie and Brooklyn’s Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. He enjoyed some of the country’s best blues and rock acts at Blues Views & BBQ. One of his all-time favorites was a Latin zydeco band from California, Incendio. 

Drew long dreamed of playing on stage. He fulfilled that dream in 2018. It’s a stage I dreamt of playing as a kid and did for the first time in 2018

This Friday (July 2, 7:30 p.m.), Drew Angus is back. He’s joined by a 7-piece band, including Westport’s Russ Crain. They were fellow Class of 2007 Staples graduates.

They’ll play songs from Drew’s upcoming record, and familiar covers. It will be a special night for one of the Levitt’s favorite musicians — on both sides of the stage. (Click here for tickets, and more information.)

Drew Angus rocks.

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Work begins soon on the transformation of the old Barnes & Noble into a new grocery outlet — rumored to be Amazon Go. A construction trailer has moved into the parking lot.

Meanwhile, around the corner, work continues on the renovation of Greens Farms Congregational Church.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Meanwhile, back near the former Barnes & Noble, there is no sign of action whatsoever at the abandoned Mobil Self-Serve. It closed nearly 3 years ago, and the site looks sorrier by the day.

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Last month’s Westport Fine Arts Festival was a cold washout.

Weston hopes for a better forecast for their own Fine Arts Festival. It’s July 17 and 18, on School Road.

The juried event includes over 100 artists working in painting, sculpture, jewelry, ceremics, wood and fine crafts, plus children’s activities, art demonstrations, musical guests and food trucks. Weston’s own Jose Feliciano performs live on Saturday.

Admission is free.

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Speaking of art: Sorelle Gallery’s next show is “Quiet Moments.” Works by contemporary coastal realist painter Daniel Pollera, and abstract artist Kelly Rossetti, are on display from July 10 through August 1.

A reception is set for July 10 (3 to 5 p.m.), in the Church Lane space. For more information, click here.

Works by Daniel Pollera and Kelly Rossetti.

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Yesterday’s “06880: The Podcast” upload featured Helen McAlinden. The CEO of Homes with Hope discussed homelessness and food insecurity in Fairfield County, with her well-known passion and trademark Irish brogue.

As it happens, she’s spending this week visiting relatives back home. She took time to send this photo of Westport — Westport, Ireland, that is.

Sure, and it brightens your day.

(Photo/Helen McAlinden)

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Speaking as we were of the water: Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is from this side of the pond. I have no idea if there are horseshoe crabs in Ireland.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … speaking of Westport, Ireland: Matt Molloy of the Chieftains owns a pub and music venue there. It’s on a road whose name we share here in Connecticut: Bridge Street.

Roundup: Leaf Blowers, Paper Source, Cable Monopoly …

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Leaf blowers — those must-have yet most-hated suburban scourges — are the subject of a proposed Representative Town Meeting regulation.

The RTM Ordinance Committee meets March 25 (7:30 p.m., conference call). They’ll discuss these rules:

  • Summer (May 16-October 14): Gas-powered leaf blowers not permitted; electric/battery-powered leaf blowers allowed.
  • Fall cleanups (October 15-November 30): Gas- and electric/battery-powered blowers allowed.
  • Winter (December 1-March 31): Gas-powered blowers not permitted; electric/battery-powered blowers allowed.
  • Spring cleanups (April 1-May 15): Gas- and electric/battery-powered blowers allowed.

In addition:

  • No leaf blower of any kind may be used before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
  • No more than 1 leaf blower (regardless of power source) may be used simultaneously on any site less than 2 acres in size.
  • No gas-powered leaf blower may be used on any state or federal holiday.
  • Exceptions: If the 1st Selectman declares an emergency, then gas-powered leaf blowers and/or electric/battery-powered leaf blowers may be used as necessary.

Fines (property owner is responsible):

  • $100 for 1st offense (after a warning)
  • $200 for 2nd offense
  • $500 250 for third or subsequent offense.

The public can call in to the meeting: 646-876 9923. The meeting ID is 850 4769 6393. The passcode is 788806.

 

 

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Paper Source — the Chicago-based stationery store chain — closed 11 stores in the past year.

The downtown Westport shop — between Bank of America and Barnes & Noble — remains open.

It is corporate owned. A recent story on the Well-Appointed Desk blog notes that headquarters “bought a bunch of product from small makers, declared bankruptcy so they would not have to pay the bills, then sell it in the stores for 100% profit.”

It’s great to shop local. But caveat emptor: Supporting this Westport business may mean complicating situations with its corporate owner. (Click here for the full story.)

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The weather’s nice. Time to get the kids moving!

The Joggers Club has opened a group for youngsters. Led by experienced runners, the focus is on form, endurance and fun.

It “runs” Sundays, 2 to 3:15 p.m., April 4 to May 2 at the Staples High School track.

Space is limited to 20 children, grades 3 to 8. The cost is $50 per child.

The Venmo account is “TheJoggersClub-Westport.” Questions? Email thejoggersclub@gmail.com.

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This evening Wednesday, March 10, 6:45 p.m.), Congressman Jim Himes hosts a “telephone town hall.” He’ll discuss the American Rescue Plan. Audience members can ask questions during the call. Click here for the link.

Congressman Jim Himes, at Bedford Middle School.

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Looking for another COVID test center?

There’s an under-the-radar spot right under our noses. Yale New Haven Health operates a drive-through operation at 140 Mill Plain Road in Fairfield, just off I-95 Exit 21.

Hours are by appointment only. Click here for more information, or call 833-275-9644. (Hat tip: Carol Waxman)

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Westport’s MaryGrace Gudis is one of 4 new members of Norwalk Hospital’s board of directors.

Director of the Norwalk Hospital Foundation Board since 2011, she has spent more than 1,000 hours researching and compiling the hospital’s history.

Active at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, MaryGrace is also involved in initiatives providing college educational assistance to disadvantaged students.

The Southern Methodist University graduate has held senior communications positions in the financial industry, including director of public information and senior liaison to the board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank. Her husband Mark is on the board of directors for Nuvance Health, Norwalk Hospital’s parent company.

MaryGrace Gudis

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Last month, “06880” reported that the Tristate Coalition for Fair Internet Service is working on legal challenges to Optimum/Altice through the New York State Attorney General’s office, and promoting alternate providers. They’re also collecting data on customer experiences with the longtime cable service.

That survey data was lost when Google disabled the account without the group’s knowledge. They’re appealing. Meanwhile, they created a new survey.

They ask people to complete the Optimum/Altice survey, even if it was already done before. Click here for the link.

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The Webb Road goose is ready for every holiday. Next up: St. Patrick’s Day!

(Photo/MaryLou Roels)

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And finally … exactly one year ago today, COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

You know: WHO.

Optimum, Eversource: An Industry Insider’s Insights

It’s been more than a month since Tropical Isaias plunged Westport into darkness — and hammered our internet service too.

Opinions of public utilities like Eversource — and probably-should-be-regulated-as-a-public-utility like Optimum — have moved from rage to simmering anger. An “06880” story earlier this month about the cable monopoly drew 160 brutal comments. No one defended them.

Readers across the tri-state area described harrowing encounters with Optimum and its owner, Altice. Most spoke as dissatisfied customers.

Richard Guha speaks as an industry executive.

He’s lived in Weston twice, most recently since 1996. He’s worked as president of Reliant Energy in Houston, one of the nation’s largest combination utilities. Before that he was chief marketing officer of MediaOne in Boston — now part of Comcast, and the first to launch “broadband” in the world.

Eversource and Optimum’s response after Isaias was “disastrous,” he says. While losing power, phone and internet service is inconvenient — particularly because many area residents lack adequate cell phone reception to begin with — it can also be life-threatening.

Grove Point Road offered one example off Isaias’ devastation. (Photo/John Kantor)

Guha himself had to drive someone to the emergency room, because he could not call an ambulance.

He cites one example, from Lyons Plains Road. From August 4 through 24, he had a long series of frustrating encounters with Optimum. From setting up an appointment for cable reconnection to technicians who failed to show up for appointments, then appeared without the correct equipment, Guha found customer service lacking at every level.

Multiply that by thousands, and the problem is clear.

Based on Guha’s own experience — and confidential interviews with service technicians — he offers a peek behind the cable curtain.

In a drive to cut costs, Guha says, Optimum has reduced equipment and staff to “a bare minimum.” It’s sufficient for regular maintenance, but not for unusual repair loads.

For example, a few years ago there were 150 bucket trucks in Fairfield County. Now there are 10.

While much of the initial disconnections resulted from or had the same causes as power outages, he says, the reconnection process has been “staggeringly poor, inefficient and dishonest.”

Customer service representatives were so overloaded that not enough were available to answer phone calls for any reason. (“This may also have been deliberate,” he says, “to shield them from customer anger, and then quitting.”)

Customers were forced to send online messages — a huge challenge without internet — which allows a single representative to deal with multiple customers. Responses were slow.

Representatives did not seem to have a full picture of what was happening. Or they were too overloaded to look. Or they simply deflected questions, by making up answers.

Service technicians told Guha that when someone contacted Optimum to set up an appointment, the representative simply promised a slot — “to get the customer off for a few days.”

An Optimum email confirmed a service call — for the previous day.

Service techs were given calls to make with “little logic,” Guha reports. They were assigned too many calls to make each day. But there was no flexibility for them to call in and get reassigned.

Often the wrong equipment was sent to an address, even if the correct piece had been specified.

Eversource’s issues and inactions, meanwhile, are different. The best way to deal with power outages, Guha says, is to minimize them in the first place. Clearing trees and brush is the most important tool.

(Of course, much of Connecticut has too many shallow rooted trees, which are vulnerable to strong winds and rain. Guha suggests restrictions on tree planting in the state.)

When he was in the cable and energy businesses, most lines were laid in buried trenches. Trimming, however, was a priority.

It is expensive, and unpopular when it is happening. However, he notes, “over time it is more expensive to the local economy not to do it.”

The costs of not trimming trees — as shown here after Isaias, on Charcoal Hill Road — are high. (Photo/Pat Blaufuss)

Guha notes that putting in cables is also retroactive, particularly in wooded areas. However, he says, it pays the company back over time, in savings on maintenance and repairs. New technology can reduce the cost.

The biggest benefits lie in economic strength — and national security. “The vulnerability of infrastructure is extremely dangerous,” Guha warns, including health and risk to life.

Even at $1 million per mile, the cost of one F-35 would pay for 400,000 miles of trenching, he says.

He uses another military analogy. For Optimum and Eversource to cut their equipment so extensively is like the military saying, “We don’t need our tanks now, so we’ll get rid of them. If we have a war, we’ll get them back.”

Guha realizes that none of this is new. Everything he describes has been written about before.

Yet after every disaster, and every hearing, nothing happens.

“The same issue affects all physical infrastructure,” Guha says. “Whether it is roads, bridges, tunnels, rail, communication or energy, if it is not constantly improved, it steadily falls behind. Minimum maintenance is a recipe for disaster.”

Connecticut legislators have only limited immediate impact on utilities, he says. Regulators and franchising authorities have much more. However, “they often affiliate more closely with those they regulate than the customers they serve.”

Energy, cable and phone companies hire large staffs of regulator and government relations employees. Their job “is to get regulators to think the same way they do.

“They get paid to influence regulators, and can lose their jobs if they do not.

“They rarely lose their jobs.”

Less Than Optimum Service

Mary Luvera is an Optimum customer. She is not pleased. She writes:

My family and I have lived in Westport for more than 10 years. Over that time we have probably paid Optimum more than $20,000 for a combination of phone, cable and internet service.

In early August we called to cancel our service, because we were moving. While other companies will prorate fees when you cancel service, Optimum said we would have to pay through the end of our billing cycle (September 15). We could have overlooked that.

Then on August 27 a tree fell, knocking out the cable line to our house. The next day we called Optimum to restore the cable line. We wanted it to be ready for our renters, and of course wanted the unsightly dangling cable line removed.

The tree that took out the cable line.

During that first frustrating call –waiting on hold forever; not hearing the representative well (what kind of headphones do they use?!); getting nonsensical responses — my husband was given a service date for Monday, August 31 between 8 and 11 a.m., for a service technician to arrive. We were told we had to be in the house to test the service.

We now live an hour from Westport. But on August 31, my husband was there, waiting for Optimum.

No one showed up.

He called Optimum and was informed that our appointment was moved to September 16 — the day after our service ends. No one told us the date had been changed. My husband wasted his time driving back and forth, spending hours like he was waiting for Godot.

A scene from “Waiting for Godot.”

My husband asked to speak to a supervisor, but was told no one was available. When he persisted, his call was dropped while being transferred.

He called back multiple times with similar results: being dropped at various times in the call. Optimum’s hold times are extremely long, so that is like a slap in the face.

Eventually, on August 31, he was assured that the appointment was moved to Saturday, September 5, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. My husband asked for a supervisor, to confirm the time. The person on the line could not transfer him to a supervisor, but said one would call him in 30 minutes. No one has called yet.

On Friday my husband called to confirm that the appointment was scheduled for yesterday (September 5). Surprise! He was told there was no appointment for September 5; our appointment is on September 16 (the day after our service ends).

My husband again asked for a September 5 service date. Finally, he was told someone would come then —  but it could be any time between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Hope we don’t have plans for the long weekend!

Shortly after that interaction, my husband received an email (below) from Optimum. Note the sent date (Friday) and the scheduled appointment date (the day before).

I can’t be sure the cable line will ever be restored. And I can only imagine what will happen when we return our cable boxes!

In a followup email late Friday, Mary added this PS:

On his way home from work today, my husband received an automated call from Optimum confirming our appointment for September 5, from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m.

No, that’s not a typo. It’s what the recording said!

Roundup: Downtown Parking, PAL, Back To School, More


The month-long closure of the south end of Main Street is over. Planters have been removed; cars can once again park on both sides of the road.


Cancellation of the July 4th fireworks disappointed thousands of Westporters. But the decision was especially tough on Westport PAL. They sponsor the annual show. The money they make pays for a host of activities: sports programs for thousands of kids, the Longshore Ice Rink, an annual Halloween parade, a party for children with Santa, health and wellness efforts, and much more.

Which is why their upcoming golf tournament (September 14, Longshore golf course) is more important than ever.

The 58th annual event — named for former Police Chief Samuel Luciano, a staunch PAL supporter — begins at 7 a.m. with a continental breakfast and putting contest.

There’s a shotgun start, scramble format; lunch; more golf, then dinner, raffles and prizes (hole-in-one, hula hoop, longest drive, closest to pin).

The cost is $175 per golfer, $700 per foursome. Sponsorships are available too, from $150 to $5,000 (largest sign at first tee, banner on dinner tent, complimentary foursome). Click here to register, sponsor — or just donate to PAL.


Westport’s “Back to School” and “After-School” programs — both of which serve families in need — are always well utilized, and generously supported. In our new coronavirus world, they are more important than ever.

Elaine Daignault — director of the Department of Human Services, which oversees both projects — notes, “This is not a typical fall. COVID-19 has disrupted the usual back-to-school enthusiasm with a sense of anxiety, and fear of the unknown.

“Still, you can help to reinforce a child’s sense of hope and stability by ensuring they have tools they need to excel in school, and an opportunity to participate in after-school activities.”

Human Services relies on the generosity of neighbors to provide financial assistance for income-eligible families. Last year, 192 children benefited from Westport’s Back to School Program, and many families accessed affordable after-school childcare.

Tax-deductible donations (cash or gift cards to Staples, Target, Walmart, etc.) can be made online; click here, then select “Family to Family Programs – Seasonal Program – Back to School”), or send a check payable to “Town of Westport/DHS Back to School Program” to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT  06880.

Families who may qualify for this program should contact DHS youth and family social worker Michelle Bottone by phone (203-341-1068) or email (mbottone@westportct.gov).

The Department of Human Services’ Back to School program helps youngsters get backpacks — and fill them with needed supplies.


Residents of Glenwood Lane have had it with Optimum.

After Tropical Storm Isaias, it took 12 days for cable and onternet to be restored to the street, off Maple Avenue South. Pieces of old cables still hang there.

Two days ago — August 31 — a crew finally arrived to clean up. But they turned the service off again, leaving residents who depend on the internet during the pandemic unable to work.

Optimum responded that the earliest they could come back to fix their mistake would be September 5. They then said they would come yesterday (September 1). However, they did not show up. Optimum now promises to come today.

Instead of sitting waiting for another no-show, some residents publicized their plight. This is one of 2 signs at the head of their road.

(Photo/Aurea de Souza)


Westport knows him as Willie Salmond. He was born in Scotland, lives here,  and has spent much of his professional career (and retirement) in Africa, working first in international development and then in AIDS relief. He is also an author and screenwriter.

As William Salmond, he’s just published “Deep Secrets.” Here’s a brief description, on Amazon:

As the Coronavirus ravaged the world economy with the yawning chasm of inequality between rich and poor getting deeper and wider, no one seemed to notice the movement south into Africa of swaths of Al Qaeda-hardened committed fighters. It was a unique opportunity to regroup and prepare for the final knock-out blow to the Great Satan and her allies whose economies were already on the ropes.

Is life a game of chance? Or is there a guiding hand? Racked by guilt and shame can we truly be forgiven and find healing and even love?

Money man Winslow Kirk looks for answers to these questions as he steps out of his comfort zone into the heart of Africa in search of his granddaughter Eleanor whom he allowed to be given up for adoption following a tragic boating accident. A threat note from the world’s number one terrorist who is coordinating the threat to Western countries sharpens his resolve. Can he find Eleanor and will she forgive him? After his wife’s death and his own cardiac illness he begins to muse about what really matters.

For more information and to order, click here.


And finally … today would be the 81st birthday of Robert Lee Dickey. When he began singing with his cousin James Lee Purify, the duo became “James and Bobby Purify.” Dickey died in 2011. You may not remember their names, but this beautiful song may ring a bell:

[OPINION] Ugly, Dangerous Cables: The Sequel

In 2018, Marliese Aguele wrote a guest post for “06880.” She decried the ugliness — and danger — of the increasing number of cables on utility lines.

This update was all set to run in mid-March. It got pushed back several times, due to more urgent COVID and other news.

But now — in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias — it seems more relevant than ever. Marliese says:

Westport is invaded, with trucks everywhere installing heavy 5G cables.

Providers like Optimum, Verizon and Frontier compete for contracts to install cables, which is very lucrative for them.

Contracts are outsourced from providers to companies of their choice anywhere in the country. Trucks do not display the name of a company, so no one can reach them after sloppy installation.

This town is overloaded with thick cables, curled-up cables, new black attachments wrapped around the cables, looking uglier than ever, installed haphazardly crisscrossing overhead in all directions.

Low cables on South Compo Road. (Photo/Morgan Mermagen)

There are poles with 17 cables attached. No consideration for esthetics. The town receives generous revenues from cable installation companies. That is all they care about.

Nobody wants to get involved, or has the authority. Driving on the Post Road, I took the liberty of speaking with an installer. He explained that companies are required to get a license/work permit from the state Public Utilities Regulatory Agency.

I spoke to another installer on Long Lots, working overhead from a truck with a New Jersey license plate. I was shown a document headed “Parkside Utility,” with no town or phone number.

I wondered why a license did not require a stamp and receipt of fee that all professionals and companies must pay. Who makes sure Connecticut is not being defrauded of much needed revenues?

I realize it is a difficult task to install the cables. I appreciate companies that make an effort, as best they can. Unfortunately, other firms perform very sloppy work.

Cables crisscross the crowded Post Road/Roseville/Hillspoint intersection.

How many more cables can they attach to overloaded poles? They droop lower and lower. It is only a matter of time before the pole on Kings Highway North snaps in half, killing the driver of a car waiting for the Wilton Road light to change. I make sure never to stop under it.

Frightened, I called the police. I was told to call the utility company.

There must be an end. Visitors are appalled at the ugliness that invades Westport. We deserve better.

One More Post-Storm Update: Get A Refund! Don’t Kill Yourself!

This afternoon, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, the Department of Public Works and Westport’s Emergency Response Team provided this information. It Includes power outages (including Optimum TV), and safety and food tips.

Most roads are passable. But some may be detoured if crews are in the area clearing debris.

Currently 0.32 percent, or approximately 41, of Westport’s Eversource customers are without power. Those customers, and others with specific outage issues are being addressed as quickly as possible.

  • Due to the heat wave and for those in need, the cooling center at Greens Farms Elementary School is open now until 5 p.m. Wear a face covering, and maintain social distance recommendations.
  • Homeowners should contact electricians to manage individual issues, such as wires that were pulled from the home or electrical panels. A certified electrician must re-attach those wires. Neither Eversource nor town DPW crews are qualified to service individual home electric panels.

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)

Cable and internet service

If your power has been restored but your cable/internet access remains down, please contact your provider. Those providers rely upon electrical restoration or pole re-installation before their services can be addressed. Some fiber cables have been compromised. Town officials are also in contact with providers to encourage facilitation of those services.

Optimum (also known as Cablevision/Altice) says that teams have been deployed around the clock restoring services as quickly as possible. The percentage of customers in Connecticut without Optimum service due to the storm has fallen from more than 44% to less than 4% today.

Optimum offers these restoration tips:

If you lost power, restart your equipment using these steps:

  • Unplug your equipment from its power source.
  • Wait 30 seconds.
  • Plug your equipment back into the power source

If your service does not return after restarting, it is possible that:

  • The power that feeds the network in your area comes from a different commercial power source than the power that feeds your home or business location, or there is another issue relating to network power that needs to be addressed. Optimum is coordinating with electric companies to identify these issues and ensure prioritization of repair or restoration.
  • There is damage to the Optimum network, like a downed utility pole or wire break. Crews are working to rectify this type of damage.

To check on service status:

  • Go to optimum.net/support/outage  Sign in with your Optimum ID and password. Next, under Support (upper right corner), click “Service status.”

To report service issues:

To request a credit, click here: optimum.net/support/request-a-credit

Safety Information:

Homeowners are often seriously injured trying to do their own post-storm cleanup work.

  • Consider consulting a professional before undertaking any major restoration or tree / large limb removal.
  • Do not use a chain saw if you are not experienced in properly and safely operating it, or if you are not physically fit.  If you must use a chainsaw, work only on the ground, not in a tree.
  • Use extreme caution with ladders.
  • Stay safe in hot weather; hydrate; pace yourself.
  • The Westport yard waste site on Bayberry Lane is open fto discard tree limbs and branches.

Food safety reminders: 

  • Any food remaining in a refrigerator or freezer during the outage should be considered contaminated. Do not rely upon appearance or smell to determine if it is safe to consume. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • When power comes back on, clean out your refrigerator and freezer before putting new food in it. Wash the inside of the refrigerator and freezer with soap and warm water, then wipe with a mild solution of ½ tablespoon bleach in a gallon of water. Keep doors open to allow to dry. Once dry, allow the unit to get cold before placing food inside.

Roundup: Showers, Library, Cash, Kayaks, More


Staples High School is open today (Monday, August 10) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., for Westport residents to use hot showers. Everyone must bring their own towels and toiletries. The Community Emergency Response Team will assist with scheduling and social distancing.

Yesterday, CERT volunteers delivered food to seniors in need.

The Westport Library is open from noon to 6 p.m. today too, so residents can charge their devices. Everyone must wear a mask, maintain social distance, and limit their stay to an hour.


Need a place to work?

Office Evolution — the work space in the office building opposite fire headquarters — offers a low rate for this week: a $50 day pass for a private office; $25 for socially distanced co-working, with no additional or hidden fees, and free Starbucks coffee! (Strict safety protocols are of course in place.)

Interested? Email Westport.CT@officeevolution.com or call 203-635-8770 and leave a message. They respond quickly. For more information on Office Evolution, click here.


A reader writes:

“Hocon is a big problem. This is the second storm where they  let us run out of propane when we have a partial generator. My husband started calling them Thursday to say that we had 55% in the tank and would run out by Sunday. He called Sunday 5 times explaining that we’re not getting power till Tuesday midnight or Wednesday. They promised to come today, without an estimated time, but never came.

“I have a heart condition, atrial fibrillation that gets very exasperated by heat.  We have a couple of fans going. When the generator dies, which will happen within the hour, we will have nothing to deal with this heat, and tomorrow’s heat.

“It’s so frustrating to have invested in a generator and not be able to get propane when we need it. This is so upsetting.”


Like many Westporters, John Karrel has been struck by the sudden necessity for actual dollars, quarters and dimes. He writes:

“A week ago, all bets were that cash was on its way out in our world. Yesterday I picked up dinner at March Burger Lobster. I’m now sitting outside Donut Crazy with my iced coffee. Both establishments: cash only!

“The volatility of a pandemic. The shorter-term volatility of a severe power outage. For sure, not our last power outage. Maybe cash does remain a viable Plan B.”

It sure does. Provided your ATM has power.

(Photo/John Karrel)


A reader writes: “Could you provide an update on Optimum, the local cable/internet monopoly? How widespread is their outage? When will they get back online? They are not answering calls or calling back.

“By the way, when I called to cancel part of my service due to an exorbitant monthly fee (before the storm hit), they told me they closed their cancellation department.”

I don’t have any info from Optimum (or Altice, the parent company). I don’t have any sources there either. If any readers knows the answers — or has a special number to call — please click “Comments” below.


You may not have had power. But Mystic Bowie and Talking Dreads had plenty of it yesterday.

The popular band rocked Westport, in the 2nd of back-to-back sold-out “Supper & Soul” shows at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Everyone — the powered-up and the power-less — had a fantastic time. Kudos to Mystic and the Dreads. And of course to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. Which should probably change its name to “Chamber of Concerts.”

A small part of the large crowd last night.


For the past few days, Westport was up the proverbial creek, without the proverbial paddle.

But grab those paddles. August 14-31 are the dates for the 5th annual Paddle for the Sound. This year it’s virtual, so even the most land-locked lubbers can join.

For 17 days, Save the Sound will help participants raise awareness and funds to find and fix pollution sources, while leading habitat restoration projects throughout the Long Island Sound region.

Prizes will be awarded to 1st place finishers in the Paddle/Kayak, Sail, and Run/Walk divisions for total distance traveled or time spent doing their sport over the span of the event. Prizes also go to the top fundraisers.

Participants will start their virtual races from self-selected launch points, tracking their miles and time with each excursion. Those interested in supporting without racing can “raise their paddle” in an online virtual auction featuring private boat excursions, local artisan products, and a signed New York Giants jersey. For more information and to register, click here.


Local photographer Michael Chait, whose photographs are part of the permanent collection in the Brooklyn Museum, has an outdoor photo show and sale closer to home.

It’s next Sunday (August 9, 12 to 5 p.m., in the outdoor courtyard at 11 Riverside Avenue). It’s an eclectic, “kooky” exhibit of photos through several decade, including classic cars and cityscapes. All are framed and ready to hang.

A classic car photo, by Michael Chait


Back in action, and with power: (among many other businesses): Granola Bar, Ignazio’s, and Joey’s by the Shore Featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffee Bar. We are getting back to normal!

PS: For the past few days, Kawa Ni has operated a food truck.

 

And finally … utility crews have arrived in Westport from all over. I haven’t seen a Wichita lineman — but I had a great chat Saturday with 2 from Neosho, Missouri, just a few miles from the Kansas border. They drove non-stop to get here, and are driving back and forth from their hotel — which is in Chicopee, Massachusetts (north of Springfield). Westport owes a huge thanks to all the linemen (and linewomen), working hard for us from all around North America.

Roundup: Still Waiting, Much More


There is hope! This was the scene at the Greens Farms railroad station staging area this morning. Fingers crossed …

(Photo/Robert Cornfield)


Meanwhile, work began on the badly damaged main transformer in Weston, on White Birch Lane.

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)


And once again, the Westport Library’s free WiFi had plenty of takers:

(Photo/Samuel Wang)


Brandon Malin — the very sharp teenager who contributes great drone photos and more to “06880” — checks in with NBC CT chief meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan’s list of Connecticut’s 5 worst storms (in terms of Eversource outages):

1: October snowstorm (803,000 outages)
2: Tropical storm Irene (671,000 outages)
3: Tropical storm Isaias (600,000+ outages)
4: Hurricane Gloria (506,000 outages)
5: Hurricane Sandy (497,000 outages).

Who knew that 2 tropical storms and a snowstorm could do more damage than a hurricane?

Saugatuck Avenue (Photo/Scott Singer)


David Meth calls this scene at the corner of Main Street and Cross Highway “a disaster waiting to happen.” I call it “morning in Westport.”


And no, it’s not just you. Optimum/Altice’s website was down this morning, with an internal server issue.

A customer service representative cheerfully suggested I check back “every hour or so. Or in 24 or 48 hours.”

Fortunately, it was back up later this morning. These days, little things mean a lot.


The CARES concert — featuring an all-star lineup of local talent — has been postponed. The new date is Sunday, August 16, at 7:30 p.m. Click here for details.

Max Herman, concert mastermind


And finally .., of course: